Today, more holistic practices are popping up everywhere; so instead of going to an allopathic doctor, people are investigating the benefits of seeing a holistic practitioner. The challenge still can occur; which is the same mentality of “fix me.” Now is the time to take responsibility for our own health and well-being. We need the modern practices of medicine but what can lead to a serious chronic illness may be able to be controlled by you and what you do everyday. The ancient Ayurvedic saying: “If you want to know what your body has been through in the past examine yourself today, if you want to know what your body will look like in the future, examine your experiences today.”
Stress is probably the number one factor that breaks down our body’s immunity and can lead to long term damage and destruction of the cells. We experience stress on a daily basis. Not all stress is bad, and our bodies can usually recover from the stressful episode. When we experience a stressful situation our body releases the hormones cortisol and norepinephrine to engage the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn, helps our body to deal with the stressful situation. The sympathetic nervous system increases our heart rate, routes all blood to vital organs, and releases adrenaline and glucose to give us energy. However, when our body experiences chronic stress, and these things occur in us everyday, this reaction leads to compromising our immune system and illness becomes a chronic factor. Stress can manifest on the skin by dullness, dry, and sallow skin due to the lack of circulation. Stress also sets off the free radical reaction that ultimately breaks down our collagen and elastin leading to premature fine lines and aging. Due to increased hormone levels, stress can also be a factor in the onset of breakouts in our skin. To establish trust, rapport, and a long term relationship with your clients it is important to teach simple rituals to them so that they can feel the effects of the treatment they get from you even after they leave the spa. Now is the time to incorporate very simple daily rituals on how to reduce this chronic stress cycle and lead to a much healthier you.
Breath and Visualization
The basis of all wellness practices begins with breathing. Breath is the vital connection between the body and mind. If you are not breathing correctly, it is hard to feel the benefits of any wellness exercise. Breathing is both autonomic and controlled. When we are infants, we breathe diaphragmatically from our abdomen, however when we grow as adults, we tend to breathe from our upper chest. Breathing from the abdomen allows the most oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. Oxygen is what nourishes our tissues, engages our parasympathetic nervous system and helps reduce the effects of chronic stress. Your stress level mirrors your breath. When one becomes anxious or nervous, the breath tends to get faster and shallow. When we concentrate on our breathing and our breaths become slower and deeper, ultimately our minds become more relaxed. Along with proper breathing, visualization can also be a daily ritual that helps reduce stress and can be a component of self-healing. Visualization involves simply focusing on your breath and allowing yourself to think positive thoughts about your day and what you are getting ready to experience. Visualization is a key in obtaining things that we want in our life, such as goals we want to achieve. Simply repeating a statement to yourself or visualizing yourself successfully accomplishing your goal, will make it easier to obtain. Visualization along with diaphragmatic breathing is a stepping stool for meditation and thoughts from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind. The basis of diaphragmatic breathing begins by keeping your spine straight, putting your hand on your abdomen so that you can feel your belly expand for a full breath, and closing your eyes to focus on your breath. Begin by inhaling through your nose and feeling your abdomen expand. Hold your breath for a minimum of 15 seconds and exhale through your mouth. Your exhalation should be twice as long as your inhalation to rid of the carbon dioxide. Repeat slowly a minimum of 10 times. The next breathing exercise that assists with engaging both the right and left-brain is the alternating breath. Begin by placing your left thumb over your left nostril and inhale a deep breath through your right nostril. Close off your right nostril with your middle left finger and exhale through your left nostril. Inhale another breath through your left nostril while closing off your right nostril. Exhale through your right nostril and repeat this pattern at least 10 times. You may feel light headed at first, but with practice it will become easier. Diaphragmatic breathing can help ease tension headaches, increase circulation to dry skin, and be a tool to use for daily meditation. Teaching your guests to breathe properly at least during their spa experience will help maintain the effects of their relaxing treatment and help to reduce the effects of daily stress.
Touch and Aroma
Touch can help greatly reduce the effects of chronic stress. A simple gesture of placing a hand on ones shoulder can release endorphins into the bloodstream and automatically release tension in that area. The power of touch has also been shown to increase the immune system allowing the body to fight off infection, release toxins and deliver nutrients to vital parts of the body. Daily self-massage will increase the circulation of the body, help to keep the skin soft, and the muscles relaxed. Self-massage can be done in the morning before a bath or shower and at night before bed. Choosing natural aromas to use in your daily self massage is very important. Aromas are stored in our limbic system, which is the most primitive part of the brain. We can hold over 10,000 aroma messages from our past; that is why it is necessary to make your own choices on aromas because something that smells pleasurable to someone else, may have had a negative experience for you. You should never evoke what you like as far as aromas on your clients. Always let them choose the aromas that they want to use during their treatments.
Essential oils have both a psychological and physiological aspect. To treat a condition of the skin it is important for you as the professional to decide what to use on your client, however, to have the mind relax, a positive aroma experience can engage a calming state of being that only your client can choose. Have you ever had someone say to you “Oh, just relax.”? Just to say the word “relax” has little impact, but to assist in their relaxation process with a favorite aroma will ensure a truly relaxed state of mind. It is important to know the differences between natural and synthetic aromas. Natural aromas can have over 150 biochemical constituents compared to synthetic aromas that can consist of only a few. It is common to think less ingredients equal better and more natural-not when it comes to aromas (essential oils). The more biochemical components an aroma has, the more healing properties both physical and physiological it contains. You will also be able to tell if an aroma is pure by the cost. If you can find a 1oz rose oil for $10 it is most likely not natural. Choosing a favorite pure essential oil (aroma) can be a daily ritual. You may want to use an energizing aroma for in the morning such as peppermint, spearmint, or lemongrass and a calming aroma for the evening such as lavender, chamomile, or rose. Mix the essential oil that you choose for your self-massage with a plant oil such as jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil. Essential and plant oils have a small molecular structure so they can be absorbed easily into the skin. Begin your self-massage by rubbing your hands back and forth vigorously and to create warmth and energy. Use light effleurage strokes while applying the oil on your skin. Start by massaging your feet using back and forth and circular motions in a slow rhythm. Massage your ankles in slow circular motions. Massage your lower legs using slow back and forth motions. Continue around the body using slow circular motions on the joints and slow back and forth motions from joint to joint. These movements represent both male and female energy that exists within all of us. Finish the massage with applying the oil on your scalp and use shampooing movements to stimulate the circulation on your scalp. Take a large brush and brush your hair at least 50 times back and forth to energize your hair follicles. Finish the self-massage with slow sweeping effleurage strokes. Your body should feel relaxed, your skin soft, and your mind ready for the day or ready for bed.
Nutrition and Eating
We are constantly bombarded by new diets on the market almost everyday. We continually try these new diets, but inevitably, eventually go back to our old habits. What you eat on a daily basis has effects both short and long term on your body and your mind. Studies are showing that so many foods that we eat can be reeking havoc on our internal system and causing inflammation and allergic reactions that break our bodies immunity leaving long term damage to our cells, tissues, and organs of which we may be totally unaware. The best foods to eat are ones grown in nature without pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers. Choose oils that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that nourish your skin and fight the free radical reaction. In our society, we are continually told “DON’T EAT THAT” or “IT’S NOT GOOD FOR YOU” while Ayurveda states that things should be consumed in moderation and not to deny yourself what you love. The challenge comes when we don’t ever deny ourselves what we love. If you have a cup of coffee every once in a while and it makes you feel good, then have that one cup-however if you have five cups of coffee on a daily basis and you feel anxious and are unable to sleep, not so good. Pay close attention to how your body feels after eating a particular food. If you are left feeling heavy and lethargic, even though you probably enjoyed what you ate, that may not be the best food for your body. In contrast, if you are a picky eater and consume a lot of snack foods and do not get enough oils into your diet, you may be left feeling constipated and bloated. We often tend to eat when we are really hungry, almost starving, and stop eating when we feel ready to explode. Our bodies cannot process the nutrients we need when we eat like this. It is important to eat when you are hungry, but not starving, and to stop when you feel satisfied, not ready to blow up. Take into consideration when you are eating to slowly chew each bite that you take. Pay attention to the food you are eating, this will allow your body to receive the maximum nutrients contained in the food and you will feel fuller eating less. Eat in an area that you can concentrate on what you’re eating almost an eating meditation. When we are not paying attention to what and how fast we are eating, indigestion can be a factor and leave us feeling worse than before we ate. Sipping warm or room temperature water can help aid in the digestion process versus ice water in which the body has to warm up in order to maximize the benefits. Finally, eat when you are feeling good. Emotions can play a huge part in what and how often we eat.
Daily Movement and Sleeping
Incorporating some sort of movement such as yoga, aerobic exercise, or even a simple walk everyday can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Simple exercise keeps the joints mobile, the blood circulated and can help to clear the mind of any negative thoughts and stress. Fifteen to 30 minutes a day that you can devote to doing what makes you feel better. Sleep is such an important factor and can be a cure for a lot of unwanted tension and stress that occurs. It is recommended to get at least eight hours of sleep a night while the average American gets five to six hours. The best sleep cycle should occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Watching TV while in bed can lead to a restless night of sleep because the mind is still very active.
“Everyone should be his own physician. We ought to assist and not force, nature. Eat with moderation. Nothing is what is good for the body but what we can digest. What medicine can procure digestion? Exercise. What will recruit strength? Sleep. What will alleviate all incurable evils? Patience.” ~ Voltaire
Following these simple daily rituals and even creating some of your own can lead to a more balanced state of being for both you and your clients.