October 1, 2012

Living With The Fall Season: Sinus Infections, Postural Awareness, and Spiritual Bathing. (part 2)


{Living with the Fall Season Part 2}

Balance: Postural Awareness, Sinus Infections, and, Spiritual Bathing

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on how to better live in harmony with the seasons.  Below are some ideas on the essence of Autumn as well as some self-care practices you may like to integrate into your life this time of year.


Leaves scatter into pockets of darkness, mildew, and moisture after a cool rain...Our bodies can experiences a similar state of excess moisture and fungus in our sinuses. We can balance this state by warming up our bodies, and balancing our tissues.

Sinus Pressure and Infections Settle

After the green leaves of summer pay their crispy toll, quite often they settle down into moisture, cultivating a perfect environment for mold. This mold often increases sinus infections, and pressure that leads to neck pain, tension, and headaches. 

Our bodies defense to mold allergies can increase mucous production that settles into our sinuses, and lungs, creating blockages. There are more ways to fix this than the use of antibiotics (and for that matter, they are little to no help for sinus infections caused by mold and fungus). Read more on that in my post on Finding Relief from Seasonal Neck Pain, Sinus Pressure & Headaches During the Fall Months.

Open Your Heart & Relax Your Wings

I love birds...so often I feel that our bodies really, are not all that different. One of my favorite areas to work on during bodywork sessions is what I like to call "the wings". This area extends from the front of the arms, shoulders, chest and neck--all the way back to our shoulder blades, and down the back of our arms. 

Many of us carry a lot of stress in this area. Let's face it...with all the driving, computer jamming, biking and other hand related work many of us do on a daily basis, who isn't tired, tight and sore in the head, neck and shoulders? 

Do you display signs of cold-bird syndrome?

Often times the fall can increase our tendency of a slumped over and protective posture.  

When you think of a cold bird, what do you think of? Are its wings tightly wrapped around its body to keep it warm? Something that we may express in a similar fashion when we wrap our arms around ourselves and curl in our shoulders? 

I think this cold-bird like posturing is in part reason why pain in our wings--neck and shoulders--increase during the first cold weeks of fall.  The new, energy of fall tugs our shoulders inward and heart downward. When you look at a cold bird--or a cold friend--they wrap their arms and wings around the front of their chest.   As us birds and humans cave inward to conserve head, our heads shiver forward over our necks until they disappears into a pile of hair, scarf (or feathers). This is a very guarded and off-setting posture, that I think can be balanced with some effort. 

Fall energy: Inward, downward, rooting

Heart/Shoulders:Letting go, compassion 
Throat/Neck: creativity, expression

The chest houses the energy center (or nerve plexus) of the heart, also known as the heart chakra.The neck is the area of the nerve plexus of the throat, or, the throat chakra. The throat chakra represents speaking your truth, creativity, and self expression. The heart chakra relates to things such as self-empowerment, letting go and compassion...that includes compassion for the self!  

We can balance our desire for inward reflection by trying to consciously lift our literal to the sky to counter-balance an inward-slumping posture. We can embrace the inevitable cycle of the earth, and let go of the summer, by speaking our truths in how we feel about it through compassionate self-expression, and acceptance of what is. 

Speaking your-truth can come in many ways, it can be writing, but, it can also be singing, making music, creating art...any thing that helps you to express yourself. By tending to your need for self expression, and opening up your heart in acceptance, your energy is free to move smoothly back into the ground, that which is fall. The energy in the world of the plants, trees, and shrubs return to the roots in the fall and as does ours. 

In part 3 and 4 of Living With The Seasons: Autumn Inspiration, and Harmony I will highlight some thoughts and ways on how you may be able to use the essence of fall as your muse :) Also, I will offer two great self-care tools; a breathing meditation with Harshada Wagner and another video that features one of my very favorite sound-meditations ever!

Balancing Acts of Self-Care: Healthy Tissues


 What you ingest can change everything. If you experience sinus pressure, headaches or infections, you may want to try to avoid dairy and gluten. Or, at least test out the waters with by eliminating the foods for some time. If you eliminate it, you must eliminate it all...that means read your labels! After you eat either of those foods (within 24 hours or so) do you experience more inflammation of the tissues, sneezing or runny nose? Dairy is very mucilagenous, and therefore it increases mucous production.  There are many other possible culprits, and food journaling is the most effective way to narrow down the list of offending foods. If you have a question about that, send me a message. I will post more on food journaling soon. 


Make a ritual of taking a warm bath at your days end. It's a lovely way to ground, and settle in, before bedtime. Use a candle! In the fall I practically crave the color and warmth of a candle's flame...hence fall colors! During the fall and winter time, you may really enjoy the warming energy of fire with a candle lit bath! 

  1. Take a nice warm shower so you are clean before sitting in your bath. 
  2.  Add 2-4 cups of Epsom salts--a wonderful way to ease achy muscles  and joints. If you like essential oils, add 5-7 drops to your epsom salts before adding them to the tub. Add the epsom salts and oils* right before you get in so the oils do not evaporate before you can enjoy them. 

  3. I f you would like, as you draw your bath you can set an intention to "let go" of any energy, thoughts, or worries that no longer serve your highest purpose. If you enjoy singing or humming, consider doing this while in the bath. You may even like to have your ears underwater so that you can listen to the vibration and sounds of your voice. I think there is a lot to be said for vibration and sound healing; it can be incredibly clearing for the energy body and mind. 

  4. Take some deep breathes while you soak in your warm bath, the bathtub is one of my favorite places for breathing meditation. I take a clearing baths daily, currently in part to the balance of the nature of my work. Taking a bath is a ritual that I have loved since a child, and, indeed I feel it is an art form. There are so many form of bathing; you can set effectively set the mood and specific healing intention with whatever it is you feel drawn to; herbs, essential oils, salts, crystals, a candle, or maybe even just a book and a good breath!

*Oils: I would suggest adding a warming essential oil such as cardamom, with a relaxing oil such as lavender. Cardamom makes me sleepy, though, it is more often used to keep people alert, as do many of the warming oils. Here lately I have been loving balsam fir and lavender. Lavender is always a safe bet :) Most warming oils also help to sooth aching muscles. Do be careful with warming oils such as rosemary, cinnamon and clove: use them diluted in a carrier oil only, as they can be too warming to the skin. 

SAUNA: If you are lucky enough to have access to a sauna, is wonderful for the skin, muscles, and soul during the cooler months! You can also try to use essential oils here to open up your heart and breathing, such as a blend of eucalyptus, geranium and maybe some lemon. Be sure you are considerate of the needs of others around you.


Yoga for Neck Pain with Esther Eckhartt

If you are feeling like the fall is indeed causing you to experience pains in the neck, you may find this 3 minute video of stretches suggested by Esther Eckhartt helpful. If you go to a yoga class in person, consider speaking up and asking your yoga instructor (before class starts) if they may be able to focus on any certain area that you feel tension.  

It fascinates me how interconnected the front of the neck, upper chest, and shoulders are to the back of our neck and shoulder blades. If you are experiencing pain on the back of your neck and shoulder blade area, it is likely that your pectoral muscles are very tight. They are likely pulling on your "back wing" muscles, therefore causing pain. So, if you are to simply visualize "opening up your heart", this can help to reverse shoulder slumping! This heart-opening will broaden your shoulders and allow your "wings" to rest naturally and relaxed besides you.

Often you feel pain in one place, but, it comes from another! You can remedy this by massaging the meaty area found at the crevice of your armpit and chest. It is above the breast area, so , you can actually do this while you are driving without looking like a freak.

 Warm up your body at the office to help counter-balance slouchy office shoulders and the cold chills that can come with fall. Try our these simple stretches to keep your energy flowing:  Yoga Journal: Six Stretches To Do At Work.

If you have an office mate who isn't afraid, ask them to join in. You can make note note of the changes you experience physically, mentally and emotionally and share your experiences!

Are there ways you prepare your body, mind, and soul for Autumn?   
If so, please share, as I would love to hear from you!

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