Zen Body Yoga + Wellness

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What is Self Myofascial Release and How is it Done?

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Written By: Amy Miller

Also known as Trigger Point Therapy, myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy that can ease chronic muscle pain caused by scar tissue adhesions in muscular (myo) fascia.

Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Fascia supports and protects these structures but it can become restricted due to disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow. Damaged fascia is a leading cause of chronic pain and decreased flexibility.

A trigger point is a small patch of tightly contracted muscle, which cuts off the blood supply to that part of the muscle resulting in irritation, aching or down-right pain. Trigger points are a key factor in headaches, neck aches, back pain and many other common ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, ear aches, and toothaches.

Almost everyone has a head start in self-diagnosing trigger points, because almost everyone already more or less knows what it’s like to have a muscle knot. If you have ever had muscle stiffness, tried to massage out that annoying spot in your neck or back, then you already have some experience with this — you have trigger points. You have pain and stiffness that feels like it’s in your muscles.

Trigger point therapy has gained popularity among athletes, particularly runners and cyclists, but it is beneficial for even the most sedentary individuals.

There are indirect and direct ways to release myofascial tension and I love both! First, you can indirectly release the tissues by simply stretching, because fascia covers all organs of the body, muscle and fascia cannot be separated. When you stretch a muscle, you stretch the fascia around it, thereby releasing tissues that have become stiff from immobility.

To directly release the fascia, I perform a release technique similar to a deep-tissue massage utilizing tools like a foam roller and a hard ball. Using body weight on these hard surfaces, I locate the trigger points and then pause, placing as much pressure as I can stand on the spot and breathing deeply for 20-30 seconds and visualizing the tight spot melting into the rest of the muscle.

The first couple of weeks of release therapy will be painful. It is important to be diligent and commit to doing it every day for two weeks, because the payoff is well worth it. If you use the foam roller and/or ball every day, within a couple of weeks you will begin to notice not only does the therapy not hurt as much, it will begin to feel good and you will be on the path to feeling great!


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Quick Daily Detoxing – Dry Brushing

Dry Brush ImageWritten By: Amy Miller

Dry brushing stimulates the organs of detoxification to function more efficiently, which has a myriad of benefits for the body:

  1. Dry brushing cleans the lymphatic system. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph.
  2. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells, which can help improve skin texture and cellular renewal.
  3. Dry brushing strengthens the immune system, possibly reducing the duration of infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins.
  4. Dry brushing stimulates the hormone and oil glands, thus helping all of the body systems perform at peak efficiency.
  5. Dry brushing tones the muscles by stimulating the nerve endings, which causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move. It also helps mobilize fat and helps to even distribution of fat deposits.
  6. Dry brushing stimulates circulation. Our skin breathes! However for most people this vital route of detoxification is operating far below its capacity because it is clogged with dead skin cells and the un-removed waste excreted through perspiration. Dry brushing encourages your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes. By activating the circulation, you also help prevent varicose veins.
  7. Dry brushing increases skin functions. It helps your skin respire by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.
  8. Dry brushing helps reduce cellulite. Improving cellulite is one of the main reasons people look into dry brushing. Toxins are often trapped in the subcutaneous layer of fat cells just beneath the skin, which contributes to cellulite.

Always dry brush your body before you shower because you will want to wash off the impurities from the skin as a result of the brushing action.

Ideally you want to brush from toes to neck because most of the lymph in your body drains to a central area near your collarbone. The entire body should be brushed, but skip the face and scalp.

Use long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction to help drain the lymph back towards your heart.

Note: Stroking away from your heart can put extra pressure on the valves within the veins and lymph vessels, and over time, may lead to ruptured vessels and varicose veins.

Use light pressure in areas where the skin is thin and harder pressure on places like the soles of the feet. Avoid sensitive areas like bruises and anywhere the skin is broken. Never brush an area affected by poison oak, poison ivy, or sun burn.

After getting out of the shower, dry off vigorously and massage your skin with pure plant oils such as jojoba, avocado, apricot, almond, sesame, coconut or cocoa butter.

Make sure to properly clean your brush. It is best to tap the brush over a trashcan to shake off the dead skin cells. Additionally, each person should have their own dry brush, just like a toothbrush! Make sure to keep your brush in a dry area away from steam and potential mildew.

How to Dry Brush (Fast and Easy Instructions)

  • Begin with your feet and brush vigorously in circular motions.
  • Continue brushing up your legs.
  • Proceed to your hands and arms.
  • Brush your entire back and abdomen area, shoulders and neck.
  • Use circular counter-clockwise strokes on the abdomen.
  • Use light pressure on the breasts and other sensitive areas.
  • Brush upwards on the back and down from the neck.

Share with us your experience with Dry Brushing!

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5 Foods to Remedy Sore Muscles

Written By: Brandy

You just took your first Yoga class in a long while and you’re feeling amazing… but there are a couple spots that feel a bit sore.  You’re probably thinking, “I really want to get back to another yoga class tomorrow, but I’m in too much pain.”  Never fear, we have your remedies here!

What is muscle soreness exactly and why do we incur such pain?
After any good workout, our body has a build-up of lactic acid in our muscles.  Due to this accumulation of lactic acid, our muscles become irritated and inflamed. You could go to your medicine cabinet and pull out the old pain reliever, but what if there was another way to make that pain a little more manageable? We have researched and compiled a few tasty alternatives that work to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Bluberries1. Blueberries
Blueberries are a super food, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Their super power is in the phytochemical compounds. Research shows that these berries are especially high in anthocyanins. Due to the higher amounts of this compound, the fruit has higher oxygen radical absorption capacity, which aids in controlling free radicals formed from exercise.  So, the next time you are headed to a workout, pop a handful of blueberries in your mouth before and after class.

Cherry

2. Tart Cherries
There are two types of cherries that people consume, sweet and tart. In recent studies, drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before and after a marathon reduces inflammation and pain associated with the strenuous workout.  Similar to blueberries, tart cherries are packed with Phytochemical compounds and antioxidants.  In addition to soothing sore muscles, tart cherries are beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis and back pain.

Ginger Root

 3. Ginger
Try adding a tablespoon of grated ginger to a glass of lemonade. This super root has a long history of providing remedies to many health ailments including inflammation, intestinal issues, morning sickness, seasickness, arthritis, and sore muscles.

Sliced Watermelon

4.  Watermelon
Eat a slice of watermelon an hour before your strenuous workout and you will be sitting pretty…and painless.  Researchers have found that an amino acid called L-citrulline eases muscle soreness 24 hours after your workout.  Watermelon season is right around the corner, so stop by your local farmer’s market and stock up!

Sliced Banana5.  Bananas
Bananas are rich in potassium.  This mineral is a necessity in your body for heart health, digestion, and muscle contraction.  Too little in your diet can lead to many troublesome issues including irregularities in the heart, weakness, fatigue and sore muscles.

The list could go on forever, but we want to encourage you to get back to your workout.  However, this time, try to include some or all of these foods in to your daily routine. What are some foods that you use to help with muscle soreness?

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