Help for Your Hands

Are your hands/wrists aching from being on the computer or texting too much?  Is plank or your vinyasa yoga practice leaving you in pain? Do you suffer from “claw hand”? This rolling technique gives immediate relief and is perfect for the office. If you don’t have any massage balls, get some tennis balls and toss them in a sock. It won’t be as good but something is better than nothing!

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My Go-To Pose for Stress Relief – Psoas Stretch

Attaching to the spine at the 12th thoracic vertebrae (T12) and to each of the 5 lumbar vertebrae, the Psoas muscles flow through the pelvis and insert into the lesser trocantor (inside) of the femur (leg) bone. A large muscle located one on each side of the spine, they connect the trunk and the legs. The Psoas muscles are the only muscles to attach the spine to the leg allowing for free swing during walking. They impact your hips, pelvis, knees, spine, ribs, shoulder blades, and shoulders so it’s important to take good care of them.

The Psoas muscles relationship to the diaphragm affect the breath and the fear reflex. They impact our sense of emotional well-being.  According to Liz Koch, author of Core Awareness, the Psoas muscles are considered the “fight or flight” muscles.  She says, “the Psoas is the primal messenger of the central nervous system.” When these muscles are tight, the body naturally curls in towards a fetal position keeping you in a feeling of stress. Consequently, when you feel stress, the psoas tighten. It causes a vicious cycle. Relax your psoas muscles and the angsty feelings starts to dissolve.

This Psoas stretch is my current favorite pose! It makes everything better. It relieves stress, allows my body (and mind and spirit) to unwind, and preps it for yoga. I’m amazed at the difference in my body during yoga class after I practice this pose.

Every day for this psoas stretch! Before switching sides, notice the difference. We often don’t realize how much stress we carry. It becomes second nature to us but when you can feel the difference after releasing one side, well, why wouldn’t you want that for both sides all the time?!

Enjoy this, my stressed yogis. Hugs to you all ~

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Words of Love

Louise Hay has always been an integral part of my life. Whether it was her little blue book or her affirmations, her words have deep meaning to me. There is one affirmation in particular that I used to say. I memorized it. I repeated it often when times were difficult. Now I repeat it when times are good. Here’s part of it.

I hope it brings you as much love, kindness, and healing as it does for me.

Do you have any special words, quotes, mantras?

 

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Roll & Release – Shoulder Blades / Upper Back

Stress tries to make a home in our upper backs. Grab your massage balls and roll those achey knots right out of there! Give stress the boot!

 

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Shoulder Stretch and Reset for Anyone & Anywhere

Tight shoulders getting you down. Take a few breaths in this easy stretch to counteract slouchasana! It’s incredibly easy to practice anywhere. Your coworkers won’t even realize that you’re a super yogi in disguise! 😉

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Stacking Your Joints or How Does Your Stance Stack Up?

When we learned how to stand and walk, people really only cared about us not falling which was definitely very important.  It was a great start but it was only a start. If only we all had a governess to teach us proper posture. I’m picturing Mary Poppins complete with the umbrella and bag of tricks. Then again, I don’t know how great that posture was from a biomechanics point of view but how great would it have been to have Mary Poppins teaching you about life?

I digress.

Learn the basics of standing. Stack your joints. Avoid the gymnastics dismount. Remember posture and mood are linked so watch the video and be happy, yogis. You too, non-yogis. (By the way, we’re all yogis, regardless of flexibility or amount of lycra in your wardrobe.)

 

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Lessen Neck and Head Stress

Texting, working on the computer, poor posture, stress, and even gravity can all contribute to strain in the neck, shoulders and head. Those migraines need you to loosen the strain!

Using your YTU Therapy Ball at the Mastoid Process will help loosen that strain greatly!  This simple technique can easily be done almost anywhere, even at work – not that any stress happens there! 😉

(Don’t have YTU Therapy Balls yet?  Better get some soon but until then try a child’s ball or at the least a tennis ball. Stay away from anything harder. Trust me.)

Let me know what you think.

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When Pain Comes to Town

I felt the possible beginning of a fibromyalgia flare last week. I couldn’t quite describe what was going on in my body but I knew it was waiting for me, if I messed up. If I did something slightly wrong. If I gave the fibro an opening, it was going to be on me like white on rice.

I had a long business meeting on Monday. On the drive home, I felt it starting. I’m trying to describe how I know when it’s hitting and the best I can do is that I feel a veil start to descend on me. My body feels different. I start to get really sensitive. My brain works different. I have trouble connecting thoughts and even thinking. I can’t focus.

I called my husband to let him know what was happening. He asked what we could do to help. I couldn’t think of anything. Luckily, he’s been through this before with me and he asked if a epsom salt bath would help. Of course it would. How did I not think of that?  It’s so simple and obvious.

That’s the point though. Obvious and simple don’t happen when you’re in pain. When pain comes to town, Pain (yes, capital P) takes over.

I made it home and had to head out quickly to teach one last class.  When I got in the car after teaching the class, I couldn’t think clearly. My brain shuts down when a flare hits. I know that sounds weird but I truly can’t. I was sitting in my car almost crying. It wasn’t pain per se. It was a feeling of being trampled and just done. It took me quite awhile before I could even attempt to drive home but finally I did.

My skin was so sensitive by this point that I all I could do was go upstairs to bed and get into my pjs. I had to change because my top was form fitting and anything that was tight hurt. I took off my jewelry because that hurt too. I even took off my rings. Heck, I couldn’t even wear underwear. I curled up in bed.

The fibro set off my hypersensitivity. Light hurt. Noise hurt. The dog being next to me felt good but if she leaned on me, it hurt. Chewing hurt and even swallowing exhausted me.

I stayed in bed from 8 pm till 10:30 the next day. I only got out of bed when I felt stronger.

Here’s the thing – when pain comes to town, you need to be kind to yourself. (There are many things you can do after the pain, save that stuff for after the pain.  Pain hurts and nothing else matters until the pain loosens its grip on you.) In case you missed it, when pain comes to town, you need to be kind to yourself. That may mean different things to different people.

Here are some basics though.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. Stop trying to assign blame. It’s not your fault. Deal with the here and now. It hurts so what can I do to make it stop hurting. What can I do to help?
  • Get rest. Sleep would be great but don’t underestimate the power of resting – even if it’s at your desk, or car, or any other place.
  • Drink water. Hydration helps everything.
  • Eat to support your health and if you can’t do that, choose the least bad option.
  • Surround yourself with people who understand. You don’t need to explain yourself right now.  There are great support groups for almost everything on-line. FB was one of my go to for years.
  • Be kind. I know that kind of goes with don’t beat yourself up but it bears repeating.
  • Focus on your breathing. Short and shallow breaths may come naturally to you now, but the deeper belly breathing will relax you. Remember though, anything is better than nothing.
  • Epsom salt baths help me greatly. Warm, not hot water, is incredibly soothing if your body hurts. If you don’t like baths, a warm shower. Having said that, sometimes it hurts too much to think about moving. That’s when I do this next one.
  • Visualize. It’s New Agey, I know, but bear with me for a minute. Imagine what it would feel like if you could, soak in a pristinely clean, perfect temperature, jets aimed exactly where you need them and at the perfect intensity epsom salt bath. If that image doesn’t work for you, pick one that does. The point is that just by imagining it, our body starts to relax.

These are just my suggestions. You may have more. That’s great!  Let me know what they are in the comments.

I stopped beating myself up. I stopped fighting, forcing my body to what it couldn’t. I did what I felt my body needed – quiet, sleep, stillness, kindness.

On Monday, Pain came to town. Today is Thursday and pain (with a lower case p now) is out the door!

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7 Days – Life Lessons Learned in Mexico

IMG_4151The sun rises and sets every day. Every day it’s a work of art. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. Awe inspiring.

Have you sat and just watched it?  Have you watched the sky above mountains go from pitch black to blue and red and eventually day? Have you watched a glowing sun disappear beyond the horizon and then watched as the whole sky got caught in its afterglow?

Have you looked at the sky when there aren’t any city lights nearby? Watched a moon so close you felt you could touch it?

Every day regardless of what we do or don’t do, the sun rises and sets gloriously. There’s nothing we need to do or not to help it. It just happens.

You quickly realize how insignificant most of our everyday thoughts are.  Beauty like this it minimizes everything else.

It turns out I’m really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on. Sun rise, sun set like the Fiddler says.

Yet I’m all powerful because I decide the thoughts and voices in my head. I decide for me – that’s big. What do I want to be my focus? What do I want to fill myself with? I’m in charge of that and I can turn off the negativity, the fear, the jealousy. I can focus on what is truly important in the larger picture. Beauty. Love. Ease.

I needed to get away from everything though to figure this out. I needed to let go of the daily worries, stressors, habits.

I basked in the beauty of the sun, of a twice daily yoga practice, in a delicious and supportive diet. I connected to nature, the sunrises & sunsets, the whales, the wild horses, the clanging of the cowbells as they sauntered by us, to the beautiful yogis who grew stronger in body and spirit every day, and to myself as I grew stronger and more peaceful every day.

Sunset at Prana del Mar 2015I learned to take every day as it comes. I learned to be ready for anything. I learned to listen to myself. I learned to love and live fully. I learned more than words can say in 7 days. I keep practicing what I learned – I can’t wait to see what I learn next.

 

 

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Pyramid on the Wall

I love this pose and if you’ve ever practiced with me, either in person or on-line, you’ve probably practiced this one! The reason I love it is because it targets so many different parts of the body at once. Some people feel this in their legs (front and/or back one), hips, calves, lower back, or bum. It depends on where you’re tighter. I don’t want you to feel this in the knee so pay attention to your alignment. That back knee needs to point where the toes point. If you can’t get the knee to do that, move the toes so that you can. The knee tries to do the work that we’re trying to get the hips to do. That’s really sweet of the knee to try to help but don’t let it!

I know, many of you can practice this pose without your hands on the wall and that’s great BUT try it with your hands on the wall. You’ll get a different sensation. Stay with your hands on the wall for a few breaths. Really allow the body to experience the pose that way and then after those few breaths, if you still want to take your hands off the wall, have at it.

There are many variations off this basic pose, but we’ll save that for another day. Keep you coming back for more! 😉

See you soon, yogis!

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