In my experience people either love or hate morning exercise. As a night owl, I tend to fall into the latter category.
That said, I recently took a 9:30 am Yoga Class because it was the best fit for my schedule. I was expecting to drag through the rest of the day but to my surprise, afterward I felt invigorated and ready to take on anything. Also, I could tell my metabolism had been put into overdrive. That was when I decided to consider the advantages of a morning yoga practice.
There are many benefits, these are a few that impressed me the most:
1. Setting an intention at the beginning of your morning yoga practice sets a tone for the day. Not only have you put your intent into words, you have all day to continue visualizing it.
2. Did you know that we wake up with elevated cortisol (stress) levels? You have two choices,,,,either continue to add to your stress (commute, meetings) or reduce your cortisol level through exercise and “start” your day in a less stressed mindset.
3. Wake up the lymphatic and circulation systems with yoga in the morning and you give the immune system an immediate boost that lasts all day. Especially effective for immune boosting are gentle inversions such as legs up the wall.
4. Increasing the metabolism and gently massaging the organs during yoga make the digestive system more efficient at releasing toxins and metabolizing vitamins and minerals all day.
5. Focus, early in the morning, heightens productivity and alertness throughout the day.
Start the day by creating a positive internal environment and the outer environment suddenly seems more positive too!
Spa Eir is now offering yoga classes at 9:30 am and noon Monday – Thursday. Stop in, take a class and let me know how it makes you feel. Maybe you can learn to like morning exercise too!
At a business networking event a few weeks ago I ran into an acquaintance who has used Reiki in her hypnotherapy practice for many years and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had become a Reiki Master. Of course, the conversation turned to how nice it was to see a familiar face at “one of these impersonal business events” and at that point she asked me how I used Reiki to prepare myself for the event. I didn’t have an answer but it was a light bulb moment for me.
I’ve never been comfortable in big groups, be it family, co-workers or even socially. Awkward, uncomfortable, and overwhelmed are just a few of the adjectives that describe how I feel when there are a lot of people around me. While I can participate in the group and even have fun, it takes me time to get comfortable and is a big drain on my energy.
After meditating on my friend's comment I realized how I could use Reiki in these situations. The overwhelm I feel in a group stems from being sensitive to each person’s energy - all those energies hit me at once when I walk into a room. What I needed was a shield, like a Superhero, to deflect those energies so I could ground myself first. Reiki could be my shield, my superpower.
Reiki is often used to help clients reduce stress and minimize minor pain. But it can also be used to bless, or send good energy to, non-humans – plants, meals, vehicles, buildings, rooms, animals. I was too caught up in my uncomfortableness to realize that I could offer a Reiki blessing to the building, the room and the crowd before I even entered. Additionally, I could use Reiki to prepare myself by making sure that I was feeling balanced and centered in my power before being beset with all those individual energies.
You can learn how to use Reiki as your Superpower as well. On September 16th and 17th we will be offering Level 1&2 Reiki Training at Spa Eir. Once completed you will understand how you can incorporate Reiki into your life to heal yourself, friends and family. Contact me and let’s chat about how Reiki can be used to improve your daily life!
If you know me you know I love Mama Moon. She delights me to no end. Her beautiful, silvery sun reflecting magnificence warms my heart and soul, comforts me in times of pain and fills me with joy. Her monthly cycles remind me of the beauty of being female, the power and grace of feminine energies and the endless changing cycles of love and life. I have found great comfort and strength by connecting to the moon and moon wisdom, it is the divine feminine!
The next cycle of our GrandMother Moon is the 7th cycle, beginning the end of June moving into July, in conjunction with the sign of Cancer. It’s Cancer time, yet the moon travels through many signs during a lunation that affect each cycle uniquely. I am not in any way an expert on astrology or the moon cycles, however I have taken great comfort and pleasure for many years from the moon teachings of Zsuzanna E. Budapest. So, keeping it simple and following along with Zsuzanna as my teacher and guide, I would like to share with you some simple Moon messages and rituals. Enjoy!
Cancer Moon message.
Cancer is the sign with the most lunar influence. The sign of Cancer is home of the moon. We can absorb the nurturing vibrations of the moon and these moon energies can stimulate a sense of community or coming home effect on us. A sense of being welcomed with open arms and a big juicy Mama Moon Beam hug. The warmth we feel when we know we are home, when we have found our tribe. A place where we are truly loved, honored and cared for. A sense of belonging. Pleasure of the body and of all the senses is part of this lunation! So eat heartily and enjoy the bounty of the harvest Mother Earth gives us in the Summer, get a massage or Reiki treatment, use your favorite essential oil or scent, smell the flowers, decorate your home and body with the greens, pinks, reds, blues and purples of the season. The grey and fog lifts here in Seattle, welcome the vibrant colors that surround us. The Evergreens, the Mountains and all that beautiful water that we are so blessed with!
Moon Bath for our Cancer Moon.
This month find a natural water source to bath in! Perfect timing, as our weather and waters are warming up! We are so very fortunate in the PNW to have so much water, much of it just minutes away from our homes and offices. Find a river, lake, stream or ocean and get wet! Get into the water and submerge yourself as much as possible, feel the sacred water caress your skin and say a little prayer or blessing. Thank the water for your life. We are water! Without water there is no life. Thank the Moon for watching over us and for moving the waters of life on our Earth and in our bodies. Spend a few seconds or a few minutes being thankful for the blessings of our water and our moon! When you get home light a pink candle for happiness, add some fresh flowers to your home and next time you are in the bath or shower add some frankincense oil to your sponge, anoint yourself and then brush away any feelings of self doubt, fear or sadness that you may be holding onto and repeat the blessing to the moon and water.
Here are a few of my favorite things! Last week Yin Yoga, this week Yoga Nidra. I have to admit, when I went into Yoga Nidra for the first time, yes with an open mind and ready for some good ol meditation, I never expected what I got. And what I got blew my mind. I have spent most of my adult life doing some sort of yoga and meditation, and quite honestly I like guided meditation, but hadn’t really found one that made me tingle — that was until my Dear yoga instructor extraordinaire Sylvia brought me Yoga Nidra. I resonated with Yoga Nidra like no other meditative practice I have ever tried. And the more I learned about this practice well … I was and am totally hooked. It is interesting to me to say that a practice so calming and relaxing is powerful, yet that is exactly what Yoga Nidra is powerful!
Yoga Nidra or Yogic Sleep is a simple yet profound practice developed from traditional Tantric practices. Yoga Nidra is a meditative technique with evidence-based, scientific research backing its effectiveness. The intent of Yoga Nidra is to create full body relaxation and a deep meditative state. We live in a world of chronic exhaustion and overstimulation, Yoga Nidra is a simple practice of inducing complete physical, mental & emotional relaxation. I am absolutely fascinated by the science behind Yoga Nidra, yet it is the results that keep me practicing! More energy, quiet mind, and better sleep, are a short list of the top results I have received from Yoga Nidra. Bottom line: Yoga Nidra makes me a better human! And a human that feels better : )
With yoga nidra you are invited to recline in a comfortable position. Most of us enjoy Yoga Nidra lying down, however it can be practiced in a sitting position if that is more available to you. You are then guided (similar to a guided meditation) to a state between sleep and wakefulness. It really is one of the most effortless practices I have experienced. Yes very simple, easy to practice and available to everyone!
So a huge heartfelt Thank you to Syliva for bringing Yoga Nidra into my life! It has changed me for the better. Spa Eir has added more Yoga Nidra to our schedule. During this busy summer season it is great to add a bit of calm to the hectic, and Yoga Nidra is the perfect solution. Check out the new class times online or give us a call and we will be happy to give you more information.
My love letter to Yin Yoga.
Yes yes yes! I am truly and unbelievably in LOVE with Yin yoga! I sing songs about it - remember Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street and his song “I love trash?” Now just insert Yin instead of trash and add words like yummy and gooey and yiny! I have said yin yoga is the doughnuts of yoga. I know comparing a healing yoga with doughnuts may sound strange but stay with me. My sweet Grandmother Blessing always made us doughnuts on our yearly visit. As I remember, there were hundreds and hundreds of warm yummy soft comforting doughnuts. The aroma blanketed the house with love and warmth, bringing us together in the kitchen sharing love and joy. This was healing. So when I say Yin is the doughnut of Yoga, this is the past that I bring it from. Yin Yoga makes me feel warm, happy, free and at ease, hugged and safe, just like Grandma Blessing and her doughnuts, only with Yin I can bring this feeling to myself and bypass the gazillion calories of the doughnut!
So what is Yin yoga? Yin is a yoga practice that is done primarily lying or sitting on the floor with props such as bolsters, blocks and blankets. The pace is slow and gentle so wear comfortable clothes and you may even want to keep your socks on. The asanas or postures are held for a longer period of time than in most yoga practices, sometimes up to 3 to 4 minutes. This allows for your body to completely relax into the postures, targeting connective tissues, ligaments, and joints. This simple yoga style is suitable for all levels, both beginners and experienced yoga students. Yin is about finding stillness in the mind and body, finding the stretch and finding the release! Yin allows us to completely drop down into our parasympathetic nervous system, and in doing so it is deeply healing and nourishing. And while Yin is a simple quiet mindful practice, make no mistake it is not always comfortable. However, the benefits of staying with the discomfort, despite your unease, is where the magic happens for both your mind and your body.
To understand Yin Yoga or any form of yoga, you must experience it. Like Grandma and her doughnuts, you can read about them, get her recipe, think and dream about them, but until you have had the total experience of walking into the kitchen, seeing Grandma’s warm smiles, hearing her laugh and being overwhelmed by all the sensations, until you can partake with all your senses, you can’t fully embrace the power of well Grandma or Yin Yoga : )
Spa Eir is an oasis located in downtown Kirkland named after the Norse Goddess of Healing. At Spa Eir you can find Yoga, Massage, Reiki, Meditation and Sound Spa Healing. Open 7 days a week. Visit www.spaeir.com to learn more.
Over the last few weeks I have been asked by several clients what type of massage technique I practice. One young man from Europe told me he wanted to go back home and find a therapist who practiced my technique! I was also told that I have empathy for your muscles! Love that one : ) I believe that by quiet mindfulness and concentration, one can hear with one’s hands, what clients bodies most need. When you hear what the body is saying, a massage therapist (and nurse) can respond with the touch, pressure and technique that each specific body needs. And even more specifically, what the muscles, tendons, or joints are asking for. I can’t tell you exactly what my technique is, as I use a combination of techniques I learned through rigorous massage and nursing education and 25+ years of hands on practice. But I can tell you some massage technique basics. The two most commonly known types of massage and two that played a large part in my massage education and my practice, are Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage.
Swedish massage was developed by a Swedish man, Per Henrik Ling and introduced to the US in 1858 as the “Swedish Movement Cure.” The main goal of the Swedish massage is to relax the whole body by massaging the muscles with long gliding strokes. As well as overall relaxation and tension release, Swedish massage can increase the level of oxygen in the blood, decrease muscle toxins, and improve circulation and flexibility, all of which benefit your health, wellness, and mood. A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Volunteers also had an increase in their number of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that are part of the immune system, this boost in the immune cells may help fight infections such as colds and flu.
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, yet uses deeper pressure to produce release. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints). A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that participants blood pressure fell after just one 45 to 60 minute deep tissue massage. And, a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage like deep tissue reduces stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by increasing the release of oxytocin and serotonin (feel good hormones).
These are two of the most common massage practices and two that I use routinely and have studied and practiced for many years now. Remember it is always important to fill out your massage intake form completely and have a conversation with your massage therapist before, during (don’t be afraid to speak up during a massage), and after each massage to ensure that your massage needs are being fully addressed. And really finding a massage therapist that you click with and can work with you to get the results you are looking for is the bottom line! Leave the training and techniques to us! Just relax, enjoy, and feel good!
I am going to tell you a secret about me! There is a reason I am so unbelievably excited about the Sound Bath’s we present to you each week at Spa Eir: Musicians! I have always loved musicians, and, honestly, I probably deep down have a desire to be a punk rock star. But my dabbles in music as a child, culminating in ultimate frustration with my metronome, which I dramatically, forcefully, and without any regret whatsoever, threw out the window, did not a musician make. I did however marry a musician and had 2 beautiful daughters with him. I loved to hear him talk about music, the art of music, the technicalities, the possibilities, the science of it, and especially the love of it! Oh and of course to hear him play! My passion for live music exploded as the wife of a musician. There is really nothing like the heart pumping buzz one gets from live music.
Musicians see the world differently from the rest of us, as they have learned another language which allows them to hear, see, and touch the world around them differently than folks like me, who decided the metronome and it’s evil ticking ways needed to pack its bags. I have found that music as a second language is a humble secret most musicians share. There is plenty of research that shows how music changes the workings of the brain, especially if you study music young. Luckily for the rest of us who don’t possess the mastery of the art, the gift of music, it is known to positively affect our health and wellbeing.
So let me now briefly share with you the music backgrounds of the Spa Eir Sound Healing Team. Each of them has a solid background of music training and additional training in sound healing. Please see the Spa Eir website for more details.
Wayne Marto: Wayne comes from a family of musicians and says that he has been “blessed with the gift of rhythm and an ear for music.” His first instrument was the drums and in his early twenties he moved on to the bass guitar, captivated by the powerful deep tones of the bass. We are captivated by Wayne and his Gong Baths, which happen every 1st Monday of the month at 7:30pm! And…….he has been known to sneak in a savasana at the end of the yoga class before his gong bath : )
Gail Kronberg: Gail has always had a love for music and has even spent time pursuing a music career. Gail graduated with a Bachelors of Music degree in studio music from Silver Lake College and has a Masters of Music in vocal performance from Illinois State University. We bask in the soothing vibrations of Gail’s Crystal and Tibetan singing bowls every Friday evening at 7pm and every 3rd Monday at 7:30pm.
Maria Nunez: Maria has spent a lifetime studying and performing classical music, and has played with numerous classical music groups since childhood. Maria is a graduate of the International Harp Therapy Program. We let our mind relax and rejuvenate with the sacred sounds of Maria and her Tibetan Singing bowls every Sunday evening at 7pm.
Each of these incredible sound healers has a strong history of musical studies, giving them a clear and defined knowledge of the art of music, the tone, octave, pitch, harmony and most likely a solid and tranquil, peaceful relationship with the metronome. Each moved from the principles of the art of music to the practice of using music to heal. This is the journey of a master sound healer. These three make magic and have all the right ingredients for it: a passionate love for music, years of practice and study of sound, training in sound healing, and most importantly they each have warm, open, generous hearts for the music to flow through.
Please join us for a Healing Sound Bath at Spa Eir.
For some of us, Mother’s Day is a joyful celebration: brunches, flowers, chocolates, connecting with family, filled with joy and love. It’s a day to be grateful that we are loved and appreciated, a time to reflect and honor the women in our lives who loved us, cared for us, supported us and told us to eat our vegetables, wear clean underwear and be home by 10. However, for others Mother’s Day can be a difficult day of reflection. We may have had a mother that was unable to love and cherish a child, a mother who, maybe because of her own upbringing or health issues, was unable to step into the powerful Divine Mother in herself and therefore unable to give us what we needed. For some of us, Mother’s Day may bring up feelings of anxiety, sadness, regret, heart ache, or a feeling of loss for a mother we wish we had.
We can’t change our childhood, but we can step into our own Divine Feminine and Mother ourselves. The Divine Feminine is a part of all of us. She is our honoring of birth and death, she is nurturing yet fiercely protective, she sees the beauty in all things, she laughs, she cries, she sings and dances, she celebrates our highest achievements and mourns our deepest failures. It is life changing to be on the journey to taking over the primary responsibility for filling in the spaces that our own mothers were unable to fill. Establishing a strong healthy bond with ourselves, becoming the Divine Feminine Power Source of unlimited love, caring, and nurturing for ourselves, is a way to peace and joy.
“You have to find the Mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside” Sue Monk Kidd
This Mother’s Day, I ask that you reflect on how you can bring more Divine Mothering Love to yourself, no matter your relationship with your own mother. Learn ways to celebrate mothering yourself. You ARE worth it! I am holding that for each and every one of you, inviting you to look at yourself from the eyes of the Divine Mother and let her speak to you. What is she saying? Is she whispering “I love you,” or is it more of a stern mother-to-daughter talk? Does she need you to listen for your safety? Does she know you need a good hug, a cup of tea, and a nap? Is she beaming with pride? She is there supporting you, holding that space for your truest most divine self and loving you unconditionally. Find ways to be still, for she is there. She has the answers! Mothers always do : )
Some simple ways to start. Eat your vegetables and always wear clean underwear! : ) Find a practice that brings you to silence, that calming meditative state, that nurturing inner you place. Take a moment to be proud of your accomplishments even if it is just getting out of bed in the morning. Give yourself hugs and soft caresses. Breath, sing, laugh, feed your mind and your body with love, take care of yourself when you are ill, and always do your best to play nice with your brothers and sisters.
Starting this Mother’s Day, find time to listen to your Divine Inner Mother. Snuggle in with her who would tell you that you are a loved, powerful, brave, and sacred. You are a cherished child of the Universe.
Sometimes it feels like a good night’s sleep is only a dream and living without enough sleep can be a nightmare. Insomnia, which is the inability to sleep or to sleep soundly, can be either temporary or chronic. It is said to affect up to 54% of all adults in the United States at one time or another, and insomnia that lasts more than 6 weeks may affect as many as 10-15% of us at some point in our lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared poor sleep as a public health epidemic.
Stress, anxiety, chronic & acute pain, hormonal changes, and life schedule changes can all contribute to a poor night’s sleep; however at 2 in the morning, as you are watching the clock tick away the minutes of sleep, the causes of the insomnia are secondary to the anxiety that tomorrow may be a rough day. We all know the feeling. Cortisol, which is the body’s primary stress hormone, is about 50% higher in those who only get about 6 hours of sleep a night. Activities and therapies exist that reduce cortisol levels, which ease stress, and can create better sleep hygiene. Another factor in the chemistry of sleep is serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the body, and it is believed that it can affect mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. Serotonin is also essential for the production of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. Bottom line - decrease stress and turn on your body’s natural ability to get you to a good night’s rest!
Unfortunately, to get this good night’s rest, many of us are turning to pills, both over the counter and prescription. However, drugs are not always very effective, are very expensive, often have negative side effects, and worst of all the insomnia can return when you quit taking them. Or not work well for the insomnia at all!
Massage, Reiki, Meditation & Yoga are all healthy, smart, simple and drug free ways to help us manage insomnia and improve our health and sleep hygiene. By making that mind-body connection, slowing down our minds and our bodies, we can help ourselves decrease cortisol levels (stress hormones) and increase our feel good happy hormones, improving our health and wellbeing in many ways, including better rest and sleep.
We can help you get on the sleep train at Spa Eir! We have massages (try our signature Naturopathica Rest Herbal massage for a delightful treat), specifically designed with essential oils and long relaxing strokes, or calming Reiki, and relaxing soothing Yin Yoga. Sound Baths are also a simple and effective practice to get your mind and body connected and slow down.
To all of our Sweet Dreams, Natalie
Let me tell you the secret ingredient to an amazing massage! I-N-T-E-N-T
Call it what you want - intent, focus, attitude, vibe, energy, attention, vibration, prayer. It doesn’t matter what you call it. However, It is the difference between a good massage and a great massage.
The amazing work and life experience of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor points at this directly. As a nurse and a massage therapist, her work has changed my practices and how I see myself as a healer. Jill, a Harvard trained neuroanatomist that specializes in how the brain works, suffered a massive stroke at the age of 37, which left her in a coma. It took a full 8 years for her to recover. In her book “My Stroke of Insight” Jill writes a compelling account of the stroke beginning with the day it occurred and details the process of her recovery. Her combined knowledge of the brain and her experience connecting with energy is remarkable. Jills work and experience bring us a personal account in combination with scientific understanding of how the power of our mind and the energy produced, change and affect the world and people around us. Jill writes that she could feel the energy of the people who walked into her room and could tell which nurses made her feel safe. The nurses who could make a connection with her simply by making eye contact or gently touching her foot made all the difference as opposed to someone who just came in and dealt with the machinery and ignored the warm body on the bed. Jill went so far as to have a sign posted in her hospital room that read, “Please mind the energy you bring into this space”. Jill came face to face with the reality of Intent, finding herself acutely aware that she could feel the energy of every person that came into her room and knowing that this energy was affecting her care and recovery.
Massage is more than just applying techniques to manipulate the physical body.A great massage is this and the practiced focus of healing with intention. While a solid understanding of massage techniques, including anatomy, physiology, and pathology, is vital, a clear and focused understanding of intention amplifies the healing benefits of a therapeutic massage. When you combine the knowledge of anatomy in a massage and the therapist’s energy of wholeness, wisdom, clarity, compassion, healing, joy, love and peace, you have the receipt for a truly amazing massage experience.
Knowing everywhere we go and everything we do, we bring our energy to it and it affects the people and the world around us.
"Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world." - Brenna Yovanoff