Chinese medicine has long preached against the use of ice in treating inflammation due to injury. One on my professors in school put it this way: "Ice is for dead people!!"
What does the word blogging even mean? Where did it come from, etymologically speaking? I mean really!! Don’t we have better things to do with our time? The word sounds ridiculous. I feel ridiculous doing it. Yet, here I am. (Exasperated sigh) So let’s dive in.
OK so my brother-in-law forwarded me a video months ago with the subject line “This is pretty neat”. No further comments were included.
I have a forwarded-email backlog dating back to 2012 with articles on and links to... I’m not sure really, I think maybe the secret of lasting peace and the source of enlightenment. Or maybe it’s recipes and SNL skits...I’ll find out when I finally read them. Regardless I need more than “pretty neat” to tempt me to spend more that 30 seconds on a forward.
So I clicked the video to see if it was by chance 30 seconds long. Nope. It’s a Ted Talk: 17 minutes long! See you in 2025, forwarded Ted Talk. Welcome to the backlog.
But then something weird happened a few days ago. I showed up early to my daughter’s school for pickup. Usually I’m flying in on 2 wheels, five minutes late, having crammed tasks until the very last moment. I wasn’t early enough to squeeze in another errand. I was only about.....17 minutes early (see where this is going?). So I sat in my car and decided to chip away at the backlog. Yep, you guessed it. I watched the video.
WOW. I mean WOW.
What to say? I guess the only thing I can say is: This is pretty neat. I hope you’ll find the 17 minutes to watch it.
By: Shauna Greeson
Facebook led you to this journal entry. For that I am grateful. And I get the importance of social media to businesses, families, artists, etc... This is just my own personal experience.
Here's my story: What started as a temporary break from social media has been so transformative in my life that I am urged to share. For me it has been the beginning of the end of isolation from myself - of who and what I actually am and a clearer understanding of who and what I could be. These are only my experiences to share. In no way am I suggesting a negative or shaming view of anyone else’s relationship with social media. My intent is to share, not to shame.
Back in Spring of 2015 I realized that years had gone by with me checking my various social media accounts before turning the lights off at the end of the day and beginning every day the same way. I began to feel like time was being stolen from me and decided right then and there to finally take a break from it all (it was something I'd thought about for a while). It began as an experiment of awareness... Would I miss it? Was I a Facebook addict and would it be like quitting any other addiction? What would actually happen in my daily life if I deactivated all of it and became fully present to what was actually right in front of me?...
Guess what? The Earth, the Sun and the Moon still did their thing. As time passed and my awareness grew I started writing down the changes. The list was surprising to me. Here's what I noticed:
Mornings were different, less rushed as I suddenly had extra time. Selfies and stalking ceased. Work was different and became more productive... So. Much. More. Time... - as if the day had more hours in it. I gained the ability to focus on how I relate to the World around me without an undercurrent of what my 300+ 'friends' might think (I was unaware of the undercurrent until I was free of it). Suddenly, I was forming autonomous thoughts free of peer pressure or fear of judgment. Speaking of friends... I actually have less than ten friendships that are nurtured regularly and feel very blessed to have that many. Those relationships are now richer and brighter because of the extra time and intention I have. I've noticed an increase in reading books as well as more time spent creating things- music, art, jewelry, phone calls to friends and family...
You know, the most important thing I'm taking from this experiment is this: The understanding that I once believed that my importance was effected and even gauged by cyber likes and the most flattering angle of a camera lens. Today I know that is a lie. My importance is measured by my usefulness to the Earth and to others.
It's been over 6 months and I can honestly say that for me, taking a break from social media has been a wonderful change in my daily life that I think I'll hold on to. I don't miss it like I thought I would and it was much easier to let go of than I expected. All in all it has enriched my... well, my everything.
by: Tony Galis
When we were pregnant with our first child, one of the things that struck me was how in the dark we felt going into birth and raising children. Here is an activity that 74% of adults in this country engage in (Gallup, 2013), along with countless ancestors (your parents did it, guaranteed), and we have almost no generational knowledge base to support us in the process.
Traditional or indigenous medical systems have typically preserved significant wisdom and practical application of that wisdom pertaining to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one such system and, as a practitioner, I would like to give a brief overview of how Chinese medicine can offer critical support and intervention before, during, and after pregnancy.
First, it’s important to recognize that this knowledge comes from direct clinical experience accumulated over thousands of years of caring for patients in all stages of life. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that treats all kinds of conditions in every aspect of the population. Although it is sometimes mislabeled as such, this is not an “alternative” health system being extrapolated on to address women’s concerns around having children. This is an ancient life-science which has been intimately engaged at every step of the birth process since the beginning of our days on earth.
(Note: Though Acupuncture is the most commonly known modality within Chinese medicine, it is certainly not the only one. In our practice, we just as often employ herbal medicine, diet/lifestyle therapy, cupping, and moxibustion among other modalities, in treatment.)
TCM’s role in enhancing fertility is well-known and well-documented. Most large fertility clinics in major cities across the world employ acupuncturists in order to increase chances of success. Chinese medicine has the ability to prepare the body for pregnancy by determining the (often sub-clinical) imbalances that are making pregnancy difficult. Once these imbalances are corrected, the body often responds with success.
During pregnancy, TCM continues to care for the expectant mother through the ups and downs of life, while preserving the gift in the womb. Aches and pains, colds and flus, long standing conditions that persist through pregnancy all need to be continually addressed, and a natural medicine offers gentle and effective treatment. Thousands of years of clinical consistency provide clarity on exactly which interventions are appropriate during pregnancy and which are not.
Problems specific to pregnancy are also treated quite effectively with Chinese medicine. Nausea and loss of appetite so common in the first trimester respond well to treatment. And during the third trimester, when fluid retention can cause additional inflammation and physical pain, TCM can help reduce swelling and address injury.
There are two specific applications of Chinese medicine during pregnancy which are helpful in turning a baby to a more favorable position, and labor induction/ripening. There is a long history of both of these treatments being used successfully and we see significant results when they’re applied at the right time during pregnancy.
This is perhaps Chinese medicine’s greatest contribution to the mother and her family…it is also often the most overlooked. The need for postpartum care remains one of the most significant oversights in women’s health and I am continually surprised in the clinic when I trace a particularly stubborn health concern back to poor care following childbirth. The problem stems from, quite simply, a lack of understanding.
Chinese medicine has more tools that support a woman after childbirth than can be mentioned in a blog post. But, its biggest strength may be its recognition of the need for care. A midwife once commented to me that childbirth is the Mt. Everest of physiological function. Well said. If that were the end of the process, it would still require intensive recovery. But of course, childbirth is just the beginning of the process. Breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and adapting to new family structures can take a significant toll on a woman who is already recovering from the most physically demanding event she may likely ever experience. The importance of postpartum care simply cannot be overstressed.
At Thrive Integrative Medicine, we have multiple practitioners who focus a sizeable portion of their practice on the care of women in pregnancy, through childbirth, and into the postpartum period. If there is any way we can serve you, please let us know. And as always, feel free to come by or contact us with questions.
“Healing the Wounds of War, Breath by Breath” - Yoga Warriors International
By Michelle Arington
Recently I had the enormous privilege to attend Yoga Warriors teacher training at Active Sol Yoga in Atlanta. Dharma Richards, a Hatha-Raja and Kundalini Yoga instructor, and founder of Yoga Garden in Cary, NC guided our group of 13 compassionate and eager-to-serve yogis through the training with passion, elegance and grace. The Yoga Warrior method, created by Lucy Cimini, is firmly grounded in the science of yoga, and offers a unique trauma-sensitive approach that is designed specifically for veterans, active military personnel, and first responders that are suffering from the psychological, emotional and physical impact of trauma. The mission of Yoga Warriors is “to alleviate symptoms of combat stress (COSR), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and increase the resilience of critical task performers working in high stress environments, including affected caregivers and family members by providing evidence-based yoga and mindfulness practices.”
While it is difficult to determine how many veterans are suffering from PTSD, according to current studies, it is estimated that 20% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat troops meet the criteria of PTSD and/or depression and 11% of Vietnam veterans still suffer with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Less than 50% of veterans actually seek treatment and many, many others go undiagnosed. Symptoms may include anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, numbing, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, irritability, headaches, chronic pain, exaggerated startle response, lack of concentration and a feeling of detachment. Alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, inability to maintain employment, homelessness and suicide can be the devastating consequences of PTSD left untreated.
Trauma is imprinted in the body and can leave those suffering stuck in a perpetual loop of “fight or flight.” The nurturing environment of a Yoga Warrior session can help them safely dissolve and release these memories in ways that traditional talk therapy may not. By creating a safe, supportive environment and through the use of the cognitive-behavioral technique of repeating positive affirmations while practicing carefully chosen yoga postures and breathing techniques, students are better able to cultivate positive thoughts, attitudes and experiences that promote inner peace, resiliency and greater vitality. Gently guiding students back to their body and breath with non-judgmental awareness brings them back to the present moment and gives them the power to evoke the relaxation response, calming and balancing the autonomic nervous system, and allowing the mind to safely associate the body with pleasant sensations. Yoga Warrior students report reduced anxiety, anger, pain and stress, ability to recognize and safely release emotions, increased ability to self-regulate, reduction of intrusive thoughts, improvement in sleep quality, decreased hyper vigilance, and increased self-acceptance and self-esteem.
While yoga does not replace traditional therapy methods as a treatment for PTSD, it can be a powerful and necessary complimentary practice. According to Bessel van der Kolk , trauma expert and professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, “Yoga is part of the overall healing process. Learning to tolerate and be curious about dreaded physical sensations gives people a sense of mastery. The visceral experience of mastery, involving emotions and sensations, provides new resources of energy, and the capacity to take effective action. Somatic experiencing, with an intuitive knowledge that there is a natural flow in and out of emotions, opens up an appetite for even deeper experiencing.”
**To learn more about the Yoga Warrior Method or to schedule private or group sessions please contact Michelle Arington, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-850-2000.
* October 2016 Yoga Warrior Graduates
Hello everyone. It’s me. Jana. Blogging again. I am a blogger. I’m coming to accept that. Acceptance is so much gentler than resistance. But that’s a subject for another time.
Today I want to talk to y’all about the Thrive Symbol. You know the one? It’s on our sign, Facebook page, website, shirts, cards... You love it but you don’t know why. You may even love it so much you secretly tattooed it somewhere on your body. (If so, DEFINITELY come show us for some serious hook ups...and maybe also seek therapy)
Well, today is the day that we will finally unveil the mystery of: “WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!?”
And while I’m at it I should probably apologize if it was implied that the symbol is a legitimate Chinese character. It’s totally not. We made it up. And by “we” I mean my husband and business partner Tony.
It’s significance is pretty interesting though (at least I think so). It was created by Tony while he and I were in Chinese medical school together. He envisioned a drawing which would represent the Three Treasures transforming within the Human Body.
Wait, what?! We have treasures inside us?? Yes, young grasshopper, we do.
Basically the idea is if you were to take the entire spectrum of Human composition, from the most solid to the most ethereal, and divide this into into three, you would have the 3 treasures. Body Mind and Spirit is the current catch phrase for this idea. But it’s an ancient and fundamental concept in Chinese Medicine.
The Three Treasures are known as Jing, Qi and Shen. Jing is the most physically dense of the three. It is the entire basis of our bodies. It is our essence. The individual nature of our Jing has to do with our constitution and is influenced by our Ancestral inheritance. And hence in modern terms can be loosely seen to include our genetic material and it’s potential, though it is much more than that. Qi!!! Wow. Trying to translate Qi is probably THE bane of my existence. No it’s not. That’s a huge exaggeration. Anyway. For the sake of this being a blog I will stick to the cop-out watered-down version and say it’s “life-force” or “breath of life.” It is not made of matter and therefore our culture generally struggles to conceptualize it. But all Life has Qi. Let’s leave that there for now. And Shen means Spirit. Our Human Spirit. THE Spirit. That Spirit that no one can define, though we can all perceive It in our own ways.
The Three Treasures are inseparable and interchangeable. There is a process of internal alchemy within us whereby these transform into each other in different centers of our body. These “centers” are the Three Dan Tian. Similar to the Chakra system, the Dan Tian are non-anatomical areas where very important processes occur. I say non-anatomical to imply you can’t SEE them when you cut a body open. Therefore you as a Westerner you are probably experiencing a healthy degree of skepticism at this point. To that I will say; you can’ t see Love either and I’m pretty darn sure it exists. Ironically it is often the things I have no physical proof of that are the mostmeaningful for me...but I digress.
Jing becomes Qi in our Lower Dan Tian, Qi becomes Shen in our MiddleDan Tian, and Shen becomes Wuji in our Upper Dan Tian. New Vocab! What’s the Wuji?! Oo la la this is a fun one. The term Wuji first appears in a (ca. 4th century BCE) Daodejing context about returning to one's original nature. It can be translated as ‘limitless’, ‘the void’, ‘Infinity,’ and (my personal favorite) the ‘ultimate of beinglessness.’ OK. Hold up a sec. Are you getting this visual!? There’s this HUGE Universe of Wuji and it is not separate from us but we actually participate in it’s creation and it’s manifestation within us. WOW.
And if that doesn’t blow your mind; check this out. Jing, Qi and Shen are all different states of the same thing. Like water can be solid, liquid or vapor? So can these Treasures be varying states of consistency. And in these states have different functions. I’m not going to get into the specifics of these functions because I’m worried I may lose my audience here soon.
And there’s a little more. Look back at the diagram. You see the Taiji pole? Looks like a big lightening rod? It kinda is. Within our body it runs right down the center from the top of our head to our perineum. It’s ever so loosely associated with the spine. For the sake of this blog let’s think of it like lightening rod that works in TWO directions. It is the connection between The Wuji (Heaven) and our bodies (Earth).
Then all this amazing stuff is wrapped up in the beautiful package that is our physical bodies. The outer limit of which is called the ‘Wei Qi.’ Again, loosely associated with our skin and immune system. It is where we end and the rest of the world begins. But because there is no absolute ending to us (as we are connected to everything) the Wei Qi is also like the dynamic interface of our inner and outer experience.
Are you still reading this? I’m so so so impressed.
So Tony had all of this understanding of these concepts and basically thought up a way to draw it. He took this idea to Joanna Zhao, the founder and director of our University, who is also a talented Doctor, Chinese Medical Practitioner and Classical Chinese Calligrapher. She created a beautiful rendition of this, which hangs in our office. When we opened Thrive we made a digital version as our logo.
We wanted this to be the symbol our Thrive because that is where we see the landscape of our work taking place. In these transformations, these alchemical rarifying and solidifying processes through the entire spectrum of Human Experience.
Pretty cool, eh? Now you actually ARE considering that tattoo, aren’t you?
In all seriousness, I just love this paradigm of seeing the world and our place in it. And we here at Thrive feel honored to be part of your journey through it all, in any way we can.
Thanks for your time and attention. Wishing you peace everyday.
As leaves turn to gemstones outside my window and the air becomes electric I associate the season's change with gratitude. It's such a simple concept to be thankful for what I get given... Air, food, water, shelter, love ... But to practice gratitude in action is a whole other thing. When I do, the payback is endless. It requires my intention, daily maintenance, dedication and even at my best I fall short of the desired outcome of undisturbed.
For me, an attitude of gratitude is a healer of all sorts of things from doldrums to chronic pain, be it in my body, mind or spirit. A spiritual guide once suggested that I write a gratitude list every day for 30 days - 5 things I am grateful for, no repeats. After the first few days, once I got all the things vital for survival down, I found myself having to really think about it. This was where the magic happened for me. It wasn't then and there as I wrote. It was later on when I noticed a light heart eager to burst into laughter, a better night's sleep, relaxed muscles in my tension lines... It was then that I made the connection: My peace and serenity on a daily level are directly proportionate to my level of gratitude. I have yet to experience a thankful heart that is full of fearing the future or regretting the past. Gratitude brings me in the day, in the moment, in the right now.
Without fail gratitude is something I feel close to when I am of service to others. Maybe not in the moment of talking a friend off an emotional cliff or helping someone with their burden - be it a heavy door or a heavy situation. It's afterward, later on, I find myself noticing the little gifts each moment has to offer... A break in the clouds allowing sweet sunshine on my cheeks. It stops me in my tracks and I whisper 'thank you, thank you, thank you'.
I am currently reading anything I can get my hands on by Brene Brown. I feel her work is a portal for healing. For some, tying shame and vulnerability to chiropractic care might be a stretch, but I find that asking for help is one of the most vulnerable acts we can perform. It is not uncommon when someone comes into the clinic, they are searching for the reason why the pain happened, wanting answers and placing blame on himself/herself for getting hurt. They ask: Why do I have this pain? What is the quickest road to recovery? Personally, I think pain is here to teach us. With most things I have experienced in life, when I’m down, not only is it going to take a little time and work to get back up, it often requires help from someone other than myself.
There is no shame or blame in having back pain or sickness. It is the most common reason people seek medical treatment. 3 of the top 10 reasons people visit a doctor are pain related (joint pain, back pain and migraines), all things that chiropractic care help combat and prevent.
One interesting thing Brene mentions is how differently women and men organize shame differently. For women, it is summed up by “Do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat.” It is a web of unattainable, conflicting/competing expectations. For men, it is “Do not be perceived as weak.” No wonder I hear almost daily from my female patients, “I have been trying to get my husband in here.” We have created a culture where it is not safe for the man to ask for help, because he will be perceived as weak. I hope this TedTalk sheds some light into your life the way it has mine...
I will leave you with the Theodore Roosevelt's quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Thank you for joining me in the arena.
-Dr Allison Kennemar
Really! What do you want? I don't mean for lunch. I mean, what do you want for your life? What goals do you have that feel deeply important to you? What goals do you have that you keep secret because you feel you could never accomplish them? If you could write the ultimate, epic story of your own life, how would it read?
by: Michelle Arington
After reading Jana and Leah's posts about my favorite subject, posture, I thought I'd add an effective Yamuna® Body Rolling routine to restore and maintain effortless posture and shoulder alignment. All you will need is a Pearl Yamuna® Ball and a little bit of time and space.
Recently, I had the pleasure of sharing Yamuna® Body Rolling with the dance students at the UGA Dance Department. We worked on areas that are often a challenge for dancers. Hamstrings, calves and hip flexors are common areas of tension and tightness, which can lead to injury. A large number of the students wanted to know how to work on their shoulders in order to improve posture as well as take the stress, strain and tension out of their necks and upper backs.
Yamuna® Body Rolling is a cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind, and therapeutic self-care technique that empowers you to cultivate immediate and sustainable change in the body. Yamuna® Body Rolling allows you to release retracted muscles, restore function and wake up under used muscles while creating alignment and space in the joints. A specially designed Yamuna® ball is used to apply traction with your body weight and roll out muscles in the direction of its muscle fibers from origin to insertion. Unlike other popular foam rolling or tennis ball muscle release techniques, Yamuna® Body Rolling follows the natural order of alignment and structure in a methodical way. This method trusts and honors the innate logic and intelligence of the body to self-correct and self-heal. Dedicated practice quickly restores balance and stimulates muscle memory for positive and permanent change. Yamuna's method allows for a complete release of muscle while also stimulating bone. This direct bone stimulation takes impact and trauma out of the bone and creates both bone density and flexibility.
Below is one simple and effective 15 minute routine to help restore posture. This routine works by lifting the sternum up and out of the diaphragm for easier breathing, releasing tight muscles across the chest and encouraging external rotation of the humorous for optimal shoulder alignment.
First, place a Pearl Yamuna® Ball at the center of your sternum. Take several slow, deep breaths, and allow the ball to melt and sink into your sternum. Relax and surrender your weight to the ball. Exhale, sink deeper into the ball and slide it up a little higher. Take several more deep breaths and melt into the ball a little more each time. Next, exhale and slide the ball up slightly higher. Lift your sternum and sink into the ball. Continue with the same breath and focus until you reach the notch at the center of the collarbones. Once you reach the center of your collarbones, drag the ball down with your hands into the notch between the clavicles as your head looks up. Gently stretch the skin and muscles of the front of your neck. Relax your jaw and breathe. (As demonstrated by the dancer in the upper left corner)
Next, extend your right arm out to the height of the shoulder, sink into the ball, and shift your body weight to the left, so the ball slides off center to the right.
Place your left hand on the ball, sink your weight into the ball and press the ball in the direction of your right shoulder. Do this while turning your head to the left. Continue to sink and slide the ball along the bottom edge of the collarbone. Take your time and breath into each point along the way, until the ball reaches the front of your shoulder.
With the ball now firmly underneath your shoulder and your weight in the ball, press your left hand into the floor and twist your body as you lean into the ball. Allow the ball to press your shoulder back. You should feel your right scapula press into your back. Also, you may feel a sight pinching in between your shoulder blades. Continue to twist as you move the ball down into the arm. Release the arm out of shoulder joint and externally rotate the humorous into a more neutral position. Roll about 2/3 of the way to the elbow and then come off of the ball.
Lie on your back in a balanced position and breathe. Notice what you feel. Become aware of the difference between each side.
Now, stand up and take a look at the differences. Chances are one shoulder and side of your body will look, feel and move entirely different than the other.
Can you tell which side of the sternum and shoulder this dancer just worked on? Which side looks like it has more space?
Now, complete the routine by returning the ball to the center of the clavicle once again. Follow the same order, sinking into the ball and sliding it along the bottom left edge of the collarbone. Assist traction by pressing your right hand into the ball and twisting your body when the ball reaches the shoulder. Continue to roll out into the left arm. Take your time and breathe into each point along the way.
Finish by lying on your back once again. Enjoy your breath and the expansion of the body. Stand up and observe how you look and feel.
If you'd like to try this out, contact Thrive to purchase a Pearl Yamuna® Ball and reach out to me for more personalized instruction!
Thank you and Roll On!
On a recent flight from Chicago to Atlanta, I sat on my phone, browsing photos of the wedding I had just been to. Before we had taken off, I texted family and perused the web for the hour or so we spent waiting to take off. Before that, I had attentively watched our progress to the airport on Google Maps, waiting to announce the next exit. Without much thought, I had spent almost 4 hours looking down at my phone. As the plane descended towards the runway, I swallowed a few times to adjust my ears to the changing pressure. When swallowing wasn’t successful, I opened my mouth to let out a big yawn. As I stretched my tongue and opened my jaw, the floor of my mouth and the hyoid muscles when into spasm. It hurt to swallow, it hurt to stick out my tongue and it hurt to lift my neck. Luckily I had another Rolfer sitting next to me, and with a little work the spasm released. But, it got me thinking...
On phone-heavy days, especially when traveling, a few simple exercises would do wonders to combat the oh-so-common “text neck”. As you pier down at your screen, the front of your neck shortens and the back of your neck (all the way down between your shoulder blades) lengthens. To get into prime texting position, you might lift your phone towards your face, thumbs at attention and shoulders rolled forward. In an ideal world, we would not be so dependent on phones for daily tasks and we would have the self-control not to reach for it in times of boredom. But until I no longer use my phone for email, scheduling, banking and cute baby animals, these simple exercises can be great damage control.
The main idea is that you want to balance muscles’ time between shortening and lengthening. If they stay too long in either state, you start so see dysfunction and may start to feel pain. So here’s what you can do:
A. Chin Lift: Bring your palms to the base of your neck and drag the skin downward. Keeping the skin taut, lift your chin straight up towards the ceiling. Make gentle side to side movements. Scope out tight areas of your neck and stretch there.
B. Side bend: Keeping the skin at the base of the neck taut, bring one ear to your shoulder. To pinpoint the stretch into the “side” neck muscles, you may need to slide your pinning palm to the opposite-side collarbone.
C. Pin and Turn: Pinning the skin at one collarbone, turn your head slowly to look to the opposite side. You may move the pinning palm higher up onto the front the neck to ensure a stretch in the Sternocleidomastoid muscles.
Get those Posterior (Back) Neck Muscles to shorten!
A. Head Retractions: Interlace your fingers and place your palms on the back of your head. As you press your hands forward into your head, press the back of your head into your palms. Do this in a pulsing motion, pressing actively and then trying tocompletely relax those neck muscles. Continue until you feel the muscles at the base of your scull beginning to tire. If you text a lot, do quite a few.
B. Shoulder Blade Dips: Locate the lower tips of your scapula (shoulder blade). With arms relaxed, pull those tips down and in as if you are drawing two lines that meet around your back-center belt loop. If you text or type on a computer, this is greatto do daily.
A. “Pec” stretches: Stand in a doorway and place one palm at head height with your elbow bent (to avoid nerve aggravation). Press the palm into the wall and slowly turn to look over the opposite shoulder. This is an active stretch, so for some people it may feel more like strengthening than stretching. The point is to train your Pectoralis muscles to stay long as they contract.
Take a moment to sense what’s around you at 360 degrees. Use more senses than just your eyes. Feel what the air is like behind your head. Get a sense of what the wall behind you is like, or the world outside of that wall, or the weather above you. Instead of crunching all your awareness into a tiny little screen in front of you, see if you can spread out and take up a little more of your “back-space”. Your body enjoys a little extra wiggle room, both physical and mental.
The reluctant blogger here. Blogging. Reluctantly. Again.
I conveniently forgot the last two times it was my turn. But now there are schedules posted around the office, AND emailed, AND I was personally reminded yesterday that it was my turn. Gig’s up, I guess.
The good news is I’ve learned that a Blog should be short enough to read at a stop light! (Which is actually kinda what I want to blog about. You know, if you count being practically forced to Blog as “wanting.”) So I’ll keep this short. That green left arrow is coming soon.
First, I am going to admit that I actually do check my phone at stop lights for emails (and texts, and my calendar, and my ever present list)... And I check before getting out of the car... And after getting in... When waiting for my daughter’s Trapeze lesson at Canopy to end... Sometimes even in the bathroom!
I wasn’t really aware of how often I look at my phone for one thing or another until last week when I went into the woods for 3 days, and... No phone. And here’s where it gets interesting; I also had no neck or upper back pain. Even though I was carrying a 40 lb backpack for hours every day. You see I have this kind of chronic neck/upper-shoulder/back pain thing. Not disabling, but constant and annoying. I’m lucky to work in a place where I can get a variety of treatments whenever I want. And it helps for a while but the pain comes back. I have seen countless patients and talked to countless friends who experience something similar. WHY? Because of the constant and insidious nature of the reason for the pain. And that reason is: Posture. Wait! Don’t stop reading! OK OK, you can stop if the light changed, but come back at the next light. Even though you know you need to sit up straight and all that....because I’m going to make an offer.
Well, actually first I better do some explaining. The reason that poor posture causes pain is because the spine is meant to stack in a certain way. And when it is out of optimal alignment it puts stress on the area, which is measurable as pounds of pressure. The position your neck is in when you swipe your phone to check a text? 60 pounds of pressure. That’s almost twice as much as my huge backpack! OUCH!
When I was a student in California a Practitioner who specialized in Orthopedics showed me a trick to help “remind” patients to have proper posture. You quite simply have the patient stand in good posture (cervical spin neutral, shoulder blades squeezed together. solar plexus lifted, tail bone slightly tucked) and make a big X on their back with athletic tape. Then for the remainder of the day whenever the inevitable draw of habit pulls those shoulders forward and the chest collapses, the tape will gently pull,ever reminding the shoulders to roll back and the head to lift.
So. Here’s my offer: For the next 4 Mondays come by Thrive from 10a-4p and I will tape you.
Here’s the small print: there’s no charge. It’ll be a fun experiment. Will you take the posture challenge? So that’s September 21 and 28 and October 5 and 12. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming. It’ll take about 10 minutes. Alright I reckon the people behind you are honking by now, so: Chin Up! Drive on! See you at Thrive!
- Jana Galis
"In the best selling book The Four Agreements don Miguel Ruiz gives four principles to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. Adopting and committing to these agreements is simple. Actually living and keeping these Four Agreements has been one of the hardest things I've ever attempted to do. It is also be one of the most life changing things I have experienced - in my own life and the lives of others." ~ Shauna Greeson
The Four Agreements are: (short form)
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Click the link below for more information and teachings.
I frequently get asked about meditation techniques. In my experience, the most important consideration is to find something that is sustainable for you. A practice that you can incorporate into your day without it being a chore. For instance, sitting in silence for 5 minutes daily. That is truly all it takes.
Be on the lookout for some new ongoing Saturday classes starting this Fall at Thrive. We are excited to host a Yoga class taught by Deana Shuman with a mindfulness prospective that includes a lead meditation by Dr Jeffrey Henderson focused on acceptance and mindfulness. More info coming soon
If you would like a guided meditation, I enjoy Gabrielle Bernstein. Below is a link to some of her free meditations.
“What should I do to boost my immunity?” I get this question a lot! And with kids headed back to school, and a change of season on the way, I thought I’d take a few minutes to discuss immune function from a Chinese medical perspective and talk about what you can do to enhance yours and your family’s.
Check out this blog from Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams. Rachel is a wonderful friend of ours. She was also a colleague at Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine, where we worked together to develop what has become one of the most innovative clinics in the nation. Rachel is a tremendously dynamic and authentic individual. Cant say enough great things about her.
I'll tell you what I love about Thrive.
I love that, when a patient comes in with a complaint, I don't have to rely on my own skills alone to bring them some relief. The other amazing practitioners here have their own diverse skill sets, and are ready to add their expertise to the case. Together we can do so much more for the patient than any one of us could do alone.
Post by Michelle Arington
“When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady. When the breath is still, all is still. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body. Retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity. Exhalation purifies body and spirit.”
~ Rishi Goraksanatha
Breathing is crucial to your well-being. Maybe even more crucial than you think. Dr. Andrew Weil says, “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” Yogic breathing, or pranayama, is a unique breathing practice that can balance the autonomic nervous system and influence psychological and stress-related disorders. Integrating a practice of pranayama into your daily life can help relieve depression and anxiety, increase energy, lower blood pressure, relieve muscle tension and even be used as a fitness practice.
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Repeat
I invite you to take a moment and check in with your breath…. Close your eyes for 30 seconds and just notice your breath….
What did you observe? Did it feel short and choppy? Long and smooth? Could you feel it in your belly? Is it mostly in your chest? Do you breathe through your nose? Your mouth? Or maybe a little of both? Is one nostril dominant over the other?
Noticing the way you breathe is a window into how your nervous system is responding to physical, emotional or mental stress. It is also a key for unlocking the secret to managing your body and mind’s reaction to stress.
Sighing, feeling breathless, or feeling unable to take a full, deep satisfying breath are all signs that the rhythm of the breath is out of balance. When you breathe shallow breaths, mostly in the chest, or if you can’t breathe all the way in or all the way out, you are both responding to and triggering the fight-or-flight response - the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system.
Disordered breathing interferes with the carbon dioxide balance in the blood. As a result, the flow of blood is interrupted to various parts of the body and physical symptoms of anxiety and panic can result - mental fog, dizziness, chest pain, racing heart, numb lips, tingling fingers, muscle aches and weakness, and a sense of feeling out of control.
Chronic disordered breathing keeps you in this state of fight-or-flight. It raises your adrenalin and cortisol levels and decreases blood flow to your digestive and elimination organs. Higher levels of cortisol increase inflammation, chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety, and can contribute to belly fat and inability to lose weight.
“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.”
I invite you now to close your eyes and take a moment to draw your awareness within. Feel your feet firmly planted on the floor, relax your shoulders and breathe through the nose into your belly in a patient, steady count of 4….. Retain the breath, without straining, for a count of 4…. Then empty the breath completely for another count of 4. Practice several rounds until your breath becomes smooth and comfortable. Then allow your breath to settle into a natural flow and notice how you feel.
Do you feel a little calmer? A little lighter? Or maybe even a little more awake and energized?
When you learn to train yourself to breathe smoothly and evenly, it shifts you into a rest-and-digest state, triggering the parasympathic branch of the nervous system to become the dominant state, giving you a sense of emotional and physical balance and control. When you are in this state, your digestive and immune systems become more efficient, and high cortisol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels decrease. Efficient breathing even helps to balance hormone levels by balancing the adrenal and thyroid glands.
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Be Fit
Learning how to breathe efficiently is not only a relaxation practice, but it can also be used as a daily fitness practice. Most people keep their lungs and chest in contraction, using only 25% of their breathing capacity. When you begin to train your lungs to function at 80-90%, this becomes a very powerful workout. You can do a breath workout almost anywhere. No equipment needed.
The breath alone can build up heat and cause you to break a sweat while in training. Your entire body is getting nourished and oxygenated while toxic waste, like carbon dioxide, is being released. The deeper you inhale, the more oxygen you take in. The deeper you exhale, the more effectively you release toxic wastes. Believe it or not, 70% of our toxic waste is eliminated through respiration.
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Be Om
As you can see, a daily breathing practice has many benefits! It improves posture, tones abdominals, and increases circulation and brain function. It boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases energy, decreases anxiety and depression, relaxes the body and mind, and contributes to better sleep.
I hope you will consider setting aside the first 10 and the last 10 minutes of your day for this life affirming practice and observe the personal benefits to you. Take a deep breath, let it go and keep practicing, one breath at a time! The time is worth the effort!
~ Michelle Arington
Writer and biomechanist, Katy Bowman studies the way we move and has
built her life as a type of living experiment on the subject. Bowman and family live in
a rural area of the country where they are able to get out into nature daily. She is a
huge proponent of living and moving in the ways that our ancestors did.
Thursday, June 11th will be my 850th day at Thrive! I know! Incredible. I was hired as a Front Desk Angel in the winter of 2013, and before we even opened our doors I knew this place would change my life. I didn't know how exactly, but I remember the distinct feeling that I had landed in the perfect place to work and to work on myself. I personally have learned and grown so much over the last 2+ years and most importantly, I have had the pleasure to work with wonderful people whom I have grown to love and count as my family...