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By Gillian Scott, RMT

4 Minute Read

Traditional Chinese medicine, on which Shiatsu Therapy is based upon, speaks in metaphorical terms to explain the relationships of things and that health is a dynamic state in which the person is in balance with the rhythms and pulses in the body, mind and spirit, corresponding with the environment, society, family and self. We are continually responding to the many demands of our environment. Much of the time we are feeling healthy, but if the demands are too much or if we are unable to adapt, the functioning of the body, mind and spirit will show signs and symptoms which indicate that something is wrong and that we need to make changes. They are also signs that the body is striving for balance again.

Many of us have been trained to believe that we must always work hard, “stay busy “, in order to reap the benefits of any particular effort, such as running a business, while maintaining a relationship, plus raising children. Eventually the body will tell you that you need to rest, just as thirst tells you that you need to drink fluids, feeling cold tells you that you need to keep warm. Similarly, digestive upsets, headaches from hours of screen time, muscle pains, mild irritability or depression are signs that that we need to make changes. Daily self-care improves your health and complements your Shiatsu massage treatments or related therapy. This includes healthy choices with dietary guidelines, exercise that you enjoy, thought (meditation) and breathing techniques to help you from getting sick, speed your recovery and reduce aches and pains.

For people who may not have the opportunity or ability to exercise regularly, here are a few techniques to practice at home or in the office.

Couple Warming Up Their Feet On Radiator

Legs Up On The Wall

Inverting the legs has long been known as an effective treatment for reducing swelling and pain in the lower limbs. This can be therapeutic after physical activity, sitting or standing for long periods during the day. Legs up the wall position, is a restorative, supine, inverted pose common in many yoga practices. Lie on your bed or soft mat on a floor. Lay on your side with your buttocks close to the wall and your knees slightly bent. Roll onto your back and swing the legs up the wall. Rest the back of your legs on the wall and your back on the bed or floor. Outstretch your arms horizontally with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and soften your face, unclench your jaw. Breathing naturally allow your body to relax and feel any muscles that need to release tension as you stay in this position anywhere from five to twenty minutes. You may need to bend your knees slightly if stretch is too intense for the hamstring muscles.

The legs can also be separated wide apart. You may also like to rotate your ankles and feet imagining the action of writing the alphabet with your feet. To come out of this position bend the knees and roll gently on your side and with your hands press yourself up to a seated position. Ask yourself, “how do I feel?” The angle of the body in Leg up the wall pose stretches the hamstrings, and lower back. The closer your hips are to the wall the more stretch you’ll create in your hamstrings.

Portrait of a carefree young woman standing with arms spread open

Arm Swinging with Horizontal Twist

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, slight bending of the knees, arms loose by your side, eyes looking straight ahead. Turn your upper body 90 degrees to the left picking a spot on the wall at eye level letting your arms swing out as you turn. Turn your upper body to the right 90 degrees from center picking a spot on the opposite wall at eye level, letting your arms swing as you turn, repeat. It is important to direct the exercise with your eyes by looking left and right at eye level you pivot nicely keeping your weight above your center of gravity. If you look down then your weight comes forward making your body tense as it tries to maintain your balance. A large aspect of this exercise is to relax the body, and let it move freely. You will know you are doing this if your arms hit off the body both sides. If not then you are holding your arms in position to let them fly about like pieces of weightless string.

Woman taking bath. young lady taking bath at home

Relax & Let Your Mind Go

Consider a daytime bath. Not only does it feel like the ultimate extravagance, especially if you have natural light in your bathroom, it can lead to an improved sense of well-being and a better sleep. When bathing in the evening consider leaving the lights off and relaxing in candlelight.

So the next time you feel unwell, think about your life both its physical and psychological aspects. Can you see what factors contributed to this? What things can you change? What things can’t you change and what must you accept? Spring is a natural time to become more active. Take care to properly nourish yourself, eat lighter foods including seasonal leafy greens; exercise lightly and nourish your creativity.