Body, Mind And Spiritual Wellness

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Five ways to better posture with yoga

We have entered the age where there is a modern day health problem called ‘tech neck.’ Improper posture while using technology is a very common factor in poor posture and technology is recognized as one of the principle causes of this modern day posture epidemic.

The funny this is you may be reading this on your phone, iPad or laptop. If so, don’t change a thing about your posture and check how your body positioned. Is your head forward? Are your shoulders rounded? Is your lower back slumped? How does your lower back feel? Or perhaps take a look around you and observe other people’s posture, and the way it slips and almost folds inwards.

Over long periods of time, maintaining this head-forward posture can lead to muscle strain, disc injury, nerve impingement and arthritic changes of the neck—and the potential for developing ongoing neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and pain radiating down the arms.

This is how our tech savvy children are growing up and creating postural habits like this from a young age. There is no getting away from technology and we need to use it in our culture to stay up to date and relevant, but when you consider the kind of risks mentioned, it adds a whole other layer. Just as we have learnt to embrace technology, we also must learn to adopt tools and strategies to counterbalance these new stressors on our system.

5 ways to counterbalance ‘tech neck’

Take regular breaks

Set your timer for every 15-20 minutes to get up, move around and do these poses throughout your day to counteract the effects of phone and laptop use. These poses lengthen the front muscles of the neck, which tend to get shortened when we hunch over a screen or a keyboard. They also realign the shoulders and upper thoracic spine, freeing the lower cervical vertebrae. Restoring a natural curve in the spine also opens the shoulders and may even ease rotator cuff and elbow pain.

Baby cobra pose

Lay on your belly, with your palms pressing into the floor just beside your lower front ribs.

Firm up your legs and press the tops of the feet to the floor.

As you inhale peel your spine up off the floor, head moving last. Draw your shoulder heads back plugging the arm bones into the sockets, curl your shoulder blades down the back and into your heart.

You can float the hands so that your upper back muscles are holding you.

Lower as you exhale and repeat twice more.

Option for a little more, on the final one you can move the top of the thoracic spine (around shoulder height) and the bottom of the cervical spine (around shoulder height) in toward the front body and take chin up for an extra stretch.

Five ways to better posture with yoga 2

From hands and knees, align hands directly beneath shoulders and knees directly beneath hips.

Press the index knuckle down to engage your forearms. Lift the armpits up toward the ears. Use gravity to soften and melt arm bones into the sockets.

Keeping the arms straight, lift lower body into downward facing dog pose (adho mukha svanasana) while the rest of the body stays the same.

Keep the armpits lifted, up away from the floor not ‘dumping into’ the shoulder joint.

Then stretch heels back into the full pose without dropping the armpits, keep knees bent if you need to to keep a long spine.

Five ways to better posture with yoga 3

Neck and forearm reset

You can do this one seated in any position, even at your desk. Sit up tall.

Bring the palms together in front of your chest, with the wrists at elbow height (the heal of the hands may not be touching if you are tight in the wrists, that’s ok!)

Again lift the armpits up towards the ears, getting long in the sides of the body, draw the arm bones back into the shoulder sockets, so that the chest is bright and proud.

Draw the chin and forehead evenly back a few centimeters.

As you exhale press the hands over to the right as you turn your head to the left.

Repeat a few times with good alignment.

Five ways to better posture with yoga 4

Use technology more mindfully

Wouldn’t it be great if we could practise yoga all day? Just imagine how good you would feel.Well, guess what? You can! Take your yoga off the mat and choose to use technology more mindfully. Set boundaries around usage for yourself and children, get up and take regular breaks, incorporate tools, stretches and strengthening exercises into your day. Bring your device up to eye level instead of peering forward and dropping your head down to get a closer look. But most of all, stand tall and proud, lift yourself up and observe how that lifts your energy, how you can breathe better and your postural stance exudes confidence and openness. Go on, put the device down and walk tall.

This article is not intended to substitute for medical advice. For any concerns, consult your health professional.

Wellness tips to take the chill out of winter

Bring out the cosy duvet and fuzzy bed socks: winter is here. As the sun sets earlier and the temperatures drop, many of us soothe ourselves with unhealthy comfort foods and hibernate. But we aren’t bears that check out until spring: we humans need to keep our bodies moving and nourished daily. There are simple things we can do to keep moving and get the right nutrients to boost immunity and moods this season.

WINTER
When our body temperatures drop, eating and drinking habits change. There’s a biological reason for this: we will eat more to boost our body temperature and produce inner heat. You may find when you exercise outdoors in winter and shiver, you race to find warm food. We burn up to 400 calories by shivering. So we naturally want to eat more in winter, but our food choices make the difference between extra kilos and fitting into summer swimwear. The opposite of this is our sense of thirst decreases in winter because we aren’t sweating as regularly, so we tend to drink less and become dehydrated. We may feel more fatigued and experience mind fog from loss of fluids.

Moods in winter may be affected by seasonal affective disorder, a type of seasonal mood, in which less sunshine contributes to low moods and lethargy. We may not be getting enough of the hormone vitamin D which comes mainly from the sun. Optimal vitamin D levels are important for functions including moods, immunity, hormone production, strong bones and muscle recovery. Early nights mean less time spent outdoors in the sunshine in winter, which may leave us feeling down, so we tend to boost moods with alcohol, caffeine and junk foods. While these provide momentary ‘pick me ups’, they do not provide sustained energy and mood support.

Given our bodies crave more calories in darker months, healthy winter foods could include:
Hearty soups and stews, made with a variety of vegetables. By filling up on a variety of vegetables, we feel fuller for longer. Try turkey, beef or vegetarian chili for a satisfying dish.
Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits for extra immune-boosting benefits. Grapefruit and mandarins are great winter choices, which can be juiced or added to smoothies, or even squeezed into hot mugs of water and sipped for an invigorating start to the day.
Healthy fats, such as olive or avocado oil drizzled on vegetables, or white fish or salmon steamed and topped with butter and herbs with steamed veggies on the side. Nuts, boiled eggs and seeds are healthy snacks for in between meals. Omega 3 from oil, fish and nuts help supports our brains, hearts and may even help deter winter dry skin and eczema.
Root vegetables like kumara, celeriac, garlic, onion, parsnips, beets, carrots and baby potatoes. These ground-based veggies are full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C, B and A for immune system support.
WINTERBecause we have less thirst, winter drinks could include:
Fresh slices of ginger or lemon in hot water with a teaspoon of manuka honey for vitamin C and antibacterial properties, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for metabolism boost. Ginger is also wonderful for our circulation.
Hot turmeric milk – with almond and coconut milk, a dash of turmeric, and a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – is a body warming drink with antioxidant properties. In colder months, joints and arthritis may feel stiffer, but turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and may help make joints more mobile.
Dried rosehip and hibiscus tea contains flavonoids, antioxidants and high levels of vitamin C, making this an excellent choice for immunity support.

Winter nutritional supplements recommended:
WINTER
Vitamin D, 5000 IUD daily is my recommendation for the winter months, due to the lack of skin exposure to sun. This is important for everyone, but particularly critical for darker skin as there is a tendency to absorb less vitamin D naturally from the sun with more melanin pigment in the skin.

If not consuming fatty fish at least twice weekly, 2000mg of pure omega 3 fish oil is recommended for its potential boost to brain, heart and skin health in winter. Topical application of plant or mineral-based skincare helps to restore moisture due to the impact of dry air from heaters.
Zinc, vitamin C, astralagus and echinacea can all be helpful immune supporting nutrients.

Winter exercise tips include:
WINTER
If getting outside, layers of clothing to keep body heat in and remove as you warm up. Amazingly our bodies can heat up to tropical level by wearing the right clothing during aerobic exercise even in the coldest weather.

Interval training is a good option to help contribute to weight loss and boosting testosterone for men. This means jogging at a good pace to get the heart moving for 1 minute, then walking at a moderate pace for 3 minutes. Repeat three times. Incorporate a 10-minute warm up and cool down of gentle walking to this 30-minute total programme. Try this 3 non-consecutive times weekly.
If you prefer to be active inside, buy a yoga mat and search on YouTube for free workouts, or seek out a good set of weights you can store in the back bedroom or garage and do a 30-minute resistance set. Music motivated? Turn up some of your favourite beats and boogie for a good 20-30 minutes straight to burn some serious calories or find your local Zumba class for a more social time.
For best results, aim for 4-5 times weekly exercise of 30 minutes’ duration.
Don’t forget if you are about to do aerobic exercise, drink two glasses of water prior to activity and one glass just after to keep hydration in check.

Combine the above tips with 8 hours of sleep nightly, warm baths to support circulation, hot stone massages and saunas, daily pet cuddles, and regular 15-minute mindfulness/meditation practice, and you are on your way to resisting hibernation and choosing the most proactive, healthy winter yet. Keep warm and enjoy!

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WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE ALLERGIES ?

What do I do if I have allergies?

allergy-Allergies are a major problem in the modern world. Interestingly they are less recorded in history and primitive cultures so either they were not considered serious medical problems or the modern environment has spawned more allergies in more people. Statistically in medicine we think it is the latter because younger people are now experiencing more allergies than their parents or grandparents.

By the time we are born we have been exposed to thousands of chemicals that would be unnatural to us if we lived in the wild.

Children in cities no longer play outside in the dirt on a regular basis so their immune systems do not develop the robustness of previous generations.

In the home too we have so many unnecessary chemical-based disinfectants and cleaners that make our environment too sterile so the immune system does not rise to the challenge of fighting infection. At times it becomes over-active in reacting to substances that would not normally cause an immune response.

So what is an allergy?

allergy-An allergy is an inappropriate immune response to a substance. That substance can with be organic or inorganic. The response may be to a single substance, a range of similar substances or in some cases people develop multiple allergies to many substances.

Some of the biggest reactions today are to medication that frequently result in people being admitted to hospital. This is why more people are turning to natural remedies. Reactions of course are highly individual and no two people are exactly the same, even twins.

What are the common symptoms of allergies?

• Skin rashes or hives

• Watering eyes

• Runny nose

• Shortness of breath

• Closing of the throat (anaphylaxis)

• Stomach ache

• Diarrhoea

• Numbness

• Sweating or shivering

• Dizziness or fainting

• Alteration of vision or hearing

• Fainting or drowsiness

• Headaches or hyper-alertness

• Strange behaviour or psychosis

You may know what triggers your allergies or you may have allergic reactions and not know what you are allergic to, which can prove very frustrating.

Allergies can also start at any time of your life and sometimes to something that you may have not been allergic to before, for reasons not known.

It is very important to start tracking down what you are allergic to.

This can only be done by careful eliminating things from your life and seeing what happens while recording the results. It is import to be scientific about this process so you can unravel the puzzle, whether it be food, chemicals, dust, smells or even certain kinds of animals.

There are various kinds of allergy tests which can be useful but you may test positive to a substance in the test and it simply does not bother you and you get no reaction.

The only true way to manage an allergy is to know the allergens.

It is important to see a health professional who can help you and not just struggle on your own.

So what can you do if you have an allergy?

• Sooth skin rashes or hives with Aloe Vera

• Work on identifying the allergens in conjunction with a health professional, such as a naturopath

• Do the very best you can to eliminate those allergens from your diet and life

• If you experience anaphylaxis you should carry an epipen (adrenaline) with you at all times

• If you experience an anaphylactic episode, get urgent medical help

• Wear an allergy bracelet if you are anaphylactic

• Be clear with other people about what you are allergic to: just tell them

• Under a healthcare professional, you may try a desensitisation program

• Herbs and medications can reduce allergic reactions

• Avoid stress as it promotes allergies


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Massage & Cancer Patients

Cancer-Patient-for-Massage-
For many years the medical profession held the view that massage therapy would have negative effects on cancer patients. However, after extensive research medical experts are now taking the opposite stand point.

Previous concerns surrounding massage as a positive therapy for cancer patients came from the fear that malignant tumours could spread to other parts of the body due to the superior circulation that massage provides. This idea has since been made redundant as scientific research does not support this position, instead finding that those with breast cancer, mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancers may actually benefit in many ways when including massage therapy in their treatment plan.

Needless to say, receiving treatment for any type of cancer is extremely stressful and painful. I have had first hand experience treating cancer patients with massage therapy, and I endeavoured to relieve those symptoms of pain the best I could in the circumstances. This mainly involved relaxing muscles, relieving pressure in certain areas of the body and hopefully releasing some pain. Depending on the individual, the severity of the illness and the patient’s response were all contributing factors to how useful massage therapy can be. There are definitely times when the patient may be too exhausted from treatment to even have a massage, whereas other times massage is met with clear physical and sometimes emotional relief.

Therapists are able to offer a variety of bodywork options, each with their own benefits and at times a combination of several techniques works extremely well, depending on the clients’ individual needs.

Treatments can include:
Acupressure
Swedish Massage
Shiatsu
Sports Massage
Neuromuscular therapy

The type and style of massage therapy needed will very much depend on the circumstances presented to the therapist at the time of the treatment. The patient often needs different types of massage therapy at different stages of their illness. A competent therapist will be able to modify treatments given such as varying the speed and pressure of massage strokes on certain areas of the body. It goes without saying that communication between patient and therapist is essential, so if the relationship is not correct from the outset a different therapist would be advised if the patient is to get the full benefits massage therapy that it can potentially offer.

As mentioned above massage may help relieve stress and pain but it may also boost the patient’s mood and immune system. Some research shows that massage releases chemicals (endorphins) in the body, producing feelings of pleasure and well being. Other research has even suggested that with a boost of the immune system, massage is indirectly related to the production of more cancer fighting cells, although it is important to stress that massage has never been referred to as a possible cure for cancer but studies have shown the increasing number of benefits that massage offers as a support therapy whilst other treatment is ongoing.

There is now very little evidence supporting the idea that massage therapy worsens patient’s symptoms or their condition as a whole. In contrast more and more experts are recognising bodywork to be an important part of a treatment plan, but before starting any kind of bodywork massage therapists will always insist on having the permission from a patient’s doctor before they provide their own therapy.


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Lemon Avocado Pudding

This is such a fresh, light and delicious dessert. It’s quick to make and will delight your guests every time!

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

3 large ripe avocados
Juice of 1-2 lemons (depending on taste)
1/3 cup raw honey (or to taste)
2 cups coconut cream
Fresh berries for serving
Toasted coconut flakes for serving

Method
Combine all ingredients in the food processor and blend till smooth. Spoon into individual glasses and decorate with fresh berries and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.Store in fridge for at least an hour before serving.


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Delicious Fudge

A delicious and easy healthy alternative for afternoon tea for the kids or a pick me up for yourself. With the addition of protein rich nuts and energizing coconut oil you don’t have to feel guilty.

Ingredients
½ cup of liquid coconut oil,
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 cup of nut butter of your choice (peanut butter is an option or you could add a tablespoon if you like)
½ cup of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice.
Pinch of sea salt
Teaspoon of vanilla
1 tbsp of macca powder – optional (available in health food stores)
1 ½ cups of rice puffs
Method
Mix all ingredients in a bowl except rice puffs till fully combined.
Fold in rice puffs.
Transfer to a baking dish of your choice to harden in the fridge.

This recipe can be also frozen. Experiment with different ingredients like desiccated coconut or currents. Enjoy!


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Cauliflower Fried Rice

The use of cauliflower instead of rice brings a lightness, as well as a unique flavour and texture. It is great as a side or a main dish.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
1 Spanish onion finely chopped
1 medium cauliflower in chunks
1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
Olive oil to drizzle
Juice of 1 lemon
Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Method:
Cook onions in a large frying pan on medium until soft. Grate the cauliflower on the large side of your grater or mill. Add cauliflower, zucchini, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and tamari to the onions. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the carrot is just soft. Add lemon juice, coriander, coconut cream and season. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!