Self Care Playlist

Everyday Self Care

Practice Makes Predictable
At first, we would have to schedule self care time. Now it is infused as an inherent part of our day. Just like trust, self care is not an automatic event. It is earned with a track record of practice. Sometimes it’s a solo thing and sometimes its in the company of friends and family. Self care doesn’t have to be a big production or an organized event. It can be a walk around the block after work or as simple as three conscious breaths while waiting at a stop sign.

Everyday Self Care
We are constantly looking for ways that we can include self care into our lives, and ultimately have forged a self care lifestyle. We ask ourselves, How can self care fit into wherever we are, with whomever we are with, and with whatever it is we are doing? Below are some of the regular ways we infuse self care into our regular daily routines. We hope they provide inspiration for you to find space where you might include your own signature self care moves.

Brushing Your Teeth Self Care
Heath has a history of Chronic Ankle Instability so he practices one-legged squats while he’s brushing his teeth. Then, when he’s flossing, he’s adds some Tai Chi Walk. It’s a medical qigong move that builds strength and power from the ankles to low back. Meanwhile, Nicole is offering herself gentle calf stretches to help wake up and get her body ready for the day.

Driving or Riding Home Self Care
On the way home after sharing bodywork, you can often find Heath with one hand under his hamstring stretching his wrist flexors and wrist extensors. If you’d like to try right now orient your fingers lateral or posterior, and place your palm down (extensors) and then up (flexors) under your leg for a minute or two on each side.

Doing Dishes Self Care
In our kitchen, we have a couple sets of “foot wakers” and “foot savers”, which are basically half-cut spheres that we can stand on when cooking or doing dishes. This is especially beneficial for releasing the plantar fascia and stimulating foot reflexology points. You could also use a tennis or golf ball or something similar, but be careful not to slip. …
Whenever we match our breath to movement we slow our mind. Slowing the mind in a moving meditation invites the practitioner to notice the sensations of the body and use them as a resting place for the attention. Feel the slow movement, the subtle and not so subtle sensations of the body, and feel yourself growing your present moment focus. Feel more present, aware and relaxed. Become awareness resting in awareness. The result of a regular mindful movement practice is a calm heart, clear mind and easy body. Specifically, feel new energy circulating to the low back and kidneys. Rest in knowing you are connected to nature and nature is connected to you. In this practice grow your ability to become presence embodied.

Meridian Wash

Doing a Meridian Wash is a like giving yourself a shot of espresso or wheatgrass. If you’d like to generate more vitality, alert attention, and razor sharp focus, try tapping on your meridians, or energy channels. The Meridian Wash is appropriate for everyone and may be done standing or sitting down. It’s a fabulous way to activate at the beginning of your day, as a way to warm up and refresh, insert after lunch when you feel sleepy or unfocused, or anytime you’d like to give yourself a boost of energy!

The meridian wash is Medical Qi Gong practice designed to wake up, strengthen and encourage the free flow of energy and blood flow throughout your energy channels and your entire body. By gently tapping on your skin and moving in the direction and flow of your meridians we enhance the circulation of energy in the form of improved vascularity, circulation, respiration, metabolic exchange, lymphatic drainage (immune system), synovial fluid production and secretion (anti-arthritis), and vital life force, or qi (or chi, pronounced chee).

In our sedentary lifestyle, our movement, activity level, and postural alignment are often sacrificed by our longterm sitting. In seated positions, our circulation, metabolism, and other basic physiological systems become chronically sluggish as we over rely on only a few muscles to sit, compared with the more full body activation we create when we stand, walk, or move around. The meridian wash counteracts the C-shaped, cashewing of the spine by encouraging full body and active movements, helps awaken our nervous systems, and often helps improve our mood. The meridian wash helps release, open and free the flow of blood and chi through the body to enliven, awaken and inspire the mind and body into movement, new thought and new possibilities.

As you tap along your body, you want to be sure the tapping does not hurt, however, it should be stimulating and invigorating. In other words, make sure you’re not inflicting pain, and be sure your not simple going through the motions, but actually feel the aliveness and vivacity in your attitude and approach. The Meridian Wash is meant to stimulate your body and mind, and most people report an immediate shift in their consciousness, a refreshment in their awareness, and an engaged readiness.

Almost immediately, you notice feeling warmer, looser, energized and possibly, a full body tingling from the stimulation and activation of the meridians and blood flow. With regular practice, you may notice a cumulative benefit of enhanced wakefulness, focus, wellbeing. You may even be able to comfortably tap with more vigor, as long as it continues to feel friendly and playful. Because we are tapping along meridians (which connect the inside of your organs with the outside of your body) and the acupressure points (the pressure points an acupuncturist might place needles in), we are having a positive impact on both the inside and outside of the body, the physical and energetic, and helping to balance and complement all yin and yang opposite relationships.

How To Question: First tap with whole palm or cupped hand beginning near your armpit and then tapping on the inside of your arm down to your hand. Clap your hands, and then tap on the back of your palm. Continue tapping up the outside of your arm until your reach the shoulder. Repeat three times and then tap the opposite arm. Tap your chest. Tap your belly, Tap your low back. Now tap both legs at the same time down the outside of your legs and then up the inside of your legs. Repeat going down the outside and up the inside of the legs three times. Give yourself a full body and shake and notice how you feel.

Instant Maui

Instant Maui is a first aid approach to relieve low back or hip pain. Based on yoga therapy, Instant Maui can ameliorate acute (recent) or chronic (ongoing) back pain, and is appropriate for those healing with herniated or bulging discs, SacroIliac “SI” Joint Disfunction, Stenosis, sciatica pain, and general low back pain, tension or resistance. In as little as five minutes and up to twenty minutes any body with low back pain can find relief. Combine position and breathe to create the perfect synergy to relax the back and rest the mind. Purposely position the body to allow gravity to help re-align, soften and reset the structures that support the spine while allowing the breath to grow deeper and wider.

It has been our experience that sometimes pain in the low back comes from feelings of not being supported. Physically the low back is found at the base of the spine having to bear the load of impact and movement of the upper body. Metaphysically, the low back represents our ability to give and receive support. Living Metta believes it’s important to teach the body to do what Ida Rolf said ” To engage with gravity, or be compressed by gravity”. Find ways to both stabilize the core and relax the back. This healing move is one way to rest the back.

Instant Maui is a restorative yoga pose for healing low back pain and tension. Allow the body to rest back and feel the ground lifting up to support the entire upper body. Let the legs be heavy to create a gentle decompression for the sacrum to let go. Remember to use the breath to assist in the softening of the quadrates lumborum, knowing the main muscle involved in breathing is attached to the lumbar vertebrae. Be patient, let gravity, breath, and time support the body and bring you to a place of healing.

It is the intention of this restorative pose to help heal low back pain and melt unwanted tension. Instant Maui immediately creates the environment for healing. It’s a magical synergy of breath, movement and mindfulness that allows for the return to homeostasis, vagal tone, and resourcefulness. With regular intervals of instant Maui, you may find it increasingly easier to bring your happy place with you wherever you go.

Swimming Smiling Dragon

Swimming Smiling Dragon is an ancient qi gong warm up exercise from the taoist tradition. Dragon forms of movement are often characterized by twists, spirals and coiling movement to wake up the energy of the inner dragon for transformation. Repeat a cycle of spiraling movements that traverse the length of the spine to encourage flexibility of the spine and increase spinal fluid production. It is easy to learn and fun to perform. This warm up exercise encourages the flow of life force energy or chi or prana to flow to, through, and around the spine. Physically it will support healthy digestion, increase flexibility, balance the endocrine system, and balance the nervous system. Energetically it can increase vitality, longevity, and feelings of aliveness.

Feel greater awareness and connection to the spine with deep twisting movements that are emphasized by the shoulders and hips rotating towards and away from each other. Swim through levels of the spine to feel warmth circulating from the bottom of the spine to the crown of the head. Swimming dragon promotes feelings of wellness, flexibility and aliveness that raises your personal energetic vibration with each practice.

The Smiling Organ Meditation

Smiling Organ Meditation is an ancient active Taoist qi gong meditation that can be done sitting or standing. It is for every body and can be done daily to promote feelings of loving kindness for self and others. Can be done is as little as ten minutes and can be practiced daily.

This ancient healing meditation invites the practitioner to explore the five Chinese elements through sound, movement, and visualization to clear our systems from the burden of old energies, and emotions that prevent feelings of connection, wellness and wholeness. Discover and be guided through the healing sound, balancing color, and associated emotions related to each organ meridian pair. Also experience the integration of the ancient and modern with rapid eye movement, stem cell stimulation and the power of your eternal smile to promote mind, body, heart harmony.

The practice of smiling to ourselves, and paying mindful attention to the body allows mental, emotional, and physical tension to dissipate and makes way for body wisdom to engage. The Chi knows where to go and what to, so it is vital we practice ways to allow its free flow to circulate throughout the meridians. It is a way to release the tension of old feelings and invite loving kindness into our bodies. This is one way to create an internal environment of friendliness.

Throughout the mediation you will be activating the five major organs, creating their ancient healing sound and smiling into every cell of your body. Feel calm, courageous, generous, thankful and trust in this practice to clear “negative emotions”. You may feel waves of emotion rising and falling, the warmth from activating stem cells and general feelings of harmony.

Physically, feel the cells of the body awakened. Emotionally, feel peaceful and flexible. Mentally, feel calm and clear. With long term practice the benefits of the free flow of chi circulating are maintained for longer and longer periods of time. Create a system that can maintain longer periods of more and more happiness.

Chi Gong to Balance Water Phase and Kidney/Bladder Channels

Medical chi gong movement is designed to invite healing, balance, and flexibility to the bladder and kidney organ meridian pair and to the lower back. This ancient medical chi gong healing move has been passed down for generations. It is specifically designed to help heal and/or tonify the low back and kidneys. These moves are also a way to inspire and remember our connection to nature, and bring internal harmony with the season of winter. We are in constant relationship with nature and we often feel most happy when are in harmony with the ever changing seasons and emotions associated with the time of year. When we are out of balance with nature we may feel tension, resistance or pain in our mind, body, and heart. Do specific movements to reconnect and re-harmonize to the nature that is all around and within.

Whenever we match our breath to movement we slow our mind. Slowing the mind in a moving meditation invites the practitioner to notice the sensations of the body and use them as a resting place for the attention. Feel the slow movement, the subtle and not so subtle sensations of the body, and feel yourself growing your present moment focus. Feel more present, aware and relaxed. Become awareness resting in awareness. The result of a regular mindful movement practice is a calm heart, clear mind and easy body. Specifically, feel new energy circulating to the low back and kidneys. Rest in knowing you are connected to nature and nature is connected to you. In this practice grow your ability to become presence embodied.

Wall Clock

Wall Clock is an excellent movement exercise meant to open the Thoracic Outlet and help rehabilitate shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand pain. Metaphysically, wall clock helps to open the heart, the supreme center of feeling. The arms have been described as the wings of heart, so opening shoulder girdle can help us to feel more deeply.

This healing move is designed specifically for those looking to heal, relieve and prevent shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand pain.

Wall clock is one way to gently stretch and mobilize the soft tissues around the shoulder elbow and wrist joints. Reach your arm overhead and then rest an open palm the wall, with your feet a few inches away from the wall. Imagine your head is the center of a clock and your arm is now resting at 12 o’clock. Hold here three or more breaths. Then shift your open palm backwards to rest at one clock. Hold again for three or more breaths and notice where you feel the most sensation. Now shift to two o’clock. If possible and safe the should move to three o’clock. The arm should be positioned horizontally behind you. While you hold here for three breaths add more intensity by opening the palm to the sky. Now press the pinkie edge of your palm into the wall. Hole an extra breathe. Gently unwind the arm and notice how this arm feels.

It is important to engage with gravity rather than being compressed by it. This healing move encourages an open heart, soft shoulders and promotes healthy, happy alignment of the spine for good posture.

You should feel a gentle stretch from neck to fingertips. It’s important to notice where you feel the most stretch to identify where you hold the most tension. You can hold each portion of the stretch from 30 – 90 seconds or at least three breaths for maximum benefit. There should be no sharp pain at any point during wall clock. If your fingers go numb…

You may experience greater range of motion and less pain and stiffness afterward. Immediately, you may notice how quickly your tissue/fascia responds to how you move, as the arm you stretched may be longer than the other arm. The shape of your body is directly in response to how you move and more importantly how you don’t move.

“10 Hands” Medical Qi Gong

10 Hands Medical Qi Gong is a series of movements designed to assist those who have stiffness, pain, weakness, or numbness in their hands, fingers or wrists. With repeated practice, this movement therapy can reverse the above symptoms, plus build greater strength, flexibility, and circulation, all while preventing a reoccurrence of the symptoms. This practice is especially helpful for those who work with their hands, like those typing, repairing, painting, gardening, playing an instrument, or massaging, for example.

Ten Hands is a series of Qi Gong movements that consciously challenge the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints of the hands and wrist to prevent or heal pain from arthritis, carpal tunnel, or repetitive stress injuries related to your hands. We will practice a sequence of ten movements tapping and clapping different parts of your hands up to thirty-six times for each movement.

While doing this you may feel parts of your hands and wrists that are sore or tender. It’s okay and even preferable if this practice is challenging, intense or a little edgy. However, you should not be feeling any pain. The clearest signs that you are reinforcing pain is if you are: #1. holding your breath or #2. unnecessarily tightening your muscles– lifting your shoulders, clenching your jaw, or even wincing are examples of reinforcing resistance. If you notice any of these symptoms of resistance, please use less impact or consider leaving out the particular exercise(s) until you can easily manage the sensation with deep breaths and soft muscles. After completing the 10 Hands you may experience warmth or tingling in your hands from the new blood and qi/chi you are now circulating in your hands.

In the East, it is said, “Rust does not grow on a moving hinge.” In the same way, we want to encourage a variety of movements in our body to maintain strength, flexibility and balance in our bodies. A quarter of all the bones in our body are in our hands and wrists. These are also among the smallest and most used muscles and bones in our bodies. If you perform repetitive actions or work with your hands (typing, texting, writing, crafting, playing instruments, utilizing tools, living, etc.) then your hands are your tools and deserve your loving attention and care. This is one way to care for your hands and care for yourself.

If you are currently healing in your hands, fingers, thumbs, or wrists, the first several times you practice 10 Hands, your body sensations may feel quite intense. As mentioned above, do not continue to practice if it hurts. Also, don’t practice this if you are currently experiencing acute inflammation in these areas, which may present as warm and swollen areas, a fibromyalgia or rheumatism arthritic (RA) flare up, or sprain. Many report feeling a reduction or even complete elimination of the pain in their hands, wrists and finger after only one session of Ten Hands. The impact that is generated by tapping the hands together in this exercise help build bone growth and is meant to helps make your hands stronger and more resilient for everyday use. The more often you practice the stronger, more agile, and less sore your hands will become.

How To Question: Start by clapping hands together thirty six times. Now tap only the fingertips together, now tap the heels of your hands together. bounce the webbings of the fingers together, now the webbings between thumb and forefinger thirty six ties each time. Close the space between thumb and forefinger and use the knuckle of one thumb to tap the mound of the opposite thenar eminince. Finish by slapping the back go the hands together taking turns with which hand is on top.

Tea Cups

Tea cups is an ancient healing move that releases tension, stress, and pain from your shoulders, upper back, neck, elbows, hands, fingers, thumbs, and wrists. Tea cups is appropriate for anyone and everyone wanting to move in fun and dynamic ways that may challenge your range of motion, flexibility and coordination. Tea cups is especially helpful if you’re healing from frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), shoulder tendonitis or bursitis, golfer’s or tennis elbow (medial and lateral Epicondylititis, respectively) carpel tunnel, or hand, finger, or thumb pain, while creating greater ROM and flexibility. Challenge your coordination and light up your neural circuitry with this ancient healing movement that creates double helix like spiraling movements with your arms. (Funny pop cultural note* When you get good at this, you’ll might notice tea cups’ inspiration for the slow motion similarities to Neo and Trinity in the Matrix as they dodge bullets.)

Physically, Tea Cups generates unique and expansive range of motions in the upper body to help maximize greater mobility, coordination, function, and relief with spiraling movements. Tea cups counteracts the limited and/or repetitive small movements performed by modern day people, especially for those who sit many hours of the day. Providing a pattern interruption, Tea Cups refreshes our nervous system by generating unusual movements, and increase our ROM and kineiosphere. Tea cups has been used for millennia by martial artists, kung fu masters, hands-on healers to open the meridian channels and acupressure points in the arms and hand. This a practice of mindful movements that slowly builds range of motion and challenges the mind body connection.

When we overuse or underuse our body, physical and often mental distress results. Consider the tension and stress that results from a chronically seated worker repetitively holding their posture in a similar position for hours on end or excessively clicking the keyboard or mouse over and over. By practicing Tea Cups, we release our posture and nervous system from the body prison of a chair, and introduce dramatically different movements and focus. This is a practice of mindful movement, and mindfulness is a practice for the whole body-mind. It is important to routinely find ways to refresh and awaken the mind body connection to create new pathways of neural connectivity and discover new movement possibilities.

It is common for beginners to feel challenged, uncoordinated and inflexible the first dozen times or so that they try Tea Cups. Our suggestion is be patient and kind as you try on a totally different type of moving. You may also feel balanced, open, and warm from this full body experience. At no point should you feel pain. If you notice yourself holding your breath or unnecessarily clenching or tightening your muscles, please back off, go slower, or find an easier variation. Please follow where your body goes without force, judgment or criticism. According to us, if you’re breathing, moving, and focusing, you’re doing it correctly. Your feeling is more important than your form. We encourage you to practice tea cups with a smile.

After a few rounds of Tea Cups, you may feel a full body aliveness, openness in your shoulders and breathing, and less tightness and resistance in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and wrists. Tea Cups is both a great warming up or cooling down activity as it encourages lymphatic drainage, venous return, and synonival fluid secretion. We use this technique as way to prepare ourselves for a full day of connecting, sharing and giving. Those who practice Tea Cups for a few minutes most days of the week report feeling relief from chronic shoulder, wrist, or hand pain, enhanced range of motion and enhanced strength in 1-2 weeks. We find that 5 minutes everyday of conscious moving often yields better improvements in symptoms as compared to 50 minutes every other day. Consider scheduling daily notifications on your calendar to remind you to practice your healing move of choice on the regular!

Heal Your Neck: Repatterning Movement Exercise to heal and prevent pains in the neck

For anyone who currently has neck pain and wants to prevent neck pains in the future. The average American spends anywhere form 6-12 hours a day looking at a digit device. Holding the head in a static position for this amount of time can lead to neck pains and strains. Discover healing moves that can take the body out of pain and back into balance.

Uniting the breath with conscious movement is one way to deliberately create a pattern interrupt. Change your habits and change your body. Instead, create a new habit that teaches the body how to lengthen and strengthen.

We are shaped by how we move and more importantly how we don’t move. inviting the body into new shapes and forms allows for the body’s wisdom to engage in a way that can support alignment of the spine, create muscle balance and prevent injury.

This is a challenging movement exercise for the neck. Inspired by the book, You can Heal The neck. You will feel the engagement of muscles that are often checked out, or not being used in a way that supports a healthy neck alignment. With regular practice this healing move will become easier and easier.

You may notice you feel longer, taller and stronger. You will experience an alignment in your neck that not only can heal neck pain, but you may find shoulder tension diminished or ameliorated. Try this exercise to balance forward head position and feel better while working at a digital device.

All content and images © 2004-2018 by Heath and Nicole Reed, LMTs. All rights reserved.