Join us for an array of exciting new classes taught by SJC alumni and staff!!!
*Click on each pic below for more information*
Healing water is not a new concept. As per historical records as early as 2,000 B.C., the Egyptians utilized hot baths to ease pain and aided in relaxation. The innovative pre historic Egyptians would also place sizzling rocks into water. The Ancient Greece, made structures around natural hot springs as their version of a hospital and meeting places. The father of medicine Hippocrates frequently prescribed soothing soaks as treatment for a number of conditions ranging from jaundice to rheumatism. The word spa comes from the Latin term sanus per aquam–meaning health through water. Roman soldiers routinely used hot wells to recover from their physical and emotional wounds.
To date, there have not been many studies done on hot soaks, however the few documented studies conclude health benefits from regular soaks in hot water, usually in temperatures between 100 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit are very effective. For relieving minor aches or managing life-threatening conditions, many physicians, natural healers, scientists, and others are recommending hot tub therapy as a safe, effective, and healing way to improve overall function as well as quality of life.
Research by Joel M. Stager, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Indiana has studied the therapeutic effects of water for 30 years. He has noted that regular swimming can slow the process of aging as much as 20 percent in some people. Swimming maintains and improves respiration, muscle mass and cardiovascular function. Water provides more resistance and the most basic water workout can strengthen the heart and muscles Exercising in water helps to prevent overheating and does not impact joints.
You should consult a doctor before undergoing any new therapy
How healing waters can improve health
The National Sleep Foundation states: “Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub.” Rationale: hot water prompts relaxation and the increase in body temperature helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. I can attest to that, because it works for me very nicely.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, “The soothing warmth and buoyancy of warm water makes it a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness.” “Immersing in warm water raises your body temperature, causing your blood vessels to dilate and increasing circulation.” This results in less swelling and pain, and increases mobility.
There is good reason why hot tubs are routinely used by physical therapists and pain management experts for everything from minor aches to recovery from serious injury: hot water stimulates the release of endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that kill pain and improve mood. A soak after a day of skiing or other exercise also has medical credence: the improved blood flow resulting from hot water immersion means that oxygen and nutrients can more quickly and effectively remove pain-causing lactic acid that accumulates in muscles during workouts.
Decrease blood pressure.
In one noted study, Mayo Clinic researcher Thomas G. Allison, M.P.H, Ph.D., did a head-to-head benefits comparison of hot tubbing and bicycling in patients at risk for heart disease. His finding: soaking in warm water helped lower blood pressure, whereas bicycling raised it-sometimes to dangerous levels (during exercise). Yet, his study shows that hot water soaking raised the heart rate—the purpose of aerobic exercise—to similar levels as a bicycling workout. This suggests that a spa soak might provide a noticeable heart-smart cardiovascular workout.
Diabetes improvement and weight loss.
Another study published several years ago in The New England Journal of Medicine, suggests another way that hot tub soaks simulate the beneficial effects of exercise. After tracking patients with Type 2 diabetes, researcher Phillip L. Hooper, M.D., of McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, found that participants who soaked in a spa for 30 minutes a day, six days a week, lost nearly four pounds after three weeks-without making any changes to their diet, exercise habits or other lifestyle factors. Interestingly, following tub treatments, the patients blood sugar levels reduced.
If you can’t get to a hot spring or spa, a warm bath every evening is as effective. Try it…
We all have our outlets — things we do to express, let go, open up and understand ourselves more deeply. Some paint, some dance, others talk it over with friends, many (especially my generation) avoid such expression and decide to check, recheck and then check again, their phones with the hope that the phone has changed since the last time they’ve checked; however my expression is running.
There is something I experience on a run, perhaps the constant motion, the breathing, or the focus of my entire body moving in unison that connects me to my true nature of my being. The balance between comfort and exhaustion fades the line that separates where I was and where I am going into the awareness of where I am. I can feel the I am. I can feel. I can feel I am free.
When all the clamour and bollyhoo of thinking I want these things or I need these things or I am not good enough and they will not think I am worth anything and I have to be a certain way… when all of that loads up, a run washes it away. My mind becomes clear, and when my mind is clear, I can open up the space to the meaning of freedom in being.
Freedom is not a object to obtain, but rather an essence that exists fully within ourselves. To obtain something implies that we originally did not possess it. The nature of our being is the preexistence of freedom; it just may not always be manifested. This is a meaty concept, but a good comparison is the idea of sleeping. While we are asleep, we do not say we cease to exist entirely; rather our conscious awareness is just not manifested at the moment. So it goes for freedom — sometimes we are just asleep to it. As we become aware of our being, as we awake to ourselves, freedom is manifested.
Through our expression, we open the space for the communication of our being. In turn is our fundamental freedom. So why have I only opened up the space for freedom, but not defined it? Simple: It is entirely up to the individual to experience and discover it themselves — that is what makes it freedom. It comes from appreciating, understanding, and being mindful of your unique and personal being. Your freedom is the choice in how aware you wish to become to your natural state of being, and your expression of that choice. It is a simple choice, but sometimes simple isn’t always so simple.
Trust yourself and learn from it. There is a reason why the sun rises every morning to warm the Earth but doesn’t burn every living thing to ashes. There is a reason the oceans, despite their voluminous massive vastness, come to rest upon the shore within the same 20 feet everyday. There is a reason the Earth spins so rapidly, revolving the sun so quickly, hurdling through space at thousands of miles an hour, yet it is massive enough to hold us to it so that we are not flung off into nothingness but not enough so that we are crushed to the center. And there is a reason that we can perceive and reason and experience all of these things on a heart that beats and nerves that fire and breath that circulates and eyes that see and all to which is free.
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in you reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first. – Jim Morrison
Here we are, a few weeks into the new year, and for many this is the time of new beginnings. Whether you’ve made a resolution of some sort, or you’re returning to school for a new semester, yoga can help focus our efforts as we move forward into this new time.
A rising sun often symbolizes new beginnings, and in yoga the sequence of poses known as sun salutations (or surya namaskara) are used at the beginning of a yoga practice in the same way, to symbolize a fresh practice. Like the sun warms the earth, sun salutations warm our bodies in preparation for a yoga practice. The flow of poses help to steady the mind and bring awareness into the moment.
So, here is my suggestion to you: if you find yourself losing focus or dedication to your new year efforts, call a time out, and recompose yourself through a few rounds of sun salutations. I recommend at least five rounds, but do as many as you need or like!
Below is a relatively well known yogini (a female yogi, or yoga practitioner), Kino MacGregor, demonstrating the two variations of sun salutation. Follow along, try your best, and have fun! Stay light in your efforts, and keep your goals in mind.
Also, stay tuned in here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more about specific yoga postures, building into a home yoga practice for you, as well as discussing ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life, and its affects through a yoga practice.
If you’re further interested in yoga, beginning in February, come by the two weekly yoga classes (free for SJC students) in the John A. Danzi Center, right on the SJC Patchogue campus. Come, and be curious!
Over the past several weeks I’ve noticed that I continuously drop into child’s pose, and not just between vinyasas. For two weeks straight, the first thing my body needed each morning was this basic stretch, and I folded forward and relaxed into it right in bed. I have also been craving this simple posture throughout the day, and have found myself looking for a quiet (clean) space to enjoy it for a few minutes during breaks at work. And, of course, there is no better way to prepare for a solid night of sleep than to settle down in a child’s pose, a trick I’ve been doing quite often.
As yoga practitioners everywhere know, there are many reasons that child’s pose, referred to as balasana in Sanskrit, is an essential pose to have your yoga toolbag. For starters, it is extremely simple; to enter the pose, all you have to do is kneel, and then fold forward over your thighs and lower your forehead toward the ground, using a pillow or a block to rest the head if necessary. The practitioner winds up in a posture very similar to what babies look like when they are tucked away in their cribs (which explains the name of the pose).In addition to being simple, the posture is a great resting pose to relax into between asanas. As a teacher, I always encourage my students to take charge of their practice and listen to their bodies, and I suggest using child’s pose as the go-to pose for a brief rest or break.
The real miracle of child’s pose is that despite its simplicity, it results in numerous benefits for both the body and the mind.
Physically, the pose is known to be a great way to stretch out the thighs. It also “gives a powerful forward stretch to the spine of 110 degrees, relaxing the spinal ligaments and stretching the back muscles” allowing us “to alleviate the compression of the lower invertebral discs, which occurs when we are standing.” Additionally, “breathing with the abdomen resting on the thighs allows the diaphragm to gently stimulate the internal organs” and “improves the circulation of the face which is beneficial for the eyes, the ears and the facial muscles” (from Yoga for Stress Relief by Swami Shivapremananda).
While the physical effects are certainly notable, the mental and emotional benefits are what made me a huge fan of the pose. Forward folds in general are used to help people calm down and enter into a state of introversion. Physically, the brain is sent into a state of relaxation whenever the body enters into a forward fold, but child’s pose is unique because the practitioner is fully supported by the earth beneath him or her. Full relaxation into the pose is possible, allowing for full surrender, and feeling the solid ground beneath you can literally help you “ground down,” or, as I like to say, “bring you back to earth.” The hands can come into prayer position over the back of the head or on the floor in front of the body, allowing for an opportunity to pray or simply feel the energy pulsing between the hands. Or, of course, there is the option to wrap the arms around the head or lay them alongside the body, creating a sense of safety.
There’s no doubt that if you are looking to start off your day with a sense of peace, or need to return to a state of calm after a long day or a distressing event, child’s pose is something you should try. Babies do it instinctively, and my instinct has been sending me into the posture quite often. Maybe it can work for you too!
For more basic information about child’s pose, check out what Yoga Journal has to say about it.
To read up on how yoga can be used to relieve stress, consider skimming Swami Shivapremananda’s book.