Friday, April 24, 2009

Self-Care: Lymphatic Massage

Staying in good shape requires a commitment to regular self care. Sometimes it’s a chore, like flossing teeth, regular check-ups, and – for me – jogging. Other self care is downright pleasurable, like the lymphatic drainage massage I enjoyed yesterday. It was so relaxing—therefore good for my mental health—and also helped to detoxify my body.

According to the Upledger Institute®, “the lymphatic system is critical to our body’s ability to drain stagnant fluids, detoxify, regenerate tissues, filter out toxins and foreign substances, and maintain a healthy immune system.”

I certainly feel refreshed today, light as though my body isn’t dragging around a lot of excess baggage. Since my lymph system was cleansed with gentle, purposeful massage strokes, which cleared the sludge from my system, I’m not surprised at this feeling.

I use lymphatic drainage massage as a general tonic, but it is extremely helpful in cases of swelling and post-surgery. You can learn more here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

5 Rhythms: Treatment for Repetitive Strain

Repetitive motion is the source of many modern injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, golfer’s and tennis elbow, and thoracic outlet syndrome. I’ve found that it’s not just what movements we make, but how we move that creates the strain.

Gabrielle Roth created the 5 Rhythms of Movement, which I find helpful in any activity. Can you type using all five forms: flowing (like undulations), staccato, chaotic, lyrical, and in stillness -- or are your fingers stuck in staccato?

Repetitive motions tend to become mechanical. Is it any wonder that our flesh and blood bodies complain about being turned into robots? Try to vary your movements so your body can regain its organic healing powers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Swan Lake Inspiration

I had the pleasure to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's opening night performance of Swan Lake last night. It was truly masterful and reminded me of my childhood ambitions to be a ballerina--before I realized that I was clumsy and uncoordinated. I may not be able to do a pirouette or kick my knee to my shoulder, but there are swan-like things we can do to stay limber, feel young, and improve our grace.

1) Hop on one foot. Every kid knows this is fun, but what we forget is how much it strengthens our hips.

2) Twirl around. This is best done in a clockwise direction, that is to the right. The Sufi practice adds the direction of having the right palm facing toward the sky and the left palm facing toward the ground.

3) See how far you can kick each leg up. This strengths the front leg muscles and stretches the hamstrings.

4) Move one arm (at a time) in an imitation of a graceful swan neck. Let all the tension out of your fingers, hand, and wrist to get the image of a swan head.

5) Slowly wave your arms up and down, like a swan taking flight.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Relieve Money Anxiety

My office rent was due two days ago. The boys’ tuition is due now. My quarterly taxes are due by the end of the month. These thoughts provoke stiffening in my spine, tight shoulders, and a contraction of my energy inward—the physical manifestations of tension. As my body tenses and breath shortens, I find new things to worry about, the anxiety gets worse, and the cycle of tension is continues.

However, if I start to move, to sway, to undulate with easy movements through my spine, my breath lengthens and immediately the “where will the money come from?” doom starts to lift. The more I explore different movements, the more my mind opens to new possibilities. “Ah, the money for the rent is already there. The money for tuition is on its way. Why am I worrying about the end of the month now?”

Anxiety of the mind creates tension in the body. Fluidity in the body promotes a calm state of mind. Undulation is a great stress reduction technique.