Derived from Ayurvedic medicine, Marma points are a little like Acupuncture or Acupressure points – they help change physical and subtle aspects of a part of the body, and aim to bring all the systems into balance.
Tight calf muscles are common among those who either use them a lot or a little. Running, cycling, driving and sitting for long periods can all make calf muscles tight, which can then contribute to hamstring pain and tightness, and limited ankle mobility.
Indra Basti is a marma point located in the center of the calf muscle, but also in the center of the forearm. Stimulating this point in the leg by massaging it gently but firmly in circular motions can go a long way towards helping relieve muscular tension, but also works as a way to enhance the flow of blood throughout the body. The calves are also an important link to the heart; if they’re working well to pump blood through the body whilst exercising or even walking, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard, and the risk of issues as serious as heart attack can be dramatically decreased!
SO, if you’ve under or over using your calves, or if they feel a little tight, use your own hands to help reduce tightness and boost circulation.
Good news: You don’t have to suffer tight muscles and sore spots every time you face a long car journey or light. Just pack a tennis ball, and you’ll be able to boost your circulation and release muscle tension in no time.
London-based MD and surgeon Ali Ghoz recommends bringing the ball with you to roll out painful knots and adhesions; “If you have a tennis ball, you can increase circulation in your body by rolling it everywhere from your shoulders and lower back to legs and the bottoms of your feet, as well as any other trigger points”.
Use the ball a few times throughout your journey, and you’ll be able to prevent tightness from forming in your muscles, whilst giving yourself an all-over circulation boost too!
Yesterday we spoke about the benefits of cold showers in #36alive 102. Today it’s all about combining the healing benefits of cold water with the heat of the sauna.
There’s a good reason there are showers next to the sauna at your local gym, and if you choose to use them, you’ll soon notice how beneficial the combination of hot and cold can be. If you’re looking to ‘detox’ this Spring, this could also be a very useful way to really clean and cleanse the body.
Sweat lodges, saunas and steam rooms have been used for thousands of years for both physical and ceremonial purposes. When we step into a sauna, blood vessels dilate and expand, allowing for free blood flow, and more blood spread across the whole body, especially throughout the extremities. When we subject ourselves to a cold shower, the blood rushes to the core of the body. Now, combine the two and you’ll begin to create a pump-like action, with the blood moving throughout the body, encouraging greater distribution of nutrients, the ability to unblock arteries, and enhanced healing from injuries.
You’ll notice that if you move from a sauna to a cold shower, the impact of the cold water upon the warm skin will start to turn the skin red, and the capillaries become more visible. This is a good thing, and means that blood is flowing to where it needs to go in the body, healing tired or sore muscle tissue, and encouraging healthy cell regeneration. Injuries can really benefit and heal in double time if this practice is applied after the initial inflammation has reduced. If you want to enhance your experience and benefits even more, try dry body brushing just before you start the process!
A few safety tips:
There is likely to be a health and safety notice outside your sauna. Make sure you read it, and never stay in the sauna for as long as is recommended, or for as long as is comfortable for you. If you begin to feel dizzy or uncomfortable, step out of the sauna immediately.
When you take a cold shower, ensure you’re only under the cold water for a couple of minutes maximum if you’re swapping between warm and cold. If you stay for too long and then try to warm up too quickly afterwards, the cold blood from the body’s extremities mixes with the warm blood at the core of the body, potentially causing ‘after drop’, or cold shock.
If you’re overcoming illness or injury, or you’re particularly sensitive, it’s a good idea to start slow. There’s no rush when it comes to using heat and cold in a beneficial way, and what suits some people won’t work for others. Start with small temperature changes, or opt for cool water instead of cold if you’re having difficulty at first.
Boosting circulation and ridding the body of toxins isn’t just done by changing what we eat and how we move, but how we care for the body too…
Dry body brushing is a fantastic way to increase the circulation of blood and lymph, and also helps to remove dead skin cells (whilst also encouraging new, healthy cells to grow!) As the name suggests, this type of brushing is done without any water, and covers the whole body. A firm-bristled brush (it’s always best to go with a natural , vegetable-derived material for the bristles) is used in circular, sweeping motions over the whole body, starting at the feet and moving up towards the heart.
Lymph is primarily drained at the chest, so spending extra time here gently circling the brush is useful. Spring is a natural time to ‘detox’, so if you’re looking for other ways to boost your wellbeing, consider a few sessions of self-lymph draining to help renew and revive the body after Winter.
Skin is actually the largest organ in – or ‘on’ – the human body. It’s also one of the most important elimination organs, helping to rid the body of excess toxins and waste, and receives a third of all the blood circulated in the entire human organism.
When there are large amounts of unhealthy compounds floating around in the bloodstream, the skin is often the first part of the body to show signs of dis-ease. Acne, rashes, dry skin, excessively oily skin, blackheads, pimples, and even things that seem inescapable like cellulite (which is commonly an accumulation of toxic material in the body’s fat cells, caused by hormones, diet, lifestyle, clothing, or genetics) and premature wrinkles are often signs that there’s an issue with the deeper layers of the body. Not only that, but skin is also the last thing that receives nutrition, which is why regularly consuming a lot of water and eating skin-loving foods like avocado, blueberries, nuts, oils like hemp and coconut, and reducing dietary sugar is so important.
Body Brushing Benefits
Body brushing is especially effective and important if you’re considering taking part in a cleanse or detox this Spring, as it can help to enhance the rate at which waste is removed from the body, as well as improving digestion. Practicing this simple yet incredibly effective self-care ritual has a whole host of benefits, so here’s a few to get you inspired:
Can often elicit feelings of wellbeing, and acts as an energy boost
Helps to drain lymph and increase lymphatic circulation
Aids in ridding the body of waste and toxins
Reduces skin issues (as a result of improving detoxification)
Clears clogged pores
We’ve been experimenting with body brushing for over a year, and discovered that the best time to use the brush is just after waking, as it has a naturally energising effect. Following body brushing with a shower (switching between warm and cold, Wim Hof style), and ending with oiling the body is an amazing way to start the day when you have time. For an added bonus, dry body brush before a sauna session to boost the benefits!