Behavioral Health for Mind, Body, and Spirit Care

from Janice Glasscock, LCSW

Behavioral health care and mental health care focus on thought processes and emotions, on personal narrative, and helping the mind communicate with the brain. This allows us to better understand our own stories and feelings so that we can make better decisions and act towards healing.

Behavioral and mental health care is especially useful for people in situations that feel stuck, full of loss or fear, and/or during large transitions. These situations can include an unhealthy pattern in a relationship, moving into new parenthood, and launching children from home. They can also be about dealing with a life threatening health condition or diagnosis, stage of life transitions like aging or health concerns, work place or work relationship concerns, or the loss of a significant relationship.

Approximately 67% of people with behavioral or mental health concerns do not receive treatment, and these concerns account for about half of disability days from work. Depression is the #1 condition currently affecting health care costs right now, and it has a global and pervasive impact on health issues and conditions.

We can improve our overall sense of well-being, health, and quality of life by paying attention to our behavioral and mental health as a part of our mind, body, and spirit interplay. This means paying attention to our thinking and cognitive processes, and to our decisions and actions. Strong behavioral and mental health helps with:

  • positive, effective work and personal relationships
  • good life choices and lifestyle development
  • physical health/well-being
  • handling natural ups and downs of life, and coping during life crises
  • self-discovery and personal growth

Psychotherapy as treatment for behavioral and mental health concerns is an evidence-based way to reduce depression and anxiety and more effectively cope and problem solve. It has long-lasting benefits, and helps to address chronic low and high levels of stress that are on-going contributors to compromised health and well-being.

Within a positive, safe, and constructive relationship with a professional, psychotherapy helps identify and better understand cognitive sources of unease, and to change/broaden thinking about both the problems of daily living and the catastrophic, all-consuming psychological and emotional crises from which we need recovery. It is a great modality to help us take action on the paths of healing.

The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

from Elmo Shade

The most common reasons people come to a Mindfulness Practice are

  1. Physical pain or chronic pain
  2. Emotional pain due to loss, death, or serious or potentially fatal diagnosis
  3. Inability to manage the day to day stressors of life

The benefits of mindfulness are known and well-documented. It reduces levels of stress, meaning the autonomic nervous system is not in fight, flight, or freeze mode. This then reduces both anxiety and depression, reduces fatigue and burnout, and reduces periods of restlessness. This leads to an increased ability to pay attention and concentrate and higher cognitive performance, particularly while learning. It enhances hormonal balance for women, and enhances the immune system of men and women.

Chronic pain, many of our physical ailments, and even diseases that we are experiencing are not actually illnesses or diseases. They are a result of the body system storing stress and pain that has never actually been released in a healthy manner. Mindfulness helps to reduce the discomfort of pain, both emotional and physical, and increases our capacity for compassion for ourselves and others.

Because Mindfulness Practice is about paying attention to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies, it often leads to increased levels of energy. It can decrease fatigue and increase stamina. This higher energy level then brings increased movement. The American Psychiatric Association shows we spend 6-12 hours a day not moving, and this does not count the time we spend sleeping. Having the energy to move is a tremendous benefit.

Mindfulness Practice is evidence-based and proven to benefit quality of life through the reduction of physical pain, emotional pain, and chronic stress. Our collective stress levels are higher than they have ever been, especially for women, and that takes a toll on our health. We can bring ourselves back into balance through mindfulness.

The Benefits of Yoga at Any Age

from Nancy Kirkland

People derive different kinds of benefits from a yoga practice. Yoga and other eastern practices differ from most western forms of physical activity because you really have to incorporate the mind into the practice. With aerobic oriented activity like running or swimming, you can just let your mind drift off. With yoga, the mind focus brings a greater benefit in addition to the physical benefits of greater strength, flexibility, and balance. A lot of people sleep better, feel calmer, and breathe better. You don’t have to go in with the intention to get those benefits, they just result from doing a good yoga asana practice.

Yoga also helps people find what is challenging for them, be it physical, mental, or emotional, and helps find a way to address it. People often do yoga positions way too quickly. They will say their shoulder hurts, and I’ll say give it 6 months. Give pain time to resolve. Pain is a very good teacher and yoga is not a pain free practice. When people come to class with pain, they need to recognize that yoga is not an immediate cure all but that there are great benefits to a regular practice.

Yoga is a practice for people of all levels. HaLe’ has students ages 20 to 80, so don’t let fitness or age keep you away. Find a teacher that resonates with you and then stick with them. Don’t try for a lot of variety; go deeper instead of wider. Allow your class to become a community that develops over time. That’s a very supportive group to be in.

Also, don’t avoid props and don’t underestimate restorative yoga. Props like blocks, straps, and chairs make yoga much more accessible to people and allows them to achieve a comfortable practice with a properly aligned body. Restorative yoga is key to improving breath, awareness, and observations skills, even though a lot of people really resist it when they are new to yoga practice because they feel restless, want to exercise, and don’t see the value. It is an important part of a yoga practice; don’t ignore it.

A yoga practice, because it incorporates mind and body instead of being just body, comes with a lot of benefits. A good asana practice should be both convenient and enjoyable, and doing the yoga postures properly has different benefits for everyone. Most of all, though, don’t take it too seriously. It should also be fun.

 

Nancy Kirkland has 45 years of yoga practice and has been teaching yoga for 17 years.

The Medicine of Sound

From Julie Fisher

Sound Healing provides deep relaxation and stress relief. It is especially helpful when emotions are running high, whether from stress, or grief, or going through something traumatic. We are not taught how to let our feelings flow, but instead are often encouraged to shut them down and ignore them, or to tell their stories, which can keep us in our mind and reinforce the emotion. But with sound, it shows where the feeling is in the body. It might wrap around the shoulders, or move down the spine. The sound gently brings the emotion up to the surface, where it might be felt as a warm sense of tension in the heart, and then it releases. It moves through us and leaves us relaxed.

People often come in to a sound healing class, workshop, or private session high strung and bouncing off the walls. It takes a minute for them to settle down, and then a switch happens and they go into a new state. Their body shifts, their breathing changes, and they go into a place of rest. Their awareness increases, they become aware of different sensations in their body, and the mind is finally able to let go and relax. Creating that space and awareness allows a deep release of stress and tension. Afterwards, people’s faces are more open, with more light in their eyes.

One person comes to Sound Healing because she literally receives messages, connecting with her higher intelligence and intuition. Another came when he hadn’t slept in 3 days, fell asleep, and woke up feeling like he’d had hours of the best sleep of his life when it had only been 50 minutes. Someone else has gained an improved sense of rest and is now able to connect with her breath as a simple and easy to access tool with powerful and immediate effects. We often talk about the power of the breath, but the Sound Healing helped her distill that in a way that is so simple and obvious that it became a discovery.

We all have issues whether we are aware of it or not, and sound brings it up to the surface in a way that feels safe, like a comfortable cocoon. When we are safe enough to look at it, then it can come up and release. Sound Healing allows us to become aware of things we didn’t even know, like patterns of tension in the neck and shoulders, and then the healing sound allows it to just pass through us and relax.

Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief through AIYA Yoga Therapy

Fibromyalgia symptoms cross physical and neurological boundaries, as do symptoms from traumatic accidents and surgeries that throw off the nervous system. There are many conditions that seem to affect the nervous system but that challenge Western medical diagnositics. The symptoms are real, even if they can seem mysterious and confounding to Western medicine. Assisted Integrated Yoga Asana (AIYA) Yoga Therapy is excellent at calming this family of symptoms.

The gentle assisted movement of AIYA Yoga Therapy, developed by Kristen Hubbard, brings relief to muscles and joints by moving through a range of motion and stretching as well as flushing of interstitial fluids. Sessions are done one on one on a thick mat on the floor, as the therapist takes you through a passive series of assisted stretches, other gentle movements, and working with the breath.

Kristen Hubbard has worked with fibromyalgia patients since 2011. Her treatments have a wonderful positive effect for fibromyalgia symptoms, and include a gentleness of process that makes sure all parts of the body are always supported and that there are no jarring or intense movements. This proficiency in effective treatment is informed by Kristen’s expertise in restorative yoga.

New clients should begin with a 1 hour initial treatment so that client and therapist can build trust and feel comfortable with each other. Depending on what the client needs, Kristen often recommends coming every other week for 4 or 5 treatments and then dropping down to more of a maintenance schedule. Since every body is unique, treatments also include discussion about self-care recommendations and some ideas for stretches at home in order to prolong the positive effects.

AIYA Yoga Therapy helps people with fibromyalgia symptoms get to a place where they are more comfortable in their bodies as they get to know their range of motion through safe movement free from fear of injury. They tend to have lessened pain days and less intensity of symptoms. The effects seem to last for several weeks before symptoms begin to return.

A Feminine Practice of Health

From Jane House

We all have weird things that come up for us in our bodies. Sometimes they are constant symptoms, and sometimes they just show up periodically. Usually, we try to fix them, or to medicate them. Sometimes they are concerning enough that we find ourselves running around to various doctors so they can do the fixing or the medicating.

The practice of yoga can help us reclaim the knowing and power that we lose when our health is being approached from the outside in. When we drop into our bodies, and breathe, we can turn inward.

The body is always talking to us through symptoms, texture, light, pain, and more. We can learn this new language. We can use bodywork, or yoga, or meditation in order to turn to our bodies and to sit with them, to talk with them. This is a feminine practice, just sitting with what comes up.

When we sit for long enough and listen for long enough, we get information from the body up instead of from the head down. An image or an intuition will come through. For example, my left knee swells up for no reason, and it pulls me inward and downward into my body. So I respond to that and listen to it instead of trying to fix it. I read the symptoms and signs that crop up from the inside.

Recently, sitting with my swollen knee, after a month of slowing down, I got the intuition to work with Adie, who does lymphatic massage at HaLe’. I had never met her or tried her work. But the prompt kept coming from the inside, and her work, her particular healing, got into my body and moved something, and my knee got unswollen.

Other times, I’ll get an image, something that comes up from the past that I need to work with psychologically, and it comes from the ground up, an intuition.

When we drop into our own bodies we can become our own advocates, and it’s a really new and different experience, this not getting something from the outside in. It empowers us. The feminine practice is about honoring the body instead of controlling the body.

The Folk Art of Thai Massage

Thai Yoga collage

Thai Massage is a folk art, a healing art, and is a great complement to other healing therapies. It has its roots in both self-care and love and care of others, as inspired by the practice of Loving-Kindness, or Metta.

Practicing Thai Massage teaches a person how to ground and focus, how to center themselves, and helps create a sense of body-conciousness and body awareness.

Receiving Thai Massage helps drastically reduce stress levels in the body, and is a good treatment for neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and muscle soreness, as well as helping to open the joints.

Thai Massage is a branch of Thai medicine and medical theory, and is something that has been practiced by the indigenous people of Thailand for a long time. It started as a form of partner yoga, with its roots in self-massage. That is where the terms Thai Yoga Bodywork or Thai Yoga Massage come from.

There’s a system of self-care and self-massage techniques rooted in the whole Thai process because it starts with yourself. The techniques taught in classes are designed to mimic some of those original self-massage techniques, only they are modified to be done with a partner.

These partner techniques are especially fun for couples, parents, family members, and friends to learn and practice with each other. Once you have the training, you can easily do it together at home. It is also useful for fitness professionals like personal trainers, for massage therapists to broaden their skill base, and for yoga teachers to use with private clients.

Thai Massage is a wonderful practice to integrate into your lifestyle, with its benefits for giving, receiving, and sharing with others.

Ha.Le’ is pleased to offer an upcoming Thai Massage training workshop March 5th and 6th 2016 with Charlene Gaffney. More information here.

Stress Release

stress release

When we allow ourselves to rest and to receive,
we give ourselves permission to let go,
and that is the very heart of stress release.
We can then start the untangling
of bound thought patterns, tissue fibers, and ideas about ourselves.
Stress release can happen in a moment, in a flash, in seconds,
and you know when it happens.
We recognize it.
To find stress release, you only need to show up, to arrive,
into our culture of care at Ha.Le’.

Don’t wait until life settles down; you are not going to get less busy.

Allow Grace

allow grace
We all have ideas about how we would like to look and feel in our bodies, and in this season of New Year’s Resolutions, it is easy to become extra critical and impatient with ourselves.
This year, allow yourself some Grace.
We all need grace and space to develop. Some things can take a long time to process, so please give yourself that time. Instead of judging yourself and others, allow time to transition, and trust yourself and your therapists to get you where you need to be.

Happy New Year,

Janice Cathey

What is Restorative Yoga?

spiritual indian symbol of lotus flower

 

 

by Kristen Hubbard

Restorative Yoga uses blankets, pillows, and other props to allow the body to fully and comfortably relax into each pose, often resting in each pose for 3 or more minutes. Through these fully supported body positions, breath awareness, and meditative contemplation, Restorative Yoga restores a deep sense of calm relaxation to the body and mind. Every effort is made by the teacher to assist the student in finding comfort in each position. Transitions between poses happen slowly, with ease and awareness. The body’s comfortable, supported postures allow the mind to begin the process of unwinding.

 

Due to the continuous influx of stimuli in our daily lives, most of us live in a constant state of alertness. Where this behavior does keep us from being eaten by tigers, falling off of cliffs, and other such peril, it also creates a state of continuous mental, physical and emotional stress. As the body recognizes the sensation of full support and the lack of imminent danger, the mind is unburdened of physical concerns and able to refine focus on the breath.

 

In Restorative Yoga, as in other styles of yoga, we use the breath as a link between the conscious and the unconscious. We can both choose to control our breath as well as surrender to the natural process of breathing. Thus, focus on our breath and the experience of breathing begins to bring us truly into the present moment, into what our body and mind can sense right now, removing focus on exterior stresses and daily concerns and allowing the nervous system much deserved rest.

 

With the physical body fully supported and the nervous system functioning with ease we have the opportunity to explore even deeper states of relaxation. The meditative states achieved through Restorative yoga practice are often more restful than an average night’s sleep. This rested state of mind and body is where we put together the puzzle pieces we’ve picked up throughout our conscious daily life. This is where we establish patterns and where we create memories.

 

A regular Restorative Yoga practice is a powerful tool for those interested in improving the health of the mind, the body, and their vast network of interconnectivity. With the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher, Restorative Yoga is available and beneficial to students of all level, including those completely new to yoga, recovering from injury, seasoned practitioners of any style, on its own or as a complement to any strong practice.

 

Ha.Le’ is pleased to offer Restorative Yoga taught by Kristen Hubbard, as one of our many therapeutic yoga classes for all levels. Please join us! 

 

Class Schedule

 

 

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