Healing Anxiety Holistically (Part 3) -The Therapies

In the third and final segment of Healing Anxiety Holistically I will share information about the Holistic Therapies I offer and how they specifically help clients to ease anxiety.

My main focus in offering holistic therapies is to not only address body, mind and spirit (the whole person), but to also encourage the body to kick in with its own natural and innate healing abilities. When feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed that task can seem insurmountable.Teresa Graham, Holistic Health Practitioner

However with a focus on bringing body and mind to a relaxed state, holistic therapies encourage the body to shift into its optimal healing state. When we breath deeply, we heal. When we relax, we heal. When we take steps to stop the mind chatter and focus turns to our body, we heal.

Sessions I offer and how they address the symptoms of Anxiety.

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerSPINAL TOUCH encourages the body to relax into its correct posture. When properly aligned (like our cars wheel alignment) the spine and body are able to better cope  with the day to day stresses placed upon them. We move more freely and without pain, our digestion improves, pressure is taken off of our lungs and respiration moves oxygen through our body with renewed vigour.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerWith REIKI clients will often feel such a deep sense of peace that they fall asleep or slip into a deep meditative state. In that perfectly relaxed state the body and mind can easily draw energy into those areas where it is most needed. As within, so without … drawing upon the healing energy around us (that which makes the plants grow) helps to bring balance within. This balance of energy results in a sense of harmony in our daily actions. Stress and tension move aside to be replaced with a deep sense of peace.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerTo begin your REFLEXOLOGY session you sit in a reclined and comfortable position. The brain recognizes the signs of relaxation and begins to encourage the body to wind down. As nerve endings are stimulated in feet and/or hands it triggers the release of tension throughout all parts, glands and organs of the body. Respiration and circulation throughout the body improves.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health Practitioner

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY is another deeply relaxing holistic practise. Unwinding the Fascia (a thin sheath of fibrous tissue that wraps around and encloses a muscle, organ, joint and the entire body) that wraps us up tighter than it should be, often occurring when we’re anxious, stressed or injured. Craniosacral also encourages the unimpeded flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (colourless liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord). As the CSF flows it nourishes the brain and the nerves,  impacting the entire body.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerMASSAGE loosens tight restrictions in muscles and ligaments while helping to ease the pain caused. Often there is an area of the body that we hold our stress and tension; the neck and shoulders tighten, the jaw clenches, the legs are restless… Knots, kinks and spasms are eased with massage and the body begins to feel stretched, longer and very much more relaxed. As muscles open up and release tension there is often an equal release of emotional stress that has been trapped in the tightness.


Abbotsford Belly DanceDANCE is a total “in the body” experience. During classes I encourage students to breath deeply and dance their body. I’ll share some moves, but you’ll experience them as only your body can. Your age, fitness level or ability to dance don’t matter at all. What you’ll find is your mind becomes so focused on what your body is doing, that anxiety and upsetting thoughts drift away (even if just for a short time). At the same time the physical activity is encouraging your body to release the “feel good” chemicals and endorphins into the bloodstream.


In its relaxed state the body turns the tables on anxiety. A different group of chemicals and hormones are released … the ones that make us feel good. In that state both mind and body are empowered. The more often we can reach this state the more we begin to see long term benefits. Anxiety may still be present, but it is often to a lesser degree. and we are able to reclaim a calmer state with a little more ease.

Related Articles
Healing Anxiety Holistically (part one)
Healing Anxiety Holistically (part two) Anxiety and taking care of you in the moment.

What is Spinal Touch?

What is Reiki?

What is Massage?

What is Reflexology?

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

About Belly Dance



Holistic and Joyful ~ Let’s Celebrate

Probably the most holistic activity I do for myself is to belly dance! Sounds strange perhaps, but let me explain a little.

This September it will be 17 years since I took my first belly dance class and 12 years since teaching my first. I signed up because I thought it would be a fun way to fitness…it has certainly been that, but that has only been a side benefit in comparison to the amazing holistically healthy other mind, body and soul benefits.

Think about these questions for a moment and what your answers would be…

When was the last time that you actually PLAYED?
How old were you when you played dress up?
Have you ever just allowed a tune, rhythm or phrase of music to enter through your ears and move your entire body?
Do you participate in any activities that make your heart soar with joy, your lips smile with delight and at the same time bring a calmness to your spirit? Was it recently?
What activities do you actively participate in to increase your self-confidence and self-esteem?
Do you have a social life with others where you can laugh freely from the depth of your being?

Did you notice I didn’t ask you any questions about your physical fitness? That’s because, with belly dance, you can be at any fitness level and make the “work out” from a class whatever you want it to be…it’s that individualized.

Perhaps it’s time to step out and see what this is about and so I invite you to

Join me for a BELL~ Y~TEA
Thursday, September 4th 7 to 9pm at the Abbotsford Ballet Studio
* A Dance Jam
* Free Refreshments & Party Favours
* A Celebratory word & drum Circle
* Bazaar
(Spanish Imports & Helen’s skirts)
* A special Organics Gift Basket prize draw that you can enter when you come with a friend who would like to experience a belly dance evening.
The more friends you bring the more entries you receive.

It doesn’t matter whether your friends have danced before or not…the first 15 minutes of the Dance Jam will be an introduction to basic steps.
You will need to bring a full skirt & hip scarf (extras available) & drum or zils if you have them
Please RSVP to JingleWhenYouWalk@gmail.com by Sept. 1st
More information about Abbotsford Belly Dance Classes & Workshops can be found at http://www.abbotsfordbellydance.com

Some specials for YOUR holistic health!

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Rhythms of Nature inspiring the Dance

I am pretty sure that those ancients that have danced, stretched and shimmied before us would be amused to see us “training” within 4 walls and surrounded by mirrors! I wonder if they would have been able to do it? Or would have even wanted to?

RFCMy first experience with the amazing energy of taking dance outdoors was a number of years ago during a summer session. Each class began with warm ups where our noses were pushed right into the grass as we stretched and breathed. I was surprised when bells rang within and my spirit  reached a new level of calm connection…it felt natural, it felt like I had known and done this before, it felt amazing!

And so began my yearning to move my dance and yoga practice to the great outdoors whenever 009possible. Having only learned, taught and experienced within studio surrounds, protected by 4 walls,  it was a little unnerving at first. Then I began the process of slowing it down, breathing and with the music still playing, becoming connected to those other rhythms and sounds that were taking place all around me. Moving with those rhythms seemed to come spontaneously from within me. While surprising at first, at the same time it felt really comfortable and “known”. Meditation had taught me to draw upon the energies of the earth below and the sky above and while I had always found that to be a natural connection in dance, it was a different experience to actually move and dance with those energies.

When we place our bare feet upon the earth, close our eyes and just breathe it is possible to become connected to the pulsing rhythms and swirls of the earth beneath us. Connecting with that earthy grounding energy, as well as that ethereal breath of the air and breeze that surrounds our skin, is something we have a natural affinity to. We’re born with the connection but often neglect it.

Dancing outside completely and irrevocably changed the way I experience dance whether inside or 7aoutside a studio and also the ways in which I share it, whether as an instructor or a performer. No longer are they just figure 8’s being completed in isolation but now my hips wave and move and ripple through the shape of the 8 rolling from the inside out. Snake arms reach out to connect with the energy that surrounds my body, that is in the air beside, above and around me. With each moving step, if even for a split second, each foot reconnects with the pulsing earth energy that resonates through the floorboards and shimmies up through my hips. It is effortless and natural and I love how the dance “feels”.

260298_10150305604991539_681361538_9623999_844318_nTaking the dance outdoors reconnects the dancer with the ancients, who danced on the dirt and the sand telling their stories and sharing with the younger generation the lessons of life. Can you imagine what changes it will make within you?

Join me as my summer session classes move into the outdoors, experience how the pulsing rhythms of nature move through you. You will likely find that it firmly establishes the moves of the dance and connects them to the core of you, the dancing diva…and dancing from that core inner space is amazing!2013-06-01 11.34.00

Classes taking place in Abbotsford & Otter (on the Langley/Aldergrove border). For more information click here

Summer ClassesCollage

SummerLA Collage

Dancer’s Hip (not just dancers!) Avoid, Heal & Understand

Too many individuals are coming into my natural health practice with this issue for me to ignore.

2013-06-01 11.34.00Perhaps because I’m also a dance instructor I come across it more often and hear about it from students, however I’m also finding it is affecting those who are physically active in other ways…so for those individuals, while this post is directed at dancers you will still find it helpful to keeping your hip movements full, active and pain free.

For each individual that is afflicted by dancers hip, more often the causes are different…at least that has been my experience. So the first step in understanding Dancer’s Hip is to have a really good assessment done by a practitioner that understands muscles and body mechanics. The problem may be in the actual hip joint, may be caused by muscles around the hip or even caused by muscles on the other side of the body from where the pain is felt. A good assessment will give you that information and that is your essential starting point for healing.




The Hip is an amazing ball joint that allows us to move our legs forward and back, up and down and towards and away from our body. (Other joints get involved in some of those movements as well.)  The joint is held together and allowed movement by some of the body’s largest muscle groups. It isn’t often that I see a dancer with an issue in the actual joint, but more so in the muscles and tendons surrounding the hip or those a little further away that are helping the hip to move… and there are many!

These muscles and attached tendons also create movement in other joints they attach to in addition to the hip. Muscles that relate our hip moves to our knees, low back, pelvis and sacrum.

English: Anterior Hip Muscles

An important tip to remember: Bones don’t move the body, Muscles move the bones that move the body.

When a muscle is overworked, tight and restricted without being given adequate rest, stretching and nutrition or is injured it will begin to limit the movements of our joints or cause pain in those movements. Swelling, inflammation, spasm, fatigue, injury … all can lead to muscles that just will not work without pain or only work within a limited range of motion. As the condition becomes worse so does the pain and the range of motion more limited. Many dancers work through the pain and dance anyways while not allowing their body to heal. YIKES! That is asking for problems in the future.

Biceps femoris - Muscles of the Lower Extremit...

Biceps femoris – Muscles of the Lower Extremity Anatomy Visual Atlas, page 28 (Photo credit: Rob Swatski)

Specific to hip movements the most common areas I see dancers having issues are in the Gluteal muscles, Piriformis, the Adductors (move towards the body), the abductors (move away from the body), the Gracilis, the Tensor Fascia Lata and Iliotibial band (connecting gluteal muscles to the knee), the Sacro- iliac joint (connecting the sacrum to the gluteal muscles), the muscles of the Lower Back, the Flexors, Extensors and the Psoas muscles. This is why assessment is so crucial. You may be having pain in your right hip but if it’s caused by a restriction from a low back muscle on the left side then massaging away at the right Iliotibial band is not going to heal the problem. It may give you some temporary relief but it won’t heal the cause of the pain.


Why avoid dancers hip? Because it’s no fun to do anything while you’re in pain and you want to give your body the opportunity to enjoy all the activities you love for many years to come!

  • Stretching, stretching and more stretching!… when warming up and cooling down from your dance practice, golf game or gardening venture is so good for your muscles and helps to keep them loose, limbered and healthy.  When warming up your muscles are cold, don’t over stretch them! Your warm up should gently mimic the moves that you’ll be asking your muscles and body to create during your practice or event. The more active, deeper stretches can be saved for when the muscles are warm…after your practice.
  • LISTEN to the body’s messages during your practice. This can’t be stressed enough. Pain is always a strong and clear indication that something is wrong…pay attention to it. Also pay attention to the type of pain…is it an ache, is it sharp, where is it starting and where is it travelling to, how deep in the body is it?wrapped
    Where it is and what type of pain it is are insights to what is happening in the muscle or joint and which muscle is causing it. Please don’t ignore what the body is telling you as it can lead to some more challenging, long term, range of motion issues.
    (Range of Motion means the full amount of motion in the possible directions that a joint can make, limiting the range means limiting the joints ability to move fully)
  • Don’t push your body to move beyond its natural anatomical motions and elastic limits. Our body structure is like that of a bridge, (though created naturally) and when respected, it will provide us with sound balance and support. We can gradually increase our elastic limits through practice.
  • Don’t over work it! Your muscles will respond or “fire” better plus create new muscle memory by shorter, daily practices than going at it for an hour and taking the chance of a new or recurring injury.
  • Breathe, nourish & hydrate your muscles! Oxygen, healthy muscle building foods and lots of water are essential.


Yes your body can heal from Dancer’s Hip and give you many years of pain free motion for the future…the key is to listen to the body, pay attention to what it is telling you and take the steps sooner rather than later to give it a healing chance.

  • After a thorough assessment, treatment to heal the muscles is important, PLUS giving the treatment time to work. Consider how many repetitive muscle movements have caused the issue and over how long a period of time…are you only going to give your muscles one treatment to heal? That’s a bandaid solution…easing the pain but not healing the problem.

    Massaging the IT Band to reduce muscular tension on both the hip and knee joints

    Massaging the IT Band to reduce muscular tension on both the hip and knee joints

  • Use ice or heat on the muscles affected. Ice reduces inflammation to swollen muscles, heat increases circulation to bring added blood supply and nutrients. Talk with your health professional about which is best OR listen to what your body tells you feels the best.
  • Take it slow when getting back to your dance or garden or golf. The day you have a massage or other treatment to the area your muscles are getting a deep workout and need time to rest and repair. Give them the next day at least and then take it slow in your movements when you do begin to dance (or engage in other activities) again. Warm the muscle up really well, make your movements smaller and do fewer repetitions. Give the muscle time to regain its strength…baby it and it will give you so much more in return.
  • Have a one on one session with your dance teacher and learn which other muscles you can use to create the same moves that don’t strain the muscle that is healing. When teaching I discuss this a lot with students, it’s important in dance and many other activities. The body has numerous large muscle groups to help you lift and drop your hip (and other body parts), it may change your move for a little while but you will still be able to dance! And you’re giving other muscles a chance to move stretch and wake up!raks2

Learn This is a simple explanation of hip muscles and mechanics. Learning more about how the body moves and particularly about how your body moves will empower you to get more from your muscles, pain free for years ahead.

Coming soon! BODY BASICS FOR BELLY DANCERS & THEIR TEACHERS An online course of basic anatomy and physiology for belly dancers & their teachers…keeping it simple, easy to understand and fun! This course will introduce basic anatomy and how the body moves, different conditions that may limit movements or require the use of different muscles to create them PLUS ways to care for muscles, joints, … NATURALLY so that you have many years of enjoying a full and unlimited dance experience…watch for it!

Read more:

H2H Tips ~ the wonder whyse!

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Something new for the H2H pages that you’ll find here each week!

Tips that will help YOU to get more from your healthy “good for you” sessions that extend the benefits of your health session or hip bumping dance class, for days after you’ve had it

You may wonder why

  • I suggest that you drink more water after a Spinal Touch or Massage Session, or
  • Its a really good idea to soak in the tub tonight after your massage or an intensive dance class, or
  • Leaving the oil in your hair after a Champissage session or on your skin after an Abhyanga massage is so good for you, or
  • Being on a full dose of pain killers right before your session or dance class is not the best idea, or
  • When the muscle burns it’s ok but sharp pain isn’t when you’re dancing or working out
  • I’m such a nag about stretching, yoga and posture
  • Booking your Reiki or Craniosacral session at the end of the day is a much better idea than doing them first thing,
  • or

The reasons? All of these tips and more will help your body, mind and spirit get the most from your health session or dance class with me AND while making you health whyse will also make a difference in your self-care for days afterwards

and that means

YOU feeling vibrantly well !

Beginning next Wednesday and for each Wednesday after that I’ll share the why’s for the above wonderments and so many others! Follow the blog to have the tips delivered directly to your email inbox or come back to visit the page.

I’d also love to hear any “wonder why” questions you have….so please share them here!

Holistically Healthy Activity?

Definition of Holistic: Taking into account a person’s physical, mental and social condition. Relating to or concerned with the whole or the complete system. Emphasizing the whole person.
Definition of Holistic Health: the concept that all aspects of people’s needs, psychological, physical and social should be taken into account and seen as a whole.

Is Belly Dance Holistically Healthy? hmmm…let’s see

I know that any belly dancer reading this is answering with a nodding of their head in a definite YES! And absolutely, I am prejudiced in my view as a belly dancer and a holistic health practitioner. But what about those that haven’t experienced this ancient art form.

Probably, for those individuals, the first impression of Belly Dance is as it has commonly been portrayed in the media…a lithe, slim, young woman shimmying in serpentine-like motion across the screen or shaking and shimmying everything she’s got with dazzling effect. Often the media portrays belly dance as “sexy” and that limited view can be pretty intimidating for most women.

So let’s take a look at why and how Belly Dance fit’s the definition of holistically healthy.

Often we associate health with fitness and yes, belly dance will bring you that. You will move muscles you didn’t know you had in ways that you thought impossible…and you will move your entire body through the moves. Toning muscle, increasing stamina and flexibility along with strengthening and stretching will all be found in most belly dance classes. You will be forced to breathe and in that way bring nourishing oxygen to all parts of your body. The thing about it is, you don’t tend to notice this fitness aspect during class, it’s almost like a side benefit.

An advantage of learning from a health practitioner is the sharing of training and knowledge of the body and how it works, that is brought to the experience….if you have a bad knee there are other muscles you can use to lift your hip and shift your weight, and there are many ways to work with most injuries.

Why don’t you notice the fitness benefits? Likely because, along with the other women in your class, you are laughing and enjoying yourself too much to focus on the muscles that are toning. Really!

There is a special kind of atmosphere that runs through a belly dance class. There is a celebration of femininity in all of its shapes, sizes, ages and beauty…an exuberance in sharing the moves and dances with others that brings a joy that comes from some place deep within. Any judgement or comparison of what the media portrays as a woman’s must haves to “be sexy” or  “beautiful” or “the right size” or “too old” are dropped at the door.

Odd and strange as it sounds, this is an environment where you are accepted as the person that you are and where you have the opportunity to develop a positive and healthy relationship with that person. Something our ancestors and the ancient cultures in which this art form originated knew deep within, they didn’t need to be taught this. Hmmm…it would appear here that we are hitting upon the mental AND the social aspects of holistically healthy!

So let’s see…you’re participating in something that has the physical fitness component to holistic health AND it’s filled with joy and laughter so we’ve covered the mental component AND you are spending time out in a social setting with other adult woman which takes care of the social component…what’s left?

Probably the deep psychological and spiritual benefits, but I think we covered that too. When you are engaged in an activity or more aptly, an ancient art form, that encourages you to leave the stress at the door and be “in the moment” and that moment involves physical movement, laughter and joy along with an ever increasing sense of self acceptance there is no option but to let it affect you, and deeply.

It seems the whole person has benefited!

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, Galleria d...

Do you experience the holistic effects of activities you participate in? Share with us….


Teresa is a member of Raks Almeh Tribal Fusion Dance Troupe and along with her troupe sister Lori, offers Belly Dance Classes for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Levels in Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack & Fort Langley.
For more information about Raks Almeh visit www.raksalmeh.com
For more information about classes in your area visit the site:
and www.missionbellydance.com