Triphala for Digestive Health

Triphala is an Ayurvedic blend that is used to support digestive health and overall vitality. It is tridoshic, which means that it works for most people regardless of their constitution. Literally meaning “three fruits,” Triphala uses the fruits from three Indian medicinal plants to support internal cleansing, regulate digestion, and improve the absorption of of nutrients:

Amalaki is also known as Indian gooseberry and helps lower cholesterol. It supports the liver and immune system, and is a high source of vitamin C,

Haritaki is the Tibetan “king of medicine,” supporting the brain and the heart. It help clear toxins from the body.

Bibhitaki is a fruit that supports the respiratory system and promotes good bone production. It is a powerful ancient rejuvenator.

Triphala consists of five different tastes: sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, and sweet. Ideally it should be taken in a form where you can taste it, either as a tea or tablet, and not in a gelatin capsule. The act of tasting primes your body to digest and assimilate the blend more effectively. The taste will probably change each time you take it, because Triphala supplies the taste that your body needs. Over time, it can begin to taste sweet, but you may find it astringent or bitter for a while at the beginning.

Triphala nourishes and rejuvenates the digestive system, which is key to supporting health. It gently cleanses and detoxifies the system, while kindling the digestive fire and supporting the body’s absorption of more nutrients. It is a natural antioxidant, and is said to support graceful aging and overall well being.

From Self-Criticism to Self-Compassion

Self-Criticism refers to the voice inside our head that criticizes our thoughts, actions, and/or appearance. We use self-criticism as a way to motivate ourselves to drive forward, do the right thing, or stay safe. However, it turns out this is not an effective way to change our own behavior, and we often use this voice to say mean things to ourselves that we would not be comfortable saying to others.

Research conducted at Stanford University shows that self-criticism is more destructive than helpful. The more people criticize themselves, the slower their progress toward a goal, and the less likely they are to ever achieve it. Looking at the neuroscience of self-criticism, it actually shifts our brain into a state of self-inhibition and self-punishment. This causes us to disengage from our goals because we feel threatened and demoralized.

In the end, self-criticism makes us more likely to end up stuck in a cycle of procrastination and self-loathing. Even when we are able to push through this, it still saps emotional energy that could be used more productively.

Self-compassion is the alternative to self-criticism. It improves overall mental health, making you more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about the future. It is a way for our inner voice to become more of a supportive friend, helping us feel safe and accepted enough to see ourselves clearly and make the changes we need to make to become healthier and happier.

There are 3 main components to self-compassion. Self-Kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding, and to offer yourself soothing and comfort in the face of suffering. A sense of Common Humanity means recognizing that all humans are imperfect, and we all make mistakes, which helps put things in perspective. And finally, Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness that sees painful feelings in a clear and balanced manner, neither ignoring nor obsessing about what you don’t like about yourself.

Combining these three things creates self-compassion. This allows you to be easier on yourself when your suffering occurs through no fault of your own. It also helps you support yourself when the external circumstances of life are simply too painful or difficult to bear, and eases the suffering that you cause for yourself.

Moving out of self-criticism to a place of self-compassion is a gentler and more effective way to reach your goals and become the person you would like to be. It creates the feeling of internal safety that allows us each to blossom and thrive, growing in the direction we choose for ourselves.

Acupuncture for Fertility

Acupuncture is an effective treatment for regulating the reproductive system and addressing imbalances that can impact fertility. It is considered very safe and can be used either as a primary course of treatment or along with western medical treatments and medications. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the goal is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and have a healthy baby as well.

Stress: Stress is a key factor in the fertility of both women and men. It causes the brain to release cortisol, which disrupts its neurochemical balance. There is a delicate interplay between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands that regulate fertility, and stress can directly upset these relationships. Acupuncture is especially helpful in reducing stress and rebalancing its effects on the body in order to support fertility and overall health.

Hormones: Non-stress related hormone imbalances can also affect fertility. For example, not enough progesterone will prevent implantation, and too much prolactin will prevent ovulation. Acupuncture helps to regulate these hormone levels. It can also help correct thyroid imbalances, which can also affect the reproductive system.

Women: Acupuncture helps provide better blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which increases the chance of an egg being nourished and carried to term. It can help with spasmed tubes, helping them to release and return to full function. Trying to conceive can also take an emotional toll, and acupuncture helps reduce anxiety and regulate mood.

Men: Acupuncture can rebalance male fertility issues like low sperm count, low motility, and impotence. Many of the western fertility medications that adjust hormone levels are much less effective for men than for women; acupuncture can serve as an alternative route without the side-effects of the medications. There are also Chinese herbs that are especially indicated for male fertility.

Acupuncture helps regulate the complex systems of fertility, rebalance delicate hormone levels, and reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. Fertility issues are spread equally among men and women, and some issues are from unknown factors entirely. Bringing balance and harmony to the biological and emotional systems involved can restore the body’s ability to self-regulate, improving fertility and your overall sense of wellbeing.

Kidney Energy

In Chinese Medicine, the role of the kidney organ system is to store life essence, govern reproduction and growth, maintain bones and brains, control the flow of urine, and keep the will power strong. It is vital to every other organ system.

Life Essence: Our life essence, or Jing, is stored in the kidney system. How much Jing we have is inherited from our parents and created from the air we breathe and the food we eat. It forms the foundation for our zest in life. We may create too little Jing by breathing poor air, breathing shallowly, eating poor quality food, or having impaired digestion.

Reproduction & Growth: Kidney energy provides the juice for fertility, reproduction, sexual desire, and growth. Substances that stress the adrenal glands, like caffeine, drain kidney energy. When energy levels are deficient, it can cause issues with fertility, slow growth, low libido, and aging.

Bones & Brains: Kidney energy is linked to the brain, spinal cord, bone matrix, and marrow. Drugs that imbalance brain chemistry can especially drain kidney energy. When energy levels are deficient, they can cause poor nerve function, memory problems, week teeth, or osteoporosis.

Urine: Kidneys correlate with the water element, and kidney energy serves as the gate that opens and closes the flow of urine. Imbalances in the amount, frequency, and color of urination are signs of kidney energy level issues.

Will Power: Good, balanced kidney energy allows us to use our willpower to express our unique creativity. It allows us to overcome fear and to pursue goals. With a deficiency of kidney energy, our sense of purpose can become shaky and we can become easily distracted.

Kidney energy in Chinese Medicine is a comprehensive system of the body and mind, with much broader influence and effects than in Western medicine. Kidney energy issues can be rebalanced in order to restore health and bring back a sense of purpose and vitality.

How to Think More Clearly

Mental clarity and general brain function can be affected by depression, disease, dysfunction, and general aging. Symptoms can include brain fog, frequent inability to think of the right word, forgetfulness, insomnia, and chronic restlessness. There are many ways to boost clarity of thought and brain health at HaLé, including treatment through acupuncture, bodywork, and classes.

Acupuncture approaches mental clarity by improving flow to the brain, which then helps to regulate information processing and response to stimuli. By significantly improving cerebral glucose metabolism of the brain, acupuncture can improve memory, concentration, and cognitive function. Thus far, all studies that have looked at how acupuncture affects mental performance, ranging from studies on dementia to college exam performance, have produced positive results.

Bodywork and massage also help with mental clarity, especially since tight neck and shoulder muscles can limit circulation to the brain. Sessions help to activate the left side of the brain, which boosts motivation, and they alleviate the mental block of stress, which frees up energy for creative thinking and completing tasks. Bodywork has also been shown to have a cumulative effect on improving memory, increasing awareness, and heightening alertness.

Therapeutic movement classes like yoga, tai chi, and MELT Method are also helpful for improving clarity of thought because of their blend of physical activity and mindfulness practice. Movement classes are shown to increase the levels of various biochemicals in the muscles and brain that are associated with improved brain health. Because they also incorporate mindfulness, they have been shown to be more effective than aerobic exercise alone for helping the brain focus, process information, and remember details. They provide positive stimulation of the brain, which supports optimal brain function and helps you stay alert and sharp.

Mental clarity and brain function is an aspect of health that can be supported and addressed, just like any other health issue. Whether your concerns are due to aging, medication, or other causes, it is possible to create and maintain brain health for improved function and clearer thinking.

How Movement Classes Help Manage Pain

Pain conditions change the body, creating deep muscle tension, restricting the breath, and raising levels of stress hormones. Yoga and other systems of therapeutic movement can shift these biological responses to pain, reducing suffering and helping to create health.

Gentle, mindful movements improve balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, and stamina. This helps to release the deep muscle tension that comes from chronic pain, and increases blood and lymph flow through the body, carrying nourishment to stressed tissues.

As tension releases, it becomes easier to breathe. While in pain, the breath becomes shallow and tight as the body stays prepared to protect itself. As the diaphragm and core release excess tension, the breath is able to deepen, which in turn signals the endocrine system that the threat has passed and it is safe to relax. The relaxation response then lowers the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, allowing the body to switch into nurture and restore mode, where it can focus on healing damage instead of protecting against it.

At Ha.Lé, our classes are accessible to students at all levels and with a wide variety of health concerns. We see firsthand the benefits of regular practice for increasing range of motion, reducing pain, and lowering stress levels, and the sometimes profound improvements in health that can bring.

What is Ha.Lé Bodywork?

Ha.Lé Bodywork begins by listening. We are advocates of client-centered care, and clear communication is at the heart of a good massage therapy session. Our treatments start from a place of supporting and listening to clients’ experiences.

Our massage therapists use ashiatsu, neuromuscular, myofascial release, and sports massage, as well as in-house in techniques that use the therapist’s own breath and body weight in order to work as deeply as needed without strain. These techniques are effective for reducing stress levels, reducing pain, and supporting emotional health, which allows us to effectively treat and support a wide variety of clients.

Treatments at HaLé go much deeper than simple relaxation. In addition to reducing the stress and muscle tension in the body, we practice manual medicine to restore soft tissue and create health and wellness. This means that we can help increase range of motion, reduce swelling, help posture issues, reduce scarring, and more.  

Ha.Lé Bodywork begins with listening and works toward rehabilitation and wellness. It complements other treatment approaches (like medicines), and can have a profound effect on pain levels, quality of life, and overall sense of wellbeing.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used to support health for thousands of years. It is tridoshic, which means that it works for the constitution of most people, and is used to support, tone, and revitalize bodily functions. As an adaptogen, it is especially effective for countering the effects of stress.

In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” to say that the herb has the potential to impart a stallion’s vigor and strength. It counteracts the effects of stress that cause fatigue and agitation by nourishing the nervous system. This gives it a dual capacity to energize and calm at the same time.

Ashwagandha supports higher energy levels, strength, and vitality. It helps strengthen the immune system, calm mental distress, and foster healthy sleep. It can support the health of the thyroid and adrenals, reduce inflammation, and quiet the distress signals of the body to promote health and healing.

Overall, Ashwagandha is an herb that can reduce the effects of stress in order to increase vitality. It is well tolerated by most people, and can be a great support for general health and wellness. As one of the most widely helpful Ayurvedic herbs, Ha.Lé offers it in tablet form from a trusted, sustainable source.

Savvy Self-Care

The fundamentals of taking care of yourself are sleeping, eating, and practicing self care. Getting enough sleep is crucial for vitality, mental sharpness, and emotional regulation. Eating well fuels the body for activity, supports healthy organ function, and also helps with emotional regulation. Self-care is just as important as sleeping and eating well. It is how we cultivate health, by listening to the body’s needs and responding appropriately.

What are your self-care mechanisms and are they working for you? These might include meditation or mindfulness practice, exercise routine and activity level, quiet time, quality time with loved ones, receiving bodywork and massage, and any of the other hundreds of things we do to support our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Being savvy with your self-care includes regularly checking in with yourself, and then being proactive about taking action. This means that when you need bodywork and massage, or acupuncture, or a class, you know where to go. You are able to tell when you need it, you know how often you need it, and you probably already have it scheduled, maybe with a standing appointment every 2 or 4 weeks.

What do you need from your self-care? You might need to cultivate a clear, calm mind, or more time to relax and recharge. You might also need a higher activity level, or bodywork to support the activity level you already maintain. Perhaps you need acupuncture to manage pain or reduce stress. Begin with how you feel and how you would like to feel, and then figure out how to make that transition.

Savvy self-care does not wait until we are so uncomfortable that we have to stop our lives to make a change, but instead listens to the smaller discomforts and takes care of them in order to maintain a sense of vitality. It’s about being daring enough to put your self-care first and foremost, in order to be more comfortable in your body. 

 

Treating Arthritis

Arthritis is a very common cause of joint pain, usually caused by worn cartilage that no longer keeps enough of a cushion between the bones of the joint. This in turn causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Treatment for arthritis either supports the health of the joint and/or helps to manage the pain.

At Ha.Lé, we have a variety of effective treatments for arthritis pain. Our first recommendation is to come to class. Physical movement in general helps to relieve stiffness and improve circulation. Yoga classes also help realign the joint and strengthen the muscles around it, which can reduce the amount of pressure that contributes to the pain. MELT Method classes focus on hydration of tissues, and dry tissues in the joint can be a big contributing factor for discomfort. By using MELT techniques, those dry tissues can rehydrate, reducing inflammation and providing more cushion between the bones. Finally, Somatics and Feldenkrais classes can help the body learn to move more effortlessly, taking some of the strain off of painful joints and restoring a sense of vitality.

In addition to classes, we recommend bodywork and acupuncture. Bodywork is able to address multiple layers of tissue around the affected joints, easing strain and restoring blood and nutrient flow to the tissues. By addressing issues with muscle tension and adhered fascia, the joint is freed to move more easily, releasing pressure from spaces that don’t have enough cushioning and making movement more sustainable and less painful.

Acupuncture is also helpful for arthritis. It works to regulate pain signals in general, turning down the volume on the body’s alarms. This is especially helpful when pain has become chronic, which means that the pain signals can begin to build on each other, sending louder and louder alarms. Acupuncture is able to help reset this response. It also helps to reduce the inflammation in the joints themselves, which eases discomfort.

Arthritis pain is common and treatable. There are many ways to address the discomfort and reduce the impact of arthritis on daily life, through movement classes, bodywork, and acupuncture. All of these approaches are very safe with few side effects, and have the added effect of increasing your sense of vitality and general well-being.