We all know that bodywork such as massage and myofascial release helps to alleviate stress, but now we are learning that bodywork can potentially play a role in aging process. In 2009, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the protective function of telomeres on chromosomes.

Telomeres

This team of researchers discovered protective “caps” on the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. Each time a chromosome is replicated a small section of telomeres sequence is lost and eventually when telomere become critically short the cell can no longer replicate fully. Researchers determined that the length of telomeres can be utilized as a reliable measure of cell’s biological age. The older we get the shorter and less active our telomeres become. Most profoundly, a decreased telomeres activity was directly correlated with elevated stress hormone cortisol and epinephrine. These stress hormones are meant to serve us short term, to give us enough energy to cope with a perceived threat, but too often we experience prolonged periods of stress. This can negatively impact our cellular longevity.

Long term stress causes:

  • high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms
  • heart attack, stroke
  • insomnia, depression, anxiety
  • suppressed immune function
  • obesity and other eating disorders
  • menstrual problems
  • skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
  • gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon

But, there is hope!

Researchers also learned that hormones such as estrogen and growth hormone IGF-1 increase telomeres activity. The key is that these hormones are activated during parasympathetic nervous system response, a “rest and digest”  state. This is where bodywork comes into play. Many studies have been conducted on the effects of massage on the stress hormone cortisol (fight or flight hormone) showing a decrease in cortisol hormone levels after massage application. We know that bodywork can lower cortisol levels and bring the body out of “fight or flight” response and into “rest and digest”. If so, can bodywork potentially extend the life span of telomeres and slow down aging? 

More research is yet to be done, but we know for certain that long term stress is harmful for our health. Myofascial release therapy, cupping therapy, yoga and other related preventative heath practices help decrease cortisol levels and keep us in the “rest and digest” for longer periods of time.

Click here to read the full article from Massage and Bodywork Jan/Feb 2020

Holiday season can be a lot of fun, but it also can be quite stressful and taxing on our bodies. Here are a few tips on self-care during this time of the year and beyond.

1. Sleep

Sleep is essential for our bodies. During the sleep cycle our body works on muscle tissue and organ repairs as well as produces hormones that help strengthen our immune system. Sleep is also extremely important for our brains as it affects “brain plasticity”. If we don’t get enough sleep we become unable to process and remember any new information for the future. Further, the lack sleep poses a health risk, compromises immunity and heightens the potential for illness and infections. Likelihood of depression, seizures and as well as high blood pressure are also increased. *

Most adults will need between seven and nine hours of sleep.* Try to avoid electronic devices right before going to sleep. Instead consider a short mediation in bed, listen to calming music or snuggle up with your loved ones. 

2. Yoga

Many of us feel stiff when we first roll out of bed. Yoga can help! Even if you are not a regular yoga practitioner you can integrate some stretching into your morning routine to warm up the body and help you feel limber. 

Think about moving your spine in all six directions. That means: do side stretches on both sides, fold forward (stretch legs at the same time), open up your chest by doing a standing backbend (interlace hands behind your back and look slightly upward), twist to the right and left (allow your pelvis to twist with you). Just these simple stretches will leave you feeling energized and ready for your day. If you like to learn more about yoga click here. If you like to schedule a private session please contact me at (530) 921 1915

Yoga

3. Self-care tools

Self-care tools can be a life saver! Depending on your needs there are a lot of self-care tools at your disposal. Here are a few I think are amazing that I recommend to my clients based on their bodies. After a long day at work and taking care of a family your body might be sore and stiff. Try using a four inch ball to roll out your gluteus and lower back (always avoid bones). Or if you neck is tight consider using a cranio-cradle. This will help release your neck muscles and offers an opportunity for a short meditation. If your feet are bothering you, experiment with rolling them with a smaller and a bit denser ball. If you like to learn more about self-care tools call me to schedule a private session at (530) 921 1915. Click here to see my favorite self-care tools.

By establishing a good sleep routine, practicing yoga/stretching and utilizing self-care tools you can feel healthy, strong and energized this holiday season!

Thank you for reading! In health, Elena Diaz, MFR Therapist, RYT200 Yoga Instructor


In the western society we sit on average a of eight hours. We sit to eat, sit to drive, sit at work and sit to watch TV. Many of us spend more than eight hours sitting. Sitting is now called the new smoking, because it is just as damaging to our bodies, especially if we sit in a bad posture. In the Mayo Clinic article Edward R. Laskowski, MD mentions studies that have identified several health concerns of prolonged sitting including obesity, high blood sugar and excess of body fat. 

We all know it is best for us to move, but many of us work at the office where sitting is required, unless you are on of the lucky ones with a stand-up desk. Our bodies are most happy when we don’t spend too much time in one position. Alternating sitting, standing and walking around is ideal, but if you have to sit, what is the best posture for sitting?

Posture and Myofascial Release Therapy

Postural assessment is essential part of Myofascial Release Therapy. During the first session, I examine a client’s natural posture and suggest adjustments for standing and sitting postures. What many people don’t know is how crucial their daily standing, sitting and sleeping postures are for their bodies’ wellbeing. No amount of Myofascial Release Therapy or any other therapy for that matter will help you get better if you continue with bad postural habits.

Have you ever noticed that most people complain about lumbar/low back pain? If you sit in a C-curve position (slouching) you expose your disks to enormous weight of your upper body in addition to the natural forces of gravity. Our spine functions best when we display natural curves. So-called S-curve is most functional and distributes the weight evenly through the spine and into the legs. If you sit in a C-curve you create enormous amounts of pressure on your lumbar intervertebral discs which in turn can cause bulging and herniated discs. Bulging or herniated discs can pinch nerves creating pain, numbness and tingling. 

So, what is the most efficient way for the body to sit?

Think about stacking your bones and displaying natural curves, S-curve. Try sitting on a blanket or a pillow. You would want the angle of your pelvis and your knees to be at 120 degrees. This will help you display natural lumbar curve. Also, consider sitting more towards the edge of the chair instead of using support for your back. This will help strengthen your back muscles. It might be an effort at first, but it will be worthwhile. Further, you feet should touch the floor and chest needs to be slightly lifted. You can adjust your computer to your eye level to keep your chin parallel to the floor. 

To schedule a Myofascal Release session please click here to see contact info.

Thank you for reading!
Elena Diaz, MFR Therapist, Yoga Instructor 

 

Join me for a Self-Care Workshop, utilizing Myofascial Release on March 10, 2019 at 10am -1pm at Brahma Shanti Yoga studio in Redding, CA. Let’s learn to alleviate aches, tight knots and muscle tension, improve range of motion, reduce stress and support a healthy and active lifestyle. We will be working on releasing tightness in the feet, hips and shoulders through a combination of gentle yoga, myofascial stretching and myofascial ball techniques! Myofascial work relieves aches, increases circulation and reduces stress. The gentle sustained stretching prompts tissue to change its viscosity allowing it to release. This increases range of motion and decreases pain levels. Self-care promotes good posture and supports a healthy lifestyle. Only 15 spots available! Register today by purchasing tickets at Women of Vision Website  $40 till February 24, $45 there after. Click here to see the facebook event! Hope to see you there! Namaste, Elena  
What is your definition of yoga and flexibility? In today’s world many of us have this idea about yoga and it is usually involves a young, lean and very bendy female doing a pose that looks impossible for most of us. These social media images portray the notion that to do yoga you have to be very flexible. Too many times people have told me that they cannot do yoga because they are inflexible.

Leslie Kaminoff  YouTube video

When Leslie Kaminoff, a world-renowned Yoga Educator was asked what being flexible meant to him, he had a genius response. He replied with this question: “Do you have enough flexibility to live your life? Can you put on socks and shoes, do your job, play with your kids or wash your car?” In yoga we tend to push further and further into our ranges. We need to step back and examine why we are increasing our flexibility. Leslie’s response continued: “Flexibility means to have the available and appropriate range of motion to do the activities in your life without injuring yourself. I do yoga to live my life, not the other way around.”

Reconsider your ideas of flexibility and yoga

This short YouTube video summarizes how I feel about yoga and flexibility. Especially, after studying with Judith Hanson Lasater and Mary Richards  for the past two years I am more than ever focused on strengthening and balance in yoga. Flexibility is only secondary. In fact, the really bendy people are prone to more injuries than the stiff students. If you have a lot of flexibility in your muscles and ligaments chances are you need to do strength training to create stability for your joints.  Of course, if you are unable to put on your socks, then increasing this range might be a good idea for you. So, if you think you are too inflexible to do yoga, please reconsider this thought. I encourage you to contemplate a group yoga class or even a private yoga lesson. If you are brand new to yoga, a few private lessons are often the best option to get you started. Click her to get more info about private yoga lessons. Join me every Tuesday @9am until May 21, 2019 at the Center for Spiritual Living for Yoga for Wellbeing group class where we work on strength, balance and mindfulness. Hope to see you there! Thank you for reading. Namaste, Elena Click here to go to Yoga for Wellbeing facebook event or see flyer below.
Here is the YouTube video of Leslie Kaminoff
   
Join me for a weekly class at the Center for Spiritual Living in Redding, CA.  In this class, I will be teaching Yoga for Wellbeing every Tuesday at 9am – 10.15am starting January 8 through May 21, 2019. We will be practicing Hatha Yoga which involves longer holds and slower moving transitions. Further, we will also utilize Self Myofascial Release with balls from time to time. This class is ideal for beginners and aging population.  Poses will be performed standing, on the knees and on belly, on the mat. Hope to see you there! Please see more details in the flyer below and check out the event Yoga for Wellbeing on facebook by clicking here. Namaste, Elena Diaz  
Yoga for Bone Health starts on October 16, 2018 at 9am! This four week course is especially beneficial for students with osteoporosis and/or osteopenia. Be ready to practice anatomy informed Hatha Yoga. In these four classes we will gain an understanding of which poses are valuable for strong and healthy bones and practice proper body mechanics. We will also integrate breathing techniques and meditation into our yoga practice! Please join me by registering at Center for Spiritual Living, 1905 Hartnel Ave, Redding, CA and contacting Lorie at 530-221-4849! Feel free to message or call me with any questions regarding these classes at 530-921-1915. Hope to see you there! Please see attached flyer. If you are interested in yoga, but unable to make these classes consider private yoga lessons. Find more info about private yoga lessons by clicking here. Stay updated about future events and offerings by liking my facebook page or following me on instagram.  In gratitude, Elena Diaz CMP, RYT-200
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

       
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!  

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