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.

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.