I’ve added a regular feature to most classes called “The Big Six,” a series of movements developed by Dr. Perry Nickleston, creator of Stop Chasing Pain (www.stopchasingpain.com), to increase lymph flow. Despite the critical functions performed by the lymphatic system of ridding our bodies of waste, it has received very little attention in medical and even movement modalities. Dr. Perry came to focus on lymphatics after becoming critically ill with an autoimmune disorder for which their appeared to be no cure until he met a colleague at a training who asked if he’d like to have his lymph system assessed?
Having no idea what this meant, but desperate for help, Dr. Perry had the assessment and found that every spot assessed was frighteningly tender and that even after just the assessment, which stimulates the lymph nodes, he woke up feeling a bit better the next day.
Dr. Perry uses the metaphor of a dirty aquarium to explain the lymphatic system. He says no fish survives in a dirty aquarium, no matter what medicine or food it receives, because there’s too much waste in the tank. We can change the water in the tank or put medicine and food in the water but the fish will stay ill and finally die. What we need to change is the filter on the aquarium and in our bodies, our lymphatic system is our filter.
So try the Big Six every day for a month and see how you feel. The process will increase blood flow to and from your tissues and clear toxins from your body – all good things for our wellbeing.
We hear so much about core strength, but what does it mean? And why is it often so difficult for us to connect with our core?
When I work with people one-on-one, some part of their core almost always isn’t very well connected to their brain. Instead, our brains use muscles in our neck, jaw, shoulders, back, and even our toes for power instead of gathering it from our central source.
Yoga is a practice about finding our center: physically in asana, energetically with our breath, mentally by drawing inwards and meeting ourselves, and spiritually by connecting with what is greater than ourselves. This all takes practice and consistent effort on our part. Often, we find ourselves drifting, slipping into distractions that pervade our days if we allow it. We get tangled up in our thoughts. We literally lose ourselves.
How do we remember ourselves so we can find our way back to our core? The root of the word 'remember' comes from the 1500s meaning re (again) and memorari (to be mindful of). So again and again, we remember to be mindful and not distracted from what’s truly central to us.
Another way to think of the word is that we re – member ourselves, as in we connect with our members: our cells, tissues, organs, and body systems. Sometimes when we re – member ourselves, it brings discomfort because we then have to feel ourselves. I often wonder if the vitriolic nature of our national debates could be caused by so many people not wanting to feel what’s going on inside their own bodies. Simply put, it’s easier to be mad at someone else or some group than to feel your own pain and discomfort.
Yoga gives us tools to learn how to re-member ourselves and find our center, our core, so we can feel and therefore heal. Remember the well-known phrase, “ You can’t heal what you don’t feel.” Mindful movement, breathwork, meditation, chanting, and guided relaxation all direct our awareness back to the source that’s not somewhere out there. It’s right inside us, just as it always has been and always will be. This profound power, at all levels, is just waiting for us to notice that it is available in us.
As Etty Hillesum said in her famous diary, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943:
“…knowledge must seep into your blood, into your self, not just into your head, that you must live it.”
Live it we must, re-membering ourselves in our core one breath at a time.
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