Monthly Archives: May 2020

Simple Habits for Good Health

Many of us are doing what we can to lower our stress levels and keep our immune systems as strong as possible. I thought I’d share a few easy practices I incorporate into my routine to help me stay strong and healthy.

I like to use fresh herbs and spices in my cooking whenever possible. Some of my favorites are fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Use what you like, and have fun with it. Let thy food be thy medicine. Try to eat 90% non processed food.
I try to drink a cup of green tea every day, my favorite is matcha. Matcha has a naturally high content of L-theanine, which effects serotonin and dopamine, and has antidepressant properties. I always feel a noticeable mood boost after I drink it. Green tea promotes healthy gut bacteria which strengthens the immune system and contains a substance called egcg, which studies have shown has diverse antiviral effects. People who drink green tea regularly tend to have greater overall health and longer life spans.
Try to make some time for yourself periodically to do something you find relaxing and rejuvenating. For me that includes reading, listening to classical music, taking an epsom salt or essential oil bath, or going for nice walk out in nature. You have to take some time out just for yourself. Disconnect from the world (and your family!) for an hour when you can.

Finally, I like to remind myself what I am grateful for. Some thoughts are draining, and some are strengthening. Taking some time to acknowledge what we are grateful for has positive effects on our mind and body. Its usually the most simple techniques that yield the most powerful results. Try to focus on the things you have the power to influence. Worry and fear can be compulsive if not checked. Those emotions can certainly seem justified, but overindulgence in them can drain your energy. I try not to let anything separate me from my power to take action, and that includes paralyzing emotions. I don’t suppress them, I just try not to overindulge in them or let them control me.

by Jesse Andreas, L.Ac.

At the Speed of Yoga

 

This piece isn’t about the collective “we” of shared experience. It’s just about me, my practice right now- written this way because I’m pretty sure anything I’m experiencing in this unprecedented time is being experienced by many of you as well.

More than two decades into a regular yoga practice, surely I hit my mat every day and use my practice to stay fit and healthy, right? Ummm…

Sun salutations are good for expelling anxious energy. But many days I’m too lethargic to do those. Clinical Somatics and restorative poses are good for smoothing out the physical and emotional kinks. But many days I haven’t the focus for the minute, internal referencing. Standing poses are good for restoring balance and creating grounding. But many days I feel too unstable, or just. can’t. even.

So what is a faithful yogi to do? Just get on the mat. I lie on my back, knees bent, and aim first to bring a bit more stillness into the fidgety places- hands, eyes, feet. And sometimes that is the whole practice. Other times it leads to a gentle swaying of the knees, or stretching the legs out slowly, or resting hands on my lower belly and breathing into that space.

Once or twice in the last month, just getting on the mat has led to an “actual” pose or two. My practice has boiled down to just me getting friendly with my mat; saying hello to it every day for even a minute or two; acknowledging that the practice of yesterday is irrelevant to the practice today; and offering gratitude to my beloved mat for always being there to receive me.

Slow yoga, fast yoga, tears-in-your-ears yoga, looks-like-doing-nothing yoga. Whatever I choose is OK.

Living at the speed of yoga,

Melissa Peet, practice manager

Acupressure for Allergy Season

We love to offer support for our patients in many ways, and one of those is take-home treatments. Acupressure is a form of massage, is easy to do, and is an effective way to stimulate acupuncture points to promote either easing of symptoms, or support body and local tissue functions. In other words, it’s great self-care! Acupressure is done using fingers, palms, or elbows on particular points of the body.

The points, or locations for pressure, can be assigned by your acupuncturist after a treatment to extend acupuncture, or can be used as needed anytime. In thinking about current issues that may be affecting folks now, I have some points to suggest that might be helpful, and are safe for most anyone to do, though if pregnant, please use acupressure with caution, and there is a note about that on one point in particular below.

Do these points help immediately? Sometimes, they can. Often, the effect is gradual since the activation of a point is like opening a gate allowing a flow rather than an on-off switch.

Gallbladder 20 is Feng Chi, or Wind Pool, a great point for many types of headaches, as it is a place where many meridians connect. Its location is at the back of the skull, in a little “valley” where the skull meets the soft tissue of the neck. It is not the valley behind the mastoid bone behind the ear, but the next one behind that. It is often sore when pressed, and can quickly alleviate a headache. Press, looking for a sore feeling, for 10-30 seconds for a young person (or animal!) and 2-3 minutes for most adults, or as long as feels good. Alternatively, this point can be stimulated by rolling a cotton handtowel into a tight roll and leaning the head back upon it (on the floor, or against the back of the couch) for a length of time. It’s a great point to focus on when giving a neck massage to release tension in the back of head and neck. We use this point for: headaches, to clear and open the nose, ears, eyes and more. I think it’s great for allergies this time of year!

Large Intestine 4 is a well-known acupressure point, especially for headaches. This point should be avoided in pregnancy since it can promote uterine contractions. LI 4 is easy to find and to stimulate. To find this point on your hand, close your thumb and pointer finger together- see the mountain that pops up next to the crease? That’s He Gu, or the “Joining Valley,” LI 4. Pinch this point with your thumb and your finger on the palm side of the hand. You should feel a very sore and achey sensation. This point excels at treating headaches in the front of the head, and pain of the face, such as toothache, and can also be used for issues of mouth, nose, eyes and ears. Because it affects the uterus, it can be used for menstrual pain, and is often combined with other points in this case. Many acupuncturists use this point in treatments for stress and other types of pain, because it helps to “move qi,” or dislodge stuck energy.

 

Large Intestine 20 Ying Xiang, and Bi Tong

Two points that are close together beside the nose are great to help open the sinuses. I use the knuckle of my thumb to press these points, as I breathe in and out very strongly with my nose. (The “out” exhalation can be like a snort, and can carry some material with it!) To find, press on the side of your nostrils (there is a sore spot there!) and from there you can rub your thumb up and then back down, with just enough pressure to feel the soreness. I usually have my patients do a nice, slow, deep inhalation, with the quick snort, while rubbing back and forth between these 2 points on either side of the nose.

St 36 , Zu San Li or “Leg three miles”, is a very famous and widely used acupuncture point. This is a point I show patients who need a little “pick-me-up,” in situations like low energy, low spirits, dizziness or even something like a drop in blood pressure. It is regulating, meaning that it just helps to nudge body functions in the right direction, so it is also used clinically for high blood pressure. It’s helpful for stomach issues like nausea or low appetite and weak digestion. I would recommend it for those feeling emotionally overwhelmed or agitated right now, those who need a little extra grounding or strength, or to feel a little more security through these times of transition and uncertainty. This point is often used with moxibustion, which is a heat treatment using the mugwort herb. Moxa is very warming and more strongly tonifying than acupuncture or acupressure. Contact your acupuncturist if you want to know if moxa could be helpful for you. We may be able to arrange a video call to teach you to apply moxa at home.

Du 20, or Bai Hui, “Hundred Meetings,” is another commonly used point in acupuncture, as well as Tai Chi and QiGong practice. I will always remember one of my acupuncture teachers having us tap this point to keep awake in class, as it is very good to open the consciousness and the mind! Find it at the point at the top of the head, or really just slightly behind the very top of the head, at a flat spot. Tap here, or press, and it does have a slight ache or feeling that radiates over the head in a pleasant way. Besides helping you to wake up, this point can bring up energy, lift your spirit, clear the senses (try for ringing ears), and is helpful if you feel life is falling apart a bit, and so much more. If you have a meditation practice, this point can be used as a focal point in circulating energy and focus into the head, and the upper section of the body. In more spiritual practices, it connects us to the celestial influences, and the wisdom of our ancestors.

 

Use these points alone, on either or both sides of the body, or use in combinations that feel right to you. If you have any questions, contact your acupuncturist. We are available for phone or video consults at this time. We can recommend acupressure for self-care and advise about moxibustion if that’s appropriate for you. Stay tuned for more acupressure tips!

by Blake Faulkner, L.Ac.