The skin and brain

A client asked recently about people unexpectedly experiencing strong emotions while receiving bodywork.

Why would strong emotions occur during a session of bodywork? One explanation is because of how your skin and brain are connected. When an embryo nih-braindevelops, it has three layers. The skin, brain and nerves all develop from the same layer – the ectoderm. These systems remain interconnected throughout life. Manual therapy such as SI affects your neuromuscular system. Nerves in your skin, muscles and connective tissue carry information to your brain. The limbic system in your brain contains the structures that regulate your emotions and form memories. It’s a back-and-forth conversation in the body.

In addition to manual therapy such as SI, exercise like running, yoga or lifting weights can also trigger such emotional releases. Ideas on why emotional releases occur during exercise include how brain chemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor are affected  by a workout, or how amino acids called peptides flow through your body.

To learn more:
The Endless Web: Fascial Anatomy and Physical Reality by R. Louis Schultz and Rosemary Feitis

Experience Life article: Laugh, Cry Lift

Water quality – upper Mississippi River

Those of us who live or work in Minneapolis get our drinking water from the Mississippi River. The city has an extensive water treatment system before the water goes to your home or business. A recent report from the MPCA documents how the quality of the Mississippi River’s water changes from the headwaters to the greater Metro-St. Cloud area. Governor Dayton has declared this the year of water action, and this report illustrates some of the reasons why we all need to pay attention to clean water.

  • The study finds the Mississippi to be a largely healthy river in its northern reaches, owing largely to forested and wetland landscapes it flows through.

  • It then acquires significant problems south of St. Cloud, where tributaries from agricultural and more developed landscapes begin to flow into the Mississippi.

See a summary of the report or look at more details about the watershed.

 

The path of the Mississippi River, from its headwaters to Minneapolis, noting good river health for most of this stretch, and encountering pollution issues beginning downstream of St. Cloud.

 

 

What makes Structural Integration different from other bodywork?

With many types of bodywork, the therapist puts their hands on tissue and does something to it. What makes the Rolf Method of Structural Integration (SI) different from various kinds of massage therapies? Ida Rolf thought SI worked directly on the body’s fascia. Modern research indicates that the action is more indirect – changes in the body from manual therapy like SI are from its interaction with the neuro-muscular system.

SI works with the nervous system and connective tissue to modify the nervous system’s  outputs to reset tension allow muscles to soften and lengthen. Additionally, the process of SI considers how you use your body in your daily activities and how the patterns developed over time affect tension and movement. SI works with the body’s whole structure. The 10-series covers all the major body segments so that the interconnected system of fascia is fully addressed.

 

 

 

Emmett on Structural Integration

I recently received a news update from my school, The Guild for Structural Integration. A quotation in the message was from one of the founders, Emmett Hutchins. Emmett was also a primary teacher for my SI image002training. I thought his words were a good reminder and inspiration for the new year:

Structural Integration is about the whole person.
It is about fascia and feeling.
The sensation of moving from weakness into strength,
the exhilaration of owning a new part of oneself,
the immediate and simultaneous reeducation of one’s being and action,
the joy of self-empowerment,
waking up:
these are the experiences of Structural Integration.

Another reason to eat your greens

Kale and other leafy greens have been popular for a while because they are nutritional powerhouses. They are tasty, high in fiber and contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals (for details, see WebMD Top 10 Leafy Green Vegetables). They are also low in calories. One way I get my daily greens is in a green smoothie, as I wrote about previously.

A recent study from the University of Illinois provides even more incentive to keep leafy greens – along with other green vegetables – on your menu routinely.

CSA pickup

Farm share photo by my share partner.

A study of older adults links consumption of a pigment found in leafy greens to the preservation of “crystallized intelligence,” the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime.

 

 

Be Air Aware Minnesota Website

You might think of bad air days as a summertime issue when smog levels or smoke from wildfires can be greater. Here in Minnesota; however, fine particles can also be a concern during the winter heating season.  Breathing air with high levels of fine particles can be troubling for people with asthma or heart conditions, among others.

To find out about the day’s air quality or to learn more about indoor and outdoor air pollution, visit the Be Air Aware Minnesota website. Along with current conditions, there are monthly feature articles, health data and ways to take action to help keep Minnesota’s air clean.

baa-mn

Relaxation breathing

When you feel stressed, anxious or just have tight muscles, how do you approach improving how you feel? What about when your mind is busy or you can’t fall asleep? One option that can be beneficial in many situations is to work with the breath. By changing the pattern of your inhalations and exhalations, you can recruit the calming part of your nervous system. This is the parasympathic, or rest and digest, system.

A technique that I like is to extend the length of the exhalation compared to the duration of the inhalation. First, see what your normal breathing pattern is. Simply observing your breath, breathe in and out through your nose. Count to yourself or time how long the inhalation takes, then the exhalation. Now you know your baseline. 20161016_094745

If the exhalation is already the longer portion, you have a good start. If not, the initial step will be to increase the length of the exhalation just slightly. The long-term goal is for the exhalation to be twice as long as the inhalation. It will probably take some time with consistent practice to achieve that 1:2 ratio.

Extend the exhalation exercise
Note: Stop and return to your normal breathing at any time if you feel uncomfortable.

  • Sit upright or lie in a comfortable position.
  • Take a normal breath in through the nose, counting or timing its length.
  • Allow your breath to gently go out through the nose, counting or timing its length.
    • If metering the breath out through your nose is difficult, then breathe out through pursed lips or through a straw instead (you will need to hold the straw with one hand). As you become more adept at this exercise, it is likely you will be able to shift to breathing out through the nose.
    • At first, just try to have the exhalation a little longer than the inhalation. Eventually, work up to a 1:2 ratio. Do not extend the exhalation any more than twice the length of the inhalation.
  • Repeat this pattern a total of 5 times. When you are confident in being able to maintain the pattern, you can gradually increase your practice time to 3-5 minutes.
  • Return to normal breathing and observe how your body and mind feel.