Moving your Body after Travel

Traveling by plane is hard on your body. There is a whole lot of sitting in a tiny space. You are way up in the earth’s atmosphere traveling at a ridiculous speed and it feels like your spine and brain are being compressed and your body fluid is being evaporated!! I always feel like my body stops working properly after I’ve been on a plane, my muscles and joints are achy and stiff, I have an endless hunger combined with slowed digestion and feel super dehydrated. What you want to do after a flight, or sitting for long periods of time, is move in the opposite direction that you have been sitting in. Below, I will be guiding you through these movements in pictures. Use these poses daily, even if you weren’t just on a plane. Sitting in general makes our body move more towards sickness and less towards health, so keep your momentum positioned towards health…no pun intended.

 

Child’s Pose:Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together, sit on your heals, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. With each breath, try to sink deeper into this relaxed position. Hold for 1 – 3 minutes. This is a great position to release your hips and stretch your entire spine before moving into other poses. IMG_20150202_164521998
Cow Pose: 

Start with a table top pose (all fours), position wrists under shoulders and knees underneath hips. Drop your belly, keeping abdominal muscles hugging your spine. Gaze up toward the ceiling.

Repeat the cat-cow pose on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath.

Continue for 5-10 breathes.

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Cat Pose: 

Round your spine, drop your head, and gaze toward your navel.

The cow and cat pose are AMAZING to reboot your digestive organs and wake your spine and brain up after long hours of sitting.

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Upward Dog:

Begin lying face down on your mat with toes pointing away from your body. Place your hands, palm side down, next to your shoulders. Pressing your palms into the floor, straighten your arms and lift your torso, keeping your arms tight to your sides. This movement opens your chest and strengthens your arms and shoulders, taking pressure off of your neck and spine.  IMG_20150202_164837891
 Thread the Needle: 

On your hands and knees in Table pose, slide the right hand between the left hand and left knee. Slide the arm all the way out to the left so that the right shoulder and side of the head rest comfortably on the floor.   Breath and hold for 3-6 seconds release and repeat on opposite side. This is great for stretching out your shoulders and activating your spine after long periods of sitting.

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Your Stomach is More Important Than You Think!

The stomach is a simple organ from both the Western and Eastern medical perspectives. Even though it has a simple task, if it isn’t able to accomplish this task, huge problems can and will result.

Western medicine classifies the stomach as a muscular organ, located towards the left of the upper abdomen. The stomach’s job is to break down food by secreting acids and creating a muscular pulse that ensures the food is broken down evenly. Imagine using a food processor to break down big pieces of carrot into tiny little chopped pieces; this is what the stomach does but with the use of acid and digestive enzymes verses the food process blades.

Chinese medicine classifies the stomach as the Governor of intake and decomposition. To put in simple terms, the stomach is in charge of your appetite, breaking down food and moving it into the small intestine, effortlessly. When your stomach is working properly, you really do not think about your stomach much.

Stomach function can break down over time due to many factors such as poor eating, stress, lack of exercise and physical trauma (car accidents, falls, and surgeries), etc. When the stomach is weak there can be fullness and distention in the stomach duct and abdomen, sluggish or inactive appetite, rapid hungering, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, belching, heart burn and acne around the mouth.

Food is an amazing ‘medicine’ that is continually at our fingertips. A few powerful foods to help heal the stomach are cabbage and kale, which in fact, are great for reducing inflammation and treating both stomach and duodenal ulcers. Celery and cucumber are both cooling in nature and bring lots of moisture into the body to combat inflammation. Shitake mushrooms are used to prevent and heal the stomach of cancer and ginger is an antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea piece of gold! Increase your intake of these vegetables if you tend to have stomach problems.

Again, if your stomach function is weak on a consistent basis, you can eat all the health food you want and exercise your booty off but it won’t re-boot your Stomach’s function. The best way to re-boot your Stomach or any organ is to have Acupuncture by a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac). Acupuncture is the use of tiny little ‘needles’ that are placed into a specific location on your body. Once the needle is inserted into the skin, it wakes up the nerve which sends a message to your brain to heal a specific part of your body. It is a simple, non-invasive form of healing that actually fixes your body.

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What you can’t see can affect your health

Many people go throughout their entire lives not understanding or realizing how big of a deal their organs are. The first medical-acupuncture textbook, written 4,600 years ago, details how the organs control different parts of the body. If your organs are strong, your body will be strong. If your organs are weak, your body will be weak and susceptible to disease and illness.
The intent of my monthly blog is to highlight a different organ and educate you on the function of each. After reading the articles, you will have a better understanding in determining if your organs are strong or weak and learn ways to make changes for the better. This month, let’s begin with the spleen and pancreas.
The spleen and pancreas are two separate organs but were considered the same organ by ancient Chinese doctors and are simply referred to as the Spleen.
Western medicine classifies the spleen as an immune organ that stores white blood cells and platelets (clots blood), kills bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis and filters blood before sending it to the liver to be filtered again. The pancreas releases ‘juices’ into the stomach to help break down food and to turn it into energy and releases hormones to keep your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar is too high, tissues, nerves and organs are damaged. When blood sugar is too low it can cause dementia, comas or death.
Chinese medicine classifies the Spleen as being in charge of movement and transformation of grain and water and because of this, the Spleen is the source of blood creation. Really what this means is that the Spleen is in charge of breaking food down into nutrients that our cells, tissues and organs need to be strong. These nutrients find their way to your cells, tissues and organs via the blood. If you are eating proper foods and your spleen is able to break down your foods properly, you will create nutrient dense blood and strong cells, tissues and organs.
A weak spleen will lead to little or no appetite with a bland, sweet or slimy taste in the mouth. Bleeding can occur in the form of petechiae (small dots of bleeding under the skin), purpura (big flat patches of bleeding under the skin), inability to clot and flooding or spotting of menses. Accumulation of fluids can occur that creates impaired movement of limbs, edema and phlegm.
One of the easiest ways to tell if the Spleen is healthy or sick is to look at your tongue. If you have a swollen tongue, your Spleen is weak. If your tongue is swollen AND pale, you are deficient in nutrients.
If your Spleen function is weak, you can eat all of the health food you want and exercise your booty off but it won’t re-boot your Spleen’s function. The best way to re-boot your Spleen or any organ is to have Acupuncture by a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac). Acupuncture is the use of tiny little ‘needles’ that are placed into a specific location on your body. Once the needle is inserted into the skin, it wakes up the nerve which sends a message to your brain to heal a specific part of your body. It is a simple, non-invasive form of healing that actually fixes your body.
The number of acupuncture treatments needed to reverse the organ damage depends on how long it was left untreated. The longer the damage or pain was allowed to go on, the more treatments required. Similar to car repair – if the ‘check engine’ light has been on for months, the damage may have continued to the point where the repair will cost you much more than if you had it checked out immediately when the light first appeared.
Paying attention to pain and seeking immediate intervention/consultation is a better option than waiting it out to see if it gets better. In the long run, your body will thank you be being a “finely tuned engine”. It’s all about your health!

Please share this article with family or friends who would benefit from this information.

Until next month!

Shana Grams L.Ac

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Acupuncture to Stop Smoking

5 Facts to know when using Acupuncture to quit smoking:

Smoking is a strong, complicated addiction. Quitting smoking is no small task and you will need lots of support to be successful. You need the best tools to help with the physical and emotional symptoms, and acupuncture is a great resource to help you succeed.
Here are the 5 things you should know about using acupuncture to quit smoking.

1. Acupuncture is very effective to help stop smoking.
Acupuncture has been used to help combat addiction and curb cigarette cravings for a long time. Many people have had success and now research is supporting these claims.
In a recent study, “Alternative Smoking Cessation Aids: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” researchers gathered data from 14 different studies to see which alternative techniques helped patients stop smoking. The acupuncture studies examined 823 different patients. The researchers concluded that both acupuncture and hypnotherapy may help patients quit smoking. The scientific world is far from definitively recommending acupuncture for smoking cessation, but more and more research shows that it does help many people.
Acupuncture helps with smoking addiction in many ways. It stops jitters, curbs cravings, lessens irritability and restlessness, increases relaxation and helps detoxify the body. It can also restore balance in your constitution and jumpstart the healing process.

2. There is a “stop smoking” acupuncture point.
There is a point is called “Tim Mee,” which is used specifically to stop smoking. It’s located one finger’s width above your wrist crease, on the inside of your arm. It is used solely to help people stop smoking and it does this by altering the way cigarettes taste.
Will this point be enough? Of course not. Smoking is a complicated addiction. Tim Mee is a powerful acupuncture point, but it must be used in conjunction with other points to combat cravings, rebalance your body and heal.

3. Acupuncture can reduce cravings, but it can’t change habits.
Physical cravings are only one aspect of cigarette addiction. Many times, the habit of smoking is harder to stop than the physical addiction.
If smoking helps you cope during difficult emotional situations, not smoking can make you feel naked and vulnerable. If smoking is part of a daily ritual, not smoking can make your day feel “off.” All of this is normal and challenging.
I recommend that people use all the support systems they have available. Get help from family and friends. Join a support group. Exercise. Find new smoke-free activities.
Stopping a smoking addiction requires support—physically, emotionally and socially.

4. There are simple acupressure techniques to cope with cravings.
Ear massage is one way you can cope with cravings at home. It releases endorphins and these chemicals are natural painkillers. It also stimulates acupuncture points which help balance Qi.
There are many ear massage techniques. You can place your thumbs in the widest upper part of your ears and massage in circular motions. You can massage the small inner crevices and the front of your ear where it attaches to your head. And you can massage your earlobes, with gentle pulls and circular motions.
To be even more effective, I recommend that you call me to learn the specific points that are best for you and your body. In some cases, I can place a small bead on the point and hold it in place with tape. When you feel a craving, you just press on the bead for relief.

5. The Third Thursday in November is the Great American Smokeout.
The American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday of November (November 21, 2013) as the Great American Smokeout. This is a day to quit smoking—for good. If you have “thought” about quitting, the Great American Smokeout is a great day to actually do it.
I am available to help you quit. Call me before the Smokeout and we’ll make a “Quit Smoking” treatment plan so you can quit with as little discomfort as possible.

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Fitness on a Budget

Don’t you love how great you feel when you work out regularly?

You’re alert, you sleep better, and it’s easier to stay calm and optimistic. Once you get in the routine of working out and keeping a healthy routine, it’s fun.

But there’s always something that stops you. For most of us, it’s either time or money. We don’t have time, and gym memberships are too expensive.

Let’s imagine a dream solution. You want the fitness tools you find in a gym but you want to do it at home so it’s convenient. You want aerobics, strength and stretching so you have a good holistic workout.

And most importantly, you don’t want to spend more than $50 on any piece of equipment.

Can you build a home gym with that budget?

The Best Home Gym Equipment for Less than $50

Suspension Trainer ($30 – $165)

The core of an affordable home gym is a good suspension trainer. A suspension trainer has 2 straps with handles and foot cradles, usually fixed to a single point. Many come with a door attachment so you don’t need to put a hook in your wall.

When you use a suspension trainer, you use your body weight for resistance. You lean in or out on the straps, increasing or decreasing the difficulty depending on the angle of your body.

For a single piece of equipment, it’s hard to beat a suspension trainer. They have a wide range of exercises that work your upper body, lower body and core. Everyone can use them, from beginner to professional athlete. You can isolate individual muscle groups or do complex exercises that use your whole body. There are even exercises that have twists and stretches.

Some suspension trainers are expensive, but if you do your research there are many affordable brands for less than $50. Make sure you buy a brand with strong, reliable clasps so when you hang your weight on the straps they don’t slip.

Resistance Tubes ($10 – $40)

Resistance tubes are another great strength building piece of equipment. These elastic tubes can be used for a variety of exercises for both your upper and lower body.

Have you noticed that the elastic of resistance tubes functions similarly to the springs in Pilates equipment? With a little ingenuity, you can use your tubes for many Pilates exercises.

Balance Board/Stability Trainer ($17 – $45)

Balance is an important part of physical strength and becomes even more important as you age. Luckily your balance will increase the more you practice.

A stability trainer is another piece of equipment that you can use at any fitness level. In the beginning it may be enough just to stand on the trainer without wobbling. Once you have that mastered, try closing your eyes or standing on one foot. Eventually experiment with doing your entire workout routine on the stability trainer. Even the simplest exercise becomes difficult when you have to maintain your balance.

Jump Rope ($3 – $30)

Every gym needs aerobics equipment and a jump rope can’t be beat when it comes to getting your heart pumping. If you haven’t jumped rope since you were a kid, you’ll be surprised about how challenging it can be.

Once you have your rhythm mastered, there are many ways to make jumping rope interesting. Try jumping double time, backward, high stepping or back kicking. Put “jump rope tricks” into YouTube to get more ideas.

Chin-up Bar ($14 – $65)

Of course a chin-up bar is great for chin-ups.  It’s a great tool for building upper body and core strength.

But chin-up bars are good for your home gym for another reason–they are a great anchor for other equipment.  You can attach suspension trainers, resistance tubing and yoga belts to the bar to get even more exercise options.

There are two basic styles of chin-up bars.  One style hangs from the upper door molding and the other type has fittings that you screw into the door jamb.  When you choose a style, be sure to check the weight restrictions.

Foam Roller ($12 – $35)

Foam rollers are a great addition to your home gym for two reasons.

First of all, the roller can be used to massage sore muscles and release tension. They stretch and release tightness and are very beneficial for preventing injury. With some creativity, you can roll and massage most muscle groups.

Foam rollers can also be used to build core strength and increase the difficulty of many Pilates mat exercises. If you place the roller vertically under your spine, even warm-up exercises become challenging.

You don’t need a special room with expensive equipment to have a robust workout in your home. For less than $50, you can get exercise equipment that gives you a good workout, that grows with you as your strength and skill increases and that provides a wide range of activities so you never get bored. And most of these items store easily in a small closet.

Don’t let your misconceptions about gyms stop you from working out. It’s easy to get started. The biggest step is to decide to do it.

I’ll be happy to give you more tips and tricks on working out at home. Contact me today for ideas.

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