Karate and Neurogenesis – Articles by Rob Nielson

Following through with the theme of neurogenesis and exercise for brain health and development; here are links to two excellent articles by program director and chief instructor of karate Rob Nielson at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding school for troubled teens (1).

Karate is one of my favourite pass-times and I was very happy to read that it is being used in such a positive way to help young people.

1) Karate Black Belt Challenge Brain Development in troubled teens

Student Participation stimulates brain development (neurogenesis)

By Rob Nielson, Program Director & Chief Instructor

Helpful in disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression. Increases self-confidence and mindfulness,

http://www.cedaridge.net/karate-black-belt-challenge.html

2) Karate Black Belt Challenge for brain development in troubled teens – Part II

an Holistic approach to therapy at Cedar Ridge
Academy Therapeutic Boarding School for troubled teens

by Rob Nielson, Program Director & Chief Instructor

Relationships between being physically fit and mentally fit, karate for attention deficit, anxiety, drug issues, impulse control, aerobic exercise and brain health.

http://www.cedaridge.net/black-belt-challenge-therapy.html

 

1) http://www.cedaridge.net/quick-facts.html

Advertisements

More Health and Exercise Condition Management

Wales National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) – Cynllun Atgufeirio Cleifion I Wneud ymarfer Corff Cymru

Thank you once again to my ‘Yoga I Bawb’ teacher Alyson for pressing a guest blog from me in relation to health. If you are interested in reading it is at:

http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/yoga-for-weight-loss-and-peace-guest-post/

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to draw people’s attention to the Welsh Government scheme Wales National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS).  Aimed at 17 years of age and over, who are not used to being regularly physically active and have a medical condition, the scheme is designed to provide opportunities to exercise that are fun; rewarding and that can be incorporated into every-day life.

It consists of a wide range of activities both gym based and class based to choose from for patients that have been through a rehabilitation programmes. The benefits are listed as weight management, reduction of blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and strokes, reduction of cancer risk, reduced stress and anxiety, improve mental and social wellbeing, increased energy, improve strength, mobility, co-ordination and balance and improved health and wellbeing.

The link for information is: http://www.wlga.gov.uk/ners

To be referred you need to approach your GP/practice nurse/health professional. Give it a go!

I have not had experience of this scheme myself but would be interested to hear from people with any feedback that they would like to share.

Perhaps there is a similar project helping people with health conditions through exercise in your area?

some of you may be interested in making a contribution to this post about ‘abiltiy’ or ‘disability’. I know I am.

The Autistic Voice

Hi Readers

Playing devil’s advocate today…

I recently gave a session on autoethnography and reflexive writing at Sheffield Hallam and I included several examples of autoethnography of my own.  One example was some reflexion I had done during the Paralympics.  Someone suggested I put it in a blog to encourage debate:

‘So the past month has been about planning, and watching the olympics and paralympics, which have really got me thinking about disabilities – in fact it is not about disability but all about ability.  Even the language used is interesting – political correctness talks about people of restricted height for example, but paralympics talk about dwarfism.  Language is much more direct, honest and matter of fact.  Is PC for the benefit of the ‘inflicted’ or is it to make the public feel more empathetic to individuals’ feelings?  Do we worry too much about upsetting people?

One amputee…

View original post 165 more words

Epilepsy and the Circadian Rhythm – Do you dance to the beat of your own drum?

Exercising for many people can be a struggle, because of body image, obesity, lack of time or just lack of interest.

For myself it was seizures that were very much inhibiting movement.

One of the important factors in turning that around was the discovery of the Circadian Rhythm (1) and how it impacted on my hormones and seizure patterns.

I have always had difficulty keeping my alter ego ‘Wareruth’ under wraps. Husbands across the globe will hold testament to the fact that their nearest and dearest turn into unrecognisable creatures, with gnashing teeth that can only be consoled with chocolate bribes when the moon gets fat. For women with epilepsy this may be compounded by the problems that ‘Catamenial’ (2) epilepsy and oestrogen and progesterone fluctuations cause (3).

Since childhood I have always been more likely to have seizures on a monthly basis resulting from hormones, although it is not the reason why I have epilepsy.

I now monitor the situation closely and have found that my seizure pattern has changed over the years. This appears to be in time with the progesterone and oestrogen monthly cycle.

Changes in oestrogen production also occur around pregnancy. In women with epilepsy it also can cause marked changes at menopause as well (4).

Interestingly migraine is also commonly linked to the monthly cycle in some women (5).

Personally I find that pain management becomes a high priority at this time, my body in particular my back and my joints get really sensitive.

After trial and error no medication has controlled this.

On realising this was the case I had to find out how to ‘go with the flow’ sought of speak.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda seemed to be helpful because of their understanding of the endocrine system.

I would be very interested in finding out more about what Ayurveda has to say about epilepsy, the model I am most familiar with is TCM.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is based on the Five Element model (6). Within this model holds the key to understanding how seasons in the year and times of the day are attributed to different organs in the body (also known as the Circadium rhythm or biorhythms), and how these impact on the body.

For example the Kidneys are linked to winter and the element Water. The TCM model also incorporates the emotions into this model so the emotion that is attached to the kidneys is fear. The endocrine system is very sensitive to emotions (7),so understanding your emotional make up is a useful tool for managing potentially damaging emotions such as stress which may impact on epilepsy management.

Using methods like yoga – in particular Hatha yoga, ‘yin yoga’ (8) and Qigung (9); have brought me some relief from epilepsy symptoms, this includes meditation exercises of any form.

Yin Yoga, in particular, I found very helpful for acute problems at the wrong time of the month. Yin yoga postures that allow for supported deep relaxation on the floor allow me to feel in a place of safety as well as relax, stretch and release tension. My living room floor looks like a sofa the amount of cushions and blankets I use!

Having spent much of life hitting the floor, feeling safe on it is very reassuring. Letting gravity take its course without going south can be a good thing.

Equally I have found that standing poses in tai chi practice (although nothing in riding horse stance – sitting down into hips with legs wide apart this causes dizziness and nausea for me). Standing in Bear posture with feet shoulder width apart so the Kidney 1 points (10) on both feet are firmly anchored to the ground can also be highly beneficial for hormonal problems (I find).

Sadly wanting to run around and play with my friends is not something that results in good seizure management when my body is at its most sensitive. Neither is activating the sympathetic system. There is a delicate balance between doing too much and too little. I defiantly don’t want to be rolling around or standing on my head at high risk times.

I’m not saying I wrap myself in cotton wool, but from my experience pushing to exercise my body when it’s vulnerable can cause further seizures. If I listen to my body and give it some respect when it needs tender loving care, problems don’t crop up so much.

Throughout the day, one of the most positive changes that has helped in my seizure management was being able to lye down for 20 minutes at lunch times.  This is either to close my eyes and rest or meditate. This meant that I have a chance to de-stress, re-charge and avoid overtiring which caused further seizures.  This has really reduced seizure problems associated with overtiredness and stress.

My Qigung and tai chi instructors (11) are very passionate about ‘lying chi gung’. The hours between 11am and 1pm are known as ‘heart time’ on the Chinese Clock and for this reason it is identified as a good time to rest the heart.

Although this is not an exact science – like the rhythm method of birth control (don’t take risks – I always take my medication), having some understanding of how hormones can be managed through exercise or not has been really helpful to me.

For the best results I find continual practice of yoga or chi gung and tai chi are what is most effective in order to have preventative and long term health benefits.

It is unfortunate that my favourite pastime – calculating how many endorphins are in one cubic centimetre of chocolate Marsbar – is probably not helpful to my hormone balance or blood sugar! 🙂

If you have epilepsy and have any experience of the above I would be very interested in hearing your management strategies and any tips are always welcome!

If you have any experience of complementary or integrative medicine I would also like to hear your thoughts on this as I find it fascinating and would welcome hearing from anyone else’s experience.

I like dancing, finding my own beat has meant that I can enjoy the music of life.

1)       http://www.jcircadianrhythms.com/

2)      http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/women/your-periods-menstrual-cycle

3)      http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/michael+r-+trimble/women+and+epilepsy/3569072/

4)      http://professionals.epilepsy.com/page/hormones_menopause.html

5)      http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Migraine-Triggered-by-Periods.htm

6)      http://www.tcmbasics.com/basics_5elements.htm

7)      http://candacepert.com/biography/

8)      http://www.sarahpowers.com/

9)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong

10)   http://www.acupuncture.com/education/points/kidney/kid1.htm

11)   http://www.uktqf.co.uk/

CHANGE – The Day My World Got Turned Upside Down! (in a good way)

At approximately 8 am this morning a minor miracle happened (no I didn’t give birth)…

…I actually got my legs over my head in an arm balance (called peacock!).

Actually, what happened was 2 yoga teachers saw me struggling because I have NO proprioception of my legs leaving the ground WHATSOEVER and they lifted my legs over my head towards the wall.

It’s amazing how when your head is underneath your legs it feels like you’re in free fall!!

Despite support the second that they got near the wall I starting squealing and they had to lift me down again, BUT for me this was BIG!!

The last time I got my legs in the air for a handstand was when I was 12.

I was in a gym class and I hadn’t learned to roll from a handstand safely, so I just went SPLAT! On my back and winded myself really badly.

I haven’t been able to go up (side down) in the world since!

I was totally put off and always stiffen up and my breathing goes out of the window!

Obviously, it’s probably going to be sometime before I can do this by my-self, but it goes to show how – I can change! 🙂

So happy! 🙂

Some people can travel the world, but I am really more than happy to travel all around my body. I feel so lucky that I have a chance to learn these things I always wanted to do.

Not a Peacock yet, but not Advanced Hedgehog Pose either!!!

https://epilepsymeandneurology.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/epilepsy-advanced-hedgehog-pose/

Thank you Lesley and Sue! (my yoga teachers)

And Alyson http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/ nearly forgot you not there today!

A Breath of Fresh Air – Post viral O2

There is nothing like influenza to boost catch up reading.

Ironically the book I chose to read was called ‘The Revelation of the Breath’ by Sharon G. Mijares Editor.

This collection of short essays on breathing did at least serve the purpose of ramming home to me why I was sick in the first place (unhealthy breathing patterns). It is a fabulous introduction to many breathing techniques from east to west, religious, spiritual and medical.

What I particularly liked about it was an article on breathing for Aikido by Darrell Bluhm Shihan.

I really like aikido but have never read up on it in particular because my teacher who is a bit of a traditionalist, put the emphasis on ‘doing’ not ‘reading’.

When I asked if there were any books he recommended he told me in no uncertain terms that it was practice not reading I should be concentrating on.

Fair point really.

But this book is really good  at explaining breathing techniques, their purposes and the philosophy, physiology and psychology behind them.

I was particularly taken by Buteyko for asthma, sleep and apnoea, and Rebirthing completely reframed birth trauma. The section on Freediving was quite revealing. Personally holding my breath is not an area I have ever explored (one of the diving instructors I met said that underwater diving and epilepsy aren’t a good gas and air mix).

Maybe I’ll just have to practice pausing between air intake and exhale for now. There are lots of rhythms to use after all.

Breath can be energising or relaxing, exciting or tranquil. Huffing and puffing can be quite good fun 🙂

I like that someone took the time to write about how breathing can be a revelation.

Make of it what you will I hope you enjoy this book as much as I am.

Here is a link to view it, also available from Amazon.

http://www.sunypress.edu/p-4912-the-revelation-of-the-breath.aspx

‘It’s character building’ – Epilepsy and Karate part 2

I read an article written by one Sensei analysing how she felt following a car accident where she injured her back quite badly and found her-self lying in hospital thinking ‘none of this is as bad as a training session with our Sensei’.

Under the firm conviction that ‘it’s a man’s world a girl’s got to be able to look after herself’ I put aside my reservations about Karate and joint care to have a go as an adult.

As a child I struggled to hit people with conviction. Not being the slightest bit athletic I was happier doing kata as it meant remembering patterns or dancing around as I saw it (all wannabe ballerina’s do!). I only learnt 3 kata because I didn’t stay long enough to learn any more.

As an adult, thankfully, like ‘Cat- woman’ in the latest Batman film ‘The Dark Night Rises’; I don’t feel quite so strongly about not hitting people. Preferring the approach of ‘varying degrees of massage’ I did feel strongly that it is important to be able to defend myself.

I went to see the film ‘Lawless’ last night (based on a true story) (1). The story of 3 brothers, the youngest of whom is Jack Bondurant (played by Shia Lebouf) who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

The film is interesting from the point of view that we see the events that change Jack.

How violence and injustice cause people to behave and the outcome at the end make for a gripping movie. What is more interesting is that the final straw is not violence inflicted on Jack, but against those he loves that is the emotional turning point.

The film is a study of fear and survival at a time of great hardship.

Physical and psychological attack is something that happens in life. No-one wants a big sign over their head saying ‘kick me’.

Sickness and disability in particular make people vulnerable to harassment, discrimination and abuse.

The way sick and disabled people are viewed in Britain currently is a whole new Dickensian novel. (2)

The Paralympics have just been hosted In Britain and while this has brought much discussion and debate in our country about ability in the context of disability; society has a long way to go before everyone is treated as equal. (3)

My own personal ‘fight back’ campaign began with Karate as a child and somehow stayed in my head as a ‘Nemesis’.

If I could draw a line pinpointing where it all started to go pear-shaped at 12 years old after falling down the stairs from having a seizure then Karate was the defining event.

Ultimately to beat epilepsy it felt like I had to do karate.

If I were a computer it would be like going in and re-writing the programming. Who doesnt need a copy of ‘Toumb Raider’ amongst the microsoft office software?

Is this going towards the ‘Dark side’ or facing up to my own demons?

Personally to me it felt like I was addressing something within myself.

I wake up every day and look at myself in the mirror. I see my best friend and my worst enemy. That is before I even have to deal with anybody else.

When I first started training I was very ill. I purchased a t-shirt with a superman ‘S’ on the front. It was like I needed to create my own personal alter ego to make me superhuman and to protect me.

Nearly 5 years down the line I can honestly say that karate training has helped me keep a job (despite discrimination), keep my home and given me the help I need without having to resort to violence.

I think that everybody can find their inner ‘grit’. For me I just needed to find the people who could show me the way.

There is no such thing as superheros who can protect us.

If we are lucky we have friends who care enought to look out for us.

It would be nice to think that there is someone out there that would fight for you when your screaming but no-one can hear you.

1)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawless_(film)

2)      http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/press-release-former-paralympian-joins-activists-to-target-atos#.UDaRnwwg0j0.facebook

1)      http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/paralympians-state-help-disabled-benefits-cut

Pushing The Boundaries – Epilepsy and Karate part 1

Wearing a Gi (karate suit) is a bit like going on camera because you gain a few pounds.
What on earth was I doing?
My first brush with a Dojo (Japanese martial training hall) was when I was 12. It was my good friend (or fiend depending on how you look at her) who thought it would be a good idea to go and train with or local karate club under Sensi Roger Sayce.
Roger was well loved by everybody who he taught and to this day I will never forget how every time he saw me he would ask when I was going to start training again.
So it didn’t last long.
Roger never gave up on me, if only he were alive today I would be able to tell him how much I now appreciate this and thank him.
There were a couple of reasons training came to an end. One was the distance and effort required to get to town for after school training (a mile to a milk stand outside a farm, 12 miles to town with my neighbour who was going training and her very kind dad who offered me lifts), Seizures and medication and also the grading examiner who was a bit scary. As a 12 year old I think I started shaking when he started shouting and shook all through the examinations – just two of them in two years. I was not brimming with confidence as a child and so I was quite happy to go and train without re-visiting grading’s (where you get a shiny new belt).
Mum and Dad were not enthused by my new found hobby and steadfastly refused to support me in my pursuit of ‘violence’. Unfortunately they missed the bit about fitness, discipline, confidence, self -defence, spirit, etc.
Eventually after a couple of years I stopped training at the level of temporary red belt or 8th Kyu.
Years passed and I declared I would start karate again ‘over my dead body’.
Time passed and my good friend married someone who also eat, slept and breathed karate. She and everyone else I started training with reached dizzying heights of ninja skills and I just got more and more sick.
And so, years later, I started karate training once more for a large number of reasons.
After being described by my friend’s husband as a ‘tai chi tree hugging hippie’ I thought I should check out the local club once more (pride in NO way played a part).
In all seriousness there are good reasons to train with people who seem to have turned out confident, self -assured, independent, assertive individuals. When faced with life’s problems they all seem to stand firmly in the face of adversity.

What did I have to loose?

Epilepsy – Yoga for Mind, Everybody and Spirit

So now that I have spent some time looking for reasons why yoga and tai chi are good for health, I am curious to find out if anybody else has been benefitting from mind-body training for seizures.

As it happens I have recently found a couple of articles which were really good and indicate that I AM NOT ALONE!

Yoga Journal December 2011 community – ‘signs they are a ’changin’ page 24 has an article by Anna Dubrovsky about deaf yoga founder Lila Lolling. (see deafyoga.org.)

Unfortunately I can’t find this article on-line to create a link. Apparently epilepsy is not the only health condition to pose a challenge in class participation. Lila Lolling has set up deaf yoga classes to include and encourage participation in yoga by deaf people. (see link 1)

Being deaf in a yoga class creates its own unique challenges and she has been building bridges towards inclusion. Interestingly, in relation to her own health; ‘Diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager, Lolling credits yoga with keeping her seizure free and off medication,’ according to the article. This is very encouraging to me!

Pretty quickly it was apparent that EVERYONE participating in yoga are reaping health benefits. There is a wealth of online resources explaining what health problems benefit from yoga.

In 2009 and 2010 I returned to yoga classes locally, this time as a tortoise (slow and steady). I can put my head on the floor now and put weight into my head and through my neck. I am not quite upside down yet – but give me time!

Our community classes are called ‘Yoga I Bawb’ this is Welsh for ‘yoga for everybody’. (see links at bottom of page) We are very lucky to have such a holistic co-operative approaching the teaching of yoga to our local community! If you are in the locality drop on by!

Info sources: 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWsSFuxlj5k

2) deafyoga.org (link given in yoga journal article)

3) http://www.yogawithlila.com/yogawithlila/About.html

4) http://www.yogaibawb.org.uk

5)http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/yoga-i-bawb-agm/