Friday, January 8, 2010

Relaxtion Response

"Tools in the toolbox" is one of my favorite sayings.   Our team of medical & wellness providers are a big part of our team - and they wield the best tools to keep us on the ground on our own two feet.   We also are fully responsible for our own bodies.   The more we actively participate in the process of our well-being (rather than depending on someone else to do it for us), the better we feel.

This is what mind/body forms of movement - such as Yoga - provide all of us!   An amazing gift to participate in our well-being, Yoga meets us where we are on our path.

With my legs literally going out from under me this week, I've been reminded of the importance of the Relaxation Response both for us as teachers and for our students.   The Relaxation Response is the opposite of the body's "fight or flight" response mechanism.  Due to the nature of our lives, most of us live in constant "fight or flight."   We call it stress.   Modern pharmaceuticals advertise to us to help alleviate this condition.

An important thing to know is that you can discharge this response - and we must discharge.   Every time I see our dog do a full body shake -- I know she is discharging the fight or flight response from her body.   We may all look crazy shaking like a dog after bad news or an interaction with another person -- but what if we could do it privately?    I learned something from a senior Gyrotonic teacher called the "7 Shakes."

Raise your right arm above your head (or out if you have a shoulder injury) - shake it 7 times.
Raise your left arm above your head - shake it 7 times.
Extend your right leg - shake it 7 times.
Extend your left leg -shake it 7 times.
Keep breathing.
Repeat the sequence.  
Shake each appendage 6 times.
Then 5 times.
Then 4 times.
Until you get to 1shake each.
Stand (or if you did this sitting) - pause and feel the difference.
Feel that you are no longer stuck with your thoughts.  Are probably smiling (mostly because it made you feel silly, eh?).  And now, you can move on!

What's interesting is earlier this week, my husband was watching a science show about stress and hierarchy.   The researchers were studying baboons.   The baboons on the lowest rung of the clan had the most stress.   The head baboon - almost none.   The scientists were comparing their research with the human response.

One of the fantastic things about being human is our minds.   We can change our mind & truly change our world.   So, maybe we aren't the "top dog" or "top baboon" in our universe, but how we respond to what occurs is our choice.

In our Yoga & other mind/body classes, we teach people how to illicit the Relaxation Response.   We help them re-pattern - forming new grooves & pathways in the body/mind.   Yes, we still have our "stuff," but how respond to our stuff is what's different.   We learn to shake it off.   Or we begin to see the patterns.

In 2010 our Advanced Studies program here in Jacksonville, top teachers from many disciplines are coming to town.  These teachers will provide us with "more tools in the toolbox."   Enabling us to self-care better & serve others better.   Please be sure to check out the website & see if any or all of the training may be appropriate for you.   Many elements are open to students, too.   So if you have students who are deeply interested, please feel welcome to refer them!

And, finally - for those who are like my lovable husband - and need a bit  more science to back up claims, I offer the following.    The Relaxation Response is proven to work on pain.   Many controlled trials have proven the value of the Relaxation Response in decreasing both acute & chronic pain.   Studies have shown that the Relaxation Response can predictably be triggered.  The following information comes from an extremely comprehensive 1996 review article published in The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.   The review showed that the Relaxation Response has been shown to be the most beneficial in helping all kinds of painful conditions, both acute & chronic.    Here's a sample from the article.

Acute & Chronic Conditions Proved to be Helped by the Relaxation Response
Acute Pain - after gallbladder removal, after hernia repair, after a hemorrhoidectomy, after an abdominal hystorectomy, after the repair of a fractured hip, after an episiotomy.
Chronic Pain - low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, leg pain, facial pain, headaches, chest pain

Let's all learn more!   And together feel better & teach others how to feel better too!   Take advantage of all the amazing senior teachers coming to Jacksonville who will teach us so many great proven techniques.   Join us starting in March for a phenomenal year of training!