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In my twenties living in LA, I had the best selection of yoga classes to choose from. Then I found Mary Beth LaRue’s class: a mix of softness, creative flow, and sweat combined with amazing music and her majorly meditative voice. Everything changed.
I remember when I would attend her classes in Venice Beach. I would try to keep my zen as beads of sweat started rolling out of every single pore on my body. I could feel the frown on my face saying, how long are you going to have us hold this boat pose? She would then call me out and remind the class to release the furrowed brow and breathe, breathe again because everything is a choice.
At around forty minutes into class, I finally found that I could breathe deeper, feel deeper and my sweat started to become a nod to the work I was doing—both physically and mentally. When you soften into your body, listen to your breath and feel the bliss in puppy dog pose (my favorite), that’s the mental sweat of yoga.
I connected with my now best friend Mary Beth, renown yoga teacher, Yoga Journal cover model, and my Rock Your Bliss business partner, to explore the five yoga poses that help me get my sweat on and elevate my practice, in both the physical and mental space. Grab a mat, get ready to flow and enjoy!
Hold on both sides for one minute each. If you can, extend your arms forward while flexing your lifted foot. Engage your core and breathe deeply. See if you can stay in this pose and in a compassionate headspace, even when challenged.
Hold for one minute and see if you can work up to two. If you’d like to engage your transverse abdominus more, tilt your hips an inch to the right then to the left, continuing for thirty seconds. Remember deep, deep breaths.
Balance in your sit bones as you hold here. You can keep knees bent and lift your chest high. Option to work toward straight legs. Hold for one minute.
Come into Downward-facing dog on your forearms. Spin your biceps forward and triceps back. If it feels okay in your neck, look forward toward your fingertips. Hold for one minute, then take child’s pose. Repeat once more.
As you come into downward-facing dog, bend your elbows with your forearms above the floor. Take five deep breaths. Rest and repeat twice more.
No matter where your skill level is at, the poses you practice can only better your well-being. Here’s to finding your flow (and a little sweat). Namaste!
Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for various ailments ranging from digestion to carpal tunnel, but the level of effectiveness varies from person-to-person. I’ve had Sciatica patients spend months combating their back and leg pain, and others hop off the table in two hours, never needing a follow-up appointment. Some rotator cuffs take six weeks; others take two years.
Why is this?
While your body's response to acupuncture depends on the complaint or injury, it also depends on your overall health, and how well you take care of the injured site between sessions. If we eat junk food all the time, are inactive, don’t sleep well, or overwork ourselves, then injury is imminent, and recovery is going to be hard. Equally, if we ignore an injury or don't care for it, then we will likely stay injured for longer.
So, let’s break down what’s best for you when it comes to acupuncture:
“How often should you get acupuncture with specific ailments?”
This is different for everyone, but here are some general guidelines.
More is better.
Acupuncture has cumulative effects, so while most feel relief after one session, it likely will not have resolved the issue. Multiple follow up sessions are needed, and for your own comfort, it’s recommended that you use sessions before the effects have completely worn off each time.
Every time you receive a session, your relief should be more significant, and the effects should last longer—bringing the injury closer to resolution. With this in mind; the worse the injury, the more frequent you’ll want to receive acupuncture. Several times a week is standard, that way you will get out of discomfort faster, and you’ll need fewer sessions overall.
Understanding acute versus chronic ailments.
Some acute symptoms like nausea, dizziness, bleeding, swelling, or anxiety will clear up on the spot. However, for recent injuries pertaining to tissues, like a strained muscle, you can use three acupuncture sessions in one week with great effect. For example, with strained lower back muscles, you will feel less pain in one session, a significant reduction in inflammation and symptoms within three sessions. An ankle sprain is a little more serious and may take two or three weeks, but the general idea is the same.
With stubborn pain, or chronic issues like sciatica, skin rashes, nerve pain, hormone irregularities, it can take a bunch of sessions to see lingering results. Often there will be relief right after each session, but the symptoms return quickly (albeit with a little less vengeance). This just means the results are happening in smaller increments. For this reason, your practitioner will tell you to come in over three times a week for two or three weeks so you’ll get more relief faster, but you can space the sessions out as you begin to feel better.
“What can I do to make my acupuncture benefits bigger?”
As mentioned, how you care for yourself between sessions makes a big difference. Here’s a few pro tips.
Your practitioner will give you specific directions they want you to follow for your ailment, but generally, after an acupuncture visit, it is wise to drink a lot of water and rest.
Here’s the obvious thing we don’t often consider. If you get instant relief for your pulled hamstring, but then you go running the next day, it’s going to take forever to heal! That injured body part needs to be pampered and catered to. Your acupuncturist will give you food, supplement, lifestyle, and movement suggestions to use between sessions– use them all.
I’ve seen countless patients walk in with frozen shoulder, spend 90 minutes in the chair with various points and stimulation techniques, and then leave swinging their arm painlessly with 50% more range of motion. If they eat well, do their physical therapy, and are kind to their shoulders, the effects will last. Then, next time, we can add another 50% on to their range of motionBut, if they paint a house or swing a baseball, then I see them go right back to square one overnight. How we take care of ourselves between sessions really matters.
You will want to note any changes; no matter how small or irrelevant they seem. Your practitioner is armed with many protocols and techniques. They will always start with the combo that they’ve seen work best for your complaint, from there they will work backward or tweak it slightly based on the information you give them. Make sure to tell them every detail, even if it seems unrelated.
One lady, with unrelenting pain, finally revealed a game-changing nugget to me while nonchalantly laughing about her need to wear neck scarves everywhere. I found out she had been experiencing chills and had a significant aversion to wind during the summer. This “irrelevant” snippet made me radically change the protocol, and she was pain-free and healing rapidly within four sessions.
So, there you have it. How acupuncture benefits various body parts depends on the area concerned, but also on how we treat our bodies before, during, and after injury.