Acupressure is an alternative bodywork therapy where pressure is applied to specific points located along the meridian energy channels and is practiced by an oriental medical professional, or a specialized massage practitioner, as used for example in Shiatsu. The rewards are numerous; alleviating many physical and mental symptoms.
This alternative treatment is centered around 12 meridians containing 365 different points. The meridians are related to specific organs and regions of the body. The energy flow, or Qi, through the meridians controls blood flow. Acupressure is practiced by applying pressure to a point, either by fingers, knuckles, palms, elbows, or with special devices. Pressure should be applied to a point for 15 to 30 seconds when you are in a relaxed state.
A common physical ailment that can be addressed through acupressure is back and neck tension. Since so many suffer from this, here are a few specific points for spinal tension that can be administered for self-care. Massage these points one at a time at least once a day for a few weeks to see results. Some tenderness or a slight twinge is a common response.
Acupoint 17- are two points located on the top of the shoulder halfway between the neck and spine that run adjacent each other (see below).
Acupoint 27- are two points located on the upper trapezius, back side closer to the arm than the spine (see below).
Acupoint 24- are two points located just below the eyebrows (see below).
Acupressure is an interesting practice that has been used for centuries in China, and complimentary practices are used throughout Asia. Make sure to consult a specialist for specific ailments and treatment. These point locations were found at http://onlineartdirector.com/pointfinder/, an online guide to acupressure points.
Health News, Massage
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Your body is meant to protect you, but when it’s constantly on alert, your health can pay the price. Controlling your stress on a daily basis is important for your well-being and can help you burn fat.
When you are stressed your body produces the hormone “cortisol.” Excess cortisol can produce weight gain, specifically in the abdominal area. If not managed, your long term health can be at great risk.
Try these 5 things to help manage your stress and fight off that unwanted belly fat.
- TAKE A LUNCH BREAK. Don’t just keep working while you scarf down a healthy salad at your desk. Read a book; take a walk, or a try a new restaurant. Giving your brain a break will allow you to be more productive.
- TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. I know this can be tough, but turning your phone off at night will allow you get a restful night of sleep. I know you want to check your blackberry at 2am, but don’t. It will stress you out. Turn the thing off. It’s good for you.
- TREAT YOURSELF TO A MASSAGE. Massage can be a great way to unwind. Not only is it great for your muscles, but also it can clear your mind and give you time to yourself.
- EXERCISE. Move your body! 20 minutes of moderate exercise will help the brain better cope with stress plus improve your overall health.
- LAUGH. Laughter is the purest form of human expression that transcends all ages, castes, creeds, religions, and differences. It truly is the best medicine and can cure stress and anxiety.
Fitness Advice, Motivation, Weight Loss
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Let’s all breathe in together… and sigh out a big exhale and relax. Usually that’s the sound made when coming into your first Downward Dog of the day. Of course if your hamstrings and hips or shoulders are tight, you’ll let out a few grunts, but like most forward bends, the function of relaxation and total body stretching out ways the groans.
Downward Dog is an extremely popular pose in most Yoga sequences. Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Power, Anusara, Hot Vinyasa all use this excellent pose to warm the big muscle groups and strengthen the arms and shoulders for the rigors of a more strength building practice. Downward Dog focuses on stretching the shoulders, mid back, hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet, hips and hands. The “yoga buzz” you might feel at the end of class, when mind, body and breath are in alignment are often directly related to downward dog. Yoga Therapists have known for along time the benefits of forward bending and stretching to calm the mind, ease mild depression and anxiety.
Ok, let’s examine this pose more closely and practice.
- Set your mat, and come to hands and knees (Cat/Cow) from there tuck your toes under, ground the palms and first finger and thumb toward the floor and come to Downward Dog. Set your feet hip width apart and lift up on your tipy toes. Once on your toes, you’ll take the pressure off your hamstrings so you can roll your shoulders back, straighten your spine, lift your sit bones to the ceiling.
- As you’re lifting everything up, LENGTHEN, your heels to the floor, without rounding back and shoulders. Remember when you were in eight grade, chewing gum, if you clenched 1/2 the gum in your teeth and pulled the other half out like string, THAT’S lengthening. If your shoulders hunch, put a bend in your knees, grind your palms more firmly and press your chest closer to your legs.
- While holding Downward Dog for 5-10 breaths, engage your core and lift your kneecaps, keep micro adjusting shoulders and lengthening. Rest, by coming down to Child’s pose or Cat/Cow.
If you have shoulder, wrist or acute hamstring, eye injury, please do yourself a favor and HEAL before coming into a full on Downward Dog. You can get the benefits of a hamstring stretch by lying on your back, and strapping up a lifted leg and gently pulling it toward you. Go slow.
If you can’t yet comfortably ground your palms, grab two blocks as support props under your hands and come into the pose. You can also use a strap around your upper arms for more stability if your elbows poke out.
Like any yoga pose or practice, please consult your instructor before continuing if you have an injury or contraindication. I work with a lot of athletes, and often they work with incredible pain to stay on the field. Coaches have different theories on this, but my feeling, as a Yoga Coach is if you are in acute pain, stop and examine what’s going on. I like to push people to there limit, not drive them into pain.
That being said, enjoy. Downward Facing Dog is one of my favorite poses and this combined with stretching hips, neck and a slight back bend, and sitting in silence for 5 minutes, can be your whole practice routine to re focus and energize your body daily.
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For athletes who spend a lot of the game balancing on one leg, like kicking a soccer ball, or pushing off a dominant foot for a jump shot- Eagle Pose is an excellent pose for you to strengthen the standing leg, while improving balance. Eagle also targets a tough muscle group between the shoulder blades, that include your Rhomboids and Trapezes, which need to remain flexible especially in sports like tennis, and basketball to take the stress off shoulders.
The benefits of Eagle include:
- strengthening ankles, calves and adductors (inner thighs)
- Stretches hips, shoulders and upper back
- Improves concentration and breath flow under stress
- Start at the top of your mat with both feet together and find a point of focus about 5’ in front of you. Get in tune with your breath; slow rhythmic breathing through the nose.
- Bend your knees and cross your right thigh over the left, balancing on your left foot.
- Squeeze inner thighs firmly together, and get active in core to increase your balance.
- Reach your arms out in front of you and cross your right arm over left, bend elbows and bring palms together. If it’s difficult to wrap your arms, hug your shoulders instead.
- To increase the intensity, sit lower in chair till your thighs are parallel to the floor and reach your fingertips forward. A slight rounding in the back and you ‘ll really feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.
Have Fun! Remember to Breathe! It’s only yoga after all, and the more you can keep your sense of humor and come back to the pose if you fall out, the more relaxed and determined you’ll be under pressure; in sports or in life.
For more instruction on Eagle, or any pose, please come to my classes at the SAC or schedule a private yoga lesson, now offered at SACDT, by myself or any of our many wonderful yoga teachers.
Let’s raise a glass to Summer!!
Lifestyle, Women's Health, Yoga
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