Restorative practices balance the effects of stress on the body. Stress serves an important role in keeping us alive through threatening circumstances, but it is also a complex biological response that is designed to be temporary and flushed out of the system when the threat has passed. Restorative practices are able to help with that after-stress reset.

Restorative practices use techniques that create space for deep rest in the body and mind. Often, the goal is to create conditions where tension can be released in layers, allowing the body to be held by gravity instead of internal force.

As physical tension releases, the heart rate begins to slow and the breath deepens. The nervous system begins to change modes away from stress and adrenaline responses. Digestion improves and the body sends more nourishment to tissues so that they can repair and heal. The more muscular tension releases, the more blood and oxygen is able to flow through the body.

Restorative practice also nourishes the mind. Deep rest resets the nervous system, which helps calm anxiety. Shifting the nervous system away from stress mode also decreases pain levels, as the nervous system is able to turn the volume down on the pain signals themselves.

Releasing stress and restoring the body and mind to a calm, nourishing state is a key to maintaining and creating health. Restorative practice can take many forms, including classes, bodywork, mindfulness, or other therapies. With enough restoration, we are able to prevent becoming locked into chronic stress patterns and the dysfunction they cause.

Fascia is connective tissue. It connects every part of the body with every other part, wrapping around muscles and holding organs in place. Addressing issues in the fascia can reduce pain, increase range of motion, and help nourish muscles and nerves.

Fascia does not stretch. It is made mostly of collagen fibers, and it responds to how we regularly use our bodies. When we do one thing most of the time, like sit at a desk, the fascia will respond by growing in ways that hold that shape. When we then stand or run or stretch, the adjusted shape of the fascia can make that difficult or painful.

We can change the shape of our fascia by lengthening it. Moving our bodies regularly, especially using our full range of motion, helps the fascia grow in ways that facilitate that movement. Bodywork is also very effective for lengthening fascia. Bodyworkers are able to address shortened tissues and thickened fascia, and ashiatsu (foot pressure) techniques are especially effective for lengthening.

Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that is specifically focused on working with fascia. It works to reorganize the connective tissues of the body. This helps restore range of motion, reduces chronic muscle tension, and can often resolve long standing pain issues.

Fascia can also be changed through hydration. The collagen fibers of fascia are bathed in fluid, mostly lymph. Therapy balls and foam rollers are able to move fluid through the fascia directly. Bodywork also moves it. Applying pressure to the skin pushes fluid through the fascia. This redistributes nutrients and helps hydrate the tissues. In this case, hydration is not about how much water you drink, but about how well that fluid is distributed in the body.

Fascia is a part of the body that literally connects us to ourselves. When it is too tight, too loose, or too thick, it can contribute to a lot of pain and dysfunction. There are proven integrative care techniques to treat fascia, helping to address issues and create health.

Therapy balls address and support the body, helping to reduce pain, release tension, nourish tissues, and address structural issues. They are helpful for regular self-care practice, to address chronic tension areas, and as a supplement to other integrative care.

A therapy ball can be rolled along a tight muscle or pressed into a trigger point, addressing the tissue in a way that is similar to bodywork. Because of its shape, the ball is able to stretch the muscle fibers in all three directions, working efficiently to release tension. With the right positioning, you can control how deep you are working with the ball in order to find what works best for you.

Therapy balls can also be used to support the release of deep tension in the structure of the body. When partially deflated, they are able to provide a unique support to complex structures, like the sacrum or diaphragm. This kind of supportive stimulation allows stabilizers to release and engage in new ways, and can help connective tissue adjust in order to create space and improve range of motion.

Balls are also able to stimulate blood, lymph, and nutrient flow in order to nourish tissues. A lot of muscle and nerve pain is related to restricted blood flow, usually because muscle tension is blocking circulation to those tissues. The pressure of a therapy ball squeezes older fluids out of the tissue so that a fresh supply of blood, oxygen, and other nutrients can flow back in.

Therapy balls are an effective component of integrative care. They are easy to use at home to address tension, muscle pain, and achy joints. Balls are also effective for prolonging and supporting the benefits of bodywork sessions, and are often incorporated in more complex ways into somatics classes.

Mindful rest and conscious relaxation creates a cascade of health benefits in the body. This is because our bodies and minds function best when they have a chance to reset themselves. Crucial processes for maintaining health engage best when we allow our bodies and minds to come into deep rest.

From a stress perspective, our biology is designed to experience stress as a response to an immediate threat. When that immediate threat passes, our stress response ramps back down and the body returns to a calmer, more relaxed state. However, modern stress involves few immediate threats and a lot of ongoing, low-level threats, which means that we don’t usually complete the stress cycle and return to the relaxed state.

This is why mindful rest is such a powerful practice. Our mind is one of our main means of assessing threats, and we can redirect that mental energy toward rest instead. Not only does it help turn off a driver of escalating stress responses, but helps to actively counter those responses with feelings of rest, relaxation, and safety.

When we consciously turn our attention to resting and releasing tension from the mind and body, it helps reset the nervous system. The heart rate slows, breath deepens, and blood pressure lowers. Tension begins to drain out of the diaphragm, the pelvis, and the neck and shoulders. As muscles relax, nutrients, oxygen, and blood are able to circulate more freely to nourish and repair tissue. When tension releases along the spine, vertebra are able to make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system is also able to turn down the volume on pain signals to the brain and improve regulation of body systems like digestion, circulation, and sleep.

The more we practice mindfully resting, the better we are able to teach ourselves how to relax. We are using neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to learn and change, in order to cultivate stronger paths to relaxation in the nervous system. Over time, this changes our habits and patterns of stress and tension, allowing us to return to a restful state more easily.

Mindful rest and conscious relaxation is a practice, which means that it is most effective when done regularly and on purpose. By peeling away layers of stress and unwinding tension, we are able to support the natural biological processes that support and create health.

Sciatica is pain from the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lumbar spine, through the hip, and down the leg to the foot. The pain can be felt anywhere along the path of the nerve, and can range from minor to severe.

Treatment for sciatica involves working with the structures of the back and hip that may be impinging on the nerve. The piriformis muscle of the hip is the most famous cause of sciatic pain, but it is not the only cause. Our posture, the way we walk, how we sit, and other habitual body habits change how our muscles work together over time, and when those systems become imbalanced, the ways they compensate often cause pain.

Sciatica treatment focuses on releasing tension, freeing adhered tissue, and addressing the structure and range of motion around the sciatic nerve, as well as other related issues that are causing imbalance and stress in the body. Often, a combination of bodywork, acupuncture, and somatic movement can help reduce and often resolve sciatica.

Bodywork works with the tissues directly to free adhesions, restore range of motion, and reduce muscular tension that may be impinging on the nerve. It also increases blood and nutrient flow to the nerve, which helps reduce pain signaling. Bodywork is also able to address complex causes of sciatica, like neck or shoulder tension, that in turn is affecting the hips and low back and so contributing to the pain.

Acupuncture is proven to be effective for pain treatment, including sciatica. It helps tone the nervous system, turning down the volume on pain signals from the nerve to the brain. When the body has been in pain for a while, or the issue has become chronic, the pain signals can get caught in a feedback loop that gets worse over time. Acupuncture is able to safely reset this process, which helps the restore nervous system health.

Somatic movement, like yoga or feldenkrais, brings awareness to where and how the body moves in space. It helps reconnect the brain to movement patterns in the body, and to rejuvenate tissues through movement, stretching, and using a larger range of motion. This in turn reduces tension in the body and helps address dysfunctional movement patterns.

Sciatica can be persistent, painful, and frustrating. Effective treatment understands that it is the result of dysfunction in complex structures of the body and works to release tension, restore function, and rebalance the nervous system in order to manage the pain and create health.

Low back pain is a very common health issue, and it tends to be something that people deal with for long stretches of time, sometimes for years or even decades. The conversation around low back pain often sounds mechanical, as if certain body parts are malfunctioning. However, the low back is part of a system of movement, and walking correctly can help correct dysfunction and reduce pain.

In order to treat low back pain, the hips need to rotate when we walk. To do this, make sure your feet and knees are pointing straight ahead, and your legs are swinging straight with each step, not out to the side. A way to practice is to walk on a flat curb, or with your feet on either side of a line painted on the road. Rotating the hips engages the muscles of the low back with each step, and allows the muscles of the hip to release periodically instead of always staying tight. This improves the body mechanics of our entire spine and back, our pelvis, and our core musculature.

When the low back is engaged while walking, it does two things. First, it builds strength and stability in the soft tissue, which then supports and stabilizes the spine. A more supported lumbar spine is less likely to become compressed, pinch nerves, or go out of alignment. Low back engagement while walking also helps to release tension in those muscles. It brings in  blood flow and oxygen, stretching and moving the muscle fibers so that they are less likely to grow rigid or go into spasm.

Part of being able to walk correctly requires building body awareness, which is a skill that many people have not been taught how to have. Bodywork and Somatics classes both help the brain learn how to better sense where the body is in space and how it is moving. Once we can sense that, we can begin to adjust our movement patterns in order to better support our health.

Learning to walk correctly can effectively treat back pain because our bodies are made to move. When we move with correct alignment and muscle engagement, we free up our natural ability to function and heal. This in turn reduces pain and works to create health.

We are an integrative health clinic, with 5 Domains, or pillars, of care. All of our therapies are evidence-based, which means that they are proven to be effective. We are also a collaborative practice, which means that our therapists work together for your care. We communicate with each other, and with your doctors as needed, about your treatments. This helps each treatment build on the one before to be more effective and support your health goals.

Our 5 Domains are:

Bodywork at Ha.Lé is evidence-based massage treatment for health. It blends ashiatsu, neuromuscular, myofascial release, structural integration, cupping therapy, and sports massage techniques, which means we are able to specifically address what is happening in your body. It is not a spa treatment just for relaxation, but a way to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and address spine, joint, and posture issues.

Somatics are movement-based therapies, offered mostly as classes, series, and workshops at Ha.Lé. Using techniques from yoga, tai chi, qigong, Feldenkrais, and body rolling, Somatics addresses how the body moves. It increases awareness of where the body is in space and how it moves through space, and can make those movement patterns more effortless. It also improves the health of muscle and tissue to reduce pain and increase relaxation.  

Acupuncture stimulates points on the body to regulate systems and address dysfunction. It uses techniques including needling, cupping, tui na, and herbal supplement formulas to help rebalance the body. This helps regulate physiological systems like digestion, cardiovascular, and endocrine. It reduces pain levels, improves sleep, and increases relaxation.

Nutrition offers guidance on eating from an integrative perspective. It focuses not only on quantity, but the quality of food for nourishment, and what foods work best for your particular constitution. Based in Ayurvedic practices, it is Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating compatible. It treats food allergies and intolerances and chronic illness like celiac, IBS, and heart disease. 

Counseling offers mental and emotional solutions that incorporate psychotherapy, mindfulness-based practices, and cognitive behavioral therapy. We see individuals, couples, and families of all ages to treat anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, grief, and LGBTQ issues.

Walking is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It activates deep biological processes for health, balance, and wellbeing, supporting both physical and mental health. Our bodies are designed to walk as our main mode of getting from one place to another, and many of our biological systems work best when we are in motion.

When we go for a walk, our circulation increases, which nourishes our whole body with blood and oxygen. This nourishment provides what our tissues need to repair themselves, often solving minor issues before we even notice them.

Walking also helps calm the mind and reduce the effects of stress. The rhythm of walking helps us enter a light meditative state, which then regulates breathing, lowers stress hormones, and can bring a sense of peace and calm.

The actual act of putting one foot in front of the other keeps our bodies and minds in conversation with each other. The motion of it involves complex interactions between muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Walking helps tune up those interactions, and increase coordination in general.

Going outside to walk increases all these benefits by adding fresh air and uneven ground. The fresh air, open space, and interactions with nature all help to boost the immune system and regulate sensory processing, and may offer a sense of peacefulness. Uneven ground keeps our coordination and stabilization systems active, reducing the likelihood of falling and helping improve joint health.

Going for a walk is one of the most fundamental self-care practices we can do. It directly supports comprehensive mental and physical health, which in turn increases our internal feelings of vitality and our overall sense of wellbeing.

Our immune systems are crucial to staying healthy and feeling good, and they can be especially challenged when the weather changes. Bouncing temperatures and frequent rain can make us more vulnerable to viruses. Here are ways to support our immune systems to keep us healthy.

Treat Stress

When we feel high stress or chronic stress, it makes it hard to fend off viruses. Stress diverts resources away from immune function as the body decides that it needs to survive the immediate crisis that is causing stress first, and then it will worry about germs. Lowering cortisol and other stress hormone levels helps the immune system come back up to speed. Bodywork, acupuncture, and restorative classes are all great ways to reduce stress in the body.

Move Lymph

Our lymph system moves pathogens and other waste out of our bodies, and helps spread white blood cells throughout the system. Bodywork is especially helpful for moving lymph through the body, bringing new nutrients into tissues and supporting immune function. Movement classes and going for walks also help lymph circulate for healthy immune function.

Nourish Yourself

A lot of immune function is rooted in the gut and the digestive system. Using nutrients like vitamin C to boost the body in the moment can be helpful. It is also important to work on your digestive health overall, before you feel like your body is trying to fight something off. Acupuncture can help regulate digestive function, and nutrition counseling can help you address gut inflammation, dietary imbalances, and food issues.

When we support our immune systems so that they can function well, we are less likely to get sick from viruses. By managing our stress levels, keeping our lymph system flowing, and nourishing our digestive and other health, we can keep our immune system strong and balanced.  

Our bodies use pain to tell us there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Pain can come from things like repetitive motion, poor posture, highly active lifestyles, and accidental injuries. It can be a short term issue, or last for a while. The good news is that there are direct ways to treat and reduce pain levels through integrative care.

Injury: Recovering from an injury is sometimes a frustrating process that takes longer than we would like. Supporting the body through this process involves both gently working with the injury, and releasing tension from the other parts of the body that are compensating while the injury heals. Bodywork therapies can directly reduce inflammation, relieve tension, and nourish the injury with blood and nutrients. Classes help build awareness of new movement patterns and relieve tension, and Acupuncture can reduce pain signals and promote overall balance for affected systems of the body.

Athletic Performance: Highly active lifestyles like running, rock climbing, and kayaking push your body to higher levels of performance and fun. This means your body needs extra recovery in order to prevent injuries. Classes to support full relaxation, rebalancing, and core strength help the body recover and nourish itself. Bodywork and Cupping Therapy help improve recovery time and can increase athletic performance.

Aging: Small imbalances accumulate into aches and pains over time, which means that getting older often means increased pain from years of repetitive motions, posture habits, and old injuries. Bodywork can help treat and rebalance the causes of these various aches and pains. Acupuncture is effective for reducing pain levels overall, and addressing underlying dysfunctions. Classes reinvigorate and reactivate the body, improve muscle tone and balance, and help develop awareness of movement patterns.

Integrative care offers effective ways to treat pain from injuries, athletic performance, and aging. It supports the body’s own healing processes and increases your internal sense of wellbeing, partnering with you in your care in order to create health.