Creativity. Growth. Flexibility. Vision.
According to classical Chinese medicine, these are qualities associated with the energy of springtime, which in turn is associated with the Wood element. The colour, not surprisingly is blue-green, its climatic force is wind, and it is all about creativity, growth, and change.
The emotion of the Spring is anger, which is not necessarily a negative thing. If we understand anger as the impulse to create change, then we see that it can be a very positive and dynamic force when it is channelled in a healthy way. Looking inward at our bodies, the Liver and the Gallbladder are the internal organs associated with the spring energy. In the context of Chinese medicine, these organs are in charge of smooth flow throughout the body and they have particular influence over the eyes, the joints, tendons and ligaments, the reproductive system, the blood, and some aspects of digestion.
It is time for things that have been resting and replenishing, germinating and gestating, hidden and gathering power through the cold and quiet winter, to emerge and burst forth, take form and assert themselves. So it goes with our plans and aspirations – this is the time when the unformed idea begins to take on shape and detail. A time to do, we define our vision, focus our energy, make decisions and take action. When the inevitable obstacles arise, we stay rooted while remaining flexible and seeking a new path. If our own, internal springtime energy is strong, then creative flow and adapting to change will come easily to us. However, if our springtime energy is out of balance, we may lack vision and focus or we may lack the decisiveness and firmness of purpose to achieve our vision. We may be thrown off by changes and obstacles, either becoming rigid, and angry when things do not go according to plan or feeling so hopeless and frustrated that we give up on our goals.
Spring Feel Good Activities
- Get outside. Outdoor air helps the chi flow, as does exercise. If you find yourself feeling irritable, lethargic, or stuck, find some time for an outdoor activity. Hiking, gardening, golf, bicycling – whatever suits you!
- Express yourself and Envision Possibility! Dancing, cooking, writing, making art or music… See your life growing beyond present obstacles. Write your goals and dreams, take one step at a time, take this season as an opportunity to examine what you would like to change in your life. Make a plan and start putting the steps in action and walk steadily towards your north star. Any form of creative expression helps nourish and channel Wood energy in a healthy way.
- Eat Green. Not surprisingly, green is the colour that goes with spring, wood, and the liver. Green, leafy foods are especially helpful to the liver chi. If you can find in-season baby greens, that’s the best! , spinach, fiddle ferns, wild leeks, watercress, etc., sprouts – all can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of chi.
- Taste Sour. Sour foods also help soothe and smooth the liver chi, and can ease the transition into spring. Add lemon to your water, pickles to your sandwich, vinegar and olive oil dressings to your salad.
- Stretch. Taking a few minutes to stretch, do yoga or Tai Chi in the morning can help you move more fluidly through the day.
- Be Gentle. The Wood element in Chinese Medicine has a tendency towards frustration and impatience, so acknowledge yourself for your efforts, and kindly give yourself some time and space to get to where you’re going.
Adapted from deMamiel blog
- Do you understand your skin type, concerns and prognosis (ie. how your ageing will progress)?
Skincare & Facial Massage @ Home
- You are happy with your skincare routine?
- Do you like your skincare product formulations (textures/ fragrance)?
- Do you know specific techniques to apply your skincare in different facial zones?
- Do you massage your face at home?
- Do you practice personalised Rolling & Acupressure?
- Do you practice Facial Yoga?
- Do you look forward to using your skincare products twice a day ?
- Do you have realistic expectations regarding the efficacy of your skincare?
Seasonal and Hormonal Changes
- Do you have a personalised winter and summer routine?
- Do you understand how to prevent concerns arising from travelling and hormonal cycles?
Health & Lifestyle
- Do you understand the impact of your specific health issues (e.g. quality of sleep, allergies, medication) on your skin?
- Do you understand how your lifestyle (e.g. suntanning, smoking, alcohol, diet, water intake, exercise, relaxation, family support) affects your skin?
- Do you have regular professional treatments that complement your care @home – be that every 2, 4 or 6 weeks?
Wrinkles, Emotions and Facial Expressions
Please print this picture and draw your main concerns – lines, wrinkles and sagging. Also think of your bad facial habits, for example frowning when you think or when in a position of authority – and your most frequent moods.
Are you smiling a lot? Are you often angry? Do you wear sunglasses? Do you have a “computer-face”?
A mix of facial yoga to improve muscle definition and specific massage (at the points of muscle insertion with your hands and small massage instruments) deliver best results. 10 minutes a day!
Negative expressions contort our faces in a specific way. Facial expressions repeated over and over again become ingrained as wrinkles.
Tips from Maura Bright in London
Keeping your face looking its best is a matter of many elements.
Let’s start with the physical
- The ageing process of your face can be slowed down by Facial Exercises. A world renowned cosmetic surgeon in London’s Harley Street, when asked what worked other that going under the knife, replied: ‘Face Exercises, but you have to do them everyday for the rest of your life’. If you can spend 10 minutes per day on exercising the muscles of your face, then Eva Fraser’s Face Exercises are the one to go for http://www.evafraser.com. This workout keeps the jowls at bay, the neck soft, improves the circulation to the skin and stimulates the meridians of the face which gives your face a constant boost of Qi – beauty energy.
Please look at FaceWorkshops comments re: different types of facial exercises on this blog.
Firstly, stop the sugar: it’s a no-no if you want to preserve your collagen. Sugar adversely affect the production of collagen which keeps your fibres taut and prevents lack of tone. Sugar in your bloodstream from cakes, chocolate, pasta, bread, pastries, and high glycemic carbs , potatoes and fruit juice creates inflammation throughout the whole body which damages the tissues and contributes to ageing.
In Chinese medicine, sugar weakens the spleen function which controls the muscles. If your tongue is pale and swollen with teeth marks around the edges, your spleen energy is deficient. Keeping blood sugar levels steady is key to all the ageing markers : strength, muscle mass, glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, blood pressure, lipid ratios, aerobic capacity and immune function. 80% of our ability maintain normal blood sugar levels comes from a balanced diet, 20% comes from exercise. Increased insulin in the blood stream over a long period of time increases cell turnover which increases the chances of DNA damage – and ageing.
Next, hydration, hydration!
It’s not just a question of drinking 2 litres of water per day which for some people might be drowning their system. Dehydration happens at a cellular level, and contributes to inflammation which is part of a complex inter-relationship of ageing. Hydration at a cellular level depends on the proper balance of sodium and potassium, hormonal balance, trace minerals and the proper oils. A lot has been written about the benefits of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and eating lots of oily fish, nuts and taking omega 3-6-9 supplements. It’s also important to stop the trans fats and hydrogenated fats which go into junk food. These fats clog up the receptors in the cells which absorb biophotons, mess up hormones, affect the body’s electrolyte balance and generally clog up your system. Your cells can’t then stay hydrated and, more importantly, can’t absorb light – and we are beings of light! So, junk the junk food, drink pure water, make sure you get your EFAs in olive oil, oily fish and an organic Omega 3-6-9 oil supplement, eat sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds for minerals, lots of organic fruit and veg. Drinking pure water then has a more beneficial effect. (I know – drinking water is boring, but it works!).
Detox and calorie restriction
Ok, so no-one want to detox! However, Springtime is a great time to give your body a rest and to get rid of the effects of heavier wnter foods. 3 – 6 days on fruit and veg only (a mixture of cooked and raw), combined with a freshly squeezed juice every day is great for your skin.
Combine with Dry skin Brushing before your shower to boost your lymphatic system and clear the toxins. Add some seeds and nuts if you like, some olive oil/lemon juice dressing, and take a little Milk Thistle tincture in water every day to help your liver in the detox process.
A session of Colonic Hydrotherapy helps remove toxins and speeds up the process. Make sure you go back to eating more substantial meals slowly: add a little rice, then protein over the course of a few days. Calorie restriction : the terms used for underfeeding poor lab mice in the course of research into anti-ageing. It’s true to say though that a good diet is also a low calorie diet. Reduced calorie intake has positive effects on the biological markers of ageing. Diet should be nutrient rich, providing adequate (but not excess) protein, fat, carbs and plentiful use of low glycaemic foods. Eat organic when possible to get the micro nutrients missing in so much food now. Eat lots of veg, of all colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple – this will help to keep your body alkaline.
The Chinese have a saying: ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and give your supper to your enemy’.
The digestive system has the most energy in the morning, and the least in the evening. So avoid those big dinners! As much as possible avoid foods which clog up the system – bread, pasta, milk, cheese, deep fried foods and, of course, sugar.
If your neck and shoulder muscles are tense and your shoulders are around your ears, this creates the opposite effect around the front : jowls and loose neck. Neck tension also creates eye tension and headaches. Learning proper posture helps you avoid a whole range of complaints that make you look older. Getting regular shoulder massage and doing yoga neck rolls and stretches helps to release tension.
- Don’t use shoulder bags…one shoulder has to hunch up and creates unnecessary strain.
- When you sit don’t cross your legs and is puts stress on the spine. Always have your feet on the floor and make sure your back is supported so your body doesn’t sag in the front, dragging your neck with it.
- Avoid tilting your head while you are on the phone, and keep your neck, spine and head aligned when in front of the computer. Position your screen so that it is directly in front of your eyes. Let your shoulders drop down and relax when working. Use a page holder at the same height as the monitor.
- Yoga’s Lion Pose is good for the neck and the shoulders and relaxing the face.
- Distortions of your hips and lower back will influence your posture. If you have had any accidents, or problems with your hips, visit a Teacher of the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method or good Cranial Osteopath.
I am attending seminars on Yoga & Mind in London next week and will be updating this blog with news.
Heart & Mind Connection
Our emotional health and wellbeing requires harmonizing the interplay between the heart and the brain and I advocate focused relaxation – an hour or so away from the daily stressful life – among my clients.
Alleviating Stress and Anxiety
By changing breathing patterns, we can alter the messages from the body to the brain. Through these pathways, we can see how specific breathing techniques can alleviate anxiety, insomnia, intrusive memories, over-reactions, distorted body perceptions, disconnectedness and loss of meaning. This research attracts worldwide attention and reflects a new development that crosses psychology, psychotherapy and physiology.
“By doing yoga, we are rooted in the body when the mind focuses and settles.”
Open Hearts – positive emotions induced by loving kindness meditation - help us to be healthier.
Her face looks softer and lifted, with improved definition. As she continues with her routine, the benefits will be even more apparent.
For more information about facial massage & exercise and or how to become a case study, please email email@example.com
Are you exercising your eye area?
Early research shows that facial zones age at different rates [Marrakchi 2007] and the eye area, in particular, is susceptible to premature ageing – due to squinting in the sun, computers, bad working conditions, lack of sleep, etc.
My clients quote the eye area to be their biggest concern. [FaceWorkshops Survey 2012]
We look people in the eye when forming a relationship. Our eyes are able to detect very slight changes in the eye area, we can distinquish a 20% change in skin surface topography eg. wrinkle depth. [Samson N, et al. 2010]
However, anti-wrinkle eye creams are used only by 22 % of people in the UK; 33 % in age group 45 – 54.
In order to deliver results, skincare has to team up with a smart application technique and facial exercise.
The FaceWorkshop Club members were encouraged to exercise their eye area, doing 3 eye exercises, twice a day, for 7 days.
- First exercise was an eye movement (please note the video repeats the movement twice)
- The second exercise was resistance training and the third exercise was an upper eyelid lift. Following the instructions, we did 20 repetitions twice for Exercise 2.
Exercise 2 and 3
- We did rest with palms on our eyes afterwards.
Please read the comments of the participants below, these are the subjectively assessed results.
My Facial Yoga Parties are introductory, light and fun. But if the participants want to progress, I usually recommend specific books or DVDs to exercise a distinct part of their face.
To give you more of an insight into the best schools of Facial Yoga, I have invited my first guest blogger whose expertise I regard highly, Lynn Rae, a facial posture & jaw realignment specialist. Lynn is based in London and here are her comments on the distinct ways of approaching Facial Yoga..
Marja Putkisto Training – http://www.methodputkisto.com/uk
- I have trained with Marja Putkisto and worked alongside her for many years so I know and understand the Method Putkisto Face first hand.
- It is a whole body experience – the posture of the body and the position of the head upon the body are crucial to the work.
- It involves being aware of the face as a 3-dimensional structure and thinking from the inside- out – breathing, massage, stretching/releasing tight muscles in facial exercises, as well as a small amount of posture awareness and upper body releasing exercises.
- No mirrors are used for the exercises so changes are felt rather than seen, although a mirror is available to assess changes.
- The overall experience leaves you feeling energized, relaxed and the feeling that you have a new relationship with your face and a better understanding of its structure.
- The results are instant, you can see and feel that the face is more open and uplifted than before, with a great sense of mobility. Of course for the results to become permanent a course of classes is necessary. The programme is carried out one to one or in a group/ workshop format.
Eva Fraser Method – http://www.evafraser.com/
I have a colleague who has participated in the Eva Fraser method.
- From what I can gather, it is very precise and prescriptive with very specific exercises and repetitions. I think the main difference between the two methods is that this is carried out in front of a mirror and you watch rather than feel what is happening, the work is from the outside.
- Also the work is very much focused on the face and neck, rather than connecting it to the whole body.
- This is a beautifully organized and tried and tested programme with highly specific diagrams and an absolute knowledge of what is expected.
- The focus seems to be more on strengthening the lifting muscles of the face; although it plumps up the face, it doesn’t encourage mobility. The results happen over time as the muscles gain tone.
Yoga Face Method
- The exercises again are generally done in groups, which adds a lovely dynamic and energy. With breathing and meditation it can sometimes also be a full body experience.
- It is more about creating shapes with the face than precise exercises, which helps to release and strengthen the structure as well as encouraging mobility and fun.
You should choose a programme depending on what are the most important aspects to you.
- Knowledge of the face and its structure
- Release of muscular tension
- Improved postural awareness
- Exercises and massage to do at home
- A feeling of the face being opened, uplifted and mobilized
- Fun approach so you will want to do it regularly
For more information about Lynn’s work and classes in London, please go to her LinkedIn profile
There is a growing evidence that more women in office-based jobs are developing a “computer face” and premature signs of ageing. Working long hours in front of a computer screen results – in a decade or so – in sagging jawline, “turkey neck” and deep-set wrinkles on the forehead and around the eyes.
It is a habit. When stressed or thinking hard, people often put on a grumpy face to appear more serious.
- Concentration leads to frowning and squinting that overtime brings on the frown lines.
- Sagging is due to shortened neck muscles and sitting in one position for too long. This repetition leads to pre-mature signs of ageing - and in two decades of looking at the screen - these may be really significant.
To me, it is not the Botox but small changes to break the habit include:
- taking regular screen breaks
- stretching neck muscles – Dr Prager, a London cosmetic surgeon, also recommends “Kiss the ceiling” exercise we teach in facial yoga classes
- and raise your computer screen higher so that you are not looking downwards at it.
Come for facial yoga tuition or organise a facial yoga party.
Source: Eccles, L. Screens put years on you. Daily Mail Sep 2010.