Tag: exercise

The Health Benefits of Laughter Therapy

It is more than six years now since the first “Laughter Club” was set up. There is a growing demand for such clubs in India and abroad. Almost everyday more and more people are joining Laughter Clubs and are reaping its benefits. One of the benefits is that laughter puts the members in a positive frame of mind and gradually makes them positive thinkers. People suffering from a variety of stress-related diseases have benefited in some way or another. But we don’t claim that long-standing ailments have been cured by laughter therapy. Laughter is more of a supplementary and preventive therapy.

Anti Stress: Laughter is one of the finest, most economical and easy ways to reduce stress. Laughter is one of the best muscle relaxants. Laughter expands blood vessels and sends more blood to the extremities and other muscles all over the body. A good bout of laughter also reduces the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol. It is used as a form of dynamic meditation or relaxation. For meditation one has to put in a concerted effort to completely detach oneself, on mental and emotional levels, from one’s own feelings and thought processes, as well as from the physical world to prevent distractions. While laughing we do not have any conscious thought process and all our senses naturally and effortlessly combine in a moment of harmony to give joy, peace and relaxation. In other types of meditation you need to concentrate a lot to take your mind away from distracting thoughts, which is easier said than done. Therefore, laughter is, if I may say so, the easiest form of meditation and one which brings you instant relaxation.

Strengthens the Immune System: The immune system plays an important role in maintaining good health by keeping away infections, allergies and cancers. It has been proven by psychoneuroimmunologists that negative emotions like anxiety, depression or anger weaken the immune system of the body, thereby reducing its fighting capacity against infections. According to Dr. Lee S. Berk from Loma Linda University, California, laughter helps to increase the count of natural killer cells (NK cells – a type of white cell) and also raises the antibody levels. Researchers have found that after laughter therapy there is an increase in antibodies (Immunoglobulin A) in the mucous of the nose and respiratory passages, which is believed to have a protective capacity against some viruses, bacteria and other micro organisms. Many members of Laughter Clubs have noticed that their frequency of common colds, sore throats and chest infections has decreased. The effect of laughter on the immune system is considered to be very significant with regard to deadly disease like AIDS and cancer by improving quality of life.

Aerobic Exercise: The one benefit almost everybody experiences is a sense of well-being. After 15 minutes of laughter in the morning, they feel fresh throughout the day. There is no medicine like laughter which gives you such an instant result. The reason for the sense of well-being is that you inhale more oxygen while laughing. Laughter can be compared to any aerobic exercises except you don’t have to wear fancy shoes or clothes. You don’t need to sweat hard on the jogging tracks. According to Dr. William Fry from Stanford University, one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine. Laughter stimulates heart and blood circulation like aerobic exercise. Laughter exercise is suited for sedentary people and those who are confined to a bed or wheelchair.

Depression, anxiety and psychosomatic disorders: The stress and strain of modern life are taking a heavy toll of the human mind and body. Mind-related diseases like anxiety, depression, nervous breakdowns and sleeplessness are on the rise. Laughter has benefited many people who were on heavy anti-depressant pills and tranquilizers. Now they are getting better sleep and their depression has reduced. People with suicidal tendencies have started living with more hope.

High Blood Pressure and Heart disease: There are a number of causes for high blood pressure and heart disease like heredity, obesity, smoking and excessive intake of saturated fats. But stress is one of the major factors. Laughter definitely helps to control blood pressure by reducing the release of stress-related hormones and bringing relaxation.

© Used with Permission

Dr. Mandan Kataria
http://www.laughteryoga.org
Mumbai, INDIA. 2003.
Phone : +91-22-26316426
E-Mail : laugh@laughteryoga.org

 

What is Qi?

Qi

What is Qi?

Is Qi energy? Those who are fatigued, or always tired, will be particularly interested in Chinese Medicine’s views on qi.

This is one of the most common questions Americans ask about Chinese Medicine, and not an easy one to answer. Qi (pronounced “chee” and sometimes spelled ‘chi’) is possibly the most essential and the most controversial aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Biomedicine often feels it can quite easily dismiss parts or all of TCM by maintaining that modern science cannot verify the existence of qi. The false idea that qi is an ‘energy’ like electricity has worsened this controversy.

Is Qi Energy?

Some TCM practitioners say qi is ‘energy.’ This is not too bad of an explanation. But don’t go away thinking we believe there are electrical circuits running through your body! Some scholars (D.E. Kendall, and Paul Unschuld) maintain that the idea of qi as ‘energy’ was a mistranslation from the Chinese.

Then What is It?

In terms of basic TCM ontology (“what exists”), Qi is one of the four basic constituents of the body:

Yin Blood Qi Yang
< — Substance Function — >
< — Cold Hot — >

Consider this convenient car-engine analogy: Yin is water from the radiator to cool the engine, blood is oil, qi is the force that moves the pistons, and the engine can be said to be in a yang state when operating. Perhaps the explosion itself is yang, while the force of the explosion is qi. We can also say that the gas contains a qi that has yet to be utilized.

(In the actual chinese character for the word, qi is the steam rising from a cooking pot of rice. I hope that explanation made sense to ancient Chinese, because it doesn’t make much to me! To be fair to the ancient chinese, we can think of the steam coming from the rice as being less substantial, more yang than the rice itself, but still…)

What Happens Without Qi?

Another way to understand things is by their absence (darkness is defined as the absence of light). Without sufficient qi,

  • your digestive system cannot break down food or transport nutrients to the rest of your body
  • you become easily fatigued and are always tired
  • you lose your appetite
  • your limbs are heavy
  • you might wake up frequently at night because you need to urinate
  • academic/organizing thought is difficult or impossible
  • everything is overwhelming (you cannot ‘digest’ what is going on)
  • you tend to worry (the emotional component – TCM is a holistic medicine that does not separate body and mind)

How Do I Get More Qi?

  • The proper diet goes a long way. TCM dietary principles are too complex to cover here (I must say though that it is surprising to many patients, perhaps because vegetarianism is thought to be synonymous with alternative medicine, that TCM advocates eating meat and mostly cooked foods).
  • Herbs that increase the qi include ginseng, and codonopsis.
  • Avoid activities that drain the qi – Be sensible about your energy expenditure by living a balanced life; don’t be too sedentary or too active. If you are a couch potato, your qi can’t flow without exercise. If you are a type-A personality, relax and don’t use yourself up too early in life – you may live to regret it!
by Brian B. Carter, MS, LAc. Reprinted with permission by the author
Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615N
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

 

9 Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure Now!

You don’t always have to wait to quit your job or to lose weight before lowering your blood pressure. Use these natural techniques to re-gain your health and to reduce your stress.

    1. Reduce Intake of Processed Table Salt and Increase Potassium Intake.
      Reduce or eliminate colas from your diet. Use low or no sodium soy sauce or other seasonings products. Avoid pre-packaged, pre-made foods such as boxed frozen and canned foods which are high in processed sodium (20% or more of you daily value). When choosing salt, try unrefined sea salt which retain important minerals. Increase potassium rich foods such as bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, apricots, raisins, beans, figs, winter squash and tomato sauce. (Most tomato product brands are packed in B.P.A. lined cans so be sure to avoid those brands by choosing jarred sauces, making your own from farm fresh tomato. As of the writing of this article canned Glenn Muir do not use B.P.A. can liners. You can also try boxes of Pomi brand tomato product). Food is the best medicine, but you can also consider taking a potassium supplement daily.
    2. Exercise Daily. Studies show that cardio vascular exercise reduces blood pressure and relieves stress. Sometimes due to health reasons or time constraints we cannot work out often or engage in a vigorous cardiovascular program. That is okay. Start by walking for 5-15 minutes per day. Slowly increase your walking time and soon you may be able to go to the gym again. Also try hatha yoga, qi-gong or tai-chi.
    3. Use Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Scientific research studies show that acupuncture reduces blood pressure by reducing stress hormones, such as cortisol and by releasing good hormones called endorphins. Chinese herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture to balance the root cause of energy disharmony which may contribute to high blood pressure.
    4. Take Breaks At Work. To reduce your stress, walk out of the office for a few minutes, breathe deeply and let go.

  1. Reduce Exposure to News Media. Cut down on T.V. news shows, newspaper and magazine reading and internet news media. News sources such as T.V. news, news magazine shows, Court TV, Cops, Unsolved Mysteries and other crime shows as well as glossy news magazines thrive on inducing fear and anxiety which causes blood pressure to rise as stress levels rise.
  2. Give Yourself Alone Time.Even five minutes a day of quiet time can help. Try any of the following; meditate, walk, sit in a garden, breathe, go for a drive or bike ride.
  3. Engage in Low Stress Activities You Enjoy. Knitting, golfing, gardening, playing with pets, fishing, dance, sing, play an instrument, walk in the park or meet a friend for tea.
  4. Breathe. Become aware of your breath. Do you stop breathing when you are stressed or do you sigh a lot? Do you take short breaths into the top of your chest? Or do breathe deeply filling down to the bottom of your belly? Take time to just breathe and relax. You don’t always have try some special breathing exercise because sometimes just sitting and feeling the sensation breath moving through your body can be enough. Inhale through the nose, feel the air move through, is it cool or warm? Can you feel it move through the throat? Notice your chest expand, your lungs fill and ribs expand. As you exhale notice your belly soften, ribs soften, chest relax and warm air move out of your mouth.
  5. Develop Mindful Awareness. Become mindful of your reactions to stressful situations. What raises the hair on the back of your neck? What causes you tense up your shoulders or jaw? What situations or people cause your blood to boil? As you become aware of your stress reactions to people, places and things, take a breath and consider this advice Tibetan monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes in his book Anger. Wisdom for Cooling the Flames:‘The first function of mindfulness is to recognize, not fight. “Breathing in, I know anger has manifested in me”. And breathing out, “I will take good care of you.” Once we have recognized our anger we embrace it. This is the second function of mindfulness, and it is a very pleasant practice. Instead of fighting we are taking good care of our emotion. If you know how to embrace your anger, something will change.’

Integrating just a few of these many tips into your daily life can help blood pressure control and reduce stress.

Sounds True, Inc.

 

Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square eAst, Suite 615 n
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

Quit Exercising To Lose Weight!

Tired of exercising to lose weight? Bored with your routine? Not motivated to move and stay moving?

Exercise Should Be Fun!

We all know that exercise can help us reach long-term goals like losing 10 pounds, or preventing heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. Yet sometimes that is not enough to get us off our duffs and stay active. That is why I titled this article “Quit Exercising To Lose Weight.” Okay, okay, I don’t really mean, quit exercising. Rather, instead of always focusing on exercise, focus on fun. And instead of focusing on some long term goal like losing 25 pounds, which in the beginning may seem difficult to achieve, we could shift our focus inward into the here and now of exercise or sport. Focusing inward can actually become a powerful enough tool to help you climb out of your Lazy Boy and turn the drudgery of ordinary exercise into a fun and satisfying experience. Of course the long-term goal is a good idea to keep in mind. Author of The Courage to Start, John Bingham, talks about his experience as a runner, yet I believe it relates to all styles of exercise:

“For running {exercise} to become a part of your life for the rest of your life then there has to be a way of finding a reward in the activity itself that is both immediate and sustained. Running has got to feel good right now. It must allow you to feel good in the afterglow of the effort. And it’s got to do that on a regular basis… It may do all sorts of things for your heart and lungs but in the end it’s got to be fun.”

One of my acupuncture patients suffers from chronic back pain and depression. She finds immediate reward in her activity: “After about ten minutes on my elliptical trainer, my body goes euphoric. I turn on the music really loud, and I just go.

Both running and training on an elliptical trainer at home can be solitary events which may be boring for some. So instead, join a club. There are hiking, biking, running, walking clubs and more. The social aspect of your activity can be oodles of fun, and members keep each other motivated. You begin to feel a team spirit connection to the exercise. You could also try out local community classes such as yoga, kung fu, tai chi, belly dancing, hula-hoop, cardio sculpting, water aerobics, or join a baseball, softball or basketball league.In NYC some gyms and community centers offer free fitness classes for all levels and ages- including kids! For schedule and locations check out www.nyc.gov/parks or call 311. Outside of NYC, call the Parks and Recreation department in your community.

Some people lack the energy to exercise. To restore and build energy, get acupuncture, take Chinese herbs, and eat a nutritionally and energetically balanced diet. These treatments build and circulate the energy you need for fitness. For acupuncture, herbal and nutritional treatment sessions, call us for an appointment: 646-504-2251.

Working out in small classes or with a trainer can help transform your exercise routine from a mindless experience into a mindful experience. When an instructor notices a mistake you are making or a way to enhance an exercise that you already do well, it opens your eyes, deepens your experience and your connection to your body. That inner connection often reflects outward into other aspects of our lives. The more you work one-on-one with an instructor or trainer, the better, but for those with tight budgets even a few times a month can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your teacher in class.

Other ways of changing our mindless exercise into mindful exercise on our own is to turn off the T.V. Focus on your breathing. How does it feel before after and during the exercise? Does your sense of smell, touch or taste change? How does your body feel before during and after each exercise or your entire routine? Is one side of your body more stable then the other?

An additional way to take the stress out of exercise is stop comparing yourself to others around you, in the class or on the team. Just be the best you can in each moment. It is also helpful to avoid comparing your self to yourself. One day may be harder then the next or one exercise may be easier one day but more challenging the next. Just notice these changes and avoid labeling them as bad or good. This technique is also a good one to apply in other areas of life.

If you are still bored after you have taken the steps I have discussed, try a more challenging sport. Instead of running with members of a club, try training for marathon. Instead of hiking or biking basic trails, try mountain climbing or biking.

Are you sore from your new work-out routine? Get Acupuncture. It Works!