Mindful Yoga is a Treatment for the Whole Self

Yoga, at its heart, is therapeutic. It is an ancient system of connecting the mind and body so that they move together and support health and vitality. Though it is popular to use yoga as a means to fitness goals, that is a narrow interpretation of a comprehensive system of health and treatment.

Yoga is a form of mindfulness practice, cultivating awareness from within the body. By bringing attention to the breath and alignment, it trains and conditions the mind. This has been shown to help improve cognitive function, boost memory, and reduce baseline stress levels.

In many ways, gentle yoga is the most advanced yoga. Without fast pacing or high physical challenge to occupy the mind, your attention is able to turn to the wealth of information percolating up from within the body: the exact angle of knee bend that begins to make an old injury ache; a perpetual knot in your shoulders that brings certain memories to the surface; the joy that comes from releasing tension in the low back. By tuning in to this body wisdom, we are able to better engage with our health and support ourselves.

Slower, more deliberate yoga is therefore able to treat imbalances and address discomfort, often before they become a bigger issue. It supports flexibility, lubricates joints, develops strength, increases balance, and reduces mental, emotional, and physical stress levels. Also, because it does use slower and gentler poses, it is accessible to a wider range of practitioners. Do not mistake it for easy, but know that it creates space for a wide range of bodies, ages, and levels of experience.

At Ha.Lé, our yoga classes are based in mindfulness practice. They are designed as treatments to support health and to continue the care we offer in our appointments. Therapeutic yoga is an effective way to support the whole self, bringing body and mind together to create health.

Acupuncture for Knee Pain

Knee pain is one of the most common types of joint pain, and as the body’s largest joint, it is also one of the most injured. Our knees act as big shock absorbers and so receive a lot of stress and strain every day. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving several types of knee pain, including pain from arthritis, overuse, and injury.

Acupuncture begins by helping to increase circulation. By bringing more blood flow, the toxins and fluids that build up due to inflammation can be removed more quickly. This reduces swelling and the pain that swelling causes. As more blood circulates, it also brings more oxygen and nutrients to speed up the tissue repair process.

Next, acupuncture relaxes and loosens painful spots in the muscles and connective tissue. As these “knots” or “trigger points” release, it supports the healing of the tissue. Muscle fibers can take on too much tension as a result of injury and pain, and helping to relax this tension supports the healing process.

Acupuncture also works with the body’s own healing and pain relief process. It helps to regulate pain signals and turn down the volume of the alarm being sent through the nervous system. It releases endorphins, the body’s internal pain medicine, and releases serotonin, the feel good brain chemical.

Treating knee pain with with acupuncture is effective, and combines well with other treatments like bodywork, physical therapy, or prescribed medications. The treatment schedule is usually to come once or twice a week for a few weeks, and then drop down to a maintenance schedule when symptoms have improved. Knee pain can affect everyday mobility and quality of life. Acupuncture can help.

Go for a Walk

Our bodies are made to move, and specifically, to walk. We are fundamentally designed to use our feet to move from one place to another. This means that, on a biological level, walking activates important physical processes and balances our bodies in important and sometimes profound ways.

The power of walking comes through the movement. Our circulation increases, which allows our tissues to be nourished by more blood and oxygen. This nourishment allows them to repair and heal minor stresses, often before we notice them. Walking also allows us to enter into a naturally rhythmic state, which helps our minds shift into light meditation and stress reduction mode with ease.

The motion of putting one foot in front of the other coordinates complex interactions between muscles, bones, and connective tissues. It is an ongoing conversation that keeps each part healthy and connected to the whole. Increasing regular walks allows the body to adjust muscles and movements back toward healthy alignment and engagement, correcting some gait issues caused by too much sitting and not enough moving.

The corrective power of walking is well documented. Studies have shown that walking eases joint pain and arthritis by lubricating the joints and strengthening the muscles that support them. It also boosts immune function, reducing sick days by 43%. It can improve posture by reestablishing natural movement patterns, and it provides all the benefits of weight-bearing exercise. Because walking requires your body to stand upright against gravity, it increases bone density and muscle tone.  

Walking is a powerful way to increase whole body health, and is especially effective when you go for walks outdoors. This brings you connection with nature, fresh air, and sunshine, helping to reduce stress levels and relax the body and mind. Walk more to increase your overall sense of well being.

Breema Brings Deep Nurturing and Wholeness

Breema is a set of techniques based on 9 Principles of Harmony. It does not require mental beliefs, only attention to the experience of the body. It provides a way to feel nurtured, rather than drained, by your experiences and relationships.

Breema can be done as self-care, done with a partner, and received as a bodywork. It uses simple forms of natural body movement to free your energy for productive work. Our physical energy is consumed by our mind, body and feelings. Conflicts and tension tie up more of that energy than necessary, and restoring harmony makes it available for other things, like our body’s natural healing processes.

As tension and conflict eases, it restores vitality and suppleness. New movements and postures become available. Mind, body, and feelings are able to create new relationships and function more cooperatively. Mood can regulate, stepping out of the cycle of pleasant and unpleasant states so that the mind can return to being a naturally supportive presence to the body.

Breema is done fully clothed on a padded floor, and brings an experience of wholeness. All our lives we don’t include ourselves in our impressions of life, and we think of our body as discrete, labeled parts like hands, arms, liver, heart, etc. By including the whole self and emphasizing that unity of being, Breema creates an experience. When we move into that experience, we remember that we are all part of a whole, our body parts are all part of our whole, and we are able to release tension and conflict in order to return to harmony.

The experience of Breema makes you simpler, not more complicated. Instead of fighting illness, it works to increase vitality. By moving toward harmony, vitality, and wholeness, Breema treatments restore natural function and bring a deep sense of wellbeing.

What is Yamuna® Body Rolling?

Yamuna® Body Rolling is a self-care and self-conditioning technique that uses specialized therapy balls to treat specific body parts. It is able to address multiple layers of tissue, including skin, fascia, muscle, and bone, as well as work with connective tissues, internal organs, and the nervous system.

Yamuna routines involve rolling the body on a therapy ball in specific ways. Using a ball and controlled body weight, the entire muscle is stimulated from origin to insertion and all the tendons and tissue in between. As the body rolls, deep breathing brings a relaxation response, allowing tension to release and the weight of the body to sink into the ball.

Using Yamuna therapy balls offers the most complete form of stretching, by directly and evenly stimulating tendons and muscle fibers. Conventional stretching lengthens fibers mainly in one direction only and potentially creates microtears in the muscle. Therapy balls, however, are able to stretch fibers lengthwise, crosswise, and diagonally without the risk of microtears. This supports the overall health of the tissue, increases movement throughout the entire muscle, and allows the body to move more dynamically overall.

Therapy balls are able to access tissues that are not easy to target with conventional stretching, like internal organs, abdominal muscles, hip rotators, and the spine. They can stimulate bone health from all sides, unlike most weight bearing activities that only load bone in one direction. And they are able to safely address joint injuries and increase range of motion without distressing sensitized tissues.

Yamuna Body Rolling is an effective and empowering treatment. By using the unique properties of therapy balls, Yamuna routines are able to give people comprehensive methods to treat their aches, pains, and injuries, and to maintain performance and health.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Balls and Rollers

Therapy balls and rollers offer many of the benefits of bodywork, but with the accessibility of a self-care practice and classes. Bodywork and massage therapy has a long list of benefits for overall health, pain management, athletic performance, and immune function. Sessions are one on one and highly individualized to each client’s body and what will best support their health.

Not everyone is able to receive bodywork or massage as often as their body needs it, though. A reasonable health maintenance schedule for bodywork is once every 2 or 4 weeks, and busy schedules and finances can make that difficult for everyone to access. That’s where the balls and rollers come in! With a grippy texture and firm (but not hard) to the touch, they can support health in many of the same ways bodywork does.

The ball or roller is able to mimic what the therapist does with their hands and feet, using slow, firm pressure to create length and hydration. They can address pressure points, lengthen fascia, relax muscle tension, and rehydrate tissues. Classes can get anyone started with these tools, as a trained teacher leads students through proper techniques and teaches them what to notice. Each student needs to learn the difference between sensations that create health, and pain that does damage.

Coming to class is an important part of dedicating regular self-care time and establishing good practices. Once you have these pieces, you can then begin to integrate balls and rollers into your own self-care practice at home. Self treatments like releasing the IT band after each long run or addressing pressure points on the hands to relax head and neck tension after a day on the computer, can go a long way to maintaining a daily sense of ease and vitality. This also allows classes and bodywork and massage sessions to become more effective as they can spend more time addressing root causes of discomfort.

At Ha.Lé, discovering the therapeutic use of balls and rollers was an Aha! moment for us. We had tried for years to figure out a way for clients to continue their treatments off the massage table. Yoga is a great complement to bodywork, but it does not work with the body in the same way. Adding therapeutic balls and rollers completes the care students receive in movement and yoga classes, and all of our teachers are encouraged to integrate all of our tools into their classes. We wholeheartedly encourage clients to come to class in order to support and maintain the specialized bodywork they receive on the table.

How Often Do You Need Self-Care?

Our bodies require regular care in order to thrive and heal, and one of the best ways to make sure we are on top of our self-care is to put it on our schedule instead of trying to fit it in around everything else. As a health and wellness practice, HaLe’ has experience with what kinds of schedules work best. Here are our recommendations, based on the state of your body:

Acute Pain: 3 classes/wk, bodywork or acupuncture every week

Acute pain is an active, painful flare up or injury. The body needs frequent treatment in order to release secondary tension, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, support the lymph system, regulate the pain signals, and generally assist the healing process.

Sub-acute: 1-2 classes/wk, bodywork or acupuncture every 2 weeks

Sub-acute pain falls between acute pain (sudden and awful) and chronic pain (long term, constant/consistent pain). It means that something hurts, but it hasn’t been hurting for a very long time and it isn’t terrible. The body is not in crisis but still in need of support and healing, so regular treatment until it resolves is recommended.

Chronic: Start with 2-3 classes/wk and bodywork or acupuncture every 1-2 weeks, then taper down

Chronic pain is long term pain that is not healing or getting better, and can be anywhere on the spectrum from unbearable to really annoying. Addressing chronic pain involves a combination of treatments to reduce overall pain levels and to treat the root cause of the chronic condition. This usually means coming often at the beginning, and as treatment makes progress at interrupting the pain cycle, tapering off gradually until treatments reach a maintenance level.

Maintenance: 1-2 classes/wk, bodywork or acupuncture every 4 weeks

To maintain a level of general good health and low pain, we recommend a basic self-care schedule. This helps resolve issues before they begin to hurt, reduces baseline stress levels, hydrates the connective tissue (fascia), and promotes a general sense of well-being. People who are very active or athletic may need more frequent self-care maintenance.

 

A Note on Mental Health care:

These same protocols can also be applied to mental and emotional health. Psychotherapy sessions for high distress, medium distress, chronic distress, and mental health maintenance often follow the same frequency guidelines as the pain levels, since mental and emotional distress is a form of pain. Coming to classes provides valuable support for regulating mood, reducing the physical symptoms of mental and emotional stress, and releasing emotional energy that is stored in the body. Adding bodywork and/or acupuncture to your treatment plan can treat imbalances that may be contributing to distress and help boost a sense of overall wellbeing.

Crackle and Pop: Knees and other Joints

Our knees and other joints can pop, grind, crunch, and make other interesting sounds. This can be alarming, causing worry about the health of the joint and whether the sounds are a sign of something serious.

What makes those sounds: There are a lot of complex tissues in our joints, and most of them can make some noise. Tiny bubbles can form in the joint fluid due to changes in joint pressure, and they make a sound when they pop. Ligaments and tendons can make a click or pop sound as they move over a bony lump and snap back into place. Cartilage can develop uneven areas as we age, and a grinding or crunching sound can be from those rough surfaces gliding across each other.

When to worry: As long as there is no pain or swelling, these sounds are not a reason to worry. They can come from age, use, or healed injuries, and the noises are not part of the alarm system of your body. Our body uses pain and swelling to indicate that there is a problem, and that is how you know when the joint needs extra attention and treatment. And if you ever experience a sudden pop followed by pain, that is almost always an injury that needs treatment.

Support for Joint Health: There are a few keys to supporting joint health, whether they are just making painless sounds or are causing discomfort. Bodywork and movement classes both help restore alignment so that the right muscles and connective tissues are working together, and to relieve muscle tension that can contribute to joint pain. Hydration of the tissues is also key to keeping joints supple and healthy, which is especially supported by bodywork and therapeutic movement. Acupuncture is also very effective at treating pain and the imbalances that may be causing that pain.

Joints like knees and shoulders that make interesting sounds without pain are not a cause for alarm. They can serve as reminders to stay committed to our self care, but do not indicate serious damage or injury to the joint.

Focus on Feeling Better: Mind-Body Connection

Our minds and bodies are connected into a single whole, and emotional states express themselves physically in the body. We get butterflies in our stomach when we are nervous, or blush when we are embarrassed. These are easy, momentary examples, but the same kinds of physical reactions happen for chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and other emotions. This means that mental and emotional healthcare is a cornerstone of treating health concerns and supporting overall wellbeing.

On a biological level, there are multiple networks of communication between the mind and the body. When the brain feels an emotion, it is a signal that activates the neurological system, the endocrine system, and the immune system. The body can then move toward readiness to face a threat or relax into rest-and-digest mode. Hormone levels adjust, which can affect your ability to take quick action, to heal, to feel hungry, and to feel tired. Your immune system can also ramp up or down, depending on the situation.

Because of these deep connections, treatment for many health concerns may be most effective when it includes sessions that focus on mental and emotional states specifically. Mindfulness Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics can all have a deep impact on creating health. These treatments each focus on different aspects of supporting a mindfulness practice, addressing possible trauma, developing more positive behavioral health habits, and working with the emotions stored in the body, especially when things feel “stuck”.

The mind-body connection is powerful because there is no real division between the body and the mind. They are both aspects of the same whole, and effective treatment takes this into account. Whether mental and emotional healthcare is addressing a cause of distress, a reaction to distress, or some of both, it is an effective aspect of feeling better and creating health.

Focus on Feeling Better: Rebalancing the Body

Our bodies function through complex biological systems interacting with each other. Because everything is interconnected, an issue in one part of the body can have widespread consequences. Rebalancing these systems can help to find and address root causes of pain and dysfunction, and to correct small imbalances before they start to have wider effects.

Acupuncture is focused on rebalancing the body. It is a complete medical protocol traditionally used to prevent and treat disease and to promote overall health. It uses tiny, hair-thin needles to cue the body toward balance, and is both very safe and effective.

Studies have shown acupuncture to be especially effective for pain. This is true for all kinds of pain, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, dental pain, menstrual pain, back pain, knee pain, and headaches. It both addresses the underlying imbalances that are causing the pain, and helps regulate the pain signals in the nervous system, which can snowball without effective treatment.

Acupuncture also helps to rebalance and treat the many other systems of the body. This includes addressing various kinds of allergies, regulating hormonal systems, bringing balance to the heart and circulatory system, and easing digestive difficulties. Most imbalances or health concerns can be addressed and improved through acupuncture, and at Ha.Lé we welcome the opportunity to partner with your doctor in your care.

Rebalancing the body through acupuncture also has the benefit of improving overall health and addressing small problems before they become big problems. As a preventative treatment, it can keep the many complex systems of the body running more smoothly, with fewer opportunities for dysfunction.

Balancing the body and maintaining that balance is one of the foundations of health and wellbeing. Acupuncture is a safe, effective way to promote that balance, creating health deep in the interconnected systems of the body.

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