Reaching for Wellness, guest post by Leah Childress

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Ever since I was a little girl, I have always looked up to my aunt. I remember striving to be like her, seeing how strong she was despite what she had gone through in her life (even though as a child I couldn’t understand the true meaning of her story and the implications it carried with it.) Whenever my mom told me I would get to see my aunt I was always thrilled, more excited than I was to see any other relative, and when my mom joked that I was stubborn and strong headed and shared far more in common with her sister than I did with her, questioning if I wasn’t really Deborah’s daughter. 🙂 I always beamed with pride.

Maybe it is because of my admiration of my aunt as one of the strongest female role models in my life, that I developed an interest in her work, or maybe it was because movement exercise and yoga have always been passions of mine. Either way I know that from a young age I loved coming to my Aunt’s studio. And as I got older I loved helping out whether it was answering phones or coming down for a school internship. So being able to come to my Aunt’s studio this summer as a Physical Therapy student, and working as an intern has been an absolutely empowering and incredible experience. Everyone here has made me feel like part of the family and showed me so much kindness. I want nothing more than to truly do my part and help the studio however I can.

So when I came up with the Reaching for Wellness summer challenge and was able to start making things happen I was thrilled and I figured I should share what wellness means to me. When I try to define wellness in terms of my own life, it is tied to the balance of three things: remaining active in body and mind, listening to myself, and gratitude.

I think the first part of wellness has always been the easiest for me. Remaining active in my mind and body is huge to me. If I am not working towards something, whether it is to be physically stronger or to complete a goal I feel lost. It often can throw off my entire week if I feel like I have nothing to do. I think remaining active in my physical body as well as in pursuing the dreams and goals my mind creates is a huge part of wellness. I think it would be impossible to strive for wellness without defining your goals and reaching forward to try and achieve them. To leave a mind and body completely idle and not push to try and better yourself and achieve all you can seem like a waste, it even seems to me to go against what our very purpose is.

The next part of wellness for me is listening to myself. This can be slightly harder for me to do. While listening to myself in finding what my goals are is easy, listening to what my body asks for is sometimes harder. While pushing yourself to be better is a great thing, without finding balance in listening to when you need to rest it would be quite destructive. It is important that I find balance in allowing my body time to heal and relax and recognize that this is just as needed.

The last aspect of wellness is the one that I struggle with the most and that is gratitude. I think Gratitude is a major part of keeping balance in our lives. I think it is very important to show gratitude towards yourself. To be thankful for your bodies ability to move and the goals you have accomplished because of it. To be thankful for your mind’s ability to drive you forward, and to be thankful to yourself for listening to your own needs.

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What is Arvigo? by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

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This past August I spent a week in Highlands, NC on top of a mountain learning the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy with a group of amazing women. Though I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I drove atop that mountain, I was excited and anxious to dive into these teachings. The result was an incredible experience and an opportunity to reconnect with myself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level using the massage tools I learned. I drove home invigorated and ready to share what I had learned.

What is Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, otherwise referred to as ATMAT?

Though abdominal massage has been practiced for thousands of years by the Maya people of Central America, the development of ATMAT and its use worldwide is still fairly new. Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy is mainly known for helping relieve gynecological and digestive issues, but is also helpful for prostate health. It is a non-invasive, external manipulation of the reproductive and digestive organs. The massage repositions the organs and increases blood, lymph, and qi flow. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective a disruption in the body’s circulation of blood, lymph, and qi results in dis-ease. Dis-ease, being the lack of ease, the lack of comfort, the lack of efficiency in the body. This could range from gas and bloating after eating to more serious illness and disease. Therefore proper circulation is imperative to health and ATMAT is a great way to achieve this.

I am excited to incorporate Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy treatments into my practice. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. My email is austin@austindixonacupuncture.com

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Rose. Thorn. Seed. by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

I love the start of the new year. I actually love new year’s resolutions (otherwise known as “intentions” in the world of mindfulness). The new year feels like an opportunity for a fresh start and I love fresh starts. I love mornings, birthdays, season changes, and new years because they are filled with the possibility for positive change. I love to see what unfolds with the passage of time. Of course, positive change cannot occur without a little planning (have I mentioned I am a Virgo and I love planning? Creating a to-do list and organizing my calendar is a magical experience as far as I am concerned).

So how do we do that (you know, in a fun and not tedious way that everyone would like, not just a Virgo)? With a little exercise known in my house as….Rose. Thorn. Seed.

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Let me explain.

Rose = favorite part of the day (week; month; season; year).

Thorn = least favorite part of the day (week; month; season; year).

Seed = a thought or idea you want to plant for tomorrow (next week; next month; next season; next year).

It can be done daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally. It can also be great on Birthdays and of course, New Years. All of the Above!

You can do Rose. Thorn. Seed by yourself with a pen and paper, mentally over a glass of wine or cup of tea, or verbally with a partner, friend, or your whole family. We do this exercise over dinner every night in my family. We also do it for birthdays with friends and on new year’s eve (which is also my husband’s birthday) reflecting on the whole year and looking into the next.

My husband and I started this when we lived in Brooklyn, before kids. We were both in school and working two jobs and never saw each other. We led completely different lives. I was doing acupuncture, teaching yoga, working as a nanny and dancing, while he was working with computers, making Facebook video games and working on an Off Broadway show. I had as little insight into his world as he did mine. By checking in each day with our Rose. Thorn. Seed it sparked dialogue about things we would otherwise fail to mention about our day. We had been together since college and I started learning new things about this man.

Rose. Thorn. Seed. is also a great exercise to do when you are looking to make a change in your life but feeling unsure about what or how you want to change. A lot of the time we know we aren’t happy or satisfied but don’t know why. By writing down your Rose. Thorn. Seed. daily for a few weeks it is likely you will begin to see a pattern in your likes and dislikes. This is a great tool to help you pinpoint what you want to change. It is a way to get to know yourself better and create changes that will help you live a more inspiring, happy life.

Stay tuned for more on Rose. Thorn. Seed.

Join me on this journey for an acupuncture/yoga workshop at InsideOut Body Therapies that will help put these ideas into play.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

This is Wellness by Austin Dixon, L.Ac

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I was given the task of writing about wellness which I thought was going to be easy enough until I sat down to do it. I mean, you would think someone in my position could put together a few comprehensive sentences about wellness, but I was stumped. I had so many ideas about wellness, but I couldn’t seem to form a single cohesive paragraph. I tried mapping it out with one of those brainstorming webs you learn in grade school. Truth be told, I do that before I write any blog. It usually helps, but this time I found myself confused and no less clear on the subject. My only takeaway is what wellness is not. It isn’t one thing.

There is a saying in Chinese Medicine, “the healthy man is the man that always has something wrong with him”. At first it doesn’t make much sense. We are programmed to think that health is the lack of dis-ease. Not true. Dis-ease, being the lack of ease, the lack of comfort, the lack of efficiency in the body. It is the dis-ease that makes us strive for balance. It reminds us that we are human and have to care for ourselves and for others. Think about all the bad habits dropped or good habits gained when someone experiences dis-ease. Acupuncturists joke that we can always find something wrong with someone. This is part joke, but mostly true. We live in a world where we confuse common and normal all the time. We are taught that gas and bloating after eating is normal or that painful periods are normal. While these things are common they are not normal. We live with all kinds of common symptoms that we don’t address because we think they are normal. Big misconception. Dis-ease is not normal; it is common.

So what is wellness in a society constantly battling dis-ease ranging from common issues to very serious illness? Does the presence of dis-ease take away from our wellness? Can wellness and dis-ease co-exist? Absolutely. It is Yin and Yang. You can’t have one without the other. Without sadness there would be no joy. The same goes for dis-ease and wellness. When we think about wellness as a process, wellness as an outlook, wellness as a willingness to change, then wellness becomes a state of mind. It can affect our approach to dis-ease and greatly improve our ability to transform. It can help us find peace and acceptance right where we are. To me there is no greater gift than this. This is wellness.

Spring is here! Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

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Spring is here! Even if the weather still has random wintery moments (welcome to NC), the energetic shifts that come with the season change are in full effect. So even on days when we reach for a scarf, things are changing. We tend to feel the physical and emotional changes more moving from Winter to Spring than other season changes. Spring’s energy is a bit chaotic and more noticeable than the subtle changes we experience when we transition to other seasons.

In Chinese Medicine Spring is associated with the Wood element. All the trees start to bloom and grow. We see baby animals and beautiful flowers everywhere. Everything is alive! Everything has a newness and the energy around us feels a little like a young child set free on a new playground. It can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It’s important to recognize the chaos but not get caught up in it. Take time to meditate or just sit quietly. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer we can easily find ourselves committing to too much, saying yes to everything, resulting in getting run down quickly. Make sure to build in breaks and be conscious of overbooking. Trust me. Say no. Take some breaks and you will be able to do the stuff that really matters without burning out.

Spring is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder channels. These channels provide the body with a smooth flow of Qi which is essential to balance. Our Liver Qi has a tendency to get stagnant due to stress, overwork, and emotional upset. Needless to say, a lot of us have Liver Qi Stagnation. Liver Qi Stagnation can present as anger/irritability, headaches, stiff or painful joints, tension, excessive sighing, or issues with the eyes just to mention a few. Symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation can be more prominent and persistent during the Spring. It is very important to move Liver Qi before it wreaks havoc on the other channels. Acupuncture, meditation, and regular exercise are great ways to move Liver Qi. Something to keep in mind while choosing an exercise routine for the Spring is that the Wood element governs the tendons and sinews (you may notice a flare up of tendonitis). Focus on exercises that are less rigorous and more stretching and strengthening like yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming. Tai Qi and Qigong are also great for this time of year.

I hope this has been helpful in explaining a few of those Springtime symptoms you may be experiencing. Just like the trees we are always growing. Spring is a great time to refresh your self care routines (or finally create one) and create new health habits.

Pro tips: get acupuncture, maintain regular exercise, build in breaks, and enjoy your Spring!

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Year of the Dog…Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac

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I love the new year. It is the perfect time for reflection and new intentions as well as cleaning up and cleaning out. I love getting rid of what no longer serves a purpose in my life and freeing up some space for newness and change. This process is not always easy but there is beauty in the struggle and always an opportunity to learn something new. However, the expectation that we change our behaviors immediately and sometimes drastically is unrealistic without easing into it or doing some serious planning. That is why I consider the first few months of the year as my time to ease into my new habits and intentions. It is nice that the Chinese New Year comes anywhere between a few weeks to a month and a half after the Gregorian calendar celebrates the New Year. Though I am not Chinese, I enjoy learning about other cultures and their approach to the new year and self improvement. It is an additional time to reflect, learn, and fine tune my intentions.

 

According to the lunar calendar the Chinese New Year begins February 16, 2018 and lasts until February 4, 2019. Each year is associated with a zodiac animal; this year is the year of the Dog. The year of the Dog comes every 12 years. The years are also associated with the five elements, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. This year is the year of the Earth Dog. The Earth Dog comes around every 60 years. Though it is considered bad luck if the zodiac animal of the year is the same as the year you were born in, a little heads up can help you be aware and possibly aid in some decision making. I am just going to skim the surface on this topic. You can definitely go deeper into the subject if you desire. At the very least these predictions can be entertaining and give you something to consider when setting new intentions for the new year.

 

The characteristics of people born in the dog years are said to have some of the most desirable human qualities. They are loyal, honest, amiable, and kind. They don’t need much in the way of material things and are happy with the basics, food, shelter, water, and a little love. They work hard and rest hard, a nice balance of yang and yin energy. On the flip side, they can be stubborn, self surviving, and have a brutal bite.

 

The year of the Dog is predicted to be good for business and technology and a great time to make lifestyle changes.  It is said that this year is a perfect time to start a new business or start learning something new. Health might be a bit more challenging for folks so it seems that this is a great time to focus on eating a balanced diet, limiting sugar, getting lots of sleep, and exercise. Dogs like to work hard, play hard, and rest hard. It will be extra important to rest and rejuvenate after work and social events.  Unfortunately, the year of the Dog may bring political turmoil (shocking). I don’t think anyone is surprised by this. Our current president is a dog.

 

I hope this post has given you something to think about and inspired you to get rid of something (physical or emotional), set a new intention, or motivated you to put your health at the top of the To Do List. Happy New Year, y’all!

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Rose. Thorn. Seed. Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac

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At the end of every year my family spends a weekend with 2 other families to celebrate my husband’s birthday and the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, after we put the kids to bed and all the adults put on PJs, we get some refreshments and gather around the fire to discuss the highlights and lowlights of the previous year and our hopes for the coming year. This little exercise turns into hours of laughter, tears, and inspiration and we call it Rose, Thorn, Seed. It is also something we practice daily in our house and I want to share it with you.

The basic idea of daily Rose, Thorn, Seed is that we each share our Rose of the Day, the best part of the day, our Thorn of the Day, the part we did not like or enjoy, and our Seed for tomorrow, a thought or action we want to plant for the next day. Simple, right? Right. Very simple and very effective when you are looking for a way to get to know your partner better, get your kids to talk to you, or get to know yourself better. You can do Rose, Thorn, Seed by yourself with a pen and paper, mentally over a glass of wine or cup of tea, or with a partner, friend, or your whole family.

My husband and I started this when we lived in Brooklyn, before kids. We were both in school and working 2 jobs and never saw each other. We led completely different lives. I was doing acupuncture, yoga, working as a nanny and dancing, while he was working with computers, making Facebook video games and working on an Off Broadway show. I had as little insight into his world as he did mine. By checking in each day with our Rose, Thorn, Seed it sparked dialogue about things we would otherwise fail to mention about our day. We had been together since college and I started learning new things about this man. This proved to be such a helpful tool for us that we started doing it with our friends on their birthday, New Years, and daily with our kids.

Rose, Thorn, Seed is also a great exercise when you are feel like you need a change but don’t know exactly what that change is. When you aren’t feeling fulfilled with life or your job but you can’t quite pinpoint what is disappointing you. For example, if you want to figure out what kind of job would be good for you, try writing down what made you feel good that day as it relates to your work. Write down what did not make you feel good and what you would like to see happen differently tomorrow. Over a few weeks you may see a pattern to everything listed under your Rose and notice what inspires you the most as well as a pattern to your Thorn. You can use your seed to help direct you to more fulfilling days at your current job or help guide you in a search for a new one.

I hope you find this little exercise as helpful as we do. My desire for you is that you start living a life filled with lots of colorful roses, few thorns, and some new seeds.

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Benefits of Chair Yoga…Guest post by RJ Lisander

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Yoga has been shown to improve overall health, prevent and (even in some cases) reverse disease when practiced regularly as a lifestyle. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that yoga can lend its benefits to those seeking to improve mobility and flexibility, but who may be limited by balance due to injury, disease and/or age. Below are some examples of how chair yoga may help you:

1. Improved mobility

A body that is agile is typically able to withstand and sustain injuries better. Chair yoga provides a safe and effective way to explore movement and improve balance and mobility.

2. Improved Flexibility

Chair yoga is appropriate for all, but is best for those who have sustained injury which prevent or hinder movement such as reaching down to tie shoe laces or pick things up. The supported and slow movements offered in a chair yoga class help improve flexibility safely.

3. Improved proprioception

Proprioception is the skill of knowing where your body is in space, and coordinating movements accurately. This is particularly important as we age and can help prevent falls due to changes in perception and balance. For people with restless leg syndrome or conditions such as MS, it may mean having greater control over the body and its movements.

4. Improved stress, mental clarity and pain management

Chair yoga (and yoga in general) includes breath work, which can help people not only with stress management but also for coping and managing pain. Through yoga and the accompanying breath exercises the postures, you can help your body and mind to cope with the pain of an illness or condition you may suffer with.

Curious? Join me for a Chair Yoga session at InsideOut.  Contact the studio for more information!

919-361-0104

info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

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The Holidays…Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac

Hey Folks,

The holiday season is here and in full swing. While all of us might not celebrate the holidays this time of the year we can’t help but be affected by them. This is when schedules get filled with social events (both wanted and unwanted), lots of money is spent, food and drink flow, and expectations are high. No matter how much you love or hate the holidays it is filled with extreme highs and lows. So how do we balance out those extremes? I have a couple thoughts….

Stop making the holidays about gifts. There are so many other beautiful ways to spend your energy. Get creative and do things that feel meaningful to you. Examples…

  • volunteer (there are tons of places looking for help…soup kitchen, public schools, tutoring, local non-profits, arts organizations)
  • have an experience instead of a gift (get together and do something!)
  • write holiday cards to folks that don’t get a lot of attention during the holidays (folks in nursing homes, overseas, jail, the hospital, etc…)
  • deliver treats (food, cards, etc)  to folks who have to work on holidays (fire stations, hospitals, police stations, grocery stores….)

Take care of yourself (and I don’t mean by spending money!).

  • go to bed early
  • eat cooked foods and avoid raw, cold foods
  • take salt baths
  • drink extra water
  • avoid sugar to the best of your ability
  • spend time outside even though it is cold
  • exercise (even 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes)
  • say no when you don’t want to do something and don’t feel guilty about it
  • spend time looking inward and reflecting on the year
  • stretch daily (set a timer to remind yourself to take stretch breaks)
  • if you have the means, schedule acupuncture, massage, or a fun class for yourself

Stop feeling guilty about what you eat. Even though I think sugar is kin to the devil, I truly believe the hateful things we say to ourselves are more damaging. It is really hard to avoid eating foods we view as “bad” over the holidays. Instead of beating ourselves up about it let’s focus on moderation (or not… go to town on that pie!) and use gratitude instead of shame. “I am going to eat this cookie that was made for me out of love.” “I am going to eat this cake in celebration of ________.” Our minds are powerful, let’s not let a cookie destroy our well being.

Do your best to stay in the moment. When the To Do List is long and the days are short it can feel overwhelming and stress gets elevated. Try to stay in the moment by making a gratitude list. You can do this with pen and paper as a daily ritual or simply stop in the moment of frustration and mentally list 5 things you are grateful for. I find that a gratitude list can also be helpful when preparing  yourself for visits with challenging family members or co-workers. Since contact is inevitable over the holidays prepare for the interaction by making a list of their positive qualities and/or ways that your life is possible and/or improved because of this person. Even if this list is short (sometimes very, very short) it can be a useful way to put yourself in a good place before entering a stressful social situation.

I hope you found this post helpful in some way and can have a few more relaxing and gratitude filled moments this holiday season. As an acupuncturist I found it important to write something that might help folks through the holiday stress, but I recognize the place of privilege I am writing from and the people of privilege I am writing to when I suggest people go to bed on time and take epsom salt baths. Not everyone can do that. However, I still believe these things are important to implement if you can. I understand I am not touching on true stresses that come from not having enough money, lack of physical or emotional support, devastating illness, or loss.

Your friendly acupuncturist,

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Holiday Health + Happiness Challenge by Mischa Decker

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It is so easy to fall into unhealthy habits during this time of year- and I am not just talking about eating too many baked goods and not enough kale.  I am talking about…stress + feeling overwhelmed + putting too much pressure on ourselves to make the perfect holiday + a complete abandonment of our exercise routines.  Time goes quickly, schedules are crazy and there is just SO MUCH on our plates (literally AND figuratively!).

While prepping for a week away from my normal routine I began to think of a few small ways to stay centered and healthy this holiday season.  Here is the challenge I set for myself.  I plan to do these FOUR things MOST days of the week.

Will you join me?

  1. Drink plenty of water. I don’t know about you, but I tend to drink more “adult beverages” this time of year than usual.  Between holiday parties and family gatherings, my wine consumption miiiiight go up.  I also tend to drink less water when I am out of my normal routine, so I am making a point to keep my H2O intake UP this year!  **Bonus: add Young Living Lemon Vitality essential oil to your water for a little extra detoxifying and added flavor!
  2. Do the Pilates abdominal series. I know I will be doing less Pilates while traveling, but it is SO easy to take 5 minutes to do the Stomach Series.  If you aren’t familiar with this series of FIVE exercises, check out the video at the end of this post.  Your abs will thank you!
  3. Take a 20 minute walk.  If we make it a priority, we can usually find 20 minutes a day to go for a walk.  Even just a short walk can help clear the mind and invigorate the body!  It is also a great kick-start for the metabolism.
  4. Two minutes of gratitude. This is actually the one that is most important to me.  I have felt incredibly overwhelmed and actually a little down recently and I have noticed a shift in my thinking.  I am usually the cheerleader…”we can do this!” “things are going to be fine!” “this too shall pass!” but recently I have become much more negative.  And I don’t like it.  I know one thing that has helped me in the past is acknowledging all of the MANY things I have for which I am grateful.  And what better time than NOW to be THANKFUL for even the small things in our lives.  Here are a few ways to do your two minutes (or more!) of gratitude:
    • Use all or part of your daily walk to think about the positive things in your life.
    • Take a drop or two of your favorite essential oil in your hands, rub them together, put them to your nose and inhale.  Breathe in the scent and say aloud or to yourself the things you are grateful for at that time. **I use Young Living’s Frankincense and a blend called Abundance most often.
    • Keep a gratitude journal.  You can use bullet points or even just jot down thoughts.  It doesn’t have to be long or perfect writing!

Comment here or on our FB or IG posts and let us know if you are up for the challenge!

Happy and Healthy Holidays!