Why Stretching Can Be A Savior

As a working Massage Therapist, I see clients for a variety of reasons and I use a variety of integrative modalities with them in order to give them what their bodies need. Every client is different in their reasons of why they have bodywork in their lives, but one thing roughly 85% of my clientele all have in common is living with tight, achy, and painful muscles.

Naturally, the most common question I ask them is, “Do you stretch?” and the most common answer I receive is, “No.”

Most people refuse to believe there is any time to stretch, because they’ve hit the snooze button 5 times until they wake up with only 30 minutes left to get to work in a 45 minute commute. They forego breakfast, water, nutrients of any kind, stretching, and even any conscious breathing; and it all goes down here from there. They spend the rest of their day hangry, fatigued, short-tempered and in a daze until they can faceplant into their couch the minute they get home.

So my question to them, and my topic of discussion today is this:
What did you expect?

You wake up every morning and immediately start pushing your body through the day without warming up your muscles or putting any real food into your body that has been inactive for the last 5-9 hours. You wonder why you’re exhausted by 11am with a pounding headache and stinging, burning knots coming from your shoulders, back, and hips that demolish your comfort and morale for God knows how long?

There must be an easier way….. Right? YES! It’s called ACCOUNTABILITY and SELF-AWARENESS. Through these two simple life-changing techniques, we can change our bad habits and create a positive change that will not only increase your longevity, but it will lessen your stress levels and help produce a happier, healthier environment for you and those who live and work by your side.


Stretching is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Because a stretch is held for 30 seconds MAX – you can stretch at any time during the day. ISN’T THAT MIND BLOWING!? As a professional, I am asked what time of day is best recommended. I always suggest we tackle stretching first thing when we wake up. Our bodies rejuvenate themselves during our sleep time but that doesn’t stop toxins from planting themselves in new areas and causing mayhem. That’s why we feel tight and stiff when we wake up. Our muscles are cold. Have you ever tried driving a car before you let the oil fully warm up? The engine runs completely different and it will shorten the life of your oil, shocks, struts, and even your braking system. Wouldn’t you rather just sit and be patient for 3 minutes to save a huge car repair bill?

I want you to consider for a moment how many moves you think you make on any given day. Add up all the weight you think you contribute to your body (i.e. backpacks, purses, pulling a suitcase, walking 10 dogs on leashes, heavy coats, walking through a city in stilettos, heavy warehouse lifting, moving furniture) – you see what I’m getting at? You are working your muscles; a constant flux of contraction and release. Every move we make from the time we wake up to the time we go back to sleep are being pushed non-stop. Our legs, our arms, and for those of you who work at computers all day long: YOUR HANDS, SHOULDERS, AND NECK. All these muscles are getting tighter and tighter.

When your muscles become too tight, they fight back. They’re telling you, “Dammit, I have had ENOUGH! I am starving, sore, and cold. Stop pushing me for your own agenda and give me some nourishing! I am not taking you another comfortable step until you start giving me something in return! I will break you down if you won’t listen to me!”

To think that we don’t need to stretch is asinine. To put it another way let’s say you’re an employee at a company. You’ve been working there for two years now. You have the highest numbers and more positive feedback than anyone else there. You work blood, sweat, and tears and bring in a lot of money for the company. With that being said, your boss never compliments you on your work; has never given you a raise; has never acknowledged your work; or even offered you an end of the year bonus. Your boss never lets you know they appreciate all the work you do for their company – they just tack on more responsibilities for you.
How do you think that is going to start affecting your morale? Is that somebody you’d want to be working for your whole life?

No? Then why do you treat your body that way?

They stop functioning properly and start causing us problems. When they stop functioning as they should, we become injured. Strains, sprains, throwing our shoulder out, pulling our hamstrings, developing plantar fasciitis, and even causing us headaches – just to name a few. Tight muscles lead to knots, a decrease in our Range of Motion, and an increase to toxic build-up. Those three things, among others (nutrition, water intake, and sanity levels) can cause massive internal imbalances and malfunctions for our hormones, organs, etc.


We are not our body. I’ve said this a thousand times, and I will say it well over a thousand more times. WE ARE NOT OUR BODY. We are a soul. Our body is our machine and everything inside of our body is ours to take care of and feed and fuel in order to obtain a greater longevity. We are not meant to house pain for years and eons. Pain is not something that comes out of nowhere and sets up shop just to dictate what we can and cannot do and then laugh about it… Pain is a chemical signal in our body to let us know something is wrong and needs to be addressed. It is our obligation to listen to our bodies.

Society has made us all out to be crazy, dirty, hippies – just because we encourage the concept of connecting with our bodies! THAT HAS TO BE THE CRAZIEST SHIT I HAVE EVER HEARD. If you refuse to stretch and you refuse to connect with your body, then you mine as well learn to love it and save the rest of us from listening to your enduring complaints. I love you, WE love you, but if you don’t want to make changes to be pain-free, please don’t use us as your vent-station! 🙂


Stretching our muscles is our way of giving thanks to our body. It’s our way of giving our machine and the tools inside of it a reward for letting us destroy it with workouts, vigorous activities, sugar, cross country road trips and 18 hour flights to other countries. We are grinders, hustlers, and DOERS! We conquer what we set out to do!  Stretching opens up our muscle fibers to allow new blood flow and flush out some wading toxicity and old blood. Stretching helps us recycle our system and push toxins and tension out of one of our Channels of Elimination (we have four).

Stretching increases our elastin, which helps our tissues retain moisture which, you guessed it, helps us look YOUNGER AND YOUTHFUL without even trying. It releases oxytocin (commonly called the love hormone) and endorphins that make us feel happy and good about ourselves. We feel less stressed and more patient when we take the time to stretch and feed our bodies properly.

All it takes BARE MINIMUM, is fifteen minutes in the morning to stretch our body. A solid stretch sits at 30 seconds. ONLY 30 SECONDS PER MUSCLE is all it takes to wake up your body properly and get your muscles woken up, fired up, and PUMPED UP! When you give that to your body first thing, your body will take you to the moon and back with fewer injuries, fewer pains, and fewer dysfunctions of movement.

You don’t have to become a yogi. You don’t even have to like yoga. You don’t need to become a stretching guru and dance with the wolves. But, you do need to listen to your body. You do need to fuel it and give it what it needs if you still want to have healthy and radically pain-free life at the age of 50+.


As much as I love striking the fear of consequence into you about stretching – that’s not what my intention is. It’s important to me, as a practitioner, to educate you about the WHY of the suggestion. What you do with the information is completely your choice. I’m just trying to help those around you who have to listen to your bodily complaints and see your lack of follow-through to do anything about it.

If I had any other advice to leave you with, I’d suggest you let yourself become vulnerable to your own self. Take the wall down that’s between your connection between body/mind/spirit. And if anybody calls you crude names because you are connected to yourself, remember that ignorance is bliss and with as much love and kindness as possible, give them the middle finger and wish them the best day ever.

Why We Tell You to Drink Water and Why We Mean It


 

If you have ever had a massage, there are great chances you have heard your therapist inform you at the end to, “remember to drink a lot of water…” and then any other following homework they have for you.

Now, let’s be honest here. How many of you are actually listening to our recommendations when we tell you to drink water? How many of you are having less than 60 oz. for the rest of the  night? How many of you are drinking at least 80 oz. the next day? How many of you drinking beer or wine that same night as your massage?

Hopefully not as many of you as I am thinking.

To not take us seriously when you hear us giving our professional recommendations, is only going to hurt your own health and well-being in the end. You will feel like you got hit by a truck for the next two days and then blame the therapist for “not being good enough because they hurt you after you specifically asked to not be in pain”, and those toxins will relocate themselves in a different weak spot in your body. Your toxins that just got worked out won’t finish flushing through your system if you’re not drinking at least 80 oz. of water for the next 48 hours following a massage, regardless if it was a light Swedish, Deep Tissue, or a “go so deep I could cry” session.

Think of your body as a pumping system. You are 75% water. By the time you are licking your lips – you are dehydrated. By the time you think, “I’m hungry” – you are dehydrated. And by the time you are drinking water – you are dehydrated. And when you are dehydrated, your pumping system gets full of stagnant, gloppy, sludge – trudging through your system, feeding your muscles and feeding your bloodstream with all that toxicity. The average recommendation of daily water intake is eight 8 oz. glasses. That is 640z. of life source your body needs to preform at an average functionality. If you are an active person, you better be hiking that number up. The more active – the more water. There’s no way around it. To drink less than that a day is internal body suicide. It’s selfish and ignorant to do so if you plan on having a long and healthy life.

When you listen to us and you are drinking a lot of water in the following 48 hours of your massage, you are creating a tsunami of rejuvenation and revitalization inside your vessel. You know those Draino commercials where it shows the clogged pipe first and then it shows the Draino being poured down the sink and it whooshes out the gunk leaving the drain sparkling and like-new? That’s what you are allowing your body when you are not just drinking water on a daily basis, but flushing your system out with extra water intake after a massage. All that gunk is JUST WHOOSHING right out of you! So stay close to a bathroom and keep some Kleenex near by, because your body is SICK AND TIRED of holding onto those toxins! And you should be, too!

It’s a simple process and one you should be excited to do. We are moving onward to a healthier mindset all across America. Health is the new black, but water has always been and always will be, in style. So drink it all the time! Make that your main drink, your drink of choice, and your favorite drink. Allow yourself to fall in love with water all over again and take it upon yourself to drink it on a daily basis, so when you do get a massage you can smile and say, “I can definitely do that.” and finish your complimentary water before you even leave the studio!


 

I hope this has helped! There will be more to come about good tips and tricks for your health, home remedies, and fun facts you probably never knew about small things before pertaining to your health. If you have any suggestions you want to hear about or are curious about, leave a comment below and I will make sure to write about it!

And as always, to get Planet Zynnia in the quickest way, subscribe with your email and have it delivered straight to your email inbox!

 

Deep Breath In, Deep Breath Out

This past Friday evening, Danny and I came home to a record high, 88 degrees in our house. With humidity; that’s comparable to a sauna. We couldn’t escape the heat and only two windows in our apartment (out of six) open up. We decided it’s time. The air conditioner from the attic got brought down and set up in the living room. We couldn’t seem to get it filtering through the house fast enough for us to cool down. He took a cold shower and I took many deep breaths (as I normally do in the saunas and steam rooms to deal with the overwhelming heat and sweat factors).

After moving our mattress into the living room, we finally got a place of peace. Cool air and one super happy dog. Since we haven’t yet got a couch, we figured, why the hell not? I will tell you, it’s like living in a studio and I love the daily adventures Danny and I have together in this apartment. This being the newest one, inspired me on a new 30 Day Challenge.


Last night,  we were laughing and exhausted after dinner and cleaning up. We had some time to kill after we used the rest of our data to watch Orange Is the New Black: Season 3. That was when I suggested we geek out together: massage therapy style. I was so excited, I jumped to the bookshelf and grabbed my anatomy book and started flipping through it.

“Name me all the Deep Hip Rotators from Superior to Inferior!” I said, and when he would get stuck, we would go through the analogies together. “Go Go P Quick! What’s it stand for?!” and there was “Name me Two Majors & A Miss!” “Where is it at?!” “YEAH!!!”

SO MUCH FUN! Geeking out with your boyfriend when you both know what you’re talking about, is about as fun as going to an amusement park with no lines for the rides; in my opinion. We went on like that for about an hour and laughing so hard.


He started talking to me about yawning and deep breathing versus shallow breathing. I was intrigued about everything he had to say about the topic and realized, other than in meditation, when do people breathe deeply? And if we made a conscious effort to deep breathe every waking moment, what kinds of positive changes would we manifest in our reality? Would it change anything at all?

“I’m going to find out..” I said, “I am going to do a 30 day challenge and I’m going to breathe deeply for thirty days, as consciously as possible no matter what it is I’m doing and I am going to see how it affects my life in any area.”


So here we are, Day #1:

So far, the only thing I have noticed is that I am yawning a ton. When you go from shallow breathing, to deep breathing, you are in-taking more air than is recognizable for your body to sort through. There is so much oxygen to process it becomes overwhelming to the vessel and results in a yawn. This is why, when most of us do yoga or meditations, we feel ourselves yawning when we are breathing and becoming fully aware of our body.

Lots and lots of yawns.

I will admit it is a challenge to keep mindful of deep breaths during talking, walking, cooking, driving, or singing….. things we literally never think about breathing with. Sometimes I will forget and catch myself moments later suddenly wondering, “Oh wow, have I even been breathing this whole time?” and quickly realizing, it’s a learning system. I am essentially teaching an old dog new tricks. Redesigning my lungs, their capacity, and my diaphragm.

Can these get sore, like working out makes our other muscles sore? Hmm… food for thought.

Until the next update, I’m Zynnia. And I hope you all have a great day! 🙂

What It Means to Love Thy Body.

I moved to New York February 3rd. My plane landed in the afternoon and my sweet sweet boyfriend, Danny, had me picked up by a driver and I met him at his work by the time he was off. I hadn’t seen him since January 2nd and I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest at the first sight of him. Could it be?! Danny in person! Not Face-time, not Skype. Person. Real life. When you date long distance, the feeling you get of seeing your significant other in real life is so surreal, you have to literally question yourself if you are dreaming or not. My World was spinning in all the best ways that day.

We hugged for what seemed like, ever. We kissed passionately. And we drove home and talked and he let me gawk at the views out the windows. To him, it was already “the norm” and to me, it was no Wasatch Mountain Range of Utah, but nonetheless, trees EVERYWHERE from the location the highways running through the woods. Snow capped land with enough snow to pack inside the Big Cottonwood Canyon and shred down fresh powder for weeks.

It never occurred to me then that my insides were in the middle of turmoil.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s on our way home and loaded up on groceries. That cutie pie had stocked our pantry previously with all the foods I loved so much to my surprise. He would be leaving in two days and seeing as how I wasn’t yet employed, the only money I had was what was already in my account and he didn’t want me to worry about not having money to buy food while he was in Manchester, UK for work for the ten day pre-season trip.

We went home by the evening and unpacked my luggage and he was giving me a tour of the apartment. Our cute one bedroom, hardwood floor apartment with checkered bathroom and a bedroom with broken ventilation. To me, I thought “this is romance.” The story of lovebirds living in New York in a shitty first apartment with a living room that has no electricity and no heat in the bedroom. The lights and heat worked everywhere else and I imagined us going through this year lease together learning how to fix up the apartment ourselves. New York is expensive to rent in and for the price you pay, it’s surprising how much you get. Like the small shelled bugs that periodically are caught roaming in our house. But it’s our home and that’s what makes it special. It’s our first place together and it’s the place that will upset us and let us down when something breaks and it will be up to us to not let it get the best of us because it’s our first place together and it will be the place that tests our teamwork. Because we are a team. Working hand in hand.

I love the apartment no matter what it’s like. I love the person I see standing across from me in the kitchen dipping his Chewy Chips Ahoy into a glass of Organic Whole Milk. I love that the next evening I get to drive to JFK airport and pick up my most beloved dog and together we will be the Campbell-Laroche household. I love the bitter cold weather of the snow and the way it freezes my fingertips and toes and makes me feel as if my nose will be frost bitten with each deep inhale. I love our tiny town that is one mile long and supplied with just about everything I need a town to have. I love the accent of our Albanian neighbors and the smell of Mary’s Greek food that she cooks everyday. I love that we are the only two apartments in this building above shops and I absolutely love the narrow winding roads that go in and out of the woods along the Connecticut/New York State Lines.

Love, love, love, is what I’m getting at here.
I am telling you everything I love about everything but the most important thing connected to me. And me being my soul. Because I am a soul. My body is my vessel. My body is not me. It is my armor. I never mentioned anything about loving it.

Danny and I finish dinner. We go and lay down in the bed and he puts on a movie. I am curled up awkwardly and thirty minutes go by and suddenly…. I can’t breathe.
With every fiber of my being I CANNOT BREATHE. I began to panic and Danny’s eyes open up wide in terror as he begs me, “Ash what’s wrong??? What’s happening??” I’m gripping my lower abdomen and crying my eyes out telling him I have no idea what’s going on. I can’t stand up straight. It feels like knives and needles are stabbing me and gutting open my insides. Talons are wrenching open every muscle fiber and every connective tissue that is supposed to protect my insides. My uterus is cramping so hard; I have never felt this pain before. I am inexperienced with menstrual cramps because I can count on less than one full hand the amount of times I have had menstrual cramps. And when I have experienced menstrual cramps, all it took was a banana and a 30 minute nap on my stomach to relieve the irritation of the unnecessary process of my monthly due. This was an omen. This was something so foreign and unnatural, I felt like I was releasing something evil through the work of Exorcism that Jayme and I had preformed on people. Their violent screams and gritting teeth. I was feeling this pain.

Danny told me he was taking me to the hospital and I immediately objected. I figured, “Whatever this is, I will sleep this off. Please just get me a hot towel and help me lie down on my back.” He got me what I asked for and told me that I can’t use a home remedy for something that I have never experienced before. Given, that I beg to differ, as I study natural medicine and home remedies for everything, I knew he was right. I had NO idea what was happening and my body was sweating profusely, my adrenaline was pumping. I couldn’t be still long enough to listen to my body. Danny set the timer on his phone for five minutes and I compromised with him that at the end of five minutes, if my pain wasn’t lessened, he was taking me to the Emergency Room.

All I could think about was trying to get my breath slower so I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital on my first night moving to New York. I didn’t know what to think. I knew I would refuse medicine if they tried to give it to me. I didn’t want any drugs in my body and I certainly didn’t want to spend the night in the hospital. And my mom. Last thing I needed was to have my mom stressing out that her youngest daughter, who is prone to developing the most odd of injuries always coming out of thin air that are rare and damaging, be in a hospital in New York her first night moving to New York.

Five minutes was up.

I tried my best to smile and tell Danny my pain was better. He told me to get off the bed. I rolled my eyes and reluctantly started to move. It didn’t take but a couple of seconds before I was clenching my jaw so tight to keep from screaming in pain. Emergency Room is was. I gave in the towel and grabbed my insurance card and he hauled me to the car and we drove to the Northern Westchester Hospital Emergency Room.

A nurse awakened me in the waiting room and walked me back to the room. It was no dream….. I was really there. Danny looked sad from not being able to know what to do to help my pain. I looked at him with sad eyes, feeling like a burden because of my pain. I was wheeled off to another wing of the hospital to get scanned; finding out the omen was a ruptured cyst.

A ruptured cyst.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Or my eyes, when I looked at the ultrasound images in the small dark room, with a very comforting and friendly nurse who I could tell was probably a phenomenal and adorable grandmother to some kids out there in the World. She explained to me that the black blob was free floating fluid outside of my uterus. It would take a few days, maybe a week, for it to exit my body entirely. She was unable to give me a gauge of what my pain would be like, if any.

I just sat..stunned. Flashbacks of horrific memories began flooding my mind and in my heart of hearts, I knew how I had developed this cyst. Given the duration of time, it only makes sense that it would have to burst at some point in time. It made sense to me how it developed. And I couldn’t help but shake my head in deep, deep sorrow as I cursed myself for not realizing what the pain all those months and almost a year before was. For never getting it checked out. I assumed it was one thing entirely natural and instead, it was indeed, the cyst itself, forming and gathering particles until it ceased to grow anymore until there was no other way out other than explosion.

I accepted the news.
They discharged me and told me I could buy Motrin for pain if I felt like I needed it. Otherwise, I should take it easy and avoid vigorous workouts.

When Danny left for Manchester the morning of the 5th, I cried and cried and cried.
I went to the bathroom and held my stomach and looked in the mirror.

And that’s when I realized…..

I had forgotten to truly love my body.

I had spent so much time, for YEARS, including that day, gawking at everyone and everything around me and above me. I expressed love for people, places, and things. I expressed love to myself but never, not once, did I take the consideration to express love; real love; to my vessel. My mortal packaging of bones, tissues, veins, muscles, and organs. My beating heart that worked hard day in and day out to provide the clean blood to pump through my body and feed every square millimeter of my body.

I held my abdomen as I looked into my eyes in the mirror and cried and told my body “I am so sorry for the pain I have caused you over the years. For the impurities I have allowed to soak you down in and the beatings I allowed you to take. Please forgive me for the times I have starved you from real nutrients and water, drying you out. Of course you would begin to give up on me! I don’t blame you. My sweet body…. I love you so much. My beautiful vessel that carries me with these mortal feet, wherever I want to go; every single day of my life. My hands that write and type until my beautiful eyes beg me to shut. They never fight me. You allow me to overwork you and underfeed you and push you to your limits everyday without the amount of rest you deserve. You have sacrificed so much of your energy for me so I can selfishly live how I want to live and I think because you are my body and my mind tells me it’s okay that it is okay. I am so sorry vessel. I am so sorry for the torturous things I have put you through and I beg of your forgiveness. I express all my gratitude to you now and forever. I express my love to you endlessly, for without you, I would not be this being.” I began to specifically touch each individual organ and tell it how much I love it and thanked it specifically for the unique work it does for my body to retain power and strength, giving me another moment inside my own handpicked body. I began to revel in my love for my body and began to have conversations with my body I had never thought to have before. My body began to tell me things it has held onto for so many years. We talked, we laughed, we cried together; my body and I.

And together, we let go.

I promised to myself and my body from that moment forward, I would always remember to give my love and gratitude back to it. I promised to always take care of it. I promised to always listen deeply to it and never take for granted what it has to tell me. I promised to trust my body with its communication.

Just like our friendships, work relationships, romantic partnerships, and family ties that require love and attention and effort. Our body and our souls are tied together in their very own relationship. One that we too often take for granted.

We are not our bodies.

And when we die, our bodies are not ours to keep. Our bodies do not follow us wherever we go because our soul is timeless. Our soul is not kept inside our body because our body is a costume that merely contains our soul which is in fact our life form. Our body is there for us immortal souls to operate and function in a mortal World.

Among every relationship you have in your life; don’t forget the relationship you have with your body. Take the time to touch it, talk to it, listen to it. It is what carries you. It is what saves you. It is your protection. Your very resource for movement alone. And without it, you are imprisoned in a case that will only release you when it finally gives up. So, I say again with as much encouragement as I can muster………..

Love the World around you. Love the ups and downs that come your way. Love the people, places, and things that come in and out of your life. Share your stories and memories and make things happen.

And most importantly, LOVE THY BODY.
The very unique, exquisite, and beautiful threshold that you reside in.
Your ultimate home.

Love it with your full soul and heart and it will love you back. And together, may you both live in this Mortal life, happy, healthy, and prosperous.

 
Amen.