Winter is the height of Yin energy (quiet, still and deep). It is a time of rest, reflection and rejuvenation. In Chinese Medicine, winter is also connected to the element of Water and the Kidney + Urinary Bladder organ systems. The Kidneys are said to be the Foundations of Yin and Yang for the whole body as well as connected to growth, development, and reproduction.
Winter can be an excellent time to replenish Yin and maintain Yang to move towards a deeper sense of balance. In my experience, this year has been extra depleting. Stress plays a huge factor in this as well as probably not getting enough physical rest. I'm guessing that many of you are in the same boat. How does one replenish the Yin and Yang of the body? This could look like building in time to do activities that are rejuvenating and restful like journaling, meditating, and getting more sleep as well as getting daily exercise and connecting with your community.
A balanced Water element is reflected in a sense of being able to handle the ups and downs of life with clear, calm solidity. It is associated with the virtues of strength, courage and wisdom. A unbalanced Water element can manifest as low back and joint pain and increased fear, panic and anxiety. Some ways to support the Water element include the activities listed in the previous paragraph as well as eating more black/dark blue foods, drinking bone broth, balancing your salt intake, and doing Qi Gong or stretching to focus on your low back and keep your joints moistened.
I hope that you find some deep rest and rejuvenation this winter and also so fun!
7ish years ago, I started my journey to becoming a therapist by enrolling at Centerpoint Massage and Shiatsu School & Clinic with a vague notion of wanting to support others in the healing process that massage had so magically provided for me. I'm not going to lie, I had no idea what I was getting into. 7ish years later, this vague notion has become a reality and developed into something quite beautiful.
The last 4 years have been spend building a private practice at Wellness Minneapolis with a team of badass owners, practioners and support staff that have taught me so much about running a business, holistic health, collaboration and teamwork. I am so grateful to be a part of the team and the Kingfield neighborhood.
I am also so so grateful for my clients, family and friends that have supported me through this learning process by being interested in trying out new techniques and modalities, herbal adventures, mediation and self-care suggestions. This year has been tough for all of us and forced a high level of adapting. Hands on healing seem incredibly important right now and I am blessed to be a part of many people's healing journeys. I believe that community, support, compassion and deep healing will get us through this and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you.
As the weather starts to cool down and summer moves into fall we are entering the Earth Element time of the year. One major function of the Earth Element is digestion and assimilation of foods and fluids. This function can also be extended to the digestion and assimilation of thoughts and activities.
In thinking about the Earth Element, I've been reflecting on my own means of nourishment and feeling the need to soak up a little extra this season. Are you feeling that way too? I'd like to invite you to make a list of what foods and activities make you feel deeply nourished and spend a little extra time each day soaking up the nourishment.
Here are a couple ideas from my list: bone broth, vegetables (all of them), meditation, getting extra sunshine, gardening, hugs, sleep, connecting with friends/family and reading.
I’m so excited to announce that in person bodywork sessions are available starting Tuesday, June 23rd!
As you can expect a lot of changes have been made to the space and treatments will be a bit different when you come in, but my commitment to providing space for deep healing focused on your specific goals has not changed.
The schedule has been limited to 60 minute sessions for the time being. Please schedule online or by calling 612-598-8627. Not really for in-person work yet? That okay, Mind-Body Self Care Consults are still available and can be scheduled via email at email@example.com.
I appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we navigate this new way of working together. Reach out if you have any feedback, questions, or concerns. Please review the remainder of the email, so that you can be prepared for your next session. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
What to expect and my commitments to you:
Common areas are being cleaned and disinfected regularly.
The ventilation system in the building has been upgraded.
All non-essential items have been removed from the common areas and treatment room.
One way flow for traffic has been implemented in the clinic. Please enter through the front door and exit out of the back door.
I am self-screening for symptoms daily and being vigilante to adhere to social distancing and avoid situations that are high risk for transmission in my personal life.
I will be wearing a mask the whole session.
The treatment room and table will be disinfected thoroughly between clients and all sheets/blankets laundered between clients.
Additional time has been allotted between appointments to adhere to health and safety guidelines.
Contactless transactions: your credit card on file will be charged after the appointment. You can update/verify what card is on file by calling Wellness Minneapolis reception: 612-598-8627. Please no cash or check at this time.
What I ask of you:
Do not come in for an appointment if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID 19 or is experiencing the following symptoms within 14 days prior to your appointment:
***If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please notify Wellness Minneapolis immediately and we will reschedule your appointment. The 24 hour cancellation fee will not be charged if you need to reschedule due to COVID-19.
Wear a soft cloth or surgical mask to your appointment. Hard formed masks will not allow for you to lay comfortably face down. You will be expected to wear a mask for the entire appointment per DEED guidelines. This is not negotiable.
If you are scheduled for Shiatsu, please bring a clean set of comfortable clothes to change into for your appointment.
Come alone to your appointment unless you need assistance/supervision or are a minor.
Wait outside the front door at the time of your appointment. I will meet you and let you into the building at your appointment time.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer that is provided at the front desk upon entering the building.
Bring your own water bottle or have some water in your car for after your appointment.
Looking forward to working with you soon!
I’ve decided to “continue to pause” before reopening for in-person bodywork sessions. Massage therapy has been slated to reopen on June 1st by Governor Walz, but the consensus of many local bodywork therapists and my intuition is that this is just too soon. I assure you that I am taking your health (and my own) very seriously, and also working hard to find a way to provide bodywork services in the most ethical and safe way. One of the reasons that I started practicing massage was because of the profound effects that it had on my mental, physical and emotional body. I wanted to spread that love to others. Bodywork can be an integral therapy to support people through this time and the element of touch is important as we are more isolated than ever.
Before reopening, I will be working diligently to get a preparedness plan in place, collect supplies (many are on backorder), and sifting through options on how to restructure operations to build in time for extensive cleaning between clients and pre-appointment screening. There are going to be a lot of changes, but my dedication to providing therapeutic sessions focused on your health goals will not change.
Mind-Body Self-Care Consults (more info about these sessions below) will continue to be offered. I have also made a library of free videos of self care tips for physical pain and tension and to reduce stress. You can find all of the videos here. If you need in-person support reach out and I can refer you to a therapist that is open for sessions.
My next benchmark for reopening is in the end of June-early July. I will keep you posted on the exact date. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the treatment room and working with you!
We’re well into spring and I wanted to share a self-care video focused on abdominal self massage techniques that you can do at home to support detoxification and digestion. Usually in the spring, I start thinking about supporting my detoxification process with gentle cleansing techniques like abdominal self massage, increasing movement, drinking extra water and incorporating spring herbs like dandelion into my routine. In Chinese Medicine, the spring is connected to the Liver and Gallbladder, so giving these organs some extra attention during the spring can be helpful. You can read more about the Liver and Gallbladder Organ Systems and their connection to spring here.
A couple months ago, I wrote an article for Wellness Minneapolis about the benefits of abdominal massage, specifically as support for “spring cleaning” the organs. You can read the article here. All of the benefits of abdominal massage discussed in the article still apply to self massage that you do at home. Working on your own abdomen can have a huge impact on detoxification, supporting elimination and releasing stuck emotions. It also allows you to connect to an area of the body that often doesn't receive touch. I would recommend doing these techniques 1-4/week. Start slow and gently. Notice how you feel afterwards and have some extra water throughout the day.
Click here to watch the video and start your abdominal self massage journey.
Please reach out if you have any questions. Generally, abdominal massage is not recommended during active menstruation, during the 1st trimester or pregnancy, after a recent abdominal surgery, or during active or acute infection in the abdomen. If you have any questions about whether abdominal self massage is right for you feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over this last month, there has been a lot of adapting happening collectively and individually. How are you settling in? Do you need more support? How is your body feeling? I'd say this week is the first week that I have been feeling more in the flow. Throughout this process, I've been thinking a lot about trees and how gracefully they seem to adapt to different situations. Their branches grow in twists and turns to reach the sunlight and around obstacles, leaves and bark change their shape and density depending on the climate, and root systems adapt to different soils. They are pretty magical!
Being more treelike, for me, has involved deepening my routines around sleep, food, exercise and rest for groundedness. While also listening to my body and allowing for flexibility in routine. I've been carving out spaces in my home to work, play, and video chat, connecting with friends and family around the country for support, and soaking up the spring sun with a lot of walks.
My bodywork practice has also been adapting quickly over the last month with the focus being: How do I continue to be supportive to clients and my community while hands on bodywork is not an option? I've worked to answer this question by moving my work to a virtual setting offering one on one Mind-Body Self-Care Consultations for clients, being more engaged with social media to stay connected, partnering up with a bunch of rad ladies to host a daily meditation and by making how to videos to share as a resource for in home self-care during this time. Check out the first installment of videos including some techniques for neck and shoulder tension and a sweet mediation called the Inner Smile Mediation to foster gratitude for your body and build inner radiance. Click on this link to watch the videos. I plan on continuing to make videos and staying connected via Instagram and Facebook.
I encourage you to reflect on the ways that you have already gracefully (or not so gracefully) adapted through this situation and consider what ways you can be more treelike to find grounding, rootedness, flexibility and strength. Please reach out if you need support, have how-to video requests or just want to say hi. We will get through this! Miss you and am looking forward to getting back to the treatment room as soon as it's safe.
I don't know about you, but I've been thinking a lot about my breath lately (and monitoring it for changes). The breath reflects our internal state and can be a great way to gauge how we're feeling in the moment. It's very common during times of stress to restrict the diaphragm, our major breathing muscle and breath more shallowly. Focusing on breathing deeply into the belly slows the heart rate and blood pressure as well as switches the body out of "fight or flight mode." Deep belly breathing also gives our organs a gentle massage which can help to regulate digestion.
Here's a simple how to:
1.) Lay down flat with a pillow or bolster under your knees.
2.) Rest one hand on your rib cage (heart area) and one hand on your abdomen.
3.) Slowly start to regulate and even out your breath. This can be done by counting in for 4 on the inhale and out for 4 on the exhale.
4.) Inhale through your nose, drawing the breath in deeply to the abdomen. Feel the expansion of the abdomen with the hand that is resting there.
5.) Purse your lips and slowly exhale out of the mouth feeling the abdomen contract.
5.) Do this for 5-10 minutes or more.
Checking in with your breath regularly throughout the day and using this tool to regulate it can start to train your body to breath this way naturally. This is also a great exercise to do before bed to settle into sleep mode and let go of the stresses of the day.
February is Heart Awareness Month and tomorrow is Valentine's Day. It's a great time to give your heart a little extra love. Our energetic hearts are influenced by our physical heart's health and vice versa. Many of the practices that are being suggesting are ones that I have picked up and/or adapted for myself over the last couple years.
Rose oil can be applied to your chest (or whole body) daily for some nice heart support and boundary medicine. According to my herbal teacher, Jessie Belden, rose can help our hearts to be open and receptive while also staying protected from encroachment. You can see this in the rose itself as a beautiful open flower which has grown thorns along it's stem for protection.
You can make a simple solar infused rose oil by filling a jar with rose buds (about 3/4 of the way full) and then filling the rest of the jar with oil (jojoba, almond, olive and/or grapeseed oil are great). Make sure that the rose buds are fully covered by 1-2 inches of oil at the top. Seal the jar and let in sit on a windowsill for 2-4 weeks. The sun will warm the oil and help it to infuse with the rose buds. Shake the oil every day and give it a little love. After the 2-4 weeks, strain the rosebuds out. I like to keep my rose oil in the refrigerator and take a small portion out for using so that it stays preserved longer.
You could also buy a rose infused oil, rose lotion or add a drop of rose essential oil to your daily lotion.
Focused breathing for the heart
In Chinese Medicine, the Heart organ system is deeply connected to all of the emotions of the body. Specifically, the Heart organ system is connected to the Spirit and the emotions of joy and love when in balance. When unbalanced we can tend towards hatred or cruelty.
A simple way to nourish the Heart organ system is to do this simple breathing technique adapted from Chi Nei Tsang and the Taoist tradition. Find a comfortable sitting or lying down position. Close your eyes and focus your attention at your heart. Feel what the space around your heart. It may feel constricted or tight. It may feel open and expansive or somewhere in between. When you breath out imagine breathing out any hatred or cruelty that is accumulating around your heart. When you breath in, imagine a red nourishing light full of love and joy filling the space. As you breath you can repeat the mantra, "I breath out hatred and cruelty and breath in love and joy." You can take as many breaths as you need to start feeling openness in the area. At the end, sit for a couple breaths and feel the heart area full of warm, red light and a feeling of love and joy.
Heart nourishing tea blend
Some of my favorite herbs for the heart are linden, hawthorn and rose. You can make your own simple heart nourishing tea by mixing 3 parts linden flower and leaf, 1 part hawthorn flower and leaf and 1 part rose buds.* Mix all the herbs together so they are evenly distributed and store in an airtight container. To brew the tea, infuse one teaspoon of the mixture in a tea ball or strainer with 8 oz of hot water. Steep for 10-15 minutes and drink.
*A "part" can be any quantity. For example, if you wanted to make a small batch of the herbal tea you could use 1 oz as a part. The recipe would be 3 oz linden flower and leaf, 1 oz hawthorn leaf, and 1 oz rose buds. I recommend using hawthorn leaf instead of hawthorn berries. Berries are denser plant matter and need a longer process to extract the herbal medicinal properties. A great place to buy bulk herbs is at The Medicine Tree in Minneapolis.
This is my favorite stone for the heart. It's said to be the Stone of Unconditional Love and is a gentle pink color. It can be used for healing the heart, increasing compassion and appreciation for ourselves and loved ones. You've probably noticed that I keep some in my room at Wellness Minneapolis. I like to think that they infuse the space with these properties as we work on your bodywork goals. You can buy small bits of Rose Quartz at a local rock shop like The Enchanted Rock Garden and keep them in your pocket. Necklaces with Rose Quartz are excellent as they keep the stone close to your heart.
Hope you find these heart nourishing tips fun and simple. May your hearts be happy and healthy.
This winter has seemed pretty mild to me. Little less snow, not as cold. I thought I was cruising through pretty unscathed until it hit. The winter doldrums.
During the winter, I try to allow myself to relax more, do some reflection, meditate more, and generally be quieter or stiller. It seems to match what is going on outside anyway. Over the last week, I started to question if my stillness was turning to stagnation and then something happened on Sunday that reminded me of the power of movement during times of stagnation. On Sunday evening, I had plans to meet a friend at a yoga class. Had been looking forward to it all week, but when the time came to leave for class I was feeling anxious, bummed out and generally did not want to leave the house. For anything! Off I went to yoga class, wondering if I should have just stayed home. Within the 90 minute yoga class, my mood flipped from anxious and bummed out to grounded, calm and clear. It was truly a transformation. Over the next couple days, I kept thinking about how stark the difference in my mood and physical state were before and after the class. Since I practice bodywork, I also started to think about how yoga and bodywork are really similar in their ability to dramatically transform our physical and emotional states.
Both yoga and bodywork create physical movement. During a yoga practice, you are placing your body in different poses to open up different areas of the body and using breath to direct energy throughout the body. A well sequenced class can focus on a specific area of the body or intention like easing anxiety or stress and leaves the whole body feeling balanced as a whole. During a bodywork session the therapist is moving your body with manual techniques to free up areas of tension and pain, release stuck energy and stretch joints. Bodywork increases circulation and lymph and can aid in the detoxification process.
Yoga and bodywork have both been clinically researched to prove their efficacy in working with depression and anxiety. Massage has been proven to decrease cortisol levels on average 31% and increase serotonin on average 28% and dopamine on average 31% (1). Yoga has also been proven to decrease cortisol levels (2). Cortisol levels tend to be high during times of stress. Increased serotonin and dopamine make you feel better.
Yoga and bodywork both can be used as self care tools to reconnect to the body and breath. One of the things that I appreciate about doing yoga or getting bodywork is that focuses my awareness on what is going on in each part of my body. Is there pain, feelings of stuckness, restriction in my breath? The expertise of the therapist or yoga instructor facilitates this tour of the body and holds a nurturing space for healing. Both yoga and bodywork remind us of the container that is our body and the boundary of the physical body. A super bonus for those of us that tend to walk around in our heads for most of the day.
All of this is to say that if you are starting to feel the winter doldrums it may be time to shake things up a bit with a bodywork session or a yoga class or some other activity that can create a shift. I also like to go for walks or use aromatherapy when movement or a mood shift is needed. Movement breaks up stillness and it's always helpful to have a healthy balance of both.
1. Hou, W.H., Chiang, P.T., Hsu, T.Y., Chiu, S.Y., Yen, Y.C. (2010). Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 71(7):894-901.
2. J. Thirthalli, G. H. Naveen, M. G. Rao, S. Varambally, R. Christopher,1 and B. N. Gangadhar. (2013). Cortisol and antidepressant effects of yoga. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 55(Suppl2): S405-S408.
Amy Daws is a trained Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, and Chi Nei Tsang therapist. She is interested in the way that these modalities can bring healing and joy to people's lives.