Pelvic Health: No Where To Go But Inward

From Lynne Odom, PT, MOMT

Pelvic health has a huge effect on quality of life. Daily activities influence pelvic health in ways we may not be aware, like sitting postures, bathroom habits, etc. Learning what your pelvis holds and how it is interrelated to your anatomy can be very empowering. Gaining this knowledge helps increase awareness and appreciation for the pelvis and its important functions as the floor to the spine, connector of hips and pelvis, holder of organs and babies, etc.  Understanding what “normal” pelvic floor function is can be a starting point of awareness.

Dysfunction in pelvic health happens across the population, from pediatric to elderly, and can be affected by more things than having babies and aging. Improving pelvic function often helps with pain that is not responding to other therapies, especially low back pain, as well as bowel and bladder dysfunction, painful intercourse, and lumbar and spine dysfunction. The pelvic floor depends on the spine, abdomen, breath, and lower and upper extremity strength and function. Conditions such as low blood pressure and bowel and bladder issues may be directly related to pelvic dysfunction.

There are simple daily habits you can be aware of to bring better health to your pelvic area, including certain postures, bowel and bladder habits, and exercises. Histories of trauma, like sexual or physical trauma, pregnancy, birth, or surgery can all have an effect on pelvic health.

The most important starting place, though, is to learn to breathe into the pelvis. When you inhale, bring your breath all the way down to your vagina and/or perineum, and then fill the diaphragm, and then the chest. The pelvis is a body part you can’t see, and once you can be still enough to connect with it, there is an awareness that will open up. So be still, be with the breath, and breathe into the pelvis for pelvic health.

Relieve Congestion with Lymphatic Massage

From Adie Grey MacKenzie

This time of year a lot of people have histamine responses and an increased inflammatory response to an environmental agent: pollen. They will retain fluids, feel congested, and possibly have digestion issues. Anytime people are experiencing an increased level of inflammation, their lymphatic system is overtaxed, and that is a great time to come for manual lymphatic therapy.

Lymphatic massage can really help flush the uncomfortable feeling from the head, neck, digestive system, and major joints. Typically with other kinds of massage that use kneading and cross fiber techniques, they can temporarily increase the inflammation response in that area. If your system is already overloaded, then lymphatic massage is a better fit for your body.

A lot of people are surprised at how much they enjoy the gentle work of lymphatic massage. Especially if they are used to a deeper massage, they might worry that they will be bored or find it ineffective. However, lymphatic work uses a rhythm that is deeply relaxing, and generally even people who love deep massage will also love lymphatic massage. It really brings relaxation on a deeper level because of the gentle rhythm of the treatment.

Also, because lymphatic massage does not use a high pressure, people with fibromyalgia, healing from injuries, or who have chronic conditions can tolerate this work. They do not find it uncomfortable, and the session can always be customized to best serve their body.

The purpose of lymphatic massage is to increase the body’s ability to flush itself out. It helps more directly than other forms of body work to help the body process extra fluids and reduce the amount of stagnant proteins in the lymphatic system. This makes it an excellent fit for addressing seasonal allergies, reducing congestion, and improving overall health.

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.

Ayurvedic Cleanse Recipe: Tridoshic Kitchari

Tridoshic Kitchari is a stew type meal that is prepared from basmati rice and split mung dal. During a cleanse, appropriate vegetables provide texture, flavor, and an important source of fiber. Kitchari is very easy to digest, which makes it a wonderful food for any cleansing regimen. It allows the digestive system to rest, allocating extra energy to the body’s natural detoxification processes. The quantities in this recipe provide a good starting point for a day’s supply of kitchari, but as you learn your preferences and habits, you are welcome to adjust the quantities to better fit your needs.

Ingredients

• 1 cup white basmati rice

• 1/2 cup yellow mung dal

• 2 tablespoons ghee

• Spices (or 1 tablespoon kitchari spice mix)

• 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

• 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder

• 1/2 teaspoon fennel powder

• 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)

• 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

• 1 teaspoon natural mineral salt

• 6 cups water

• 2 cups easily digestible vegetables (such as asparagus, carrots, celery, green beans, summer

squash, sweet potato, or zucchini)

Soak the split mung dal overnight (or for at least four hours). Strain the soaking water, combine with the rice and rinse the mixture at least twice, or until the water runs clear, and set aside. In a medium saucepan or soup pot, warm the ghee over medium heat. Add the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the turmeric, coriander, fennel, hing, and fresh ginger. Stir briefly, until aromatic. Stir the rice and dal mixture into the spices and sauté for a few moments, stirring constantly. Add the 6 cups of water, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. When the soup comes to a boil, stir in the salt, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about forty minutes. Meanwhile, cut your vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces. About halfway through the kitchari’s cooking process, stir in the vegetables and allow the stew to return to a boil. Continue to simmer until the rice, dal, and vegetables are fully cooked. Remove from heat, cool, and serve. Note: some vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, might require more cooking time and may be added earlier, if necessary.

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.

The Purpose of Yoga

Yoga is for self-fulfillment.
Yoga practice is about self-awareness.
It serves a purpose to balance misunderstandings and misperceptions.
It develops the knowing, the clarity, and the being, increasing accuracy in knowing yourself.
Yoga is a view or perspective, and it can help change your perspective.
Yoga can be your greatest self-help guide as you learn how to reduce your suffering and come out of suffering.

Yoga is also movement, and it gives attention to the direction you are headed.
It is about yoking together and bringing together the elements of self-control that direct the activity of the mind, bringing us a more peaceful and more balanced feeling.
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