The Self-Care Guide to Surgery: An Interview with Noah Karrasch

Singing Dragon speaks to Noah Karrasch, author of the brand new book, The Self-Care Guide to Surgery – a guide for people who have undergone (or who are about to undergo) surgery and what to do to aid recovery.

In the interview, we speak about preventing surgery and why we should be thinking about posture. Noah shares bodywork techniques to help our daily lives and advice for those facing imminent procedure.

Noah Karrasch is a licensed deep tissue massage therapist and holds a teaching degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He teaches CORE bodywork skills around the world. He is also author of: ‘BodyMindCORE Work for the Movement Therapist’, ‘Meet Your Body’, ‘Getting Better at Getting People Better’, and ‘Freeing Emotions and Energy Through Myofascial Release’.

Buy Noah’s books here

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The Self-Care Guide to Surgery: Mindful Movement for the New Year

Mindful Movement, Where You Are

Most of us make those New Year’s resolutions: I’ll lose fifteen pounds, I’ll work out regularly, I’ll settle the old score, I’ll make more money, etc., etc. Too many of us don’t seem to get those resolutions to resolve into something new and better. In my head, one of the reasons for that is we set goals too ambitious, instead of setting smaller and more achievable ones. To that end, I’d like you to think about your expenditure of energy in terms of movement during the day. It seems to me that most of us don’t move nearly enough, and that when we finally do move we effort a bit too much in our desire to fix everything quickly. Neither of these ‘fixes’ will fix anything, and in fact, just may make things worse.

Let’s start with that second idea first: it’s a new year, and we’re going to trim off the fifteen holiday (or before) pounds, then we’re going to get the new wardrobe, then the new job, etc., etc. We set very lofty goals, then stop fairly quickly when we feel defeated by the goals we’ve set, and we begin to feel like a failure. How to change this? It’s simple, really. We merely set smaller and more achievable goals instead of lofty grand ones. Instead of forcing ourselves to lose fifteen pounds, why not focus on eating a bit healthier with more of the good foods – vegetables, fruits, fiber and more water in the diet? Without going kamikaze and feeling the need to monitor everything that goes through the lips, we can simply start being a bit mindful of the things we ingest, and mindfully and gratefully absorbing them and their nutrients. Continue reading

Jess Glenny: Finding My Body’s Voice

Supportive Teaching for People with Developmental Trauma in the Yoga Class

This article is adapted from The Yoga Teacher Mentor: A Reflective Guide to Holding Spaces, Maintaining Boundaries, and Creating Inclusive Classes, which will be published by Singing Dragon in January 2019.

Developmental trauma (also known as complex trauma) is more common than is generally assumed and often undisclosed at yoga classes, even where it’s asked about on student intake forms. Most often, you will gradually become aware of the signs of developmental trauma through observing how your student is (or isn’t) in their body, the kinds of connection they are able to make and sustain with you as teacher, and how they relate to the group at large.

Developmental trauma generally begins very early in life, sometimes before birth and often prior to the development of language and cognitive thought, and is a response to childhood experiences such as neglect, abandonment, and/or physical or sexual abuse. The severity of the consequent trauma response depends to a large extent upon whether any trustworthy and caring adult – teacher, grandparent, older sibling, foster-parent – was available to the child. Recovery is generally much harder for those with whom no one formed a genuine, altruistic and nurturing bond.

Successfully resolving developmental trauma is a slow and challenging process, but it is possible, given appropriate forms of therapy (these are different from the types of therapy useful for working with PTSD or one-off trauma). Without therapeutic intervention, the effects of developmental trauma usually persevere into adulthood, profoundly affecting the person’s physical and mental well-being, cognition, capacity for meaningful relationship, and ability to live in and from their present-moment embodied experience. Continue reading

The Complete Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book: Gluteus Maximus

Illustrated with anatomical drawings for coloring throughout, The Complete Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book by Katie Lynch covers physiology of the breath; movements of the joints; workings of the spine, shoulders and pelvis and in-depth muscle information before moving onto Asana Anatomy specifically related to the main standing, seated and inversion postures.

We are happy to share with you our first excerpt from the book, covering the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle of the “glutes group” and the primary muscle for hip extension.

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Ann Carter Introduces HEARTS and What it Means for Cancer Care

A multisensory approach to facilitating relaxation in cancer care using aromatherapy, touch and voice, the HEARTS process – created by Ann Carter – offers a new way to help patients achieve a state of relaxation and calm as quickly and easily as possible.

In their new book, Combining Touch and Relaxation Skills for Cancer Care, Ann Carter and Peter Mackereth discuss principles which may influence the effectiveness of touch and relaxation therapies, emphasising that there are approaches that can be learnt and utilised by healthcare workers (and carers) who are not qualified in any therapies when working with distressed and vulnerable patients. Continue reading

Introducing Our Digital Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Catalogue

The new Singing Dragon Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine digital catalogue is now live! Our new format allows you to browse, learn more, purchase or request an inspection copy for your course of any of our books, and is clickable throughout.

We are publishing a host of exciting titles throughout 2019, from an accessible clinical handbook of Tui Na principles and practice to a narrative-based manual of qigong and meditation from a Daoist master.

Take a look at our catalogue to find out more.

Contents include:

  • New Books from Singing Dragon
  • Clinical Practice/Diagnosis
  • Acupuncture
  • Qigong
  • Daoist Arts
  • Bodywork

 

Meet the Singing Dragon Author: Ilkay Zihni Chirali

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Ilkay Zihni Chirali, author of Cupping Therapy for Bodyworkers

How did you become interested in cupping therapy? Were there any challenges in entering this field?
I would not be exaggerating if I said that I was born into the cupping therapy world! My grandmother, who at the time was living with us in Lemba in Cyprus, was a renowned midwife and herbalist. She would often use this technique to treat the expectant mothers for their various complaints, including colds and muscular aches and pains. It was my mother’s duty – and, much later, mine – to wash and clean up the cups after each use. Later on in 1982, when I studied traditional Chinese medicine in Melbourne, Australia, to my surprise I discovered that cupping therapy is also part of the traditional Chinese medicine treatment tools. Needless to say I was so familiar with the techniques that our professor, Dr Wang, asked if I could assist him during the sessions!
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Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Dr. Steffany Moonaz

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Dr. Steffany Moonaz, author of Yoga Therapy for Arthritis

How did you become interested in yoga therapy? Were there any challenges you faced in entering this industry?
I started working as a yoga therapist before I knew what yoga therapy was. After my 200-hour training, I was hired by Johns Hopkins University to help develop a yoga program for people with arthritis. My training was essentially safe, but largely inadequate to meet their needs, so we learned from each other. I brought the fullness of my yoga training and they brought the fullness of their arthritis, and together we figured out what worked, what was most helpful, what needed further adaptation. Since then, with additional training as both a yoga therapist and a scientist focusing exclusively on this population, I’ve come a long way. I’m proud to say that since learning about yoga therapy, I’ve been actively involved in the professionalization of the field and its representation in the broader movement of integrative health. There was so little work being done specifically in arthritis when I got my start, despite how prevalent it is. I was basically handed my dharma and have been following it ever since.

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Acupuncture Without Needles?

I have spent a lot of time developing my technique with an acupuncture needle. First as a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and then as a teacher of needle technique, and now as the author of The Living Needle, a book on the subject. I have a lot of friends who aren’t acupuncturists that ask me if there is anything in all that work for them, other than just getting treatments from me. The answer is a resounding yes! While the needle is certainly the most well-known tool of the TCM practitioner and a very useful one as well, it is not the most important thing at my disposal, or even completely necessary to my trade.

As I discuss in The Living Needle, what is most important is that the body is engaged, and not simply engaged in a passive way, but really meaningfully engaged. This can be accomplished with or without a needle. While it is wonderful to be able to make direct contact with the deeper tissues, the fact that is so often forgotten by providers and patients alike is that all the body’s tissues are interconnected into one vast network. This means that contact with any tissue will necessarily affect all the others. Because of this, as any good massage therapist knows fingers can be just as powerful as needles. This reality is perfectly clear not only in massage, but in trigger point therapy and any number of other manual techniques using nothing more than a finger or an external tool to create pressure.

Am I suggesting that you don’t need to see an acupuncturist? Not necessarily because there is a wealth of diagnostic and other skills we bring to the table, I’m just suggesting you might not be stuck waiting on your appointment to start seeing benefits. You don’t even have to go to a massage or physical therapist to start reaping some rewards (though in a lot of cases you should go see them too). What I’m suggesting more than anything, is that your health and well-being are your business first and there are some simple tools and tricks close to hand that you can start using right now!

All around your house are implements that you can bring to bear on your aches, pains, and even internal medicine issues; from the handle of a spoon, to a toothpick, or a rolling pin, almost anything can be used to apply targeted pressure to the body. And of course you always have fingers. Here are a couple specific things that you can try.

  • Digestive Rolling: Get a round implement, a dough roller, stiff cardboard tube, or even the side of a pencil. Find the front edge of your shin bone just under your knee. Place the tool just below the knee and about half an inch outside the edge of your shin bone. It shouldn’t be pressing on the bone, but it should be pretty close. From here, with strong pressure (it shouldn’t be painful, but you should know you’re doing it) roll whatever you’re using down the front of your leg to your ankle. Come back to the start and do it again. Roll down nine times and then do the other leg. This area of the body has a strong effect on the digestion and rolling it like this will bolster stomach function and up-regulate peristalsis. This is a big deal, because with the chronic stress most of us live under our digestive system is underfunctioning most of the time, and chronic underfunction in the digestive system can lead to all sorts of long term illnesses!
  • Morning Wake-Up Call: Get that same item you used to roll your shin and put it on the floor. You’re going to sit down and put your foot on it so that the inside edge of your foot, just behind your big toe is pressing against it. Put some pressure on it and roll it back and forth from just behind the big toe to the heel, keeping the pressure focused mostly on the inside edge of the foot. This will again stimulate digestive function, but will also help with adrenal function and cortisol, which can help you feel brighter eyed on those draggy mornings!
  • Stress Buster: Feeling stressed? Especially that kind of stress where it feels like someone is squeezing the middle of your chest and refuses to let go? Grab the handle of a spoon or a toothpick if you like a little bit of a sharper sensation, or even just use your finger if you don’t have anything else close to hand. On the underside of your wrist, find the two tendons that run down from your hand. About an inch and a half below the crease of your wrist you’ll find a little tender spot between those two tendons. Press and hold there, making little counter-clockwise circles. On the top of your foot, between the bones behind the big and second toe, slide back toward the top of your foot until you feel where those bones almost meet and then move back toward your toes just a little. You should find another tender spot there where you can repeat the same procedure. While you’re rubbing either of these spots try to slow your breathing down and take nice long breaths. Within a minute or two you should feel a lot better!

The most important thing to remember with any of this is that the real treatment, the fundamental improvement isn’t about the tool that you use, it’s about the meaningful engagement with the body. Most of us live a life where we are largely separated from our bodies as far as awareness goes. The adage I often share with students and patients alike is that most of us don’t know we have feet until we stub our toe. So while you’re doing any of these practices, really get involved. Don’t simply poke away at the body while you make a mental grocery list of other things you have to do. Be aware of the sensations you feel under your fingers and in your tissues. After all, it’s your body, you might as well get to know it!

This more than anything is the real art to medicine, the ability to actively connect with a body and respond to it in the moment. This is also where real health lives. If you want to learn more about engaging the body feel free to pick up The Living Needle: Modern Acupuncture Technique.

 

Justin Phillips, LAc teaches needle technique and advanced needle technique at AOMA. He also runs a private acupuncture practice in Texas. His new book, The Living Needle: Modern Acupuncture Technique explains the fundamental principles of the art of needle technique for acupuncturists.

Preparing the Body for Work: Working for Coherence

In this blog by Amanda Brennan, author of The Energetic Performer, Brennan provides an overview of her method of acting and how increasing awareness of the body can enhance the acting experience. 

I recently ran a series of workshops for professional actors in Santiago, Chile. The course was designed to refine performance skills, explore the craft of screen acting and discover how to create a rich and complex inner life. In my book The Energetic Performer, I refer to the inner life as all that moves with in, thoughts, vibrations of the nervous system, the beat of the heart, the flow of breath, all feelings and emotional expression. Its cultivation is at the heart of screen performance, where the real action is on the inside. To achieve this aim, I began with what I believe is the fundamental necessity: preparing the body for work.

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