Bodywork that's more than skin deep

Massage therapy is just one part of a healing regimen. Yoga or daily stretching and breathing exercises are key elements in preventing injury, reducing stress and maintaining overall health. They extend the benefits of massage treatments! A balanced diet, exercise, plenty of water and laughter are also important aspects in a healthy lifestyle.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Take a Deep Breath...use your diaphragm!

Breathing is essential to life and we need oxygen in our bodies to live. However, most of us do not realize that we take shallow breaths that deny us the oxygen our bodies need to operate optimally. One way to remedy this is by practicing deep-breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing. We can use this very simple, yet powerful method to help relieve stress and ease muscle tension.

Breathing exercises can help relieve muscle tension around the thoracic area, the back, the shoulders and the neck. Deep breathing will also help stretch out an important dome-shaped muscle, the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration.

The diaphragm is attached to the inner surface of the ribcage and has a central tendon that attaches to the connective tissue surrounding the lungs. This diaphragmatic tendon is directly connected to our ability to inhale fresh oxygen into the lungs. When you take a deep breath into your abdomen, your diaphragm's muscle fibers contract and pull this central tendon down. This creates a vacuum in the top part of the chest cavity "pulling" air into your lungs. When you exhale, this relaxes the diaphragm and central tendon allowing the lungs to deflate. When both your abdomen and the lower half of your ribcage are expanding, you are correctly stretching the diaphragm.

Deep breathing is beneficial because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a feeling of relaxation and promoting digestion as well as bringing increased amounts of oxygen to the muscle tissue. Try the exercise described below to stretch this important muscle and alleviate stress.

Deep-Breathing exercise.

-Lay down in a comfortable position on your back. Use a pillow under your knees for more comfort.
-Place one hand on your belly and the other on your solar plexus.
-Take a slow relaxing deep breath in through your nose. Breathe deeply into your belly.
-Be aware of your abdomen and ribcage expanding and inflating like a balloon.
-Once you've reached the extent of your inhalation, exhale slowly through your mouth.
Use pursed lips to allow your exhalation to be slow but relaxed. Exhale completely.
-Repeat for 5-10 minutes, or longer if desired.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Massage Fee Increase

The prices for massages will be changing due to an upcoming rent increase in September 2007. The fees are as follows:

60 minutes = $70
90 minutes = $100

This change will go into effect starting September 1st.

Thank you for your patronage, hope to see you soon.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stretch of the Day, Doorway

You may have noticed how easy it is to slouch at your desk. Your shoulders want to round forward, eventually causing the upper chest muscles to tighten up. You notice soreness in your upper arms and shoulders. The following is a great stretch for people who sit at a computer all day. It assists in stretching the front shoulder muscles and the Pecs. Regular execution of this stretch will improve your upper body posture and counteract the tendency to round your shoulders. The stretch also helps relieve upper back tension.

*Stand in a doorway.
*Raise arms with bent elbow so that triceps are parallel to the floor.
*Put one foot in front of the other.
*Exhale and lean forward, keeping your back straight. You should feel a good stretch in the upper arms and chest.
*Keep your head aligned with your spine. (Remember to keep your back straight!)
*Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
*Breathe and gently release into the stretch.
*Repeat 2-5 times.
*Repeat 2-5 times daily.

This stretch really works, so do it often during your work day. You will feel relief.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Glute Stretch for Low-Back Relief

Lowback pain can often be a result of having tight glute muscles. The best way to keep your lower-back muscles happy is to keep your glutes flexible and healthy. The cross-legged stretch will help increase lower-back and hip (glute) flexibility.

*Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
*Bend your left leg and rest your ankle on your right quad (above your knee).
*Grab your right thigh with your hands and pull your right knee/left ankle towards you.
*Enjoy a yummy stretch on your left glute.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Vacation Time: July 4-July 17 2007

I am ecstatic that I will be visiting Oahu and Kauai July 4th-the 17th. I will be available for massage on Sundays in June and July to make up for the time I will be gone. Please make note of that if you need to get in. If you are in need of bodywork while I'm away please call the Awakening Lotus Healing Arts Center at 503-331-1553 for massage, acupuncture or naturopathic advice.

Mahalo nui loa!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm Ready for Hawaii

Monday, March 26, 2007

Detox Update: Day 20

Ten days to go! Today, I start with a mini-fast, which includes tons of lemon water and dandelion tea to help the liver catch up with any backup of toxins. This is the first time during the detox that I've done this "mini-fast". It's not too bad because I ate dinner early last night and will eat a light meal early in the afternoon. That's an easily achieved fast of 18-20 hours!

I will break my fast at 2pm with a light meal: a salad, a portion of brown rice and a piece of fruit. In the evening, I will have fish, lightly cooked veggies and some more fresh fruit.

The past 20 days have been great. I've been eating super healthy and I still feel crisp. It really hasn't been a far cry from what I usually eat. I miss the wheat and sugar most of all but I'm not going crazy for it. I'm not sure if I have a wheat intolerance or not. I'll find out in eight days when I can incorporate it back into my diet.

My overall goal after the detox is to limit sugar and refined foods (like white rice and french fries). I want to continue to eat more veggies and fish and less starchy foods(like potatoes) and of course drink tons of lemon water!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Recharge Your Life

I forgot to mention the book that I've been using for the 30-day detox program. It's called "Detox, Cleanse and Recharge Your Mind, Body and Soul" by Christina Scott Moncrieff, an English homeopathic physician. The book offers different healthy detox options along with great information about how to continue to live a "lo-tox" lifestyle. The 30-day detox is the program I like to use every spring because it's gentle and easy to use. It encourages you to eat healthy meals without starving your body. Another positive thing I've found is that it kicks me into a habitual nutritional-healthy-eating lifestyle even after the last day of the detox.

I'm about to enter Day 13 of the detox and I'm still feeling radiant. Some of the major changes I'm noticing:

* I'm getting deep, restful sleep.
* My skin glows, looks flawless and soft.
* I have more energy. (If you can believe that!)
* I've lost two inches around my waist!
* The dark circles under my eyes have lightened up.

So far so very good and two more weeks to go! This week I can add nuts, seeds and eggs to my diet! I'm looking forward to scrambled eggs fried in olive oil with a ricecake topped with banana and blueberries on the side! Mmmmmm, can't wait!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Day Six of My Detox

It's almost springtime and for me that means a detox to clear out all the toxins I accumulated over the year. The detox I like to do is a 30-day makeover program. It's gentle and easy to do because it allows me to continue to eat three square meals a day with up to three snacks each day. Of course my choices of food are limited but the amount is not.

The program includes generous portions of vegetables, fruit, protein and a moderate amount of fat. (I can still have olive oil and coconut oil.) The program excludes foods that most commonly cause food intolerances/allergies like dairy, sugar, wheat, eggs. It also excludes alcohol and caffeine. This also means no artificial flavors or preservatives.

A meal I really enjoyed last week:

Salmon baked in olive oil, lemon and garlic.
Lightly steamed asparagus and green beans tossed in olive oil and garlic.
Quinoa(cooked just like brown rice) with the olive oil, lemon and garlic marinade.

Very healthy and delicious!

I've been drinking lots of dandelion tea every day to help clean out my liver. Yogi tea makes a tea called Detox that I really like. (I've also been drinking tons of lemon water!)

Epsom salt baths have also been a part of my regimen because they help pull out the toxins that are being released. AND they feel really nice.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Spring Ahead!

Daylight Savings Comes Early. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act was passed to extend Daylight Savings time three weeks earlier this year. Set your clocks ahead at 2am, Sunday, March 11th. Spring is ahead!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Stretch It Out

Stretching is one of the most vital ways to increase flexibility in your body. Most of us weren't taught the importance of daily stretching. Flexibility is essential for long-term muscle health. Healthy, flexible muscles are less susceptible to injury, and fewer injuries mean less stress, less downtime from work or your home life. Therefore stretching is an activity that all of us should incorporate into our daily routine. Whether it's for fifteen to twenty minutes in the morning, ten to fifteen minutes during lunch, or twenty to thirty minutes after work, finding time in your day to stretch will greatly benefit your overall muscular health and well being. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk or your job is high stress, it would be very beneficial for you to do stretches during the course of your day. Many people do not realize that mental stress can manifest physically as muscular dis-ease, and stretching serves as a no-cost preventative medicine that you can practice anywhere at anytime.

The Stretch Deck, by Olivia H. Miller is a great resource with fifty beautifully illustrated cards, including detailed instructions, benefits and tips for each stretch. Look for it online and order it! There are many great stretches included and there are even sequences for office workers, for runners, for gardeners, for golfers and even sequences for travelers. Most of the stretches I show my clients are in this deck.

Here are a few pointers to help you get the most out of your stretch.

*Warm up before you stretch. Light, gentle stretches help to warm up the muscle tissue.
*Do not bounce during your stretch. This can increase the chance of injury.
*Move into the stretch until you feel mild tension, not pain.
*Inhale and exhale deeper into the stretch and hold for at least ten-20 seconds.
*Drink lots and lots of water throughout the day. A hydrated body will move much more easily into a stretch.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I snapped this jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium in ATL.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

At Home Hydrotherapy

While massage is often the most direct and effective way to relieve muscle tension and soreness, sometimes you need to get relief immediatley, and without leaving your home. All you need is a bathtub. Just like the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians, you too can practice the healing art of hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water (hot, cold, or a combination of the two) in any of its forms for the treatment of disease or the maintenance of health. Body systems most affected by the use of hydrotherapy are the nervous, circulatory (heart), and integumentary (skin) sytems. An important form of hydrotherapy that everyone should know about is the Epsom salt bath.

Epsom salt is the natural occuring mineral, magnesium sulphate. "Epsom salt was originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters at Epsom, England, and afterwards prepared from sea water. In more recent times, these salts are obtained from certain minerals such as epsomite." from Wikipedia. Click for more info on magnesium sulfate.

You may be more familiar with its use as a laxative but a fantastic way to use Epsom salt is in a relaxing, hot bath! If you are suffering from muscle achiness, an Epsom salt bath can be highly beneficial. In a bath, Epsom salt promotes perspiration and draws acidic wastes (like uric acid) from the muscles through the pores of the skin. Temporary muscle soreness following a deep tissue massage treatment can occur and an epsom salt bath is a great way to relieve the soreness. Magnesium sulfate is also a nervous system sedative which means an epsom salt bath will also increase the feeling of relaxation you will feel.

Make the time to bathe and enjoy the rejuvinating quality of a relaxaing epsom salt bath.

Here's how:

Pick up epsom salts at your local pharmacy or pharmacy section of your grocery store. Use 2 to 4 cups in a full, comfortably hot bath. Soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes. Do not add any bathing solutions, oils or soaps, as these substances will alter the chemistry of the water.

To replace lost fluids, keep a bottle/glass of cold water beside you and sip it during the bath. For additional relief, if you are suffering from neck/head tension you may want to wring a towel in cold water and wrap it around your neck.


Do not take hot baths and salt baths (including Epsom salt baths) if you have heart trouble, high blood pressure, or are diabetic.

Also, as with any hot bath, make sure you get out of the tub slowly and carefully.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Breathe Deeply to Meditate

I've been practicing Iyengar Yoga lately and have found that meditating deeply was more easily attainable. It may be due to the breathing that is used to help you focus on the asanas(postures). This series of breathing exercises is called Pranayama. Pranayama is sankrit word that means control (yama) of the lifeforce (prana). Breathing is a great tool to use for meditation practice.

A great meditative breathing exercise is to sit in cross-legged position (or lay comfortably in relaxation pose with a pillow under your head or under your knees) and close your eyes. Take a slow, relaxing, deep breath in through your nose and a slow, comfortable exhale out through your mouth. Do this for several breaths concentrating on your breathing. Try to make sure that you are inhaling your lungs and not breathing through your stomach. Your rib-cage should be expanding with your inhale. This breathing through your nose and mouth is called diaphramatic breathing. Pranayama breathing requires that you breath in through your nose and out through your nose and is also very relaxing. Either way is acceptable for meditative exercise.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Water is the River of Life

We all know that we should be drinking lots of water daily. Are you drinking enough? How much is enough? My naturopath says that you should have at least half of your body weight in ounces per day! That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water daily. The previously recommended 8 cups/64 ounces is correct for someone weighing 128 pounds, but someone with bigger muscle mass and larger organs will need more.

The following list offers an insightful look at water and it's relationship to our health.
WOMEN'S WORLD magazine. July 2000.

1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

9. If you have chronic headaches or migraines, suck down a 20 oz bottle of water at the onset to help lessen the pain.