Morning Yoga poses to get your spine moving

Dr Elizabeth Johns

As my patients know, I love being an osteopath! I’m also very passionate about yoga, as it integrates my love for movement therapy with a mindful breath practice.

I often share yoga with my patients. The benefits of synchronising movement with breath whilst stretching and strengthening your muscles has effects far beyond just our physical bodies. 

I really wanted to share with you all a couple of my favourite yoga poses that I do regularly to get my spine moving, to connect with my breath and to be present in my body!

When practicing these poses, it is important to listen to your body. Enjoy feeling your way through the poses and don’t push yourself into any shapes that don’t feel right for you. These are my go-to morning yoga poses to move my spine in all directions before I commence my day.


Sitting with your breath

Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. You may like to place a rolled up towel under your bottom, to ensure your knees are below your hips. Take a moment to become aware of your breath.

Observe the inhalation as it enters through your nose then into your lungs, expanding your lower ribs and abdomen. As you exhale, notice the gentle drawing in of the belly as the breath passes out from your body.

Spend a couple minutes observing and feeling the cycle of your breath as you breathe in and out through your nose.

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Seated Side Bend

Begin seated with your legs crossed. You may like to place a rolled up towel under your bottom, to ensure your knees are below your hips.

As you inhale, raise both hands out to the side and up towards the ceiling. As you exhale, place your right hand on the floor beside you and reach your left arm overhead to the right.

Feel the stretch through the whole left side of your body. Keep your left sit-bone grounded and stay lifted through the right side of your body.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths. On your next inhalation guide your arms up overhead and then side bend to the other side. 


Seated Forward Fold

Begin seated with your legs crossed. You may like to place a rolled up towel under your bottom to ensure your knees are below your hips.

As you inhale, breathe deep into your belly and feel your spine lengthen. As you exhale, walk your hands in front of you and slowly fold forward, hinging at your hips.

Keep breathing deep into your belly, allowing the shoulders to soften with the exhalation. You may notice opportunity to fold a little further with the exhalation.

Spend 5-10 breaths in this pose then repeat, swapping the way that your legs are crossed.

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Child’s Pose

Begin in a four point kneel. As you exhale send your pelvis back towards your heels and walk your hands out in front of you. Your knees can be close together or wide apart. If your pelvis does not sit comfortably on your heels, you can place a rolled up towel or pillow under your bottom.

Continue to breathe comfortably, allowing the belly to soften towards the mat. You may like to close your eyes, internalising your awareness on the subtle movement of the spine with each breath.

Hold pose for 10-15 breaths.


Cat Cow Flow

Begin in four point kneel - Hands under shoulder, knees under hips.

Cow Pose: As you inhale, lift your gaze, let the belly drop and allow the pelvis to tilt forward so that you create a gentle arch in your back.

Cat Pose: As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor as you curl your back and pelvis. Push your hands into the ground to feel a stretch through your upper back as you gaze down towards your belly button.

Flow between cat and cow, synchronising movement with your breath.

Cow pose with inhalation

Cow pose with inhalation

Cat pose with exhalation

Cat pose with exhalation


Low lunge

Begin in four point kneel. You can place a blanket or towel under your knees for added comfort. Step your right foot between your hands keeping the right knee in line over the right toes.

Inhale into the belly and raise both arms up overhead. Feel and opening through the front of your chest, belly and pelvic region. Allow the spine to lengthen on the inhalation. As you exhale, there may be opportunity to sink into the stretch a little more. Stay open through the front of the body and avoid slumping the lower back.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths then change sides.

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Hamstring stretch

From a low lunge gently straighten your front leg; your front leg may straighten completely, or you may be more comfortable with a bend in the knee. Keep the front leg active by lifting the toes up towards the ceiling.

Ease further into the stretch with your breath. Be sure to listen to your body as your lengthen with the inhalation and gently forward fold on the exhalation. Your hands can be placed on blocks, a blanket or on the floor.

This pose will encourage a stretch through the back of your leg. To ease the tension you can keep the head lifted or bend your knee more. To feel more of a stretch you can draw your chin to your chest as you fold forward.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths and change sides.


Hip Circumduction

Begin laying on your back with your legs outstretched. Keep one leg straight and active while you pull the other knee towards your belly. Hold onto the bent leg with both hands clasped together below the knee. You can hold onto the shin or back of the hamstrings, whatever is more comfortable for you.

Breathe deeply into your lower ribs and belly. Use your clasped hands to guide your hip through circumduction. Continue to gently guide the hip through circumduction as you breath.

Remember to stay active through the straight leg, you may feel a stretch through the front of the straight leg’s hip.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths and change sides.

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Rest and reflect - Savasana

In savasana, we take the time to rest and integrate the changes of a freshly stretched body. It is the perfect way to finish your mindful movement and breath practice. Lay on the floor and allow your breath and body to be passive. You may like to close your eyes.

Rest here for 5-10 minutes.

Use your glutes! The importance of strong glutes.

Dr Nicole Cuikerman

Many of us spend hours a day sitting either at our desk, driving to and from work, or on the couch after a long day. This time probably increases over the winter months when we tend to hibernate to stay warm and spend less time outdoors. When in a seated position our buttocks muscles are inactive. Overtime this can lead them to become weak and dormant.

Why does this matter you may ask? Well, our gluteal muscles are the biggest and one of most important muscles in the body. They are necessary for pelvic stability and propulsion standing, walking and running, supporting your core, strength when lifting and provide protection of our back, hips, knees and ankles.

The gluteal muscles are made up of a group of three muscles; gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. Weakness or inactivity can cause malalignment of the pelvis and thigh bone. When this occurs our biomechanics change which may pose strain on various joints, for example a weak gluteus medius results in our hips rolling inwards placing excess strain on our knees and ankles. This can lead to a range of complaints such as tendonitis, bursitis and patella-femoral tracking syndrome. Furthermore; pelvic dysfunction or instability from poor gluteal function results in compensation by other muscles and vulnerability to our core predisposing lower back pain.

Video: Nicole from Eastern Osteopathy is showing you four exercises to help strengthen your glutes.

Four Month Sleep Regression

Dr Kathryn Johns

The four month sleep regression... It’s a thing!! How did you all cope?

Let me share with you my experience when Harper, my second daughter started to go through sleep regression. By 6 weeks Harper, the golden child, was either sleeping through or waking once a night and sleeping until 7.30ish. Was I tired? Yes.. Exhausted? No. 

 Liz, Vince and Grace

Then it happened. Harper turned four months and two days old and the sleep regression began. 

I’m lucky, my best friend, business partner and twin sister (aka Liz), has spent all of her working osteo career treating babies. So I asked Liz what exactly is happening to Harper? Why, around four months, do babies regress with sleep? Can osteopathy help? Here is what Liz had to say: 

Firstly, the 4 month sleep regression is absolutely normal (hard but normal, exhausting but normal). As hard as it might feel right now, congratulations, your little bubba has reached a developmental milestone!

To help understand what’s going on with your bubba it’s important to understand the 4 stages of sleep. 

The stages of sleep are categorised by light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. A normal sleep cycle consist of four stages of sleep that are repeated every 90-120 minutes. Newborns skip the first two stages of sleep and go straight to deep sleep (Stage 3 & Stage 4). 

Stage One - The earliest stage of sleep, referred to as drowsiness or pre-sleep. This is the lightest stage of sleep when we can easily be woken. Slow rolling eye movements that occur as our bodies relax and soften.

Stage Two - The predominant sleep stage during a normal night’s sleep. Stage comprises approximately 40-60% of our sleep time. Still classes as light sleep, the body reduces its activity to prepare for deep sleep. Body temperature increases and heart rate decreases.

Stage Three - Moderate to deep “slow wave” sleep. During this stage our bodies are busy repairing and rejuvenating, growing and developing. In stage 3, we are least likely to be interrupted or woken from external stimuli.

Stage Four - REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It is during this stage we do most of our dreaming and our brain consolidates information and memories. During REM breathing is rapid, irregular and shallow. If woken during REM sleep, we can wake feeling tired or groggy.

Normally at the age of four months your baby starts going through all four stages of sleep . With these changes, more time is spent in lighter sleep, making it easier to wake. During this period your baby is also going through developmental changes and becoming more alert adding to the ease at which they wake up. 

The good news is, although this is a permanent change to your babies sleep cycle, they will adapt. They will sleep again, you will sleep again!

Can osteopathy help? There is limited research into the benefits of osteopathy in helping improve babes sleeping. However it is very common for parents to bring their kids in for treatment to help with sleep. From my clinical experience, osteopathic treatment is really helpful in removing tension and we all know when we remove tension in our bodies we feel more relaxed. As a result we often see babies sleep patterns improve with treatment. 

Chloe's Health Tip ~ Beef Bone Broth

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One super easy way to make your soup extra nourishing is to make it with bone broth. Bone broth may not sound very appealing, but it can actually taste really yummy, and better still, it is great for your body – in particular, your gut!

Bone broth is very nutrient dense – containing numerous minerals and amino acids, necessary for good health. As well as being good for digestion and gut health, bone broth is also said to be beneficial for the health of our skin, muscles, eyes, bones, joints and immune function…hence many old tales telling us to eat chicken soup to cure a cold!

Bone broth is really easy and cheap to make. Here’s how I make mine, using a slow cooker.


Beef Bone Broth

  • Place about 1kg beef marrow bones in the slow cooker. (Cannings Butchers sell some really good quality, cheap marrow bones – get them to cut them up for you if they’re not already, otherwise you won’t fit the bones in the pot!)

  • Fill the slow cooker with water, then add a splash of apple cider vinegar (this is essential to draw the minerals out of the bones)

  • Leave the slow cooker on low for about 24 hours and VOILA! – you’ve got yourself some bone broth!

* You can also add some vegetables and herbs to the slow cooker if you like – I tend to just season mine with salt & pepper when I am about to eat it.

  • Just remove the bones and strain the broth before you fill your jars or containers. Store in the fridge or the freezer for future use. When cold, the broth may have a jelly-like consistency, this is due to the gelatin, from the bones, in the broth (which is really good for the gut).

Bone broth isn’t just for soups. You can use it in any recipe that calls for stock to be added or just drink it on its own!

 

Enjoy! You can thank me later.

National Pain Week 2017 - Pain and your diet

How do you feel after your meal?

As Osteopaths, we are passionate about helping our patients live life to their full potential by achieving balance within their body. There are treatments that help all of your body systems synchronize and work as one to create ideal conditions for your body to express health that is already present but perhaps lost in amongst pain and discomfort you might be experiencing. We recognize that good health depends not on one but many interrelated aspects of our life including genetics, environmental influences and emotional states and responses.

In our role as an Osteopath, we realize there are many pieces to this puzzle of achieving health. Some of them are addressed through treatment, some of them can be addressed everyday through the lifestyle choices of each individual. One of those puzzle pieces is diet. Of course it is not news that what we eat greatly determines our health. We are constantly bombarded by novel diets and miracle eating plans. It has become more confusing than ever to know what we should or shouldn’t eat. This certainly does not help relieving stress levels and make us feel relaxed and healthy. 

But what if we simply try to watch what our body is telling us after each meal? Did you ever stop and think that the bloated feeling you are experiencing constantly isn't something you have to live with? Did you know that the headaches or pain in your right shoulder can be traced back to certain foods you consume on daily basis? Are you aware that joint pain can be related to inflammation caused by eating too much sugar or certain types of fats?

Through years of working in private practice, it has become clear to us that the body responds very well to consumption of anti-inflammatory foods. Think of it as an opportunity to direct energy towards health and not the battle of inflammation. It is not really about any specific diet. It is about elimination of substances that make your body work that much harder to maintain your health.

Here are some food groups which have been found to cause inflammation:

·        Sugar: This is a big one. More and more research is showing a relationship between sugar and inflammation (in amongst other issues!). Refined sugars are quickly turned into blood sugar which can lead to inflammation within the blood vessels not to mention the excess visceral body fat.

·        Saturated and Trans Fats: Although this may be an obvious one for inflammation of the waist line, saturated fats are not only a risk factor for heart disease but can significantly worsen arthritic inflammation. Research has shown diets high in both of these fats has led to inflammation.

·        Refined Carbohydrates: Examples of these include white bread, bagels, rolls, crackers, white rice, potatoes and many cereals. These types of foods cause a rapid rise in blood glucose and insulin levels which in turn results in an increase in the number of pro-inflammatory messengers being released.

·        Omega-6 Fats: Found in corn, sunflower, peanut and soybean oils are all pro-inflammatory as they are metabolized into a hormone-like substance that actually promotes inflammation.

We recommend trying to swap above ingredients for some better, anti-inflammatory options:

·        Friendly carbs: We all have heard this one many times. Yes. Whole grains, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas. Swap your refined white bread, for multigrain ro perhaps a sprouted bread and use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. How about some cauliflower mash? Or perhaps celeriac puree? And don't forget that all your leafy greens and other veggies are still carbohydrates that love you back!

·        Herbs and Spices: Ginger, turmeric, cayenne, garlic and onions. I can not recommend adding turmeric to everything more! Its anti-inflammatory powers are amazing. Add some to your green smoothie of a morning, to curries, stir-fries, burger patties and more! They all also add great flavour so be generous and they’ll be generous to you. You could also try our yummy turmeric chai latte. See recipe below.

·        Increase consumption of monounsaturated fats: Consume extra-virgin olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, fish oils, walnuts and flaxseeds. These are rich in polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, shown to help reduce inflammation throughout the body.

·        Eliminate foods that don’t work for you. This one is probably the most important. A diet that works for me may not work for you. Keep track of what foods make you feel bloated and uncomfortable and simply see how will you feel if you eliminate them.

Everything in the body is connected. Everything in the body is meant to work as one unit. If one part struggles, other areas of the body will eventually become compromised. If we start in the gut we can definitely make a positive change and support our body in returning to health after receiving treatments.

 
 

Turmeric Chai

Pop a table spoon of turmeric powder into a cup of milk (your choice on what milk you use, we use almond milk), add a cardamom pod, a clove and a teaspoon of honey (or maple syrup) and brew yourself a delicious turmeric latte.

Eastern Osteopathy Melbourne Pain Relief

Coeliac Awareness Week 13th-20th March 2015

Coeliac disease is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in Australia and in 2015 Coeliac Australia is aiming to increase the awareness amongst Australians of Coeliac disease and to ensure medical professionals are appropriately equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure a correct diagnosis is made and an appropriate model of care for each patient is developed. Additionally, it is important for individuals awaiting testing for coeliac disease to be aware not to commence a gluten free diet prior to tests as this may lead to unreliable test results.

So what is Coeliac Disease?

People with coeliac disease have an abnormal immune reaction to gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. In humans, the small intestine is covered with small hair like structures called villi.......

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