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?

Why do I practise yoga? A personal perspective

Happy New Year Everybody!

The new year begins with a guest blog post from http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/

If anybody is interested in doing a guest blog post please get in touch via my gravitar profile or drop a note to tell me how to contact you.

Thank-you Alyson for this blog post!

Guest blog post

Yoga’s been part of my life for so long I rarely stop and think ‘What am I doing?’ or ‘Why am I doing this?’ However, in writing this guest blog post, I’ve tried to put some of it into words to explain why I practise yoga, and some of the benefits it brings me.

I’ve been practising yoga for roughly half my life, attending my first classes when I was 17. I’d dabbled earlier than that at home with Mum apparently but can remember little of that. During university my yoga practice was on and off, but for the last 11 years I have been attending yoga classes regularly, at first once weekly, then twice, then three times, and then I took the plunge and started (and completed) my yoga teacher training and have been teaching since 2008.

But why do I go to classes and practice at home? For me, if I don’t do my morning stretches I soon start stiffening up. One Christmas I had family staying and routines were abandoned. After a week my neck, shoulders and back were stiff, aching and unhappy! A few days after getting back into my routine I was fine again.

My morning routine is only about 20 minutes long and consists of basic stretches that limber up most parts of the body and joints, and it seems to be the right amount for me to keep things ticking over.

If you are struggling to implement a daily routine start small. For years I talked of doing more yoga at home but I didn’t do any. Eventually I just set the alarm five minutes earlier than usual, got up and did five minutes of stretches. Gradually I increased the time and now it’s a regular easy habit.

So, I practise daily for physical comfort.

Less noticeably, I think the benefits are a calm disposition, a more peaceful state of mind, and greater body awareness. These are some of the less tangible benefits that a yoga practice can bring.

One of the things from the yoga teacher training course which had a direct impact was the starting of a pranayama (controlled breathing) practice and diary. I tacked this onto the end of my morning routine, and it’s something I’ve (generally) kept up. We sometimes focus mainly on the physical side of yoga, the postures, but the breathing practices can be very useful, and just as illuminating as to our current state of health etc.

Likewise, I have tried to also include a short meditation into my daily session, although sometimes this is pretty short! I find the meditation to be very beneficial in helping me focus, and just to observe my current state of mind and how distracted I am.

In some ways, the benefits are often more noticeable when I’m not practising yoga. When I’m not practising, for whatever reason, I realise why I do practise!

Currently I have a foot in plaster and the enforced inactivity is a challenge. However, being able to practise just 20 minutes of stretches makes me feel better – not only physically but also mentally. And it’s amazing what you can do even with a foot in plaster!

I’m still not sure why I started practising yoga though. Unless I can recall my thoughts of my 17 year old self I’ll probably never know!

[if you want to link to my blog it’s http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/]

B.K.S Iyengar

BK.S Iyengar a back and breathing success story worth reading! from speaking with people who do this style Mr Iyengar has re-build many backs! 🙂

little windmill

B.K.S. Iyengar – The Ultimate Freedom Yoga [1976] from Praktijk Ourobouros on Vimeo.

Most yogis have heard of or practice Iyengar yoga, created by the late B.K.S Iyengar. My only knowledge of Iyengar himself was a few excerpts from the documentary Enlighten Up, and since then I have only heard more and more fascinating things about him. I took an Iyengar class in Brooklyn at the Yogasana Center. The thing I remember the most is that at one point in a Supta Baddha Konasana, we were using 7 props. At the time I thought that was ridiculous and excessive, but was later informed that Iyengar yoga is largely based on aligning the body in a perfect way.

Here is my personal summary of his life story:

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja, rightfully nicknamed B.K.S, was born dirt poor in an Indian village suffering from health epidemics in 1918…

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Another Rare Drugs Free Sighting! Flying without wings – someone who got off anticonvulsants!

I am very excited!

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about ‘Epilepsy drugs free – is it possible to fly without wings?’

This was about the one and only person I have ever read about managing epilepsy without anticonvulsant medication.

BUT I am happy to announce I was wrong!

There is MORE than one!

I have discovered a blogger who has recorded her journey towards anticonvulsant free epilepsy management and put it online!

It’s like Christmas! Well it nearly is in 3 weeks!

The link to the blog is here:

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

The blog, somewhat ambitiously titled ‘The Epilepsy Cure’ (Well why not reach for the stars?) Caught my eye straight away!

The first blog is January 2009

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/2009_01_01_archive.html

And describes how the journey began.

The final blog is September 2011

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

In a nutshell this medical student blogged her way through coming off medication and has road tested nearly every natural therapy for epilepsy known to mankind. Not only that but at the end she and her partner are about to become 3!

Not a nearly extinct species either!

She emphasises this is not a guide, and that anyone reading should do their own research, but it really is a good read!

Enjoy!

This reblog post about a gulf war veteran who never gave up and the transformation that happened when he found the yoga teacher who helped him to believe in himself.

Reading Without Limits

Got Grit? Watch this inspiring video of a veteran who used yoga to not only walk again, but find hope. Teaching the soft skill of grit is essential is important, according to author Paul Tough who profiles KIPP Infinity Charter school in his new book How Children Succeed. I thought that this video would be useful in classrooms who are interested in sharing the power of grit with their students. How would you use the clip?

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Epilepsy in Chinese Medicine – ‘Towards a spirit of Peace’

‘Towards a spirit of peace’ is one of the most interesting texts I have ever read about epilepsy in the context of Chinese Medicine and is available on line. It is a work by an author named Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D. (see link below)(1).

This is NOT a text about epilepsy although it is covered, but rather it looks at a wider concept. The ‘Shen’ or ‘spirit’ in Chinese medicine and its embracing view of the body heart-mind in oriental medicine.

The ‘shen’ or ‘heart-mind’ is how I think about it in words, but mostly I would say ‘spirit of the heart’ is how I feel about it.

I feel that the role of the heart in Chinese medicine is seen as having a great deal to do with consciousness. From what I have read of Ayurveda it appears to be held as the same or similar.

In the west the heart is perhaps overshadowed by the brain’s electrical discharges, and the importance that is attached as the brain being the ‘hub’ of the body. (2)

The first chapter of this book goes to great lengths to explain the Shen, and so I will not go into it in depth, except to say that the heart is seen as ‘the Emperor’ in its role alongside the other organs of the body.

There are barriers that cause problems in understanding in relation to accessing information on Chinese medicine.

The Chinese language is written as ideograms, the sounds of the language all are totally alien to English language speakers. Variations in tone and pitch could be compared to learning to play a new musical instrument for the English tongue; a language that has you patting your head and rubbing your belly, and tap dancing all at the same time.

Then the philosophy, differences in thinking, the possible conflicts that arise from cultural, social, and religious beliefs.  The Great wall that surrounds China could be a metaphor for many barriers in understanding.

Why did I read this text?

The most beneficial part of my tai chi training by far has been in relation to training in awareness. Perhaps this is also called mindfulness? (3)

Without awareness I wouldn’t be able to feel seizures starting, I wouldn’t feel that my back hurts, my joints hurt and my belly is churning. Is my vagal nerve trying to tell me something? Is my anger or my fear or my grief making me ill?

I don’t know, but if I feel then I can try to understand.  If I am aware how I feel then perhaps I can change the emotion.

When I feel emotions, I am more likely to become ill, in particular if I don’t acknowledge them and where and how they have arisen.

This text talks about emotions in the context of ‘emotional equilibrium’ something I’m sure we all aspire to obtain but very, very few I suspect will achieve.

Even if we have fleeting glimmers of equilibrium, there may well be more emotional storms than sunny days.

Who feels good all the time anyway? Isn’t it part of being human to feel, in all the emotional colours?

My emotional storms are accompanied by lightening, this has given me extra motivation to want to look at how to heal them before they take a hold and turn into a thunderstorms.

It may be that describing it in words is not appropriate because it relates to feeling.

I don’t like being allergic to emotions.

The last time I cried for a day because I was sad, I had seizures for 2 days afterwards. I don’t know which is worse; crying because I am sad or the fact that if I cry then I’ll have a seizure.

Does this mean heart is broken?

I don’t think so, I still feel with my spirit the same as everyone else.

1)      http://www.itmonline.org/shen/index.htm

2)      http://www.wakingtimes.com/2012/09/12/the-heart-has-its-own-brain-and-consciousness/

3)      http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/whos-in-control-of-your-mind-one-benefit-of-mindfulness/

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/

My Favourite ‘Pep’ Blogs – ‘Gin and T’ for your in box

When your health’s gets you down in the dumps there are things you can do for yourself to make your day go better.

I do this by seeking out the people who are having a good day. Friends and family sometimes aren’t enough.

Getting connected via the internet is a useful tool to make connections via social media, networking and blogging sites. If you can’t talk or leave the house this can be the only way to get ‘empowered’.

There are lots of people out there who have insight into wellness, holistic and mind -body medicines. Remember you are not alone in being unwell and that the nature of the human condition means that this won’t change.

If you have been somehow hoodwinked into thinking that poor health is something that happens to other people or that you are unlucky enough to be alone in your suffering then it’s time to look around!

EVERY BODY NEEDS BACKUP!

Remember – no man is an island! 🙂

Seriously;

The current medical model does not include a pep talk at your doctor’s from a wellness warrior. This is a great shame because getting us into shape when we are not at our best can need military strategy.

Don’t just rely on your doctor.

For this reason some of my favourite blogs are from ladies and gentlemen who in their own way are driven to educate us on our health and well –being. Either by sharing their experience or by providing information about how to improve your physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health.

I have some regulars that I stream directly into my life and some of these I would like to share with you.

In no particular order I give you;

Number 1

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/

Jessica Ainscough

This lady is clearly THE ULTIMATE aptly named ‘wellness warrior’. She survived cancer and so to be honest every word she writes I cling to like a limpet; because you don’t know how good you have it until you read about someone else’s misfortune. This lady is very positive and provides me with a little ray of sunshine even when I feel like a glow slug.

Number 2

http://sierrabender.com

Sierra Bender

Following some truly awful experiences around ectopic pregnancy Sierra went on to write ‘Goddess to the core’ and brings to America ‘Boot-camp for goddesses’ with yoga and empowerment teaching, in particular aimed at women.

I have not read the book but I find Sierra’s weekly updates on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies very insightful. My in -box would be empty without her and I would like to meet her one day.

Number 3

http://www.brucelipton.com/

Bruce Lipton

Bruce is not a man who is afraid of ‘out of the box thinking’ and for this reason I could kiss him!

Even if you don’t share any of this maverick biologist’s research views you should check him out for sheer positive collective thinking.

It’s all down to experience at the end of the day. If you read this man’s research you may realise it’s NOT just down to your genes.

This man is the ultimate warrior for ‘Mind over matter’.

Number 4

http://www.energyarts.com/

Bruce Frantzis

Another Bruce on the warrior list, this time a real life martial warrior. Bruce’s blog updates are very much tai chi orientated but his life experience is well worth researching.

Bruce suffered severe back injury following a car accident and spent many years re-training his spine.

As a person who suffers from back pain myself I respect him for not only his immense skill, knowledge of Tai Chi and martial arts, but also as a survivor of back injury!

I found it necessary to read his books to really benefit from his experience and understand how he has overcome problems with – training. You don’t need to be doing tai chi to listen to his meditations which are available to download in some cases.

Number 5

http://epilepsytalk.com

Phylis Feiner Johnson

Everybody has their specialist subject and this lady is the ultimate ambassador for mine. I have not managed to find any other blogger with such a rich encyclopaedic knowledge of epilepsy. Phylis is using her life experience to educate and inform others about epilepsy. I only wish I could ship her to the UK to meet my consultant, because I think she knows more than he does.

Number 6

http://www.drfranklipman.com/big-pharma-define-better/

Dr Frank Lipman

Last but not least Dr Frank Lipman the newest addition to my inbox. Promoting alternative wellness on a grand scale in New York. This link is to his blog about ‘big pharma’.

Even though I do take medication, there is a good argument for all things in moderation.

It’s important that we don’t neglect the whole.

Without medication I would have seizures, but it is worth noting that even with medication if I neglect the whole body – Mental. Physical, Emotional and Spiritual then I get sick anyway.

Meditation is my medication.

It is important to keep learning about your body.

Don’t be blinded by science it hasn’t got all the answers.

It is important to look for ‘Back up’ and depending on what health condition ails you, your personal reading may lean towards specific health conditions. Facebook, twitter and specialist websites exist to take us to other people when we are not able to leave the house.

Get Googling!

Don’t be alone when you need help.

Get conneted, get smart, get empowered and get well!