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Oh Baby It’s Cold Outside…

cat by fireWinter is a special time for most of us. As children we were captivated by all the magic of snow and gingerbread with lights and music. We saw images of hot chocolate by fireplaces and mittens with toques and we embraced that luscious sensation  of being cozy and still.

As adults however, it seems there just isn’t enough time for the magic and certainly not enough for the coziness and stillness. We push to get as much done as we do in the summer even though we have less light and less warmth. This can really stress our bodies and minds.

At this time of year I find my clients with very tender lower backs, tight hamstrings and muscle spasms. The whole back body seems tight and tired and I am more likely to find heavy circles under their eyes.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) winter is the time of the kidneys and bladder meridians, which run down the back of the body. It is a time to invest in nourishing ourselves in a warm and slow way. The most appropriate foods are warm soups and stews, the best activities are slower and more internally based, like journaling, yoga and creating art or working on your home. Winter is a time to be gentle with ourselves so we can be ready and fully charged for the emergence of spring and summer.

Modern life does not necessarily allow us to make radical changes that would find us journaling with a cup of hot chocolate by the fire all day. So it is up to each of us to find ways to incorporate a bit more being in our lives rather than just focusing on doing. Some helpful tips on nourishing the kidneys can be found here.

If you have found yourself being tired and tight this season, come by for a tune-up. Shiatsu and Depp Tissue massage can do wonders to nourish the body and help you to find some stillness in your day.

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Re-educating the Body

computer body

I recently participated in a weekend workshop that certified me in MIPA work (Myofascial Integration and Postural Alignment). It was amazing to learn more techniques to use when working with fascia and the adhesions and tension it can hold. However I learned more than just physical techniques. Fascia is the tissue that lines everything in the body, every muscle and every organ, even the bones (much like sausage skin). When we use our bodies in repetitive ways, it brilliantly lays down thicker fascia in order to make it easier to hold those postures. Unfortunately that can lead to us holding painful positions and returning to them out of habit. This is easily seen today with many people having rounded backs and tight chests from staring down at our computers and phones and tablets. It can also be caused from habitual ways of interacting with people. Some people tend to hang their heads to shy away from awkward encounters others maintain tension in their hips and jaws from clenching back their expression.

Part of the work I do is breaking down and stretching these tissues back out so people can sit taller and find ease and space in their bodies. However, simply stretching out tissues does not lead to a cure or guarantee someone won’t return to the old posture after a day or even an afternoon. So what does? The body needs the chance to become reeducated and renegotiate its relationship with gravity. In a session I attempt to allow the mind to connect with the body to explore these interesting habits and try on a new way of being. An easy way to access this connection is though the breath. By consciously breathing fully and deeply, we access our parasympathetic nervous system which turns on our ability to relax rather than being ready to fight, flee or freeze. From here we can move our bodies, find flexibility and be interested in that one shoulder that always seems to creep up. Sometimes there is a memory in these moments of an accident or interaction that the body has been attempting to protect us from for many years. Other times we realize that we constantly hold a child on one hip or carry a bag off only one shoulder. When we make these connections and try on a new posture even for the duration of a single massage, we provide the body with another option that it can choose off of the table.

I would urge anyone who is dealing with chronic tension or pain to try a session or two where I can guide your body and mind to new ways of holding yourself so that you feel more at ease and free. If that is out of reach, find some time to lie down and breathe fully and deeply then make mini adjustments. Try them on like pants in a store and see which ones you’d like to keep. You don’t have too hang onto your tension, and with a little help you can shift your entire experience towards ease and freedom.

friendship, summer vacation, freedom, happiness and people concept - group of happy female friends dancing and jumping on beach

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Massage that Supports your Yoga Practice

Yoga and Acupuncture are as common as the beaches and trees in Victoria and it is so encouraging to see people taking an interest in their physical as well as energetic health. Chinese Medicine found its roots in traditional Indian Medicine, so it is no surprise that they both view the body as a complex physical and energetic system that depends upon the physical blood vessels to circulate nutrients as well as the energetic channels to circulate universal energy(chi or prana).

The physical practice of yoga originated as a way to open the energy channels in the body to encourage flow to prepare the body, mind and spirit for periods of meditation. This makes sense since balancing the body and stretching out any kinks in the system makes maintaining a sitting posture for an extended period much more comfortable. However many western yogis and yoginis use the asanas of yoga as a physical exercise and form of meditation in and of itself, so rather than preparing for meditation, we open our channels to encourage balance and flow in our everyday lives.

While acupuncture treatments also aim to clear blockages in the human energy system, it allows the body to be at rest while the needles  are placed along the energy lines and in powerful energy centers to promote optimal health and well-being.

Shiatsu  takes note from both Yoga and TCM. When giving a treatment I stretch your joints and limbs for you, opening and relaxing your muscles and channels. Once they are open and ready to receive massage I work along the meridian lines with focused pressure to energize or soothe blocked up or low flow areas. Shiatsu is much like a deep tissue massage and brings relief to sports injuries or chronic tension. Alternatively it can be given in a relaxing way. I often have clients fall asleep (and when it’s really good they snore and drool). Most commonly however, people find themselves in a meditative state and leave the treatment in a relaxed and positive frame of mind.

Shiatsu is quickly gaining recognition in the bodywork realm and I encourage everyone to try it. Please call my self at 250-777-4240 or email: nadine.hawryluk@gmail.com to find out more and schedule an appointment.