Gentle Stretches for Weekend Warriors

Despite it’s title as being for gardeners, this clip that I discovered has really great gentle stretches for most weekend warrior activities. What I like is the information given to work with YOUR body and where it is now in it’s ability and flexibility, and not to push to a point of pain. I would recommend these stretches to my dance students and clients who are more physically active on their time off. It is really well done!

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

 

 

The Body Beautiful…creating care & awareness

                      BODY AWARENESS

Our Body is talking to us ALL the time, it’s our lifelong best friend.

The “Body Mechanics & Awareness” Workshops as an aid to creating awareness of how your body is moving and ways in which you may want to make adjustments with your BFF (yes, your body is your “best friend forever” … really!)

The body constantly sends us messages about how it’s feeling and, through listening to and feeling what it’s telling us, we can make adjustments in what we’re doing to keep it “happy”. Increasing our awareness of our body and how its moving keeps us in touch with what needs adjusting. Everything works together…our nerves detect information about the space around us through touch, the nerves in our joints detect the positioning of body parts and those in the muscle fibres sense our movements.

With the intention of living a long and happy life with little or no pain and continuing to do all of those things we love to do it’s worthwhile to take the time to listen to what our body is saying and to fine-tune the movements we’re making .

Our Spine is one of the key structures in our body, without it we’d be like mushy beanbags on the floor, unable to stand erect and unable to move. This amazing part of us gives us protection, support and is the base for our muscles and ligaments to attach to, so that we have mobility.

Honouring the spine’s natural curvatures and giving it the space it needs to move is essential.

It’s important to remember that the spine is just a bony structure, that muscles move bones (not the other way around) and so keeping our spine healthy means keeping our muscles strong, stretched and flexible. With out the muscles and ligaments our legs wouldn’t be attached to our hips, nor our arms to our shoulders and we would be unable to bend our knees and elbows.

Yoga, stretching & strengthening exercises give our muscles the support they need for us to move freely with flexibility and without pain. Sometimes we need to adjust how we’re moving to relieve the pain, or compensate for injured areas. Besides good nutrition muscles need oxygen (yes we need to breathe…deeply) and water (the Brain is 90% water, Muscles are 75%, Bones are 22% and water protects and moisturizes our joints….it’s a key ingredient to keeping us moving!)

 THE Body Awareness & Mechanics Series

I created this workshop because of questions I was receiving from dance students. They understood the mechanics of a dance step or movement but were unable to feel it in their bodies and wanted to change that.

The questions allowed me to draw my passions together as a natural health practitioner who emphasizes the importance of connecting mind, body and spirit in wellness, and as a dance teacher who shares the technique while encouraging “feeling” the dance.

The workshop focuses on increasing awareness of all the parts of your body when stationary and when in motion. It includes body awareness techniques, visualizations, movements to stretch and strengthen awareness of the body and improve how your body moves (its mechanics) as well as yoga.  Previous participants in the workshop have left with a new understanding and amazement at just how incredible the precious gift of their body is, a better awareness of their posture and ways to “get more” from their muscles.

Over the course of 3 evenings (1 ½ hours once a week for 3 weeks) you are invited to explore different ways of tuning into your body to become aware of where you are standing and moving in alignment and where you may be holding some muscles tighter and limiting your movements. If you have injuries due to accidents and surgeries, this workshop invites you to explore using muscles in different ways to provide you with increased range of motion.

Each person learns differently so each evening explores different ways of learning (through touch, feel, hearing, seeing and doing). Each week we work through a range of yoga and stretching for specific muscle groups, strengthening techniques, props and other assists are added to increase awareness while stationary and in motion, visualization, meditation and relaxation yoga rounds out the week. The first evening covers all of the lower body muscle groups, the second week we move through and explore the upper body and finally we focus on the movements of the spine.

While the workshop description may sound technical (and part of it is) the main focus will be on feeling the moves and adjustments, and how they feel in your body. As muscles adjust and open up we can often experience emotions that we have stored in them (perhaps the cause of their limitation?) and feeling your way through those moments will be just as important.

Cost: $65.00 (plus gst)

Dates to be announced

July Workshops – pre-registration required

WORKSHOPS: JULY 2012
REIKI Level 1 &2 Classes
Body Awareness & Mechanics Workshops

REIKI CLASSES

in  Fort Langley B.C.

Reiki (pronounced Ray-key) is an ancient Japanese healing art that encourages the natural energies that are around and within us to come into balance. Like the energies that help a plant to grow, blossom and develop Reiki provides a space for our mind, body and spirit to do the same. When our body is in a state of total relaxation it has the opportunity to heal itself, Reiki promotes this way of being and increases the energy within us that is often depleted through stress, trauma and illness. Enhancement of health and reduction of stress encourages the body, mind and spirit to come into a state of harmony and retain a sense of peace within.

Reiki is beneficial for relieving many symptoms that are associated with headaches (whether migraine or stress related), PMS & Menopause symptoms, Depression and Stress, Injury due to accident or surgery, Arthritis, Respiratory illnesses, MS and works well to relieve some of the pain and nausea associated with Chemotherapy and Radiation. It balances, refreshes, rejuvenates and restores!

A Reiki Master since 1996, I follow the traditional Usui method of Reiki in both the sessions shared with clients and classes shared with students.  The practice of Reiki has become a daily way of living gently and lovingly upon the earth and is just a natural part of sharing love with my family (including pets), friends, clients and the world around me. One benefit I find to Reiki is the ability (after taking the 2nd degree) to send Reiki to others. On the rare occasions that I do watch the news and witness some of the tragedies that are reported locally and around the world I am able to send Reiki out to hopefully help and heal those that are injured from earthquake, war, tsunami, etc. and I am honoured, that in some small way, I can share the gift that is Reiki. The comment often made is “you seem so calm” and Reiki would be the reason for that sense of peace within.

REIKI Level 1 Saturday July 7, 9:30 to approx. 5:30

The first level of Reiki shares the history of this ancient healing art following the traditional Usui method.  You will also:

  • learn how to give a treatment to yourself as well as the hand positions to share a full session with another
  • have the opportunity to practice through sharing a session
  • learn how to share a mini Reiki session with another
  • discover the Reiki principles and ways in which you can work with them to enhance your well-being
  • have 2 attunements in which your ability to channel Reiki energy is opened (gradually) and sealed
  • take home notes with information about Reiki from the perspective of different Masters, the hands on positions for a session, a copy of the Reiki principles and some basic information about natural healing with Reiki
  • learn ways to share Reiki with animals, provide first aid and help plants to grow
  • this is a certificate class, certificate will be provided at the end of the day

Cost: $200.00 (plus HST) 50% deposit is required when you register

REIKI Level 2 Saturday, July 21st, 9:30 to approx. 5:30

A further journey that takes you deeper into the practice of Reiki. You will:

  • be provided with symbols that enhance the use of Reiki energy when sharing with others and allow you to send Reiki energy healing long distance
  • have the opportunity to practice with the symbols while giving a session
  • learn how to balance the chakras and the female/male energies during a session
  • take home notes with information shared from various Reiki Masters regarding the 2nd degree, the symbols and ways in which to use them, information about the chakras
  • have 1 attunement sealing the symbols into your natural Reiki energy
    Illustration of the main 7 Chakras, as taught ...

    Illustration of the main 7 Chakras, as taught by contemporary Reiki masters. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • this is a certificate class and certificate will be provided upon completion of this level

Cost: $275.00 (plus HST) 50% deposit is required when you register

(please note: if you have a group of people wishing to take Reiki classes and are not in the Fort Langley area please contact me, I’m happy, if possible, to travel to you)

THE BODY AWARENESS & MECHANICS WORKSHOPS

JULY 2012 in Fort Langley & Abbotsford

Our Body is talking to us ALL the time; it’s our lifelong best friend.  It constantly sends us messages about how it’s feeling and through listening to and feeling what it’s telling us, we can make adjustments in what we’re doing to keep it “happy”.  With the intention of living a long and happy life with little or no pain, doing all of those things we love to do (like dance well into our 90’s and beyond) it’s worthwhile to take the time to listen to what our body is saying. What it is saying and how it is saying it speaks volumes about some of the adjustments and fine tuning it wants us to make.

Over the course of 3 evenings (1 ½ hours once a week for 3 weeks) you are invited to explore different ways of tuning into your body to become aware of where you are standing and moving in alignment and where you may be holding some muscles tighter and limiting your movements. If you have injuries due to accidents and surgeries this workshop invites you to explore using muscles in different ways to provide you with increased range of motion.

Each person learns differently so each evening explores different ways of learning (through touch, feel, hearing, seeing and doing). Each week we work through a range of yoga and stretching for specific muscle groups, strengthening techniques, props and other assists are added to increase awareness while stationary and in motion, visualization, meditation and relaxation yoga rounds out the week. The first evening covers all of the lower body muscle groups, the second week we move through and explore the upper body and finally we focus on the movements of the spine.

While the workshop description may sound technical (and part of it is) the main focus will be on feeling the moves and adjustments, and how they feel in your body. As muscles adjust and open up we can often experience emotions that we have stored in them (perhaps the cause of their limitation?) and feeling your way through those moments will be just as important.

Cost: $50.00 (includes HST)

To maintain a comfortable atmosphere for all who participate the class size is limited.

Please contact me to add your name to the list of participants and please indicate which location is best for you. If you have a group of people who would like to participate, please contact me, it’s possible I could travel to you.

 

The Energetic Spine

The past posts have been pretty technical and physically based…there is another, just as important aspect to the health of your spine

The practice of holistic/wholistic/natural health includes all aspects of the self…mind, body and spirit. When the 3 are in alignment (what we strive for in holistic health practices) one feels “whole” in their being.

The spine not only supports us physically, but energetically as well…equally important.

From the base of our feet, supported by our legs and suspended from the hips attached to the sacrum or bottom of the spine…we can connect with the nurturing, grounding energies of the earth upon which we live and walk upon. The earth has a rhythm and a pulse all its own and in paying attention to that we can connect our body’s rhythm to it.

From the other end of the spine…right at the top…is our head and when we focus on connecting to the energies above us…those of the heavens and the cosmos we create a stronger connection to our intuition. Drawing that energy in, to flow through our spine and connect with that of the earth’s energy brings us to a space of centredness.Illustration of the main 7 Chakras, as taught ...

Which parts of your spine are aware and connected to the energies around you?

Here is something to try ….

Put on some music that has a drum beat only or where the drum is the featured instrument, starting with something slow and steady .

Feel the weight of your body in all parts of your feet.

Move yourself into a good posture (knees slightly bent, low ab tucked, shoulders down from the ears, head floating, facial muscles relaxed, chest lifted out of the waist) and be sure that your body weight is centred and that you can feel the weight of your body in all parts of your feet…take a few slow deep breaths. See, if through your feet, you can connect to the pulse of the earth….just breathe and feel…if that doesn’t work then just try to connect with the rhythm of the drum beat.

 

Close your eyes and, without moving, just “feel” where in your body you notice the drumbeat in the music first. Just notice and breathe…where are you feeling it? Does the music begin to change the rhythm of your breath? Take some time with this, staying centred and still…just notice how and where you feel it.
 

Staying centred and while keeping the upper body still, allow the drumbeat to dictate the movements of your lower body…it doesn’t matter how it looks, just how it feels. Be sure you’re keeping a good posture, keeping your body weight centred, close your eyes and disengage the thinking….just engage the feeling. Only move the lower body…how does it feel? Is the drumbeat leading the way? Are your moves earthy, grounded, full, rounded, sharp…? Keep breathing and allowing the energy of the drum beat or the earth to flow through your feet, up your legs and into the spine. How far up the spine can your draw this earthy energy? How does it feel in the organs, muscles and body parts attached to your lower spine? Do any emotions come up?

When working with the breath awareness and the spine people notice different sensations…some warm, some cold, some tingly, some heavy…all of them are the right and correct sensations for you.

Return to the beginning…stop moving, just feeling the drumbeat and breath. Staying centred and in a good posture now let the upper body only begin to move to the beat try to keep your feet and hips still. Again disengage the thinking, close your eyes, and notice how it feels. Are your arms, head and ribcage all involved or just the arms? Are your moves airy, full, rounded, precise? As you breathe try to focus on the space just above your head and breathe in the energy from there and let it travel down your spine. How far down does it go? What directions are you able to move your upper spine in? How do the organs and muscles around your upper spine feel? Does the feeling of the drumbeat change when you move it through your upper body?

 

It’s inspiring to experiment with the flow of energy not only through your spine but through different parts of your body. Working with isolating just your hands, legs, feet, arms, neck and head, etc. can offer up different sensations. Different music evokes different moods and moves, music that grounds, music that picks you up, music that slows you down or makes your heart beat faster. You can also turn the music off, stand quietly and feel the natural rhythms that you already have within you…how do they move you?

Are there any spaces in your spine where they are stuck?

Can you breath and release that “stuckness”?

The Body Beautiful…Aware and Care

                      BODY AWARENESS

Our Body is talking to us ALL the time, it’s our lifelong best friend.

The body constantly sends us messages about how it’s feeling and, through listening to and feeling what it’s telling us, we can make adjustments in what we’re doing to keep it “happy”. Increasing our awareness of our body and how its moving keeps us in touch with what needs adjusting. Everything works together…our nerves detect information about the space around us through touch, the nerves in our joints detect the positioning of body parts and those in the muscle fibres sense our movements.

With the intention of living a long and happy life with little or no pain and continuing to do all of those things we love to do it’s worthwhile to take the time to listen to what our body is saying and to fine-tune the movements we’re making .

 

Our Spine is one of the key structures in our body, without it we’d be like mushy beanbags on the floor, unable to stand erect and unable to move. This amazing part of us gives us protection, support and a base for our muscles and ligaments to attach to so that we have mobility.  Honouring the spine’s natural curvatures and giving it the space it needs to move is essential.

 

 

It’s important to remember that the spine is just a bony structure, that muscles move bones (not the other way around) and so keeping our spine healthy means keeping our muscles strong, stretched and flexible.

 

 

 

The lumbar region (lower back) bears most of the upper body’s weight and balances it on the sacrum The sacrum is attached to our hips through muscles and ligaments, which also keep our legs attached to our hips. This is why attention to the sacrum is so important.

 

 
Yoga, stretching & strengthening exercises give our muscles the support they need for us to move freely with flexibility and without pain. Besides good nutrition muscles need oxygen (yes we need to breathe…deeply) and water (the Brain is 90% water, Muscles are 75%, Bones are 22% and water protects and moisturizes our joints….it’s a key ingredient to keeping us moving!)

POSTURE
Maintaining good body mechanics requires keen body awareness of our posture, whether we are standing still, walking, bending, running, dancing, etc., we get the most from our body when we stay in tune with how it’s feeling.

Lower Body – standing with your feet hip distant apart, knees slightly bent, pelvis tucked gently through contracting the lower ab and making the low back long as though it’s reaching into the floor while at the same time feeling the weight of your body in all parts of your feet.
Upper Body – lifting your upper body up and out of the waist, keeping the shoulders down, the neck relaxed and gently supporting your head, which is erect and balancing an imaginary tray on top

Take a moment to breath, find this upper and lower body posture. Finding your centre from your sacrum and closing your eyes to feel this posture in your body, keeping it centred as you breath and maintaining that awareness as you move.

Taking a few minutes throughout your day, during your normal activities, to check in with your posture and how your body is feeling, will go a long way to make this a natural automatic response and keep you active for many years to come!

Therapies that create a better awareness of how your spine is doing physically include:
Spinal Touch, Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Chiropractic sessions, etc.

 

Meditation, Yoga, Stretching are all ways to tune in with yourself and how your spine feels, it’s flexibility and restrictions

A Workshop this Summer – Body Awareness & Mechanics Series

I created this workshop because of questions I was receiving from dance students. They understood the mechanics of a dance step or movement but were unable to feel it in their bodies and wanted to change that.

The questions allowed me to draw my passions together as a natural health practitioner who emphasizes the importance of connecting mind, body and spirit in wellness, and as a dance teacher who shares the technique while encouraging “feeling” the dance.

The workshop focuses on increasing awareness of all the parts of your body when stationary and when in motion. It includes body awareness techniques, visualizations, movements to stretch and strengthen awareness of the body and improve how your body moves (its mechanics) as well as yoga.  Previous participants in the workshop have left with a new understanding and amazement at just how incredible the precious gift of their body is, a better awareness of their posture and ways to “get more” from their muscles.

Watch upcoming posts for this summers workshop dates!

 What do you do to keep an awareness of your body and how it’s moving? Do you listen?

If yes, what changes do you make?

If no, why not?

The clock in your Belly

While this is something I often share in dance classes it’s an exercise that benefits everyone as it helps to…

~ become aware of the muscles in the lower belly (yes, you do have them!),

~ strengthen your abdominal muscles,

~ keep your pelvis positioned and abs engaged effectively for good posture, and in that,

~ protect your lower back.

The pelvic clock makes us slow down and take our focus inside to smaller movements within us. It connects us with our source, root energy where our passion, creativity and intuition reside

Start by lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hands at your sides. This position encourages all of your belly muscles to relax completely. Throughout this isolating exercise you want to only contract the muscle you’re focusing on, all others should remain completely relaxed (and this may not happen the first few times you try this, but it will eventually)

If you were holding a clock parallel to your lower belly the area of your belly button would be 12:00, the left hip 3:00, the space just above your pubic bone 6:00 and the right hip 9:00. The smaller muscles in these areas are the only ones you’ll be using.

First: Contract and release only the 12:00 muscle. Sometimes placing a finger over the area helps to recognize and isolate the muscle. The rest of your muscles should be relaxed. Then try only the 6:00 muscle. (Some have a difficult time finding the 6:00 muscle…one way is to do a kegel muscle contraction and at the top of that contraction you’ll feel a small part of your belly contract…that is your 6:00 muscle…that muscle should be contracted whenever you’re dancing regardless of the moves)

Next: Let the contractions flow between 12:00 and 6:00, isolating each muscle and only contracting one at a time. **Don’t forget to breathe!

Second: Contract and release only the 3:00 muscle by pushing the left hip into the floor. This is a smaller movement and the right hip shouldn’t lift from the floor, if it does you’re making the movement too big. Then try only the 9:00 muscle at the right hip.

Next: Let the muscle contractions flow between 3:00 and 9:00, isolating each muscle, keeping the hips in contact with the floor and remembering to breathe.

Finally: Close your eyes, breathe and begin the muscle contractions at 12:00 (just below the navel) and like the hands of a clock allow it to flow to 3:00 (the left hip), then 6:00 (just above the pubic bone), 9:00 (the right hip) and back to 12:00. Remembering to isolate and contract only the muscle at each time stop. Work with this move both clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Practice the Pelvic Clock slowly, take the time to draw the breath into your belly, keeping all the abdominal muscles that you’re not using relaxed. While strengthening your lower ab muscles you’re also helping to keep your low back strong building a strong foundation for your posture.

Points to ponder….

  • In other cultures, the belly is considered to be the centre of our physical & spiritual power and is honoured as such.
  • In some traditions “hara” is the word for the breath of your belly. A person with good “hara is said to be centred, warm-hearted and wise.
  • Breathing deeply into your belly increases the flow of Oxygen. Oxygen encourages healthy cell development, feeds our muscles and energizes the blood.
  • When we’re stressed we often draw it into our bellies and that has an impact on the digestive system. Drawing breath into that space opens up and relaxes the digestive system so itcan function optimally.
  • Whenever you practice mindful isolations of your belly muscles you’re also giving your colon a massage (helps to keep you regular!) ….be sure that you’re drinking extra water.
  • Strengthening the lower ab muscles helps to lift and support those organs that may be dropping with gravity and age.
  • The pelvis cradles our sacrum. The centre balance point for our bodies. When the muscles supporting the pelvis are strong we have a reliable base for the rest of our movements.
  • Our pelvis is said to hold our emotional experiences, the bones the guardians of our emotions. Strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles softens the walls of our emotional fortresses and helps us to make peace with and express our emotions in dance.

Share your experiences as you practice the clock…How does your back feel?