Hello and welcome to the first in a series of posts designed to assist dancers in maximizing performance while achieving and maintaining wellness. This first installment is about preventing injury. Due to the high impact of an injury to a dancer’s life, a holistic approach to a preventative program is important.
Finding time to develop a daily (or at least frequent) meditation practice can be a challenge for many people. Our schedules are filled with so many things that taking time to meditate, let alone relax can seem daunting. If you are looking for a way to have the benefits of meditation (improved concentration and stress reduction just to name a few) as well as a way to allow for your body, mind and spirit to receive deep rest, then Yoga Nidra can be a beautiful practice for you.
Nearly everyone has had the experience of an unpleasant or disturbing emotion that persists so long we wonder or even doubt it will ever change. We can forget what it was like to be without the feeling and believe it’s just the way it is, a part of us - like a body odor. We can try to cover it up like using deodorant but perhaps we would rather discover the cause and change it. This month we dive deeper into compassion meditation and how it can help us in our every day lives.
The Chinese New Year falls on Friday, February 16th this year. Also known as the Spring Festival in China and Taiwan, it is celebrated for the entire week and is a good time for spring cleaning and wearing bright red for good luck. On this special day it is wise to avoid accidents and focus on gentleness and appreciation to create a beneficial influence for the rest of the year.
Qigong (pronounced che-gong) is a form of gentle exercise that is a fundamental component of self-care in traditional Chinese medicine. Less acrobatic than many yoga forms and more active than most meditation practices, this movement therapy gently strengthens, calms, and supports both body and mind. It involves meditation and repeated movements that improve circulation and increase qi (energy), encouraging an overall sense of well-being.
Is it possible to help a breech baby turn? This is a question we often hear from moms hoping to have a vaginal birth. Moxibustion treatment can be a great option for these women. Moxibustion is an adjunctive technique often used by acupuncturists in their treatments, and research has shown that a course of daily moxibustion over a specific acupuncture point on the baby toe is very successful at prompting a breech baby to turn.
As we enter 2018, New Year’s resolutions are fresh on everyone’s mind. We want to make more friends, have a more fulfilling social life, eat healthier, exercise more, drink less alcohol, call family more, eat less sugar, read more, stop binge watching Netflix…. the list could go on forever!
New Year’s resolutions focus on the future with hopes of enhancing the next year. If we master the resolution, the year to come will be better. However, more times than not, we lose the momentum of our resolution as the months progress. We find ourselves looking back in regret or disappointment with aims to do better next New Year.
This year we offer an alternative! Instead of looking back on failed resolutions or planning for the future, take a look at the present moment. Presence is the most important gift to ourselves and others. The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful including:
- an increase in happiness and being content
- a decrease in worrying and over analyzing
- appreciating those around you more
- a decrease in stress, depression and anxiety
- an improvement in social skills
- an increase in focus, clarity and creativity
So, take a little time in January to establish some daily mindfulness habits that could drastically change your 2018! Need some help getting started? Try these small moments:
Take Small Moments:
Daily tasks/chores are a great built in time to be mindful. Pick a few small habits below that are easy to implement. Pay attention to your body posture and mind activity when you do these small exercises. Be engaged, relaxed, and most importantly, don't forget to breathe.
Breath: If your mind is very active during any of these moments, begin to count your slow deep breaths. Inhale: 1, Exhale: 1, Inhale: 2, Exhale, 2... Continue up to 10 and start back over at 1.
• When washing the dishes feel the warm water and soap on your hands. Think of positive words to describe this cozy and safe feeling. Let your mind float to positive memories or images you attach to that feeling. Stand in Mountain Pose between dishes (engage your core, feet shoulder width apart, pelvis tilted back, heart open, shoulders plugged down). As you put each dish away, imagine releasing your stressful or anxious thoughts out and away.
• While winding down your day (reading a book, listening to a podcast, knitting, etc.) be mindful of your posture. Get into a comfortable position in which your back is supported and your neck is at a comfortable angle. Don't multi-task, totally engage in what you are doing. You owe your full attention to yourself. Evaluate your current emotional and physical self. When your brain drifts to work or anxieties, softly and gently turn back to your task at hand or bring your attention to your breath.
• Take mini mediation breaks at work. Sit back in your chair, align your posture, support your back and place both feet on the ground. Softly place your hands on your lap and if you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and scan your physical and emotional self. Schedule this time as if it were an important meeting or a lunch break.
• While lying in bed, before getting up in the morning and before going to sleep at night, scan from head to toe, taking brief moments at each body part to sense your body and relax the local muscles. Feel the difference in your body between the night and morning. Think positively about the day to come or the sleep you will soon enjoy.
• While commuting, which can be stressful, take a moment to get comfortable in your seat. Open your chest, plug your shoulders down, and softly engage your core to keep good posture. As you drive, let thoughts enter and exit your mind. As stressful or frustrating situations arrive, passively let them float out of your brain and into the air.
As you practice integrating these mindful moments into your daily life, being present will come easier. Start off small by adding one of the mindful moments into your day. Practice for a week or so before adding another. Then establish a regular practice of the mindful moments that work for you, letting go of ones that don’t.
And always remember, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.
In one pointedness meditation we begin with focus on a selected meditation object, and develop strength of mind. As this grows we maintain the focus and observe thoughts as they arise and let them go, rather than beginning to think about them. We begin to appreciate and gain insight into attachment and impermanence and our own nature.
Although being a new mom is an amazing experience, it’s not without its challenges. Emotional changes, changes to daily routine, and new physical demands often accompany motherhood, and the transition can be overwhelming. As an acupuncturist, many of my patients seek treatment during pregnancy and continue postpartum because acupuncture is a low-risk way to manage physical and emotional issues, and can dramatically improve a variety of afflictions.
Our modern work culture has created flexibility in a lot of areas. The traditional 9-5 has morphed, with more people working remotely from home, on trains, planes, buses and in hotels. The internet has allowed the traditional work-place to become fluid, allowing many people an escape from the age-old problem of being stuck in a cubicle all day.
We all experience aches and pains throughout our lifetimes. Often pain begins as a result of an injury or clear event. Occasionally it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of pain. Regardless of the scenario, it is common to try to ignore your pain and carry on with your life as usual. So, how do you know when you should take the next step and seek help from your physical therapist?
Numerous studies are emerging surrounding the benefits of rehabilitation before and after a total joint replacement of the hip or knee. If you are anticipating a future knee or hip joint replacement surgery, prehab, a physical therapy program leading up to surgery, may help you recover quicker post surgery. Research has shown a slightly better postoperative outcome for those that participate in some form of rehabilitation before surgery compared to those who do not.