spa imageOver the last ten years I have worked in a variety of settings including Medical and Day Spas, Yoga studios, Gyms and Chiropractors offices.  This wide and varied experience has given me a very sensitive and shrewd understanding of the spa experience.  I understand what goes on behind the scenes and can spot a shotty establishment pretty quick.  My background and New York State License in Massage Therapy also makes me an extra picky consumer.  Over the next few weeks and months I will be reviewing several New York Spas and sharing my experience for those of you who live in or are visiting the New York City area.

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chakraThe practice of Yoga has gained an immense popularity over the last few decades.  There are classes in gyms everywhere in small rural areas to cosmopolitan centers.  Among the benefits of participating consistently  in a well instructed class are good alignment, improved breathing and more spiritual connection (alignment through the Chakra system).  This last part is often forgotten or completely overlooked because yoga is often represented as simply another form of exercise.  Yoga means path or way.  The practice of the Asanas (poses in yoga) are meant as a way to connect to one’s center,  to source energy and spirit. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that effects your body, mind and spirit by practicing balance, strength and focus as we connect to the chakra system.  The words Yoga and Chakra were taken over by a flighty new age perspective at one point -it is important to reclaim them as they are refreshingly structured and grounded.  They are concepts that have been around for thousands of years and for good reasons.

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aroma therapy candleThe word aromatherapy often appears in my articles,  so I would like to share some simple  tips on how you can use it to enhance the quality of your environment and to help improve your mood.  First, go to your local health food store and check the lovely assortment of flora and fauna sitting there on the shelf!  Always make sure it says 100% pure on the label.  This means exactly what it says without that marker you may be purchasing artificial oil which will not have the same healing value.  You can, of course, purchase essential oil online but going to the store allows you to sample scents prior to buying.

If  you or anyone you live with has allergies, be very mindful when making your selection.  Avoid the strong scents at first such as eucalyptus or tea tree.  Though they have great therapeutic value, they can be very overpowering when introducing aromatherapy for the first time in your home.  Try the more simple and equally beneficial scents of citruses!  Grapefruit, sweet orange and even lemon are fantastic!  Bergamot, a citrus fruit similar to grapefruit and the main ingredient in Earl Grey tea, is one of my favorites.   Most people will not have a problem with these scents (unless they have a food allergy to them).  In addition, they have the familiarity factor which make people feel comfortable and welcome.  Citrus scents are great to use in those dark winter months to bring a little sunshine in your home and combat depression.

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bach flowerThe Bach Flower Essences are a great tool for self improvement.  Dr. Richard Bach (1886-1936), a British doctor, devoted the latter part of his life to discovering and cultivating  the hidden healing properties within the trees and flowers.  The Bach flower essences can be an aid in a range of emotional issues such as  indecision, irrational fear and anxiety.  There are a multitude of Bach flower essences-38 in all.  The Bach flower essences are not meant as a substitute for medical attention or true chronic depression and anxiety disorders.  For acute or chronic issues  seek professional medical advise.  The Bach flower essences are, however, an excellent tool for someone in need of a shift in life.  I have heard them affectionately called, “Psychotherapy in a bottle.”  If one is tired of a particular pattern of behavior they find themselves doing and wants to change it, the Bach flower essences are an excellent tool.

For example, when I was in my early to mid twenties I found that whenever I had a decision to make I would consult several key friends and family members on what they would do.  While some advice is helpful it can often leave one feeling back to where they were in the first place.  All the input in the world really won’t change the final decision which in the end I found usually comes from within.  I tried the essence of Cerato, which is useful if someone does not have confidence in their own decisions.  For me at that time it came from (I believe) a fear of making a mistake or of trying to make the “right” decision.  While I’m all for research, at times opinions can really be just that-opinions.  The only truth is within especially on matters of our own choice.  I can honestly say that I did have a major shift in my ability to handle decisions and finally achieve the autonomy I needed.  This website is an extension of that principle in that I hope it helps people to tune into themselves through sensibility.

 

The Bach flower essences fall under the category of vibrational energy or vibrational medicine.  This is exactly what it sounds like.  Imagine what it feels like to sit near a tree or hold a flower in your hand.  There is a connectedness and a grace about their two energies.  They give off a certain vibration.  When one uses the Bach flower essences one is literally ingesting that essence into their being.  Sounds quite powerful and it is.  Trees and flowers have the dualistic properties of having roots reaching downward, connecting to the earth and the branches and petals reaching upward in search of sunlight and nourishment and as a catalyst for photosynthesis.  In yoga practice as in Tai qi and Qi gong practices it is these images in nature one is often striving for.  We need our connectedness as well as our ascendant qualities to thrive.  Dr. Bach understood this and as a result we now have his remedies.

Another interesting way of understanding how the Bach flower essences work is by  looking at a principle in homeopathy that is known as, “like cures like.”  If, for example, a person feels very weepy they would try the essence of weeping willow.  Another example is the Holly essence for anger issues.  The Holly leaf is very spiky as an angry or disgruntle person can appear.  I have heard of the Holly Essence being successfully used with angry teenagers.

Use of the Bach flower essences requires some self reflection.  There is an excellent remedy finder quiz on the official site that can help with this.  A word of warning is that one often feels they need most of them.  I never tell anyone to ingest anything but I know from my own experience that I have used many of them at different points in my life and they have been extremely helpful.  The Bach flower essences are in a base of alcohol if that is of any concern.

Below is an excerpt from an article by Don Hanson CPDT, BFRP, CDBC that illustrates how useful anecdotal evidence can be.

Because it is not based upon statistical research and the scientific method, anecdotal evidence is often dismissed by the scientific community, yet the following is a prime example of the role and importance that it plays. As early as the 1700’s, sailors were fed limes as a way of preventing scurvy. This practice was based strictly on anecdotal evidence. It wasn’t until 1932 and the discovery of vitamin C that the scientific method was able to prove why limes and other citrus fruits helped prevent and cure scurvy. Fortunately, no one stopped sailors from eating limes because scientists had not completed a study demonstrating that eating limes cures scurvy. Anecdotal evidence is often the first step in the discovery of new methods and ways of thinking.