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Thursday, July 6, 2017, 4:25 PM

Yoga, in its westernised interpretation, is a popular form of exercise, with new styles and trends dominating studios and social media platforms. However, the practice is deeply rooted in history and traditionally represents a very dedicated way of life.

Yoga Forward FoldAsana, or a series of postures, was practised daily with the purpose of preparing the body to sit in meditation for long periods of time. Meditation, in turn, was practised to achieve a heightened state of consciousness and ultimately nirvana.

The yogic diet was followed to keep the body at optimal health in order to transcend into bliss. Various kriyas were practised in order to detoxify the body.

While many of us are not able to commit to all of those practises, the yamas and niyamas are observances that we can reflect on daily. In simplest terms, the yamas and niyamas are yoga's ethical guidelines. They represent the values and codes of conduct on how to treat yourself and others.

The yamas and niyamas are seen and practised every day. They serve to increase mindfulness in everyday life.

The Yamas

The first five guidelines are the Yamas, which govern how we interact with the outside world and how we treat those we meet. Here we discuss a modern interpretation of the ancient ethical map.

Ahimsa: Non-violence

Non-violence is obvious in a physical sense and is something most people follow naturally: we teach our children to play nicely, we don't hurt each other, we are kind to our pets. Some people choose vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, applying non-violence to all living things.

Non-violence can also be practised by using a respectful tone of voice, avoiding sarcasm and negative comments, and refraining from sharing biases that promote intolerance and misconceptions that can hurt others.

Satya: Truthfulness

Satya is the root of authenticity: being truthful in both thought and action. This yama guides us to honestly represent both ourselves and others.

You can practise satya by refraining from gossip and staying connected to your true identity. Not giving into the pressure to dress conventionally, listen to popular music, or share the same views and opinions as your peers is a good way to practise this yama.

Asteya: Non-stealing

Asteya can be viewed as an extension of truthfulness. While the obvious interpretation of non-stealing would be of property, it extends to ideas and personality as well.

Much like satya, asteya teaches us to accept who we are and what we have. This ensures we do not take on others' identities or claim their thoughts and opinions as our own.

Brahmacharya: Non-excess

It is common to hear that balance is key to healthy living, whether through diet, exercise, self-care, or work-life balance. Although Brahmacharya traditionally promotes celibacy, it can also represent balance.

Exercising the mind is vital to personal development; however, being consumed by work is not healthy. Alternatively, sitting in front of the television all day is not a positive use of time, but taking a day to rest can benefit mental health.

Being aware of the best way to use your energy as life unfolds will positively impact mental and physical health.

Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness, Non-greed

This yama applies to both material greed, as well as possessiveness of people. In terms of materialism, following Aparigraha means being content with what you have and fixing what is broken instead of throwing it away.

Non-possessiveness means observing the freedoms of those around you, especially regarding time and space. Ultimately this yama teaches us to take a step back from imposing our own expectations on what others should do with their time.

Being mindful that self-care and self-exploration are vital to well-being will create a positive environment for your loved ones and community.

Being Mindful

Incorporating the less obvious aspects of the yamas into everyday life takes practise and patience. Being mindful of each interaction you share with someone else will promote respect and inclusiveness. Practising non-violence and non-excess will also benefit both the community and the planet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 5:14 PM

Massage therapy is widely recognized as a way to decrease stress levels, relieve muscle tension, promote relaxation, support rehabilitation programs, and prevent injury.

A less commonly known benefit of massage therapy is in the treatment of various women's health issues, including irregular menstrual cycles, menstrual disorders, and difficulty conceiving.

Additionally, massage is an effective way to support a woman as her body changes throughout pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery.

Specializing in Women's Health

Amanda Roth, who has been practising massage for nine years, was drawn to holistic health after exploring many other paths, including psychology and theatre production.

While neither were her true calling, she learned that she loved working with her hands and wanted to have a positive impact on others. She went on to complete diplomas in both acupuncture and massage, using her aspirations to benefit the holistic health community.

While filling her practice hours, Amanda saw many women who were experiencing difficult menopause, several of whom also had a history of irregular and painful menstrual cycles, poor postpartum healing, or menstrual disorders.

"The options these women were given to deal with their issues were to be medicated, have a hysterectomy or to just put up with it. I knew there needed to be a fourth option," says Amanda.

Amanda has dedicated her career to supporting women's health and fertility. She is committed to educating women on holistic approaches to health and healing.

She stresses that open and honest discussion about these options are the key to ending the mindset that the only relief from female-specific issues is through medication or surgery.

Massage Therapy and Women's Health

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common issue women seek help for, and massage has been proven to relieve symptoms without the use of unnecessary medication. Massage therapy promotes blood circulation and lymph flow, which helps to restore hormonal balance and relieve abdominal bloating and swelling.

Massage also relaxes the body and releases endorphins, helping to reduce overall pain caused by PMS. Research has shown that women who suffer from PMS are more likely to have a difficult transition into menopause, and proactive treatment of PMS symptoms can reduce the risk of suffering later on.

Amanda also treats clients with more serious menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This disorder, characterized by severe emotional and behavioural changes connected to different phases of the menstrual cycle, is exacerbated by stress and lack of sleep.

Massage can help treat PMDD in the same way it helps with PMS, though those who suffer from PMDD need to focus more on self care and relaxation in order to manage their symptoms.

Massage and Fertility

Trying to conceive can be a stressful time for a woman, and massage plays an important role in promoting relaxation and an overall sense of well-being, while also reducing stress.

Research has shown that stress hormones can negatively affect fertility, causing a condition called stress-induced reproductive dysfunction. This condition causes a disruption to hormone levels and effects normal menstruation, making conception very difficult.

Using massage as a stress reduction tool can help restore hormone balance and promote a normal cycle, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, and prepare a positive environment for conception to occur.

Massage Throughout Pregnancy

Prenatal massage is a popular among expectant mothers. In the first two trimesters of pregnancy, massage is used mainly to promote relaxation and reduce stress. It is also an effective tool for teaching women self-calming and breathing techniques to hep them cope with labour and reduce anxiety.

In the third trimester, massage plays a vital role in preparing the body for birth. Massage can help relax the muscles around the reproductive organs, prepare the hips and pelvis for delivery, and promote optimal positioning of the fetus.

Optimal positioning is particularly important, as sitting all day can cause the baby to enter the pelvis in the posterior (facing the abdomen instead of the spine) position, which can delay labour and cause back pain.

"Women nearing birth need movement and exercise," explains Amanda. "Massage helps them both relax and prepare their bodies for labour, increasing the likelihood of a natural birth."

Creating Awareness

Creating awareness of the variety of benefits massage and other holistic health treatments can deliver is the key to ensuring women receive the right care to support their natural health.

Amanda stresses the importance that young women and teens know there is a holistic, supportive option for dealing with female-specific issues. Often the mainstream methods of dealing with these issues are just temporary, essentially covering up the problem instead of treating it.

"Once medication or birth control is stopped, the issue is still there," explains Amanda. "It wasn't fixed; it was hidden. The woman is left with the same issue and possibly even greater discomfort. Using massage and other holistic health treatments early on is essential in dealing with the root of the problem and promoting the long-term well-being of female clients."

More Information

To learn more about massage therapy and other holistic health treatments see the Holistic Health Guide. To find an NHPC practitioner in your area, see our Health Provider Directory.

NHPC Massage Therapist Amanda RothAmanda Roth is a registered massage therapist with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada. She is also an Acupuncturist and a Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbologist. Amanda is a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM), sits on board of directors of the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada, and is a sessional instructor in the Acupuncture Program at MacEwan University.

Monday, May 1, 2017, 2:45 PM

The Journey from Trauma into Well-being

What is Rosen Method

Rosen Method Bodywork is a full-body treatment that uses gentle, non-manipulative touch and words to help clients drop into body awareness, allowing them to access the body's unconscious.

The practitioner will place their hands on an area of the body that needs release, offering physical support to allow the muscles to experience the possibility of surrender from within.

Cinamon Cranston practising Rosen MethodCinnamon Cranston is a Rosen Method Bodywork practitioner, registered massage therapist, and Reiki practitioner. Cinnamon found Rosen Method after undergoing eight years of therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

She explains that while she felt psychologically healthy, in moments she felt as though her body was expressing a deeper need to heal.

"The first time I experienced Rosen I knew that was how I wanted to work with the body," said Cinnamon. "I was drawn to the pure form of communication between the client and practitioner. The practice has no agenda for where a person should go or what they should experience during treatment."

Cinnamon describes Rosen as finding the way out of trauma and survival mode and into safety and well-being. "As practitioners we support individuals to come into their own bodies and heal themselves through increased awareness and understanding."

Rosen Method is the marriage of a strong knowledge base and intuition. Cinnamon uses her understanding of the breath and nervous system to connect to her client's essence, which she describes as the core of who we are.

Our essence exists in our nervous system, our cells and our entire bodies. Our connection to it gives us a sense of vitality and well-being. However, when we experience trauma or incredible stress, our bodies click into survival mode; if proper support is not available to aid in recovery, we become disconnected from our bodies.

Emotions, needs, and impulses that were repressed by the body at the time become "unconscious" to us. In this way, Rosen Method Bodywork helps to accesses the unconscious through touch.

Who Can Benefit from Rosen Method

When asked if Rosen Method treatment is for everyone, Cinnamon says a person must be in a place where they are willing to open up and explore their core self in order to benefit from the practice.

Often clients are not looking to heal from a specific issue, but are rather looking to reach their full capacity by releasing self-limiting behaviours.

"Some people aren't in a place where they are ready to let go," explains Cinnamon. "They may need walls and defenses in order to feel protected and safe. In Rosen we respect that people are doing exactly what is right for them at that moment."

First-time Experience

Garrett, who recently experienced his first Rosen Method treatment with Cinnamon, says he was unsure what to expect and was apprehensive at first.

"Within about ten minutes I could feel myself begin to relax and let go," says Garrett. "I trusted Cinnamon to allow emotions and past experiences to surface without pushing me to an uncomfortable place or forcing me to talk about what I was feeling."

A Rosen Method Practitioner will stress that it is not important for them to know what the client has experienced or remembered; rather, it is important for the client to recognize and find understanding in those experiences.  

Garrett believes it was the understanding that he could take the time he needed to fully let go, and be unconditionally supported in that experience, that allowed him to trust Cinnamon so quickly.

The surrender into trust allowed Garrett to release his apprehension and find meaning and acceptance in experiences and feelings from his past.

A Rosen Method Treatment

A typical session is 60 minutes. The client and practitioner will meet prior to starting the session to discuss any health conditions, injuries, and emotional or physical trauma. This allows the practitioner to have a sense of where to begin working.

The client will lie on a massage-type table, without the use of a face cradle, as practitioners closely watch the client's facial expressions to help guide the treatment.

The client can choose to remove clothing down to their underwear or remain fully clothed depending on comfort level. The client is then covered with a sheet. Half of the session is conducted with the client lying on their stomach, and the other half with the client on their back.

With permission, the practitioner will lightly place their hands on the client and adjust pressure and placement using subtle changes in breath and muscle tension as a guide.

After the session is over the client and practitioner will discuss the session and the next steps the client should take. A minimum of three sessions is recommended to allow the body to learn the language of Rosen Method.

Interested?

For more information on Rosen Method Bodywork treatments and techniques, training opportunities, or to find a practitioner, see the NHPC Holistic Health Guide and the Health Provider Directory, or the Rosen Method Institute of Canada.

NHPC Rosen Method Practitioner Cinnamon CranstonCinnamon Cranston is the co-owner of the Rosen Method Institute of Canada. She has been in the health and wellness field for over 20 years and has practised Rosen Method for almost nine years, including training. All Rosen Method practitioners undergo three and a half years of tracking and training and present 350 client hours before becoming registered. Rosen Method Bodywork is recognized by the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 12:48 PM

The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada partners with Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta

The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) is excited to announce its partnership with Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta in the Rejuvenation Project.

Practitioners of various holistic health treatments will provide complimentary holistic health treatments to caregivers and their families who are staying at the House. This project will support individuals who have very little time to devote to their own well-being.

Self-care plays a vital role in a caretaker's ability to support a child in need. It is much like putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others put on theirs: if you don't take the time to you need to be mentally and emotionally healthy, it is very difficult to support others in their time of need.

Caretakers and their family members are encouraged to take part in the opportunity for rest and relaxation the Rejuvenation Program offers to them. Supporting parents to reduce their stress levels helps them care for their sick child.


What Our Dedicated Volunteers Have to Say

Leisa Bellmore, an NHPC registered Shiatsu therapist in Toronto, has been volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House for 16 years.

Shiatsu is a Japanese therapy that uses thumb and finger pressure to effect therapeutic changes to the energy flow in the body. It is used to improve and maintain health and to treat specific chronic and acute conditions. It can positively impact short and long-term stress levels, anxiety, tension, sleep disturbances and pain.

"Taking time for healthcare, whether with self-care or through a treatment, allows people who are experiencing on-going stress to take some control back into their lives," says Leisa.

Families of the house are pulled away from their homes, their jobs and their support networks. They face a future of uncertainty; not knowing whether good or bad news is coming or when they will get to go home.

"Taking time for self-care allows people who are experiencing on-going stress to take some control back into their lives."

Leisa Bellmore
Shiatsu Therapist

Leisa explains that often the time spent during a treatment is the only time the families of the Ronald McDonald House are able to focus on themselves.

"Family members supporting an ill child have to be strong all the time. They work tirelessly to appear positive and optimistic for their families, when in reality they can be exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed," explains Leisa.

Her treatments offer both a physical and emotional space for caregivers to fully focus on themselves and their own needs.

Leisa has experienced amazing moments during her time serving long-term and returning families of Ronald McDonald House Toronto. "I particularly remember a mother, who I had been working with for a while, coming into her treatment and she was just glowing," Leisa shares.

"She had finally been able to hold her baby without wearing full protective gear. She was overwhelmed with the joy of being able to kiss her baby — to feel his skin. So many of us take that type of bonding for granted. It was amazing to share that moment with her."

In addition to working with family members, Leisa also works with children who are receiving medical care. She has offered Shiatsu treatments to children who have rare types of cancer, cardiac conditions, and the recipients of kidney transplants and double lung transplants.

"While it can be difficult and sad, the benefits of volunteering far outweigh the hard times," says Leisa. "I feel a deep sense of satisfaction from my work with these families, and it is a privilege to offer support in their time of need."

NHPC Member Leisa Bellmore providing Shiatsu treatment

Leisa also encourages self-care for her clients by providing them with stretches or acupressure points they can practise on their own. "The pressure on these families is immense," says Leisa. "It is important for them to have tools to care for themselves."

"People here are going through so much. It's just nice to be able to take them out of that space for a little bit and help them relax."

Brian Jordan
Massage Therapist

NHPC member and massage therapist, Brian Jordan, volunteers for the Rejuvenation Program. He says it has been very rewarding for him as a therapist to be able to give back to his community in this way.

"People here are going through so much. It's just nice to be able to take them out of that space for a little bit and help them relax," says Brian.

He explains that for these families, taking the time to reconnect with themselves through massage can help relieve a tremendous amount of stress. "It can help someone achieve clarity and peace of mind in an otherwise turbulent and emotional time."


More Information

To learn more about holistic health practices or to find a practitioner, see the NHPC Holistic Health Guide and the Health Provider Directory. To learn more about volunteering for the Rejuvenation Program, email tsvolunteer@nhpcanada.org.

NHPC LogoRonald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta

Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 1:20 PM

NHPC Massage Therapist working on a client
For many Saskatchewan clients, massage therapy treatments provide vital relief from pain and stress.

The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada's (NHPC) member professionals are vital to Saskatchewan health care and provide essential services to thousands of Saskatchewan clients.

Paul Buffel and Trish Cole are two of NHPC's 550 massage therapists in Saskatchewan, joining over 5,700 massage therapists nationwide.

Here are the experiences of just two of their clients, a reflection of the thousands of Saskatchewan residents whose health needs have been supported through the services that NHPC members provide.

Experiences in Pain Recovery 

When Julia got into a high impact motor vehicle accident, her doctor referred her to NHPC member Paul Buffel to cope with her chronic pain symptoms and stress. For many people, massage is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

For those suffering from the challenges of chronic pain, their massage therapist and their treatments are their weekly salvation, a refuge from pain and stress.

Julia credits Buffel for helping her along her road to recovery. "Weekly massages have been a part of my regime to cope with the challenges of myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and a number of other complications including varicose veins.

"To me, these treatments and the practitioners who administer them have helped me achieve my greatest potential for healthy living, given the number and complexity of my issues."

Massage therapy is an important medical resource and provides essential information that can lead to a later diagnosis with a general physician. This is what happened in the case of Deanna.

For years, she suffered from sudden jolts of pain that stemmed from her mid-back through to the right side of her chest. At first, the pains were seldom, but as the years continued, they became more frequent.

Deanna was suffering without a confirmed diagnosis, but with no way to manage the pain. After a month of continuous pain, she decided to visit her primary doctor, who sent her for chest X-rays, heart and blood tests. Everything came back normal.

Her physician diagnosed her with chronic muscle spasms. He suggested that she stay hydrated and that she watch her posture.

Not satisfied with this diagnosis, and as the muscle spasms started becoming a daily occurrence, Deanna sought complementary health service providers, including a chiropractor and a massage therapist, to help manage her pain.

Deanna ended up seeing Trish Cole who proved to be the solution she needed. Although, at first, Cole managed to reduce some of Deanna's pain, there still seemed to be an underlying issue.

"There were a couple of times when the jolts of pain were almost crippling. Even muscle relaxants weren't helping at this stage. Trish asked me to ask my chiropractor if I had any structural irregularities that she noticed in her treatments," says Deanna.  

Her chiropractor confirmed, after seeing her chest X-ray, that Deanna had a curved spine and mature scoliosis. The treatments to help manage her symptoms were through massage therapy, correct posture and by taking magnesium.

"Over the past few months, my therapist has been able to focus on the areas required to control the pain and make it bearable. Now, I am able to live my life without the anxiety of waiting for the next multiple jolts of muscle spasms.

"I feel more at ease to take vacations because I know what exercises and precautions are needed to manage the pain."

Professional, Dedicated NHPC Massage Therapists

When you visit your massage therapist, you probably prepare for a healing and wellness experience that begins with the physical massage itself. But behind the experienced hands are therapists with true dedication and compassion for your overall wellness.

NHPC members Buffel and Cole stress the importance of seeking out therapists who belong to a professional massage association such as the NHPC.

Friday, February 17, 2017, 9:15 AM

With temperatures continuing to plunge, ice storms, and severe cold warnings, it's no wonder that thousands of Canadians venture to warm destinations to escape the cold.

Neck massage being practiced on a seated woman

With NHPC's 2017 Conference Series kicking off in Riviera Maya later this month, we are going to share a few helpful travel tips to prepare you for your winter escape, while staying holistically healthy! 


1. Schedule your workout into your itinerary.

For any gym or avid fitness enthusiast, the number one rule is consistency. It's hard to work out while on vacation, but adding a routine into your itinerary can make it less of a hassle and more of a reward.

Do you want that extra margarita? You don't need to go to the gym to work out; visit a local market, explore historical landmarks such as the Mayan Ruins (which we assure you is more rewarding than that stair climber), scuba dive, or go for a swim at the beach. 


2. Pack light and get your workout gear at your hotel!

Many of us dread packing. Even with advances, such as packing cubs, space compressing bags, and luggage compartments, who really wants to use the extra space for running shoes and gym clothes?

Many hotels now let you rent gym wear at the hotel, for as little as $5. Save room in your luggage for souvenirs and not for your dirty runners. You can also buy travel friendly workout gear, such as a travel yoga mat, which can fold in on itself to be as small as a pocket square.


3. Watch online fitness tutorials.

Is your itinerary packed full, and you don't want to hit the hotel gym or go to a fitness class? There are many other ways to stay fit on vacation, for as little as 15 minutes a day. You can watch a beginners or advanced yoga fitness tutorial on Youtube.

Or, there are fitness apps that you can download for Android and Apple that have short fitness routines, such as Pilates and Yoga.


4. See if your resort hosts group fitness classes! Forget the gym. Go to the beach.

Several resorts have unlimited fitness classes and arranged activities that you can participate in. An average yoga membership costs about $80 a month. Several hotels offer unlimited yoga classes. Yoga at the beach sounds a lot more appealing than driving to your local gym when it's -30 °C.

Practitioner assisting with stretch


5. Go for that spa day!

Taking vacations is about treating yourself, so why not have a spa day and treat yourself to a hot stone massage or a spa wrap? Usually hotels have an in-resort spa so you can relax by the pool. Learn more about common holistic health practices offered in spas in our Holistic Health Guide.

Woman with therapy stones lined up on her back

 

All-inclusive trips don't have to mean gaining an additional ten pounds a week. Incorporate these holistic health trips into your vacation, and you won't only feel better, but you also won't feel the need to do an immediate after-vacation detox. 

Monday, February 13, 2017, 11:30 AM

Reignite The Spark with Your Partner

Do you want to step up your romantic game this year, and skip the teddy bears and the box chocolate? Check out these holistic health ideas to reignite the romantic flame with your partner this Valentine's Day.


1. Couples Massage

There is nothing better than a couples massage. Several different spas offer Valentine's Day massage specials.

Not only that, but all the romantic fixtures will be there as well: rose petals, ambience, calming music, heated massage stones, and lovely smelling essential oils and lotion. You will have all the romantic fixtures, without the effort.


2. Couples Yoga

Yoga is a great way to get in touch with your body and mind. However, couples yoga can additionally help you reconnect with your partner.

Certain yoga postures can help release certain emotions. Heart and chest opening postures (back-bends, boat pose, and cobra) can help you express your emotions and ground yourself. 

When you are in a yoga class, you are a part of a community — in this case, part of a community of life-partners who are dedicated to each other and to expressing their love for each other.

Surrounding yourself with people with common goals can benefit not only your mental health, but can also  help you build new communities of friends. 

Certain couples yoga classes, such as acro or partners yoga, focus on the interaction between yourself and your partner. There has to be an innate trust between yourself and   your partner in order to fully express several poses, including Double Down Dog, Folded Leaf, and Flying Bow.


3. DIY Aromatherapy Essential Oils Bubble Bath

Did you know that early Egyptians (circa 2, 800 BCE) were the first recorded culture to use aromatherapy, specifically the use of essential oils? They were the first ones to use essential oils to create a romantic mood.

Essential oils and aromatherapy have gained popularity in the last few years. Aromatherapy uses essential oils to benefit physical, emotional, and spiritual health. With diffusers and essential oil baths, there are plenty of DIY ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your romantic life.

For instance, you can have an essential oils bubble bath with your partner. Several scents are known to stimulate certain effects. For instance, lavender is known to stimulate relaxation, Ylang Ylang and rose oil is purported to increase sexuality, and sweet orange and nerpi can create a relaxed and happy mood.

If you don't want the DIY option, you can always see a credentialed Aromatherapist. Several holistic health practitioners incorporate aromatherapy into their practice to affect a general mood (e.g. relax, calm, stimulate), to create the atmosphere for the treatment space, or to achieve specific therapeutic purposes. 

Check out our directory for an NHPC-credentialed Aromatherapist in your area, and book a session this Valentine's Day.

 

If you are tired of the tried and true Valentine's Day options, spice it up this year and try these holistic health ideas! 

 

A photo posted by NHPC (@nhpcanada) on

Thursday, January 26, 2017, 11:45 AM

Recently, tragic events have turned the spotlight on the devastating consequences of untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). An Iraqi-war veteran killed five people in the Fort Lauderdale airport. Lionel Desmond, an Afghanistan war veteran, murdered his wife, mother, and daughter and then killed himself.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Brain Illustration with WordsThese are just some headlines. With potentially devastating consequences, every day PTSD prevents people from all walks of life from leading healthy lives.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Statistics

At least eight Canadian first responders, including police officers and paramedics, have committed suicide as a result of their PTSD in the past year. PTSD diagnoses have doubled for the largest Canadian police force in the last five years.

Since the start of the Afghanistan war mission, 54 Canadian veterans have taken their lives since they have arrived home. Overall, 158 soldiers died in combat. 54 suicides is an alarming 34% of the overall combat death total.

However, not only first responders and war veterans suffer from PTSD. From celebrities such as Lady Gaga, an outspoken advocate for PTSD awareness, to jurors, PTSD is an illness that impacts everyone, everywhere. It is estimated that 9% of Canadians, 18 years and older, suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Holistic Health Practices That Can Help Treat PTSD

Several studies have proven holistic health practices successful in treating the symptoms of PTSD, including CranioSacral Therapy, Qigong, Yoga, and Tai Chi, four NHPC-recognized holistic health practices.

CranioSacral Therapy

CranioSacral Therapy is an approach where practitioners use their hands to release built up tensions within the body, associated with the craniosacral system (the liquids and membranes that support the functionality of the brain and spinal cord).

Family Session of CranioSacral Therapy

Studies have shown CranioSacral Therapy successful in treating the symptoms of PTSD. In one study, which analyzed the effects of using CranioSacral therapy to treat the PTSD of 38 Tibetan ex-political war prisoners, it was found that the anxiety and somatic complaints of those who received treatment reduced significantly.

Qigong

Qigong (chi kung) is a Chinese medical system that stimulates or regulates the flow of energy in meridians by using specific, focused physical breathing techniques. Qigong uses a combination of moving, stationary, and breathing exercises to increase strength, resiliency, and vitality.

Several studies have found that Qigong can reduce PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, stress, tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion.

In another study that used Qigong movement therapy and other mind-body techniques to treat PTSD, patients with chronic back pain found that pain ratings lowered significantly after treatment.

Another study found that Qigong reduced long-term anxiety symptoms of those with PTSD and complex regional pain.

Yoga

Yoga is possibly the most popular and recognized forms of holistic health therapies for those with PTSD.

One study that analyzed the effects of yoga on 64 women with chronic, treatment- resistant PTSD found that yoga may help PTSD victims develop coping mechanisms for the physical and sensory experiences of the trauma they experienced.

Yoga's effectiveness in treating PTSD symptoms is comparable to psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic approaches. Particularly, it has been found to be helpful in treating possibly the highest population of PTSD suffers, war veterans.

A recent study done by Stanford University, which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with PTSD, evaluated the effects of Kriya Yoga breathing exercises on the participants for a week. Kriya yoga, unlike other yoga styles, emphasizes the breath, over performing certain postures.

After a week, it was found that PTSD symptoms, such as anxiety, startle response reactions, and high respiration rates reduced significantly. Overall, participants also experienced less flashbacks and memories of the traumatic event that triggered their PTSD.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi focuses on physical strength conditioning, flexibility, resilience, mental focus and clarity, and on creating proper flow and balance of Qi throughout the body.

Tai Chi practitioners

Various studies have found Tai Chi to be successful in treating PTSD symptoms. For instance, one study found seniors with PTSD had increased self-esteem, quality of life, and overall well being, with reduced distress and anxiety symptoms after Tai Chi sessions. It was also found to increase the quality of their interpersonal relationships.

How to Join the Conversation and Prevent PTSD deaths

PTSD is a mental health condition that is growing alarming in its scale of devastation to those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and their families.

Recently, a British Columbia MP called for the development of a national strategy for PTSD treatment, after new alarming statistics of PTSD rates and suicides amongst Canadian veterans and first responders.

MP Todd Doherty created a guide for PTSD treatment that included comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and public awareness guidelines for PTSD to be employed by public health agencies.

Organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association and national awareness days such as Bell Let's Talk are drawing attention to mental health issues such as PTSD and are encouraging the public to have open, honest discussions about mental health illnesses.

There is a need to promote the benefits of holistic health for mental health illnesses, such as PTSD. Dr. Chavez, a distinguished and renowned naturopathic researcher and clinician, said, "Now more than ever, practical, holistic and effective interventions for post traumatic stress are needed worldwide."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016, 3:09 PM

In order to create the balance between the mind and body, it’s vital for you to stay holistically healthy — even at work! Here are three tips to help you stay holistically healthy in the New Year! 


1. Take Daily Meditation Breaks

Multiple studies have shown that meditation can help increase your emotional intelligence, increase focus and retention, increase creativity, and enhance relationships!

If you're not sure of how to start...

There are Youtube guided meditation tutorials you can try at your desk. Take 15 minutes during your lunch or coffee break, and follow along at your convenience.


2. Talk to Your Workplace about Weekly Fitness Classes

According to a study published by the Journal of Occupational Therapy, employees who spent at least two and a half hours working out at work a week had less absences than those who didn't.

Yoga Class

Recent research undertaken by British researchers at the University of Bristol found that workers who participated in workplace fitness programs had improved mood and performance.

This increased workers' performance, improved working relationships, increased concentration, and reduced stress.

Talk to your HR department about weekly fitness classes — such as yoga and pilates.

Several yoga instructors, for instance, are mobile and can be hired to do group fitness classes on-site at your work. You may be able to get reimbursed for the classes if your company has a health and wellness plan.

The incentives aren't only for you, but for your workplace as well!


3. Schedule Weekly Holistic Health Treatments

According to a study published in the Holistic Health Practices Journal, workplace massage therapy sessions improved employees' pain severity (stemming from various workplace injuries).

Weekly holistic health sessions can also improve job satisfaction, reduce stress, improve work relationships, and can help build a healthy workplace culture.

Ask your workplace about bringing in a mobile holistic health practitioner once a month or every week. Or, schedule a holistic health practitioner to come in during a staff meeting and explain the benefits of their holistitic health treatment with a short demo and Q and A.  

47% of Canadians agree that their workplace is the greatest source of stress during their day. In one survey conducted in 2012, that included 6,300 Canadian employees, it was found that 14% had clinical depression.

More and more workplaces are taking a holistic approach to building their wellness programs. It's important both for the employee and the employer to encourage a healthy work enivronment.

To find out more about how to stay holistically healthy in the workplace, explore the NHPC's online Holistic Health Guide. In the Health Provider Directory, you can find an NHPC-recognized holistic health practitioner in your area.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 12:14 PM

The holiday season is great way to take a step back from work and everyday life, to enjoy spending time with family and friends. But, as we all know, the holidays aren't always bliss and happiness. They can bring some unsolicited stress.

For some, the holidays can bring on feelings like the Grinch had as he was looking down at Whoville on Christmas Eve.

Here's the good news: Through applying these little holistic health tips, you can ward off the stress from unwelcome guests and overcooked food, and have a tension-free holiday season.

Self-Stress Relief Techniques

If Your Feet are Killing You

The holiday season is packed with parties to attend, cooking to be done, and house decorating. This all has an affect on your feet, and you may not be wearing the best footwear.

To release some of this stress take a tennis ball and roll your feet overtop of it.

Here's how to do it

Use a tennis ball to massage aching soles

  1. Sit down and step on the ball with a bare or socked foot and roll back and forth from heel to toe with a pressure that you are comfortable with.
  2. Work out tender and painful knots by rolling in small circles. 


Have a headache? Try a Head Massage

Stress headaches can appear without any notice during the holidays. When nothing seems to be going your way this month, take a minute to give yourself a quick head massage that can ease that stress.

Give yourself a head massage for tension headaches

Here's how to do it

Draw circles with your fingertips at your temples, increasing the size and pressure to what you are comfortable with as you move toward your scalp. 


Stretch it Out with Yoga

This may feel like a difficult task, but taking some time to perform yoga poses will have a massive affect on your mood and ability to deal with the demanding holiday season.

There are multiple yoga poses that will help you reduce stress. Here are three yoga poses that don't require much time or space.

I.  Mountain Pose

Steady your breathing and improve posture with Mountain PoseThis pose will steady your breathing and improve posture ensuring you return to your routine with a genuine smile on your face.

Here's how to do it

  1. Ground down through the four corners of your feet.
  2. Grow taller with your breath. You should feel your chest rising and falling with each with breath.
  3. Keep your palms open to receive positive energy and calmness.


II.  Standing Forward Fold

The standing forward fold is an instantly calming pose that is known to reduce stress and fatigue. Holding this pose will promote blood flow and can energize the body, which will provide that extra boost you need for that never ending holiday party.

Here's how to do itCalm yourself with a Standing Forward Fold

  1. Begin in mountain pose with your hands on your hips.
  2. Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso.
  3. If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or fingertips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn't possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows.


III.  Warrior I

Who doesn't want to be a warrior? This may be the most empowering pose, and during this time of year it is nice to gain some inner strength to become unbreakable!

Empower yourself with Warrior 1

Here's how to do it

  1. Exhale as you step your feet wide apart from mountain pose.
  2. Turn you front foot so your toes are facing directly forward. Then pivot your back foot to a 45-degree angle.
  3. Press your weight through your left heel. Then, exhale as you bend your front facing knee over your front ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor. Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your ankles.
  4. Reach up strongly through your arms. Broaden across your belly, lengthen the sides of your waist, and lift through your chest.

 

Taking 20 minutes to yourself can bring you to a place of calm that will guarantee you are strong enough to take on the holiday season, much like the Grinch when he saved Christmas for the people of Whoville.

Although these are quick fixes and can help immensely, nothing beats the real thing. If you are able, booking time with a holistic practitioner is always the best thing to do when you are stressed, in pain, or in need of a break.

There are many other holistic health treatments you can apply during the holiday season. 

Friday, December 9, 2016, 3:00 PM

The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) states that a regulatory College, by law, would be responsible for the investigation of complaints from the public, and can prevent the accused practitioner from continuing to practise.

"Currently the NHPC performs that regulatory function of investigation, discipline, and removing members from practice if necessary," says Kelly Sloan, NHPC's Chief Executive Officer. 

The NHPC has a complaints process whereby the public can report any incidents. If the complaint is about an NHPC member, an internal investigation will take place, and they will be suspended from practising as a member.

Suspension of an NHPC membership means a practitioner will be removed from insurance eligibility lists, prohibiting that practitioner from being able to provide insurance reimbursable treatments.

The NHPC, along with several other stakeholder associations, is currently reviewing draft legislation for regulation of massage therapists in Saskatchewan.

The NHPC is the largest pan-Canadian holistic health organization, representing over 6,000 massage and holistic health professionals. It was established in 1988 and is proud to represent members with high levels of competency, professionalism, and ethics. The NHPC represents over 550 massage therapists in Saskatchewan.

For media inquiries and to schedule interviews, contact Garrett Scott, Communications Coordinator with the NHPC, at 1-888-711-7701 ext. 267 or by email at gscott@nhpcanada.org

Thursday, December 1, 2016, 2:00 PM

Four holistic health treatments to melt away the winter bluesThe winter can be a tough time; temperatures seem to drop every day, darkness comes faster and faster, and as always, the roads are a nightmare. 

Many Canadians suffer from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, a fitting acronym, right? SAD begins and ends at about the same time each year. It saps your energy, makes you grumpy, and can even cause depression for some.

Don't just brush this off as simply the case of the winter blues or a seasonal funk.  It is important to take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the tough winter months.

Use the following four tips to get out of that dreaded winter gloom:

1. Get Moving With Yoga

Yoga represents the fusion of the mind, body, and spirit through controlled actions.

Yoga is a form of meditation that allows you to relax, combat stress, and handle anxiety in a unique way. Controlled actions of a yoga session will calm the mind and nervous system through stretches, breathing and meditation techniques.

yoga practitioner

2. Free your mind With Reiki

Reiki is an excellent way to use your body's natural ability to heal itself and obtain optimal health.

This practice originated over 4,000 years ago and remains popular to this day! Reiki's goal has a goal to treat you on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

3. Take a Day at the Spa

Take a spa day. One of the best ways to purge those winter blues is to take a day completely to you.

Spa/body wraps are an amazing holistic health treatment comprised of gentle mixtures of various types of clays, muds, salts, and essential oils. This practice can have a pronounced effect, from cleansing, detoxifying, stimulating, and most importantly, resulting in a relaxing feeling.

4. Release the Tension With Massage Therapy

A massage is an exceptional way to shut out the outside world, relax, and release your tensions.

Through manipulation of the soft tissues in the body, you can achieve balance and health. Many massage therapy approaches are an effective way of treating chronic muscular issues, circulatory concerns, and lymphatic systems.

massage therapy on back

Several studies have proved that yoga, massage, and other treatment techniques are effective in addressing symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety caused by SAD.

For more information about these holistic health practices or to find more treatments that may help, read our Holistic Health Guide!

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 2:00 PM

Holistic Health for MovemberIt's that time of year again! Movember is back, where men sacrifice the clean-shaven look and embrace a little hairiness in order to raise aware awareness of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's mental health and suicide prevention.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer affects the prostate: a gland under the bladder and ahead of the bowels. The prostate is responsible for creating a liquid that protects and nourishes sperm production.

When the prostate is affected by cancer, prostate cells reproduce at an accelerated rate, which can eventually lead to tumor growth. If prostate cancer goes undiagnosed and untreated, the cancer can grow and spread to different areas including the lymph nodes and bones.

Did you know that one out of eight men in Canada will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime? Eleven Canadians pass away from prostate cancer every day. Prostate cancer is the third-highest cause of death for men in Canada.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer affects the testicles, vital to the creation of male hormones and sperm. At its onset, Testicular cancer causes an irregular growth in the testicles.

Testicular is the most prevalent form of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 29. In 2015, 1,050 men in Canada were told they had testicular Cancer. The survival rate of men diagnosed with testicular cancer in a five-year period is 97%.

Men's Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Did you know that one in ten men in Canada will have acute depression in their lifetimes? Each day, eight men commit suicide in Canada. 

Holistic Health and Movember

Several holistic health treatments have been found to be effective in treating the symptoms of prostate and testicular cancer while patients are undergoing treatment.

A recent study untaken at the University of Pennsylvania found that yoga helped improve quality of life for study participants, and helped with fatigue symptoms and stabilize symptoms of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

Yoga's overall effectiveness in treating these symptoms can be explained by yoga's ability to strengthen the pelvis muscles and to elevate blood flow.

Recent studies have also indicated that acupressure may be effective in treating symptoms of nausea amongst prostate and testicular cancer patients, after chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

The balance of mind and body is an intrinsic and a fundamental concept of many holistic health practices, many of which can be beneficial in treating overall mood.

Several studies have proven massage, yoga, and other holistic health practices effective in treating and addressing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia (amongst several other mental health issues).

For more information about these practices, check out our Holistic Health Guide!

What You Can Do to Help Promote Holistic Health and Movember

Did you know that you don't need to grow a moustache in order support Movember, prostate and testicular cancer, and men's health? There are several ways to get involved and spread the word.

Share the benefits of holistic health to Movember causes with your family and friends by encouraging them to visit the NHPC website and our Holistic Health Guide!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 4:00 PM

If you've watched the latest James Bond movie Spectre, you may have noticed Dr. Madeline Swann prescribing CranioSacral Therapy at her exclusive treatment centre in the Austrian Alps.  

As holistic therapies like CranioSacral Therapy (CST) become more and more mainstream, many people get the opportunity to try something they might not have otherwise heard about, whether from friends, TV athletic coverage, or even in major motion pictures!

Rhonda Lynn has been practising CST for six years. Her interest was sparked by her recovery after a motorcycle accident. She credits gentle and consistent therapies like CST and Pilates with getting her moving again.

Rhonda works out of the Lucina Birth and Family Wellness Centre in Edmonton's west end. Although she sees people at all life stages, she specializes in baby and family CranioSacral Therapy sessions.

A typical first adult session with Rhonda is different for each person since everyone comes to her with individual life experiences. Using gentle palpation, only five grams of pressure starting at the feet, Rhonda checks the CST rhythm of the body to see how it is moving. She uses that information as an assessment tool to treat the whole body.

A CranioSacral Therapy session can be described as peeling back layers. At a basic level (the first layer), CST works on structure and tissue. Rhonda says it could trigger emotional responses because emotions are held in our tissues:

"If someone has had a birth that was traumatic or if someone had to end up getting a caesarean, we work those tissues that have been traumatized and sometimes emotions can be triggered specific to that event."

CST is a learned skill but it is also intuitive. Although she hesitates to use the word "energy work" she admits there is an energetic component. "The deeper you get into the tissues, the more there is an emotional connection to the treatment."

Rhonda says patients have often described CranioSacral Therapy treatments as "relaxing" and say things like "I haven't stayed still for so long in my life". For some it feels heavy, as if they are sinking into the cushions, others feel light-headed, or feel sensations or buzzing through the legs.

Because Rhonda uses only five grams of pressure, it makes CST ideal for working with babies. Babies can receive CST as early as a few hours after birth but often come in around three to six weeks old. 

Rhonda will have the baby either lie on the mother's chest or on the table and treatments last around half an hour. Parents bring in their babies for many reasons but typical ones include latch issues, gas, reflux, or hematomas.

Even after the first treatment, Rhonda says parents usually see a difference in their baby's latch, or they sleep better and are generally happier and less tense.

Whether you try CranioSacral Therapy for yourself or try it on your child, regular sessions can help resolve lingering tissue and stress issues. Because of its relaxing effect, it brings the nervous system down leading to decreased anxiety and best of all — it is low-risk, making it an ideal treatment to try.

Monday, September 12, 2016, 11:00 AM

Positive Results from Working with Aging Clients

Are you discouraged from trying yoga when you see a physically agile, flexible person in a seemingly impossible, complicated pose — whether it's in a headstand, a one-handed tree pose, or a full king pigeon pose?

NHPC member, Marthe Murphy, a yoga teacher with a background in structural movement and yoga therapy, offers an alternative for those who want to try yoga, but who may not have the flexibility or physical strength to perform some of the more challenging yoga poses.

Marthe teaches a deconstructed yoga style that combines movement education, assessment techniques, and classical yoga. She assesses joint position and gait to help identify muscles that are contracted and tight or weak and overstretched. Movements that will correct those particular areas are then applied.

The muscles acting on the pelvic bowl are aligned first, followed by shoulder correction, then core stabilization. Muscle isolation is a primary focus in the beginning of any practice, applied with relaxed and easy breathing. Both sides of the body learn to work together.

In this variation of yoga, a person can go through a variety of seated yoga positions, or different types of classical and non-classical yoga poses that can be modified based on an individual's particular needs.

A Yoga Routine for Every Body Type and Age

Marthe encourages everyone to try yoga and gives her clients options that they didn't think were available to them. She brings yoga back to its roots as a practice for all.

"It's about learning about one's own body, learning patience with limitations, not competing, not comparing, and learning to move with stability and ease."

The truth about aging

In 20 years of working with seniors and those with chronic pain, Marthe has seen the significant difference yoga has made to her clients' lives.

She remembers one woman who came to her in the '90s who had a childhood knee issue and was in a brace for many years. This client had very limited movement and couldn't get in and out of a bathtub without assistance.

Within 21 days of a twice-weekly practice, she started to see changes. Pain was decreasing; its intensity and duration were improving. Her range of motion, flexibility, posture, and alignment were benefiting. After 18 weeks of classes, she had no issue getting in and out of a bathtub.

"She came back after a year and a half, and her posture had held after not doing anything. That was quite a revelation to me, and I understood once we change muscle memory, that it stays changed until stress or trauma alters it. She still practises structural yoga. I call her my poster child."

"What we call aging is not necessarily aging. We may be tired. We might be sick. We might have congestive conditions. We might have had poor posture for years. It's not aging; it's illness or old patterns that have continued on." says Marthe.

The Rewards of Teaching Structural Movement and Yoga Therapy

"It brings me so much joy when I see people at the end of the class standing straighter. When I see the shoulders drop away from the ears. When I see them doing something they've not been able to do for years. When I see their faces light up with joy and pleasure because they reclaimed something that they thought they lost forever."

Take a look at our Vlog where Marthe demonstrates a yoga routine that incorporates structural movement and yoga therapy:

Friday, September 2, 2016, 3:45 PM

The feeling one gets after a Reiki session is difficult to formulate into words: the great feeling of release afterwards, discoveries of memories or injuries you were previously unaware of, the sometimes sudden rush of emotions. These feelings make Reiki an energy treatment rapidly growing in popularity.

The Reiki Experience

Reiki is a Japanese energy technique, with Tibetan origins, where an emphasis is placed on the body's natural ability to heal itself.

Helen Aikens: NHPC Massage and Reiki PractitionerHelen Aikens is a massage therapist with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) and a level two Reiki practitioner. She first became interested in studying Reiki as a massage therapy student.

At that time, Helen would hear about different people's Reiki experiences. They could never quite describe how they felt after treatment. Reiki seemed to be such a mystery, so she decided to have a session to find out for herself.

"I walked out of it and thought it was such an amazing experience." After her session, Helen decided to pursue Reiki training along with her massage training.

Helen compares Reiki (or universal life) energy to the circulatory or lymphatic system. It flows through the body, and when energy flow is stagnant, it can impact a client's health and well-being.

During a session, she removes blockages in energy flow by gently placing her hands in various positions on the head and body with the intention of healing on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

Many people go into a Reiki session without really understanding what Reiki is. "I think that it's because people can't see the energy. It's amazing when I'm working on people to hear their comments after, and they're amazed because I pick up on certain areas."

The Client Experience

One of Helen's clients had just such an experience. Her client had no real understanding of what Reiki was because the friend that referred her couldn't articulate exactly what she had experienced during treatment. She was 29-years-old (the picture of health) with no prior experience of Reiki or with Helen.

During treatment, Helen identified issues in the client's lower abdomen and in the right ankle. Her client was astonished because she had just found out she had a polycystic ovary (relating to the issues that Helen identified earlier in treatment within the lower abdomen). She had also broken her right ankle when she was eight-years-old.  

"She walked out after the treatment and said 'Now I understand that it's really hard to explain, but I feel amazed.' And the fact that I could pinpoint these issues for her, it just sort of solidified her experience."

Reiki Gaining in Acceptance

Helen is excited that Reiki has gradually started to become more popular and accepted within established medical fields. "Nurses are actually being taught Reiki and how it could positively affect cancer patients going through radiation and chemo."

Three years ago, she rarely received requests to perform Reiki treatments. Now, she frequently receives referrals for Reiki.

Like all holistic health practitioners, Helen is always looking for new ways to understand how holistic treatment of the mind, body, and spirit can lead to optimal health. Her educational journey isn't over yet, and she plans to incorporate even more techniques into her massage practice.

Reiki and Manual Lymph Drainage Together

Helen is currently focusing on bringing Manual Lymph Drainage into her massage practice. Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) benefits health by improving the flow of the lymphatic system. Practitioners apply soft touch to help reduce swelling and pain.

"I'm seeing a lot of people with lymphatic problems. I'm also noticing that when they have lymphatic issues, they also have energy issues. I think Reiki and MLD are interconnected. They both use passive movements and are non-invasive. They make the person feel very relaxed."

Helen is considering taking training as a Reiki Master. "I want to be able to better articulate what Reiki is and to teach."

Aikens describes the feeling she gets when she pinpoints an issue or an area to work upon during treatment as the feeling "when you rub your hands together really hard. You can feel that push in between them: like two magnets when they repel each. It's really bizarre, but it's really cool."   

Reiki will always be a practice with an edge of mystery, but that's part of the draw, a mystery with non-mysterious results. It's a practice that doesn't need a definitive answer. Clients will continue to refer others, based on that incomparable feeling they get after treatment.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 2:30 PM

When you visit your massage therapist, you probably prepare for a healing and wellness experience that begins with the physical massage itself. But behind the experienced hands are often therapists with true dedication and compassion for your overall wellness.Michelle Blanchard

One such therapist is Michelle Blanchard. Michelle has been practising for 15 years in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has always been fascinated by anatomy and all the workings of the human body.

Michelle has also always been driven by her innate compassion for people and her love for animals. These aptitudes and talents have been obvious since childhood. One story stands out for her.

"In grade 9, we were doing different stages of embryotic development and at the end of the term, we had two different chicks that hatched. All of the girls put their name in to get a chick, and the understanding was that if one of the girls won, one of them would bring it home."

Michelle won the chick. When she got home, her father had built a pen for it. "I realized that I couldn't eat chickens any more. That was one big deciding factor in my life — treating all things with compassion."

Although she didn't realize it at the time, this compassion and aptitude for understanding all living things would lead to her career as a massage therapist.

Client Care

When exploring career opportunities, Michelle's life took another directional change. During a visit with her cousin in Ottawa, who was very involved in the Metis Association, she was introduced to the Elders, one of whom was a medicine man.

"He just looked at me, and he took my hands and said you're a healer. That's what you're meant to do." When Michelle returned to Winnipeg, she decided to sign up for a massage therapy program.

Michelle treats her clients' physical health, but she is also provides a safe place for them to talk, without judgment.

She particularly remembers one patient, who first came to her after she had a double mastectomy.

"She was very apprehensive about treatment. She was told to come in for lymphatic work by her doctor. I assured her about the importance of her comfort, and that I would just work with whatever she was comfortable with. We just talked for the first session."

The next session, Michelle saw a dramatic change with the client. "The next session she was ready to be undressed, and the treatment was in a chair. She didn't want to lie on the table, which was fine, and next time it was a little bit more."

Michelle gave her client the power to make her own decisions, "It was just giving her that confidence and giving her the power to make her own decisions and to decide her own direction, which she felt had been taken away with previous treatments."

Practitioner Self-Care 

While Michelle believes it's important to empower her clients to be more proactive about their health, she also believes in the importance of self-care.

Oftentimes, when massage therapists are just entering into the field, there is a tendency to overextend themselves. This can lead to burn out; some therapists only practise a short time before they injure themselves or retire from practice.

She advises students or new massage therapists to "Make sure you're taking time for yourself and know and just believe that that's what the universe wants."

Sharing Wisdom and Experience

As to the future, Michelle is passionate about volunteerism, something that was instilled at a young age by her mother.

She has previously served as the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada's (NHPC) Board President, and has played an active role within the organization since 2005. 

There's not one day that Michelle regrets her decision to become a massage therapist. "I'm going into my fifteenth year of practising. Ninety percent of my patients have office jobs and are under so much stress from their employers. I'm just glad that I'm able to help them. I love my job, and I'm just so thankful." 

Monday, July 25, 2016, 3:00 PM

In July 2016, the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC), the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), and the Remedial Massage Therapists Association (RMTA) delivered an Application for Regulation to the Alberta Government Department of Health.

This fall, the three member Associations will be jointly undertaking a consultation process with all their members to ensure everyone has full opportunity to discuss all aspects of regulation, including proposed eligibility requirements to transition into a regulatory College. 

This isn't the first time the alliance has made significant progress. The coalition has made joint improvement in many areas, including schools approvals, insurance industry advocacy, educational opportunities, and now regulation. 

In May 2016, the Associations announced to their members that they had reached agreement on potential eligibility requirements for transitioning current practitioners into a regulatory College that take into account years of experience and education. 

The Boards of Directors and their CEO and Executive Directors are very excited to be announcing that this process has moved forward and look forward to comprehensive discussions with their respective membership this fall.

MTAA LogoRMTA LogoNHPC Logo

Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 3:00 PM

We all have stress. What you may not know is that there are different types of stress—not all of it is good but not all of it is bad either. It can be detrimental in the way that it negatively affects your mindset and can lead to physical ailments down the road.

However, the good news is that stress can also create an environment that motivates you to achieve more and pushes you out of your comfort zone. The key is having the resources and support system to manage it.

Stress is a signifier anytime your system's balance is challenged. When change needs to happen, your body will give you a signal: your heart rate goes up, and the hormones cortisol and oxytocin are released — stress!

As a survival mechanism, you are given those cues to impel you to adapt and rise to the challenge.

Manageable stressors are things that actually help you stay alive. For example, when you are hungry, you eat; when you are tired, you sleep. Most of the time, stress in and of itself isn't necessarily the problem — it's the frequency and what you do with it that matters.

Dr. Eva Selhub, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of stress, resilience, and mind-body medicine, advises you to distinguish between the motivating stress and the unmanageable kind that is toxic.

Dr. Selhub likens unmanageable stress to your mind creating a lion that is chasing you for its next meal. When this stress response is activated, it causes heightened physiological changes.

It's when the mind perceives stress to be unmanageable that it really starts to break both the mind and body down. Unmanageable stress leads to anxiety and negative emotions because one negative thought can easily turn into another, creating a vicious cycle.

Remember that people tend to base their opinions of how the future will be on their past experiences, and this anticipatory stress inhibits your personal growth. Having an innate trust in yourself and in others around you can help you develop techniques and resources to deal with challenges.

To learn more about current research, watch the viral TedTalk on the upside of stress by Dr. Kelly Mcgonigal.

Monday, June 13, 2016, 9:00 AM

Meet Kim MacEachran, an accredited Jin Shin Do® practitioner 

Kim MacEachran"We all know people who are burnt out from work, from life, that are going 500 miles per hour and then not knowing how to stop. Because if they stop or slow down or change or quit their job or leave a relationship, they're going to fall apart and they don't know how to handle that. Sound familiar?", asks Kim MacEachran.

Kim found herself in a similar situation in her mid-twenties. She needed to make a substantial life change from the world of sales.

Like so many holistic health practitioners, Kim wanted a deeper connection with a person — something intangible that you can't sell or own. And so that led her into the world of massage.

After practising for several years, Kim became an instructor in the Massage Therapy Program, at Grant MacEwan University. She taught trigger point therapy, and then became interested in acupressure and traditional Chinese medicine.

After discovering a book on the subject, Kim learned about and decided to pursue Jin Shin Do®. She connected with Iona Teeguarden, who developed Jin Shin Do®, then pursued her studies to integrate Jin Shin Do® into her massage practice.

Eventually, due to her clients' needs, she decided to solely focus on Jin Shin Do®.

The Client Experience

Kim describes her main clientele as women from 45-65, or women who are going through peri-menopause/menopause - a time that is emotionally and physically challenging.

She remembers one client in particular who came at the suggestion of her husband, after experiencing hot flashes and sleep issues. After identifying an imbalance in her meridians, her client started to relax. "The breathing changes - a sigh. Then the release. Then the tears start to flow. That's what's so good about it."

A lot of her clients, Kim explains, come in feeling emotionally out of whack. "It may manifest as, 'I have a stiff shoulder. Or, I'm not able to sleep." Many are physical symptoms. I work with an imbalance and try to restore harmony and balance."

Integrating Ohm Therapeutics™

Kim believes that harmony and balance are important for herself, as well as for her clients. She is continually looking for ways to expand her knowledge of holistic healing. She is currently integrating a sound healing technique called Ohm Therapeutics™ into her practice.

Ohm Therapeutics™ is a basic, yet comprehensive sound healing system featuring the universally recognized vibrational frequency of Ohm and its overtones.  Kim applies it to a variety of acupoints.

"For me, sound healing is very lovely — just this soothing sensation travelling throughout the body. It's very relaxing and satisfying for clients and it's where some profound healing begins."

Spreading the Word

Kim spreads awareness of Jin Shin Do® and its benefits to the wider community. She is the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada's (NHPC) Board Past-President and has previously volunteered for the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, amongst other organizations.

She teaches workshops and believes in the importance of teaching her clients "self-acupressure" or ways of maintaining the work that has been done in session. A few of MacEachran's clients have even gone on to become Jin Shin Do® practitioners.

She provides a space where healing can happen, where her clients can stop going 500 miles per hour. "You get to a point in your practice where it's not about you as a therapist. You step back from the process. Jin Shin Do® allows that. It allows a person to have that space and respect. It's an opportunity for clients to check in with themselves, to become stronger within themselves."

Jin Shin Do® translates as "the way of the compassionate spirit." Nothing could more accurately describe Kim, a compassionate spirit who brings balance to her clients' lives.

Monday, June 13, 2016, 8:00 AM

When news of the Fort McMurray evacuation order was announced on May 3, 2016, many Canadians were in shock to hear that a wildfire had the potential to engulf an entire city. 

It seemed unimaginable how 60,000 people could leave behind their homes, pets, and irreplaceable items in a matter of hours, driving bumper to bumper through darkened skies as flames edged closer to the side of the highway.

It came as no surprise to the NHPC that members were trying to organize their own relief efforts by offering free massage and holistic health therapies to evacuees and to the firefighters trying to stay a step ahead of the largest fire in Alberta's history.

Although the evacuation was carefully controlled, the days following were understandably filled with disbelief, panic, and disarray as evacuees scrambled to find a roof over their heads, food to eat, and clothing to wear.

In the first week, many evacuee sites in Edmonton were not allowing outsiders, including volunteers, so finding the right space to provide some much-needed stress relief proved to be difficult.

As time passed, NHPC members came together with members from the Massage Therapist Association of (MTAA) and the Remedial Massage Therapists Association (RMTA) to give complimentary treatments to Fort McMurray evacuees from May 17 to May 19 in Edmonton and on May 16 and 21 in Calgary.

Volunteers came from all over Alberta, and one member came all the way from Cranbrook, BC, choosing to camp while in Edmonton! Over 100 Fort McMurray evacuees stopped in to Bellevue Community Hall in Edmonton, and over 60 in Calgary.

Each and every evacuee had a different story to tell. They all had their own unique evacuation experience and personal hardships, but there was also a lot of hope and gratitude for those trying to help.

There were displaced oil sands workers waiting patiently to hop on a flight and get back to work. There were families of every size, each getting their own time on the practitioners table and enjoying the ability to clear their minds and focus on themselves.

There were many different kinds of practitioners and it allowed evacuees to try treatments they might not have tried before like reflexology, Reiki, CranioSacral Therapy, Jin Shin Do, massage therapy, and an Edu-K based treatment to help with trauma.

Thanks to so many amazing healing hands, both the Edmonton and Calgary evacuee events were a huge success.