Perhaps you were fortunate to have been taught how to take care of yourself and how to make your needs known and how to have your desires met. And perhaps even more fortunately, you have remembered those lessons and practiced them throughout your life. But what if you never learned? What if you have forgotten how to take care of yourself? Perhaps you want to raise your personal bar from that of simply surviving or barely surviving to thriving.
There are many small and simple steps that you can take to replenish your spirit, mind, and body. It is possible in the busy, hectic, stressed, or tumultuous hours of your day to take time out for yourself—whether it’s to rest, meditate, or play. Taking a few minutes in your day for either of these will go a long way toward relieving your stress and replenishing your energy.
Taking inventory of how you use your body in movement and where you feel pain or tension is the first step in self care of your body.
If something hurts, don’t do it!
If something hurts, find out why?
If something hurts, ask, what is your body trying to tell you?
Are you as strong and as supple as you would like to be?
Can your body meet the physical demands of your day to day life?
Are you sitting all day?
Are you exerting your body beyond its limit?
Being sedentary can cause a build up of tension and stress just as over-exerting your body can. Also often when we are narrow focused on mentally challenging activities, our bodies will hold a great deal of tension often affecting our ability to concentrate on the task at hand.
Our bodies were meant to move. There are several techniques and methods of movement and neuromuscular training that will enhance your health and well-being.
Massage is one of the oldest known healing arts. Artifacts found from ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures document this fact. In ancient India, Ayurveda therapeutic massage was performed in conjunction with aromatherapy healing oils. Massage is used to provide stress and pain relief as well as treat a wide range of ailments. This includes lower back pain, sports injuries, nerve damage, stroke, fibromyalgia, etc.
There are many forms of massage. Below we will briefly cover some of the more popular types of therapeutic massage therapies.
This is the most well know form of massage practiced in the United States. This form of massage is gentle, using circular and smooth strokes utilizing massage oils to achieve a relaxing effect upon the mind and body.
This form of massage focuses on enhancing athletic performance as well as treating and preventing sports injuries. Usually, this form of massage is preferred by individuals who are either athletes or those who work out in the gym often.
This is a type of Japanese bodywork which uses intense finger pressure along the acupuncture meridians to improve the flow of energy within the body. Barefoot Shiatsu is similar in nature, however, in this case the feet are used instead of the fingers to work the acupuncture meridian lines. Typically barefoot shiatsu massage is performed by women who are “light on their feet” to avoid injury to the client.
Deep Tissue Massage
This form of massage targets the deeper layers of connective tissues and muscle groups. Here, the therapist works to restore the health and vitality of painful or tight muscles which may have been injured or are sore. Deep tissue massage utilizes friction and across the grain strokes to achieve its healing affects.
Reflexology is a form of bodywork which works mainly on the feet, hands, face and ears. With this technique, pressure is placed on the appropriate points which correspond to various organs and reflex zones within the body to achieve a healing affect. After reflexology sessions clients report feeling more energetic, more relaxed, with reductions in associated pain and stress. Reflexology has been known to successfully treat a number of ailments including insomnia, arthritis, tension headaches and stress and stress related disorders.
Yoga is an ancient healing art which uses various physical postures and the breath to develop rhythm and a balanced healing effect within the body. There are many types of Yoga taught as well as various Schools of Thought within the Yoga movement. Below are some well known Yoga styles which are currently practiced.
This is perhaps the most well known and popular form of Yoga within the United States. It is an easy to learn basic form of Yoga which tends to have slow paced movements and is gentle in its approach. Hatha Yoga is foundational to all Yoga styles since it incorporates postures (Asanas), regulated breathing (Pranayama), kundalini (Laya Yoga), and Dharana & Dhyana (meditation) into a synchronized methodology which moves one towards self realization and enlightenment.
This style of Yoga practice promotes beneficial flexibility, detoxification and prevention of injuries in a hot environment that is between 95 and 105 degrees. It was founded by Bikram Choudhury through a method of 26 poses which enhance cleansing and purification. Bikram Yoga also provides a comprehensive physical workout which enhances muscle strength and endurance, cardiovascular flexibility as well as weight loss.
This form of Yoga follows the teachings of Sri Sachidananda who founded many Integral Yoga Institutes throughout the United States as well as the famous Yogaville Ashram in Virginia. Integral Yoga is a tradition which combines chanting, postures, prayer, breathing exercises along with selfless service and self inquiry. In essence, it is a more directed form of Hatha Yoga.
This form of Yoga was founded by Swami Vishnu-devananda, who was a disciple of Swami Sivananda. Sivananda Yoga is practiced worldwide and is based upon five (5) principles: Asana (proper exercise), Pranayama [proper breathing], Savasana (proper relaxation), Vegetarianism [proper diet], and Dhyana (positive thinking and meditation).
Ashtanga or Astanga Yoga
This is an active form of Yoga which was founded by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois that is physically demanding. Ashtanga Yoga teaches synchronized breathing combined with various postures which produce internal heat and purifying sweat, leading the body to detoxify as well as improving circulation, overall flexibility and stamina. Atanga Yoga is very advanced and should be attempted only by those who are athletic and/or have previous Yoga training.