The Blog

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

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

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

Can Fertility Charting help you get Pregnant? Well Rounded’s interview with Katinka

We were so thrilled when NYC’s very own Well Rounded asked Katinka to be featured in a piece to cover Fertility Awareness. Katinka has been an avid promoter of FA based methods of family planning for years and has a mission to shed light on what fertility awareness can offer!

Here is the full interview.

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Photo by Christina Emilie

How did you personally get into Fertility Awareness Method? What was your own awakening?

I was thinking of going to Med School after college and was interning with a holistic Doctor. There was a sign in her office that said “Come learn how your cycle works.” I was intrigued and signed up for the class. It was life changing. I couldn’t believe I was a 22-yr old woman and I didn’t know when I was ovulating, or that it was possible to have regular periods without ovulating, or that fertility awareness could be used effectively as birth control. I just kept thinking “How has no one mentioned this to me!”

Why did you start building it into your practice? Why do you feel it’s so important to help/guide women as they embark on this?

In my practice, I see women of all ages with all kinds of health and hormonal issues. A woman might come to me and tell me her blood work is normal, or that her Doctor can’t find a problem, but she’s having trouble getting pregnant, or having horrible cramps. I learned over the years that her fertility chart could give a more accurate picture of her overall pattern. FAM is not just about birth control or conceiving, it can be incredibly useful for identifying imbalances like sub-clinical thyroid problems, or too much stress impacting relative progesterone levels. I also noticed that for some women connecting with their cycles and becoming more aware of how their lifestyle impacted their symptoms was really empowering. We all know stress or diet can affect our hormones, but seeing your cycle lengthen change after increasing sleep, or cutting back foods with too many chemicals, is really powerful. It gives a woman a much deeper understanding of her body and how everything is connected.

Give us the basics of FAM. The elevator pitch of how to do it?

Well first let me tell you what its not. It not the “rhythm method.” Its not assuming you ovulate on day 14, or have a regular cycle. FAM is a way for a woman to know each day whether she’s potentially fertile by observing two basic fertility signals- basal body temperature and cervical fluid. To practice FAM, a woman takes her temperature before getting out of bed every morning, and takes note of her cervical fluid changes a few times a day. She records this info on her chart (either a paper chart or more commonly a fertility charting app). She can then apply a few simple rules to determine with accuracy when she’s fertile. Its really about living with your fertility every day and knowing what’s going on.

Why can FAM be a big asset to actually achieving pregnancy?

Many women don’t actually ovulate on day 14, or have regular cycles, so being able to time sex correctly makes a big difference. If you are ovulating, your temperature is lower in the first half of your cycle and your cervical fluid increases. Right before ovulation, there’s often a dip in the temperature and a peak in fertile cervical fluid (think eggwhites) that let you know when its best to plan sex.

After ovulation the temperature remains high for the rest of the cycle. If the temperatures don’t this could mean there’s a problem with progesterone or with ovulation. When I first started charting, my temperatures didn’t go from low to high each month. To my surprise, that I wasn’t ovulating, even though I was having regular periods. I was able to use that information to rebalance my system. I shifted my diet to include more health fats, and started to sleep more. Within some months I was ovulating again. When women come to me who have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for several months, her chart can helps us determine what imbalances might be going on so she knows what to work on. And women who have charted their cycles over many years can often spot and correct subtle shifts in their fertility well before they become a problem.

What about using as postpartum birth control? is this a particularly good — or bad — time to start it?

I’ll be honest, it’s not a great time to start FAM. Irregular sleep patterns can make it difficult to chart waking temperatures accurately, and postpartum hormones will affect cervical fluid, especially when breastfeeding. Women who do want to start at that time really should seek the guidance of a certified FAM teacher to help learn the method. That said, many women do learn FAM during that time and use it effectively. Its really a personal preference, no birth control is perfect.

How effective is FAM, and what are the efficacy risks?

Studies showing the efficacy of FAM as birth control vary. Perfect use is often as high as 97-99%, on par with the pill. Typical use may drop to 85%.

What’s interesting is that the biggest efficacy risk is the commitment it takes to act in accordance with information your chart gives you. One of the benefits of FAM is that many women find it puts them in touch with their libido, but as nature would have it, you want to have sex most when you are most fertile. So if you want to avoid getting pregnant, you have to be 100% committed to using another form of birth control during that time or avoiding intercourse and getting creative. Still for many women, avoiding side effects of other forms of birth control or gaining an understanding of their hormonal health is worth the extra effort and attention it takes to practice FAM effectively.

How has the public perception changed about FAM over the time you’ve been exploring this area?

There’s a lot of interest! The increase in period tracking apps (there are over 100 on the itunes app store) means more women are used to charting their menstrual cycles, and many are deciding to chart their fertility signals too. There’s also a bigger cultural shift happening. While the pill was once considered a symbol of feminist freedom, many women now find a deeper sense of independence and control in knowing how their body works and not relying on a pharmaceutical company to navigate their fertility.

Give us a 3 step plan to get started using FAM.

(Note: If you are on hormonal birth control of any kind, you aren’t cycling so you need to come off if it before you start charting)

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1. Download an App: Kindara is my favorite charting app by far, and it has a great online resources to help you learn how to chart, you can even reach an expert through the app when questions come up. Then get a basal body thermometer (you can order WINK which syncs with your phone through Kindara or a regular basal body thermometer on amazon).

2. Learn the method: There are two great books that I recommend -Katie Singer’s the “Garden of Fertility,” and Toni Weschler’s “Taking Charge of your Fertility.” We are also lucky to have the Fertility Awareness Center here in NYC so women or couples wanting to take a class can contact them.

3. Chart your fertility signals for at least 3 cycles: Then find a teacher or someone to discuss your charts with so you know you understand them before deciding if its right for you as Birth Control. If you are breastfeeding, coming off the pill, have just been pregnant, or are approaching menopause it may take some time for you to be able to chart accurately enough to use the method as birth control, but you can learn a lot about your body in the process and that alone is worth the effort!

Happy Charting! Look out on the blog here for future Fertility Awareness events hosted by Earth + Sky. And don’t forget that we offer one on one instruction and support for anyone interested in learning the Fertility Awareness Method.

April 26, 2016 Comments Off on Can Fertility Charting help you get Pregnant? Well Rounded’s interview with Katinka

New Prenatal Breastfeeding Class – Feb. 8th at 6:30

Prenatal Breastfeeding Class

Monday February 8th, 6:30-8:30 pm

$75 (partners welcome free of charge space permitting)

with Heather McFadden

Prenatal breastfeeding education is an important step in preparing for your new baby. Many moms have heard how difficult or painful breastfeeding can be. Learning proper latch techniques and basic management skills before baby arrives can help get breastfeeding off to a good start. Using educational materials and an interactive open question approach, the prenatal breastfeeding class covers a range of areas including:

Pregnant woman

  • Proper latch and positioning
  • Feeding frequency
  • Timing of feeds
  • How can I tell if baby is getting enough milk?
  • Milk supply
  • Two breasts or one?
  • Pumping
  • Milk storage guidelines
  • Diet and breastfeeding
  • Medications and breastfeeding
  • Bed sharing, is it safe?
  • Sleep training, does it work?
  • Swaddling
  • Introducing Solids
  • Weaning
  • Resources and support
Call 646-221-3147 or email
heather@heathermcfadden.com for questions, to reserve a spot, or for more information.
January 15, 2016 Comments Off on New Prenatal Breastfeeding Class – Feb. 8th at 6:30

Infant Massage: Bonding Through Touch

LEARN TO MASSAGE YOUR BABY

Infant Massage Class starting September 17th at Pranavah Yoga

active alert

Infant massage is more than just learning how to relax your baby! It’s about your baby’s first language touch. Touch can help to grow a baby’s nervous system and teach them about the world, and is so soothing. In this four week class, caregivers and parents will be taught a safe and playful routine to practice with their babies in a supportive and friendly group setting. We’ll also discuss techniques that can help with gassy tummies, and ways to integrate baby massage into everyday activities like diaper changes and playtime. Class will take place on Wednesday mornings from 11:15am-12:15pm at Pranavah Yoga starting on Sept 17th.  There is one 1 make-up class available on October 29th in case you miss a class. Preregistration and payment in full $100 is required, call (718) 392-0979 or sign up here.  Appropriate for babies two months to pre-crawling.

Want to learn more? Katinka was recently interviewed by reporter Rachel Sokol for a piece on baby massage that appeared in Parent and Newborn magazine. See the full article here.

August 18, 2014 Comments Off on Infant Massage: Bonding Through Touch