October 25, 2012

The 5 Minute Retreat!

Posted in Breathwork, Choices, Living Vibrantly at 7:25 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

When we hear the word  retreat, images of an army reversing from an oncoming challenge, or perhaps a week-long luxurious trip to a tropical island to unplug from the world come to mind.  But retreat is something that should be practiced daily to help manage the stress of life.

Retreat is defined: (v) Withdrawing from that which is difficult, dangerous or disagreeable. (n) A place of refuge or safety.

Daily life serves us up many events, people, activities, images and sounds that could be defined as difficult, dangerous or disagreeable.  Most days we have multiple incidents of interacting with these stressful things.  So it makes perfect sense that from time to time we all need a mini retreat; just a few minutes away to feel safe, feel a sense of refuge, to withdraw from the difficult, dangerous and disagreeable parts of life.

Here’s a quick 5 step process for a 5 Minute Retreat  you can do nearly anywhere, nearly anytime.

1.   Sit.  Find a quiet spot where you can sit upright.  Sit down. Balance yourself on your sitting bones. Close your eyes.

2.  Breathe.  Start to deepen your breath; breathe into your belly.  Feel your diaphragm expand and contract your ribs.  Feel your body relax just a little bit more with each exhalation.

3.  Visualize.  Acknowledge the event, person, activity or image that was disagreeable, difficult or dangerous.  Don’t shy away from the image, just see it.  Then slowly watch it recede from you, growing smaller, fuzzier, less powerful. Visualize the offender completely vanishing.

4.  Compose.  Regain your confidence and composure; lengthen your spine, widen across the collar bones, reach up with the crown of your head. Let your body’s posture lead you into regaining your inner strength and composure.

5.   Welcome.  In the space vacated by the receding stressor; in your mind’s eye imagine an event, person, action or image you’d like to fill that space. Fully image this new thing; how does it look, sound, feel?  How does this new event, person, action or image seem to you, make you feel, interact with you?  Spend several minutes fully imaging the replacement while continuing to breathe deeply and finding spaciousness & composure in your body.

Slowly open your eyes, stretch your body a bit; then get up and rejoin your daily life having found the benefits of ‘retreat’ in a simple 5 minute exercise that will allow you to be happier, more peaceful and more effective for the rest of your day.

Give yourself the gift of a 5 Minute Retreat regularly, and perhaps over time, many of those difficult, dangerous and disagreeable episodes will lose their power to interrupt your life.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

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September 8, 2012

Improve Your Desk Chair with a Tennis Ball??

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Thai Yoga Massage, Uncategorized at 9:46 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

In these times of constant connection to our computers and gadgets, many of us spend more time sitting at our desk chairs as we do in our beds; which takes a toll on our bodies, our posture, even our emotions.

Those of you who’ve worked with me for a while have probably heard me recommend ‘a variety’ when asked which is the best type of office chair to use.  However, even the best ergonomically designed chair can become a torture device when used 8+ hours a day 5,6 or even 7 days a week..

If you must spend hours sitting in meetings, at a desk, in front of a computer; make your body as comfortable as possible by first varying the chairs and the work position.  In my office I have a regular desk chair, a balance ball chair and a kneeling chair; plus a box I can rest my computer on so I can sometimes stand while working.

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Second, make sure you’re taking at least a 5 minute break every hour; get up, stretch, walk around; give both your body and your vision a rest.

Third, improve your posture.   I know, I know; it is easy to say ‘I’m going to practice better posture’ but it is a whole different thing to actually do it.  For most of us, years of slouching and rounding the shoulders forward have changed our posture; and it isn’t easy to force our bodies to keep a long spine.  We may start the day sitting with good posture; but usually, within a few minutes, we start to slump forward again.

So try this easy trick to improve your posture; use tennis balls with your office chair.  Simply place two tennis balls along side of your spine near the bottom of your shoulder blades.  Rest your back against the tennis balls which will help your spine naturally straighten up and help guide your shoulders back.

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The tennis ball has several key benefits:

*The acupressure points pressed by the ball should help relieve tension through your entire upper torso.

*By using two balls, one on either side of your body; you’ll help better balance your left and right sides of your body both in your sitting position and as you’re working and reaching forward.

*Improved posture.  If you start to slump, the balls will slide and fall on the floor; so the constant gentle reminder and slight pressure of the tennis balls will help you build better posture over time.

Give the tennis ball trick a try at your own desk chair; or even in your car or on an airplane, and let me know how it works for you.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

June 26, 2012

Tight Calves? Tight Hamstrings? Sore feet? Roll Your Feet

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Hips, Injuries, Knees, Living Vibrantly, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 1:34 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Roll Your Feet with a Ball

Whether you struggle with tight hamstrings, suffer with plantar fasciitis, get leg cramps or just have tightness in the back of your body; try this simple trick for loosening up the entire back of the body from your heels to the top of your head.

The human body has one long, continuous line of connective tissue that runs from the sole of the foot, up around the ankle, up the leg, around the knee, up the thigh, over the sitting bone, up the back all the way to the top of the head ending just over your eyebrows. Tightness in any part of that chain can cause tension anywhere else along the back body. When you find yourself with tightness, tension or pain in any of those areas; start with loosening up the tissues on the soles of the feet and see how much better the entire body feels.

Simply roll the sole of your foot over a ball for 5 minutes daily. Use a tennis ball, a physical therapy ball, or when you’ve built up some tolerance, a golf ball. Begin by rolling the ball under the toes, then along the outside edge of the foot. Roll it around the arch area and back & forth across the heel making sure to treat all areas of the surface of the foot. Spend 2-3 minutes rolling each foot.

You’ll be amazed immediately at how good your feel!  Opening up all the tissues on the bottoms of the feet will cause your entire back body to loosen and relax; your feet will feel lively,  your leg muscles more open, you may even get a bit of relief from back pain or a headache.   Resist the urge to overdo this exercise, limit yourself to once or twice a day; but make sure to do it daily.   This is such a simple way to immediately feel better in your body; give it a try and let me know how you feel.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

June 20, 2012

BodyWisdom Spain 2012

Posted in Anatomy, Breathwork, Energy Work, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Uncategorized at 6:55 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

This June I had the good fortune of attending a truly transformative professional conference: Body Wisdom Spain 2012. Focused on integrative medicine, specifically the integration of bodywork, movement and medicine; the Body Wisdom conference featured leading experts and teachers from around the globe. Over the next several months, I’ll flesh out information on some of the most interesting topics and innovative ideas presented at the conference. But for now, here are my big take-aways:

  • Fascia is a completely under-understood part of the physical body, probably responsible for many of our ailments.  In the last 5 years, fascial research has gotten the attention of the mainstream medical community and is finally receiving the research dollars.  Look for new treatments for fascia and fascial ailments  in the near future.
  • Took a Fascial Fitness class – great helpful ideas for myself, my clients and students
  • Genotype testing is being used before prescribing medications to determine if the patient’s genome type will even respond to the medication.  Use is much more frequent in countries other than the United States.
  • Great success for healing body pains with ozone/oxygen injections and radio frequency treatments
  • Practiced the yoga of Vanda Scaravelli – in 2 classes and a workshop, studied this gentle, transformative style of yoga emphasizing movement of and from the spine
  • Watched, and listened to the creator of, the most influential video about movement in the human body I’ve ever seen.  This video has legions of fans the world over; is used frequently in yoga and massage training schools.  I want everyone to watch it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l_4OW_Ir7M
  • “Without rhythm, there is no life.” – Jon Roar Bjorkvald-

So in the weeks and months ahead, look for more detailed writings on many of the topics above.  It was a completely inspirational experience to be surrounded by so many leading thinkers, healers and teachers in the area of integrating movement, bodywork and medicine; it is hopeful to watch the healing community move towards an ever increasingly holistic model for practice.  Yet, I can’t help but think that as western healing strives to return to the holistic, integrated health care, healing, movement, massage roots; eastern medicine has never left that holistic view.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master who’s  healing background is from the eastern modalities.  Schedule your session now: 727-641-6941 or Suzanne@TryThaiYogaMassage.com

May 25, 2012

On Drishtis and Reading Glasses

Posted in Anatomy, Choices, Living Vibrantly, Uncategorized at 4:19 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Patanjali, the yoga sage, suggested that in viewing the world, we don’t always see reality clearly, but instead tend toward seeing things as we’d like them to be.

While practicing a tree posture this morning, I noticed how much easier it is to balance in the posture when my focus, or drishti, is far away than when I’m focusing my gaze close to my body. Moving into tree posture, I shifted my gaze from the wall 6 feet away to my hands pressed together in prayer posture 3 inches from my face; then I started to tumble out of the pose.

Oh, the agony of being 44 years old! (Actually, it isn’t quite agony, more like self-indulgent neuroses….but I digress)  Recently it seems all my friends are succumbing to the ‘needing reading glasses’ malaise. And as a 44-year-old who’s never had a problem seeing to read, I am completely uninterested in starting to use reading glasses – now or ever, really.  It isn’t that I object to wearing glasses; as a nearsighted person, glasses or contacts have been part of my daily life for the last 30 years.  It isn’t really vanity either; I proudly wear my wrinkles and age spots with good humor.

My problem with reading glasses is that I’m not willing to admit any part of my body is losing strength and flexibility due to aging.  As a formerly ill and completely unhealthy person who has spent the last 10 years clawing my way back to good health; most days now my body feels like it is 10 years younger than it did a decade ago.  So I am not willing to admit, or even gracefully allow, any part of my physical body to deteriorate with age.  It is common wisdom that due to the loss in muscle flexibility and pliability around our eyes, nearly all of us will need reading glasses after the age of 40.

Thanks to a daily yoga practice and thousands of small healthy choices over the last decade, it now feels like every single one of the 600+ muscles in my body is more flexible, stronger, better nourished and healthier than they were in my late 20s and early 30s.  How then can my eye muscles becoming less elastic?

So I’ve again turned to yoga; several months ago I began regularly adding eye exercises to my daily yoga routine.  Here’s how:

http://www.yogajournal.com/health/129?page=3

or if you prefer to watch a video (with Paul McCartney, no less)

 

Perhaps the years of focusing our gazes on the world outside ourselves weakens our eyes. It seems that the muscle flexibility we most need to restore and maintain good vision is the ability to shift the gaze from near to mid-range to far away, then back again with ease.  Which leads us back to the idea of drishtis and adding a visual focal point to our practice of yoga postures; visually focusing near leads my awareness back inward.  And isn’t that one of the major ideas we all need, whether we’re practicing yogis or not?  The constant practice of looking outside ourselves for wisdom, inspiration, approval gradually wears us down and prevents us from being fully ourselves.  Such as it is with our eyes, perhaps.  When we constantly look outward, our eye muscles lose elasticity and eventually we lose our perspective.

So I’m headed back to the mat, to practice eye exercises another 100 or 1000 days of my life, and maybe, just maybe avoid those reading glasses!

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

May 11, 2012

Improve Your Posture – 1 Easy Step

Posted in Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Uncategorized at 3:31 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Nearly every single one of us could use a posture improvement.  Here’s how to do it in one easy step…

http://acutakehealth.com/improve-your-posture-in-one-simple-step

Undo those hours in front of a computer, hunched over your smartphone, driving….whatever you do all day that features arms forward and looking down; simply turn your palms up every time you think of it and see a dramatic postural improvement.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to do this over the next few weeks; will keep you all posted about my results.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor, General Health Zealot and Owner of  two massage businesses. Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com or www.IslandMassageOnline.com

 

April 23, 2012

Just Breathe!

Posted in Breathwork, Living Vibrantly at 3:15 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Nearly everyone alive could benefit from breathing more deeply more often. You don’t have to engage in a complex practice of yoga pranayama or buy any special equipment; all you need is a willingness to slow down and feel better. Here’s a great article from the folks over at Live Strong, it outlines a simple way to breathe deeply for maximum benefit:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/92264-benefits-deep-breathing/

So release some endorphins, give yourself a natural boost, lower your blood pressure, strengthen your core muscles and release toxins; just sit down and breathe deeply for a moment!

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

March 27, 2012

Easy Cleanse for Your Lymph System

Posted in Anatomy, Breathwork, Choices, Living Vibrantly at 8:10 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

The often-forgotten, vastly under-publicized lymph system is basically the main cleaner of our internal systems.  Comprised of a series of vessels and valves;  but unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymph system lacks a heart or pump to move the lymph fluid through the body.  So it is essential for each us to engage in the activities necessary to move the lymph through the body.  A healthy and free-flowing lymph system fights illness and diseases, removes waste from the body and helps ensure proper fluid balance.

Luckily, keeping the lymph system cleansed and healthy is simple – not always easy, but simple.  Walking vigorously for  20-30 minute will do the trick.  Read this great article:  http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/what%E2%80%99s-best-way-cleanse-lymphatic-system

To optimize your lymph system function, here are the 5 steps:

1.   Drink plenty of water (1/2 oz. per pound of body weight daily)

2.  Dry brush your body before showering.  Use even, light strokes starting at the extremities and moving toward the heart.

3.  Avoid eating within 3-4 hours of bedtime

4.  Breathe – spend at least 5 minutes daily focusing on deep breathing

5.   Walk – vigorously 20-30 minutes per day

Help optimize all your body systems by keeping your lymph system clean; hopefully you’ll experience fewer illnesses, greater vitality and better overall health.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

March 14, 2012

Sciatica Stretch

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Hips, Injuries, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 3:43 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

If you’ve been diagnosed with sciatica, the pain that centers in the middle of the glute then runs up or down the body from the low back to the knee, you’ve probably been told that keeping the area stretched out will help lessen your pain.

The sciatic nerve as it runs through the hip is about as big around as your thumb; and it easily gets impinged by tight muscles.  Most frequently, the piriformis muscle, one of the hip extensors underneath your gluteus maximus, fanning out from your sacrum to the ball-and-socket joint of the hip, is the  culprit for muscle tightness in the hip.

Here’s the easy way to safely stretch your piriformis muscles, hopefully relieving sciatica.

  • Lie on the floor on your back.
  • Place both feet on the floor, knees point up.
  • Cross one ankle across the opposite knee just above the knee-joint.
  • Keeping your back flat on the floor, pull the crossed legs directly to your chest.
  • Hold stretch for 10 full breaths.
  • Repeat on other side.

By lying on the floor to do this stretch you neutralize and protect the low back, so if there are any disk issues or dysfunction with the sacroiliac joint; you won’t further exacerbate the problem.  In this position the focus of the stretch is squarely on the hip extensor muscles, specifically the piriformis.

Use this stretch to get yourself out of pain; and add it to your regular daily routine to keep your posterior hips open and flexible, better able to support your low back.

Suzanne Andrew is  a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master and general zealot about living vibrantly.  Contact her directly at 727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

February 27, 2012

You Need Neti

Posted in Breathwork, Choices, Living Vibrantly at 4:50 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Have a nose?  You need Neti!

Spring allergy season is here! Sniffling, sneezing, congestion, coughing – all brought to you by the fabulous spring pollen. Right now in Florida with the azaleas in bloom, the oak pollen starting to fall; it seems that everyone you meet has red eyes and a drippy nose.

If you’re looking for some easy, low-tech ways to feel better when besieged by allergies, colds or congestion; try a neti pot.  You can buy one at your local health food store or drug store; and you’ll find it becomes an essential part of your medicine chest.

Here’s an article from the New York Times outlining the benefits to sufferers of colds, sinusitis and allergies:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/03/fashion/03skin.html

I’ve been using a neti pot for years.  I used to suffer with chronic sinusitis; but with the help of the neti pot (among other lifestyle changes) haven’t had a flare up in at least 6 years.  Every time I feel some congestion building or a cold starting; I use the neti pot for a few days consecutively; usually the symptoms subside and I don’t get sick.

During allergy season, I use the neti pot nearly every day; and it, along with nettles, local raw honey and a clean diet have helped me have very few allergy symptoms this year.

If you haven’t looked into a neti pot and struggle with allergies, sometimes get colds or just have general nasal congestion; buy one, try it out and enjoy breathing free!

Suzanne Andrew is  a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master and general zealot about living vibrantly.  Contact her directly at 727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

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