It’s officially summer time and sun salutations are calling! For all of those who aren’t familiar with that term, I’m referring to that classic yoga pose series that directs you to reach your arms towards the sky, collecting the energy of the sun, just before surrendering down towards the earth in a relaxed forward bend. In the first few steps of this yoga practice you discover the extent of your spinal range of motion. How smooth or how stiff have I become?
Most of us cope with stress by contracting some part of our bodies. If this pattern becomes chronic, then we lose some percentage of our range of motion and related function. We see this a lot in upper abdomens at the Temple. The upper belly becomes “indented” with tension and often a ball of tightness will reside there. Digestion is negatively affected and breathing often becomes shallow, reducing overall circulation. Shoulders are another common area that we use to cope with stress. Tightness here can lead to headaches and neck pain and often affects sleep and mental clarity.
The long days of Pacific NW summers provide the perfect opportunity to release chronic tension and cope with movement instead of contraction. After dinner walks, weekend hikes, and stretching in the early morning sun become a viable option for stress management with the abundant daylight and warmth. Tension patterns in jaws, shoulders, stomachs and backs fall away as we move our bodies through a larger range of options and increase overall circulation. Local movement companies like Modo Yoga, Community Fitness, Eight Limbs Yoga Studios and Om Culture provide creative ways to move your body and soul with their inspiring collection of classes.
All of this movement talk can be intimidating for those entering the movement season with notable pain or a musculoskeletal challenge, but have no fear! There are many options for restoring this system in the wellness world. Proteolytic enzymes reduce chronic inflammation in the body, reducing soreness and speeding healing time after injuries. These protein digesting enzymes serve as a natural anti-inflammatory and provide a great alternative to NSAID’s. Collagen products help build healthy joints and also serve as a beauty food for hair, skin and nails. BONUS! Epsom salt baths are great throughout the year but are particularly helpful for keeping soreness at bay after active summer days. Add a little of Shepard Moon’s Ache and Pain bath salts to the mix and knock out most of the soreness before it ever settles in.
Some musculoskeletal ills will need a little help from your body work friends. Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy is our favorite tool for cutting through acute or chronic pain quickly and thoroughly. Massage therapy can both relieve chronic tensions patterns and provide a direct experience of a new range of motion. Craniosacral therapy can release tension around the heart that inhibits our ability to “be moved” and experience the joy of movement.
There are so many ways to comfortably increase your range of motion this summer season, so get moving! Move the joy in your heart all the way out to the tips of your fingers and toes, and work a few kinks out along the way!
In joyful service,
Kristi Zimmer, LMP
Co-Owner of Tummy Temple