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2:14 pm

Anxious? Stressed? Yoga helps. by Lisa Wells

Most of us know what panic and fear feel like.  Our heart pounds.  Our hands shake.  Our intestines spasm.  We stutter.  We become hyper-focused or spaced-out.  We get into a fight or we withdraw from conflict.  These are physical biological responses to stress and threats.  They are an evolutionary development that we share with all mammals.  These responses help us to get out of or survive dangerous situations. They are the ‘fight or flight’ response of the sympathetic nervous system. The problem is that our bodies do distinguish between deadly threats and our modern ongoing daily stress.  In response to our daily stress our adrenal glands secrete the same hormones that they would if we were cornered by a cougar.  Our body prepares to fight or to flee. The constant onslaught of stress puts our bodies into a constant state of hyper-vigilance. This hyper-vigilance takes a toll on our physical, emotional and spiritual health as well as on our families and communities.  In its most extreme form, this hyper-vigilance presents as PTSD with its associated extremes of behavioral dysfunction. Yoga helps.  The poses, breathing and meditation practices of yoga are a powerful tool for calming the nervous system and allowing the adrenal glands to rest and recover.  Our bodies actively shift from ‘fight or flight’ mode to ‘rest and digest’ mode.  That deep delicious rest we feel after Savasana (relaxation pose) is the result of the work of the postures, breathing, and awareness integrated within the body.  Literally the sympathetic nervous system has relaxed and the parasympathetic nervous system (the one in charge of relaxation, digestion, healing, and recovery) has engaged.  Yoga, literally, helps your body heal itself. Whether you suffer from ‘normal’ daily stress, anxiety, panic attacks, or PTSD, yoga helps.   Yoga will help the most if you can make it a daily practice.  If you cannot come to a yoga class, start with a few easy yoga poses, practice breathing exercises like Alternate Nostril Breath, and end with 5 minutes of simple relaxation.   15 to 20 minutes daily is powerful medicine. To learn more and find a develop a practice focused particularly for anxiety and stress relief take the upcoming workshop Yoga Body Mind Skills: Anxiety and Emotional Regulation with Martha Shimmeal. This 8-week course will meet Wednesdays, 6:30-8:00pm, beginning March 6th.  For more information or to register click here.

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6:19 pm

Thai Massage...ahhhhh

Thai massage and the healing power of touch, for both giver AND receiver By Jenelle Emmerson, MA LMT RYT Traditional Thai massage is as ancient as classical yoga and even the Buddha himself. Its rich history is steeped in healing benefits for the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. This unique modality focuses on a whole-body muscular and energetic treatment and incorporates yoga-style stretches and slow, rhythmic movements to facilitate relaxation. For those unfamiliar, Thai massage is traditionally practiced on a mat on the floor on a fully clothed recipient. The giver can then employ their body weight to apply rhythmic compressions to muscle groups, using hands, elbows, feet, and knees in various positions. Sen, or energy, lines of the body are worked to facilitate movement and help remove blockages. Lengthening or stretching of the muscles is then performed to enhance the benefits of massage, which can improve one’s flexibility and leave the recipient feeling open and energetically aware. This holistic approach makes it a wonderful complement to one’s yoga practice. And similar to the powerful versatility of a safe and mindful yoga practice, Thai massage can be both gentle and intense, direct and subtle, depending on the needs and limitations of the recipient. For a more detailed description and photos to illustrate, visit http://breathemassageyoga.com/what-is-thai-massage/. Thousands of years of experiential evidence document the incredible healing power of touch through Thai massage and other modalities. And in recent years with massage techniques crossing cultural barriers and continents, we can now have the best of both East and West. The Western scientific approach to anatomy and documenting results blends beautifully with the intuitive, energetic, and ancient practices of the East. Thai massage can perfectly exemplify this fusion, where the intention can be set simultaneously on healing both the muscular and energetic body. The benefits of Thai massage are well documented, including a powerful potential to increase circulation, relieve muscular pain and soreness, enhance flexibility, improve posture, balance and improve athletic performance, relieve arthritis and back pain, reduce healing time from injury, facilitate relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, help with concentration and creativity, boost energy levels, and enhance one’s mindfulness and inner peace. But what has not been as well documented, but can be equally as powerful, is the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits experienced by the giver as well as the receiver of massage. As a massage therapist, I regularly give Thai massage to individuals, many of whom deal with chronic pain or tension and come to me for help. Through the connection I make with them and the changes I can help facilitate, I myself also experience numerous benefits as the giver of massage. The act of performing massage has definite benefits for my physical body, keeping me strong, flexible, and fit. In fact, many of the techniques I use mirror poses from my yoga practice. So, giving Thai massage is a great physical complement to my own personal yoga practice on a physical level. And working in such a physical way certainly gets my own endorphins pumping, which boosts my own mood and energy levels. On a spiritual and emotional level, the slow, rhythmic flow of Thai massage really allows me to focus on the present moment. For the time that I work with someone, my focus is about being present with them and their bodies. This act allows me to further cultivate my own metta, or loving kindness, as my healing intentions are channeled through my attention and massage techniques. As such, giving massage for me always takes place in both the physical and spiritual realms. But there is an additional, deeper level from which I benefit from giving massage that comes from the selfless act of setting an intention to help another person and actually have the tools to provide some relief. In fact, it is quite an amazing gift to give someone who is hurting. It is true that in giving, we receive back, and I experience this every day that I give massage. Learning Thai massage has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done with my life, and not just because it has allowed me to create such a fulfilling career for myself. But because it provides me with something tangible that I can give back to others. And that sense of empowerment really feeds my soul. Even if your intention is not to start a career as a massage therapist, learning some basic techniques that you can share with your loved ones can be a powerful and rewarding way of helping and connecting with them. And then perhaps you can begin experiencing some of the benefits of giving massage. Who knows where it will go from there. Join me this weekend for a 3-hour workshop on Thai massage, where you will learn to give some basic massage and stretching techniques by watching demonstrations and receiving massage. It will be a fun and engaging way to connect with your partner, friend, or loved one!   To register visit: http://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ws.asp?studioid=13270&stype=-8&sView=day&sTrn=100000054

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4:25 pm

A quick read, suggested by Lisa Wells

A beautifully written piece on yoga.. Click here for the link on Elephant Journal


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