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Our Connective Tissue, The Weather & Changing Pain

Our Connective Tissue, The Weather & Changing Pain

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There has always been a relationship between changes in weather and body aches and pains since the dawn of time (or at least since we became aware of the fascia system and moved away from the equator). The earliest recording dates back to the classical Roman age.

 Hippocrates was the first to write, in 400 B.C., that many illnesses seemed to be related to changes in season. The majority of people who suffer from conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, connective tissue disorders, and even those who have suffered structural injuries, like hip replacements, knee replacements, even witt post deployment and shrapnel recovery; all report findings address the feeling of severe or less commonly moderate pain when a weather front is approaching. These symptoms can also occur when the humidity level and or precipitation levels change. Much can be said about the impact of weather on our system as a whole.

Stiff neck, tight shoulders, and pain in the hip, low back and/or knees: You might be thinking it’s your joints, but it’s actually most often connective tissue. Fascia is a webbed, interconnected matrix, that acts like a sleeve that holds muscles, tendons and joints and ideally your bones and skeletal frame. It connects to our adipose tissue via our superfiscial fascia lines, holding the shape of our body and interacting with our nervous system.  As well, as our deep fascia, the thick white fibrous tissue that connect muscle to bone and then our visceral fascia, much like a spider web that encases our organs and co-mingles with our structure.

Jill Miller, a renowned Yogi and functional teacher, once said;

 “Fascia is your body’s soft-tissue scaffolding. It provides the matrix that your muscle cells can grow upon and it also envelopes, penetrates and surrounds all of your joints.”

According to the American Journal of Medical Sciences in 1887, the very first publication of documented changes in pain perception associated the weather with this change in body sensation and pain.  This case report described a person with phantom limb pain who concluded that “approaching storms, dropping barometric pressure and rain were associated with increased pain complaints.

Many of my clients who have had hip and knee replacements, also exhibit changes in structure, like tightness and stiffness in the coming of Fall and Winter, as well as those who are more susceptible to aches and pains, like those who a higher percentage of pain receptors and or chronic pain conditions.

fascia

The historical Lineage:

The term “rheumatism” was one of the first “terms” placed on this kind of condition and it is still used in conventional speech and historical contexts, but is no longer used in medical or technical literature. The term “Rheumatic Diseases” is used to refer to connective tissue disorders, but the scope is so very broad and we are constantly learning more and more about the connections of our fascia, nervous system and other systems. Although these disorders probably have little in common in terms of their epidemiology, they do share two primary and foundational characteristics, which cannot be overlooked.

They are:

1. Can cause chronic (though often intermittent) pain, and they are difficult to treat because we still do not have a prescribed standardized direction, or assessment for proper treatment in our healthcare system.

2. Collectively, very common – 1 in 4 Canadians will suffer chronic pain at some time in their lives; which is why there are many great organizations; Pain BC is one at the top of my health and wellness food chain; which focuses on programs, services and resources for people in pain, but also works with health practitioners and our heathcare system to educate GP’s and professionals who work with chronic pain patients one on one.

Case Studies:

There has long been said to be a link between “connective tissue” pain and the weather. There appears to be no firm evidence in favour or against, apart from the ramblings of scientists, as shown above in the 1800s. Yet in 1995 a questionnaire given to 557 people by A. Naser and others at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Pain Management Center showcased barometric changes and pain. It concluded that “changes in barometric pressure are the main link between weather and pain. Low pressure is generally associated with cold, wet weather and an increase in pain, because of the fact that they restrict movement. Studies have shown that changes in barometric pressure and temperature may increase stiffness in the joints and potentially trigger subtle movements that heighten a nociceptive response. Cold also slows down fine motor control and motor skill. This kind of alteration to our structure may be particularly problematic in inflammatory joints whose receptive and sensitized nociceptors are affected by movement overall.

Clear, dry conditions signal high pressure and a decrease in pain. We all know that when we are warm, we move better, and we feel better overall. Here are a couple great resources for people who not only have chronic pain, but also for those who are more sensitive to the weather and aches and pain.

Therapeutic Treatment:

Many of the clients I work with suffer from mild to acute chronic pain, yet many of them can attest to the fact, that in warmer weather, they feel better. As a Yoga Teacher and Movement Coach I understand that when a client feel pain, they immediately want to stop moving, stop all activity and this, in itself, can be isolating. One of the key foundations I focus on, is to keep moving, keep staying active. In many of my posts I discuss the difference between “rest”  and “relaxation,” the body requires both, but it heals best, not in “rest,” but in a natural state of relaxation. I have found two forms of gentle relaxation and movement; to be successful in many of my clients, including myself are what i like to classify as an internal and external relaxation. Now, both stimulate internal healing and both focus on connection with our external… but when I say “internal” and “external,” I am referring more to the benefits of on the systems, and it is a great way to educate clients on the physiology of changing pain and how everything in our body is connected.

They are the following:

Internal Relaxation: Infrared Sauna & Eucalyptus Steam:

Infrared rays are one of the sun’s rays. Infrared rays are the healthiest, penetrate into your skin deeply and they dissolve harmful substances accumulated in your body. The Infrared Rays vitalize your cells and metabolism through the stimulation of sweat glands, as well as vibration. When infrared waves are applied to water molecules (comprising 70% of our body) these molecules begin to vibrate and this vibration reduces the ion bonds and the eventual breakdown of the water molecules causes encapsulated gases and other toxic materials to be released. One of my favorite spots to go is Spruce Body Labs on Richards, it’s like a weekly spa visit with all the perks of self compassion (notice how I did not say self indulgent)!

Eucalyptus steam works much the same as the detoxification process,but it is a wet vs a dry sauna, and does not offer you the benefit of the infrared rays. However, what it does offer you is the healing benefits of eucalyptus.  Eucalyptus steam inhalation is recommended by many alternative practitioners for relieving nasal congestion and sinus congestion, usually from colds and flu, as well as healing tissue. .Toxic substances build up in the soft tissues of the body over time. Without a proper flushing of these toxins your muscles and connective tissue can become sore, create adhesion’s and stiffness and bind together; which reduces movement and increases tight, toned tissue.  The more you perspire – or sweat – the more toxins release from your body. I use a eucalyptus steam once a month to release any nasal and respiratory congestion. Beverly’s spa on fourth avenue in kits, is an amazing spot and it’s kiddy corner to YYoga, combining a class and a steam after – brilliant.

Both stimulate your internal organs and tissue to “sweat it out,” release toxins; which reduces stress, improves metabolism, accelerates healing, eases muscle soreness and tension, enhances heart function and improves connective elasticity.

External Relaxation: Warm Yin, Yin & Restorative Yoga:

Yin Yoga postures are more passive postures which are mainly performed on the floor, where the body and mind can be still The majority of postures equal only about three dozen or so, much less than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. This style of yoga is very beneficial for clients who have pain, because it allows them to ease into the form and function of the pose. In my YogaFORM sessions with clients, I combine a Yin style practice with Qi Gong and elements of gentle movement sophistication flow sequences to gently open tissue and open the awareness of systemic integration. In the Fall and Winter, this can be very therapeutic for those who are affected by the colder months.

 

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Resources:

Pain BC – Pain BC works toward an inclusive society where all people living with pain are able to live, work, play, relate, and learn with confidence and hope, and without their experience of pain being a barrier to pursuing their lives, through:

  • Reducing their pain and mitigating the impacts of their pain on all aspects of their lives and their families’ lives
  • Accessing the pain management resources that they need, ranging from prevention to self management, and early identification and intervention to more complex and long term pain management programs

Ted Talk – “Elliot Krane: The mystery of chronic pain”

” We think of pain as a symptom, but there are cases where the nervous system develops feedback loops and pain becomes a terrifying disease in itself. Starting with the story of a girl whose sprained wrist turned into a nightmare, Elliot Krane talks about the complex mystery of chronic pain, and reviews the facts we’re just learning about how it works and how to treat it.

At the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Elliot Krane works on the problem of treating pain in children”.

Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/elliot_krane_the_mystery_of_chronic_pain.html

 

Sources:

Pain BC: http://www.painbc.ca/

Spruce Body Labs http://www.sprucebodylab.com/

Beverly’s on 4th: .http://spaon4th.com/

ABC.net: http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2013/06/11/3779124.htm

FLEX YOUR  MUSCLES: YOUR BRAIN & NEUROMUSCULAR RE-PATTERNING

FLEX YOUR MUSCLES: YOUR BRAIN & NEUROMUSCULAR RE-PATTERNING

BRAIN S FITNESS

The nervous system is conditioned to operate in a specific way and it takes a conscious effort to change and engage with our mind and body towards better movement, more symmetrical movement.

When we move with intention and purpose, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that it can lead to optimal wellness, as well as optimal learning. More an more coaches, athletics therapists, practitioners and psychotherapists are paying more and more attention to the benefits of neurological re patterning and neuromuscular corrective movement. “Re-patterning” really means “retraining” the brain to more efficiently use both sides to perform tasks, rather than limiting itself to using only one hemisphere at a time.

This also applies to somatic memory and re-patterning techniques used in neuromuscular training. Neurologists have discovered that we can use the body to “re-pattern” or retrain the brain to change inefficient pathways into more efficient ones. The knowledge of the connection between the brain and the body has been well documented.

Many medical doctors, as well as athletic coaches use a technique called “patterning” or “Brain Integration Therapy” which consisted of exercises replicating the crawling movements of a baby to help students with head injuries and other severe neurological dysfunctions.

For instance, Brain Integration Therapy known as Brain Gym, was introduced by Dr Paul Dennison, an education specialist, incorporated research from many other fields to further explore the mind/body connection. This incorporates performing specific tasks; followed by “re-patterning” techniques which stimulate the neurological connections within the brain and facilitate whole brain learning.

CORRECTIVE MOVEMENT IS THE KEY TO NEUROMUSCULAR RE-TRAINING

Does this sound familiar! The body, as we have previously discussed “the somatic body,” holds onto emotions, patterns, feelings and belief systems.  Some of which are positive, while others no longer serve us. This can be attributed to previous injuries, poor movement patterns, even trauma or childhood nuances that we have not yet let go of and thus, our physical body reacts by offers us feelings of “unwell,” “pain” or discomfort.

When muscle recruitment is less than optimal, that can be a sign of anything from injury to compensation to poor motor learning. Neuromuscular patterns are akin to thought processes or computer programs essentially. Now, when I say “corrective movement” I am referring to any exercise that corrects or improves better mechanics. This can be movement and performance coaching, specialized yoga, kettlebell work, body weight work – anything that promotes better motor learning and in a sequential manner based on the individuals unique mechanics.

SOMATIC MOVEMENT

Somatic patterning is an approach to body therapy that integrates the knowledge of human kinetics and kinesiology with practical applications and corrective movement exercises to improve posture and movement mechanics. Integrative Bodywork facilitates relaxation, structural and neuromuscular re-patterning, and overall healing.

This work nourishes the body — injuries, low energy, imbalances, and uncenteredness are transformed. Whether you need regular work or need a one time gift to yourself, I encourage you to try this work.

The FMS (Functional Movement Systems) assist with this re-patterning because it is based on pediatric development and what coaches call RNT. By taking a client back to pediatric patterns, they can release pent up “somatic emotions,” in their tissue that they may not even realize is preventing them from achieving better movement.  In the therapeutic sense; this style of somatic learning is seen often in Yoga and fascia stretch.

THE ATHLETE’S CORNER

For an athlete, neuromuscular re-patterning come in the form of DNT (dynamic neuromuscular re-patterning) or RNT (reactive neuromuscular re-patterning). RNT operates on the premise that the body will do what it needs to maintain balance – homeostasis.  I am a bif fan of combining this approach in association with Sport NLP (neuro linguistic programming) can support breaking fear based barriers.

Gray Cook often says, “Does turning on your glute give you a better squat, or is giving you a better squat a better way of teaching you to fire your glute?” The chicken and the egg complex.

For instance; let’s take the basic squat pattern (a hip hinge) or chair pose in Yoga. More often when trainers/teachers visually see a client performing an exercise inefficiently, we cue them verbally. For instance “keep the knee tracking in line with the hip,” or “don’t let the knees rotate out.” And the client replies…”I’m trying…. or I don’t get it.”

Many faulty movement patterns, the body doesn’t recognize that the pattern it’s maintaining is sub-optimal. It’s compensated and over time that specific (yet foundational movement pattern) has been altered.

To assist the client in recognizing the error in proprioception; the coach/teacher can  apply a small amount of force to get the movement pattern to correct itself and the client to “feel” the correct movement range of motion. In other words, if the knees tend to drift medially from the midlines of the feet during a squat, then pushing the knees inward while instructing the patient/client to resist the push will cause him/her to activate the muscles that externally rotate the femur (thigh) in the hip more intensely. This will allow the client to understand somatically, as well as neurologically how to clean up and correct the movement. Then you can verbally cue tempo, control, breathing etc.

CONCLUSION

The last 4 part series has been an exploration on the science behind the connection of mind and body, more importantly, between our connection to motor learning, acceptance and improvement towards optimal health of the mind, body and spirit. Buddha, said it best…”what we think, we become,” sometimes we just need a little nudge.

Make sure to stay in touch with my weekly posts on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/pages/YogaFORM/211465704181

Celebrating Women’s Week With The UN Theme for 2012: Connecting Girls: Empowering & Inspiring Futures.

Celebrating Women’s Week With The UN Theme for 2012: Connecting Girls: Empowering & Inspiring Futures.

Today, I was honored to speak at the International Women’s Day annual breakfast hosted and moderated by the Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C, M.P which focused on the UN theme for 2012: Connecting Girls: Empowering and Inspiring Futures.  To set the stage, the speaker panel consisted of 3 high empowered advocates eagerly anticipating questions posed from a room full of eager women of all ages and backgrounds.

 

Speaker Panel:

Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C, M.P (moderator and host)

Jen Sung, Youth Outreach Coordinator for “Out in Schools”

Sarah Jamieson, RUN4ACAUSE on behalf of supporting Free the Children/ We

Samantha Thompson, Girl Guides of Canada/Global

Women’s equality worldwide begins with the girl. Around the world many women and girls are still denied their basic human rights; the right to an education, the right to choose when or how to have children, the right to have a voice in their community.

Thursday, March 8th 2012 was international women’s day! A day where we take time to celebrate the women and men who strive for equal measure. On this day we not only celebrate how far we have come, but how far we still have to go.

International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, as a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike, yet it was a long struggle to do so. It seems that we have only started to scrap the surfance of changing global ideals and dis-empowering ideologies towards women.

For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes.

In 1993, the UN Women Canada (formerly known as UNIFEM Canada) was founded with the sole vision to focus on the equality of women and to support the advancement of gender equality in line with national priorities.

This IWD, in New York City nearly 400 chief executives worldwide  publicly declared their commitment to implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) over the last two years, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet highlighted at the 4th Annual Equality Means Business Event. But will it be enough?

 “Across the region, men and women have pressed bravely and unequivocally for social justice, dignity, and a say in the decisions that shape their lives. Their progress toward these goals will move only as fast as their progress in empowering women.” – Amat Al Alim Alsoswa – UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States”

Last year our IWD Un theme was connected to “equal access to education, training,  science and technology.” This year, our 2012 theme focuses on “empowering rural women” and the UN Women’s theme focuses on “connecting girls: empowering and inspiring futures.” It is critical that we continue to raise awareness and support for women globally.

It is the sole reason why I have dedicated my time, energy and resources to raising funds and the understanding behind rural women and the challenges they face. Thursday marked 365 days of my 365 challenge; which I then extended to 439 days!

Phil Borges Photography Tangail Bangladesh

In the” UN Women’s Report: Facts & Figures: Rural Women & the MGDs”:

”Faced with a lack of services and infrastructure, rural women carry a great part of the burden of providing water and fuel for their households. In rural areas of Guinea, for example, women spend more than twice as much time fetching wood and water per week than men, while in Malawi they spend over eight times more than men on the same tasks. Girls in rural Malawi also spend over three times more time than boys fetching wood and water. Collectively, women from Sub-Saharan Africa spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water.”

UN Women is one of a number of United Nations agencies charged with supporting countries in moving forward on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight goals, adopted by the international community in 2000, set targets for 2015 on eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV and AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and providing financing for development.

Fast Facts: Rural Women & The MGD’s:

  • Rwandahas 56% women parliamentarians  – a world record!
  • Almost 70 percent of employed women inSouth Asia and more than 60 percent of employed women in Sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture
  • On average, women make up about 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries.
  • Evidence indicates that if these women had the same access  to productive resources as  men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, in turn reducing the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent.
  • InPakistan, a half-kilometre increase in the distance to school decreases girls’ enrolment by 20 percent
  • An extra year of primary school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10-20 percent, encourages girls to marry later and have      fewer children, and makes them less likely to experience violence.
  • 875 million people are illiterate in the bottom billion. Two-thrids are women, because of inadequate access to education      in rural areas.
  • Between 1990 and 2009, all the regions of the world saw a significant decrease in under-five mortality rates, with some developing regions reaching or approaching 2015 targets.

These are just a few of the facts when it comes to establishing equal rights for women and girls. Rural women face more challenges than urban women, simply because of being too far from water, school, health care and basic life essentials. This is where the most works needs to be done, as well as, where the greatest opportunity and potential stem from. Women are our untapped resource!

 

What I am Doing To Support the WEP and MGDs for Women Globally:

RUN4CAUSE supports and champions the visions of great organizations worldwide. This May is of no exception. On May 20th Vancouver will host the third annual CARE Canada and the Walk In Her Shoes Campaign.  This year I am asking Vancouverites to not only walk or run 6km with me on May 20th (our Vancouver WIHS event), but to spend the next roughly 3 months connecting with us online (facebook and this blog) to learn and understand the complexities women and girls still face day to day.

Whether you support CARE Canada or another local or global organization or cause, this walk is for anyone who advocates for women and children. This walk is about immersion. I encourage you to bring your organizations banners, your advocacy groups, freinds and familes and stand (well….walk or run) in solidarity with me and celebrate the women empowerment goals!

Women Empowered & Walk in Her Shoes: SAVE THE DATE

Friday May 18 @7pm- 10pm @ Denman Cinemas. Join us for a movie night and panel discussion. This event will be the pre event warm up and pep ralley for ourMay 20th 101km. See all 4 short documentaries, engage with our speaker panel, and network in the “market” (aka lobby) and don’t forget the silent auction and draw prizes.

101km Walk in Her Shoes Event for CARE Canada: May 20th  from 6am – 9pm, Join me on our 101km route, divided into 8 legs (8 districts) with 6km, 12km, 24km and 42km markers! Choose your mileage, choose your district and start fundraising! www.care.ca or email Sarah Jamieson at runforacausemovemen[email protected]

I hope all of you had a wonderful International Women’s Day and I hope to see you our on May 20th!

 

“A Liberal Sprinkling of Energetic Healing”: Concluding Interview with Cliff Harvey

“A Liberal Sprinkling of Energetic Healing”: Concluding Interview with Cliff Harvey

What is my purpose?

Where am I going?

What is the thing called life all about?

This is the modern day conundrum. The majority of our lives are spent of wanting to “attain” happiness, wanting to achieve our dreams and be successful. Yet, most often we start this journey without truly understanding what that even means to “be happy, “be successful” or what my “dream” is. Last night I spoke at an event for a very good friend, acclaimed musician, athlete and fellow philanthroprenuer; which was a fundraiser/ CD release party/ networking gig to connect the dots and meet other inspired people to ask each other “What is life all about?” Then as the evening came to a close he asked us “put up your hand if you – right now- are living your dream, if you can honestly say in four words or less – what life is all about.? Out of the 200 people I would say 50 of us put our hands up.

He continued to say… for those of you would didn’t put your hands up – your task is simple, you need to make a change and you need to do what you love.

The last several weeks articles have build upon this foundation of personal moral responsibility to create the life YOU want to lead. To establish a life full of abundance, does not mean suffering through dead end jobs, making ends meet or always hanging with the cool kids. This decision starts with “Choosing You.”

When my hand shot up into the sky, like a bat out of proverbial (compassionate) hell – my four words were this “Choosing You & Compassion.”

What we “value” in life and what we choose to do each day has to align with our greater purpose, if it doesn’t, or if we are unsure of what we actually value, then we cannot except to find what we are looking for. Values are fundamental. Health is one of those fundamental values. We need to be healthy, in order for our mind, body and spirit to be in a place of acceptance, to be balanced and be ready to take on life in every capacity.

This is the very reason why I have shamelessly plugged Cliff Harvey’s #PMA of awesomeness and made it my self appointed duty to bring his teachings toVancouver, for all of you out there who are walking your own journey towards your greatest selves.

Therefore, with out further adieu, I give you our final full length Interview from Cliff Harvey; man of many talents, do’er of world changing epiphanies, debunker of myths, record holder of everything heavy and performance based, and lastly, a champion of  life….

Part 4: Interview with Cliff Harvey

Apart from Cliff’s mind-body and life coaching, his experience in Performance Nutrition looks to bridge the gap between Naturopathic/Holistic Nutrition and Sports Nutrition.  Whether you are an athlete at the highest level, or someone simply wanting to function better in their daily life, the broad concepts of good nutrition remain the same.

Q: Choosing You and Time Rich Cash Optional is really about a journey of choosing to put yourself first and truly a cross pollination of a serious nutrition overall because of your battle with Crohns Disease, an exploration of mind and body optimal well being and all kinds of serious life advice, Can you offer some sound advice on where someone may start to re evaluate their current lifestyle or nutrition plan?

As an athlete, nutritionist and naturopath you are uniquely skilled in encouraging the greatest health, wellness AND performance through nutrition. Perhaps your lent challenge can pave the way?

You’re right, Choosing You! and TRCO are about putting yourself first to a large degree, but not is a selfish way. When we truly begin to realise what makes us most happy, we realise that it isn’t simply seeking transient states of ecstasy (although these may be fun from time to time!), and it certainly isn’t achieved via the material. Because we begin to see what is truly important (connection, charity, conservation etc – all of which are extensions and actions of a life lived for LOVE) we begin to treat those around us, and the world in general better!

It’s funny because Choosing You! began as a nutrition book…but as you know there is NO nutrition in it! I wrote a ‘chapter’ on belief and choice as it related to making changes in one’s life as an intro to the nutrition book, and that grew into Choosing You!. With any aspect of health, wellness (and happiness) there are 2 crucial steps in what I call ‘the discovery process’. These are 1) What is the dissatisfaction in life; and 2) What does your best case life look like.

When we have a context of what we don’t want in life we can begin to see how we would like it to be instead, and begin to chart a course towards making that a reality. When we also evaluate and imagine what would be our ‘best case’ life we can begin to also set goals and intentions within that context. On a neurophysiological level we begin to also make that existence safe and appropriate and can start the process of releasing resistance and the belief patterns that drive self sabotage.

The crucial FIRST step though is having that epiphanical moment when you truly, deeply understand that you CAN change your life, and you can start to do it right now…

The Lent Challenge is a bit of fun…

I often throw out a whole lot of ideas and sometimes they get a little traction. My simple reason for partaking in Lent yearly is that it is a great device for realising our attachment to vices, addictions and patterns of behaviour, some of which may not be serving our highest self. Challenges like this can be a great way for people to connect to what is really most important in their lives. (The Lent Challenge articles can be found here: http://cliffdog.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/Lent%20Challenge  )

Q. What has been your greatest hurdle on your own journey? And do you see a common thread in obstacles in your clients?

A. The greatest hurdle on my journey was learning to actually be fully and totally engaged in my process. To fully live the s**t out of what I am doing at any given moment and to not be ‘rushing like a bull at a gate’ to the end goal. 

Many people who know my story might be surprised at this answer. Having lost my Mum tragically, and many other people who were very close to me, being diagnosed with, and subsequently recovering from the worst effects of Crohn’s disease, depression and other calamities, the greatest challenge in retrospect has not been these in isolation as much as transcending some of the limiting aspects of ‘self’ on a deeper level. Of course these tendencies pplayed into other mainfestations (especially Crohn’s) and so there is always a tie in.

What I can say is that working with these proclivities of my personality, and confronting the challenges of loss, grief, trauma and illness has made me a better person, a better practitioner and has allowed me to learn the tools that I now apply with my patients and clients to help them to live happier, healthier lives. So each one of those challenges is a blessing I am grateful to have received…not withstanding that I would give anything to have one more hug from my Mum!

The commonality I see in my clients is that they too are almost always struggling to be here now. I think we are all seeking happiness, and the various things we do are threads that we are weaving into our best case life. One of the greatest gifts I can receive is when someone walks out of my office feeling more ‘now’.

Q. Lets talk performance! Optimal performance seems to have a lot of buzz these days, and for good reason. What are some of the “myths” you are faced with when coaching clients or your athletes?

Wow – there are a lot!

I have just been presenting a number of lectures on nutrition myths and key amongst these are:

1. You need to eat less to lose bodyfat

2. You need to eat less fat to lose bodyfat

3. Saturated fat is bad for you

4. Your diet should be carbohydrate based

5. You need to eat 6+ meals per day

This may be something I will do some workshops on when I am in North Americain May and August. Holistic .

In the mind-body realm I think the biggest mistake that athletes make is to believe that they will succeed and achieve their goals purely by doing the ‘work’ required to get there. The reality is that ‘the work’ is one crucial part of the picture, but if we don’t ‘believe’ that we are able we will subtly self-sabotage our efforts to achieve what we consciously desire. There are solid neurophysiological and bio-evolutionary reasons for this and these too are topics I will be evaluating in lectures in ‘Mind-Body Strategies for Optimal Performance’ inVancouver in May.

Q. What scientific studies are you engaged in at the moment that you are finding sets the bar for what we call the desired outcome of “optimal performance’ and “optimal wellbeing”?

A. I’m not actively involved in any research myself right now, but as a co-owner of several businesses involved in sports supplementation I’m working with some PhD researchers on the applications of several novel, natural products for increasing anaerobic performance. I can’t say too much at this stage though!

Q. Workshops, let’s talk workshops. What canVancouver expect in May and June? What does Cliff Harvey have in store for us Vancouverites?

A. There will be a few workshops offered inVancouver in late May.

I’m really excited to offer the first full weekend workshop of my ‘Choosing You!’ series. This is: ‘Connecting With Your Life of Passion and Purpose and Reaching the Goals that Really Matter!’

It’s a full weekend of value-setting exercises, goal setting, mindfulness and positivity! In many ways this workshop is a culmination of the exercises and tools from both of my books and my years in life and purposed coaching practice.

Mini-workshops will also be offered on:

– The Mind-Body Link in Creating Optimal Health

– Mind-Body Strategies for Optimal Performance

– Effective Conscious Communication

And also No BS Nutrition and Fight Nutrition (specific nutrition for fighters and combat sport athletes).

Stay tuned over April, as we will be rolling out Cliff’s May and June workshop schedule!

“”If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t – you’’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

 

Sources:

Cliff’s Website: http://www.cliffharvey.com/

Cliff’s Books “Get em Here”: http://www.cliffharvey.com/#!__books

Mike Averill (Music, Philanthroprenuer, Traveller, Life of Abundance Seeker) : http://www.myspace.com/michaelaverill

Conscious Communication: An Interview with Cliff Harvey

Conscious Communication: An Interview with Cliff Harvey

 “Com.mu.ni.ca.tion ~ A process by which information is transfered. The act of exchange; of  thoughts, actions, messages.. Connection.

Con.scious ~ Aware of and responding to one’s surroundings, environment, and of ones own existence; awake.”

As a coach in corrective mechanics and integrated yoga, I am well placed to educate my clients how at the cellular level the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical and biomechanical functions of all our systems – “our physical body” – provide  “communication and feedback” to one’s mind, and ultimately, how one’s mind (through our thoughts, needs, attachments etc) can ultimately affect one’s physical body as well.

As the great Buddha once said, “What we think, we become.” But what about communicating outside the “bubble” of our own internal world? We know that humans require connection; without connecting with others and our environment, we would not survive. We would wither away in solitude and cease to exist. From the dawn of time humans evolve by connecting to one another and to our surroundings. This gives rise to a new level of communication – Conscious Communication.

Our overall well-being is fundamentally linked to the ability to effectively and clearly communicate our needs in the universe, and our purpose in life.

Photo of Effective Conscious Communication Workshop

The New Thought Movement in 1904-1910 was pioneered by Thomas Troward who strongly influced the idea of ‘conscious communicaton” and claimed that thought precedes physical form and that “the action of the mind plants the seed, the nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation in outward visible form.”

The law of attraction; abundantly shows us that “like attract like”; that positive thoughts attract positive outcomes and negative thoughts attract negative outcomes.  Much like the phrases, for example: “I need more money” or “I’ll never find love”,   (which we have all uttered from time to time)… allows the subject (you and me) to continue to “need money” or “never find love”. Why? Simple. You are not communicating a solution, an action. You are not communicating the goal, you are in essence only communicating the problem and until we make a conscious decision to communicate and focus our thoughts on the result. For instance; “I have more money now” or “I am currently walking the path of love.”

Let’s take that one step further. COMMUNICATION WITH ANOTHER!

What is the difference between being a good communicator and being a master of conscious communication skills? Communication as a general term can be very wide spread and interpretations and intentions can vary from person to person, culture to culture etc.  Conscious Communication implies first and foremost that a level of ‘consciousness’ is present. As the communicator, we need to be aware of at least four key elements.

1. Be aware of the self. This applies to the intention behind the conversation, personal agenda, emotions, fears, and opinions that may progress or hinder the flow of communication. Taking responsibility for your feelings and making it as easy as possible for the other person to understand your point of view.

2. Be aware of the other person. The ability to keep an open mind and be open and respectful to their emotions, fears, opinions and worldview is crucial in communicating.

3. Be aware of the environment. The ambiance dedicated to the conversation will shift the flow substantially. Is the environment ideal, does it add or take away from the experience of the conversation?

4. Be aware of the support structures that may help or hinder effective communication; for example a coach, a mediator a professional to offer feedback and keep the flow on track.

ET the Movie

Keeping on track with my 4 week introduction to Cliff Harvey, author of “Choosing You” and “Time Rich Cash Optional”, whose speaking engagements and workshops draw people from all over the world.

One of Cliff’s workshops is based on “Conscious Communication,” where he draws from more than 14 years  clinical experience as an ND and as a mind-body coach to show how we can create more harmonious relationships at home, at work, and in any other area of life with a few simple intentions, tools and exercises.

 

An Interview with Cliff Harvey on Conscious Communication:

Q. Cliff, in one of your workshops called ‘Effective Conscious Communication’. Your 3 main themes are (1) The value of Brave Conversations, (2) The importance of speaking your truth and (3) How to use positive framing to literally transform your relationships. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Without giving away any secrets… what do you hope your participants will walk away with after one of your workshops?

 A. Particularly over the last few years of Life and Purpose coaching I have noticed real challenges for people arising from poor communication, resulting in stress, anxiety and poor health. We all know how to communicate…but seldom do we know how to communicate compassionately, effectively and in a way that allows us to be more harmoniously aligned with others AND our highest goals, values and purpose.

My hope is that participants in this particular workshop will walk away with a few simple, effective tools that they can apply straight away in order to create happier, more fulfilling relationships with those around them. 

Q. You mention that you draw on your clinical experience working with patients and clients to formulate this and other workshops. Are there any particular experiences that have influenced the communication tools you outline?

A. There really are too many to name! But in essence the tools that I apply in practice and that I teach, have come from a lifetime of experience and spiritual practice. One of the great things about moving more and more over the years into Life & Purpose Coaching and Mind-Body-Spirit medicine has been the integration of all aspects of my ‘life’ into my ‘work’.

For example I grew up doing yoga with my Dad which gave me an early insight into midnfulness, the mind-body connection as well as tenets of Eastern Philosophy.

I went on to research and become involved in Buddhist practice for many years from my early teens, as well as investigating mystic Christianity, Sufism and many, many other contemplative traditions. When I integrated this learning (and the many realisations along the way) with the scientific and medical knowledge I had garnered studying nutrition, strength and conditioning and Natuopathic medicine, it was quite a powerful combination!

The intention and compassion based aspects of the communication strategies I teach definitely rest on this basis. The ‘action’ based tools have arisen from study of various things like NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psych-K and other modalities.

But I think most importantly taking the intention of love and compassion, and cultivating awareness –  allows you to learn and grow from difficult situations, with difficult people and this learning process is something I also teach in tthe workshops.

A few very special people in a very special time and place in my life had a huge role to play in one of the ‘lynchpin’ exercise I teach for encouraging ‘conscious communication’ –  and so a big thank you for that goes out to Kriya, Dale, Lise, Jennifer, Alex, Christine and Derek at our wonderful Zorba-Buddha house in Kitsilano may it long reside in our hearts and memories!

Stay tuned next week, as we wrap up our 4 week introduction to Cliff’s mind-body coaching and sneak peek at his upcoming workshops in Vancouver.

 

Sources:

Cliff’s Website: http://www.cliffharvey.com/

Time Rich Cash Optional: http://www.timerichcashoptional.com/

Katoa Health: http://www.katoahealth.com/workshops–courses.html

Get Cosy and Hip with Partner Yoga and Tragically Hips!

Get Cosy and Hip with Partner Yoga and Tragically Hips!

While I don’t normally tout the praises of my own classes, this week I’m going to without compunction! I’m so excited about two of my upcoming special events and cannot help but share in hopes of meeting and teaching Vancouver Yoga Review’s loyal readers.

This Friday, I’m teaming up with a fantastic fellow teacher, Sean O’Leary (of Jungle Love and Bhakti Dub fame) for a Friday night, pre-Cupid, Partner Yoga session. Partner Yoga is a very sweet and connected practice – if you haven’t tried to before, it’s a real treat.

On Friday, Feb 10, from 8-9:30pm, join Sean and myself for Partner Yoga at Hari Om Yoga in Langley.  There will be therapeutic techniques, sweet adjustments, lots of fun, and even time for a little massage at the end! Don’t worry if your partner is absolutely new to yoga – this class is for all levels.

Bring a friend, spouse, co-worker, sibling, parent or child and prepare to feel good and have lots of fun! For only $25+hst per couple, it’s cheaper and sweeter than going to the movies!

I’ll be following this special class with a repeat, back-by-popular-demand, event – again at Hari Om Yoga – called Tragically Hips next Friday, Feb 17, from 8-9:30pm ($10+hst). Love (or hate) hip-openers? Get hip with this entertaining Friday night class to the tunes of the classic Canadian band. Bring your friends and expect to laugh and move your way to a fun Friday night!

For either or both of these Friday night events, call now (604-539-0566) or visit Hari Om Yoga in person (20230 64th ave, Langley) to register your spot.

Share my excitement for these entertaining special event yoga classes! I look forward to seeing you there!

Join me for Partner Yoga and Tragically Hips! See you there!!!

The (Me)ntal (Heal)th of Yoga

The (Me)ntal (Heal)th of Yoga

Most of us recognize that when we breath and move, we feel better.  Slowing down and taking time to de stress, relaxes our body and mind, isn’t just a “buzz phrase.” There are physiological, as well as psychological proven benefits that extend well beyond the mat when you practice yoga and deeply affects your mental health.

Thursday night I held a salon conversation connecting youth with the positive platform of mental health and at risk youth. Yoga came up frequently,  from all the speakers, as one of the best forms of exercise that can be implemented into schools to help promote self confidence, discipline, and balance.

Lets dig deeper and answer these questions…

Can yoga help them do more than just feel a little bit better?

Can it heal their mental illness?

Yoga has long been seen as a tool for improving mental health, although concepts of what that entails have shifted over time and are distinct in different cultures. Not to mention mental health statistics vary globally.

Mental illness affects 1 in every 3 Canadians, and what most of us do not realize is that suicide is the second largest killer of young adults between the ages of 15-24. The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, states about 20 percent of adults suffer some sort of mental illness each year, and about 5 percent experience a serious disorder that disrupts work, family or social life. In Canada, one 1 out of every 6 children or youth has access to mental health resources. These are staggering numbers.

There are several schools of yoga that focus specifically on the intersections between asana practice and emotional health, and a growing body of studies indicates that yoga is often an excellent tool to treat the troubled mind.

My personal opinion on style is through experience with populations who have or are at risk for mental illness, and what I have found works for clients with mood disorders and especially my work with vets in the Canadian Armed Forces, injured in combat, a Yin style or light Vinyasa seem to have the largest affect. Both involve breath work and slow, controlled movement.

To date, the most persuasive evidence of the benefits of hatha yoga, and in particular pranayama, stems from research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience  in India. New studies have shown a high success rate—up to 73 percent—for treating depression with breathing. .” It involves breathing naturally through the nose, mouth closed, in three distinct rhythms.

Yoga has been integrated into many high stress service careers; such as police departments and the Canadian Armed Forces. People who suffer from operational stress injuries or jobs that are high stress physically, as well as mentally are at greater risk, and Yoga can help combat high stress levels. Stress is one of the key factors in the onset of depression and anxiety.

Other benefits of yoga on our mental can include; improved ability to sleep, better moods, increased feelings of self-control, and better concentration and focus.

 

 

Sources:

Check out the full report in The Washington Post : http://wapo.st/wzYeST

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA): http://vancouver-burnaby.cmha.bc.ca/

 

Why Can’t We Just All Get Along?

I read an interesting article recently about snobbery in yoga.  Having been a Bikram yoga teacher since 2004. I have experienced my fair share of this.  It posed the question for me, why can’t we just all get along?

I completely understand why Bikram gets a bad rap.  Copyrighting yoga poses, “Mcyoga”, etc.   I have been in Bikram classes where the teacher has told students who come from other styles that they don’t practice “real” yoga.  However, the argument goes both ways.   I have been told that Bikram is not “real” yoga.  The negativty is not limited to Bikram yoga.  I have a friend who is a Yin teacher.  A Vinyasa teacher once told her that Yin is not considered yoga because the muscles are not engaged during practice.

Why all the bullying?  To paraphrase Abraham-Hicks, the more you push against something, the more you bring it into your experience.  Why can’t we just allow people to be who they are and practice the style of yoga they want to practice?  The next time you find yourself dissing a style of yoga, unpack that, really look at it.  I am sure you will find something within yourself that needs love and attention.  Yoga is good in my books, whether you want to practice Bikram, Yin, Kundalini, Iyengar, Ashtanga, etc.

I would like to know how others feel about this topic.  Any comments would be appreciated.

Namaste.

Transformation at Kushala Yoga

The yoga studio formally known as Kula Yoga has recently changed their name to Kushala (Kushala is Sanskrit for well-being). This change is perfect timing as they are celebrating the expansion and grand opening of their new Port Moody location in Suter Brook Village.

Along with an amazing view and masterful instructors, the new location has two studio spaces, a retail shop full of yoga goodies, a tea lounge and a wellness center! There are also rumors that another location will be opening in early 2012!

What I love about Kushala is that they offer a wide variety of classes, so there is definitely something to meet everyone’s needs. Some of their more unique offerings include: Sunrise Hatha at 6am, Wild Thing Wednesdays (a class designed for more advanced yogis), Yoga 101 (for the beginner yogi) and Pre-Natal Yoga.

Kushala Yoga also specializes in teaching the philosophical side of yoga with courses such as: Prana 101 (students learn meditation and breathing techniques) and the Dharma Series that takes a closer look at Eastern philosophies.

What I enjoy most about Kushala is the extremely warm and inviting atmosphere that only a great yoga studio can provide!

For more about Kushala, please visit:

http://www.kushalayoga.com/

 


Why So Yoga Slow?

Source: http://theyogalunchbox.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/13-balloon-lonely-girl-sad.jpg

It’s pretty obvious – attendance in studios is down right now. Typically fall marks an upswing in numbers, but instead many studios are marking much smaller class sizes than normal. Workshop numbers are down and 30 day challenges are a fraction of their usual sizes. Students aren’t purchasing class cards or memberships as quickly and teachers aren’t being followed with their usual gusto.

Many studios are feeling the pinch of a lack of students. It’s only normal to wonder why this sudden failure to launch. Vancouver Yoga Review readers – I want to hear your thoughts!

Is it the weather? Vancouver had a pretty terrible summer, followed by a lovely September. Maybe it is taking longer than normal for everyone’s schedules, and love of sun and outdoor BBQs, to normalise?

Is it the economy? Are you worried about how much you’re spending on “leisure” activities like yoga?

Has yoga finally reached its peak? Perhaps Vancouver’s ferocious interest in yoga has obtained its ultimate height and is now resting comfortably on a plateau?

Or maybe students have learned all they want to learn from local teachers? Are you looking for more variety of instruction? Less variety maybe? Or has the accessibility and affordability of online classes dampened students’ interest in live class settings?

Is the collective unconscious in Vancouver, one which has been engrossed in a love of all things yoga for many years, starting to head in some other direction? Engrossed in politics or end-of-times worries?

Of course I’m not suggesting yoga is dead. Quel horreur! Nor am I indicating that classes are empty – for some studios the difference is a matter of a few heads. Some may not be feeling or admitting to a difference at all.

The vibe is different this fall. I’m not the only one feeling it either. I have posited many questions. I would love to hear your thoughts Vancouver Yoga Review Readers!  Why is this fall so Yoga Slow?

Ode To A Great Cup Of Tea

Source: http://www.sreducation.ca/everyday-sred-tea/

It’s cold and rainy outside. I’m at work early snuggling with the studio cat Charlie. I had a hot cup of coffee this morning on the way in, but realised as I was making tea for the students upstairs (soon to finish class), there is not much better on a cold rainy October morning (or evening for that matter) than a large, hot, flavourful cup of tea.

I just finished reading Taya’s article this week about Libre Tea Glasses and decided to continue with the theme of the marvelous brilliance of tea!

At the studio I work at (Hari Om Yoga) we provide complementary herbal tea to shoppers and students. We regularly stock tea from David’s Tea (multiple locations) and Tea Time (North Vancouver). Among my favourites are David’s Tea’s Pink Flamingo, Crème Brulée, Baked Apple (ohmygodsogood!) and Exotica. From Tea Time, their Honey Lavender, Corsican Pear, Blueberry Bang and Rose Petals blends rock my socks.

There are many reasons tea is a beautiful thing. It smells delicious. It looks delicate and heavenly. Dried tea has a beautiful sound when shaken in the bag before steeping. A nice cup of tea smells and tastes so brilliant. Good tea is worth discussing. It creates community and better health. Tea feels good to drink – promoting warmth, comfort and balance. It’s hydrating after a yoga class. Tea can lift your spirits or provide grounding, depending on your mood. Have I mentioned it tastes great?

I could go on and on about the marvels of a great cup of tea on a cold, rainy day. Instead, I’ll finish with an anonymous poem that sums it all up perfectly:

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea
Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its fragrance,
There is solace in its taste;

And the laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.

The world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you’ll see;
All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

Ohhhhh That Monkey Mind

Do you ever feel like things are out of control? Your mind is racing with the things you have to get done. Perhaps the left over task you didn’t accomplish the previous day. There are so many thoughts rushing through your head that you cannot concentrate on one specific thing. Add into the mix the judgement we place on ourselves for not accomplishing everything we wanted to do in a particular day. The little negative thoughts that do not help but somehow slip in.

That’s the Monkey Mind; the devious little monkey that chatters away until we cannot think straight. It happens to all of us. I am sure it even happened to the Buddha at least once. Or maybe not, but to us mere humans it is a constant affliction that we try again and again to overcome.

I sometimes find that even on my mat I am surrounded by a cloud of thoughts that swirls out of control.

I try my hardest to bring myself back to the present moment so that I may enjoy my practice. It is a challenge, but eventually I just focus on one thing – my breath.

I try to see the breath flowing from each part of my body.

I try to feel the texture of my breath as it slips through my nostrils; slightly cool on the inhale and a little warmer on the exhale having come from my lungs.

I take myself to my lungs and see if I can image them expanding with each breath; the rib cage accommodating that needed expansion.

I feel my shoulders slowly relax as I exhale – encouraging my body to release and let go.

I feel my heart beat, with each breath it slows down.

I then travel to my belly and try to squeeze it closer to my spine in order to press out any remaining breath.

Then I start over, but perhaps this time I start with my toes – can my toes breathe? Why not?
You can imagine anything; there are no limits to the imagination. Have fun!

The mind may still wonder – again that monkey mind, but I try to imagine those thoughts as clouds in a beautiful blue sky. I acknowledge them and then I let them pass. I place no judgement on them, or value, I just let them go.

Of course, this in on your mat, but I believe that the same principles can be applied no matter where you are. Just bring yourself back to your body and your breath. Allow yourself to focus on something as lovely as the sky – even if it is grey. There are textures to that grey. There are rabbits in those clouds. Or anything else you can imagine. Isn’t this fun? Try not to be so serious, let everything go.

Allow yourself a moment or two to just breathe and remember that your mind doesn’t control you, you are in charge. You can slow everything down by taking yourself to your breath.

And remember to always be kind – the world is harsh with judgements. Try to believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

You are perfect in your imperfections.

Namaste(source: dfareviews.com)

An Afternoon with Thich Nhat Hanh

I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to yesterday’s “Open Mind, Open Heart; Touching the Wonders of Now” talk at the Orpheum with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh {source: http://wkuplondon.wordpress.com/about/our-teacher-thich-nhat-hanh/}

Thich Nhat Hanh, who turns 85 in October, is one of the most respected Zen masters in the world. Also a poet and peace and humans rights activist he is the founder of several organizations, including Plum Village, and has spent his years working with refugees, political prisoners, hungry families throughout the Third World, veterans, and on meditation retreats. Author of over 85 titles of poems and prayers, Thay, as he is known by his students, practices “the art of mindful living” and wrapped up his week in Vancouver with a public talk at the Orpheum.

While I wasn’t able to attend the whole retreat that was held at UBC last week, it was an honour and a privilege to spend a few hours at the Orpheum yesterday afternoon. The afternoon included guided meditation and songs of prayer, along with his lecture that focused on the practices of mindfulness and being happy in the present moment, the here and now.

He explained that being mindful is being present in the here and now, and when we practice mindfulness we are always in the here and now. While the concepts he describes are so simple, so easy to understand we, I know I, struggle with remembering to be in the present moment, to let go of the past & not rush for the future but to enjoy everyday for what it is because “this is all there is.”

Today, I still find myself processing the day looking for the simple ways to bring mindfulness more readily into my daily life, but was left with the overwhelming feeling of content, content in my here and now. If you did not have a chance to hear him speak yesterday or attend the retreat last week, here is a clip on Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings;

Thich Nhat Hanh

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