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5 Common Myths about Yoga

This is a guest post written by Emily Lopes (find out more). Thanks for this great article and for collaborating to Abundy Holistic Studio’s purpose!

 

Yoga has been making its way to the mainstream. According to a survey from the Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance, the yoga industry is booming in America. It grew from an approximate of 20.4 million in 2012 to 36.7 million yoga practitioners last 2016 in America alone. This 2019, the yoga industry is transitioning to be at the top of the fitness trends. The yoga revolution will continue to take place from 2019 to 2020, making the revenue projection to an approximate $11.6 billion in 2020.

But despite the rapid growth yoga shown within the years, there are still a lot of people who have a tweaked view about this practice. Here are the most common myths about yoga:

  1. If you’re not flexible, you can’t do yoga 

You have to do some stretching in yoga. That’s a fact. Practicing yoga regularly can improve your flexibility. But flexibility is not a prerequisite. With patience and dedication, you will become more flexible. No matter what your skill level is, you are always welcome to do yoga. Besides, nobody said that you have to be ripped or fit already before going to the gym. 

  1. Yoga is for the young

There is a stereotype that yoga is for the young, the slim, the active, or the beautiful. Since people think that yoga is for flexible people, there is a weight, body physique, or age requirement – which is generally incorrect. Just because we usually see people deemed to be perfect in figure or young and active individuals posting on social media, doesn’t always mean you have to be like that. While it is attractive and inspiring, it can be misleading. Yoga is for everybody. No matter what size, shape, color, or race, you are welcome to enter the world of yoga. 

  1. Yoga is not for men

In connection with the myth above, yoga has been associated with women. There are instances that when you visit a yoga studio, it is flocking with women. But to tell you the truth, yoga was pioneered by men. According to history, most of the best yoga teachers are men. In today’s time, more and more men are finally engaging and participating in yoga classes. The list includes Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Kevin Love. So if people say that yoga isn’t ‘manly’ enough, prove them wrong by joining a class or two. 

  1. Yoga is expensive 

If you’re worrying that you do not have the ‘right look’ for yoga, throw it away. You do not need a collection of branded outfits just to practice yoga. Yoga doesn’t care about who you wear. It cares about how you perform your salutations, how you keep up with the pace, and how great it is that you’re going to experience the amazing benefits of yoga. Though having such pieces of clothing can make you look good and feel good, yoga is not about the looks. As long as you are in your comfortable self in comfortable and yoga-appropriate clothing, you look good already.

In terms of yoga classes, there are a lot of studios from all over the world that provide free to less costly trial classes. Most of the yoga studios offer packages that help you save more than purchasing a single class from time to time. You can also attend yoga classes offered by different retreat venues for hire. The most important thing that yoga practitioners wanted you to know is that yoga is not an expensive practice. 

  1. Yoga is boring because it’s too slow and takes too much time

There are various formal yoga classes that run from 30 – 90 minutes. There are also lots of online yoga classes that you can try for 5 minutes or so. A class in a few minutes is not enough to unlock the whole package of benefits yoga has to offer. All good things take time. If you also worry that pace is too slow for you, you can find different yoga types that are more rigorous and that have more challenging styles and poses. 

Here are other misconceptions about yoga. Yoga is neither magic nor a religion. It is not just for the ‘hippies’ or the ‘cool ones’ but for everyone. Yoga is more than just an exercise or a body of work but a combination of it with psychology and spirituality. Yoga has a lot to offer and is best to experience for yourself. May we have the courage to debunk these beliefs if we hear them from someone somewhere.

Your tongue speaks for your health

“Stick out your tongue!” This is what a traditional chinese medicine (= TCM) pratictioner will say to you as soon as you are checked. But don’t worry, he is not making fun of you.

Your tongue does more than just taste food and articulate words, and that was well known since ancient times. Back then doctors had to practice the “tongue diagnosis” to check the overall patients’ health, when x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans did not exist.

But even now it is a very usefull diagnostic tool, because once this check is done and other aspects of the patient’s status are evaluated, the TCM practitioner may recommend treatment with such therapies as acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and/or massage.

Why the tongue exam assess the overall health

In TCM, it’s thought that different areas of the tongue reflect connections in the body, both to the meridians and the 5 major internal organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart, and kidney). Therefore, it is very useful and important for confirming or not a diagnosis. It can show also strong visual signs of a person’s overall energetic balance or imbalance.

What to look for

There are mainly 4 features in a tongue that should be examined:

Color: An healthy tongue looks pink and vital. Of course the natural tongue color can vary individually, but taken in conjunction with other information, it is still a very good indicator of what is happening inside your body. Changes in tongue color are said to be te sign of a chronic illness.

Shape: Normal tongue shape is neither too thick nor too thin and the body is smooth with no cracks. This feature tells the amount of the fluids and moisture running through the whole body.

Changes in its shape may include a swollen or puffy tongue, presence of cracks and curling at the sides of the tongue.

Coating: Normally your coating is thin and white/yellowish, but if you are getting sick, you may see a thicker coating developing. The consistency of the tongue’s coating also indicates the state of the fluids and heat in the body (more or less dry tongue).

As the coating is the feature that changes more rapidly, it provides an indication of acute illness in process.

Cracks: When ulcers, wounds or open areas appear on the body tongue areas usually indicate an imbalance problem (deficiency) in that organ and/or meridian. For instance, horizontal cracks are commonly associated with Yin deficiency.

Some tips and key point

  • Remember that some disorders don’t show up in the tongue, and that’s why the TCM pratictioner evaluates the patients’ health considering more diagnostic tools.
  • The tongue should be examined for no longer than 15 seconds at a time, otherwise the extending position may cause changes in its shape and color.
  • Color can be changed by food and beverages, smoke or lack of personal hygiene. Please brush your tongue and avoid oral intakes such as coffee, green tea, beet, or artificially colored candies before your assessment.
  • Patient’s age, gender and weight can influence the tongue look. For instance, overweight patients can show a larger and lighter color tongue and infants tend to have white thick coating that is easily removed, or commonly peeled tongues.
  • The season of the year can affect the look of your tongue. Infact it should be normal during spring, but it may tend to be more dry during summer or more damp in the winter.
  • The time of the day could also be an influencing factor. The coating of the tongue usually becomes thinner as the day progresses, while the color becomes more red and shiny.

I bet now you are very curious to look at your tongue in front of the mirror and check your health. So…which tongue are you?

Massage Techniques – Part 2

There is a lot of misinformation and prejudice towards Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and oriental techniques in general. Since this is what I specialise in I decided to talk about few manipulative techniques that can be used together (or separately) to restore the natural energy balance and body wellness.

Hopefully this small contribution to the body of knowledge on the web will help setting the record straight about the true and proven benefits of TCM.

This is the second part, and if you missed the first one you can find it here.

CUPPING

Cupping therapy might be trendy and “new agey” now, but it is definetely not new. It goes back to ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures, described first also in an Egyptian papyrus dated 1,550 B.C. This therapy consists in placing special cups, heated with fire using alcohol or herbs, on the skin for a few minutes to create suction. The cups can be made of glass, bamboo or silicone, and the session can be described as “wet” or “dry”.

During a dry session of cupping only suction is used, and the cups can be removed and replaced quickly or simply dragged along your skin. During the wet cupping instead a tiny cut on your skin is made and the suction of the cups is used to drag out a small quantity of blood. Your practitioner, your medical condition, and your preferences will help determine what method is used, but to be honest I have never seen wet cupping being used in a Western country.

At the base of cupping’s principles there is the belief that the suction facilitates the healing with the flow of blood and “qi” in the body. This may relieve local muscle tension, but generally improve relaxation, overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the scars. Cupping has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, including migraines, anxiety, fertility, rheumatic disease, blood disorders, skin disorders etc.

Before you get concerned, I must say there aren’t many side effects associated with cupping. But the ones you may experience will typically occur during your treatment or immediately after. These includes feeling lightheaded or dizzy, sweating or nausea. If you will experience wet cupping there is an higher risk of infection, burning or bruising, although some red bruises left by the cups are perfectly normal and will disappear in maximum 3 to 4 days. Extra caution should be taken also for children, seniors, pregnant or menstruating women, but generally always check with your GP or pratictioner first.

GUA SHA

Gua sha is a natural, alternative therapy coming from ancient China that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. The name comes from the word “gua”, that means “scraping” and “sha”, which are the transitory therapeutic petechiae intentionally created by the pratictioner with the tool.

Usually before the session the pratictioner applies massage oil on the skin, then starts scraping it with short or long strikes and always towards one direction. Generally gua sha is performed on a person’s back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs, but a gentle version of it is even used on the face.

This technique is intended to address stagnant energy, qi, in the body responsible for inflammation. Rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to help break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. That is why it is usually used to relieve muscle and joint pain and relief musculoskeletal disorders. But gua sha can also boost the immune system healping treating a cold, fever, or problems with the lungs, and other benefits include helping women during menopause, insomnia, anxiety and fatigue.

But, does it have any side effect? As a natural healing remedy, I can say gua sha is safe. It should not be painful, but because it involves rubbing or scraping skin bruises can occur, although you should not bleed. Bruising usually disappears within a couple of days, but if you take blood thinners or had recent surgery you should not have the treatment done. As always, check with your GP and pratictioner.

Moxibustion stick burning and glowing

Massage techniques – Part 1

There is a lot of misinformation and prejudice towards Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and oriental techniques in general. Since this is what I specialise in I decided to talk about few manipulative techniques that can be used together (or separately) to restore the natural energy balance and body wellness.

Hopefully this small contribution to the body of knowledge on the web will help setting the record straight about the true and proven benefits of TCM.

TUI NA

The term “Tui Na” (pronounced “twee naw”), which literally means “pinch and pull,” refers to a form of Chinese manipulative body therapy often used in conjunction with many other therapies, such as moxibustion, acupuncture, cupping, herbalism, etc.

During a Tui na session, the pratictioner may use a variety of manipulation methods, from gentle to very firm, such as brush, knead, roll, press, and rub the body areas. Tui na is not generally used for pleasure and relaxation, but rather as a treatment to address specific patterns of disharmony and iillness. Infact, like acupuncture, Tui na aims to harmonize yin and yang in the body by manipulating the Qi in the acupuncture channels. It also includes what is popularly known as “acupressure,” where practitioners use finger pressure instead of needles to stimulate the acupuncture points.

In ancient China, medical therapy was often classified as either “external” or “internal” treatment. Tui na was one of the external methods, although it can be used to address both internal diseases and external injuries. Many people seek it to relieve multiple disorders including insomnia, constipation, headaches, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, and emotional problems. It can also treat disorders related to digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems, stiff neck, distension of shoulders, sciatica, and sore back.

MOXIBUSTION

Moxibustion (or “moxa”) is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. Usually the material used is Chinese mugwort (aka Artemesia), but it can be made of a mix of other substances as well.

Moxibustion can be direct and indirect. During direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acu-point and burned. This type can be scarring and non-scarring, depending on the fact that moxa stays on the skin area until it burns out completely, or it is removed before it burns the skin. I must admit I have never seen a scarring moxibustion technique in Western countries, while in China was quite common.

Infact indirect moxibustion is currently the most popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning. The practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another indirect form combines moxa on top of acupuncture needles.

Benefits of moxibustion

The general purpose of moxibustion, like several forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is to strengthen the blood, maintain general health and stimulate the flow of qi. That is why it is very common for patients receiving moxibustion to report a sudden flowing of warmth that quickly radiates along a specific pathway, away from the site of application. This is a good result, as it indicates the arrival and flow of the Qi in the freed energy channel. Usually the patient also experiences a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not feel any pain, blistering or scarring unless the moxa is left in place for too long.

Moxibustion can be used for several general diseases as well, such as pain due to injury or arthritis, digestive or bowel problems, gynecological conditions (quite common breech presentation in late term pregnancy), protection against cold and flu strains, and many more conditions that follow a “cold pattern” and naturally feel better after heat application.

Moxa can be easily used at home and itt is not uncommon for some practitioners to train their patients to use moxa on themselves to strengthen the effect of the clinical sessions between appointments. But although it is a very safe practice, to gain the best benefits from a Tui na and moxibustion treatment right for your condition, it is always better to check with a professional pratictioner first.

 

 

Photo: G. Olivetti

Your eyes’ color reflects your health

If you have never heard about a complementary discipline called “iridology“, very briefly, it is the study of our eyes’ iris (the coloured part of the eye) as associated with diseases or potential developing illnesses.

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, first described it and it was rediscovered in 1860 by Ignacz von Peczely who devoted his life to this study. Iridology can help you understand what ‘optimum health’ means for an individual person, which behaviour you should stop or pick up for a better health condition and so on. The iris infact displays a unique insight into our health potential and disease dispositions and its patterns and pigmentation reveal the history of our genetically inherited health.

In this article I will talk briefly about the iris main pigmentations (colours) and their meaning. As you may know, the final adult colour is not present at birth, when it actually is either blue or slate grey depending on ethnicity. An individual’s true colour develops between 3 to 5 months and generally does not change, just variations in lighting can give an illusion of change of colour. Only some conditions that cause a dispersion of pigment or use of certain drugs may cause a colour change.

Iridology basics

There are three primary colour groups: blue, brown or mixed. Within each of them there are many different shades and all irises can be placed in one of these color groups. I know it can be hard to believe, but green eyes do not really exist as the green appearance of the iris is usually due to discoloration or yellow patches in a blue or mixed color iris. Let’s have a closer look at these three groups:

Blue Iris

Called also “lymphatic“, the colour can vary in shading from blue to blue/grey. Blue eyes are associated with fair complexions, often with blond hair. Young people with blue eyes tend to have ear, sinus, throat and breathing problems, such as asthma.

In later life these people may develop conditions such as arthritis, rheumatics and/or osteoporosis as they age. The lymph system of the body is often overloaded and this is a good reason why lymph drainage massage works well for people with blue eyes. The kidneys can be sluggish and this may lead to water retention.

Brown Iris

We associate brown eyes with people who have an olive complexion and dark hair and from physically strong ethnic backgrounds. Known also as “haematogenic“, brown eyed people are generally prone to have digestive disorders and gastrointestinal weakness.

People with deep brown eyes usually need more vitamins and minerals in their diet. This genetically low mineral status often leads to glandular disturbances, which can lead to blood and circulation disorders, such as varicose veins or haemorrhoids, and problems such as anemia.

Mixed Iris

Mixed colour, also called “biliary“, is a combination of blue and brown and can appear to be various shades of hazel, green and/or with a visible blue base. People with these eyes have a tendency towards sluggish liver and gall bladder conditions and have an emphasis on digestive weakness.

This group often suffers from blood sugar imbalances, particularly connected to the liver and gall bladder and pancreas function. Fluctuations in blood sugars may cause hypoglycemia (diabetes), with its symptoms of sudden, extreme tiredness, chocolate cravings and mood swings, among others.

From just color alone, the iris reveals much information. But remember the eye is a complex structure, a web of fibers forming a unique pattern of lacuna, defects, pigment spots and other iris markings. It is this the very individual pattern that is studied by an iridologist, and not only the particular type of structure marking is noted, but also its location on the iris chart is important to establish the iris/body connection and other individual information you will give before your consultation.

To read more about iridology itself: A look into Iridology

To find an iridologist near your area, check online in their professional body The Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists: Find your Iridologist

Discover the properties of Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is also known as medicinal aloe, “lily of the desert” or “elephant’s gall” and it belongs to the family of succulent plants in the genus ‘Aloe’. Its origin is believed to be in Sudan and has been used for more than 6,000 years, being recognized by many civilizations including the Egyptians, Spanish, Persians, Greeks, Italians, Africans, Japanese, and Indians. It grows best in warm and dry climates and that is why it is densely found in those areas, but it can be easily grown both indoors and outdoors.

Aloe Vera plant is often a stemless or sometimes very short-stemmed juicy plant that grows around 60–100 cm in height and the offsets spread out wide. The leaves of this plant are thick and fleshy and the color varies from green to gray-green. Some varieties of this plant have white flecks on the upper and lower portions of the stem surfaces. The margin of the leaves is like saw-tooth and the flowers bloom during the summer. Each leaf is full of a slimy tissue that stores water, which makes the leaves thick.

This slimy, water-filled tissue is the “gel” we usually associate with Aloe Vera products, and it contains most of the bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. This plant has also compounds such as mannans, polysaccharides, lectins, and anthraquinones that are extremely beneficial for human health. Let’s have a look at all the benefits of this amazing plant:

  • For skin care (wounds, sores, rashes, etc.)

The pure inner gel extracted from the Aloe leaf is the best natural remedy for skin abrasions and it also helps diminish the symptoms of aging skin conditions like wrinkles. Many skin care and personal care products, toiletries, and cosmetics include Aloe extracts. In fact, if you have its plant at home, simply tear a small part of the leaf, take the gel and apply it in the raw form on your face. The topical external use of this plant is the most commonly known and it has long been known as a treatment for sores, particularly burns, including sunburns. Some people prefer drinking its juice, which also enhances skin health, as the properties of the plant work internally. It also helps in curing stings, rashes, acne, and psoriasis.

  • For beauty (moisturizer, hair care, teeth care etc.)

Aloe Vera has proven to be an excellent option for promoting naturally hair growth and essential to retain voluminous and healthy hair. You can apply its gel to the entire scalp or use a shampoo, which stimultaing your scalp can improves blood circulation and keeps you away from stress and mental tiredness.

Dental and gum diseases can also be cured by Aloe Vera. You can try out this natural remedy at home: put some of its powder on your toothbrush, then brush normally. It will soothe your gums and cure any kind of infection or bruises.

  • For digestion

The adaptogenic properties of Aloe Vera are beneficial for a proper digestion. It ensures better nutrient absorption and also eliminates harmful elements through smooth excretion. Its compounds called polysaccharides have the ability to cure a host of digestive disorders and ulcers, which are one of the most prominent consequences of digestive problems. Many studies have proven that with its anti-inflamamtory qualities it improves issues like Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, and other digestive tract disorders, mainly driven by the inflammation of digestive organs.

  • For constipation

This time it is not the gel, but the latex, that provides the benefits. The latex is a sticky yellow residue found just under the skin of the leaf and the key compound responsible for this effect is called aloin, or barbaloin, which has well-established laxative and diuretic effects (however, some concerns have been raised about safety issues with frequent use).

  • For immunity

Aloe Vera gel, again, contains powerful antioxidants, which belong to a large family of substances known as polyphenols. These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in Aloe vera, can help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans. Beverages made with aloe vera juice possess natural detoxifying properties that effectively cleanse the digestive system and the circulatory system. As the absorption level of nutrients accelerates, it results in better blood circulation and also improves health. Infact, when the blood is oxygen-rich, it automatically provides nutrients within the cells more proficiently. Zinc is also an important component in this fantastic plant and it’s essential to maintain a proper immune function.

  • For diabetes and general regulation of blood sugar

Some evidence in humans and animals suggested that Aloe Vera is able to alleviate the chronic hyperglycemia (high blood sugar level) and perturbed lipid (fat) profile that are common among people with diabetes and are major risk factors for cardiovascular complications.

  • For pain

The extract of Aloe Vera has shown to be an excellent stimulant of the uterus and intake of its juice is very beneficial during painful menstruation.

The anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera help it to work efficiently on joints and muscle pains, caused by heavy physical acivity or diseases like gout or arthritis. Applying Aloe gel topically eases inflammation and swelling of the joints.

Aloe Vera Smoothie Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups of coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • lemon, if you like it
  • 1 cup of fresh mango (or any other fruit you like!)
  • 1 fresh banana (or any other fruit again!)
  • a handful of fresh mint
  • 1 medium Aloe Vera leaf filletted (1/2 cups)

How to fillet an Aloe Vera leaf:

  1. First, cut off any white parts close to the root of the leaf.
  2. Then trim the prickly sides by slicing them off entirely using a paring knife. When doing so, try to take off as little as possible.
  3. With the convex side facing up, use a potato peeler to remove the skin from the leaf. Alternatively, you can slice off the top skin with the knife.
  4. Then, slide the knife under the gel to separate it from the leaf skin, making sure there is no leftover skin on the gel.
  5. Dice the gel into smaller pieces. Refrigerate and cover your leftover Aloe.
  6. Add straight into your blender or juicer with the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Enjoy!

Focus on: The Crown Chakra

Sanskrit name: Sahasrara – thousand petal
Element: No element, or thought
Color: Violet or white
Shape: Round scullcap
Petals of the lotus: One thousand
Rights: To know and to learn
Endocrine gland: Pineal gland
Physical association: Central nervous system, cerebral cortex
Psychological function: Awareness, understanding
Challenge: Attachment
Plane: Truth, reality
Planets: Uramis
Incense: Myrrh
Herb: Gotu Kola


The Crown chakra, known as Sahasrara in Sanskrit, is the seventh chakra. It sits like a crown, at the top of the head or slightly above the head, radiating upwards, hence its name.

The meaning of its Sanskrit name is “thousand petals”, as its symbol is composed of a circle and a thousand petals of a lotus flower. This chakra is most commonly represented with the color white, although it can also be pictured as deep purple. The auric color of crown chakra energy can also be seen as gold, white, or clear light.

It is primarily associated to the pineal gland, and to the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which work in pair to regulate the endocrine system. Because of its location, the crown chakra is closely associated with the brain and the whole nervous system. Also, because it is located centrally at the top of the head, Sahasrara gives us access to higher states of consciousness as we open to what is beyond our personal preoccupations and visions.

Infact, the function of the Crown chakra is driven by consciousness and gets us in touch with the universal. Its energy allows us to experience mystical oneness with everyone and everything in nature. The “way of the Crown chakra” is the way of going beyond the limits of your own ego, knowing that all of creation is interconnected at a fundamental level. The challenge of this chakra is to liberate the spirit, open to the divine, and at the same time stay firmly rooted deep in the ground, as energetically, it has a connection with the first chakra, as they both are at the extremities of the chakra system.

As we are immersed in the energy of Sahasrara, we feel a state of blissful union with all that is, of spiritual ecstasy, allowing us to access to the upmost clarity and enlightened wisdom. The quality of awareness that comes with it is universal, transcendent, and it makes us feel present, conscious, aware ofthe main connection and free from our limiting patterns.

A deficiency in the Crown chakra tends to cause subtle, systemic problems. These include: depression and mental fog, chronic fatigue, migraines and other chronic headaches, greed and materialism. On the other hand, an excess of energy in the seventh chakra can also cause problems including: sensitivity to light and sound, neurological or endocrine disorders, boredom and frustration, a sense of unearned accomplishment.

An unbalanced Crown chakra can also play a role in dementia, learning disabilities, comas, sleep disorders and mental illness.

But how can you open and rebalance Sahasrara again?

  • Meditate. Focus your attention on the top of the head and clearly set your intention of balancing the Chakra. Visualize the violet color when doing this. Thank the Universe and feel the connection to the Higher Being, since Gratitude and contentment are the simplest ways of strengthening this Chakra.
  • Aromatherapy. Floral essences such as Lotus, Angelica and white tulip when applied to the pulse points can aid the meditation process.
  • Yoga. Postures like Shavasana (corpse position) or Lotus position (Padmasana) are recommended for aiding the Crown Chakra. An advanced pose, the headstand or Shirshasan, also helps balance the Crown Chakra by increasing blood flow to the top of the head.
  • Practice silence. It is best for Crown chakra activation, because it does not distract from spiritual practice. The sound of Om and deep, tonal sounds can also be healing music for Sahasrara because of their universal nature.
  • Sunlight. The Crown chakra’s elements are thought and light, so spending time in the sunlight is good for opening it.
  • Work on these believes you may have consciously or subconsciously in order to figure out where they come from and solve them:

Crown Chakra Affirmations

I am part of the Divine.
I honor the Divine within me.
I seek to understand and to learn from my life experiences.
I cherish my spirit.
I seek experiences that nurture my spirit.
I listen to the wisdom of universe.
I trust my intuition.
I am open to letting go of my attachments.
I live in the present moment.
I am grateful for all the goodness in my life.
I love and accept myself.
I know that all is well in my world.
I am connected with the wisdom of the universe.
I am open to Divine wisdom.
My life moves with grace.
I am at peace.

Create your home made herbal remedy

Nowadays deciding to be treated only with herbal/holistic/homeopatic remedies is becoming a thing. People want to go back to the oringins, being more healthy and natural, find a way to cure themselves minimizing the risks and potential side effects. DIY is becoming generally very popular as well, maybe for the lack of trust in the health system or for feeding our curiosity and improve our own skills. No matter what are the reasons for both these tendencies, but I thought it would be interesting writing about it, combining the herbal remedies with the DIY side. Obviously you need some knowledge in order to treat yourself properly, so I suggest you to take these advices only if you have some experience or after you have spoken with a professional herbal therapist for the dosage and type of herb you may need to use.


Let’s start from the very beginning, so by collecting herbs from field or garden. For a number of good reasons you should gather your own herbs: you are assured of their freshness and potency, you also know their source, if they are clean, pure and wholesome. You will also save yourself money and gain self-sufficiency and with time you will build an increasing knowledge of plants and their medicinal uses. Although each herb is different and some may require unique handling, the following general principles can be used for gathering herbs:

  • Herbs are generally gathered according to their particular growth cycle: annuals (plants that have one growing season, the seed germinates the plant flowers and bears fruit and then dies), biennials (plants which germinate and establish a good root system during the first year, flower and bear fruit at the end of the second year, and then die ), or perennials (plants that live and bear fruit a number of years before they die).
  • Herbs must be gathered in dry weather, as those collected in moist or rainy periods are generally weaker and more apt to spoil.
  • Gather in the cool of the morning after the dew has evaporated or in the evening before the dew forms on the plant. Also before the sun is high in the sky.
  • Preferably gather wild plants from high, dry soils, exposed to clean air and abundant sunshine.
  • In all cases, gathering must be selective according to the type of plant and the part to be used (flowers, leaves, roots, etc.).

It is an excellent thing to do cultivating your own herbs in the garden, and I would encourage you to consider it, but try to be selective in the number of herbs you are going to grow. If you do not have enough time, space or knowledge, just purchase what you need from a health shop or a recognised herbal supplier. This is the most quick method to start herbalism.

Once collected your herbs, you need to know how to dry and storage them in a proper way, in order not to lose much of their medicinal value. Dry all herbs carefully outdoors (spreading a layer of herbs on a drying screen in the shade as quickly as possible), indoors (in a dust-free room, at mild temperature, on a drying screen covered away from direct sunlight) or with artificial heat (be very careful, oven drying under 38°C is difficult and often done improperly).

To store them, place them in a tight appropriate container, not made of formaldehyde or certain damaging plastic types, and seal with sealing wax to keep the air from getting to the herb. Always label and date them, and make sure they are used within a year. Never put them under direct sunlight or in room too hot or cold. If its a oil, use a brown bottle or can.

General guidelines should be also followed when starting making your own preparations, for example never use aluminium ware as it poisons with its gases and metallic acid, stainless-steel ware is the best because it does not break, although you should watch for over-high temperatures that cause burning.

It is time now to describe the most common various herbal preparations. Remember that dosages must be adjusted according to personal need.

Capsule: Take the herbal powders and other materials that, because of their nauseous taste or smell, would otherwise be difficult to administer, and place them into a soluble gelatin shell or capsule. These capsules are easy to buy and they are made in different sizes for easy swallowing, with numbers 1 to 4, 0, and 00 being the most common. To fill the capsule, simply take the two halves of a capsule apart and push these halves into the powder and towards each other, pressing the halves together again and at the same time compressing the powder. Dosage depends on the age, size, vitality, condition being treated, and the strength of the ingredients in the capsule itself.

Decoction: This is a process used with hard materials such as roots and barks, chips, etc. Decoctions are intended for immediate use within a twenty-four hour period (72-hour maximum limit when stored in a very cool place) and are generally made by pouring cold water upon fresh or dried herbs. The harder the material, the longer the simmering and extractive period will be. Consider to pulverize them first by mechanical means or pounding; next, soak the ingredients for twelve hours, then set this liquid on the fire and gradually heat to a slight boil. After the extractive period, drain off the liquid while hot and press the herb hard to make sure that all of the therapeutic ingredients are removed, then let stand until cool.

The usual preparation is 1 ounce of herb placed into 1 and half pints of cold water (the half pint will be lost in the extractive process). The herb and liquid is then brought slowly to a boil. The decoction differs from the infusion in that heat is applied and continued over a period of time, because roots and barks generally need longer heating to extract their active principles. When cool, pour off the clear liquid on top, separating it from the settlings and, finally, sweeten to taste. Add more water when decoctions are too strong. Dosage depends on age, size and temperament, but generally 2 fluid ounces to a cupful of liquid three times a day.

Infusion: An infusion extracts the active principles of herbs in water, or other fluid, without simmering or boiling;. Pour a liquid over the raw or powdered herb. The liquid may be hot or cold, but the flavour of the herb is generally much stronger and the action is much faster when made and administered hot. Generally a standard infusion is used with the lighter herbs (such as the leaves, flowers, etc.), and is made by placing one teaspoonful of finely cut dried herb or two teaspoonfuls of bruised fresh herb into a cup and adding boiling, distilled water; cover and let steep for 15 minutes; strain and drink.

Be sure to cover the vessel and stir occasionally, and then carefully strain off the clear liquid. Dosage varies according to type of herb and problem condition, but usually one cupful three times a day. Regulate the quantity to fit the patient’s strength, kidney problems, extreme debilitation, etc.

Oil: This preparation is made from the plant oils. For instance, with the mints (peppermint, spearmint, etc.), the oils come from the leaves. Many of these oils, when properly made (with olive oil), do not go into rancidity easily. The amount of herbs used depends upon the quantity of oil desired, but often a pound of fresh herbs to a pint of olive oil is used. Simmer the herbs for hours until the oil comes out of the herb. In the case of cloves, grind up fine, and simmer the powder in olive oil at a temperature of 50-65°C. Never use mineraloils. For olive oil, which is high in nutritional value, massage as much as the skin will absorb; it can be also used in small doses internally, except when for gallstones or kidney stones.

Ointment: It is a soft, semi-solid fatty herbal preparation used for a protective and emollient effect, liquefying when applied externally. Ointment bases are generally composed of various mixtures of waxes, animal and vegetable oils and the medicinal substances are mixed with them. Start with a melted base, such as olive oil and beeswax, and combine with herb. A good standard is 14 ounces of olive oil, 2 ounces of beeswax, and 1 pound of fresh or 1 and half pound of dry herbs. Place into a closed container, put into the oven and leave there at low heat (around 80°C) for 3-4 hours. Periodically, take a fork and lift the fresh herbs to see if they aregetting browned and brittle, and whether the oil has drawn the value from the herb. Vaseline as a base is generally inferior to animalor plant oils, but may be used if you do not want the preparation to be absorbed quickly into the skin.

Pill/Tablet: In this case the herbal agent is ground into a very fine powder and mixed with a mucilage of gum Arabic (made by dissolving gum Arabic in water), slippery elm, or a syrup, etc. which is then worked up into a pill mass. A portion is then cut off, sliced into small strips and then into smaller pill-sized pieces, which are then rolled into little round balls for easy administration. A small amount of powdered rhubarb or flour on the board in preparation will keep the mass from sticking, but keep the pill mass in a quite firm consistency, or else the excess mucilage or syrup will absorb too much rhubarb or flour.

Pills can be coated or uncoated, but the pearl-coated pill is a favourite and is readily soluble in the stomach. Pills are usually made so that one pill equals about 300-400 milligrams of the herbal compound. A pill differs from a tablet in that a pill needs mucilage or other substance added to keep the herbal agent in an adhesive mass, whereas the tablet will adhere by its own characteristics upon compression.

Poultrice: This herbal preparation is a soft, semi-liquid mass made of some cohesive substance mixed with water, vinegar or other substances, and used for supplying heat and moisture to an area, or to act as a local stimulant. Have the herbs ground or granulated. When using fine powder, just use enough moisture to make a thick paste, and when using the granulated form, a thick paste may be made with a mixture of water and cornmeal. If fresh green leaves are used, simply heat, bruise, triturate or chop the leaves up finely, and apply to the affected parts. Be generous in making poultices, covering the afflicted area thickly.

Spirit: It is an alcoholic or hydro-alcoholic preparation containing ordinary alcohol and a watery liquid that has been distilled from an alcoholic tincture or mash. It is a volatile prepared by distillation, whereas a tincture is prepared by infusing the volatile substance in alcohol. These are used as tonics, etc.  A few drops on up are used as specified.

Syrup: A thick, sticky liquid preparation made by dissolving sugar into distilled water, decoctions, infusions, juices, or other aqueous solution, and it is used to suspend medicinal or flavouring agents for easy administration alone, or to combine with other preparations. For making a syrup with herbs, settle out the heavier matter and pour off the clear liquid; then add to that 1 and 3/4 pounds of sugar, place into an appropriate vessel, heat until the sugar is melted, cool, and store for future use. Another formula for making a simple syrup is to pour 1 pint of boiling water over 2 and half pounds of sugar, place on a hot stove and stir until the liquid begins to boil, and then instantly remove. Dosage varies from 1 teaspoonful to 1 tablespoonful once or few times per day.

Tincture: This is technically a fluid extract, but the medicinal virtues are extracted into solution with grain alcohol or vinegar, which are better preservative for long term storage of extracts. Take approximately 4 ounces of ground dried herbs or 8 ounces of finely chopped fresh herbs and place them in a glass bottle with at least 16 ounces of alcohol or vinegar, until the herb is completely submerged under the liquid. This is tightly capped and each day for 10 days to 2 weeks the bottle is shaken vigorously at least 3 times a day or more. Extract all liquids, squeezing the herb residue thoroughly, with a regular juice press, or wring out by hand through cloth, etc.

After the liquid is extracted, place the tincture extract in dark or painted bottles, stopper thoroughly and store. When administering a tincture internally, you may evaporate the alcohol from the solution by putting it into hot water, or it can be taken as is. Dilute at least 1 teaspoonful of tincture to each cup of water.

The 5 Elements Chinese Theory

Based on observations of the natural world, ancient Chinese people recognized continuous patterns of transformation and change in the universe. Initially, these observations were interpreted using the Yin-Yang logic, but later these interpretations were expanded using a new theory called the “Wu Xing“. Wu Xing, also known as the Five Elements, is a conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain and describe interactions and relationships between phenomena and grouping objects, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs….the categories are limitless. The Five Elements reflect a deep understanding of natural law, the Universal order underlying all things in our world.

The theory assets substances can be divide into one of five basic elements: Wood (木 ), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water(水 shuǐ), which contain their own specific characteristics and properties.

5elements-table

So what does the Five Element theory say to us about the world we live in? First, it speaks about how all things are connected. Everything within each element is related. Let’s take the Water element as an example: when it is winter there is a cold essence, it relates to and impacts in some way the kidneys, the emotion fear is linked, though not always in an obvious, visible way.

Second, the Five Elements show us how the structures and systems in our bodies are connected to each other, how we are linked to our environment and the natural world, how our world is part of the greater universe. Many people today have lost this deep connection to nature and no longer are able to feel this truth resonate in their being.

These elements are five fundamental energies in nature in motion. There is a dynamism between them, they are not static. Within their structure there are two fundamental relationships: generation (the external circle) and overcoming (the internal arrows). Without the balancing nature of these two relationships, things would fall out of order in a flash:

579c60520037b372d4dacf423d52f949--element-chart-medicine-doctor

The Five Elements are aspects of Qi. Also health is the result of a harmonious balance of all of them. The Qi of the elements waxes and wanes in daily and seasonal cycles. Each one of us is an unique and characteristic blend of the influences of all the elements.

People who have a strong energy of the Wood element have a clear vision and goals, and know how to bring them into being. They excel at planning and decision making and can be forceful in disagreements. When the Wood Qi is weak, people can be indecisive, without strong direction in life and stuck. When the Liver Qi is congested or stagnant, people can be arrogant, over controlling, and have angry disposition and digestive problems. They may have a tendency to be workaholics or have addictive personalities, including the possibility of abusing drugs and alcohol. When Liver Qi is imbalanced, sour and bitter flavours are said to benefit its meridian, while acid food the opposite. Common illnesses include migraines, eye and sinus problems. For women, menstrual problems are frequent.

People with strong Fire energy may be quite charismatic, excelling at comanding others to action. They may love talking and socializing. When the Fire Qi is weak, a person may be lackluster or bland. They may suffer from anxiety, restlessness and insomnia, be too excitable, easily stimulated to excess, or they may be emotionally cold and unfeeling. Common diseases include palpitation, high blood pressure, heart problems and sores on mouth and tongue. People strongly influenced by the Fire element may be vulnerable in very hot weather and usually are calmed down by walking. The bitter flavour favors the Fire Qi.

Someone with well developed Earth energy is well grounded, nurturing, compassionate person, sometimes perceived as the archtypical “earth mother”. Earth people like to bring others together and make good mediators or peacemakers and reliable friends. When people have weak Earth Qi, they can be worriers, prone to pensiveness and overwork. They are vulnerable to digestive problems and they may gain weight easily and lose it with difficulty. Their bodies have a tendency also to make excessive mucus. Those with weak Earth Qi often feel better when they limit cold, raw foods and dairy products. They usually crave sweet, but they should eat warming foods and grains to stay well grounded. Common illnesses include: fatigue, diarrhea, gas and bloating, food allergies and sensitivities, eating disorders, heartburn and canker sores.

A person with well balanced Metal energy is well organized, self disciplines and conscientious. They like structure and rules in their life. A person with Metal Qi imbalance may be grief-stricken, sad, overly critical, having trouble in letting go. When the Metal energy is weak, there can be diseases of the lungd and skin. This energy peaks in the fall. In the cool, crisp, clean air of the autumn, metal people feel they can accomplish anything. The color of Metal is white, and thats is why people strongly influenced by the Metal Qi usually look pale.

When the Water Qi is strong, a person is fearless, determined and can endure many hardships in following their dreams and goals. Longevity is also considered to be associated with healthy Kidney Qi. When it is weak, there can be problems with water metabolism, such as urination, fertility or sexuality. This type of person could be anxious, fearful and withdrawn, and in more severe cases phobic. There may be also diminished hearing or ringing in the ears. The Kidney Qi rules in the winter.

 

Pictures taken from:
https://jungsacupuncture.com/our-services/acupuncture/
https://vnras.com/cong-van-5756-qld-dk/

What is Reiki?

The word Reiki is composed of two Japanese words: “rei” and “ki“. Translating Japanese into English is very difficult, especially if we are seeking a definition from a more spiritual context. In this case, Rei can be defined as the Higher Intelligence that guides the creation and functioning of the universe, both animate and inanimate things. It is available to help us in times of need and to act as a source of guidance in our lives. Ki is the non-physical energy that animates and flows in all living things, including plants, animals and humans. When a person’s Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on it’s challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the environment and everything around us, like the air, light, etc.

So, Reiki can be defined as a non-physical healing technique made of life force energy that is guided by the Higher Intelligence. The source of health comes from the Ki that flows through and around the individual, rather than from the functional condition of organs and tissues. Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvment that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and psychological issue and always creates a beneficial effect, such as a deep relaxation. It also works with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.

To administer Reiki, a practitioner channels life force energy through his or her hands unto another. The spiritual guidance enables the Reiki to flow through the affected parts of the subject’s energy field and charges them with positive energy. It raises awareness in and around the physical body where negative thoughts and feelings are contained. This causes the negative energy, such as stress, anxiety, physical pain, sadness, confusion, etc. to loosen its grip, allowing the touch of the Reiki healer to swoop in and clarify the energy pathways. A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. This healing technique cannot be guided by the mind, therefore it is not limited by the experience or ability of the practitioner. Neither can it be misused as it always creates a healing effect, the worst it can do is nothing.

Reiki is different from almost all other healing modalities. It’s actually transferred to each student from a Reiki master during what is called an “attunement” process. This process opens the crown, heart, and palm chakras and creates a unique connection between the student and the teacher. Once you have received a Reiki attunement, you will have Reiki for the remainder of your life. It does not “wear off” and you can never lose it.

There are actually three or four levels of Reiki, depending on your teacher, for which one must be attuned before becoming a master:

  • Reiki Level 1: it is all about learning the history of Reiki, proper hand placements, the basics of how to use Reiki on others, and the practice of self-Reiki. This encourages students to use the technique on themselves in order to work through personal hardships.
  • Reiki Level 2: it is often defined by a focus on practicing Reiki on others, as well as an expanded opening of the energy channels. Additionally students receive the Reiki symbols and Level 2 attunement. The Reiki symbols allow the practitioner to connect more deeply to the universal energy, as well as draw on the qualities that the symbols represent. This includes the ability to provide distance in space and time treatments.
  • Reiki Level 3/Master: in many courses the Third Degree and Reiki Master are the same designation, because it is traditionally considered the teacher’s level.

Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use it. Infact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not.  Many people find that using Reiki puts them more in touch with the experience of their religion rather than having only an intellectual concept of it, but that is only up to you and your beliefs.

Most agree that Reiki has its origins back to the late 19th or early 20th centuries and the teachings of a Japanese monk named Mikao Usui. He had “rediscovered” this ancient concept of an inexhaustible energy source that can be harnessed for healing. Through attunements, a Reiki master (Usui was the first) can teach others to master this healing power as well. In 1937, a Japanese-American named Hawayo Takata brought the practice of Reiki to the West when she returned to her native Hawaii.

The secret art of inviting happiness,
The miraculous medicine of all diseases.
Just for today, do not anger,
Do not worry and be filled with gratitude.
Devote yourself to your work. Be kind to people.
Every morning and evening, join your hands in prayer.
Pray these words to your heart
and chant these words with your mouth.
Usui Mikao, Reiki: Treatment for the improvement of body and mind