5 Reasons to Get a Massage

5 Reasons To Get a Massage

Upon hearing the word massage, many people immediately think of going to a spa and spending some quality “me-time.” Sure, massage can help put your mind and body at ease. But the benefits of massage extend beyond providing a wonderful feeling of comfort and relaxation.

The manipulation of soft tissues has several health benefits that you may not readily realize, and it is due to these effects that massage therapy must be incorporated into your routine. The following are five benefits of massage therapy and why you should consider it more than just a pampering treat.

1. Relieve stress.
Everyone would agree that after a massage therapy session, you simply feel calm and relaxed. In fact, stress relief is one of the primary benefits of receiving a bodywork treatment. Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t always bad. Stress is actually necessary to perform everyday functions and prevent accidents, such as hitting the brakes when another vehicle suddenly storms in front of you on the road. Too much stress, however, can be detrimental to your health.

Several studies show that even a single session of massage therapy can immensely reduce stress. This is because massage helps reduce your heart rate, insulin levels and cortisol levels. By adding therapeutic massage in your routine, you can feel and look healthier.

2. Improve posture.
Today’s generation is notorious for bad posture. Desk workers are particularly at risk, as they need to sit for hours on end day after day. And only a small portion of the population takes the time and effort to practice measures that would permanently help them improve their posture. The most common manifestations include pain in the neck, back and glutes.

Thankfully, this can be corrected by receiving massage. Regular massage therapy sessions can help reinforce the natural movements of different body parts, allowing your body to get back on track. It also helps reduce muscle soreness and promotes pain-free posture.

3. Strengthen the immune system.
You might wonder, “How can something done on the outside help improve things on the inside?” Many might think of this simply as a marketing ploy by massage therapists and spa owners, but there are plenty of studies that back it up.

For instance, one study showed that HIV patients who received a 45-minute massage therapy session 5 days a week for 1 month experienced an increase in production of cells which are considered the first line of defense in the immune system. Massage has also been shown to improve the cytotoxic capacity of the immune system, which is the activity level of the natural “killer” cells.

4. Improve circulation and lower blood pressure.
As mentioned, one session of therapeutic massage offers a wealth of health benefits. Just imagine what it can do if done on a regular basis. One of the best long-term effects of massage therapy is improved blood circulation. This is a result of the pressure created during the massage, regardless of the technique used. This pressure causes blood to flow through the congested areas, which then allows new blood to flow in. This also flushes lactic acid from the muscles, the accumulation of which is associated with chronic muscle fatigue and soreness.

Massage can also help patients with high blood pressure. Many think that this medical condition comes with several symptoms. In reality, though, it has none, earning it the nickname “the silent killer.” Massage therapy has been proven to be an effective way to lower blood pressure naturally. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis decreases both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

5. Recover from physical injury.
Rehabilitating a physical injury can be a tedious and painful process. Many find that a physical rehabilitation program is insufficient to restore the affected area to its pre-injury state. Massage therapy plays a critical role in supplementing injury rehabilitation procedures. Relaxing the muscles and promoting circulation in the affected area allow blood to deliver much needed oxygen and other nutrients. This helps improve flexibility and range of motion. With the right injury massage therapy, the patient can expect the area to be healed at an accelerated rate.

Studies indicate that there is an increasing number of patients who seek therapeutic massage to heal broken bones and burns as well. Massage can reduce stiffness and improve mobility, two problems often experienced when recovering from a broken bone. Burn patients also report less itching, discomfort and depression after receiving three months of massage therapy alongside their skin rehabilitation program.

It is important to understand that the benefits of massage therapy are more than skin deep. Incorporating this form of self-care into your routine plays a huge role in maintaining your health for years to come. Massage is often viewed as a luxury, but it’s a worthy investment that provides numerous therapeutic benefits.

Find A Massage Therapist Today
It is recommended to find a professional massage therapist who can help establish a regular treatment schedule that best meets your needs. Certified Massage Therapist Brook Williams (at You Power Yoga in Edmond, OK) provides expert therapy for members of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma City Rowing Team. Brook offers Swedish, Deep Tissue, Hot Stone, and Prenatal massage as well as Reflexology. Text her (405-473-5221) to schedule your appointment today.

About the Author
Jonathan Leger is a freelance journalist with a deep interest in holistic medicine and homeopathic care. If you’re ever in Ashveille, North Carolina, he suggests you visit AshevilleMassageByBrie.com.

Say No to Suffering

Say No to Suffering

Sometimes life feels like a storm. Dark clouds of change appear to threaten serious, lasting devastation. When the storm is real and significant, how do you avoid getting stuck in the debris? How can you accept the pain of what’s happening, resist the urge to stay there, and make your way to new territory?

Every one of us experiences pain. It’s a requisite part of life. But clinging to that pain – turning it into suffering – is not required. Yet our society has raised it to the level of an art form. Turn on the TV or walk past a rack of magazines and you can’t escape suffering. People love problems. They seem mesmerized by their own woes and everyone else’s.

When we cling to pain, endlessly turning a painful problem over in our mind, we relive it and breathe new life into it. It starts to take on an energy all its own. Energy drawn away from the healing process feeds the suffering. The pain looms larger in such a myopic view, and we lose perspective.

There has to be a way to say no to suffering, right? Right.

I ran across a great blog on the topic of suffering and attachment, so I’m sharing it and a few of its ideas here. Lori Deschene, author of the Tiny Buddha blog, guest authored an article for zenhabits.net. Her piece is a succinct, insightful, accessible piece on why we may choose to suffer rather than experience pain and choose to let it go. Below are two of my favorite tips from the blog, “Letting Go of Attachment from A to Zen.”

Define yourself in fluid terms. We are all constantly evolving and growing. Define yourself in terms that can withstand change. Defining yourself by possessions, roles, and relationships breeds attachment because loss entails losing not just what you have, but also who you are.

Vocalize your feelings. Feel them, acknowledge them, express them, and then let them naturally transform. Even if you want to dwell in anger, sadness, or frustration—especially if you feel like dwelling—save yourself the pain and commit to working through them.

So if you’re experiencing the pain of change, loosen your grip on it. Take a few steps back. The distance will provide a broader view – one that goes beyond the dark clouds and debris. You will be able to see all the way to growth, strength, and development. Little by little, you walk into sunnier days.

Chill Behind the Wheel

Chill Behind the Wheel

It’s been a good day. The Significant Other has been attentive; the 2.5 children, well behaved; the well-groomed pooch, affectionate. Peacefully energized after your yoga class, you hop into the driver’s seat, crank up the stereo, pop your shades on, and head for the open road.

But as you put the car in gear, your route is obstructed by road construction, or the street seems littered with clueless, inattentive, indecisive, rude drivers. And there goes your peaceful state of mind. You need not let it go so easily. Here are a few steps to keep your chill behind the wheel.

Look at Yourself in the Mirror and Speak Encouragement
Giving yourself a verbal reminder to be attentive and intentional in your driving is a great idea on any day. But especially if you feel tired, depressed, fearful, or angry, it’s important to tell yourself you are not driving with your negative emotions. Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth, dedicates a couple of chapters to the “pain-body,” that part of us that carries historical negative thoughts and emotions around as if they were current events. Pain-bodies depend on negative emotions and situations to survive. Left unacknowledged and unchecked, our pain-body can drive us, literally, into bad places.

A couple of years ago, my adult son was hospitalized and struggling through a serious illness caused by medical error. Each time I drove to and from the hospital, I looked at myself in the visor mirror and said, out loud, “I am not driving with my pain-body. I am aware of my surroundings and am taking good care of myself and others on the road.” It created a positive intention for the drive and, I believe, helped keep me safe.

Breathe Consciously
Before you put the car into gear, take a few deep belly breaths. Draw the breath deeply into the abdomen, let it rise into the ribs, then up into the chest. Reverse the process as you exhale. Repeat the pattern a few times, especially if you’re feeling rushed or stressed. This deep, three-part breathing will help your central nervous system relax, enabling you to focus and react to situations appropriately.

No One Has Set Their Sights on You
Remember that not one driver you encounter today sat in the driver’s seat with the intention of gunning for YOU. We must remind our egos that we are not that important. The man who didn’t let you merge just didn’t let you merge. Maybe he’s excited about a new promotion. Maybe he’s had a rough day. Maybe he just isn’t paying attention. Whatever the reason, it likely has nothing to do with you. Breathe, and let his actions go.

Let’s train ourselves to chill behind the wheel. We’ll force those negative pain-bodies into the backseat, breathe our way to calmer nerves, and keep our egos in check. When we arrive at our destination, we can wave a checkered flag – the drive is over, and everybody won!

Aversion to Fitness Isn’t Funny

Aversion to Fitness Isn’t Funny

Our society’s aversion to fitness isn’t funny anymore. Too many people are riding those “jokes” straight into to a nursing home.

Recently, I joined area vendors at a local municipality’s health fair. The governing entity which sponsored the event gave employees time off to attend. Vendors displayed nutritional items, fitness products and services, essential oils, and all kinds of goodies designed help people become healthier. A handful of the attendees were interested in improving their health. They asked questions and were open to trying something new. Many more of the attendees, however, seemed to have an aversion to fitness. They looked at the displays about healthy lifestyles (including my display about yoga) and were pleased to offer their opinions. Below is a sampling of light-hearted statements made to the nutritionist next to me:

  • Seriously, you drink water all day long?
  • If I ate that many vegetables, my body would go into shock.
  • I live on Diet Coke.

Here are a few of the comments laughingly made to me:

  • My idea of exercise is going from the recliner to the couch.
  • OMG – that’s you doing that (crow pose)?! That’s freaky.
  • If I did that (a seated twist), you’d have to pull me up with a crane.
  • Yeah, I don’t exercise.

The comments were made with humorous intent. But our society’s aversion to fitness isn’t funny anymore. Too many people are riding those “jokes” straight into to a nursing home. And that’s no laughing matter.

Every day, we choose how to feed ourselves (body, mind, and soul), and we choose to move in ways that build strength or to sit still. Those decisions directly affect our health. In the end, to a large degree, we will reap what we have sown.

So laugh – often and loudly. And take care of yourself. Because belly laughs are way better when your abs work.


Does Your To-Do List Include YOU?

It seems our To-Do list takes care of everything and everybody but ourselves, and that’s not healthy.

Have you done something nice for yourself today? How about yesterday? During the past week? Too many of us could answer those questions with a resounding, “No.” It seems our To-Do list takes care of everything and everybody but ourselves, and that’s not healthy.

We Americans love The Busy. We are Busy with our Job Work and Busy with our Home Work and Busy with our Family Work. “It must be done,” we tell ourselves. “It’s what responsible people do.” True. It is what responsible people do. But responsible people also make sure they are taking care of themselves so they can keep doing what matters for the people matter.

So how do we responsible people keep it all in balance? Too much on the To-Do list – tasks that aren’t truly necessary – can keep us from caring for ourselves as well as we care for others. It can keep us from taking a few moments to unwind, to practice yoga, to read, to visit with a friend, to enjoy a bit of quiet meditation, to treat ourselves to a much-needed massage… We’re tempted to think we can endlessly continue to put pedal to metal and our wheels will keep turning even when the tank is on Empty. But a car won’t run that way. And neither will our bodies, minds, or spirits.

So if you have fallen out of the habit of caring for yourself and making sure you get the mental, spiritual, and physical food you need, I’ve snooped around and found some suggestions on how to start filling your own tank. You know, so you don’t accidentally drive everyone off the cliff.

1. Make a daily To-Do List, and put yourself on it. Schedule time with a friend, book a yoga class, block out some time to read or meditate…
2. Scrutinize your To-Do List to see if any tasks can be removed without a truly negative outcome.
3. Delegate. Where possible, think less hand holding and more responsibility and accountability for those in your care. A 12-month-old can’t change his own diaper, but a 15-year-old can certainly pack his own lunch. You need not do everything for everyone.
4. Lower your standards here and there. If you winced at that one, chances are you could benefit from practicing it. The floor doesn’t have to sparkle like Waterford crystal. The kids can load the dishwasher differently than you do. Your spouse can tackle the grocery aisles.
5. See rote tasks as an opportunity to meditate. Allow yourself to become completely absorbed in folding that stack of towels. Instead of letting your mind wander (or complain), see the colors, feel the textures, notice the patterns.
6. Learn to say NO to offers that don’t fit into your schedule or into what you value. Practice saying no: stand in front of the mirror, smile, shake your head softly, and say, “No, I’m sorry – I already have plans.” It’s a true statement. You’ve made plans that include caring for yourself!

After a couple of weeks of including you on the To-Do list, notice of how you feel. Happier? More at peace? More patient? More rested? Awesome! You just might inspire your family, friends, and co-workers to be nicer to themselves.

If taking a yoga class is on your To-Do List (and we certainly hope it is), join us on the mat soon!

Yoga Helpful for Diabetes

Yoga helpful for treatment of diabetes

The American Diabetes Association published a 2011 study showing yoga helpful for diabetes (type 2). The study concluded that yoga can be used as an effective therapy in reducing oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes and that yoga in addition to standard care helps reduce BMI and improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients.

The study states, “In comparison with standard care alone, yoga resulted in significant reduction in BMI [Body Mass Index], glycemic control, and malondialdehyde [a biomarker for oxidative stress thought to be responsible for insulin resistance and associated clinical conditions such as atherosclerosis, microvascular complications, and neuropathy], and increase in glutathione [a powerful antioxidant] and vitamin C.”

Edmond, Oklahoma massage therapist Brook Williams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age two and has personally found yoga helpful for diabetes. “I have found that my circulation increases with yoga,” Brook says. “It helps to keep blood sugar levels at a better rate – lower than usual.”

An article in Men’s Health Magazine, “Yoga for Diabetes,” states, “It is one of few exercises that sets the entire body in motion with the breath, circulating the blood through parts of the body that might otherwise go unused in our day-to-day routine.”

If you are considering adding yoga to better balance your blood sugar levels, here are a few tips.
1. Start slowly and listen to your breath. The breath tells you where you are – if you are breathing fluidly, you can push a little further into a pose if you feel like it. If the breath is hard to catch or choppy, your body is asking for mercy. Show compassion to yourself and back off a bit.
2. Practice easy seated twists with Ujjayi breathing to increase circulation in the pancreas. When we use Ujjayi breath, we take a full inhale through the nose and when exhaling through the nose, create a slight constriction at the back of the throat so the exhale sounds like we are fogging a mirror (practice a few times using an open-mouthed exhale). To practice a seated twist, sit on sit bones with left leg extended forward, leg muscles engaged. Cross right leg over left and place right foot flat on the floor near the left thigh. Place right hand behind buttocks, fingertips facing away from the body. Wrap left arm around bent right leg. Inhale and lengthen spine toward ceiling, exhale using core muscles to twist – think of wrapping the ribs more tightly around the spine. Keep lengthening on inhales and twisting on exhales for four or five Ujjayi breaths. Slowly come out and repeat to the other side.
3. Practice deep Ujjayi breathing throughout the day. If you can relax the abdominal muscles enough, the downward movement of the diaphragm on inhales will massage the abdominal organs; that’s good for the organs and the entire body.
4. Consider attending a class at You Power Yoga. We have beginner and gentle classes for those who are new to the practice, and the first visit to our studio is free for adults. Check out our schedule online. We would love to welcome you!