Yoga and meditation help manage chronic low back pain (YAMA study)

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in February 2016, on the “Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Usual Care on Back Pain and Functional Limitations in Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain, A Randomized Clinical Trial” that highlighted the importance and effectiveness of yoga and meditation for managing chronic low back pain.

The clinical trial was conducted randomized, interviewer-blind in an integrated health care system in Washington State consisting of 342 adults aged 20 to 70 years with chronic low back pain. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups, MBSR (training in mindfulness meditation and yoga), CBT (training to change pain-related thoughts and behaviors) or usual care for chronic low back pain.

The results were quite amazing. Participants in groups MBSR (yoga and mediations) and CBT experienced significant improvements in their conditions at 26 weeks compared to the traditional care group. The study concluded that yoga and meditation may be a valuable alternative for treatment of chronic low back pain.

If you like to read full article on YAMA site, please click here

Intersted in trying yoga?

There are more and more studies that are coming out confirming the power of yoga and meditation. For us, who have been practicing yoga for a while, it all makes complete sense. Yoga nurtures my body and calms my “monkey” mind down. It has far reaching benefits throughout my life!

If you are considering trying yoga, please go to a beginner class or better yet, schedule a couple of private sessions with a knowledgeable yoga teacher. As the popularity of yoga grows, so do the yoga injuries. It is important to practice with care, gentleness, mindfulness and go slow, especially in the beginning. If you follow these guidelines and always listen to your body, you will find yoga to be a positive powerful force in your life!

Click here to learn more about yoga and how you can schedule a private yoga session with me

In gratitude, Elena Diaz RYT-200

Revolved Crescent Lunge Yoga Pose

 

 

 

 

What is Fascia? The new organ – “Interstitium”!

The science is finally catching up! The new research calls fascia, the “Interstitium”, the biggest organ of the body. As myofascial release therapists we have been aware of the interconnectivity of the fascial system for many decades, but it is nice to have the science confirm what we have felt under our hands. Further, the scientists were able to discover that fascia is fluid filled and drains into our lymphatic system. They took amazing pictures with laser confocal scanning microscope. The research continues. What role does fascia play in our daily lives?  How does it affect diseases such as cancer?

One of my wonderful teachers, Richard Harty PT, a practitioner of John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Therapy for over 25 years has put together this amazing video that includes the newest research.  Enjoy!

To learn more about how your  fascia can be treated with myofascial release therapy click here to schedule a session with Elena Diaz, MFR Therapist, today!

 

My Yoga School Journey – Costa Rica 2017

Now, that it has been a couple of months since I have completed my Yoga Teacher Training I decided to share some of my experiences. The two and a half weeks I spend in Costa Rica were intense physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The jungle was a fascinating place with a family of monkeys living in our proximity and making five am wake-up calls every morning. The sloths hanging, chilling from the trees, the beautiful greenery with most gorgeous flowers and exotic birds everywhere taking your breath away.

One of my main concerns going on this journey was the diet during the training. It was to be all vegetarian Ayurvedic cuisine and being a meat lover I was very nervous. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not miss meat at all and really enjoyed the food our chef prepared for us. It was utterly delicious and motivated me to reduce my meat intake.

Daily, we practiced yoga, learned anatomy, discussed yoga philosophy, workshoped poses, meditated, chanted, danced together and became friends. We completed enlightening exercises on letting go and experienced how intimate a simple eye contact can be.  I feel so much gratitude for have been a part of such wonderful, interesting and loving group of people.

Officially, I am a 200 hour Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher, but I am not quite ready to teach yet. I have decided to attend a couple more trainings in the upcoming months and practice, practice. Stay tuned… Check out a few pics from my journey!

Warmly, Elena

Yoga School

For more info about Yoga offerings please click here

 

How does posture affect your fascia?

We all know that proper posture is important, but why is it so important and how does it affect the connective tissue? As stated by American Chiropractor Association benefits of good posture include proper alignment of bones and ligaments which decreases the abnormal wear of joints. Further, proper posture allows the muscles to work efficiently using just the right amount of energy to avoid muscle fatigue and even future back pain. On the other hand, bad posture over time strains muscles, creates fascial restrictions and can results in back pain. The American Chiropractic Association has outlined the proper posture for sitting, standing and sleeping. Please click here for more info.

So, having proper posture is very important stuff for your health. From a fascial (connective tissue) perspective chronic bad posture forces the fascia to anchor the tissue down to support the muscles that are carrying more than their fair share of weight. For example, if a person has a habit of slouching (as you can see in the illustration below) the fascia will adopt itself to this position and create restrictions to support this posture. The connective tissue will shorten and tighten all of the front muscles. The back muscles get overstretched in this position, so the fascia has to lay collagen (very strong substance) to support the load of the head (which weighs about 10% of our body). Once this pattern has been created it feels impossible to have an upright and open shoulder posture. This position overtime produces headaches and neck pain. This is where Myofascial Release Therapy can help. By releasing these holding patterns it allows the client to practice proper posture and feel amazing!

Got back pain? Skip the drugs and try Yoga and Myofascial Release Therapy!

Most of us had the feeling of back pain at some point in our lives. When you overexert yourself in an activity like gardening or exercise or pick up a way too heavy object and feel a twinge in the low back. Many go to the doctor to get drugs to relieve that pain, but now American College of Physicians says try Yoga, or Bodywork first. By starting with alternative treatments you can help your back long term, prevent future injuries and avoid the nasty side effects of the mediations. Especially, Myofascial Release therapy is very powerful in releasing tight muscles and fascia that can anchor down back and create pain. Adding Yoga to your routine keeps these muscles flexible and moving and your back healthy.

Read more about this here www.npr.org

PAIN – Pay Attention Inward Now

This is a great definition of PAIN by Iyanla Vanzant. Whenever, I experience physical pain the first thing I do is look at what is going on in my life at that moment. Nine out of ten times I have been stressing out about something and neglecting my body. Pain is an alarm system of the body to let us know that something is out of harmony. By causing pain our bodies want us to take notice and take action to address the imbalance. Our bodies are meant to be healthy and vibrant. But, too often we ignore the body, push through and don’t do anything to keep it healthy. Once, I have tuned into my body I usually know what to do. Sometimes, it maybe as little as taking a long bath, do yoga/selfcare or meditate. Sometimes, a visit to the doctor is necessary to address the imbalance. Whatever your body is trying to tell you it is wise to listen and address the issue as soon as possible to avoid any further discomfort!

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Piriformis Syndrom – or Sciatic Nerve Pain

One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is about sciatica. They describe pain in the buttocks area that is often referred further down the leg. This inhibits their life and daily activities including sitting down. According to Myo Clinic  sciatica is usually caused by a herniated disc or a bone spur that compress the nerve.

Myofascial Release  Therapy looks at the body in terms of fascia. The discs often get herniated, because of the tremendous pressure imposed on them by fascial restrictions. These restrictions can originate from a single major trauma, repetitive motion injury or long-term bad posture. In Myofascial Release Therapy the approach is to free up these tight restrictions which then will allow the body to go back to it original range of motion and functionality. Because fascia is an all encompassing system of the body the restrictions can be located anywhere. Yet, often times, I find lots of tightness in the buttocks area,  the IT band and the tensor fasciae latae muscle. In this therapy I work with the body, waiting for it to release, sometimes spending up to 5 minutes performing one techniques. This approach releases deep seated restrictions. Further, I recommend self-care techniques to my clients, such as using a 4inch ball to continue releasing tight areas.

Check out this cool video showing how tight piriformis muscle can cause sciatica.

Meditation and Health

Meditation has been long said to be very beneficial, especially for stress reduction. Unfortunately, stress has become a normal part of our lives. Everybody seems to be stressed, all the time. This is very bad for our health.  According to Web MD,  75-90% of visits to the doctor are stress related.  Stress is major factor in symptoms such as headaches, heart problems, anxiety and depression just to name a few.

When we find ourselves in a stressful situation our bodies go into a Fight or Flight response. If we are constantly stressed we stay in this intense state of being which wears tremendously on our bodies. Please see below a great illustration on how Fight or Flight Response affects our bodies. Click here to see full article and this illustration on the American Institute of Stress website.

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What can we do to reduce stress?

One possibility is to take time each day to meditate. Numerous studies have been conducted and confirmed the enormous benefits of meditation. According to an article on National Center for Complementary Integrative Health  website there is evidence that meditation can reduce blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, insomnia, STRESS and PAIN. Lots of people imagine meditation as sitting still in silence, but there are many ways to meditate. The article on Bustle.com describes eleven activities that can be meditative, but don’t require you to sit still. Click here to read the article on meditation.

In the last few years I have adopted the practice of meditation. Sometimes, it involves sitting still, sometimes taking mindful walks and other times reading and contemplation. Myofascial Release sessions can also be very meditative to me. When I receive bodywork, I focus on being in the present moment, breathing and feeling my body.

Experiment with different types of meditation to find what suits you best. Consider meditating while you are receiving massage or Myofascial Release Therapy. It is very powerful to be in the present moment and could propel your well-being to new heights!

Myofascial Stretching Workshop on October 8, 2016

Please come join me for a Myofascial Stretching Workshop on October 8, 2016 at 9:00-11:30am at the http://consciouslivingyoga.com Conscious Living Yoga. Please see attached flyer for details. Email, call or Facebook message me to reserve a spot. Let’s release that tight connective tissue!! See you there, Elena.

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Myofascial Stretching workshop!

Optimism and Health

Today, I would like to talk about attitude and health. Studies confirm that attitude plays a huge role in our health and longevity. In the book “You are the placebo”, the author, Dr. Joe Dispenza lists several studies that have discovered how much impact an optimistic outlook has on our health. For example, in 2002 Mayo Clinic published a study which demonstrated that optimists live healthier lives both physically and mentally. Another study showed that optimists live on average seven years longer than pessimists. Being optimistic means simply, believing the best possible scenario. The body-mind connection is REAL!

According to the article “A simple exercise to boost optimism” in Psychology Today (see link below)  75% of optimism is determined by the individual’s efforts and the environment. This being said, we have a tremendous opportunity to control our optimism and to improve our lives for the better. There are a lot of ways to boost your optimism. The attached article focuses on visualizations.

In my Myofascial Release practice clients who are optimistic about their health get better faster and maintain a higher level of well-being. The body-mind connection is undeniable and how we use our mind, our thoughts is directly reflected in our bodies.  Today, I choose to think positive thoughts, to meditate and to find something good in every situation. I have to mention that I get bodywork twice a month and do self-care several times a week. The result, I am healthier than I ever been in my life. The combination of bodywork and optimistic outlook is the magic formula for my well-being!

Thank you for reading! Warmly, Elena

Click here to Psychology Today article