Zen Body Yoga + Wellness

Spreading the Zen to Tulsa!


Leave a comment

What is Thai Bodywork?

16Also called Thai Massage, Thai Bodywork is a combination of massage, Acupressure, energy meridian work and Yoga-like stretching.

Most people are familiar with “massage,” which involves working on the body’s musculature with compression and manual manipulation.  In the United States, massage is typically performed on a specialized table with techniques strongly influenced by Swedish massage, which became popular in the mid 1900’s via physicians in New York who practiced in the Swedish tradition, which includes rubbing and moving muscles with an ultimate goal of relaxation.

Thai Bodywork, by contrast, is deep, full-body work, incorporating Ayurvedic Principles. By relieving muscular tension, improving circulation, boosting the immune system and replenishing the body’s energy, the recipient leaves the session feeling physically and energetically blissful.

Thai Bodywork can be performed on a massage table or chair, but it is traditionally and most effectively performed on the floor, with the recipient lying on a comfortable mat and the practitioner kneeling or standing over her.  This allows the practitioner to use body mechanics and gravity to her advantage, promoting the longevity of her ability to perform massage, as well as allowing the use of elbows, knees and feet to apply deeper pressure when appropriate.

Progressing from the feet up, energy pathways are cleared, muscles are elongated, joints are mobilized, internal organs and all bodily functions are supported to move the client towards a more balanced state. While techniques of soothing muscle manipulation are used, the focus is on the health of the body rather than on relaxation.

History
13Touch is a vital part of healing, physical, mental and emotional, and healing touch has been in practice for centuries, perhaps since the dawning of mankind.

There is evidence of massage as an important practice in ancient Eqypt, as documented on tomb walls dated to 2500 BCE.  We have detailed information of the practice as an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine from the 8th Century BCE, and we know that Thai Massage was codified as a healing system by 500 BCE.  Its practice is well documented by Ancient Greek scholars and in Biblical passages, as well as in the earliest extant Ayurvedic writings from India, circa 400 BCE. Trade routes between Egypt, Greece, China, and India have been in place since at least 2000 BCE, and it is likely that in addition to goods, knowledge and services were shared among the cultures.  Most scholars agree that Thai massage is strongly influenced by Ayurvedic massage from India as well as by methods of acupuncture and reflexology from China.

What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, which literally translates as the “science of life,” is a holistic medical science that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years.  Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth), these primary forces, or doshas, are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If vata is the primary dosha in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, athletic and goal-oriented, with a strong appetite for life. When kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, loyal, sturdy and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.

For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression. When vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. When pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammation. When kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, excess weight gain, and sinus congestion.

Ayurveda held a prominent place in the Buddha’s life during the 4th century BCE in India as he was attended by his personal Ayurvedic doctor, Javaka Kumar Bhaccha.  Although Buddhism is not widely practiced in India today, the Buddhist faith quickly spread east across Asia. Buddhism was widely accepted in Southeast Asia, and today, Thai people are predominantly Buddhist.  In fact, Dr. Javaka (or Shivago) is celebrated in Thailand as the honored guru of Thai Massage, and his belief in Loving Kindness is still invoked daily.

Unlike Ayurvedic Massage, no oil is applied during Traditional Thai Massage.  At Zen Body, however, essential oils may be applied depending on the client’s Ayurvedic constitution and any imbalances that may be present. Similarly, the practitioner’s touch, pace and sequencing will be directly suited to the client’s individual needs and imbalances.

12 “A Lazy Man’s Yoga”
Yoga and Ayurveda are “sister sciences,” both codified in India with the goal of promoting health.  In general, Ayurveda focuses on physical health and Yoga focuses on holistic mental health.  In regard to Thai Bodywork, the Yoga influence is seen in the stretching postures, which are a small part of the tradition of Yoga, but the best-known aspect of Yoga today, particularly in the West.

In Thai Bodywork, the recipient remains fully clothed and is positioned on a floor mat.  This enables the practitioner to move, stretch and bend the recipient into a variety of Yoga-inspired postures. In fact, this modality is often referred to as Thai Yoga Massage or Thai Yoga Therapy, and has been called the “lazy man’s Yoga,” although it most certainly is much more than that.

While similar to a Yoga practice in that the body is used as a gateway to access something deeper, in Thai Massage, there is no physical effort or strain, and it is often possible to achieve a deeper range of motion as the assisted stretching allows the recipient to completely relax, helping to establish greater flexibility by promoting length in muscle fibers and connective tissue.

Joint mobility, muscular flexibility, myofascial release and increased blood and lymph flow are just some of the benefits of this portion of Thai Bodywork.

 Acupressure and Meridian Energy Work
Acupressure is an important part of Thai Bodywork, with principles influenced by both Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Ayurvedic Tradition of Ancient India.  This pressure applied on particular points which lie along the body’s energy lines is believed to restore the energy balance throughout the body.

The energy itself is called chi or qi in China, ki in Japan, prana in India and lom in Thailand.  The energy is absorbed from the air we breathe and the food we eat, and moves through us along lines called meridians or channels in China, nadis in India and sen in Thailand.  All of these lines, whether meridians, nadis or sen, contain numerous points where small energy centers exist in correlation with various parts of the body.  These points are found where two or more types of tissue meet, such as muscles, veins, ligaments, bones or joints, and they include the major and minor chakras of the Indian system. Each tradition believes that blocked energy is the cause of disease and that massage helps keep the vital forces moving.

28Thai Bodywork at Zen Body
The feet are the first, and some say most important, parts of the body to be worked during Thai Bodywork.  There are a large number of nerve endings make the feet very responsive to touch.  This, along with the many reflex points associated with every part of the body, make foot work a focus of massage in cultures around the world, and Thai Massage is no exception. Zen Body’s Thai Reflexology stimulates energy channels by massaging the feet to promote balance and harmony, physically, mentally and emotionally. Organic coconut oil or almond oil as well as other essential oils may be applied depending on the client’s Ayurvedic constitution and any imbalances that may be present. Aromatic hot towels complete this very powerful and extremely pleasurable treat for tired and aching feet.

Following the foot massage, the practitioner uses her hands, forearms, elbows, knees and feet to work the entire body with compression, kneeding, and acupressure, stimulating and balancing the flow of the body’s own healing energy, releasing blockages and bringing the recipient deeper into balance and harmony. All the while, relaxing assisted stretches improve flexibility and range of motion, tense muscles are soothed, and specific trouble areas or physical limitations are treated as needed.

Zen Body’s Thai Bodywork also places emphasis on working the face, neck, ears and scalp.  These areas incorporate important energy points, so treating the head has beneficial effects on the entire body. Facial massage, including marma point acupressure, helps tired and overworked facial muscles relax from their contracted state. It removes any stress-induced blockages that are present in the muscles and in doing so, also ensures that the recipient feels relaxed and rejuvenated. Stimulation of specific points promotes lymphatic drainage and the circulation of blood. And as a bonus, regular massage can make frown lines disappear and make skin appear healthy and toned!

If you’re still not convinced that a full Thai Bodywork session is right for you, try a 30 minute Thai Reflexology session. You won’t regret it!


Leave a comment

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative YogaRestorative yoga is an excellent practice for all levels and is particularly recommended for those experiencing mental and emotional stress or turmoil, those with a Vata imbalance (feeling scattered, anxious, unable to concentrate), or individuals with chronic pain or difficulty sleeping.

This is a deeply restful and nurturing practice, designed to support the body with an assortment of yoga props, such as blocks, bolsters, blankets and sand bags so that you may remain in postures that help you feel safe and at ease.

Join me in this Restorative Yoga sequence to relax and renew your mind, body and spirit as you enjoy being present in comforting and grounded restorative postures.

Transitions

Leave a comment

Written by: Calista Evraets

Zen Body-74One of the things we often talk about in yoga practice is being present. Being present can mean a lot of different things, but lately I’ve noticed that while I don’t have too much difficulty being present with the each individual pose, I tend to ignore the transition from one pose to the next as if they were dead space. I’m in such a hurry to reach the next pose and be present, and I fail to notice the way I get there. Recently, I spent a couple of classes paying special attention to my body during those transitions. What was moving? What was stable? At what moment was the tension on a certain muscle released? Where did I feel the stretch as I moved into that forward fold?

With some exercises and poses, the majority of the muscle growth takes place during the return rather than the holding of the position or pose. I realized I’ve been wasting the potential for growth by rushing through the transitions to get to the next pose. Sometimes taking it slower results in a better physical workout!

Life often mirrors my yoga practice, and the transitions in my practice led me to note the transitions in my life. I’m too frequently guilty of rushing from one thing to the next without noticing the journey. As big life changes come along, I’m looking forward to the next phase, trying to hurry through the transition where I don’t feel that anything is happening. In doing so, I’ve missed the potential for personal growth. So much of life is a transition! How much did I gloss over in my haste to get to a better place?

I challenge you to notice the journey and the transitions, both in yoga and in life outside of your practice! It can be as simple as noting the change in the fall leaves from one work commute to the next, or using that drive time to listen to an audio book or some music that feeds your soul! It could come in the form of looking at how you’ve grown as you wait for that promotion you’re expecting, or for your baby to sleep through the night. What has changed? What has stayed stable? Be present today during your transitions, and see how much you can grow!

What Will Help You Bloom?

2 Comments

Written by: Calista Evraets

IMG_20151008_131019As an avid gardener, I often find interesting parallels between my own life and my work in the garden. One of the challenges that I love about gardening is figuring out what a plant needs in order to bloom. Sometimes when I plant a new type of flower, it just doesn’t thrive the way I’d hoped it would. Then I have to do some research and figure out what I can do to help it along. Is it getting the right amount of sunlight? Is the soil too acidic or too basic? Maybe I’m over-watering. I recently noticed that while it’s easy to do research about my plants, it’s a lot harder where my own growth is concerned!

Perhaps you see a similar situation in your own life. Our lives are dynamic, and we continue to grow and change with our environments. Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Has your routine become monotonous to the point where you don’t feel like you’re moving forward anymore? Maybe your stress levels are high and you feel as if you’re constantly running around without any time to enjoy the present. What can you change to feel more at peace in your daily life? For some of us, it may mean breaking out of the routine, trying something new, or exploring a new hobby or schedule. For others, it may mean cutting back on new calendar items, or saying no to some of the requests for our time and energy.

The same thing can hold true in our yoga practice. Many of us began our yoga journey as a way of achieving personal growth. Practice can become routine and static, and we may need to branch out and try something different. If you’ve focused on high intensity classes with lots of movement, maybe it’s time to try the stillness of a restorative class. Maybe you haven’t put as much focus on the meditation aspect of yoga, and you would benefit from a Kundalini class. If you’ve felt afraid to try something outside your comfort zone, you might appreciate the confidence that comes from taking an aerial workshop and realizing the amazing things your body can do! If you’ve felt your practice needs some fine tuning, it might be a great time to schedule a private session, where you can work one on one with an instructor.
One of my favorite things about yoga is this: I’ve found that when I make changes to my practice to achieve personal growth, other aspects of my life tend to slip into a healthier path with less struggle. My stress levels improve, I find strength and confidence, and I’m able to be present in my life, rather than always looking forward to the next minute, hour, or day. I encourage you to give some thought to what you need to bloom! You might be surprised at the answers you find!

Strengthening the Mind-Body Connection

2 Comments

Written by: Amy Miller

IMG_20151001_152808One of the greatest benefits of yoga is strengthening the mind-body connection.

You have probably heard your yoga teacher say “listen to your body,” which is often interpreted as “don’t hurt yourself!” whether or not that was the sentiment being expressed. A more powerful and truer interpretation of your teacher’s words are to listen to your body, and to really hear the message, to quiet your thinking mind and be present with the sensations you feel. That is definitely easier said than done, but yoga practice is, in my opinion, the most certain way to achieve this ability to understand the body’s signals.
Our bodies often send subtle signals, and sometimes, when we don’t heed the subtle warnings, aggressive signals. With a calm mind, we become more open to hearing the messages before we experience a negative outcome from ignoring the body’s whisper.

For example, when practicing yoga, you might notice that you are holding tension in your shoulders even when you try to relax. You might decide to spend some additional time breathing deeply into shoulder and neck stretches to ease the tightness.  If you didn’t notice this gentle tension for many days, you might begin to ache. Then a few days later, the aching shoulders have caused significant tension in the upper back. This creates a discomfort when moving freely, so you become stiff throughout the torso, creating a new pain in the lower back…and pretty soon, it’s time to take some Ibuprofen and a trip to the chiropractor. Again.  In other words, learning to hear and feel the signals early, before they become a problem, offers the opportunity to make an adjustment and defuses the potentially catastrophic outcome.

Additionally, you may notice your body sending you early warnings of mental or emotional harm. Have you ever had a “gut feeling” or a “lump in your throat”? These are physical reactions to thoughts, whether conscious or unconscious. We typically notice these physical reactions once the emotion or mental anxiety is acute. What if we were to notice the onset of a reaction earlier, before the anxiety-producing thought came to our conscious minds? This is a form of intuition, and it can be very beneficial in avoiding unsafe situations (such as a threatening person or place) or overwhelming emotional responses (such as outbursts of anger or sadness).

Practicing yoga regularly can bring about the body awareness that allows us to avoid physical injury as well as help us balance and respond appropriately to emotions. Through mindfulness, pranayama and asana, this early consciousness can improve our self-regulation and our understanding of who we are.


Leave a comment

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!

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter!

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter!


Leave a comment

What is Wellness Coaching?

instructors at zen-99Written By: Amy Miller

As a Certified Wellness Coach I offer an Authentic Wellness Plan specially designed for each individual client. Authentic Wellness utilizes Positive Psychology principles and the StrengthsFinder method to empower you to draw upon your own abilities and strengths to achieve lasting lifestyle changes.

Coaching helps you take action in your life; so after each coaching session you will apply what you have learned and the plan you have developed to create positive change. I will help you focus on the goals you want to achieve and develop strategies to be sure you reach them. Authentic Wellness Coaching helps you gain clarity, focus and support build a life that best matches who you really are.

Your Authentic Wellness Plan encompasses the 8 dimensions of wellness: Physical, Environmental, Financial, Emotional, Social, Intellectual, Behavioral and Spiritual.

Physical wellness involves the condition of a healthy body, good physical health habits, good nutrition and exercise, and obtaining appropriate health care. Some elements of physical wellness include exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and even wearing a seat belt.

Environmental wellness involves being and feeling physically safe in your surroundings. This includes the places where we live, work, and learn as well as our communities, country, and the entire planet. Some elements of environmental wellness include keeping your home and work space free from clutter, avoiding unnecessary and overwhelming noise, and surrounding yourself with things that you love.

Financial wellness involves the ability to have financial resources, meet practical needs, as well as control and knowledge about your personal finances. Some elements of financial wellness include paying your bills on time, having a handle on financial status, and having available credit for unexpected life occurrences.

Social wellness involves having healthy relationships with friends, family, the community, and having an interest in the needs of others around you. Some elements of social wellness include having a network of close friends and family, communicating with a variety of people, and showing compassion or empathy when possible.

Emotional wellness involves the ability to express feelings, enjoy life, adjust to challenges, and deal with the stress that occurs in life. Some elements of emotional wellness include accepting responsibility for your actions, having the ability to laugh at life and yourself, and learning from your mistakes.

Intellectual wellness involves lifelong learning. This includes an application of the knowledge you gain as well as sharing that knowledge with others. Some elements of intellectual wellness include having an interest in learning new things, participating in creative and stimulating activities, and engaging in intellectual discussions.

Behavioral wellness involves participating in activities that provide meaning and purpose in your everyday life. Some elements of behavioral wellness include being happy in your career path, balancing work and leisure time, and participating in activities that are in line with your personal values.

Spiritual wellness involves having meaning and purpose and a sense of balance and peace. Some elements of spiritual wellness include prayer, meditation, or personal reflection as well as understanding other’s beliefs and values. There should be a direct relationship between your personal values and your daily actions.

As your coach, I will work with you to develop a lifestyle plan that includes a balance of health habits: adequate sleep, rest, and good nutrition; productivity and exercise; participation in meaningful activity; and connections with people and communities that are supportive.

Authenticity as a quality of being genuine and worthy of belief. You know whether you are behaving in a manner in line with your values and inner being; you cannot hide a disbelief of your own actions and words from others. They will sense your dishonesty and instinctively become distrustful and will pull away from you. Being who you really are is always admirable, even to people who don’t share your values.

When you are true to yourself, you harness the power that lies dormant in the unauthentic being: the power to achieve any dream, to live your highest purpose. When you are not true to yourself, you hide the power and your dreams are inaccessible.

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter!

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter!