A Delicate BalanceJan 01, 2019 ● By Dru Bickham
January means a list of new resolutions, and, for many, that includes fresh fitness and personal growth goals. As we run full-speed ahead into 2019, you might consider how to go about starting a new fitness regimen and incorporating practices that can help you achieve overall balance and positivity in your day-to-day routine.
From the often-confusing buzz around healing crystals to hypnotization, it can be difficult to find what things will actually work when it comes to helping you de-stress and overcome negativity. But, out with the old, in with the new, right? There is no better time to replace poor habits with healthy ones!
Oftentimes, some of the best ways to achieve health and balance in the crazy and fast-paced world we live in is through prayer, meditation and even therapy. When you find a way to feel good about yourself, other people will notice!
Energy medicine has been used to treat ailments in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. A new form of alternative medicine that helps heal energy within is Reiki (pronounced RAY-key). Therapists believe they can channel energy into the patient by means of touch to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.
This Japanese technique, developed during the early 1900s, helps those struggling with stress-related issues or illnesses. The idea is that if one’s “life force energy” is low, they are more likely to get sick or feel stress. If it is high, they are more capable of being happy and healthy.
Reiki treats the body, emotions, mind and spirit creating beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well-being. Treatments can provide relief of symptoms from numerous health challenges and mental health issues. Research shows Reiki primarily helps in the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as relief of chronic pain. There is even ongoing research to see the effects of Reiki during chemotherapy sessions for cancer patients. It can work in conjunction with medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.
Some controversy surrounds Reiki because it is hard to prove its effectiveness through science. However, some hospitals offer this practice, but insurance rarely covers it.
Acupuncture can help relieve stress and is beneficial when starting a new exercise regimen. For many, this is a safe, effective way to heal pain and injuries that accompany an athletic lifestyle. Many professional athletes utilize acupuncture to enhance athletic performance and increase recovery times.
When it comes to stress, focusing on acupuncture points helps reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as anxiety and worry. It helps regulate hormones like serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Acupuncture is an effective, personalized, non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical method of treatment. It works to restore the body’s natural state of balance by accessing your own ability to heal.
Yoga and Pilates
In terms of your physical health related to exercise, yoga and Pilates both promote total body wellness by focusing on the breath and working on body strength and flexibility without putting too much strain on joints. When you pair this with practices that encourage mental health, you will find you feel so much better and can take on any obstacle life throws your way with confidence.
Pilates may feel like something foreign or something only meant for a specific type of person. When Joseph Pilates developed his method, he did so with soldiers overcoming injuries for rehabilitation purposes. After that, he taught dancers how to use it for healing. However, Pilates is not something inaccessible or elite anymore, and it is no longer something taught and practiced in a strictly one-on-one setting.
Trends in Pilates during more recent years have been towards bigger studios and open classes -- approaches that make every person of every physical ability feel they are getting a quality workout and reaping benefits for their body.
There are specific pieces of workout equipment used to step the practice up a bit, including magic circles, reformers, chairs, barrels and cadillacs. Each “prop” serves a different purpose and can often be found at new and innovative studios.
IM=X® Pilates & Fitness opened in Frisco in 2018. They pride themselves on “Pilates reinvented, re-choreographed and re-constructed.” This studio uses the latest research on fitness to combine cardio and strength training to update traditional Pilates moves and practices. This way, anyone who walks through the door can find a class for them, whether that is with traditional reformer Pilates, mat Pilates or it involves something new like the stationary bike or the ballet bar.
Barbie Chandler, the owner of the Frisco IM=X location, has been practicing Pilates for years now. “When I started Pilates, the benefits to my body were very noticeable,” she recalls. “It is great for strengthening your core, your back and the whole trunk part of your body, which supports the rest of your body. And that is not something you really get with other avenues of exercise.” IM=X’s fundamentals all relate to the spine: how to elongate it to counteract the compression we experience sitting at desk jobs all day, how to engage all the way to your lowest abs and how to strengthen muscles that ultimately deliver stability to the entire body.
“Some people can think that maybe Pilates is not really working out,” Ms. Chandler continues. “I think IM=X is geared more towards the general population -- men, athletes, people that might be overweight, people who have never tried Pilates … anybody and everybody. There is a more athletic component to IM=X’s discipline, which helps people feel like they are really getting in that workout.” By participating in classes that focus on tightening and stabilizing the core (like all forms of Pilates) and that add in that element of standing cardio, you can target fat and achieve a satisfying tone to your legs, hips, back, arms and stomach. “Pilates is all about moving your body with intention and purpose, so you can carry the benefits with you through to your everyday life,” says Ms. Chandler.
Yoga is another practice that has been seeing a bit more attention, even though it has been around for thousands of years. Acro-yoga, hot yoga, destination yoga retreats and now even goat yoga allow you to easily find the yoga practice that is best for your lifestyle. Stephanie Lewey owns her own private yoga practice, Vine and Branches Yoga, and instructs individuals privately wherever they like. “There is something to private sessions … to really getting into the meat of what the asanas are for each person,” explains Ms. Lewey. “Whether you are working with people who have standing medical issues or they are athletes or they have sedentary lifestyles … there are a huge range of physical differences you can find in a class setting, and each person requires something different.”
Ms. Lewey believes in working carefully with each of her clients to make sure they find their right combination of sequences, so they reap maximum benefits from the experience and continue to practice and take care of their bodies. She also likes to use essential oils in her classes, her clients’ preferences permitting, which is another element of the total body wellness world that has recently stepped further into the spotlight. Ms. Lewey swears by these oils and their healing and calming properties, not just in yoga, but in her everyday life. “Oils are different for everybody. They affect everyone differently,” she explains. “There are a handful of oils that are great for calming, relieving tension, opening up the body in a sense and allowing a release. You also have some oils that are great for invigorating and bringing focus and clarity. You can bring these together and intermix them, sort of play around and see what works. When you find the right mix, you use it for the time of its purpose and then you change it as needed. Because the body is ever-changing, it is good to flow with what life is presenting.”
As years go by, people continue to incorporate new elements into some of their favorite disciplines -- to innovate and adjust fitness goals and find what works for them in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle … inside and out. With changes in exercise paired with practices that introduce coping skills for de-stressing and healing, 2019 could be the year you find the balance your life has been lacking.D