Healthy living

I enjoying helping people be healthier through massage.  However the massage is much more effective if you combine it with some other changes to your life.  These articles cover stretching, Yoga, self-massage, habits for good posture, and more to help you each day.

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Holistic, preventative health

Yoga, Thai massage, and the articles on my site are about health.  Two key aspects of my approach are to be preventative and holistic - and it's the cornerstone of the Thai massage way.

Holistic means to regard the whole body, and make all parts of it as healthy as we can.  During a massage, I won't just focus on a tiny area where the pain is, but work more broadly, as the pain may be caused from tightness elsewhere.  Not only that, but if I release tension throughout the body, then that takes away a burden, and your body has more resources left to help the problem area.

Preventative means to act before the problem becomes severe - in fact ideally it's an ongoing process so that as few problems as possible emerge.  We can also be aware of early-warning signs such as stiffness or soreness, and take action at the first signs rather than waiting for pain or even ignoring it.  Gradually we can learn where are the weak areas of your body, and what we need to do to look after them.

Our bodies have amazing powers of healing.  You probably know some people you meet who never seem to get ill.  I feel that such people have excellent whole-body health, so their body is ready to fight any problems.  All of us have the potential to become more like that.

Western medicine, and our NHS tend to be more in reaction to things that are already problems, responding with interventions such as surgery and drugs.  The results can be amazing, but there can be complications such as tissue-damage from surgery and side-effects from drugs.

So you may think I am about to argue about which is best - but there's no need because we can have both!  My advice is to do your best to prevent problems and stay healthy, but be very glad there's a backup when things go wrong.

I know some of my readers are already committed to health, for example with a strong daily Yoga practice.  Others would like to be healthy, but struggle to find time.  My articles are written for all of you - simple, quick ideas to be healthy.

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Changing habits / Aerial Yoga

Your new friend for your Yoga practice is an enormous soft hammock hanging from the ceiling.  First I tried a few classes.  Then I persuaded my partner to let me hang one at home....

And I love it!  This isn't an advert - I don't even teach Aerial Yoga (try Aerial Yoga Edinburgh) - rather an invitation to all of you to break your routine and try something new.  It doesn't have to be Yoga, it's whatever you do; if you normally run, find a completely different way to do it.

After many years of Yoga, I've tried a lot of different variations.  With the hammock, I've been offered 100 new possibilities all at once, and I'm already feeling the benefits.  That's because training and changing our bodies works by carefully pushing the boundaries.  After a while, our body gets used to what we ask it to do, sets up familiar movement patterns, and responds less.  At which point, it's time for a change.

Benefits

Here's what I've felt so far, sometimes all of them in the same pose.

  • The hammock is an extremely versatile prop, and can help balance and support you in poses.
  • It's an amazing way to get upside-down without any effort, and lengthen the spine.  Inversions are highly beneficial for our health (when done safely, subject to illness etc) - more about that in a later article.
  • You can use gravity to get a deep yet gentle stretch.  As the fabric passes over the muscle that is stretching, if gently massages it.
  • It's amazing for working deep core muscles subtly but strongly, as you work to keep your pelvis aligned in different positions.

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Finding time for your health

In our modern lives, there can be many demands on our time: our boss, employees, partner, children, parents, tutor, paperwork, housework.  Although we would like to spend time on our health it can easily get pushed out; we might even feel that is selfish when we could spend the time helping others.

Please, stop that line of thought!  From personal experience, I have found that you don't need a lot of spare time to have a significant effect.  Furthermore, if you are healthier, you will be more effective, better able to concentrate and less prone to illness.  Try some of these simple ideas (obviously take into account your current health and only do what is right for your body):

  • Stretch for 10 minutes each day - try some of my short practice sequences.  If you've not done Yoga before, first find a local class to learn the basics.
  • If you feel stressed or angry, stop for 30 seconds to breathe and be calm.  Breathe through the nose and gently allow the exhale to lengthen.
  • Keep moving – especially if you sit at a desk.  Set your self a 30 minute timer, or find an event that comes up roughly that often.  Sit up straight, stretch your arms, circle your shoulders, gently stretch the sides of your neck, stretch your legs, circle your ankles.
  • Use “dead time”.  Try balancing on one leg whilst washing up or waiting for the bus.  When watching the TV, start sitting cross-legged and stay for as long a you comfortably can.
  • Take off your shoes whenever you get a chance and allow your feet to move and breath.
  • Be balanced in each side of body.  Carry your bag in the other hand.  Sit with your legs the opposite way.  Lie on the other side.
  • Try to keep good posture.  For example, sit on a gym ball whilst at your desk - it strengthens your core and it's harder to slouch.  Build up gradually the length of time you use it.

Use your imagination.  Don't be afraid of other people watching and commenting - explain to them what you are doing and encourage them to join you!

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