Thursday, March 29, 2012

BLOSSOM into SPRING with the Dance of QIGONG

BLOSSOM into SPRING with the Dance of QIGONG
Karen Steinbrecher    QiGong Practitioner   
Did you experience Spring fever in the first few weeks last month?
Although the premature warm weather gave us a Spring preview with blossoms on the shrubs and trees and bulbs in bloom, now we are officially in Spring, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is associated with the Wood element. There is a sparkle in the air, we are ready to play baseball, watch the butterflies flutter with light-hearted images of young lovers and love bursting all around us.
Practicing, dancing Qigong, we can transition and follow the Seasonal changes with grace, as we adjust our bodies and unblock our meridians to align body, mind, and spirit to find peace and harmony towards optimum health.  Qigong is more than a set of flowing movements, it is an attitude that works to restructure one’s perspective on life, leading to balance and harmony with the world around us.
In every culture sages are revered for their ability to live in harmony with Nature and with themselves.  The outward reflects the inward.  It was the great, ancient sages, the Taoists, who discovered the acupuncture meridians, the principles of Qigong, as well as the healing qualities of herbs.    The ancient Taoists of China saw living according to the Tao, the Natural Way, as both sociological and ecological, the dance of life as being all-encompassing. Taoist Qigong traditionally emphasizes the body, for nature and the physical world are sacred.  In Taoist philosophy and TCM medicine, Spring is a time to cleanse, nourish, and support the Liver and Gall bladder. Inspired by the Wood element, envision a young tree as a pale seedling beginning to push through the winter-hardened earth, reaching for the warmth and light of the Sun.   This is how insistent your own life force becomes during this point in our year’s cycle.
Taoist Qigong alludes to a cosmic order of sorts, following the rhythms of nature, that  we see in the world around us as well as the rhythms we feel inside ourselves.
Spring is also a time of ‘emergency,’ where one’s life force pushes forward unexpectedly and in potent ways.  Any suppressed feelings or intentions clamor to come forth.  It is no surprise then that the emotion most associated with the liver is Anger.  Just as it’s not uncommon for a woman in childbirth to lash out in anger during the throes of labor, one may find the exhaustive work of your own ‘birthings’ brings you to a similar emotional pitch.  If you use Qigong to move energy through your liver and break up stagnation, you will find that you can transform anger into kindness and forgiveness, beginning with forgiveness of self.  This is empowering, a rebirth to joy and love.
With Qigong practice we follow the TCM practice of the 5 Seasons. The Wood element    focus is upon the Liver and the Gall Bladder.  We dance, practice flowing movements that help us to detoxify, let go.  Here at the Resiliency Center we practice Zhang Fu, movements that correlate with our organs.  What is Zhang Fu?  Zhang = Yin organ, Fu = Yang organ, Yin being the Liver, Gall Bladder being the Yang.   The TCM functions of the Liver govern the free flow of Qi which in turn will ensure the harmonious flow of emotions, blood, and water; it also governs the tendons and ligaments.  Liver function is reflected in the nail, known as the “free & easy wanderer ~ Alchemist.”  It opens into the eyes -the sense of sight.  The Gall Bladder, Yang, eliminates toxins in the body, emulsifies fats, and regulates cholesterol levels. Practicing these special movements enables us to flow into Spring.  
From an ancient Taoist monk, Huang Di Nei Jing:
     “Heavenly Qi moves down to meet the rising Earth Qi.   As a result living creatures bloom and bear fruit”
Qigong is about blending and using the Powers of the Universe to become more whole as humans.  Let us be thankful.  Life is a beautiful journey, a dance.  Be happy. Enjoy and learn from life itself.  Come dance Qigong with me!
Karen Steinbrecher      Qigong   Practitioner at the Resiliency Center       $10.00/class
contact: 215-836-7184  Thursdays @ 2 P.M. and 6:15 P.M

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS By: Dr. Georgia Tetlow

Polycystic ovary syndrome was originally described as a syndrome including amenorrhea (lack of menses), hirsutism (excess body hair), and obesity in association with enlarged polycystic ovaries. The classic definition of PCOS includes women who have irregular periods, do not ovulate and have hyperandrogenism (excess testosterone and DHEA-s). It is a condition in which there is an imbalance of female sex hormones. This hormone imbalance causes changes in the menstrual cycle, skin changes, cysts in the ovaries, difficulty getting pregnant, and is often associated with type 2 diabetes and increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

In a typical menstrual cycle, follicles develop in the ovaries. These follicles contain eggs, and once an egg is sufficiently mature to be released, it travels into the fallopian tubes and this is referred to as ovulation. Polycystic ovaries are much larger than normal because there are multiple undeveloped follicles which become follicular cysts, thereby creating polycystic (multiple cysts) ovaries.

PCOS occurs most commonly in women during their reproductive years and its estimated that up to 10% of all women have PCOS. There is uncertainty as to the actual cause of PCOS but these factors are likely involved: genetic predisposition, insulin resistance, obesity, and/or environmental chemical pollution.

PCOS is most commonly treated with oral contraceptives to suppress the excess androgens (testosterone) and Metformin to treat insulin resistance by making insulin more efficient. But these treatments don’t address the underlying issue, the medications merely control the symptoms associated with PCOS.

Dr. Tetlow works with women with PCOS to make dietary and lifestyle changes in addition to focused nutrient supplementation. The right nutrition can make a big difference for women with PCOS, including an organic, whole foods diet with limited amounts of sugar and processed foods. A regular exercise program (30-45 minutes daily) is crucial to aid weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity. Supplements that can further aid PCOS include chromium, a mineral that helps to stabilize blood sugar and Chaste Tree Berry which is a herbal product that encourages ovarian production of progesterone. Dr. Tetlow has successfully worked with many women with PCOS using an approach that supports long-term, optimal health.