[Book Review #1] Everything You Need You Have

I recently discovered this little gem of a book while browsing the local library.

Gerad Kite’s Everything You Need You Have: How to be at home in your self is such an easy read, yet so powerful in places with little nuggets to take away and use on a daily basis. It’s simplicity is what makes it so special.

There is also an alignment with the Five Element Theory which also interested me after studying and qualifying in Clinical Acupuncture last year. The natural movements of life according to the tangible elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water (see summary below).

So, I invite you to join me “At Home” and you will be at home in your self. Because, what we’re looking for simply isn’t out there – it is within. We believe that we have to be busy, doing stuff, achieving things, in order to be successful. But really there is no such thing as success – these are just events playing out, finding their way, following natural law.

We have ended up living almost exclusively “in the head”. Standing in the place of “I think” limits us in time and space and for many people great suffering and pain. We have forgotten how to retreat from our thinking minds and take pleasure in the bliss of simply being alive – to “be”; and to know that one’s existence is so much more than mere sequence of events that plays out before us, confirming that we’re “somebody” with a “life”. I find this so humbling and so profound, and also very useful.

It is useful because, when one gets caught up in life’s day to day stresses, or worries, or emotional burdens, it is liberating to retreat back to “Home” (although we never really left) and observe what we are thinking, feeling, experiencing. This is the true essence of life. It is the awareness that what we are going through is simply not real: it is transient and changeable. The quality of Home is peaceful and permanent.

As a reflexologist, offering clients the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the power of touch is where a lot of healing can take place. And surely this is offering or opening up a path towards “Home”? Switching off the mind and focusing on “the now”. For the past and the future are there by virtue of memory and fantasy – courtesy of the mind – and neither are real in “the now”.

Gerad gives the reader insights, exercises, tools of  how to re-discover Home within your self, and also examples of clients he has helped throughout his career.

Enlightenment is beyond mundane tasks, but it is found within them.

Short Summary of The Law of Five Elements

Gerad states “The unique balance of the five elements that create and maintain you are the gift of your life. This is the foundation and reality of who you are. You are  both a unique form and an integral part of Univeral intelligence, flow and evolution.”

Wood (Liver and Gall Bladder)

  • Get up and grow
  • Renewal
  • Timidity to belligerence
  • Perspective

Fire (Heart)

  • Joy of “Being”
  • Be open to things and experience them from Love
  • Joy emerges from the compassion of Home
  • Easy forgiveness
  • Healthy boundaries (and knowing these)

Earth (Spleen and Stomach)

  • Satisfaction
  • Natural motion “give and take”
  • Identify our needs
  • Integrity
  • Reciprocity, sharing and caring, giving and receiving

Metal (Lung and Large Intestine)

  • Gives the whole cycle of life its value
  • Importance of letting go of all attachments
  • Understand the impermanence of our outer life
  • Root in the quality of the present moment
  • Self value and worth

Water (Kidney and Bladder)

  • This is the base element: death, regeneration and survival
  • The closest we can get to Home
  • The origin of all life
  • Simplicity of Being
  • Stores our essential nature
  • Primitive and True
  • Who are you?

Ski Essentials

If you’re planning on hitting the piste this winter season, don’t leave without these ski essentials from Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Arnica salve  This has got to be at the top of the list for essentials when skiing/snowboarding. We all use muscles that we don’t normally exercise when we go skiing! A full day skiing can take its toll on the quads, knees, shins (if you’re not used to your boots) and feet. This Arnica Salve comes in a easily-packable sized pot and is great for rubbing into those tired and weary muscles and joints to increase blood circulation, reduce inflammation and help ease out bruising, aches and pains.

Why not also look at the Warming Salve which is great for rubbing into your joints and muscles before heading out onto the piste after breakfast? Or the Arnica and Seaweed Foam Bath for a luxurious soak afterwards.

To learn more about the Power of Arnica please read my other blog post here.

Wild Rose Moisturing SPF 30  Stay beautifully protected, nourished and nurtured in the winter sun with this organic, high level broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. This natural moisturiser contains natural non-nano mineral filters, blended with antioxidant radiance-boosting organic wild rosehip oil, deeply nourishing organic shea butter and baobab oil. Together they protect, nurture and moisturise the skin. It is also free from harsh chemical filters, nano particles and synthetic fragrances.

This award-winning Wild Rose Beauty Balm can be used as a rich cleanser, gentle exfoliant or deeply nourishing balm/moisturiser – to quench areas of dry or dehydrated skin. The exceptionally high levels of wild rosehip oil – a potent antioxidant proven to help repair, firm and smooth the skin – are combined with geranium, starflower, hemp and rosemary oil, to help decongest and enrich the skin, restoring its natural radiance.

This pot is ideal for packing in your suitcase: it is a cleanser, mask and moisturiser all in one so you can travel lightly! The smaller 15g pot is also small enough to fit into hand luggage.

Bee Lovely Lip Balm

Nourishes and softens your lips on the slopes with moisturising cocoa butter and beeswax. It is gentle enough for the whole family (aged 3 years and over) so great if you’re taking your little ones with you too. 3% of sales goes to charities that help Save the Bees.

Remedies to Roll: Energy

This blend of rosemary, lavender and grapefruit essential oils applied to the pulse points can help to stimulate and boost the body and mind to overcome tiredness for that much-needed pick-me-up we all need when out on the slopes all day. Comes in a little roller-ball bottle ideal for popping in your pocket.

White tea facial mist

This is a gentle facial mist to calm, refresh and rehydrate the skin – ideal for a quick, cooling spritz after lunch. Infused with antioxidant white tea, calming organic aloe vera, aromatherapeutic organic essential oils and soothing Bach Flower Remedies. This will help the face recover quickly from any sun exposure, or dryness caused from cold winds. You can also use it as a toner so no need to pack your big bottle, and  travel lightly!

And while I’m talking about travelling lightly – how about looking at these wonderful skincare kits which come in travel-sized pots ideal for hand luggage.

 

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Group Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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The Power of Arnica

Arnica is a well-known homeopathic remedy and a gentle herb from the daisy family (a relative to Calendula, Chamomile, Echinacea, Yarrow and Dandelion).

For centuries Arnica has been used for bruising and sprains. It’s old names such as “fall herb” and “wound herb” signify its age-old use for the effects of trauma. Swiss mountain guides chewed Arnica leaves to prevent fatigue from climbing.

Just like the tough, hardy daisy, Arnica will help you bounce back from life’s knocks and tumbles. It reduces pain, inflammation and swelling, and increases blood circulation.

Arnica is an alpine plant growing and thriving in the most extreme conditions, making it a tough, hardy plant. It grows in nutrient-poor soil, at high altitudes and strong sunlight. It is a survivor, getting through the most difficult of times. It’s leaves are also usually full of little insects and parasites, giving it a victim persona. Its root contains essential oils which are powerful anti–inflammatory agents. So there is no wonder that Arnica is a powerful remedy not just on a physical level but also on emotional and spiritual levels too.

If you have fallen over and taken a knock, or are feeling battered and bruised from a tough exercise workout, Arnica knows that feeling. Arnica can sooth your weariness, heal your bruises, remedy the trauma and comfort your injured pride.

Arnica Salve (by Neal’s Yard Remedies) is potent plant power in a jar: organic essential oils and herbal extracts in pure, organic beeswax. Supporting a hard worked body, the salve can be massaged into muscles before and after exertion, stimulating muscles before workouts and easing them afterwards. Of course it is also a necessity for the organic medicine cabinet for emergency first aid for those knocks, bruises, falls and sprains.

When overtired why not enjoy a restorative soak with Arnica in the bath. Infusions of mineral-rich Seaweed, Comfrey and Arnica are combined with pure essential oils of Lemon, Pine, Juniper and Lavender to ease tired muscles and restore a sense of vitality.

Especially formulated to ease weary limbs. Or why not try the new Seaweed and Arnica Bath Salts?

 

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, acupuncturist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Group Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reflexology for Sports

Sports people of any level or ability are highly motivated to perform at their best and to achieve optimum results; often they look to holistic therapies to complement treatment received for injuries.

Reflexology for optimal performance

The psychology of sport encourages individual athletes and team players to look for ways to achieve that extra one or two percent that can give them the edge on their opponents. Consequently, many now use reflexology as part of their overall regime.

What can reflexology offer?

Reflexology may help to provide increased mobility, reduced pain and support or accelerate the recovery period after an injury.  Many athletes use reflexology in a preventative capacity to encourage balance in the body and improved health in general, such as improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety and improved mood.

How does it work?

Reflexology helps to increase blood flow and encourage lymphatic drainage. Research studies show that it can remove lactic acid from the legs four times faster than massage, helping post event recovery. Increased blood circulation helps remove toxins and increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, helping to support the body’s natural healing process and promote recovery from injuries. It may also assist in preventing common complaints and niggles from extended muscle exertion such as aches, pains, cramps and spasms.

What else?

The effect of stress has a very detrimental effect on the body, reducing blood flow and oxygen, causing energy to be depleted and thus functioning at a sub-optimal level. Reflexology helps to manage this by promoting deep relaxation, easing tension, giving the body time to rest and heal and it often improves sleep. It may also help with pain relief or reducing pain associated with injury.

Contact me for more information or to book an appointment.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, acupuncturist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Group Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

[Recipe #1] Plant-Based Protein Slices

These nutty and chocolate-y slices are exactly what you need if you’re looking for a healthy snack to complement a higher fat/lower carb diet, or if you’re looking for an innocent sweet treat after a meal.

I’m not really one for writing or following recipes: I tend to just throw things together with whatever I have in the cupboards and hope for the best! So when I posted these slices on Instagram I felt a little out of my depth with people asking after the recipe… however, after promising I would share it, here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of protein powder. I used That Protein Blissful Brown Rice and Raw Cacao Super Protein. If you didn’t want to use protein powder then just raw Cacao powder would suffice here.
  • 2 tablespoons of Pecan nut pieces.
  • 2 tablespoons of Walnut pieces.
  • 2 tablespoons of Brazil nut pieces (note – use whichever nuts you prefer. Macadamia would also work here).
  • 2 tablespoons of Lidl Alesto Super Seed Mix. This contains milled Golden Linseed, milled hulled Hemp Seeds and milled Chia Seeds.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Holland and Barrett Organic Omega Shake. This contains Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Brown Linseeds.
  • 1 scoop of Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Fibre Blend. This powder contains Apple Powder, Psyllium Seed Husk Powder, Inulin Powder, Chia Seed Powder, Hemp Protein Powder, Fructooligosaccharides, Bacillus coagulans for a healthy gut (optional).
  • 1 teaspoon of Agave Syrup and 1 teaspoon of Manuka Honey (these are to sweeten. You can use whatever sweeteners you like and adjust the amounts to taste).

Method:

  1. Line the base of a regular loaf tin.
  2. On a low heat, slowly melt the coconut oil and then remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients one by one until they represent a pan of delicious melted nutty-chocolate.
  4. Carefully pour into the lined tin and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Once set, slice into portions and enjoy!

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, acupuncturist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Group Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are her own.

Brain and Cognitive Health

ID-100273701This blog gives a general understanding of cognitive health and outlines options for improving yours.

Good fats are essential to our brain health and function. A fatty brain is a healthy brain: 60% of brain tissue is fat. Good fats literally allow us to embrace change.

One type of good fat is Coconut Oil: If you search for coconut oil + brain fog on the internet you will find pages and pages of anecdotal evidence to suggest coconut oil can help lift brain fog and make the brain sharper, improving memory.

Coconut oil is a medium chain fat which means the body can use this type of fat as energy – another great fuel for our brains. It does this by converting into ketones which are used as a source of fuel for the body. Apparently brain cells function with far greater efficiency when they are utilizing fat (ketones) as a fuel source as opposed to sugar.

Pumpkin seed, hemp, flax, avocado and evening primrose oils are all other examples of good fats and these can be found in Beauty Oil.  They provide the essential nutrition that our skin and bodily tissue needs to renew, maintain and repair. This Beauty Oil contains nourishing omega fatty acids, essential nutrients and anti-oxidants that the skin needs to replenish itself.

Encourage healthy brain function and balance through reflexology. This is a two-fold approach. The reflex point for the brain is on both the big toes (and thumbs). As a therapist I always dedicate attention to this area during every treatment along with the spinal chord (Central Nervous System). However the second approach to improved brain function via reflexology is the physical act of touching the feet: the sensory rich plantar area of the foot is going to stimulate and increase neurological messages from here all the way up to the brain. Think about how many messages this will create during a 50 minute reflexology treatment and you can see how the opening up of those potentially dormant neurological pathways can be so beneficial to our health.

The key ingredients in Cognitive Supplement are also fascinating to learn about when it comes to brain and cognitive health:

  • L-Glutamine. This is brain fuel. It is the only compound other than sugar that can be used by the brain for energy. It can easily cross the blood-brain barrier.
  • Choline. Aids nerve transmission by supporting myelin production. Myelin is the fatty nerve insulation that facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses. It is attacked via an auto-immune response in MS sufferers.
  • Green Tea. Contains L-theanine which helps us to keep calm, yet focussed. For example, when we meditate.
  • Ginko biloba. This is a herb from the Biloba tree. Suggested that it improves memory. Used to treat dementia. Antioxidant.

Antioxidants. What do we know about these?

Your brain uses roughly 20% of the oxygen you breathe in, so its cells are particularly susceptible to oxidative damage, known as free radical damage.

Free radicals trigger brain inflammation which contributes to ADHD, brain fog, anxiety and memory loss as well as serious neurological disorders such as stroke and Alzheimer’s.

Eat lots of organic fruit and vegetables. Berries are a Number One brain food because they are super antioxidant and also their compounds have been linked to improvements in many cognitive skills including memory, learning, reasoning skills, decision making, verbal comprehension and number capability.

Image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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The Fascinating Psoas

The psoas muscles (major and minor) are the only muscles to join the upper body with the lower. The left and right psoas join the lumbar spine to the femur, thus joining the upper body with the lower body. This is quite a special function: think spiritually for a moment and the concept of linking the higher self with the earthy presence.

The psoas is at the core of our functioning  bodies, creating flexibility but also providing a deep stabilizer, “supporting the human body much like an arch does in building structures”. [1]

The psoas supports many of our internal organs or viscera. Think of it as a shelf for the intestines, kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas and bladder. Any contraction of the psoas muscle will massage these organs, and due to the close proximity to them can “play a role as a reactor to these stimuli, thus affecting what is commonly termed as ‘gut feelings’.” [1]

The psoas meeting point is at the diaphragm at T12 or L1 (it can vary) and this junction in the body is known as the solar plexus. This area, a nerve network, is related to those ‘butterfly’ feelings we can get when we are nervous or excited. It is remarkable that the psoas muscle is also linked to the diaphragm and thus our breath, and those feelings which can effect the frequency of our breath such as nervousness, anxiety, excitement.

The psoas is one of the main muscles affecting the lower back, so with any lower back pain its condition warrants attention. Because of its deep central position, its closeness to our ‘gut feelings’ and our internal viscera, emotional tension can manifest in the psoas creating debilitating back pain and stiffness. If you suffer with lower back pain, ask yourself: do I feel supported in life? Am I worried/anxious/frightened? Is there a change forthcoming? Working through emotions is a key factor in dealing with back pain caused by the deep psoas, as well as finding the right balance of quality of motion and flow without restriction.

It is interesting to map the psoas muscles on the foot from a reflexology viewpoint. You can see that the psoas covers the medial arch of the foot, which is hugely important in supporting and maintaining posture and gait. It covers a very large area of the foot which only highlights (in my opinion) of its huge importance in our lives, providing support in a physical, mental and spiritual perspective. If you suffer with lower back pain, why not try reflexology or self-treat by massaging the area in red shown on the foot map?

I have been on a personal journey with this muscle. Emotional tension building up this year put me in a debilitating situation with such terrible back pain and restricted motion. It was only when discovering the psoas muscle and its functions and representations did I manage to heal myself and come through the dark and into the light.

Liz Koch says “the psoas is no ordinary muscle but a profound segue into the rich, inner and outer world of awareness and consciousness.”

[1] The Vital Psoas Muscle: Connecting Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing by Jo-Ann Staugaard-Jones

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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[Yoga Series #5] Discipline. Are you worth it?

Some days I find it hard to come to the mat. I will divert and do all manner of jobs and tasks to avoid it. To get onto the mat every day takes discipline.

But isn’t it the same with anything in life? To meet the challenge and to move forward we have to be disciplined. Whether you want to build a business, learn a new skill, get better at something, lose weight, meet a target or achieve a goal: discipline is involved. We can’t just coast our way through life and expect things to drop into our laps.

ID-100423155Bearing in mind I am still a fairly new yogi: yoga is teaching me about practice. The more I practice the more I am understanding my body. The more I understand the more I want to learn, and the more I want to discover. Parallels to my reflexology journey. You can’t be a good reflexologist unless you practice, no matter how much reading and theory you learn.

The more challenging poses are becoming less of a dread and more of a journey of revelation. The poses I can’t get into fully are less of a brick wall and more of an acceptance of where I am at this moment. I modify to suit me at this time and that is perfectly OK (wow did I just say that?)

But all of this comes from discipline. Being disciplined to practice every day is hard. But look at the rewards. I feel great during and afterwards. Better than if I don’t practice. And if I don’t practice there is always the guilt, the feeling of letting myself down, the weakness to come and consume me. Because I know that I am worth more.

Once the discipline sets in, whatever you are doing becomes less of a “chore” and more of a good habit. Something you just do because that’s what you do and who you are. Good habits are difficult to form. That’s where discipline comes in. But I know that I am worth it and that’s what keeps me motivated.

Image courtesy of kdshutterman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

Growyourbusiness

Coping with Seasonal Allergies

POST102 million people in the UK suffer with seasonal allergies.

Generally speaking, early symptoms are caused by tree pollen, and later symptoms are caused by grasses and weeds. This is known as seasonal allergic rhinitis (or more commonly referred to as hay fever).

Symptoms that continue all year are called perennial allergic rhinitis and commonly relate to indoor allergens, such as house dust mites, pets and indoor moulds.

In response to exposure of an allergen (e.g. pollen) the body’s immune system overreacts and releases chemicals (histamines) which cause inflammation. Histamines work quickly, causing sneezing, itching and runny nose. The eyes may also be affected, with itching, redness and watering (allergic conjunctivitis).

Other chemicals released during this overreaction can cause a blocked or stuffy nose and sinuses, which may lead to headache and difficulty sleeping.

Rhinitis is often regarded as a trivial problem but studies have shown that it severely affects people’s quality of life. It disturbs sleep, impairs daytime concentration and the ability to carry out tasks, causes people to miss work or school, and has been shown to affect children’s school exam results. (Source Allergy UK).

Treatments that suppress the symptoms of rhinitis or hay fever are antihistamines.

Quercetin is a natural anti-histamine i.e. it is known to inhibit the manufacture and release of histamine. It is also high in antioxidants.

  • Quercetin is an flavonoid (plant pigment) commonly found in fruits and vegetables, especially onions, citrus, and apples.post5
  • In this new supplement, Quercetin and Nettle complex, it is blended with other ingredients (such as nettle) to have a synergistic effect. Nettle is known for antihistamine affect too, but also believed to be soothing and anti-inflammatory for skin problems such as eczema, hives, redness and itchiness.
  • Other ingredients include bromelene which is an anti-inflammatory (found in pineapples). Reduces swelling/inflammation in the sinuses.
  • And liquorice – this also has anti-inflammatory properties but also has de-stressing qualities.
  • Since over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines can have side effects like drowsiness, seizures and dry mouth, our natural option is a good choice.
  • Use with Vitamin C for an optimal effect.

Zinc also helps with hayfever. Zinc reduces histamine levels and will enhance Quercetin.

  • If you suffer with regular colds/infections – you could well be deficient in zinc. post6Zinc will reduce a cold by up to 7 days, because it is toxic to viruses.
  • Zinc is amazing for skin – crucial skin healing and repair, acne, blemishes etc. balances sebum.
  • Zinc balances the reproductive organs so it’s a great choice for couples wanting to conceive. Great for bones and nails.
  • NYROrganic zinc has a great base of carrot, alfa alfa and bilberry. No fillers.

NYROrganic Summer tea is full of natural remedies:

  • Eyebright herb for reducing inflammation around the mucus membranes.
  • Nettle and liquorice (already mentioned above).
  • Plus peppermint to calm and boost immunity.

TOP TIP: Pop the used tea bags into the fridge and then place on the eyes for calming itchiness.

Any of the White tea range will be hugely antioxidant so great for any allergies/hay fever.

  • White tea facial mist – lovely and refreshing, and cooling for the face. Use as a toner and as a facial spritz throughout the day over make-up.POST8_white_tea
  • White tea toning eye gel. Again this contains the Eyebright herb for reducing inflammation around the mucus membranes, more specifically the eye area here. Keep in the fridge for that extra cooling effect.
  • White tea enriching facial mask  – the kaolin clay cools and calms the skin.

OTHER TOP TIPS:

  • Apply the bee lovely lip balm around nostrils to prevent the pollen/allergens from entering the nasal cavity.
  • Some people with an allergy to pollens (especially tree pollens) may be affected by cross-reactions between their pollen allergy and certain foods. For example, they may find that when eating certain fruits, vegetables or tree nuts, especially raw, they get an itchy mouth or throat.
  • Keep windows closed when indoors. This is most important in the early mornings, when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall to ground level again.
  • On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing.
  • Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes.
  • Start taking a spoon full of locally sourced honey every day as early in the year as possible to build up immunity/resilience. (Source Allergy UK)
  • Get some reflexology. Reflexology Lymph Drainage has helped others manage rhinitis.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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[Yoga Series #3] Engage the Pelvic Floor for Spinal Health

When we talk about pelvic floor muscles it is usually relating to urinary and sexual health, pregnancy or post-partum issues and problems. But actually the pelvic floor is also fundamental to our spinal health.

ID-100197696The deepest muscles of the pelvic diaphragm run from front to back (pubic joint to coccyx). The more superficial layers are those including the anal and urethral sphincters. During yoga the focus should be on engaging the deeper fibres which encourage an upward motion of energy, permitting the diaphragm to lift the base of the rib cage forward.

I have a tendency to over extend my lumbar spine and stick out my bottom: this isn’t good for spinal health, and my yoga journey is now showing me this.

To be able to flex the lumbar spine, the psoas, abs and pelvic floor must concentrically contract. So my natural tendency to over-extend, in combination with attempting postures of deep lumbar-flexion (for example a standing or seated forward bend) without engaging the core muscles properly will lead to pain. Combine this with other personal issues such as emotional stress and poor posture during work (treatments, sitting at desk, driving) has led to much discomfort.

In yoga there are three main diaphragms (pelvic, respiratory and vocal) which come together in movements that are coordinated with inhaling and exhaling. These coordinated actions of the diaphragms (in yoga these are known as “bandhas”) create more stability in the body, protecting it from injury by redistributing mechanical stress.

For example, when performing a forward bend, if the thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavities are not supported with the breath, then there is no single centre of gravity. This puts extreme pressure on the posterior spinal muscles with a pivotal point in the lumbo-sacral junction, which is vulnerable to damage (exactly where my back pain has been!)

Have you ever reached or bent over to do something and automatically held your breath? The body does this to try and protect our spinal structures.

Actively employing the breath which engages all three diaphragms including the all important pelvic floor muscles, offers the spinal column complete support during a forward bend, by centering gravity in the pelvis, legs and feet, and allowing the spine to relax and allow in space. Remember – build the foundation! This is explained beautifully in [1].

In understanding this during the yoga practice, as well as daily activities, I have managed to reduce my lower back pain considerably. As always, stepping onto the yoga mat takes us on a journey inside the body.

For some fabulous diagrams of the pelvic floor muscles see [2].

[1] Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff, Amy Matthews

[2] http://www.dailybandha.com/2015/05/the-pelvic-floor.html

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

Growyourbusiness