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A Healthy Spine

Working from home and the fear of all of this can be stressful so self care is so important.

Research shows that humans naturally move from full focus and energy to physiological fatigue every 90 minutes, so we are offering a free class with us: Fifteen Moves to make you feel better at the desk https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/take-a-break-15-moves-to-make-you-feel-better-reduce-stress-and-boost-your-immune-system-tickets-101371222054

Between stimulus and response there is space… in that space lies our freedom.

And so our goal is to help you keep your head held high, stay grounded, and spread love in these uncertain times. This weeks tip is about the spine.

When we sit still for a long time, we inhibit natural movement of the spine, making this a primary problem area, and also reducing the blood and oxygen pumped to the brain thus affecting our mood, concentration and stress levels.

Do you ever feel like you just can’t sit still at that desk any more?

We understand! I also have scoliosis, so I really know how important a supple spine is to a healthy body so the video we are sharing above is Dr Chaterjee practising his lunge clock… it’s an easy exercise that you can do every morning… or maybe give it a go in the office to keep the spine moving!

Fascia and wellness: What is Fascia?

I first learnt about fascia whilst I was working for choreographer and rolfer Russell Maliphant.

Unhealthy fascia can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, dehydration, overusing or injuring your muscles, unhealthy eating habits, poor sleep quality and stress, so if you spend all day tense and tight at a desk, then it is likely you will have formed some fascia patterns that are less healthy.

When I joined Russell Maliphant’s dance company, I was not particularly flexible, but every day, for a year, we began with ball rolling (using contact juggling or acrylic balls) to work on releasing the tight areas in our body. The difference was amazing: I could tell instantly the changes with a daily practise of ball rolling. This, combined with my yoga teacher training with Abby Hoffman and rolfing with Giovanni Felicioni and I am convinced I grew that year!

So what exactly is fascia? I am a vegetarian (so I hope this won’t offend anyone!) but if you think of a piece of meat, you can often see a white, sometimes transparent web interweaved through the tissue: this is fascia. And we have it too: covering our whole body! Fascia forms a 3d ‘web’ of our body, extending from our head to our toes.

When fascia is healthy, it is flexible, it is supple, and it glides. Releasing the fascial adhesions is a bit like clearing out the cobwebs between the muscles, allowing the muscles to slide and glide efficiently.

Fascia surrounds and infuses every muscle, muscle fibre, bone, blood vessel, nerve and organ in our body. It connects all the tissues (the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and blood). There are four different kinds of fascia (structural, intersectoral, visceral, and spinal). It also directly affects our body systems (like our muscular and neurological systems). By keeping fascia healthy, we improve body symmetry and alignment, we increase blood flow (which means faster exercise recovery), you may find a reduced appearance of stretch marks and cellulite and scar tissue will breakdown.

Having healthy fascia means you will be less likely to injure yourself from physical activity, you will experience less day-to-day pain, and an improved sports, yoga or dance performance. When the connective tissue between the tissues are softened and re-aligned, the muscles are freed up meaning easier and more effective movement is possible.

So how can you work with your fascia?

Fascia works in slower cycles than muscles do: both contracting and stretching slower, so to stretch the fascia, it can be beneficial to practise slowly for example doing yoga, massage, or trying ball and foam rolling.

Yoga:

Yoga works on our fascial network. Psychological and physiological trauma is also held by our fascia so we might approach our fascia with patience and care.Yoga (especially slow yoga like Yin Yoga) can change our connective tissue and restore our fascial fluidity. It can also benefit to think of the body as a whole organism, instead of in parts, so here is a little yogic meditation to experience your fascia!

Practice: Feel Your Fascia in Downward-Facing Dog:

  1. Find Downward Dog: Start on all fours: on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips forward with the middle finger pointing directly forwards. Then, engaging mulbandh (lift the peruineum, sex organs and navel up towards the spine), lift the pelvis up, creating a triangle: looking between the feet or to the navel, long in the back of the neck. Now in Downward Dog, spread your awareness and attention throughout your entire body.
  2. Scan along the your spine in this pose: imagine a warm light drawing up the front of your spine from your tailbone, along the front of your sacrum to the lumbar to the thoracic vertebrae, then behind your intestines and heart.
  3. Relax your throat, your tongue, your jaw, and let your head completely relax, then re-trace the length of your spine without the tension.
  4. Move your breath into the back of your ribs: Can you feel the ribs moving under your shoulder blades? Are you moving your lower ribs behind your kidneys?
  5. Move your weight around your feet in this position. If your heels are off the ground, move slowly on the balls of your feet. Feel how the different positions changes how you feel in the rest of your body. If your heels are down, move slowly all around your feet like a clock, and notice where there is tightness: see if yu can breathe into those spaces.
  6. Can you let the area between your sits bones open? Try rotating your knees inward in the pose to help locate any tension, and then keep working your hips upward. Remember, you are whole. Someone may describe you in parts… but you are one whole! From here, I usually practise my ‘elephant downward dog walks’ ask me for a private lesson or take a class to learn more!

Other ways to work on the fascia:

Massage therapists can help with a technique called Myofascial Release that uses sustained pressure to loosen and lengthen constricted fascia. It breaks down adhesions between the tissues and softens and re-aligns them, freeing up muscles and allowing easier and more effective movement.

Rolfing:

Rolfing® is a system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity. Rolfing bodywork affects the body’s posture and structure by manipulating the myofascial system (connective tissue). Often considered a deep-tissue approach, Rolfing bodywork actually works with all the layers of the body to ease strain patterns in the entire system. Research has demonstrated that Rolfing creates more efficient muscle use, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. Rolfing has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic stress, reduce spinal curvature in subjects with lordosis (sway back), and enhance neurological functioning. Through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long-term. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and functioning. Rolfing is different from deep-tissue massage, in that practitioners are trained to create overall ease and balance throughout the entire structure, rather than focusing on areas presenting with tension. As a structure becomes more organised, chronic strain patterns are alleviated, and pain and stress decreases.

Foam Rolling:

Foam rolling is a great way to check in with your body to learn exactly where your fascia is tight and holding tension. When you hit a trigger point or tight spot, sit and work on that spot for 30 to 60 seconds as it slowly dissipates. Over time this will help restore the fascia to optimal health.

Wellbeing Herbs: Gotu Kola

This herb is also known as Centella Asiatica.Here are some of the powerful health benefits of gotu kola:

Skin Care

Rich in antioxidants, it contains saponins which improve the appearance of the skin. It can reduce the appearance of scars, wrinkles, and other blemishes. 

Boosts Circulation

The plant extract can protect and strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries, which prevents blood leakage and optimizes the circulatory system, and stimulates the flow of blood, which increases oxygenation in different parts of the body and important organ systems. This also alleviates problems caused due to poor blood circulation such as swelling, leg heaviness, and pain.

Relieves Psoriasis Symptoms

Gotu kola can inhibit skin cell reproduction. 

Prevents Thrombosis

Gotu kola helps prevents blood clotting and as a herbal remedy may aid in alleviating the symptoms of thrombosis.

Stomach Ulcers

Asiaticoside present in the gotu kola acts as an anti-gastric ulcer drug.

Anxiety & Depression

Gotu kola can have a positive effect on anxiety issues as it lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, and increases serotonin and dopamine levels.

Boosts Cognition

Gotu kola extract has a positive impact on the circulatory system, thereby oxygenating more of the brain and allowing cognition to improve.

Prevents Nervous Disorders

Gotu kola has an anxiolytic activity that helps relieve stress, enhance mood, and induce sleep, thereby calming the nervous system.

Improves Memory

The gotu kola extract has been traditionally used to improve memory in India as Ayurvedic treatment. 

4 Tips for working from Home

Written by Leapers

Thousands of people are likely to be working from home for the first time this week due to the coronavirus outbreak. For others, it’s just like any other week.

About 1.5 million people work from home, and it’s becoming more popular all the time.

So if you’re not self-isolating, but have been told to work remotely, what’s the best way to stay efficient and keep your spirits up?

1. Get dressed

For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tantalising aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.

Whether you need to change into business attire depends on the type of person you are and the nature of the job you have. Some people find that dressing formally is helpful, and also useful if they need to dial into a video call.

But for many others, the point of getting dressed is being forced to shower and change out of clothes they associate with sleep and rest, even if that means just changing into a T-shirt and jeans.

Wearing respectable clothes also increases motivation to leave the house. Likewise, changing out of work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand that the working day is over.

2. Establish boundaries

If you’re employed by a company, you’ll probably have set hours of work, and it’s important to stick to these when you’re working from home. Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time.

Em Sheldon, a blogger and freelance writer, says she sticks to a routine while working from home. She advises “going to bed at a reasonable hour so that you get enough sleep and then wake up at your usual time.

When working from home, it is best to stick to a routine and finish your day at a usual time

“I also find things like booking in a workout or getting my gym kit ready means I have to get up and go,” she says. “Once you do something over and over, it becomes a habit, so the first week may be challenging but eventually it becomes part of your routine.”

At the end of a working day, it’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away papers and other items. Space allowing, set aside a specific, separate area in your home where you can set yourself up – ideally with a properly adjusted desk and chair, similar to your workplace.

The NHS advice is that you should adjust your chair so you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor.

If there are other people in the house, finding a space where you’re not likely to be disturbed is essential, as Prof Robert Kelly found out the hard way in 2017. He was being interviewed live by BBC News when his two children burst into the room, creating a now infamous video, which has been viewed more than 30 million times.

It’s also important to not “overcompensate” because you’re anxious about working from home, says Ross Robinson, who manages a team of freelancers at his Ignata Consulting firm.

“Many people tend to over communicate when working from home – either wanting to ‘be seen’, or overcompensating to ensure people know what they are up to. That’s fine – but don’t go over the top. You know if you’re on task and being productive – keep yourself in check.”

3. Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating)

Working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day.

So get your shoes on, get outside and enjoy that fresh air. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.

Getting out and about can help increase creativity and help undo mental blocks

If you can’t go outside, you could even bring the atmosphere of the office to you.

4. Pick up the phone

If you’re working from home, the chances are you’ll be alone, so you won’t get distracted by colleagues’ conversations and other office noise.

When you’re at work, you’re more likely to engage with colleagues but when you’re working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating.

It’s easy to spend the day without speaking to anyone so it’s a good idea to call workmates or friends for a chat

Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.

Grounding Meditation

Happy Monday

With a possible 10-12 weeks working from home and national alert, there are many gyms and events being closed, people off sick or working from home, and travel being cancelled. The fear of all of this can be stressful and get us into a feeling of fear or paranoia, and so self care is so important.

This week, we would love to share a grounding meditation with you all.

The Muladhara or Root chakra corresponds to the physical body and connection to the Earth. Just like a foundation, it is concerned with the basics of survival (evolution). Grounding can be a great way to come back to your body and yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Let us know how you get on with this meditation, and we will be back with more wellness next week.

Ways to protect yourself from radiation in the home

Radiation can affect our concentration and have long term effects on our health. 

Our favourite remedy is to put our electronics outside of the bedroom: because this also leads to improved sleep with no distractions, but most of all, with plants!

Here is a lift of suggestions to reduce radiation in your home:

  • Turn your mobile off at night, or if you use it for your alarm, put it in airplane mode.
  • Put house plants about your home or office
  • If possible get rid of wireless in your home and connect your computers via Ethernet.
  • Get rid of your microwave.
  • Protect yourself from your Smart Meter, as these are extremely dangerous
  • Limit you and your families use of mobiles, tablets, and laptop computers.
  • When using your mobile, try to use speakerphone or headphones, don’t use them against your head.
  • Wear Shungite, buy a shungite pyramid, put a Shungite plate on your mobile phone, or research putting a piece in your drinking water (Shungite is mineral believed to have the ability to absorb and neutralize the frequencies from EMF radiation)

Plants and Radiation

NASA has plants on the International space station because they are so efficient at purifying air and improving air quality. Plants take carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it into fresh oxygen, but below are a list of houseplants that are also very powerful at removing toxins from the air.

Office greenery and plants in the home can reduce levels of airborne dust, air temperatures and background noise, plus plants absorb our dirty air and, through photosynthesis, effectively cleanse it, releasing clean oxygen.

Having small indoor plants will improve the air quality and remove impurities while adding a focal point to your work environment.

Here are a list of some plants that are good at reducing radiation!

1. Cacti (Absorb Computer Radiation)

2. Betal Leaf Plant

3. Chlorophytumcomosum – Spider Plant

4. Sansevieria

5. Stone Lotus Flower

6. Areca Palm

7. Aloe Vera

8. Sunflower (My favourite)

9. Rubber Plant