Recovery Yoga

from Andy Coppola

It is surprising how much people are recovering from stuff, and not just AA, not just addicts and alcoholics, but more people are given prescription drugs because of a car accident or an injury at work or something like that, and then they slip into a way of living that they are not used to, and it comes with strange behaviors. I have been in AA for 17 or 18 years, and I used to think alcoholics and addicts are different, but the more I interact with people in recovery, the more I see people being susceptible to addiction because of the way the medical practice uses prescription drugs.

 

One of the big things in Recovery and in Yoga, particularly the yoga tradition I work with, is the idea of relationship, and that’s what’s been interrupted. Often the doctors that prescribe these drugs don’t have enough time to spend with people and so instead of getting help, people just get medicine, and that breaks down the relationship. It is through relationship with people that we understand ourselves better.

 

The basis of our yoga is what is my mind doing, what is my heart doing, what is my breath doing. This is not the basis of most yoga, which is more about stretching and getting farther along in some capacity. Instead of trying to get toward a goal, we develop relationship with the body and with the teacher, and then the body begins to trust itself a little bit more, letting go of what holds you back and removing obstacles in your body, in your mind, and in your heart. This approach can be hard for people who haven’t been in a really difficult place to comprehend, because it goes against the norm to say, “I’m not going to push my body too far, I’m not going to work overly hard, I am just going to take care of myself.”

 

It is counterintuitive, but my body responds better to starting with slow, simple movements, simple breathing, and mental focus on things that are not complex. These are small steps that help your body trust your decisions again. You have broken your body’s judgment when you think you have to turn to a pill or some kind of chemical. Those chemicals work so that they change your body so that your body needs that chemical, so it’s a downward spiral, chaining the body, so that it is no longer addressing what it was originally addressing, and it is just this chemical relationship. When you get to a very difficult place in life and experience and you say this is no longer working, then you are willing to say, “I’m looking at what’s going on, and it’s hard to come out of it.” But simple practice, simple breathing, simple movements all build this idea of trust so that your body starts to respond to your judgment again.

 

Rebuilding this trust doesn’t happen over a week or a month, but over time, which is why the relationship is so important. Start with a teacher for guidance, and then work with yourself so that when you sit still with your mind, breath, and body, you can inquire, “What does my body need at this moment?” Rather than provide the solution, you are just constantly asking, and through that process of asking, the answers come; you don’t have to seek them. The body instinctively knows I shouldn’t move this far or hard in this pose because it is causing strain in my back or in my shoulder. Over time, as I become more sensitive to that, my body starts to open up its physical capacity. I’m not trying to do more, but because I am listening to what my body says, my body will open up and allow more to happen because it knows I am listening. I can do more now in my 40s than I could in my 20s.

 

The difficulty with this practice is that it is a process. We are used to paying for something, getting it, and leaving. We are not used to someone saying, “Just be here, stay here for a few minutes and be at peace.” But this is how we rebuild these broken relationships, especially the trust we have broken with our bodies.

What is Acupuncture and How Does It Work?

by Katherine Casey, LAc

Just as there is a blood circulatory system, there is also a circulatory system for energy, or qi (pronounced chi). Qi flows continuously in a channel system, just like blood flows continuously in the circulatory system. The distribution of blood and qi throughout the body brings nourishment to all of its organs and systems, right down to the cellular level, and supports all of its functions.

Along these channels are acupuncture points, each with a unique property and purpose. A combination of points is selected by the practitioner according to the needs of the client receiving the acupuncture treatment. Placing needles in these acupuncture points serves to deliver a message to the qi flowing in the channels–perhaps to nourish a part of the body that has been injured, or to nourish an organ that is in a state of deficiency. For example, if the client has a cold, this would indicate a deficiency in the lungs. The points selected for treatment would address this deficiency, sending a message for the qi to support the lungs and bring them back to a healthier state.

The body’s natural state is one of health, but we sometimes find ourselves out of that natural state due to the stresses of daily life. Sleep patterns, diet, exercise, stress caused by working environments and life events, all have an effect on the state of our health. The objective of acupuncture is to bring the body back to that natural state of health, by supporting its own self healing capabilities. The acupuncture practitioner and the client are equal partners in this healing process.

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.

Ayurveda: How to Be Healthy for You

Ayurveda is the oldest form of medicine. It teaches us that everyone has a different constitution, and what works for one person doesn’t work for another. A lot of times people compare themselves to others and try to do what they did in order to get the same results. We might eat a lot of carbs, or eat a lot of protein, or eat according to various fads and diets, and then we wonder why other people got the results we wanted, but we did not.

We are each born with a specific constitution, and it doesn’t change. Even twins will have different constitutions. Once you know your constitution, you can figure out what’s better for your body. Ayurveda simplifies the guessing game because it tells you more about what will work and takes the pressure out of how to stay healthy.

We can feel so confused by health and it gets overwhelming. Ayurveda works, and is not a fad diet but a different way of understanding your own unique body, which is what separates it from all these other options. Find your constitution, find what works best for you, and fix your imbalances based on what is right for your body. Ayurveda teaches how to be healthy for you.

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.

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

 

 

Cupping Therapy Nashville

What is cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy is a form of deep massage, affecting the body up to four inches into the tissues. Using heat or suction, cupping massage creates a partial vacuum that helps tissues release toxins, activate and clear blood vessels and promote local healing.

This is another ancient healing art that both mobilizes blood flow and opens the meridians, or energy conduits, of the body. Cupping is considered the most effective way of opening five important meridians down the back. Invigorating energy flows through the body once these meridians are open.

With cupping therapy Nashville clients tap into old traditions. Ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures all used cupping therapy, and references in hieroglyphics from 3,500 years ago refer to the procedure. Throughout history, healers used bamboo, hollowed out animal horns, seashells, nuts and gourds. Earthenware and metal cups preceded the development of glass.

Therapists today use cups made of medical silicone or plastic, some with pumps and some that incorporate magnetic therapy. Modern versions increase drawing strength while decreasing potential side effects and simplifying the procedure.

Most traditional massage therapy uses positive pressure and compression to manipulate tissues. Cupping uses negative pressure, stretching tissue from underlying structures. It greatly complements myofascial release, deep tissue work and manual lymphatic drainage.

Among the benefits of cupping therapy:

– Loosens adhesions
– Draws blood supply to the skin
– Moves stagnation and drains fluids
– Relieves inflammation
– Breaks up and congestion
– Promotes lymphatic fluid drainage
– Stretches muscle and connective tissues

With more people seeking alternatives, interest in holistic healing methods like cupping therapy is on the rise. At Ha.Le’ Mind and Body, we utilize both moving cups and stationary cupping methods. Depending on client needs and preferences, we will blend cupping therapy with other approaches.

Our clients who struggle with pain related to scar tissue report improved range of motion, and less pain after such sessions. If you’d like to know how cupping therapy may be of benefit, please give us a call at 615-414-0242 or contact us HaLeMindandBody.com.

ashiatsu nashville

What is Ashiatsu?

Have you ever seen photographs or video footage of a therapist walking on a client’s back, using overhead bars and straps as support?

That is Ashiatsu, a powerful and effective form of massage therapy that is one of our offerings here at Ha.Le’ Mind and Body. In Japanese, the root word “Ashi” means foot and “Atsu” means pressure.

Controlled foot pressure uses physics of both bodies – therapist and client – for maximum benefit. With feet, the therapist activates acupressure points and spreads tissue fibers, distributing more body weight and pressure than what is available during traditional massage therapy using fingers, hands and arms.

With the feet, Ashiatsu therapists push, pull and pump tissue to relieve symptoms of chronic soft tissue damage. Ashiatsu is very effective at treating scar tissue and is the most profound way to receive myofascial release.  The support bars and straps allow therapists to control the weight and pressure – Ashiatsu feels like a deep massage (which it is) more than it feels like someone is walking on your back.

Barefoot massage techniques have deep historical roots throughout Asia and date back at least 3,000 years. In India, oils on bare skin and one balancing rope characterize Chavutti Thermal. Elsewhere throughout the Pacific Rim, Buddhist monks would provide the healing art of barefoot massage, through clothing, to pilgrims who made financial offerings of support and devotion.

In the West, Ashiatsu was introduced by Ruthie Harding, who saw a group of women using their feet to massage a row of men on cots in the Philippines in 1967. The women all used one long rod suspended from the ceiling for support. During a trip to India, she saw a man stabilizing himself with two knotted cloths hanging from a tree while using his feet to massage a man on a mat.

I trained at Ruthie Harding’s facility in Colorado. Here in Nashville Ashiatsu massage is one of our specialties. The method creates a strong bond between therapist and client. Such a bond increases a client’s comfort level, making the massage more effective. We use a method of sinking into muscle fibers as breath allows, and the pace and knowledge of our therapist make our sessions therapeutic, profound, and beneficial.

One size does not fit all when it comes to body work, but for many of our clients in Nashville Ashiatsu is the perfect fit.

If you’d like to experience Ashiatsu, give us a call at 615-415-0242.

What is Ear Acupuncture?

The eyes may be a window to the soul but the ears are a gateway to the whole human organism.

Ear acupuncture involves stimulating five points on the ear to help lessen pain and illness, much like foot reflexology. The ears, like the feet, contain groups of “pluripotent cells” that hold information from the whole organism, allowing local stimulation to target another area of the body.

Stimulation of ear points has a rich, ancient history across many cultures, but its efficacy as a complementary medicine began an ascent in the mid-1950s. Dr. Paul Nogier, a French physician, is considered the father of modern “auricolotherapy,” as the practice is known.

He observed repeated, predictable somatotopic connections between ear points and specific body regions. Dr. Nogier also was the first to recognize ‘the man in the ear,’ or homunculus – anatomical correlations of an upside-down fetus in the human ear to points on the body.

Ear acupuncture is helpful in treatment of stress, behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster and emotional trauma, post traumatic stress disorders, acute and chronic pain, anxiety-related disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, smoke cessation, alcohol withdrawal and substance abuse.

After training as an Acu Detox specialist (ADS) at Yale University in 2012 I started providing weekly sliding scale treatments for those within my community as a stress reduction service. The use of five specific points stimulated by disposable sterilized needles helps calm the nervous system, quiets the mind, and brings a more balanced state of being.

Ear acupuncture practitioners use different tools to stimulate ear points and prompt a relaxation response, from finger tools to acupressure, laser and electricity, magnetic balls and seeds, and tiny acupuncture needles.

The goal remains the same: use five points in each ear for each person. In this way, the therapy creates a collective healing experience by tapping into points connected to body systems:

  • Sympathetic point: relaxes the entire body, stimulates the vagus nerve, promotes a shift from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode
  • Shen Men (Spirit Gate): relaxes the mind, calms the spirit, reduces anxiety
  • Kidney: promotes optimal kidney function, transforms the effects of excess fear
  • Liver: promotes optimal liver function, transforms the effects of excess anger and frustration
  • Lung: promotes optimal lung function, transforms the effects of excess grief and loss

Many clients immediately report better sleep, fewer headaches, less physical pain, and greater emotional wellbeing. I hope to see you soon!

 

What is Watsu

What is Watsu?

The word “Watsu” is a combination of water and shiatsu.

Watsu therapy takes place in warm water. Through Watsu, I am able to rotate, flex and move my client’s muscles in ways not possible on a massage table. When a client is tense or rigid, I assist in positioning the body to effect complete relaxation.

The result is a fuller, more therapeutic massage. Water allows for freedom of the spinal vertebrae, mild rotation of joints and maximum elongation of muscles.

The client is supported by the warm water, held and moved rhythmically by the therapist, who also incorporates individualized breathing techniques. This non-impact series of postures helps clients break free from old posture and movement patterns, which often contribute to persistent, if not chronic, pain.

Water therapy helps reduce emotional stress, aids in flexibility and alleviates aches and pains. Below are comments from residents of a continuing care retirement community who received Watsu therapy twice a month for 18 months as part of a study:

  • “It is wonderfully relaxing and has helped my back.”
  • “I experienced some chronic leg pain before I began receiving Watsu. It has almost disappeared.”
  • “I sleep better. I have a sense of well-being. My blood pressure is so much lower that my medication has been cut in half.”
  • “It is the most relaxing experience I’ve ever had.”

Based on restorative principles of stress reduction, release of physical tension and acupressure, Watsu can benefit clients of all types. This modality is especially suited to people with histories of physical ailments that include arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, spinal fusion, Parkinson’s disease and hip/knee replacement or restoration.

The movements are gentle and fluid and don’t require limbering up or warming up before a session. As a water therapy, Watsu alleviates joint pressure and creates a profound sense of well-being.

I’ve been practicing Watsu therapy in Nashville at the Greenhills Health Center off Woodmont Boulevard for several years. Not only does the GHHC have the warmest salt pool in Nashville, the center provides a supportive atmosphere for rehabilitation.

I’ve adapted Watsu for individuals with a range of circumstances: children with special needs; children with learning differences; teenagers; and clients with PTSD’s, chronic pain, or hip and knee replacements. I also use Watsu with people who have had sexual trauma, stroke and those who are pre-surgery, post-surgery, or pregnant.

Those of us who explore Watsu’s potential for healing find lasting benefits, powerful experiences, and, most of all, a deep connection to just being alive.

Page 2 of 212