Balance, Health, control. Yoga teaches us to be flexible with things that come to us in life that we cannot control. We learn how to stand strong through different challenges and bend with the wind. This is balance and with practices that helps one balance their body with movements and breath, their mind with movements and breath, then one's spirit is calmed and balanced within. A central balance is the goal to maintaining health and well being. It is when one is tense, stressed, foggy, worry-filled and more that their body takes on different forms. Some days holding one asana (yoga pose) for a long period of time works and feels right, other times it doesn't and the energy needs to be focused on another asana to help move it out, or balance it within.
When the understanding of Prana and Qi arrive one can see how different exercises are needed in life. When one feels a tense muscle, there is stagnation in the tissues and more blood flow and movement is needed to help shift the toxins out of the tissue and push them out of the body through the detoxification pathways. With regular movements this happens naturally, yet our society is in various routine patterns of physical movements that lock one's body into patterns for many hours at a time. That can lead to Qi stagnation and later blood stagnation if the body isn't moved in other ways. After working on a computer for hours, one may naturally jump up and stretch in different ways, this is of high importance. Stretch it out, look silly for a minute if other are watching. You may be actually showing them a healing technique or even a way to free them from a locked patterns they are in. They may even jump up and show you a stretch, ahh.
Control, the more flexible we are with our body the more control we can have over our health. Once one's detoxification pathways are more open, our muscles are more nourished as they are used and our mind is calmed as we shift out different emotions that may be hidden. This leads into the reiteration of the importance of diet as the food one eats directly affects the tissues of the body giving one strength and vitality. Healthy food, clearer mind, stronger body.
Pain makes us stop and think about our body. Many pain killers numb and can unsteady a person - "don't operate heavy machinery", have other side effects such as digestive imbalances and more. In Chinese Medicine we treat pain and the person so they stay grounded in their body, mind and spirit with clarity as their stagnation is cleared. Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs that treat pain aim at removing stagnation, bringing nourishment to the area and relaxation. Pain is a signal to stop and pay attention to your body. It can mean different things, from an injury at the area to a referred pain from an organ function problem. It is important to stop the action that led to the pain and seek out treatment that can help you understand where the pain is coming from and what you need to strengthen in your system to help relieve the pain and prevent it from reoccurring. From a repeated strain showing that there is a possible Liver Blood Deficiency leading to weak tendons to muscle weakness showing a possible Spleen Qi Deficiency, Chinese Medicines allow us to fine tune the body as it heals at many different levels. This may include hands on treatments such as Acupuncture or herbal oils to nutrition and lifestyle adjustments. When we heal at multiple levels our mind, body and spirit smile.
There are many teachings on clearing out emotions that have been collecting. In Chinese Medicine there are Five main emotions that govern the Organs and the flow of Qi and Blood which regulate the whole body. The emotions all have ways of clearing out through the Meridians (energy channels) that correspond to the different organs, out of the body and into the universe to transform into good for the greater whole. If they aren't cleared out in the right way, they are directed in the body into different patterns that may show up as something helpful to build the system, or lead to an imbalance that can result in a dis-eased state. It is important to learn ways to balance and regulate ones emotions especially when excess ones show up, for example the main Five Emotions of - Fear, Worry, Anger, Melancholy, and Grief.
If any of these emotions are showing up in your life more than another it is important to learn different ways to balance them. This can happen over night through rest, or after different sessions of therapy including through Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine. It can happen through doing a sport to changing one's diet. Learning ways to help balance one's emotions and direct them in a healthy way in the world can help make it a better place.
Ancient Medicines and their unique ways of diagnosing and treating a patient is filled with inspiration. In seeing the difference in the reactions both mentally and emotionally that occur when a patient is first diagnosed with a health condition in Western terms, I am grateful for the holistic and philosophical ways Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda describe health conditions. In Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda we look at the body and its systems as a balancing act. We see that when one Organ, Meridian (energy pathway), Blood and Tissue level, or Emotion are off center, we look to different philosophies proven in nature and within the body to describe what has taken place. Through that, a practitioner understands the appropriate treatments to restore balance to the whole body, mind and spirit.
After being diagnosed with various conditions in the past and working my way through understanding what they mean to me, I am learning that reflection can be important. A diagnosis in Chinese Medicine or Ayurvedic terms is a poetry of the many systems in the body as reflected in nature and society. In Western Medicine, it can inspire various emotions and perceptions of possibilities of what could occur, and what is occurring, as one part of the whole or the whole is being labeled. It can inspire the memory of someone else who has the condition, or the worst case scenario from an outside source. For some conditions there is a cure and you recover, a cold, or a flu are good examples. With others there is a remission. The importance of being positive no matter what the diagnosis cannot be stressed enough. Like I've mentioned before and hopefully this blog shares, is that there are many options of treatments and ways of looking at a condition.
In Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda we understand the body changes from one visit to the next as the healing processes occur. We test this through reading the tongue and the pulses. We observe this through the intake and other signs that the body gives which reminds us that every season is a bit different each year. Therefore the diagnosis can shift as the body re-balances through stages. This depends on the nutrition, exercise, profession, location and more. Its about finding the balance that brings about renewed health and an empowered being.
There are many foods that fall into the category of "superfoods" which are foods that provide more than the average boost of vitamins and minerals that come straight from nature. They are an excellent addition to health care regimes and according to Chinese Medicine work on specific pathways and organs in the body to help fuel them as we go through our day and night cycles. This month's focus is on Kale:
~ Kale - The temperature is Warm, its flavor is Bitter and Sweet. It's nutrients help boost the Lungs and Stomach. Kale is filled with many nutrients that help boost the Blood in Chinese Medicine. Bitter foods clear out dampness and heat from the body, while the Sweet flavor harmonizes other flavors and helps moisten dryness.
Kale can been cooked in many different ways, steaming helps hold in the moisture for the drier weather. Saute kale with lemon and oil for a delicious side dish. Dehydrate kale into chips is a fun way to make a healthy snack and massaging raw kale with salt is a start to a great salad.
There are many different patterns and symptoms associated with a headache. Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda don't just look at the present symptoms that one has when they experience a headache, but they look at the surrounding factors that lead up to the shifts in the body. Tension headaches are a good example of how outside factors can lead up to stress, emotions and constriction in the body building pressure. A great Acupuncture point that helps relieve the head and face is called He Gu, Joining of the Valleys, also known as Large Intestine 4.
Large Intestine 4 is located at the highest point in the muscle belly on the medial side of where your thumb crease joins your hand (both hands). In this picture the exact point area would be closer down on the hand where the massager's thumbnail begins. Massaging this area, which may feel tender at first, is a great balancing point for headaches and migraines. Gently massaging the point and areas around it that feel tense or tender can help increase blood flow in the hand, along the Large Intestine Meridian and to the face which helps the body heal and clear stagnation. Each Acupunture point has many benefits for the body.
Precaution: If you are pregnant and experiencing a headache meeting with a practitioner would be most beneficial first.
Almonds are an exceptional nut with many health benefits. They can be eaten in many forms such as raw, roasted, soaked, as a butter, milk and more. In Ayurvedic Medicine almonds are sweet in taste which hold nutritive and rejuvenatory properties. They help increase nerve tissue, promote tissue regeneration internally and externally and help increase lactation. They are also moistening, softening and soothing to the body especially when soaked in water over night and eaten the next day. You may also find them combined in many Ayurvedic Medicine and Chinese Medicine nutrition regimes.
Lavender is an abundant plant that has purple flowers and many different species around the world. With each species the aroma is a bit different with factors such as the nutrients in the soil and water, to the amount of sunlight all enhancing the oils within the petals. It is this oil that is extracted from the flowers that make up the essential oil. Essential oils can be of one single flower, used alone sparingly because they tend to be strong, or with a base oil such as almond or jojoba. The oil has its own scent so its important to pay attention to that when deciding to make a blend, the two mentioned above are fairly mild.
Lavender produces an aroma that is calming and refreshing. It has been noted to help ease headaches and tension, calm anxiety and help with insomnia. Floracopia is a wonderful company that makes organic sustainable essential oils, and through my professional relationship with them, I am able to offer an amazing %25 discount for all first time orders! To receive the discount, simply enter the code "129b48b5" in the box at:
Summer is seen in Chinese Medicine in two parts, the first part of Summer is the Element of Fire, and Late Summer is seen as the element of Earth. Fire governs the Heart and Small Intestine. The emotions of Joy and Laughter are emphasized as the Summer air and memories warm our hearts. This is a great time to connect with the things that bring you joy.
The Small Intestine helps with the digestion of food, it separates the clear from the turbid. The warming nature of the season helps to move fluids in the body which brings about detoxification. One can see it is very important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water and nutrient rich fluids including coconut water and juices.
The Earth element encompasses all of the other elements and therefore when strengthened in the body, all is nourished with itself. It is the digestion and absorption of nutrients from our food, this transformation that helps keep our body healthy and in balance. The Spleen and Stomach are the organs associated with the element of Earth.
As we eat the food gets metabolized and different elements (minerals, vitamins, proteins, and more) get sent to the various tissues of our body to help them with their unique function. Metabolism is a word that covers many processes that turn food into energy for our body to use. Chinese Medicine has many ways to help one regulate their different metabolic processes. The food that one eats is of strong emphasis as one takes a look at the foods that give more energy and stability (naturally) and the foods that take more time to feel energy from. Some foods take more energy to process than they can give. The cleaner our food is, the easier it is for us to absorb the nutrients from it, where as more processed food requires more work for our body to get energy from. Organic and in season locally, lend to a healthy body and when the body is more in balance so is the mind and spirit.
Each season we are given time to look at our unique patterns and strengthen ourselves with the medicine that is already in the environment. Wishing everyone a wonderful Summer!
Feeling tense, tight muscles, aching muscles, low energy? Stretching out your body can help improve these conditions and calm emotions when done regularly. Remember stretching and the extent that you go is up to your unique body and it should not hurt, a gentle stretching feeling is the goal. Whether its yoga, positions you learned in gym class, working with a trainer or health care practitioner, taking time to stretch is a wonderful way to strengthen and detoxify.