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Incorporating Massage with your Kids

Adding massage into your everyday routine can help kids develop a good relationship to their bodies, feel more grounded, and offers a nice time for bonding. Here are some suggestions, based on age, on how to make massage a part of your everyday family life.

“Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins.” – Dr. Frederick Leboyer

 

Infants 2 Months- Pre Crawling

Great for babies who display quiet alert time but are still not mobile. Ask your baby permission to give them a massage by using a sign (like showing them your hands) or sound (like swishing some oil between your palms). Look for happy smiles, or grabbing of your hands to indicate a “yes,” and rolling away or crying to indicate a “no.” (if you get a “no” try tending to other needs first and then trying again). This teaches them consent and encourages communication.

Infant massage can be very simple. Start with little circles on the bottoms of the feet and around the ankles. Make a clockwise circle on the tummy to help with gas pain. As they get used to it explore massaging arms and legs with “C” shaped hands. Using pressure is fine, touch that’s too light will tickle. Massaging down the limbs can promote a calm mood, massaging towards the heart can stimulate a sleepy baby. Start with a few minutes a day and build up to a daily routine.

 

Crawlers and Toddlers

Mobile little ones are unlikely to spend much time in one place, try incorporating some massage into diaper routine, after bath time, or with a song or game. For example, you can play the game “Guess what I’m drawing on your back?” No oil needed, just pretend draw on their back and then spend a little time “clearing the slate” massaging in a circle. The game will keep them entertained and the touch can be very grounding for all those big feelings.

 

Little Kids

Massage can be a great way to teach anatomy: “Where is your arm? Good!” Then a few massage strokes on that arm. “Where’s your head? Good!” Continue this game as long as it holds your child’s attention. If your child is in the “I can do it by myself” phase, try taking turns- “Where’s my foot?”, your child can massage your foot, then you can say, “Ok now it’s my turn. Where is YOUR foot?” And you can gently massage your child’s foot. Let your child challenge you, too, and ask you to find a body part from time to time.

Make a rhythmic or musical game of your massage: try tapping different rhythms on your child, vocalizing the rhythms as you tap. Have your child repeat after you and sing along. Change the rhythms as you work on different parts of the body.

Rainstorm massage: use different types of massage techniques to create a gentle rainstorm on your child’s back. Fingers pitter patter slowly, then faster, loose gentle fists for big raindrops, wide palms rubbing slowly side to side can be the wind blowing back and forth, make a lightning crashing sound as you spread palms apart from the spine out to the sides of the body as if smoothing out fabric. Get creative. Vocal sound effects are very helpful.

 

School Age Kids

Massage and bodywork techniques are a great way to help kids calm down and be ready to focus on school work or go to bed.  Living in a busy city there is much sensory stimulation constantly. Some kids who tend to get over-stimulated can benefit from pressure with the hands over the eyes.  Have the child lie down and place your hands over the orbital bones of the eyes–not the eyes directly- and place moderate pressure for about 30 seconds or until the child says they are done.

Joint compression works really well with children who are hyperactive.  Have the child lie down in a comfortable position and apply brief but firm pressure to each of the major joints.  Start with ankles, wrists, then move to knees and elbows, and lastly shoulders and hips. You will want to hold the bones above each joint with one hand, while exerting pressure from the bone below.  For example, for the knee, stabilize the leg with one hand on the thigh, and exert an upward pressure with the other hand from the lower leg. For the hips, it is best to have the child lying on their side and exert a firm downward pressure with two hands on the bony part of the hip.

Let the child give themselves a massage. Guide your child on a massage of their body as you demonstrate on yourself. “First let’s gently squeeze our hands (pinching the meaty part at the base of your thumb). Now let’s squeeze our arms (squeezing big your way from wrist to elbow to shoulder). Let’s give ourselves big hugs (hug yourself).” Continue on face (circles on temples, rub circles or tap fingers on forehead and skull) and legs and feet.)

 

Preteens and Teens

If your teen is not the touchy feely sort, maybe starting with hands or feet is a good way to ease into the idea of massage. A massage to hands or feet can have a calming relaxing effect throughout the whole body without having to massage the entire body.

If your teen plays sports, massage can be an important part of their self care and relaxation routine. If they are comfortable with you working on them, try to determine which muscles get the most wear and tear in the sport your child plays and focus your efforts there. If they prefer to work on themselves, you can demonstrate on yourself how to rub out achy muscles focusing on the muscles that need the most care. Stretching, rolling on a foam roller  and epsom salt baths can also be great self care techniques for teens.

Treat your young adult to a 30 minute massage at Earth + Sky to introduce them to the world of therapeutic massage. Other modalities they might like are cupping and cranial sacral therapy. Get one for yourself at the same time, you can model good self-care while you make a special day of it.

A word about using oil- babies and kids have very receptive skin- so use an oil that you would feel comfortable eating! That means anything out of your kitchen is fine (coconut, grapeseed and olive oil work well) or a pure product like baby jojoba oil or shea butter works well too. Wait until your child is at least a year to add essential oils, and use them wisely and sparingly.
October 1, 2018 Comments Off on Incorporating Massage with your Kids

Summer Tick Kit

My memories of summers on the east coast involved laying in grass and looking up at clouds rolling by and playing for hours in the woods with my sister. The past few years I have enough run-ins with ticks that that carefree feeling of summer outdoors has been replaced with a, at times, hypervigilance about lymes and other tick borne illnesses. Recent reports show that numbers of people getting infected in the United states has tripled in recent years. While there’s much good advice on basic preventative measures one can take, for me having a basic tick prevention kit that comes with me on any family outing, has helped me navigate this strange new world we are living in.

Making your own Tick Prevention Kit:

1. Get a Pouch– Those who know me, know that I have a weak spot for pouches. But keeping everything in one place makes it easy to grab what you need or store it in your stroller so a trip out of town or into nature can feel more spontaneous.

2. Bug Spray– your first line of defense after dressing appropriately is a good bug spray.

Clients| Goodbye Bugs

There are many on the market that contain deet, but some people may not want to cover their kids in that everyday. Hannah Springer of the Oliver Weston Company introduced me to Bye-Bye Bugs Organic insect repellent. It even helps keep the insane Shady park mosquitoes away. As with most natural bug repellents I spray both the kids and they clothes and re-apply a few times a day. We now carry this in our office too $15 for a 2oz spray.

 

 

 

3. Tweezers– If you do find a tick that’s embedded you’ll want a good pair of pointed tweezers to help remove the tick. (For instructions on how to do that correctly see here). I’ve had ticks that are so small embed in my kids that I needed a magnifying glass to identify them.

This is how small a baby tick can be!

Because of that I also always carry a backlit magnifying glass with me in my kit. It helps put my mind at ease when I do see a small dot on one of my kids.

4. Alcohol pads/Afterbite tincture– If you have removed an embedded tick you want to rub the area down with an alcohol pad. Rather than just using rubbing alcohol I prefer to use tincture, which contains alcohol as well as herbs so you are getting the benefit of both. Calendula or echinacea tincture are good picks, but my favorite is Woodland Essence’s After bite tincture. It’s made by a wonderful herbalist who has been living in Lyme country for over 20 years and is well formulated to provide extra protection. Bonus: It also works great for mosquitoes. We now carry a limited supply at our office- 1oz bottle for $14.

5. Tape– If the tick isn’t deeply embedded it can be easier to get it off by using a strong tape or small lint roller. If you want to send the tick in to have it checked then you can attached the tape with the tick to an index card and you are good to go. Given that 55% of ticks in the wild carry a pathogen, I send any ticks that have embedded for a tick check this way I know what I’m dealing with. The average turn around is 24hrs, more info at www.tickcheck.com.

Have a suggestion to add- let us know! And hopefully being prepared lets you enjoy the bounty of summer just a bit more!

June 29, 2018 Comments Off on Summer Tick Kit

Ways to Stay Well this Winter with the Wisdom of Chinese Medicine

After the Thanksgiving holiday, the days suddenly seem shorter than ever. The temps plummet to below freezing and autumn has quietly and quickly slipped away. We avoid the outdoors at all costs, hole up in our homes and turn in early for the night as the sun inspires us to do so. Since we can’t avoid going outside entirely, the dramatic temperature change from going from the warmth of inside to the blistery wind of outside, often results in lower immunity and those dreaded winter viruses. Here’s 4 tips to keeping your immunity strong and solid this winter from the wisdom of our acupuncturist, Anna Mehlhop Strong LAc.

 

1) Hats and Scarves Galore!
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine believe that in order to prevent injury to the body from wind and cold, you need to protect the most vulnerable areas of the body with warm clothes. These are the back of the neck, upper back, and shoulder areas which correspond to the Tai Yang Channels. The elements will always try to enter here first, causing symptoms of Wind-Cold: fever, chills, body aches, and stuffy or runny nose. The theories surrounding this date back to the late Han Dynasty- that is 1800 years ago!

2) Stay Dry!

Protecting the upper back and shoulder areas becomes especially true if you have wet hair or have just sweated a lot. When coming out into the cold from the gym, always wear a scarf or hood to protect the back of the neck. Kids coming from swimming lessons in the winter should always have their hair dried before going outside. It is the wisdom of many cultures that being in the cold when you are wet can make you get sick. This cannot be discredited by germ theory. From a western perspective, having to shiver to warm up a freezing body can detract from the immune system allowing germs to take a stronger hold.

3) Eat Soup!
Miso soup with scallion is great to eat at the very first stages of a cold. The miso with the scallion work together to promote a slight sweat to push out the cold. No medicine needed! If you find that you have been battling a cold for a long time, try making chicken soup the old fashioned way. Boil the bones of a chicken, including the neck, to make a broth. The bones release the nutrients of their marrow into the broth which will nourish your body’s immune cells.


 

 

4) Consult with a Chinese Herbalist
Chinese medicine has an intricate and highly developed system–again, going back 1800+ years–of treating the common cold in all its variations. When exposed to the same ‘bug’, why does one person get a sore throat and the other a cough? Also, children will tend to spike fevers much higher than adults because they by their nature have more firey constitutions. These differences have to do with the differing terrain of each individual body. So, the same herbal formula would definitely NOT be appropriate to all cases of the same cold. It is best to consult a Chinese herbalist to find the right formula for you. To work most effectively, herbal medicine should focus not on eliminating the bug, but instead on reviving the disturbed function of the body. Then the body will eliminate the bug all by itself! And you will avoid costly side-effects and contributing to antibiotic resistance.

That’s it folks, we’re wishing you a healthy winter and a happy holiday season!

November 27, 2017 Comments Off on Ways to Stay Well this Winter with the Wisdom of Chinese Medicine

Labor prep and Labor Stimulation Acupuncture- What’s the Difference?

Expectant mothers may have heard that acupuncture can be used to prepare for labor or even to stimulate contractions to come on. If you are approaching the end of your third trimester and want to know more about what acupuncture can offer, here are some key points.

At Earth + Sky, we offer 2 distinct types of acupuncture sessions for those nearing the end of their pregnancy: labor prep and labor stimulation. While they might seem pretty interchangeable, they are actually quite different in their intention.

Anna Melhop Strong, our licensed acupuncturists explains the difference. “Labor prep acupuncture is acupuncture that is useful in preparing mom and baby to go into labor, while labor stimulation acupuncture is a technique that is aimed at increasing the intensity and frequency of uterine contractions.”

According to Anna, labor prep acupuncture focuses on 4 main things:

A. Positioning baby optimally for labor. If baby is in a breech or posterior presentation, acupuncture is aimed at re-positioning. If baby is positioned high and the mother is at term, acupuncture points can be used to gently encourage baby to drop.

B. Cervical ripening. There are acupuncture points that are used to facilitate cervical ripening as part of labor prep.

C. Dealing with aches and pains. As pregnancy progresses, back pain or pelvic pain can worsen as well as uncomfortable swelling of the hands and feet. Labor prep acupuncture can help with this. If you are uncomfortable, you are not going to be resting well, and resting as well as possible is an important part of getting ready for labor.

D. Calm the mind. The prospect of giving birth can preoccupy a woman’s mind, especially as the due date approaches or has arrived already. Sometimes this “Qi Stagnation” as it is termed in Chinese medicine, can block a woman who is otherwise ready from going into labor naturally. Treatment will help create a state of calm.

Ideally, a woman begins labor prep around 36 weeks, and has weekly sessions until delivery. Not every pregnancy calls for stimulation acupuncture, but every pregnancy can benefit from labor prep acupuncture. And if needed previous prep sessions can actually make a stimulation session more productive. Labor stimulation acupuncture is recommended only when it is deemed appropriate by a midwife or OB-GYN. In other words, just because you are a few days away from your ‘due date’ might not mean you need a stimulation session!

The exception? Medical Induction. Anna advises, “If someone is facing the prospect of a medical induction, they should consider coming in for an evaluation to decide which type of treatment would be best for them.” In addition, labor stimulation acupuncture may be used prior to a medical induction to prepare, or during labor to encourage contractions.

Lastly, its good to know that massage and acupuncture pair well together. “Having a massage first can help a person relax prior to the acupuncture session and receive the needles more easily.” says Anna. She also adds that doing them on the same day is not only permissible, but advised. So book yourself some self care time before the baby arrives. All good things come in due time, including the little one you are waiting on. But that doesn’t mean you can’t support the readying process in the meantime!

To schedule a labor prep acupuncture session click here, for labor stimulation please call our office to schedule.

Meet Anna:

Anna Mehlhop Strong is a Licensed Acupuncturist and dedicated practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Master’s Degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and is licensed and registered to practice in New York State. Anna began her study of this ancient tradition after witnessing firsthand the healing effects of Chinese medicine. Her education included thorough training in the prescription of herbal medicinals, the diagnosis and treatment of health imbalances based on the theory of Chinese medicine, and a firm foundation in Western anatomy and physiology. She also completed a year-long internship at an acupuncture practice specializing in fertility, obstetrics, and pediatrics. Before moving to New York City, Anna was in private practice in the Chicago area from 2011-2015 successfully treating numerous patients for health issues ranging from musculoskeletal complaints, fertility difficulties, allergy and immune health, and stress and anxiety. She is happy to practice a medicine that offers maximum healing with minimum side-effects and enjoys being able to facilitate a patient’s journey to health.

September 21, 2017 Comments Off on Labor prep and Labor Stimulation Acupuncture- What’s the Difference?

Sharing what’s Unique about Earth + Sky

We were recently featured in an article, Earth + Sky Healing Arts Offers Unique Holistic Wellness Treatments. If you’re interested in Long Island Real Estate, check out what they have to offer for Hempstead, NY Real Estate.

Earth + Sky Healing Arts of Long Island City has been providing a variety of head-to-toe holistic treatments since 2001. Although the practice specializes in services for female clientele, Earth + Sky offers everything from cranial sacral therapy for infants to deep tissue massage for athletes. When owner Katinka Locascio opened the business, she wanted it to be a place where everyone could benefit from holistic healing.

Services include several forms of massage including Swedish and prenatal massage, acupuncture, and v-steaming, a unique treatment which uses steam and herbs to increase circulation in the pelvic area. Many of the treatments are specifically for expectant and new moms; there’s prenatal and postpartum massage, and acupuncture specific for labor preparation. To make things easier, new moms are welcome to bring their newborns with them to the massage during the first three months.

Earth + Sky is also one of the few holistic spas in the Long Island area to offer breast massage, which is ideal for those that have had breast surgery or suffer from edema or back pain. This massage focuses on the back, shoulders, and chest areas, and may include massage of the breasts themselves depending upon the client’s preferences (and may be done through a drape.) Another unique service is Mayan abdominal massage which increases the blood and energy flow to the digestive system and reproductive organs.

General traditional acupuncture is available for everybody, and uses the insertion of hair-thin, sterile needles just into the skin’s surface to unblock energy in the body and encourage healing. The ancient Chinese medicine has been used to treat everything from acne to insomnia as well as aches and pains in the body.

Locascio herself is a licensed massage therapist and also certified as a labor doula. Her other practitioners hail from all over the country with backgrounds in massage, childbirth, and Chinese medicine. All believe in the human body’s capacity to heal itself, particularly with a helping hand from a professional. Earth + Sky serves as a reprise from a hectic daily cycle, and a relaxing place to melt away stress, as many of its clientele can attest to.

“Many of our clients have shared they they sleep better, have less pain, recover more quickly from stressful periods, and are more free in their movement when they add in massage and acupuncture to their wellness regimen,” Locascio said. “Relaxation is a learned skill, the more time we spend practicing it, the better at it we become.”

September 5, 2017 Comments Off on Sharing what’s Unique about Earth + Sky

Can Acupuncture Help You Get Pregnant?

This is a re-post from Well-Rounded written by our very own Anna Strong, LAc, MSTOM. Check out the piece here!

You probably heard of women getting pregnant after going through acupuncture treatments. Well, what if we told you it wasn’t just word of mouth? More and more studies have corroborated the fact that acupuncture can help boost fertility. But how does it work exactly?

Acupuncture, which is rooted in the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang, has been around for more than 2,000 years. Involving the placement of thin needles into specific areas of the body, the practice stimulates the body’s meridians (channels of energy). Depending on where you place them, the needles can go a long way: making a person calmer or more energized; alleviate back pain and help battle certain addictions like cigarette smoking; and, yes, regulate menstrual cycles and balancing hormones to help a woman up her chances of getting pregnant.

Have you had a hard time conceiving, wondering what your next move should be? You may want to give acupuncture a try. Here are 6 ways it can boost your fertility.

1. It can regulate your menstrual cycle. When it comes to fertility, the use of acupuncture boils down to the idea that conception is possible when the Yin and Yang energies of the body are in balance and flowing correctly. Stimulating those energy channels can gently remind the body what it is supposed to be doing and when.

During the Yin phase, which is known to happen during the new moon, your menstrual cycle is dominated by growth and consolidation. That is, when the body is getting the egg ready and when the womb prepared for a possible pregnancy. During the Yang phase, however, your body is supposed to get ready for action and change — namely, ovulation and your period. That being said, what constitute a “normal cycle” can vary greatly from woman to woman. But if you are experiencing prolonged menstrual cycles or have very heavy bleeding during or in between periods, it may be because your body is out of sync with the Yin or Yang energies. Acupuncture will nudge a woman’s cycle towards being more predictable and with bleeding lasting between 3-5 days.

2. It can improve egg quality. Acupuncture treatments can increase blood circulation to the ovaries, which can then improve egg quality. Women with blood tests showing elevated FSH and/or low AMH often fall into the Chinese medicine diagnosis category of Kidney Yin Depletion. Their basal body temperature chart may show unsteady temperature readings in the follicular phase or a shortened follicular phase. In these cases, following acupuncture and herbal treatments during the follicular phase and, ideally, for 3 months prior to trying to conceive can really help get your body back on track.

3. It can improve IVF and IUI outcome. Acupuncture doesn’t just work on its own. If you’re already following an infertility regimen, it can work well in tandem with the medications your doctor has prescribed you to stimulate your ovaries. That’s especially true if you have had a poor response to fertility medications. Acupuncture, once or twice a week, can be exactly what you need to make the difference and get your body to respond better to your fertility treatment. In addition, some doctors recommend to receive acupuncture directly prior to and directly after an IVF transfer.

4. It can promote ovulation. In China, women who are diagnosed with PCOS are among fertility patients most commonly treated with acupuncture. For those who are not ovulating (anovulatory), inserting needles in points of the abdomen (including the uterus point, or zi gong) can create or jumpstart a menstrual cycle. For those who don’t know why they are having trouble conceiving, it’s best to have acupuncture treatments coincide with ovulation.

5. It can prevent miscarriage. Some miscarriages are due to genetic abnormalities within the embryo, which is when using acupuncture before trying to conceive to boost egg quality can be helpful. Receiving acupuncture in early pregnancy is perhaps the most important time to receive it. But otherwise, the practice can assist the physiological processes that the body follow to support the growing embryo — from implantation, to establishment of the placenta, to maintaining progesterone levels.

6. It can help you relax. Many patients report that receiving acupuncture helps them feel better physically and mentally. It can also help you relax and not stress as much about the challenges you are facing as you are trying to conceive. Being able to destress, in and of itself, is a great aid to boosting fertility.

Anna Mehlhop Strong is a Licensed Acupuncturist and dedicated practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Her education included training in the prescription of herbal medicine, diagnosis and treatment of health imbalances according to TCM, and a firm foundation in Western anatomy and physiology. She specializes in acupuncture for fertility, obstetrics, and pediatrics. She is a proud mom of 3 and resides and works in Queens as of Earth + Sky Healing Arts.

May 26, 2017 Comments Off on Can Acupuncture Help You Get Pregnant?

Demystifying the V-Steam

Let’s talk about V-steams.

They have become controversial, but at the heart of it, a steam is just a really nice, enjoyable way to relax and bring mindfulness to our pelvic organs wherever you lie on the continuum of hormonal health.

While Vaginal steam baths are a part of many traditional cultures, here we’ll be describing Bajos (ba-hoes) as they are traditionally known in Maya culture.  These steams are used in conjunction with Arvigo® techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapies to assist in the opening of the pelvis and aiding uterine health. A formula of aromatic and cleansing herbs, such as basil, calendula, lavender, oregano, yarrow and rosemary is used to enhance circulation and travel into the pelvis and act on the uterine lining. The warmth and increased circulation nourish the inner membranes and promote softening and opening. The herbs also have an anti bacterial and anti yeast action, helping to decongest the pelvis and promote healthy tissues. This vintage ad from 1952 shows that women in the fifties also knew about the benefits of home steam baths!

Home Steam Bath- Vintage Ad

Steaming can be a wonderful addition to your self-care routine, either as a preventative method, or as a time for cleansing, setting intentions, and nourishing your body. Consider adding vaginal steam baths to your self care routine if you experience painful periods, dark blood at the beginning or ending of your cycle, irregular periods, fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, cervical stenosis, vaginal dryness or painful intercourse. While its always great come in and do a steam with your Arvigo practitioner, you can do a v-steam from the comfort of your own home!

 

DIRECTIONS:

You can obtain vaginal steam bath herbs from your Arvigo Practitioner, or blend together a mix of aromatic herbs at home. Often a jar of organic Italian Seasoning will do the trick. In addition to the Basil, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme, I like Motherwort, St. Johns. Wort, Calendula, Rose, Comfrey, Squaw Vine Chamomile, and Dandelion as variations for the steam. A practitioner can also design a blend for you that’s specific to your needs.

  1. In a medium pot containing 1-2 quarts of water, place the herbs. Bring to a soft boil for 5 minutes then steep for 10 minutes with the lid on. As you prepare the herbs, it’s a great time to offer prayer and your intention for the steam.
  2. Place the pot of water and herbs under a stool if you have one, or better yet, in your toilet. Sit over the pot without underwear. Be careful to make sure the steam has cooled enough so that you do not burn yourself! I sometimes use yoga blocks to adjust the height and then remove them as the steam cools. (See “Resources” on information on where to purchase stools and supplies.)
  3. Drape yourself with a blanket from your waist down to the floor so that no cold air gets in. Be sure to keep your feet warm with slippers or thick socks, cold feet will draw the circulation away from the pelvis which is not what you want.
  4. Sit over your pot of herbal steam for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the steam as decreased. This is a perfect time to meditate, offer prayer, or just be in silence.

WHEN TO STEAM

Vaginal steam baths are contraindicated during pregnancy. Do not steam during acute infections or if you have a fever. If you have an IUD you may want to use caution, so consult your Arvigo® practitioner first.

For general maintenance, steam once just after your period, and then again just before your menses start.

If you have a yeast infection, use the steam 2-3 days in a row until symptoms go away in conjunction with self-care massage.

For other specific concerns, follow the guidelines of your practitioner.

Post Partum beginning six weeks postpartum, or as soon as your midwife or doctor indicates that you can for a vaginal birth.

To enhance fertility, steam once a few days after your period, and then again once just before ovulation [but before intercourse, we don’t want to heat up the sperm].

To enhance fertility in conjunction assisted reproductive technologies follow these guidelines:

Clomid: steam once when you first start your Clomid medication, and then once just before ovulation but before intercourse/IUI. A side effect of Clomid may be a decrease in cervical mucous. The steam will help increase this mucous.

Injectible IUI cycle: steam once when you first begin your stimulation drugs, and then once in the morning before your IUI procedure.

IVF cycle: steam once when you first begin your stimulation drugs, and then once in the morning before your transfer.

Donor egg cycle: steam once while your donor is stimulating and then once in the morning before your transfer.

Steaming before your transfer procedure helps to create a lubricated path for the insertion of the catheter through the cervix.

Note: The effects of a steam may include a temporary increase in menstrual flow (more dark fluids, debris), menses may start earlier than usual due to a cleansing effect. If you have any questions contact your Arvigo® Practitioner.

 

RESOURCES

For more information, to find a practitioner, and to order steam baths go to www.arvigotherapy.com

Handcrafted stools available from Phil, contact him at 303-249-8839 or phil@redgrizz.com

To order bulk herbs you can blend yourself try www.zackwoodsherbs.com, www.healingspiritsherbfarm.com, or www.mountainroseherbs.com.

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April 25, 2017 Comments Off on Demystifying the V-Steam

Balm: Our Secret Recipe for Glowing Skin in the Winter

It’s my third winter in New York City. I’m starting to feel the effects of this concrete jungle on my skin. I wanted to know what self care tools I could use to give my face a pick-me-up (and I’m not referring to botox). Enter Melanie Herring and her amazing facials at Antidote Apothecary in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who got me up to speed on four simple steps to keep my skin going through the long dark months.

Antidote also has a large selection of herbs, teas, and remedies to satisfy your most fanciful apothecary dreams.

The facial was like a primal and remedial way to restore not only my hungry winter skin, but my brainspace as well. Our face isn’t just another piece of our skin – takes head-on (literally) every ounce of our day. We rarely cover our face and give it a time out. I walked out of there, drunk on relaxation but also feeling dewy and refreshed – even clear headed. I was inspired to figure out how to keep this glow in my everyday life.

Melanie’s method is also a little unique – she exclusively uses balms. She explains, “Balms are made from oils so you get all the benefits of using an oil, the fatty acids, the antioxidants, the vitamins. And since they are thicker than an oil, you also get the occlusive benefit, which helps to lock in moisture and protect the skin.” She calls balms, “Superstars” especially in the dry months of Vitamin D depleted winter. She encourages year round facials, but adds that winter asks for a specific type of care for our skin. “Bitter winds, freezing temperatures, dry indoor heat are all enemy number 1.” Facials can also lift our spirits as we anticipate longer and warmer days.

The good news is that, while it’s wonderful to go and see an esthetician like Melanie (and I strongly encourage it!) you don’t have to go regularly to maintain skin health. The one thing she encourages every day? Cleansing! (And moisturizing. Okay so two things.) She describes the importance of “washing the day off our face.” She expresses that by doing this, you send a very clear message to your psyche that you matter. Not to mention that our skin does its most reparative work while we sleep. More good news….balms both cleanse and moisturize, so with two simple products I can keep my skin maintained from here on in.

Melanie’s work station of balms and oils.

Here’s the 4-step protocol I learned for an at home balm facial:

  • CLEANSE Put a dollop of a balm in the palm of your hand, blend quickly to heat up the balm and change the consistency closer to that of an oil and then apply to the skin in circular motions, spending time to fully remove all dirt and make-up.
  • Once complete, remove the balm with a warm wash cloth.
  • MOISTURIZE Spritz your face with a hydrosol spray (like rosewater) and then apply balm. If you have favorite facial oil, I like to first spritz with the hydrosol, then place a few drops of oil in my palm, a small amount of balm and then a few extra spritzes of hydrosol.
  • If the skin feels too oily, I take a warm wash cloth and gently press onto my face with both palms. I then blend well in the palm of my hand and apply. The heat helps to deliver the product deeper into the skin.

“To me, a facial is a spiritual act. I invite my highest self and the highest self of my client into the space in order to facilitate whatever healing wants to take place.” Melanie purports.

I can vouch for it! During my facial, I was able to calm my mind and open more than just my pores. Her touch was sublime and transcendent. “I can’t overstate the absolute importance of the pause, of quiet do-nothing time in our extremely demanding lives. It is truly a holistic approach.”

Check out these Product Recommendations (also available at the Earth + Sky store):

Soapwalla new “The Balm;” Made with Moringa and prickly pear seed oils repair tissue damage, redness and dryness. Arnica reduces swelling, inflammation and bruising. Horse chestnut minimizes varicose veins and leads to improved circulation. Lastly, St. John’s wort, blue tansy and frankincense increase skin elasticity and create an intoxicating scent.

Heritage Store’s “Rosewater hydrosol” Made with vor-mag water and Rosa Damascena hydrosol for extra absorbability and a deep heart opening essence.

February 10, 2017 Comments Off on Balm: Our Secret Recipe for Glowing Skin in the Winter

Your LIC Local Holiday Shopping Guide

While holiday shopping in the city has its charm, we love shopping local. As in you-don’t-even-have-to-get-on-the-7 train local. We’ve gathered up 5 unique (and unexpected) gifts you can buy in our very own Long Island City.

Matted LIC ($32)  indexThe new S’well water bottles are all the rage in the reusable bottle industry. These stylish vessels keep your iced tea chilled for 24 hours and your steamy coffee hot for 12. Their mission as a company is to eradicate the use of plastic bottles in New York City. Huzzah! And we love that Matted LIC on Vernon Blvd carries the S’well bottles. You can get a gift for your sister-in-law that is environment friendly, useful, and trendy, all the while supporting your local economy.  You might even find something for yourself!

 

index251st St Bakery ($12) We’re pretty sure the lunch menu from 51st St Bakery keeps our team nourished and fueled through the work week. We love their use of fresh ingredients and real olive oil! But one unexpected find we came across is their Dona Chai Tea Concentrate. This tea is brewed just across the way in Brooklyn and makes for a great gift! Also, you can indulge in some cake and coffee while your there. Or wine. Depending on your mood.

 

ppTiny You ($9.50) Tiny You is a children’s boutique on Jackson Ave that sells stylish designer clothes, handmade baby items, and unique trinkets and toys. But something you wouldn’t think to find there is Piggy Polish – a natural, non toxic, odorless nail polish and remover. That means it’s safe for children of all ages! This makes for great holiday fun and even the most natural minded of mamas can’t say no to a homemade mani/pedi.

 

img_6578Sacred Waters ($99) is fairly new business to our neighborhood but we love their mission of helping people live their most authentic life. They offer community full moon meditations, sensory deprivation sessions, and a stocked store of healing goodies. They have some new Mala Beads that were charged by our most recent supermoon. Everyone needs a little calm and intention in their lives and that’s exactly what these beautiful and sacred pieces do. Composed of 108 beads of varying stones, these necklaces are so much more than a fashion statement. Consider this a thoughtful gift for any yogi or healer in your life!

ghee-300x257Earth + Sky ($19.95) At our own office, we’ve expanded our retail items in efforts to help your dedication to shopping local. We just stocked our own store with grass fed, 100% organic Ghee from Pure Indian Foods. The 6 pack sampler includes a variety of spiced Ghee jars. Oh, what is Ghee? This nutritionally rich and time tested Ayurvedic healing food is made from clarifying butter. It can be used as a cooking oil, but has a higher smoke point, is lactose intolerant friendly, and is very shelf stable. This is a great Holiday gift for the health food junkie. It won’t gather dust on a bookshelf and they will think of you every time they pull out the pots and pans!

Some other goodies you can find in our apothecary to satisfy your gift shopping list are Soapwalla new “Balm”, Jean’s Greens Tea, DIA Method’s prenatal and postpartum workout DVD’s, handmade waterproof baby blankets and some Urban Moonshine Bitters and Tonics.

It can be hard to find gifts so we hope this list helps!

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November 18, 2016 Comments Off on Your LIC Local Holiday Shopping Guide

Massage for Breast Health- Here’s the scoop

breast-massage-books It’s confusing growing up with a uterus and breasts. I have spent years studying and expanding my knowledge of the beautifully complex female reproductive system. These parts always felt mysterious and distinctly other from the rest of my body. After charting my cycles for 5+ years, dappling in Mayan Abdominal Massage, and venturing into v-steams, I have gained an appreciation for what my lower half can do. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery left me in awe of my own pelvic capabilities. And now, after breastfeeding for a year, my eyes have been opened to what those (not so) feeble A-cuppers are designed to do.

post-breast-massage-filteredSo when I was invited to attend a breast massage workshop hosted by Midwife, Massage Therapist, and Women’s Health Extraordinaire, Susanrachel Condon with the Earth + Sky team, I was delighted, if not also a little bemused. I thought, “That’s all good and well, I’m down for massage any day of the week, but how can we spend 6+ hours talking about rubbing boobs?”

I was very quickly proven wrong. Breast massage includes work on the upper back, shoulders, and upper arm areas. All of course which are connected to the breast tissue in one way or another. The practitioner gave me a few options – she could massage on the skin like a regular massage, through a towel, or she could instruct and guide me to massage myself depending on my comfort level. (I opted for the full monty!)

The lecture part of the class revealed so much on the anatomy, development and health of the female breasts. The same breasts I covered up in misfitted brasseries in 6th grade had a completely different cellular structure than the breasts I carried around in college, which were vastly different than the breasts I have been nurturing my daughter with for the last year. In short, the female breasts do not remain stable throughout a woman’s life. Their evolution is fantastically fluid. (No pun intended.)

Between the ages of 17-24 the breasts develop the most alveoli they will ever contain (except for pregnancy). Through continual ovulation and production of high levels of hormones, breasts continue their life of prepping for lactation. Around the age of 35, there is a slow, but steady waning of hormones. The glandular development begins to decrease. This means that the mid-40’s woman’s breasts are less dense with less glandular and connective tissue. In other words, the breasts prepare for menopause a decade (or more!) beforehand. But don’t worry, the girls take their time, they shed alveoli slowly and thoughtfully.

While oscreen-shot-2016-10-17-at-9-42-11-amn a cellular level, their composition is constantly evolving, so is their palpable quality. A woman may notice at one point in her cycle or season of life, they feel more or less lumpy. More or less sensitive. Or even painful. (Also known as Cyclic Mastalgia, which massage can help relieve.) They change in size. There are few nerve endings in breast tissue, but they respond very directly to estrogen and progesterone. So pain in the breasts, when not stemming from an infection or cyst, is usually referred from somewhere else in the body. It’s crucial that a woman knows her normal – even if that varies in a monthly menarche. Breast massage serves as a great starting point to familiarizing ourself with our breasts and starting the journey of healing our past with all the criticism that comes with growing up female.

Some indications for breast massage include swelling in the lymph nodes from edema (raise your hands pregnant and postpartum mamas!). Massage can clear up general congestion and aid tenderness from fibrocystic tissue. As our breast undergo involution, either after weaning or approaching menopause, massage facilitates healthy drainage. It is also highly recommended for cancer patients. Women who have undergone surgery in the upper chest area, such as mastectomy or reduction, find massage helps immensely in the healing process. And lastly, it just downright feels therapeutic. You don’t need a medical reason to indulge in breast massage. In fact a little prevention can go a long way in keeping the girls happy and healthy.breast-massage-pic-filtered

I left the class inspired and excited about all this new knowledge. I had discovered another hidden corridor on learning to delight in my female body. Breast massage felt like I was removing a bra I had been wearing for years and replaced it with a velvety cloak over my whole upper body. I feel like my relationship with my bosom has grown to be even more intimate, respectful, and loving.

So the final verdict? Breast massage is a healing way to appreciate and maintain breast health. I am grateful that I was able to discover this lost art and I hope to carry it on to other women. So what do you say? Let’s #keepthegirlshappy (and healthy!)

 

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As part of our participation in breast cancer awareness month, our staff (and our sister practice Red Moon Wellness in Brooklyn) all participated in advance training in massage for breast health.  To schedule a session with one of our therapists click here. To find out more about classes contact Susanrachel Condon, CCCE, LMT, LM, CLC at River and Mountain Midwifery.

October 17, 2016 Comments Off on Massage for Breast Health- Here’s the scoop