How do you define health?
Miriam Webster’s defines health as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially : freedom from physical disease or pain”, or “ flourishing condition”. Most of us in the alternative medicine field believe it’s much more than freedom from physical disease or pain.
Some regard homeostasis as health. What is homeostasis? As it relates to you, it is the ability to maintain your internal environment within tolerable limits. While you can’t achieve health without homeostasis, I believe this definition is also lacking.
I define health as being sound in body, mind and spirit, which means maintaining a homeostatic state, being in a flourishing condition, and free from physical disease or pain. But, how do you achieve such a state? What’s necessary in order to become truly healthy?
I believe, along with many others, that flexibility is key to good health. I don’t mean just physically flexible, although that is a component. Mental and emotional flexibility, along with physical flexibility, are also key.
Why is flexibility so important? Without flexibility, we become rigid: rigid in our posture, in our emotions and in our thinking. Think of the difference between an oak tree and an elm tree. Which has the advantage in a hostile environment that buffets them constantly? The oak tree is the stronger wood, definitely; but, the elm tree is more flexible. Which tree will more easily survive a high wind storm? Which tree is more likely to break?
We live in an increasingly hostile world. For most of us, our diets are polluted with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, our air is polluted with smog, our water is polluted with all the detritus from the run-off of our lives. Let’s not forget all the hormones and antibiotics fed to our meat animals. Then we sit at work, sit in our cars, sit in front of our TVs. We eat on the run, and make poor choices in order to feel nurtured. We, as a society, are sleep deprived. We’re stressed from lack of sleep, from our work environments, from spending too little time with our loved ones. We tend to put our jobs, our families and our responsibilities first, and feel like we’ve run out of time to take care of ourselves.
How do we fight all this? By encouraging increasing flexibility in ourselves. When we’re stressed out, we have the perception there’s not enough time in a day. When we’re relaxed and functioning optimally, we know we can achieve anything. How you achieve that is a personal choice, and there are many options. Massage and Yoga, as you know, are my choices that I hope to share with you.
How can massage help you maintain mental and emotional flexibility? Through stress reduction, balancing your energy fields and the nurturing effects of touch. And Yoga? How does Yoga help you mentally and emotionally? Like massage, Yoga increases body awareness and improves mood through the release of certain chemicals in the body.
How else do massage and Yoga improve your health? Both help decrease blood sugar and sodium levels, improve neurotransmitter functioning, improve the functioning of your immune system and your ability to fight infection, increase oxygen levels in the brain, and both massage and Yoga help fight the effects of aging. Yoga also helps increase your good cholesterol, decrease your bad cholesterol and reduce stored fat deposits.