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My friend Anna had a trying time this holiday and she has shared with me her process for working through and out of it with the help of several holistic practitioners and ancient remedies.

She was the unfortunate recipient of a brownie cooked with a large amount of hashish.  She did not know that it was not a “normal” brownie when she ingested it but soon after noticed as she was getting ready to sit on the floor that she did not know if she was standing or sitting.  This concerned her and she wondered if she was having a stroke or a heart attack.  Soon after she was told about the brownies and then she blacked out. 

After vomiting for several hours at the ER and having cat scans of her abdomen and head and blood work and a long list of diagnostic tests that would have not been done if her driver had admitted knowing what she ingested, she realized that to end the nightmare she would have to act as if she was feeling okay.  She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t end this nightmare like she usually did.  She has little snippets of images from 8 hour black out, including being treated unkindly by those trying to move her, and a doctor saying it is a good thing you vomited that all up, because it was very toxic.  She also remembers hearing an angry voice say several times, “vomit into the blue bucket” but she had no idea where that was.  And she remembers hearing several times, outside her “room”, “They found her lying face down in her vomit.”  Some friends took her home, (sadly the hospital only supplied a hospital gown and slippers over her pajama bottoms ).

The combination of the hash and the tranquilizer the ER doctor gave her, in a body that had experienced a few drugs but not since 1970, did a number on her nervous system.  She told me she remained in a doped up space for ten days!  The first few days were a wash.  Then she became more alert but was in shock and could not sleep.  She said she felt as if there was an electric current pulsing up her spine and getting stuck in her neck.  She forced herself to drive to her first healing treatment from a craniosacral therapist who helped her let go of shock in her spine, skull and legs.  He told her she was pale when she got there, but had plenty of color when she left.  Driving home she felt more relaxed and that night did fall asleep watching C-SPAN Book TV.  Her second treatment was with an acupuncturist who put needles in her areas of depleted “chi” and on points to help her sleep.  She felt much better after that but could not sleep that night.  The next day she thought she better get some sleeping pills because she knows that not sleeping can make it impossible to recover from shock to the system.  She went to the health food store and found Bach flower Rescue Remedy sleep aid and that night used it whenever she woke up.  She did get sleeping pills to have on hand if needed, but she  never used them.  She had a second craniosacral treatment during which she released some more shock but was concerned that a week after her event she still felt liked she was going to faint.  Her acupuncturist told her she was probably dehydrated and suggested water with electrolytes and emergen-C.  After a day and a half she no longer felt faint.  One more acupuncture treatment, and then a massage on the 10th day helped her turn the corner.  She now felt grounded and in her body.  But she had to work hard to get there.  She also took hot baths in epsom salts, lay on tennis balls to release tension from her spine, did yoga in the middle of the night when she woke up, began to take  some walks and constantly had to remind her self to stop holding her breath and breathe.  An aromatherapist also put some anti shock oils on her solar plexus and shirt and some myrrh for protection.  She slept in that shirt for several days as that also seemed to help her sleep.

She told me she wondered how all the people who experience shock and trauma recover from it.  Do they get help, or ignore the physical and emotional symptoms.  Does the painful event(s) stay stuck in their nervous system?  Or are they able to release it gradually and gently, without causing more shock to their body/mind/spirit.

She says she is thankful for the help she received, medical and holistic, for her friends who cooked her nurturing meals, for her pets who stayed tuned into her throughout, and for healing touch which she noticed was essential in her healing.  Anna is savoring every minute of her peaceful holidays.

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When our nervous systems are out of balance, we feel fatigue, confusion, and experience poor performance.  When proper energy flow is restored, feelings of clarity and effectiveness are regained.  Yoga movements are designed to integrate the body and mind, clear the body of accumulated toxins, increase oxygen to the cells, and to strengthen, stretch, and activate muscles and tendons that may be atrophied, constricted or sore.  If you are a person with special needs, before you start any exercises be sure you are comfortable with good back support and proper alignment.  If there is “negative space” (an unsupported part of your body) use rolled up yoga mats or soft balls to fill space and create support.  Make sure there is plenty of distance from wall, tables, and chairs.  

 Yoga is a Sanskrit word for union of body and mind; some people say it describes the union of the individual with the divine. For a super athlete or for an immobile person, yoga is about finding one’s center.  It is also about finding one’s limits and playing that edge. An advanced yoga student may hold a full backbend for twenty minutes, using the breath to go deeper into the pose.  For someone paralyzed from the neck down, a stretch for opening the chest and elongating the spine can be as simple as sitting in a wheelchair with soft rubber balls between the shoulder blades, leaning back, and breathing into the area.   

Here are some other ideas for simple stretches that you can do seated, lying on the floor, or on a bed.  Remember not to hold your breath, and imagine your breath is traveling to the areas that are being stretched to help them release. Take your time, pay attention to how you are feeling, what works and what doesn’t, and enjoy the possibly new sensations!  Notice any changes in your movement, or posture throughout the day and the next days.

  • Tennis balls, rubber balls (different sizes depending upon flexibility of client) behind any area of the back
  • Towel or exercise mats rolled up to prop up spine and stretch spinal muscles and open chest
  • Ties or belts as extensions for arms that can’t bend or stretch very far
  • Balls at base of skull to massage sub-occipital muscles (for reduction of pain and tension, and headaches)
  • Balls or beanbag pillows under hamstrings
  • Large balls or beanbags under legs as ottoman for circulation and to stimulate acupressure channels

  • Have you ever wondered how many people over sixty years old are comfortable balancing on one foot (for more than five seconds), or how many enjoy the feeling of stretching backwards over an exercise ball, or even how many can get into a squat position and stay there?
     
    These three poses are valuable for anyone, regardless of age.  By keeping our balance we protect ourselves from falls, we stand straighter and are stronger.  By stretching backwards over a large ball, we lengthen our spine and open our chest, which helps us breath deeply, energizing and revitalizing us.
     
    My favorite pose of these three is the squat.  Randolph Stone, DC, DO, ND, the founder of Polarity Therapy and Yoga believed in the benefits of the squat so much he called the squat “Youth Posture.”  He taught at least seven variations, and believed that along with healthy eating, receiving polarity therapy and bodywork, and meditation that the squat is essential for our health.
     
    Why?  Practicing the squat regularly stimulates the downward current of elimination and thus improves digestion.  When you squat you are stretching the achilles tendon;  By stretching and lengthening the lower back you are easing pressure on the sacrum at the bottom of the spine.  You are enhancing the flow of energy (a central focus in Polarity Therapy) because the proximity of the calves, thighs, solar plexus and chest is similar to the fetal position.  Additionally, the squat posture assists in concentration, focus, a feeling of being grounded, and is soothing and rejuvenating.
     
    The modern dance company I founded in the 1980s in Philadelphia, Agape Dancers, used the squat pose frequently in our choreography.  Sometimes we were still, sometimes swiveling side to side, as we hummed or “toned.”
     
    There are, however, different degrees of comfort in the pose.  For people who have difficulty squatting, making a rocking motion while in the pose can help acclimate hips and legs.  For some, resting the heels on yoga blocks or tennis balls make the pose possible, and even comfortable.  Those with painful knees and varicose veins will find it difficult and possibly contraindicated, although placing a small folded towel under the knees decreases the strain.  Another way to play with the pose is to rest arms on large exercise ball, or to face a partner, hold each other’s wrists, stretching and counterbalancing each other. 

    Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10AM-3PM

    Come get a mini table massage from me, and check out first edition of my new book, Circle of Healing: Helping Extraordinary Clients with Yoga and Massage, A Practical Guide.

    Pechanga Resort & Casino

    45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 

    Sponsored by Riverside County (CA) Commission for Women

    60 vendors and speakers

    Admission free with non-perishable canned food item or grocery store gift card for $5.  Refreshments provided with admission.

    The County of Riverside Commission for Women seeks to improve the status of all women by ensuring opportunities for each woman to develop to her full potential.  In support of this mission, the Commission for Women identifieis problemsl, defines issues and recommends policies and procedures to the County Board of Supervisors regarding, but not limited to, women and health, the workplace, family, education, violence, law and society.

    More information, contact me at 951-677-5962 or Michele Broad, Women’s Health and Wellness, 951-304-3180.


    My childhood was healthy, thanks to my mother, and father. My mother gave me nutrilite, vitamins of several colors that came in a green plastic container with several compartments. We almost always had salad with meals, and we often stopped at the orchard market down the road for apples, peaches and pears. She encouraged me to play outside with my dog or my friends, even though due to her heart condition she usually could not join me and supported me in my modern dancing days because she could “vicariously enjoy” the movement.  As she got older she got even more into her garden and made her own sprouts, cooked lentil casseroles and any other vegetarian food she could think of.  What we did not share — yoga and massage — I have successfully shared with my daughter and she is slowly following my footsteps, and carrying on a legacy of healing movement.  She is a peer counselor for college students in santa barbara, where she speaks and gives presentations on self care.  She organizes yoga classes and chair massage for her fellow students, is learning more about yoga and will be teaching aerobics at LA fitness this summer.  She has been receiving massages since her first day and before, and now is reciprocating.
    She is also getting me more serious about working out.
     
    My mother’s mother was a friend of Isadora Duncan, the free spirited improvisational dancer who danced as her spirit led her.  My grandmother always asked me to dance for her, and I think she and I shared a connection with Isadora.  My daughter has also been a natural mover and dancer from the get go.
    May the power and joy that comes from these healing practices continue on, and on.

    My friend Mary has been fighting an uphill battle against a variety of illnesses, including cancer, since the early 1990s.  When I met her she had just moved to Murrieta Hot Springs in southern California to get the full gamut of healing waters, massage and other bodywork, yoga, and also the help of some fine MDs.  But, as the hot springs closed to the public, she was forced to look elsewhere and she ended up in a cancer clinic in Mexico, where she rallied and beat the cancer. 

    Today she is facing some more cancer issues and is living in Albuerquerque, NM, where she had moved to care for her mother.  Her mother died this past year, and Mary needs a place to stay to help her heal again.  But where?

    I have called all around the US and Canada to find a cancer clinic that combines the best of modern western medicine, and the best of holistic health, where the person with cancer can live during the treatment.  Many of the calls I made were to hot springs since Mary was always drawn to healing waters.

    I have not made much progress, so I’m putting this wish of hers out to the world.  Any suggestions?  Please email me at Wendy726@verizon.net.


    Learn yoga poses and self-care techniques for flexibility, to help balance the endocrine system, to create strong muscles and bones, to promote balance and clear thinking.  Learn ways to enhance your midlife and beyond.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010 – 10:45-12:45

    Korrie’s Pilates Place. Baxter Road off Rte 15 in Wildomar – exit east, make first left at Monte Vista, first right on Fredrick St., up the hill and buildings to the left.  34859 Fredrick St., Suite 108

    $25, or $20 to members of Korrie’s Place.

    Questions?  Call 951-677-5962.


     

    I have been researching the many challenges of midlife transitions and being surrounded by people in the 40-60 year age range spurs me on. I have been teaching yoga since 1973, but just recently I have honed in on the value of yoga for women (and men) experiencing osteoporosis. We are told that getting enough calcium and getting enough weight bearing exercise is important. There are two reasons that yoga helps with both of these imperatives.

    Many of the standing and balance poses taught in yoga classes involve bones and muscles of the legs, hips and spine working together; but also, yoga exercises often involve strengthening the upper body and sometimes require arms and hands to support the rest of our body weight. So you are strengthening yourself from all angles! What better way to strengthen your upper body than support your whole body in crane pose?  And what better way to improve your balance and strengthen your body from your feet up than in tree pose or dancer’s pose?

    Yoga poses done on a continuous basis can help activate the endocrine glands that are so important for maintaining calcium balance, and for alleviating menopausal complaints such as mood swings, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, hot flashes, and disruptive sleep patterns.

    Additionally, poses such as dog pose and table top stretch lengthen your spine  to increase space between the vertebrae.

    I think it is important to see our changing bodies and new found challenges in mid-life and onward to be our guides for improving our overall health and increasing our sense of well-being. Yoga is a wonderful tool and a path for increased self-knowledge and awareness


     

    I am now a California credentialed massage therapist. The California credentialing has just begun going into effect this fall after many years of organizing and lobbying in Sacramento.  Although 42 states and Washington, D.C. regulate massage therapists or provide voluntary state certification, it is the first time there has been a state wide massage credential in California.  Voluntary statewide certification of massage therapists was chaptered into California law on September 27th, 2008 through the passing of SB 731.  

    The purpose behind CAMTC’s creation was to serve the interests of the public and the massage profession by making the process of certification the same throughout the state, rather than different in each city and county. At this point, however, massage therapists still have to pay a separate business license for each city they work in.

    I have been practicing and teaching massage and yoga for over thirty years, in Pennsylvania and California, and currently teach a Thursday night yoga class at Korrie’s Pilates Place in Wildomar, where I also offer my unique blend of acupressure and massage therapy.  My other clients have included infants & parents, the developmentally disabled, the medically fragile, hospice patients and animals.

    I was a co-founder of Inland Holistic Health Assn, wrote a column on health and wellness for the Californian newspaper for two years, a bodywork column for Awareness Magazine, and am in the final stages of completing my book, “Circle of  Healing: Finding Our Way to Wellness.”  I am also a member of the Temecula Valley Women’s Club.

    For more information on my classes on yoga, pet massage or the art of mandala making, you can contact me at Wendy726@verizon.net.


    Last summer my ninety year old father was hospitalized for a broken hip.  He was not getting much touch as his nurses were over-worked, and he developed a MRSA infection which meant no one could touch him without wearing plastic gloves.  In addition, his hearing aids were lost, and perhaps most challenging was the fact that he was brain damaged from an accident forty years ago.  When I got there his legs were blue from the knees down, and his feet were ice cold.  He was sleeping but seemed agitated.  I massaged his legs, feet and back.  He never woke up but when I left him he was sleeping with a peaceful look on his face.  The next morning his feet were warm and his legs and feet were a healthy color, and he was in good spirits.

    Due to several complications he died several weeks later.  But during those weeks, at my insistence, he was graced with caring and loving touch from his immediate and extended family, and his entire Quaker meeting.  We in turn were graced to be sharing that sacred time with him.

    Most people, like my father, appreciate caring touch.  Many, unfortunately, experience touch deprivation including people with AIDs, people with cancer and other illnesses; infants in Neo Natal Intensive Care Units, especially those who have been abandoned by their parents; people with injuries and amputations and deformities, the not very visible part of our population that is challenged with physical abnormalities; those recovering from addiction; victims of physical and emotional abuse who find it difficult to trust any touch; those suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome including victims of natural and man-made disasters and even car accidents; the elderly and the dying, and many veterans returning from Iraq who are suffering from the wounds of war. 

    During times of high stress and financial hardship, healing touch is a gift you can offer someone, either done by you or if you prefer, you can find a reputable bodyworker who will work with you financially to find a price that works; most massage therapists I know offer holiday gift certificate specials.

    Besides the emotional comfort of caring touch, massage therapy oxygenates the cells which increase endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers; it increases flexibility and movement in joints and eases stiffness and pain in arthritis sufferers and it gets the “chi” or life force moving, which helps us feel revitalized.  Healing touch reduces or eliminates stress related headaches, eases digestive disorders and chronic muscular pain including fibromyalgia, improves body image and speeds healing after surgery, and improves the immune system.  By increasing circulation, massage is invaluable in preventing bedsores that are so problematic, and too often life-threatening for the immobile.  It relieves agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, enhances blood pressure and pulse in geriatric patients, and helps women with all phases of the childbearing years.  Massage therapy comforts and relaxes children with attention deficit disorder, those with autism and people with many forms of mental illness.

    You can start with those closest to you — your family and your immediate circle, including your pets.  My teenage daughter reminds me constantly that she needs massage to loosen tight muscles after an extreme physical work out, or to help her get to sleep when she is over-excited.  Our aging dogs need massage to help them with a myriad of conditions.

    As vital as food and water is to our survival, so is touch and giving from the heart.