It was the Greek physician Hippocrates who said man cannot achieve health by eating well alone, but must also “take exercise.” His idea of exercise and our may differ slightly, but he was talking about moving the body with health in mind. Movement (a.k.a. Exercise) is the most natural thing in the human experience. Unfortunately it has become separated from our consciousness and has become yet one more thing we must “do” if we want to avoid or end illness. For many people it is something on the To Do list that takes time away from what we really want to do, which is often collapse in a heap in front of the TV, preferably with the food we also want delivered to our couches.

We all want to be healthy and feel good about ourselves, but we already have more than enough on our plates. We know we should be exercising more, but it can be so hard to fit it in. This holds true regardless of age, race, gender, religion or socioeconomic status. If you have a body, you get it. So, how do you go from thinking of exercise as a chore to feeling that it is part of your life like eating, sleeping and other regular activities? Can conscious movement become a positive and seamlessly integrated part of life? I think it can. Healthy Movement© is designed to Show you how.

As a confirmed non-exerciser, who also loves to move, I can assure you that movement does not have to be a separate unpleasant part of life to provide significant benefits to health and wellness. In fact, since we have already confirmed that you have a body, you are already moving regularly without even trying. This is rue regardless of your interest and ability level. Even breathing is moving. All that is left to do is make that movement more conscious and good for the design of your body, so you benefit more and even enjoy your activities more. Sure, you’ll need to learn some new concepts and ways to move, but since you would be moving anyway it’s really not such a stretch to get there afterall.

Curious to learn more? Well, I love to share, so keep watching for my next post on how to create a stronger, more flexible back doing something you already do every day even better (This means less pain too.) Hint: if you work in a cubicle, or at a desk you may be doing this movement right now.

In Health,

Tracey

 

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Summer Inspiration

 

Ship wrecked

When you are in the doldrums (A period of stagnation or depression) its good to draw on inspiration from people who have survived and thrived in the face of similar of even worse adversity. Eleanor Roosevelt is my “go to” and this is one of my favorite statements from this great a courageous lady.

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed it the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

As hard as it can be to take ownership for the “bad” stuff that happens, it can also be empowering. No, I do not believe we choose hardship or suffering intentionally. We do, I think, make choices for which we cannot see the possible outcomes and do so in order to learn what we need to understand to grow and progress towards being the kinds of people we want to be. Eleanor didn’t choose to be plain or to be often left alone by a powerful husband. She did choose to become active in the world in her own way though and to pursue her own life and friendships. And so do we each choose our responses to the events in our lives. 

I cannot force my life or the people in it to be something it is not. I cannot walk through doors and pathways that are not currently open to me. And I cannot make others like or respect me if they don’t choose to. I can respect myself however and like the person I am today. I have made mistakes. Many in fact. And I will make many more I am sure. I have also been kind and good, and I try every day to be better, to be kinder and more compassionate. I chose to be a person I can respect and to live with my situation with grace and dignity as I am able.

When the situation changes and the winds of change are again blowing in the direction I wish to travel I hope I am equally able to chose well and wisely. This to me is the measure of my efforts to practice well and walk my talk. Can I act well in good times and bad? Do I hold my tongue when speaking would cause harm. Do I take a deep breath before reacting with anger? Do I acknowledge frustration or fear, and chose to act when those emotions are no longer in charge? I hope I do. And, when it is hard to stay calm and act wisely I will remember the words of women like Eleanor, who spoke for many with her ability to rise above and carry on when that was the best choice available to her.

Namaste,

Tracey

 

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Friday Post: Head Weight, or “Dead” Weight?

image

The head is the bodies most northerly point. As such, it is a most important site of interest and body awareness. Wherever it goes the body follows. As obvious as it seems, and funny to say, this is the truth of it.

Several months ago, after a year in space, several astronauts returned to earth. American astronaut Mark Kelly, in an interesting twist, had grown two inches in height upon his return. NASA says this is not unusual and Mark  himself commented that, “In space a lot of things change…We carry around this big weight.” He was referring to the weight of the head, which, without gravities pull, caused his body actually acquired the additional length. This is great news for the rest of us. Why?

The average adult head weighs 10-11 pounds (4.5-5 kg). The head sits on the spine over two large vertebrae, with muscles below for balance and control movement. The head can look side-to-side, up and down, and tilt and swivel. That’s a lot of motion, if the muscles and vertebrae are healthy and allow it. It’s like carrying around a large bowling ball, balanced on a stick over a couple of small saucers, held together by rubber bands of varying thickness. Crazy, right?

Now we add in the fact that this is also the site where the brain connects with the body, through nerves and accompanying arteries and veins, and we can appreciate that a lot is going on in this area that is very important. Strained muscles, tight jaw hinges, compressed nerves and restricted blood and nutrient flow cause millions of people every day to experience neck and head pain, jaw and eye discomfort, mental strain, sinus pressure, and headaches. And the list goes on. Its enough to give you a headache just thinking about it.

Did you know that for every centimeter forward of center the head tilts, an additional 10-20 pounds (up to 9.07 kg) of pressure is added to the neck? Where is center then, you might ask? It is where your ears line up with your shoulders. Imagine that you spend time looking down at computer screens, driving, reading, or just looking down regularly. Over a short time, your body would compensate by lengthening the muscles at the back of your neck, lifting you shoulders up to help carry the head weight forward, and shortening the muscles at the front of your neck and shoulders. This would help you perform the forward head tilt and hold it for prolonged periods. But at what cost? The nerves at the front of the neck would compress. The arteries and veins carrying blood might be constricted as well. Glands in the anterior neck that control hormones might be constricted. And the vertebrae might begin to follow the muscles, reinforcing the forward tilt. Image then how hard it might be to suddenly ask your head to rebalance itself over the shoulders when those muscles have learned the tilted position and it has come to feel normal? It would be difficult and feel unnatural, because the forward tile has become habit, even as it causes pain and tension. This is exactly what happens to cause so many problems.

Fortunately, the solution lies in the problem, through movement. With simple controlled movements the neck muscles realign the head back to center, and with practice you can return to balance and healthy neck and shoulder movement. Good alignment will become natural again, as it was when you were a child. This means you will know who you are off-center and can readjust with ease. With practice the muscles reposition themselves to healthy length, nerves are released, arteries and veins flow better and you feel better too.

You don’t have to stop computing, driving, reading or looking down. Just learn a few simple movements to put you head back on your shoulders, so to speak, and do them whenever you feel your neck tiring or head getting heavy, or whenever you take a break or have a couple of minutes to stop what you are doing.

Try this. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, in and out. Keep breathing. Notice if you feel tension or strain in your face, head or neck. Try not to judge, and just notice. Now, slowly open your eyes. Inhale again and stretch your head forward, looking straight in front of you. As you exhale draw your chin back until you feel the muscles at the back you you neck activate or tighten. Hold this position as you count to five, then inhale and release. Repeat this movement, with breath three times.

You have just begun balancing you head on your shoulders, redistributing the weight of you head in a more healthy way. This may feel funny at first. You may have felt discomfort in your neck or shoulders when you did this, especially along the back. This is normal as those muscles are not used to working normally.

Do this simple movement a few times each day for a week. Notice how you feel, when doing the movement and throughout the day. You may begin to sit up a little taller, notice when you neck is fatiguing before you have pain or have an increased range of neck motion. This movement along with a regular practice that repatterns all of the major muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders is the key to resolving many causes of pain, discomfort and fatigue.

To learn more about Healthy Movement© techniques that can help release pain and discomfort so you can enjoy your body nd how it moves again, check the events listing for upcoming workshops, or contact me to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

 

 

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Wellness Event, Healthy Movement

 

020616_1717_WellnessWor1.pngJoin James Farkas, D.C. and me at the Fairfield Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic for an afternoon of Wellness, with technique demonstrations and Healthy Movement sessions, on February 13, 2016, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

Chiropractic is more than just spinal manipulation. It is a comprehensive, hands-on wellness practice that can improve many aspects of body function to positively impact overall health.

Healthy Movement Therapy, a practice I created as a student of yoga, movement therapy and Chiropractic science and philosophy, is a wonderful companion practice to Chiropractic and can support and improve response to Chiropractic care. Moving and breathing with good habits can make Chiropractic adjustments more effective and longer-lasting. It can also improve mood, energy level and overall well-being, which supports every kind of healing.

This is the 30-Year Anniversary of Fairfield Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic. A this Open House event we will serve Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, answer questions, and present information about the clinic and the practice of wellness. James Farkas, D.C. will be demonstrating several Chiropractic techniques, including How Lasers Can Reduce Pain, and How to Find the Primary Mis-alignment, as well as a Total Health Scan to reveal hidden keys to better health.

SCHEDULE

1:00 PM How Lasers Can Erase Pain – Demo
1:15 PM Finding the Primary Misalignment – Demo
1:45 PM Finding the Primary Misalignment – Demo
2:00 PM Total Health Scan – Hidden Keys Revealed
2:15 PM Healthy Movement Self-Care Workshop
3:00 PM Finding the Primary Misalignment – Demo
3:30 PM Healthy Movement Self-Care Workshop

 

Call us at the Clinic, 112 W. Broadway Ave., Fairfield, Iowa 52556, 641-472-4924, to pre-register for your free session and let us show you how to use Chiropractic and Healthy Movement Therapy to improve every aspect of health and well-being. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tracey

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How to Start Healing Now

Healing is not as hard as it often seems, regardless of the complexity of the issues you may be facing. I believe all healing starts with movement, from expanding and softening with breath to stretching and strengthening with pressure for bigger activities. Joints and muscles function best when hydrated and holding just the right amount of tension for their job. If you have or have ever had joint or muscle pain, you can probably feel the truth in this statement. With all the recent attention in the health world on hydrating and detoxing the body, this sounds important for joints and muscles too – and it is. Fluidity is natural part of being alive. The body is a fluid system. It is also capable of self-healing, especially when moving.

That is not to say that we will never become ill or have pain if we practice movement and breathing regularly. Everyone experiences pain and illness on occasion. But, we can know that we have tools within us to address illness and pain and that we are able to do more that we might have thought to prevent and address these concerns without resorting to drastic measures.

So,  where do we start. As a movement therapist, yoga teacher and chiropractic student I believe the best place to start addressing wellbeing is with a regular movement practice and simple processes that help the body do what it does best; namely move and breathe. This doesn’t have to be a radical undertaking with expensive equipment, the latest brand of athleisure clothing, or expensive gym and fitness club memberships. Actually, it can be very simple and even fun. Yes, fun.

I often see students and clients come to their activities with lots of stress, fatigue and even fear. What brings me back to the practices over and over is that I also see these fade away and often get replaced with ease, relaxation, inspiration and even laughter. Being healthy is not about being free of what bothers us or removing ourselves from our day-to-day lives. It is a process of doing what we do best and allowing ourselves to feel happy and relaxed within the environment we have created. Maybe there is much we want to change. I can certainly think of many aspects of my life I am working to improve. This is part of being alive and is not an obstacle to the peace and joy I also want in my life. Actually, the peace and joy are always present and available to me, if I take a deep breath, relax my body and allow them to be a part of my experience.

I know. Easy for me to say; I do this for a living. Actually, I don’t  always move with ease and I have not always been free and easy with a smile or a deep breath. I still have to work at it every day. But, it’s easier than you think.

Try this. Stop what you are doing. Close your eyes…but, only if you are not driving! Take a deep breath in and pause to feel the breath filling your torso. Then, breathe out, completely. Let your shoulders drop, your jaw relax, your forehead soften. Pause again and feel the possibilities in the “empty” space within you (Really; feel the space.) Repeat twice more.

After three or so breaths, become aware of how you feel. What do you notice? Great. It doesn’t matter what you observed it could be a positive, happy feeling or it could be sadness, fear, anxiety, etc. That you are noticing means you have become aware of your body and breath. THis process is no longer an unclaimed part of you, and now you can manage it, enjoy it or just feel it. You might also become aware that the part of you who noticing the feelings is just that, a part of you. You are noticing you – hmmm. Interesting. There might be more to you than you previously thought there was.

This is a simple exercise; deceptively so. If you are a living, breathing human you can do it. What is amazing is that this simple process begins to release stress-relieving hormones into your system, activates your healing parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system and deactivates the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. This is the first step, and the most important step towards healing that we must all take, regardless of how we choose to approach movement and activity. With a few relaxed breaths we free the energy needed to begin to move the body, ease muscle and joint tension, detox tissues, heal joints, and generally improve our health as much as our bodies are able. Add stretching, strengthening, healing touch, and clean eating to this equation and you have a recipe for wellness that is both ancient and the most modern thing in the world. No fancy gym membership or tight shorts required!

So, the next time you feel “stuck” or just ready to begin or return to a healing state take a  few deep breaths and notice what happens.  Whatever you notice is fine and what is supposed to happen. What comes into your awareness is what needs to be healed, simple. That’s it. With this short easy process you have begun a healing process, entered a healing “space” within you that you can return to any time. Use this practice whenever you feel tired, stressed, angry, sad, happy, excited, nervous…fill in the blank! No matter where you start you will move towards ease and healing every time. It’s what every body is designed to do.

Namaste,

Tracey

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

I was thinking about the musicians and bands that would be on a “Soundtrack of my life” earlier today. As I created the list in my head I jumped from scene to scene, recalling events, places and  people I have known. I have always loved music and found that music expresses for me what I am often unable to express verbally, even to myself. That being the case, I have listened to and loved nearly every kind of music I could get my hands on. I spent much of my youth nearly attached to a speaker or next to an amplifier at a show, soaking in all I could. As I began to practice yoga I found call and response chanting, Kirtan, and expanded my interest to include music from all over the world. I was often profoundly moved to feel that I was connected to something larger than myself, a world consciousness of sorts. I couldn’t understand when others didn’t feel what I felt. How could anyone not be so moved? I still find that hard to understand, but we each have our unique ability to listen what we are designed to hear.

So, as a David Bowie line popped into my consciousness when I typed the title for today’s post, I see that I need to add him to my Life-Soundtrack. As I type this now a dance tune has come on on another computer in my house and I find myself tapping my foot in time with the beat, my mood shifting to become more upbeat and energized.

Recently, I realized that my life-soundtrack lately has been kind of like elevator music. It’s been playing, but its been mostly quiet and pretty bland. Other than a few punctuations of beautiful chanting and imprompue songs around a fire, not much has been happening of note. Clearly it is time I put some thought into this soundtrack thing. I still love music and I frequently listen to new music and purchase what moves me – literally. I am a yoga teacher and continually amazed at the power of music to inspire both movement and breath.

I know of no one who can’t name a song they have loved or a band or musician they have spent many hours listening to. Music characterizes generations, cultures and people’s all over the world and has for thousands of years. Your life-soundtrack can characterize and define you. So, what is your life-soundtrack?

Here is my list (at least for today), in no particular order.

Led Zeppelin, Cat Stephens, David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, The Vandals, Misfits, The Damned, Gen X, Live, Metallica, The Cranberries, Sarah McLaughlin, Loreena McKennett, U2, Concrete Blond, Tori Amos, Chris Isaak, Cowboy Junkies, White Stripes, Deva Premal, Hole, Jimmie Hendrix, Stray Cats, Duran Duran, Mazzy Star, David Grey, the Skatellites…

I know there are at least two dozen more I am omitting. The thing is, each artist and song is the most important when I discover them or find a song that really speaks to me. The list changes daily, hourly, minute to minute. I love it all. I could probably tell you exactly where I was, with whom, and what time of day it was when I was listening to each artist on my list at the time when I realized that particular artist or song spoke to me in a powerful way. Music is power, made fluid. It can sooth the soul, activate the heart, ground us in an experience and connect us to the rest of the world like no other thing can. It removes barriers and heals what hurts us.

So, what is your life-soundtrack? When have you been powerfully moved by music? Who is on your list?

Namaste,

Tracey

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Resistance

Monarch in cocoon

Ever make a decision to change or start something new, only to find yourself bogged down in feelings of apathy or boredom shortly afterwards? You start with great energy and passion to spare, and then…wham, nothing. Me too. Most of us reach this point far faster than we would like, and it feels like a problem. Usually, we decide it’s a personal problem; a failure of our will or determination. We must lack the gene for follow-through that the successful have.

Not so much, says Spiritual Life Coach Danielle LaPorte in her latest book, The Desire map. Science has uncovered another interpretation all together. Science calls this resistance. And, before you go saying that resistance is bad, let me explain. Resistance that follows the feel-good effect of starting something new is actually part of the change process. It’s not bad at all. This type of resistance is the body integrating the new knowledge into its state of being. It’s an inevitable, and necessary part of change, which is why you may notice this happening every time you start something new. It’s also a signal (Your mission – should you choose you accept it) that slowing down, focusing on your desired outcome, and turning your attention inward are the next steps to take.

That you noticed the resistance in the first place is a good sign. You have already taken the next positive step forward, becoming mindful. Now, breathe into it. Breathing is the only involuntary act of the body we can control, and it is the key to releasing fear, resistance, doubt, and many other unpleasant emotions.

Then, focus on your desired outcome and remember that you are creating internal as well as external change. All changes are really both.

Next,visualize your desired outcome and imagine how you’re going to feel as it happens. This can be challenging, especially if you’ve never done it before. You may feel silly, or like nothing is happening. But, it’s worth the effort. If you can see your desired outcome in your mind’s eye, you can feel what it will be like to achieve it. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between experiencing a feeling and imagining experiencing a feeling. In other words, feeling is feeling. Whether you experience the event in real time or in your head doesn’t matter. And, if you can feel it, your mind can believe it. This makes you much more likely to see opportunities that arise in support of your goal and to take action on them when they come up.

And, finally, keep refining your work and process, improving it along the way and allowing it to grow. Being flexible about how your goal is achieved, and sometimes even when it is achieved, allows you to see the bigger picture. Sometimes what you end up accomplishing, from a flexible open-minded point of view, is far greater than you even imagined.

So, each time you start a project, make a plan or set an intention, enjoy the rush of energy that gets you started. And, then, when you feel your enthusiasm slipping, remember that it is time to breathe, focus, imagine the outcome and let your next steps flow from there.

 

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