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Gua Sha, The Body Mind Connection, and its Benefits in Skincare and Health

January 12, 2021

As a massage therapist, the modalities that I choose to incorporate depends on the specific needs of my client. And one that I like to include, especially during facial massage, is Gua Sha.

Gua Sha, a long practiced therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine defined as "scraping red spots on the skin", is a form of scraping/pressing/angular kneading massage that promotes proper blood & energy flow within the body's channels/meridians. 

When these channels aren't flowing properly, the stagnation created causes disease & toxin buildup within the body that later manifest as various ailments that affect quality of life. 

Gua-sha massage helps to improve the immune system functions, promote proper lymph drainage & adjust the body's overall homeostasis.

Much like foot reflexology, there are many areas in the face that correlate with the different organ systems. 

Those that have an understanding of the Body-Mind connection are also aware that these different organ systems can be associated with different emotions and can also manifest into different diseases...

This combination of acupressure points (pictured left) help to relieve blockages within their associated channels that can manifest as headaches, toothaches, TMJ syndrome (pain in the jaw joint & surrounding muscles), and even puffiness around the eyes!  

  1. STOMACH 8 Located about 5 finger widths above the end of the brow in the corner of he forehead, this point benefits eye health and when steady pressure is applied can alleviate headaches/migraines with nausea, dizziness, blurry vision, eyelid twitching, eye pain, excessive tearing and hairloss.
  2. GALL BLADDER 14 Located about 1 finger width above the mid-brow. This point when stimulated can assist with temporary facial paralysis, blurry vision, eye pain, vertigo, headaches, eyelid twitch/difficulty.
  3.  YINTANG This point is located right between the brows, what most people know as the 3rd eye. This acupressure point is one of the best ones to use for calming the mind, anxiety relief, mental stability, insomnia, clearing nasal passages, headache relief, intuitive accessibility & stimulation. 
  4.  TAIYANG This point is located at in the depression of the temple just above the outer cheekbone. This point is a great one to use for temporal headaches, unilateral (one sided) headaches  and eye disorders. Some indications that this point should be relieved is experiencing toothaches, optic atrophy (weakened eye muscles), dizziness and facial paralysis.
  5. GALL BLADDER 1 Located in the depression just outside of the outer eye, more medial (closer to the center of the body) of Taiyang. This point acts very similarly to the Taiyang point and also relieves red & itchy eyes, dry eyes, and eye disorders related to deteriorating vision 
  6. STOMACH 1 Located right below the pupil on the infraorbital ridge (the bone just below the eye). This point has very similar effects as  Gall Bladder 1; providing relief to red, swollen eyes, twitching eyelids and difficulty with night vision.
  7. LARGE INTESTINE 20 Located in the depression just outside of the nostril. This point is ideal for alleviating acute and chronic nasal congestion, rhinitis (runnynose) caused by allergies, loss sense of smell, stopping nosebleeds and itchy face.
  8. QIANZHENG Located about 1 finger width away from the earlobe. The body will indicate that this point needs to be stimulated when deviation of the eyes is present as well as ulcers on the tongue and mouth. It's also used clinically to help with symptoms related to different facial issues including facial paralysis & bell's palsy.
  9. STOMACH 6 Located about 1 finger with above the end of the bottom jawline (you can find it by placing your finger on the end of your jawline & clenching your teeth; it will be where the muscle activates when teeth are clenched). This point is great for teeth and facial issues including toothaches,  lockjaw, TMJ (pain at or near the jaw joint), Bell's palsy & facial paralysis, voice loss, and deviation of the mouth & face.
  10. STOMACH 4 Located outside the corner of the mouth, directly beneath the pupil. This point is very similar to Stomach 6 as it assists with jaw & facial disorders. It also helps with eye disorders including twitching & night vision issues, and clinically may be helpful for muscle atrophy and leg movement issues.

HOW TO STIMULATE ACUPRESSURE POINTS USING GUA SHA

The best way to stimulate these points using gua sha is to first massage gua sha oil to your face; using your gua sha stone, apply light pressure while gliding your gua sha stone along your skin and over these points. You can then use the ends or flat surface of your gua sha stone to hold pressure in place and rub the acupressure points in a circular motion.

Pay attention to the tender areas, which side is more tender than others and notice what emotions may come up during your sessions. 

This can be done as often as you'd like, but try starting with 2x daily then increase as you see fit. 

If you'd like to experience the benefits of Gua Sha yourself, you can check out our Gua Sha Face Sets in the 'TONER, SERUM & BALMS' section of our shop.

Stay Well! 




5 Quick Acupressure Points for Boosted Immune Health

April 15, 2020

Preventative healing and self-care is a necessity for our overall physical health, emotional well-being and mental relief, especially during our present time. Preventative care and health (including but not limited to improved nutrition, exercise, and proper sleep) is a guaranteed method to assist in preventing sudden onset of illness such as cold, flu and congestion. Physical forms of preventative methods such as massage therapy, chiropractor therapy and acupuncture for alot of us are inaccessible due to the recommended self-isolation. However, if you are still looking to receive some of those healing benefits from the comfort of your home and without having to spend any money, here are a few acupressure points that assist with boosting immune health:

  1. SPLEEN 6 Located about 4 thumb widths above the ankle bone & right behind the tibia (shin bone), this point is often used to tonify the spleen and stomach, which not only aids in digestion but strengthens a deficient spleen which in turn strengthens the immune system
  2. STOMACH 36 Located 4 fingers below the kneecap on the outside of the tibia (shin bone). This point is almost always tender on most people so be aware of this. While all of these points are good to stimulate daily, this one is a very ideal one to use everyday because of all of its benefits. Not only does it actively stimulate the immune system, but it also tonifys the body's blood & qi, allowing the body's energy reserve & sources to build up. It's also a good point for calming the spirit & stimulating the correct movement of qi.
  3.  LUNG 7 This point is located in the depression below the wrist bone, an in between the 2 tendons (Easier to spot when flexing your wrist). Because lungs are associated with the immune system, this is very much an ideal point to stimulate. Great for if you are beginning to experience early onset symptoms of a headache, cold, cough, congestion or a fever. This point boosts the body's immune system by building up the body's resistance.
  4.  LARGE INTESTINE 11 This point is located at the end of the crease of the elbow when arm is flexed. This point is also usually pretty tender on most people. Stimulating this point helps to reduce fever & sore throat caused by excessive heat. It also improves the immune system to prevent cold & flu.
  5. KIDNEY 27 Located below the clavicle, 2 finger widths from your midline (pictured above). This point is also usually tender on most people so be aware of that. This point is used to help clear cough and mucus. This point is ideal for those who are prone to upper respiratory infections like those with bronchitis or asthma.

HOW TO STIMULATE

The best way to stimulate these points is to apply pressure (whether with your finger or using a tool like a gua sha stone, crystal points, etc) and while applying pressure rub, in a circular motion.

Pay attention to the tender areas, which side is more tender than others and notice what emotions may come up during your sessions. 

This can be done as often as you'd like, but try starting with 2x daily then increase as you see fit. 

Stay Well! 




What is Cupping?

April 14, 2020

Cupping, also known as hijama in Arabic, is a form of alternative holistic therapy that has been practiced by many different cultures for thousands of years including Sudan, Kemet, Tibet, Korea and China. Presently, cupping is more commonly associated with ancient and traditional Chinese medicine & therapies.

Cupping was believed to have first been documented in Eber's papyrus in 1550 BCE; when displayed in a glyph, the cup denoted a doctor. Cupping has been used in different methods (blood letting, incisions, fire, suction etc.) with many different tools like ceramic, glass, wood, bamboo and animal horns.

The purpose of cupping is believed to treat many chronic conditions like back pain, sciatic pain, cervical pain, joint pain & muscle injuries. In traditional Chinese medicine, the blood or dark spots (sha) that are raised up during cupping is believed to be relieved stagnation, encouraging proper circulation; the darker the color, the higher the stagnation & toxins/disease/bacteria being relieved. Cupping is a modality practiced by some holistic practitioners in fields like acupressure, physical therapy, and massage therapy.



Simple ACV Recipe for Immune Health

March 19, 2020

In light of current circumstances surrounding many cities, not only in the US but around the world, many people are going to drastic measures to ensure their health and stability (such as blindly panic buying products that effect availability to those who need the assistance but lack the resources). As someone who is continuously on a journey of self reliance, self-sufficiency, and environmental responsibility I'm always looking for eco-friendly holistic ways to approach not only everyday living, but the unexpected surprises that show up unexpectedly. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is a product that has been used medicinally for over 5000 years to treat ailments like ulcers and skin wounds and is something I've personally used for years in many different ways, from skin clearing to daily health boosting shots. Apple Cider Vinegar has many health benefits such as:

  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Soothes sore throat symptoms
  • Assists with intestinal issues
  • Aids in weight loss
ACV (whether used alone or combined with other immune boosting ingredients like honey and lemon) has been used for years to combat E. Coli bacteria, acne causing bacteria, and infectious conditions dating back to 460 BC. There was an ancient medicine comprised of honey and ACV called Oxymel that was prescribed for persistent cough as well as respiratory infections.

For those looking to make their own ACV recipe to aid in preventative immunity health, I'm providing my own recipe in hopes that it will benefit you as much as it has benefited my family. (Very rarely do I get sick; I've only been sick 2 times in 2 years, both times after visiting high traffic, immuno-compromising places. I don't provide my recipe as an end all be all to health issues, however, as a source for those looking for holistic alternatives to simple immune health). 


APPLE CIDER VINEGAR IMMUNE BOOST

  •  1 cup Water
  • 1/2 to 1 Tsp Honey (I use Bloom Turmeric Honey because it adds turmerics health benefits to the drink)
  • 1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or the juice of half of a lemon
  • A dash of Cayenne pepper

Stir together in a glass and drink up! I normally would take ACV shots with honey a couple times throughout the week, but given the climate of these past couple weeks, I have been upping my dosage to a glass a day for everyday immunity health.


(ACV AWARENESS)

  • Always make sure to dilute your ACV to prevent throat irritation and enamel erosion
  • Diabetics discuss with primary physician prior to use because of ACV's tendency to lower blood sugar
  • I am not a physician; I speak from consistent studying as well as experience so please use your own discernment.



5 Acupressure Points to Relieve Labor Pains

March 18, 2020

During active labor, immediate pain relief may be the only thing on your mind at the moment! In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is believed that there are acupressure points that, when stimulated, can assist in alleviating labor pains. Here are a few acupressure points that can be applied by your partner, doula or support system during active labor and delivery in order to relieve pains associated with active labor:


Small Intestine (SI) 11: Located in the center of the scapula (shoulder blade); is used to relieve breast pain, promote lactation and alleviate overall active labor pain.

Gall Bladder (GB) 21: Located at the top of the shoulder in the middle of the trapezium area; is used to alleviate overall active labor pain and to promote active labor by sending down Qi (ONLY to be used once the due date is past to ensure baby's development; baby will come when she's ready no rush!)

Small Intestine (SI) 1: Located on the outer corner of the pinky nail; used to promote lactation, calm the mind, and reduce breast swelling from mastitis

Pericardium (PC) 8: Located in the middle of the palm; used to reduce labor pain

Urinary Bladder (UB) 60: Located in the space between the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon (the tendon on the back of the foot, right above the heel); is used to ease active labor pains.



Baby Massage for New (and Veteran) Mommas

May 17, 2019

Baby massage is such an intimate and beautiful way to bond with baby as well as encourage baby into relaxation. Being a massage therapist, there's already a natural inclination for me to implement all of the beneficial tools I learned to benefit my baby's physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Dedicating a time in baby's routine for baby massage will increase the release of Oxytocin and other relaxing hormones to produce a better mood and sleep. It also encourages bonding between mommy and baby which is always a concern once baby is no longer inside of their comfortable and secure home that was your womb. Whether you decide to massage baby in the morning when baby wakes up, fresh from her bath, or right before bedtime, baby can never get enough massage so you can do it as many times as you see fit as long as it's not right after a feeding. Before massaging baby, there are a couple things to take into consideration:


Atmosphere: Just like when we get a massage, we expect the room to be relaxing, dimly lit and possibly have calming music playing. Take into consideration that baby doesn't retain heat as quickly and easily as we do, so make sure the room is nice and warm. This would also be a perfect time to sing, tell a story to baby, or speak out loud all of the positive intentions and affirmations you have for baby.  


Oil: If you prefer to use an oil over a thicker moisturizer, almond oil is light enough to use on baby's sensitive skin while creating enough moisture to be able to gently and comfortably stroke over baby's skin. But if you're a shea butter lover like myself (all my daughter and I use for moisture is my Aya Whipped Shea Butter blend; lemongrass in the AM and lavender for the PM) a little bit of melted or whipped Shea Butter goes a long way with a baby. I also like to incorporate lavender with my shea to promote relaxation and the smell kind of gives baby the cue that bedtime is coming soon.


Safety: It's always best to massage baby on a flat, comfortable surface like on the floor laying on her favorite blanket or even on your bed, as long as eyes never leave baby to prevent roll overs.


Here are some infant massage moves to get you started:

Legs and feet. Hold your baby’s heel in one hand; with your other hand, start at the top of the thigh and slowly stroke all the way down to the ankle, gently squeezing the leg as you go, as if you were milking a cow. Reverse the motion and go from ankle to thigh. Then rub the feet with your thumbs, gently uncurling and stroking the toes. Switch legs. You can do these same strokes on the arms and hands.

Head. Start with your hands on both sides of your baby’s head, then run your hands down both sides of his body, from his head to his toes. Next, draw tiny circles on your baby’s head with your fingertips.

Face. Fold your hands (as if you were praying) on your baby’s forehead, then gently push outward from the center. Next, use your thumb to draw a smile on your baby’s face by stroking from one cheek, across the upper lip to the other cheek. Repeat on the lower lip.

Chest. Fold your hands on your baby’s chest, then push out to the sides, as if you were smoothing the pages of an open book.

Tummy. With your fingertips, draw an oval below your baby’s belly button. (Move clockwise, to follow the natural path of digestion.) Next, “walk” your fingertips from one side of your baby’s belly to the other, on the diagonal, as if you were making an “X.”

Back. Stroke his back side to side and then up and down.

3 Traditional Practices to Assist with Womb Health

May 17, 2019

The womb is the epicenter of a womban's body, yet the least beneficially utilized and exercised. We as womben epitomize the essence of beauty, dignity, grace and the feminine principle, yet, education on the importance of the health of that essence's source (the womb) is a point of contention. The standards of modern Western society encourage the emphasis on strengthening and beautifying the external body to aesthetically please the senses. While external strength is essential for our overall well-being, the womb is the source of all human life and, therefore, the most sacred center in not only womben, but in the sustainability of human existence. If our bodies are our temples, then consider our wombs the altar: the focal point of our manifestations and the site of communication to our Ancestral successors and predecessors. Our traumas, our emotions, our ailments concentrate and build within the womb and physically manifest as infertility, prolapse, and sexual dysfunctions. While beautifying our exterior creates a temporary appeasement to our perception of self, we as womben must heal starting from the source in order to heal the whole. And if we are expected to make any type of contribution to our community, our family, or ourselves, we must heal our source before we can heal anyone else. The idea of womb healing can seem like an overwhelming process, but here are 3 traditional practices and exercises to help get you started in your womb healing journey:

ACUPRESSURE SELF WOMB MASSAGE

As ancient practice and modern research has taught us, efficient blood supply is essential to the health and vitality of our muscles, most significantly our womb. Without proper blood supply to our wombs, reproduction can be a difficult and frustrating process for families looking to expand. Self womb massage has been used for centuries to increase the chances of conceiving as well as improving overall womb health by resolving womb issues such as:

  • Endometriosis
  • Irregular Ovulation
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Menstrual Imbalances
  • Poor Circulation
  • Infertility caused by stress
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese practice of balancing and regulating the body's energies by applying pressure to certain areas on the body. In order to activate these points, you can:
  1. Apply pressure for about 1-2 minutes by using your fingertips on the acupressure points (Thumbnail Pic)
  2. Apply deeper pressure using a clockwise motion for about 1 minute
  3. Lightly rub abdomen area with palm of hand in clockwise motion
  4. If you feel pain or discomfort, decrease your pressure or stop (If pregnant or menstruating, it is advised to not perform this exercise)
Some specific acupressure points that are beneficial to womb health are:
  • Ren 3: Helps regulate menses, strengthen kidneys, and urinary bladder
  • Ren 4: Increases Qi/Sekhem/Ase/Prana energy to aide in conception
  • Ren 6: Increases energy an vitality to the whole body
  • "Zigong": Increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, addressing infertility related to menstrual problems
  • Kidney 16: Brings healing energy to the heart and kidney while clearing the mind and improving immunological function. Also releases energy blocks in the abdomen that causes low fertility
  • Stomach 30: Increase ovary function, fallopian tubes, and uterus by releasing stagnation
  • Ren 14: Helps release fears & relax the mind
  • Liver 14: Located below the breast, 2 ribs below the nipple. Resolves liver and GI complaints related to poor digestion (sluggishness). Eases pre-menstrual breast tenderness. Also increases sensual energy
KEGEL EXERCISES WITH JADE EGGS

Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, are a series of exercises that are used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that are essential in preventing prolapse of the uterus, bladder and other internal organs, improve bladder and urinary incontinence, improve sexual reception and physically prepare a womban for the blessing that is childbirth. Jade eggs or Yoni eggs are semi-precious stones shaped into various egg-shaped sizes that are inserted inside the vagina which are then gripped and squeezed by the vaginal walls to increase sexual energy, strengthen the vaginal wall and pelvic muscles, increase orgasm, as well as create awareness of the physical womb. Some steps to get started with your Jade egg are:

  1.  If you are inexperienced with using a Jade egg, tie a hemp cord or dental floss through your Jade egg and tie a knot so your string can be easily accessible when ready to retrieve from your vagina
  2. Lubricate your vagina with a vaginal friendly oil (almond, coconut, etc.) and gently massage the exterior to make insertion easier. Squat and breathe into your abdomen to relax your body then slowly insert the wide end of your egg until completely inside your vagina with the string hanging out enough to retrieve
  3. Lie with your back on the floor and feet planted firmly on the ground in the "Base Position" While in Base position, close your eyes and focus on your pubococcygeus (PC) muscles-the muscles used to control urine flow-and breathe into that area. Inhale all the intentions and healing you have for your womb, then exhale all self-doubt, insecurities, and traumatic residue that reside within your womb. Do this for 4 counts.
  4. As you inhale, focus on squeezing around your Jade egg; as you exhale, release your tension around your egg. Do this exercise for 10-15 min a day.
WOMB STEAMING

Womb steaming or yoni steaming is an ancestral African practice of reconnecting with our sacred center by using a warm herbal steam that softly permeates the exterior and interior vagina with many benefits including regulating your cycle and symptoms associated with your menses, removing unwanted pathogens from the body and the womb, relieving chronic infections like UTI's to maintain a healthy pH balance, speeding the healing time after childbirth, and many other benefits. There are many herbs that aid in womb health including red raspberry leaf, mugwort, chamomile, lavender, and rose. 

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