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.

Beauty Speaks to Us

When we see beauty,
it is something that speaks to us
on a level that takes us to
another space and time.
It can elicit peace,
or translate into a conversation
with self or others.
It is a relationship.

There is a connection between the visual arts and the healing arts. Ha.Le’ is interested in the arts in all forms and wants to help make them accessible and available.

That is why we are so glad to be working with Giving Art a Home, a local philanthropic arts organization dedicated to connecting deserving community members with original art by local artists in a way that honors both recipients and artists. Giving Art a Home is responsible for the wonderful art that graces our walls, and all art sales from the exhibitions at Ha.Le’ both support the artist and this very worthy organization.

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

“Life has no Opposite”: On Conscious Dying and Sacred Passage Doulas

Consciousdyinghands

 

“The opposite of Life is not Death. The opposite of Death is Birth. Life has no Opposite.”  Unknown

Death and Birth are Bookends of Life.

Death is a Rite of Passage that brings a family of initiatory emotions: grief, anger, terror, rage, disappointment, sadness.

But of all these, Grandmother Grief leads the way. She calls forth an Initiation that renews, heals and cleanses our souls.

“Dealing with “the things we cannot escape” (but want to or try to) is best accomplished within the sacred space of ritual. Ritual facilitates and provides us with a unique channel to access higher power. Certain issues don’t want to be resolved mechanistically. We don’t have to know how the power works; we just have to show up and let the higher forces deal with the issues. Ritual provides a safe place for the soul and body to affirm life over death, to affirm continuity over discontinuity.” Maladoma Some’

In our last Sacred Doula program, our graduating class designed and experienced a very powerful grief ritual so that all of our incomplete losses and their stories could be shared and released. We prepared ourselves for this ritual in many ways.

The night before, we wrote about a powerful loss and how it had affected us. We created a healing space in the room to honor these loses. We invited a wonderful musician to sing and play guitar.

We asked elders from our community to attend and support us. We wore beautiful white, blue or black clothes. Before we entered the space we were cleansed with special smoke and marked our faces with charcoal tears. We entered this space with sacred intent.

We placed beautiful scarves, fabric, flowers, candles, and photos of our loved ones on the table. And as each individual shared their story of love and loss, we listened with compassion and tears. We ended many hours later filled with awe and love. Our spirits and bodies were refreshed and renewed.
This grief ritual transformed us individually and created a strong caring healing community that we can trust in and rely on. It gives us reference for how to show up for others who will be in our care.

Here are some of my thoughts from my studies on grief and death and from my personal experience from this day.

  • I came to see that Death and Birth are bookends of Life. Both are markers of our earthly existence.
  • Like Birth, Death is not an end. It is an initiation into a yet unseen, mysterious passage that all human beings enter and through which life is renewed.
  • Death’s initiation into new life is lead by its family of emotions, its spiritual journey, and its turn toward meaning and completions for all involved.
  • The emotional family surrounding death: grief, rage, fear, terror, anger, disappointment, loss call us to these powerful rites of passage that no other time offers.
  • When these feelings are honored as a right of passage, when we are appropriately supported, seen and held to experience these powerful feelings, to stay with them, not run away, in our own time and in our own way, we are transformed. Whether we are the one leaving or the ones left behind, we need support to travel in these rivers of feelings that come to claim us. We need people who know how to keep us safe to navigate the journey.
  • If we are held, seen, and supported in a good way, we can enter this emotional landscape and can stay there as long as it takes for the healing forces of grief to wash over us. We can experience grief as an initiation into new life that has the power to cleanse our soul, re-set our energetic field, and ground us in the vulnerability that is the flowering of our connection with our own hearts, our family, and humanity.

Grandmother Grief gives us a way back into our own heart. It is precisely because we love so much that we have the opportunity for a greater human experience…. an opportunity to be initiated into greater inner harmony, unity with our own heart, memory of our innate healing gifts and ancient wisdom, and to be re-affirmed in love with all our relations.

Because we love so deeply, even if that love and care may be temporarily covered over in resentments or conflicts, it can still give rise to new life.  It can provide opportunity to re-fine, re-kindle, re-move, re-store, shake us free of locked and held feelings.  It can rejoin us with the truth of love and the memory of who we are.

Becoming a Sacred Passage Doula supports everyone to live fully and completely through end of life. Ha.Le’ is hosting a 2 day Introduction to Sacred Passage Doula Training on Aug 28 & 29.

-Tarron Estes                  July 2015

Founder, Conscious Dying Institute

 

Learn more about the Sacred Passage workshop on our Events Page

Enroll in the Workshop ($150, early registration price $135 ends Aug 7th)

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

 

 

Yoga Can Make You Cry (and that’s a good thing)

dew drops close up

 

At a recent evening Vinyasa Yoga class, I experienced a good, old fashioned “yoga cry”. It felt great. I didn’t try to push it aside or act like it wasn’t happening. I didn’t care that everyone else could see. Okay, maybe I did a little bit. But, in the car, on the ride home, I let the tears flow freely. I felt myself releasing and opening. I felt clearer.

 

I was not new to this experience. Early on in my practice, I had cried often in class. But I was blessed with a knowledgeable and compassionate instructor who helped me to understand the effects that yoga asanas can have on the subtle body. He explained that the purpose of the asanas is spiritual transformation and that yoga is not just another gimmicky workout. But mostly, he left me alone to process my own experience.

 

My recent sob on the mat helped me to better understand the yoga catchphrases of “honoring my practice and “listening to my body”. I felt a surge of gratitude—realizing that yoga is always available, that it allows me to give and take as needed. I honor my practice by coming back to it again and again.

 

-Emily

 

Emily Davidson Nemoy is elated to be teaching Rise and Shine! Slow Flow Vinyasa Yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15 AM at Ha.Le. In Slow Flow Vinyasa Yoga, movement is synchronized with the breath. We purposefully move at a slower pace so that the practitioner has time to mentally engage with the body, understanding when a pose should be modified. A morning yoga series is a great option for working folks who need to get their practice in before the rest of their day begins. Emily loves teaching and practicing in the morning when the mind is clearer, making it easier to be more focused and mindful.

Try her class 

Mindfulness: 10 Insights to make your mind a good friend

Zen stones

 

How would you answer this question, “What is the most important question you have ever been asked?” (and your answer CANNOT be “Will you marry me?”). Over 8 years ago, as I sat as a student in a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), I was asked such a question.  The Instructor (now Mentor) asked, “Is your mind a good friend or does it take you into bad neighborhoods?”  Needless to say, my mind was screaming, “NO I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND AND NEVER WILL BE”.  Now, 8 years later, I can say with certainty that my mind was only giving me bad advice. Below are ten (10) insights that have emerged since making mindfulness a daily practice.  Read them and ask yourself, “Is your mind a good friend?”:

 

  1. Know Yourself

This is more than just self-awareness or knowing you like dark chocolate more than you like milk chocolate. It is about knowing your DNA, i.e. knowing your purpose, what you value, and what is never compromised.

 

  1. Choose wisely

Someone once said the most important choice we ever make in this life for personal happiness is who or if to marry. And it is less about finding the right person than it is about being the right person.

 

  1. Let go of resentment & regret

Resentment is like eating rat poison and expecting the rat to die. Regret is holding on to a hope of having a better past. Letting go is not shooting a second arrow after you have been stung with the first one.

 

  1. We see what we seek

If we are looking for faults, we will see faults. If we are looking for the good in someone, we will see only the good. What we seek, we will surely find.

 

  1. Spend time alone

Yes, even all of you extroverts. You don’t have to be like Thoreau at Walden Pond to take periodic refuge without the presence of others. When you lose touch with your inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself.

 

  1. Show up, tell the truth, & respond with compassion

Showing up means being present with others, i.e. being HERE NOW not somewhere else in your head.

 

  1. Slow down

I was once told that when you get in a hurry, you run off and leave more than you ever catch up to. I never quite understood what that meant, but I have run off and left many precious gifts that were only waiting for my patience to arrive.

 

  1. Be open to everything and attached to nothing

Nothing also meaning “no one”. Clinging, craving and attachment are the core elements of 99% of all human suffering. The heart and mind function like a parachute…they only work when open.

 

  1. The pain now is part of the happiness then…that’s the deal

Rilke said it best when writing, “Let everything happen to you, the beauty and the terror. Just keep going. No thought or feeling is final.”  This is the Law of Impermanence.

 

  1. Smile more, complain less, never give up

Smile more, complain less, & never give up.

 

-by Elmo Shade

Elmo offers meditation and qigong classes, mindfulness workshops for adults and teens, and individualized mindfulness coaching. 

Massage Therapy for Older Adults

Massage therapy for older adults helps improve balance

Massage therapy for older adults is a promising way to help them retain health and independence.

Older adults who received an hour-long massage once a week for six weeks showed significant improvements in balance, neurological and cardiovascular measures. In the recent study, 35 volunteers were randomly assigned to the massage group or a control group.

Those who received massage therapy had lower blood pressure and more stability immediately after the sessions, an hour after and even a week after the regimen ended.

The participants were healthy volunteers aged 58 to 68 who were recruited through brochures and posters in medical offices, libraries, stores, fitness facilities and by word-of-mouth in and around Birmingham, Alabama. People with a history of chronic disease that affected balance, heart health or nervous system function were not eligible to participate.

Each person in the treatment group received a standard, 60-minute massage therapy protocol once a week for six consecutive weeks. The study, published in 2012, is especially significant because most prior research examined the effects of a single session.

Older adults need options to help them stay independent and active, and massage may be a great non-pharmaceutical approach. Falls, many of them debilitating if not fatal, occur in one of every three adults 65 and older. Health care costs associated with falls alone are expected to reach $32 billion by 2020, according to a 2009 study.

Multiple factors contribute to falls among older adults, including visual system influences, balance impairment, and cardiovascular and neurological conditions. Falls break hips and arms, cause head injuries, and contribute to decline in quality of life.

Even bruising and emotional trauma from a fall can make someone more hesitant – and lack of confidence can compound the risk of additional incidents. Trying to compensate for muscle imbalances, pain and new or old injuries often actually cause the fall.

We already know massage therapy reduces pain and improves clients’ sense of well being. This study suggests that regular massage for older adults can do far, far more.

The study by JoEllen M. Sefton, Ceren Yarar and Jack W. Berry, Neuromechanics Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Auburn University, AL, and Department of Psychology, Samford University, Birmingham, AL, was published in the September 2012 issue of the InternatIonal Journal of TherapeutIc Massage and Bodywork.

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