An Interactive Pilates Adventure: Why Connor the Conker?

Below, author of Connor the Conker and the Breezy Day, Rachel Lloyd, explains exactly why she created Connor the Conker and why he works with interactive pilates.

Connor

Over the years I have worked with many children in various settings from film sets, (Bridget Jones’s Baby, Harry Potter, The Theory of Everything) to fitness studios and dance and drama classes; and two things that have become abundantly clear to me from all this experience: Continue reading

Breathing is the rhythm of life: breathing into Autumn

The following article is adapted from the book Qigong Through the Seasons by Ronald H. Davis.

The practice of Qigong Through the Seasons is designed to harmonize the health of your internal organs with the seasonal energetic changes of nature.
Autumn is the time to give special attention to the Lungs. Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment and yet most of us are unaware of how we breathe and have lost our innate connection to the breath cycle. We, therefore, often fail to completely benefit from the power of correct breathing.

The Source of Qi
Breathing stands out as our quintessential rhythmic interaction with the world; lungs function as a permeable interface between each of us and everything else. The lungs are yin organs that receive air from the outside world, extract its healthy components and send them downward to the lower dan tian, the primary energy center of the abdomen, to be combined with the nutrients of food. That fusion of air’s vitality and food’s energy produces our greatest quantity of qi. In ancient times, the word ‘qi’ primarily had the meaning of ‘vital breath’ emphasizing that our indispensable energy comes from breathing.

Astonishingly, the lungs eliminate seventy percent of the body’s waste products. This makes exhalation a hugely significant detoxifying activity. We must completely exhale so that the respiratory system can flush out toxins and debris; only then can we receive a full complement of fresh air on the next inhalation. Stress, fear, anger, and doubt are the main emotional states that interfere with a healthy exhalation. Many people subconsciously don’t let go of the breath—they feel like they must hold on to that last bit of air, otherwise they may expire. The ability to completely let go of the breath often relates to issues of trust and relaxation.

The correct practice of qigong creates mental tranquility and thus will profoundly enhance healthy breathing by relaxing the lungs and allowing them to freely function. The following exercise, White Healing Mist, is the most important qigong exercise to do during the autumn season. It uses mental intention, body movement, and regulated breathing to purify and strengthen the lungs.

White Healing Mist Exercise
This graceful neigong (internal qigong) exercise fills the lungs with fresh qi while cleansing them of turbid qi. The intent of the mind uses detailed imagery of pure and impure qi. The movement of the hands leads the qi into and out of each lung. The ‘white healing mist’ can be any personal image that conveys a sense of purity, freshness, tranquility and healing. The ‘toxins’ can be not only respiratory debris but also cloudy, unhealthy thoughts. As the interface between internal and external worlds, the lungs command our self-defense system. When doing this practice, you may want to identify those healthy and unhealthy aspects of your life. Then you can nurture the good with the white mist, and purge the bad along with the toxins. Do this exercise slowly with focused concentration on one lung at a time. The unilateral emphasis is unusual since most qigong exercises are done for both lungs simultaneously, but that special concentration on one lung at a time increases the concentration of qi, which makes this a very powerful healing exercise. You can do this for the common chest cold and for all serious diseases of the lungs.
Begin with feet close together, hands crossed and touching the chest over the lungs. The right hand is over the left lung and the left hand is over the right lung.

Take a slow, relaxed breath and think of your lungs there under your hands. Make a mental connection between your hands and your lungs.

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Step to the side with the left foot.

Inhale, shift weight to the left leg so that the left lung is lined up over the left knee. At the same time, open the arms and slowly, swing the hands forward and then laterally out until the arms are extended to the side with fingers up and the palms facing away from the body. Left knee is bent, right knee is straight.

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Think of inhaling a white healing mist into the left lung only.

Exhale, step back to center with the left foot, straighten knees, the hands return to the chest, cross them so that the right hand is touching over the left lung. The left hand touches over the right lung.

Think of exhaling grey smoky toxins from the left lung only. Although both hands are touching your chest, your focused intention goes to the left lung only.

Repeat for the right lung by stepping to the right, etc. Do 8 repetitions, alternating left and right.

The complete set of Autumn Qigong exercises, along with suggested foods and herbs for seasonal health, are fully described and illustrated in chapter 8 of Qigong Through The Seasons.

Ronald H. Davis is an acupuncturist and chiropractor. He has been practicing Qigong since 1986 and is the founder of The Health Movement, a group of classes and educational materials designed to improve a person’s wellbeing through the use of traditional and complementary healthcare methods. Ronald offers classes in Qigong, Taiji and spinal healthcare and lives in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

 

Yiquan General Standard Requirements

In this extract from Tang_Complete-Book-o_978-1-84819-225-6_colourjpg-webThe Complete Book of Yiquan, Master C S Tang outlines the essential requirements of the Yiquan stance. Detailed images of hand shapes, leg shapes and body shapes illustrate the how to practice the static stance as a whole. Training involves not only poses, but also controlling the joints and muscles, utilizing the tension and relaxation of weights.

Read the extract…

The book is the first complete guide to the rarely taught martial art, Yiquan, still shrouded in mystery. With clear photographs and explanations, this comprehensive illustrated book fully describes the postures and movements of Yiquan and provides information on Yiquan’s origin, weapons, programs, grading, and more.

Relieve tension headaches with these facial massage techniques – extract from Vital Face by Leena Kiviluoma

Kiviluoma_Vital-Face-Faci_978-1-84819-166-2_colourjpg-webTaken from Vital Face, this selection of quick and easy exercises designed for the forehead will enable you to remove stiffness, eliminate tension headaches, and smooth out facial lines.

Click here to read the extract.

Feel the difference? Read the book for more exercises to relax and rejuvenate the whole face, head and neck.

‘Leena Kiviluoma has done trailblazing work in developing her ingenious, easy-to-use facial muscle care technique. I use her book when I teach anatomy, physiology and skin care to trainee beauty care professionals. With the help of this book clients of beauty therapists can also practice effective self-applied beauty routines at home which will help to maintain a youthful appearance.’

 -Anna-Liisa Halsas-Lehto, Master of Health Science, Vocational Teacher, Beauty Therapist

‘I tried this programme developed by Leena Kiviluoma. Both the relaxedness and the capacity of my jaw increased noticeably.’

-Fitness and Health Magazine, Finnish edition

Leena Kiviluoma is a physiotherapist working as a teacher and consultant in the fitness, beauty, health and rehabilitation industries. Her clients have included the Finnish National Opera, the Finnish National Theatre, The Parliament of Finland and many other companies, and she has contributed to numerous articles on fitness and beauty in magazines and newspapers. She began to develop her medical-based, facial muscle care technique and therapy in 1990 and her two books on the subject have been translated into many languages. She lives in Helsinki, Finland.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

The history and heritage of mudras – extract from Mudras of India by Cain Carroll and Revital Carroll

Cover of Mudras of IndiaIn this extract from Mudras of India, the authors explore the meaning and use of hand gestures in both vedic and Chinese traditions, and describes the ancient spiritual origins, and meaning of the mudras of India.

“Our hands are a source of tremendous power. With such profound dexterity,sensitivity, and utility, the human hands may be one of our most defining features as a species… With the hands playing such a central role in our experience of being human, it comes as no surprise that many of the world’s great spiritual and artistic traditions have considered the hands as sacred.”

Click here to read the extract

Mudras of India is now available in paperback, and includes a new chapter that comprehensively lists the benefits of hand mudras, covering major health concerns as well spiritual and psycho-energetic categories.

Mudras of India is a much-needed compendium that beautifully illustrates the incredible variety and versatility of the hand gestures that play a key role in India’s sacred traditions. Every dancer, yogi, or yogini will want to keep a copy on hand!”

– Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, PhD, author of A Yoga of Indian Classical Dance: The Yogini’s Mirror

Cain Carroll teaches yoga, qigong, meditation and self-healing worldwide. He has trained extensively under the guidance of Daoist, Buddhist and Indian Yoga masters. His journeys have taken him to remote areas of India, China, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand and South America, where he received private instruction in many rare and powerful practices. Cain is co-author of Partner Yoga and creator of three self-healing DVDs. His website can be visited at www.caincarroll.com. Revital Carroll has been dedicated to the study of Indian spiritual arts since childhood. Intensive study and practice of yoga and meditation in the Himalayas led her to discover her passion for Odissi Indian Dance. She is the creator of three instructional DVDs and she offers classes, workshops and performances worldwide. Visit www.shaktibhakti.com for more information.

Raise awareness of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome this May

 

EDS awarenessMay is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) Awareness Month, raising awareness of this multi-systemic and complex connective tissue disorder, and supporting those who live with this invisible condition.

As awareness and understanding of EDS are central to early diagnosis and management of symptoms, take the time to learn about the condition, and simple steps that can help the many people who live with it.

Learn more about EDS (especially type III – Hypermobility Syndrome) with these interviews and resources, and more:

Books:

Interviews:

Organisations:

See also:

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

Loontil soup avec schmaltz and Chopstick your piano – excerpts from Chungliang Al Huang’s “Quantum Soup: Fortune Cookies in Crisis”

Huang_Quantum-Soup-Fo_978-1-84819-054-2_colourjpg-webIn these extracts Chungliang Al-Huang teaches us how to laugh at Taiji and enjoy being awkward. Taken from the classic Quantum Soup, these short excerpts highlight the author’s uplifting approach to Taiji practice, Daoism, and life, written with humour, warmth and insight.

Click here to read the excerpts.

‘Quantum Soup is a gourmet preparation of philosophical snaps and snails, sharks’ fins and puppy dogs’ tails to tickle the sophisticated palate and provoke happy, healthful belly laughs. Confucius say: “Number One good recipe!”‘

– Joseph Campbell

‘Quantum Soup is an elegant, wise and playful expression of Taoist and Zen Buddhist sensibilities in a Western setting – a philosophical entertainment with a collection of anecdotes, aphorisms and koan-like ruminations, all served up in appetizer portions.’

– Los Angeles Times

Chungliang Al Huang is the founder of Living Tao Foundation, an international cultural-arts network for lifelong learning, and the director of the Lan Ting Institute, a cross-cultural study and conference center at the sacred and historic Wu Yi Mountain, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the People’s Republic of China, and at Gold Beach on the Oregon Coast in the USA. He has written many classic books including Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Essense of Tai Ji; Essential Tai Ji; and The Chinese Book of Animal Powers, all of which are published by Singing Dragon.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

Play the Frog’s Breathtaking Speech Game

Bring the benefits of yoga and yogic breathing techniques into the classroom and the home with this game from Frog’s Breathtaking Speech author Michael Chissick. Based on the book, the game is a fun way to help children to recognise negative emotions and lean how to turn these into positive ones.

Simply download the game boardcard set and instructions from these links and with some simple steps you’ll be ready to roar the house down with Lion, shake the walls with the Woodchopper Breath and more.

The game is at its most effective if used with the book, Frog’s Breathtaking Speech – find out more about the book here.

 Michael Chissick has been teaching yoga to children in primary mainstream and special needs schools as part of the integrated school day since 1999. He is a primary school teacher as well as a qualified yoga instructor. He is also a specialist in teaching yoga to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Michael trains and mentors students who want to teach yoga to children.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

Understanding and treating the complex chronic patient – an interview with Isobel Knight

Isobel KnightWhat makes treating the chronic complex  patient so difficult? Do you think there is still a lack of understanding about how best to approach this?

I think that practitioners are very scared by complex chronic conditions and can become very overwhelmed. I’ve had so many medical professionals dismiss me because they really didn’t understand what the problem was. Treatment of chronic complex conditions really does require a multi-disciplinary team of people and medical experts, as well as an overarching approach to treatment plans. This can all be overwhelming for one person.

Conditions become chronic and complex over the years. There’s often a long delay in diagnosis (research by the Hypermobility Syndrome Association in the UK suggests that diagnoses can take about 10 years). As an individual gets older, he or she will gather more problems, which makes treatment even more difficult, relating to more bodily systems. If the condition is intercepted younger, these can all be addressed and hopefully better controlled.

How has being an individual with EDSIII (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – Type 3, Hypermobility) influenced the way you treat people in your clinic?

Based on what I’ve experienced, I can certainly spot the condition very quickly in people who haven’t had a diagnosis. Although I can’t officially diagnose, if the symptoms are there, I can get them sent to their GP for a referral to an expert rheumatologist. So in this way it’s really helped some people. I also know what ongoing management they are often going to require, so I can both refer them on to practitioners that I know, and support them with Bowen Therapy in the areas that I know they will need help with.

I’m never overwhelmed by what patients say, and I always believe them. And that helps a lot.

Why did you choose the autoethnographic approach in writing your new book?

That was inspired by an author I quote in the book, who wrote about life with a kidney condition and eventually turned it into a PhD thesis. I thought it was a really good way of framing the book. It uses my story as a basis, but also weaves in the stories of others, to ensure that it’s socially representative of that culture group. But also, this is a personal story. I include some quite personal details, and I hope that this makes it much more accessible to read, not a dry textbook. It really says how the patient feels, from my point of view and from the points of view of others.

Book cover: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Managing Ehlers-Danlos (Type III) - Hypermobility SyndromeIn the book, you go into quite a lot of depth on the psychology involved both in having a chronic complex condition and in treatment. Do you think that the importance of this area is underestimated?

Yes. I was actually really surprised how large the psychological section of the book ended up being. There are so many layers to it, trust being a very important one. The issue of trust is so important for any medical professional dealing with a chronic complex patient. Personally, I had been consistently told by a range of professionals that the pain I was experiencing was psychosomatic, and that there was nothing wrong with me. I think that most patients have years of that to contend with. In so many cases these conditions involve a legacies of problems that haven’t been fully handled since a young age. Behaviours change because of pain. That really has an impact on people. They get angry, they get depressed, they get anxious.

I’ve also included a section for the patient on managing chronic pain, cognitive behavioural therapy, and other psychological aids such as goal-setting, pacing, ways of communicating and dealing with doctors.

Medical professionals also need support psychologically in dealing with the complex chronic patient because, as mentioned, treatment can be very overwhelming for them, and quite emotionally draining. If one of your patients comes back every week with little improvement to their pain, it can be emotionally difficult as a therapist to make a positive spin on it and focus on treatment.

Social media seems to be a really supportive, positive force for the treatment and understanding of these conditions. How do you see this developing in future?

I think that because some patients with this condition can become quite disabled, and socially isolated, Facebook, for example, can be a real lifeline for them. It’s a way for them to get mutual support, to learn more about the condition, to realise they’re not alone in their experience. I’ve been staggered by the response to my Facebook page, and how it’s being used internationally to provide support and share information on this subject (but never any medical advice).

How do you hope this book will help professionals working with, and patients with the syndrome?

I hope that the patients will be able to see that there has been, in my story, quite a positive improvement due to the level of care I’ve had, and the experts I’ve managed to have access to. Physiotherapy has been essential in this. I’d like to offer patients hope but also the reality that this is a genetically inherited condition, which is about management, not cure. I hope that the book provides not only treatment information, but validation – they can take the book to their doctors to show them what’s going on. It’s as up to the minute as up to the minute can be in terms of medical research and practice.

In terms of the medical professionals, I hope that they can understand the full impact of a multi-systemic chronic complex condition, what it means to have bodily systems not working very well, and the impact that this has psychologically, physically and socially. I hope this helps them to develop a bit of a more empathetic approach.

I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to have 6 real experts in each field contributing to the book. This means that they’ve been really able to bring the book up to date with the latest research on treatment and medical management of the condition. That’s a real privilege.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

Request a copy of the UK Singing Dragon Complete Catalogue

Cover of the Singing Dragon UK Complete CatalogueMake sure not to miss Singing Dragon’s latest UK Complete Catalogue. If you have not yet received a copy, please sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send a free one out to you ASAP.

Readers in the UK and Europe who request a copy of the catalogue before February 15th, 2013 will also receive a voucher for a 15% discount on the entire Singing Dragon list of books, with free postage and packing.

Take advantage of this opportunity to find new, forthcoming and classic books on Chinese Medicine, Holistic Health, Taiji, Qigong, Herbal Medicine, Yoga, Spirituality and more. Also, sample health-promoting recipes with The Functional Nutrition Cookbook, and Make Yourself Better with Philip Weeks’ books. Delve into the history of Ayurvedic Medicine and the Mudras of India, and discover the Five Levels of Taijiquan, Daoist Nei Gong and Chinese Medical Qigong.

To request your copy of our Complete Catalogue, please click here. To receive your 15% discount voucher, please be sure to click the checkbox for “Singing Dragon” under area of interest or else mention this offer in the “any further comments” section.

If you have previously received a copy of the catalogue, and would like to take advantage of the 15% discount, please feel free to request a voucher via email at post@singingdragon.com.