Having a conversation with a client he announced, “you give people hope.” When clients pay small verbal affirmations of my work I’ve made it a point to sit in them, honor them and let them sink in. All too often I finish a session thinking if I could have been more in tune, if I could have used more pressure etc. Being a perfectionist has its downfalls. I’m happy to give people hope, I’ve had it myself for quite some time.
Clients come to me with a list of complaints, aches, pains and usually in 2 hours they leave feeling much better. Their conditions don’t just go away, we’ve just lessened the issue. Their medical complaints are so vast I can’t expect to cure anything, that’s not really what I do. The only cure comes from inside them. Beyond genetics, they control the nurture. You can nurture all sorts of conditions and see improvement. It reminds me of veterans who’ve lost limbs. They seem to have the strongest bodies because the rest of them is compensating for not having the extra limb. They seem stronger than everyone else. I told myself many years ago that my pain may never fully go away but if it cannot the rest of my body will be so strong and so healthy my issue is just an annoyance that doesn’t rob me of my life.
You have arthritis? Carpal tunnel syndrome? Thoracic outlet syndrome? Pain and tingling in your hands and arms? Pain in your feet or lower legs? Pain that runs down your leg from your buttocks? Low back pain? Upper back and neck pain? All of those are the most common conditions I see and I can almost guarantee that within a few sessions I can show you great relief. Beyond that I can help describe what may be happening, how you can work on it at home and how we can prevent it in the future. That’s where hope comes in. I don’t work with you to keep you coming back. I work with you so you get better. I’m happy to work on you but it does my life no great joy to create a revolving door of clients.
Let’s look at something as insidious as arthritis. This one is personal to me since this seems to run in my family. There is I don’t doubt some genetic component but nature/nurture is the battle I see looming large. Until the science steps up and gives us more details I believe most conditions can be made tolerable if not healed. Any kind of -itis is usually inflammation at some point. Inflammation seems to be a normal healing response that goes haywire.
In my case I’ve apparently come from a line of people who are prone to arthritis and I’ve had trauma to my neck and upper back from a car accident. Double whammy. Do I have arthritis? I don’t believe so. Will I have it? A doctor has told me that I will probably get it particularly in areas that were damaged in the accident. That sets up my life and my challenge. I want to be healthy and whole.
Yoga in particular holds great potential. Thai massage and other bodywork is good as well but yoga in particular appeals because it’s inexpensive, noninvasive but goes to the core of your being and you take it with you. You don’t have to keep coming back to me, you know how to care for things yourself, with practice. Along with deterioration of a joint that goes with arthritis I believe there are muscular and structural issues at play. You must keep the joint mobile within reason and help your cardiovascular system flush the area with fresh, clean blood as much as possible.
It’s been my experience that warming the area, flushing it with blood will help with symptoms and long term I believe it may in some instances heal arthritis. Mine, if I have it isn’t bad. Certainly not to the point of taking medications. Currently I take…nothing. Not even an aleve from time to time. So, heat the body up, keep it pliable, strengthen muscles and continue using your body. Very simple health advice overall. This does however go deeper.
The poses in yoga help clean you out from the inside out. Your Whole body. This is the definition of holistic. Part of that work is breathing, the pranayama exercises in yoga. This work regulates the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your bloodstream and also helps balance the different parts of your nervous system. People’s sympathetic nervous system is often keyed up, fight or flight wins. Problem is in fight or flight your body doesn’t care if you digest food, doesn’t care about cleansing and repair. You Must stimulate your relaxation response. This part of your nervous system that takes over is the parasympathetic. This part cleans, repairs, and nourishes the relaxation response. Your body and your nervous system must be balanced.
Krishnamacharya held that the breath was critical to controlling the inner functions of the body. He would say, in English, “Lungs are pump. Control breathing. Control heartbeat.” ~ A. G. Mohan, “Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings”
Now we get to where it’s really interesting. This is the edge, the area that’s hardly been studied scientifically. Yoga gives you control over your body. With practice you can control things that most doctors will tell you you cannot control. We talked about vascularity and blood flow and how important it is in inflammatory conditions like arthritis. What about the center of the cardiovascular system, the heart? Here’s cutting to the chase. Not only do I think you can make areas more vascular and cleanse them I think that you can fundamentally gain control of your heart and heart beat itself. With practice you can stop your heart. Most will tell you this is impossible and that’s fine.
I don’t necessarily wish to have this control, this is deep, far reaching work that may take a lifetime but if you can control your heart enough to make it stop do you think you could help a case of arthritis? My point exactly. You have Far more control over your health and conditions than most would have you believe.
If you have arthritis I recommend Bikram yoga. The practice works your heart, warms your body and speeds cleansing and repair. The internal tourniquets you form flush the problem areas with blood. This may never heal your condition fully but if the symptoms go away, do you still have arthritis? Let’s explore and see. I’ve been doing so for the past 7 years.