18 Ways Yoga Changed My Life

The term “yoga” is a Sanskrit word that means “union” or “to join”. This refers to the union of body, mind, and spirit (pretty holistic, right?). Yoga is a 5,000 year old system that analyzes everything from conduct and philosophy to breath and meditation. Though most Westerners turn to yoga for relaxation and its other health benefits, the ultimate aim of yoga is something much bigger. Through the process of purifying our thoughts and actions, yoga gives us a clear path to attain bliss, peace, and self-realization. This practice is very near and dear to me because it’s radically transformed my life from the inside out.

18 Ways Yoga Changed My Life
Among other things, yoga has helped me to decrease stress and anxiety, increase my range of motion, boost my immune system, improve my posture, heal injuries, and learn how to really concentrate. After five years of practicing yoga, you might imagine that I have developed more strength, flexibility, and balance as a result. And I have, but in more holistic ways than you…

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Touch: A Poem by Zachary H. Avery, LMT

It’s something I have thousands of hours of training in, yet it’s so intuitive.
Sometimes people come in for a session,
When all they need is to be held.
Clasping their hands in mine,
They begin to weep.

It’s so simple, yet so profound.
We know that babies die without it,
Bad days can turn around because of it.
The truth is, what you touch with your hands,
You can’t help but touch with your heart.

It’s a way to bestow dignity, restore respect, and demonstrate love.
Sometimes I think my presence is more important than my strokes.
Yes, I know the origin and insertion of that muscle,
But more importantly I recognize the origin of your being and the insertion of your spirit.
This is indeed about more than dirty feet or ticklish thighs.

It’s more than just a physical act.
The mind and the body are indeed one.
I touch your trapezius,
But more importantly I touch your pain, your sorrow, your fear.
Assuredly, whatever we can allow to be touched, we can allow to be healed.

It’s something that grounds us.
By bringing us out of thoughts of the past and the future,
The act of touch brings us to the here and now.
Our guards come down, we release control, our worries and insecurities magically melt away…

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Yin and Yang: An Eastern Perspective

“If Yin is a noun, then Yang is a verb, and life is a complete sentence.” – Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide To Chinese Medicine, pg. 52

We recently started a discussion about the Autonomic Nervous System and I explained the breakdown of the sympathetic nervous system versus the parasympathetic nervous system. That was all a Western/conventional/allopathic understanding; now let’s discuss the same concept from an Eastern/alternative/holistic perspective.

Having studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the last few years, I’ve learned quite a bit about how they view the world in the East. It’s fascinating. One of the fundamental concepts in Chinese Medicine is that of yin and yang (pronounced “yong“). We’ve all seen the yin/yang symbol (see right), but I’ve noticed that most people don’t have a clue what it means. This newsletter will provide you with an introduction to these very concepts; the full theory behind yin and yang are much more complex and could easily fill an entire book, but I believe that this will be a good 101.
Yin and Yang are a way of viewing life. Simply explained, yin and yang provide a categorical way to approach the world….

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The Autonomic Nervous System Explained

People often ask me about the science/logic/reasoning as to how the services that I offer (i.e. massage, acupuncture, yoga, etc.) promote health and wellness in the body. I could answer this question from many different angles; we could talk about knots, trigger points, reflex areas, fascia, lymph, inflammation, circulation, endorphins, energy/qi, and so forth. Today, however, I want to go a little deeper with my answer.

Throughout my thousands of hours of training in alternative medicine, I’ve had the privilege to learn from some pretty phenomenal practitioners of both Western and Eastern medicine. What I’ve noticed is that people generally tend to have a great Western/allopathic understanding of health, or they have a good grip on the Eastern/holistic perspective; only a small number of people have studied both. Not only have I actively pursued studying health from both a Western and Eastern approach, but I’ve been building bridges between the two for the last several years. In this newsletter, I’m going to explain what I do from a Western point of view and then next month I’ll explain everything from an Eastern outlook (and I’ll show how the two perspectives parallel and are really one and…

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The Mind-Body Connection Revisited

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

“There is no illness of the body apart from the mind.” – Socrates

“The mind and body communicate constantly. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is sent from our brain to the rest of the body.” – Herbert Benson, M.D.

“The fact that the mind rules the body is, in spite of its neglect by biology and medicine, the most fundamental fact which we know about the process of life.” – Franz Alexander, M.D.

“It’s supposed to be a professional secret, but I’ll tell you anyway. We doctors do nothing. We only help and encourage the doctor within.” – Albert Schweitzer, M.D.

“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” – Hippocrates (The Father of Western Medicine)

I first wrote about the mind-body connection several years ago; you can read the article here. We intuitively know that our minds and bodies are connected. Haven’t you heard people experiencing “gut feelings”, “butterflies”, and “heartbeak”? These are all thoughts/emotions (which originate in the mind) that we feel…

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Stress 101

Take a moment to check in with your body. Are you furrowing your eyebrows? Clenching your jaw? Hunching your shoulders? Curling your toes? Do you feel tension in your neck and shoulders? If so, your body may be indicating that you are currently experiencing some level of stress.

Let’s talk about stress. Stress has become normal; even worse, it’s become a badge of honor, an addiction, even an identity. In our culture, you’re nearly judged to be doing something wrong if you aren’t stressed. Work deadlines, financial problems, relationship woes, bad test results, technology, the ever-increasing hustle of society, rambunctious children, and the media filling your thoughts with stories of war, violence, and greed all contribute to a constant bombardment of stress from all directions.

Webster’s Dictionary defines stress as, “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.” My definition of stress is anything that puts you in your sympathetic nervous system. Of course that would include divorce/break ups, death, illness, family issues, school/work related stress, bills piling up, car problems, and having too many commitments, but it would also include misplacing your wallet, speaking in public, the job you don’t like, dealing with rude and…

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