Spring Series: Growth and Expansion

 
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Spring is in the air! Daylight feels longer with slightly warmer temperature during the day, flowers are blossoming, and plants that had laid dormant under the soil are sprouting upwards . We are slowly rising from deep hibernation that has rejuvenated and renewed our energy which we begin to gently release it outwardly. The heavy Yin energy (cold, slow and deep) begins to slowly shift and transform into a light Yang energy (warm, growth and light).

In Chinese medicine, spring is the governed by the Liver, belongs to the Wood element, and the flavour that supports the Liver is Sour. Its colour is Green, the climatic element is Wind, and sense organ is the eyes. The energetic organ of the Liver is in charged of the smooth flow of Qi (energy), stores Blood for nourishing Organs, and controls the tendons and sinews in the body.

In an ideal situation, we would have rested and built our energy through winter months to transition into spring. However, life, emotions, illness and work often challenge our intentions, making us feel that there is not much reserve to spring into the coming season. As much as there is growth and expansion in spring, there can also be volatility and sudden movements in the transformation, especially when we are depleted and deficient in Qi. For example, when the Liver is not nourished and anchored, external Wind can stir emotions such as anger, irritability and annoyance outwardly (Liver Qi Stagnation). Internal Wind generated due emotional outburst sending Heat to rise up to the head causing headaches, migraines or sudden outbreak of acne. In addition, we may feel a sense of overall tightness, sluggishness and stagnant energy in the body due to sinews and tendons that are either not nourished by Liver Blood or caused by Liver Qi Stagnation. Here are a few handy tips to help the Liver and body to move forward into spring:

 
  • Squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with warm water in the morning before breakfast to get that Liver Qi moving and to kick start the day

  • Move, move, move! After long months of winter hibernation and lack of outdoor activities, spring is the best time to go out for walks or to get back into yoga, Pilates or gym. When we move, we stimulate Qi to flow to the body and sending endorphins to the brain therefore, making us feel less lethargic, moody and snappy

  • Switch from heavy winter diet such as curries and lamb stews to lighter meals such as sauteed or quick stir fry fresh green vegetables

  • Use dry brushing to stimulate Qi and Blood flow under the skin. Starting from the leg, using long gentle strokes, move the brush upwards towards the Heart. This helps to exfoliate the skin, support lymphatic drainage and reduces the appearance of cellulite

  • For those that have a roller jade or facial gua sha tool handy, you can use it to help stimulate Qi flow to the face, and lymphatic drainage. This is especially useful for hay fever sufferers or problems with the sinuses

 

I hope this short list can assist you in transitioning into spring a little easier. However, if you need extra help, we are here to assist you. Simply BOOK ONLINE for either a FREE 15 minutes consult to discuss your concerns or a treatment.

Workshop - Gua Sha: An Introduction to Self Healing

Gau Sha is one of my favourite 'go to' ancillary tool to reduce and ease muscular pain, stiffness and tension, plus for many other ailments such as cold and flu, chills and fever, bronchitis, and a fantastic therapeutic method for facial rejuvenation treatments.

Gua sha, also known as “spooning” or “scrapping” is a common therapeutic treatment used in Chinese tradition and Chinese medicine practice.  Gua means to rub or to scrape and Sha is a distinctive name given to a type of red dots or sand like redness that appears on the skin surface during and after treatment.  These sand like redness are toxins and stagnation that lie deep within the muscle layers that are brought up to the surface to be eliminated.  This encourage fresh blood flow to the site of blockage by nourishing and enhance healing to the body.  This method of treatment is effective and brings immediate and lasting benefits to ones overall health.

My lovely friend, Angeline from Prana Yoga Kuala Lumpur suggested that I run a workshop on gua sha during my visit to Malaysia.  She is a convert after I gave her some gua sha a couple of years ago to treat her chronic stiff neck and shoulders.  She felt immediate release and subsequently, with further treatments the stiffness was completely resolved.

The workshop was held in Prana Yoga on an overcast and humid Saturday afternoon.  The naturally lit and light wood flooring yoga space was a welcoming reprieve from the weather, and the perfect place to have the workshop.  The attendees that signed up were in good spirit and enjoyed each other company while giving gua sha to each other.  We started the workshop by going through the meridians that transverse on the neck, shoulders and upper back, and the primary and secondary signs and symptoms that is caused by the imbalance of these meridians.  We also briefly talked about other benefits of gua sha other than for the treatment of musculoskeletal symptoms before the hands on demonstration and gua sha techniques were introduced.  Below are some photos of the workshop and the results of the gua sha.  The redness on the body may look painful and 'hideous' but the therapeutic effects of releasing stagnation and stiffness of the neck, shoulders and upper back were felt immediately, and enjoyed by everyone that attended.

Here is a short video on the demonstration of doing gua sha

Wellness Series - Floor Series for the Tech Neck

 
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We have collaborated with a registered yoga teacher, Angeline Liew from Prana Yoga Kuala Lumpur to give you some useful tips in this Wellness series called the "Tech Neck".

Do you spend hours in a fixed position, slouched in front of a computer, spine rounded, neck sticking out like a turtle craned towards your screen, wrists and jaw tensed without you even realizing it?  Do you complain of constant stiffness in the neck and upper back? I often find that these are the main culprits for clients that come in to the clinic for neck and shoulder tension and pain which can lead to temporal and/or occipital headaches.  In Chinese medicine perspective, aches, pain and tension is related to Qi and Blood Stagnation in  meridians.  In thes case of the "Tech Neck" meridians that are affected are the Bladder, Gallbladder, Large Intestine and Small Intestine channels.   Qi and Blood stagnation can also be exacerbated by stress, lack of exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Here are a few simple yet effective yoga sequence designed by Angeline to ease tension in the neck and shoulders, and relief compression in the front body, whilst stretching out those tight knots, to enable more range of motion, and hopefully help to minimise the occurrence of headaches.  She highly recommend doing the Tech Neck series at least once a day.

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  1. Extended Puppy Pose - a delicious and deep chest & upper back opener. Modify by placing your forehead on the floor, instead of the chin, and let gravity assist your chest to sink to the floor.
  2. Shoelace Pose for the Arms - stretches the deep muscles between the shoulder blades (#rhomboids), posterior and lateral deltoids and upper arms.
  3. Intense Shoulder Stretch - one of my fave stretches to target the front muscles of the upper arms. By squaring the hips, you'll also get a nice upper back twist. Do support your head so that you don't end up straining the neck.
  4. Gomukhasana (Cow Pose arms) - works on increasing range of motion in the shoulders, as the top arm is externally rotated, and the bottom arm is internally rotated. Remember to switch sides, and use a towel or strap if you can't bind.
  5. Supported Chest Opener - one word : "Yummy"! Seriously, I can fall asleep in this pose, as it helps to deepen and regulate the breathing too. Block is placed at the bottom tips of your shoulderblade .
  6. Trigger Point Therapy for the Neck : Very gently turn the neck side to side, to self-massage the tightness in the neck.
  7. Trigger Point Therapy for the Arms : tension in the neck travels down the arms too, causing limited mobility. Here, I use lacrosse balls, but you can use tennis balls too. Target the front of the shoulders and #pectoral muscles (avoid the collar bones), and slowly move down the upper arm.

Remember to relax, and breathe deeply to allow your body to receive maximum benefit from the practice. (*Avoid lying on your belly if you're pregnant, and consult your teacher for alternatives), and if symptoms persist please seek professional help to remedy your condition.