RECOVERY AND SELF-CARE: SELF-MYOFASCIAL MASSAGE WITH YOGA THERAPY BALLS.
Yoga therapy balls can be purchased HERE
A few things to note before you roll out:
Keeping the yoga therapy balls in their tote disperses sensation and minimizes depth of pressure
There are a few different sizes of therapy balls. If the standard size therapy balls are too intense, try sizing up with the plus therapy balls
If it hurts, don’t do it. Back off from a particularly sensitive area and work around that area – but be sure to BREATHE!
Any specific questions, shoot me an email:
RECOVERY YOGA POSES FOR ATHLETES
Yoga Poses to Balance the Nervous System
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR ATHLETES
Essential oils are easy to take on the road, and can help enhance immunity, improve sleep/relaxation, and reduce anxiety (to name a few benefits). Creating self-care routines are especially important for athletes because of travel schedules. When changing time zones and playing frequent games, routines are helpful for regulating nervous system function. Athletes can easily pack these three essential oils (available at health food stores and amazon) and use throughout the day. Read more on what aromatherapy is, which three oils I recommend, and how to incorporate oils into your day.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a natural, non-invasive modality designed to assist the body’s natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself by the use of essential oils.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. Essential oils are extracted directly from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree. They are typically created through the process of distillation, which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming. Essential oils are composed of very small molecules that can penetrate cells.
Three oils I recommend for athletes:
Sweet Orange: immunity enhancer, energizing, enhances clarity, antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive stimulant and circulation-booster
Use: AM shower/routine; before practice
Peppermint: Supports digestion, improves focus, boosts energy, fever reducer, headache, muscle pain relief, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antioxidant.
Use: pre-game ritual
Lavender Oil: anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antibacterial, anesthetic, immune-boosting, and antiviral.
Use: post-game; bedtime; evening shower
How to use essential oils:
In the shower: Wet a washcloth and add 8-10 drops of essential oil. Place washcloth on chest while in shower for a few minutes. Place the towel somewhere in the shower closest to face level.
On your feet: The soles of your feet are able to absorb essential oils much quicker than any other area of your body (feet don’t contain sebaceous glands which act as skin barrier). Rub three drops of oil on the soles of your feet. You can wear socks after you apply oil if preferred.
On your body: Use just one drop rubbed between fingers and massage into temples for 10 deep breaths. Use remaining oil on fingers and rub on wrists.
In the locker room: Make a cold compress with a towel. Soak towel in cold water and apply five drops of oil. Roll towel and place in fridge to cool. Use before and during practice.
Basic Breath Awareness
This gentle introduction to diaphragmatic breathing teaches you how to breathe more fully and consciously.
Benefits: Quiets and calms the entire nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety and improving self-awareness.
Try It: At least once a day, at any time.
How To: Lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart. Place a palm on your abdomen and breathe comfortably for a few moments, noticing the quality of your breath. Does the breath feel tense? strained? uneven? shallow? Simply observe the breath without any judgment. Then gradually begin to make your breathing as relaxed and smooth as possible, introducing a slight pause after each inbreath and outbreath.
Once the breath feels relaxed and comfortable, notice the movement of the body. As you inhale, the abdomen naturally expands; as you exhale, feel the slight contraction of the abdomen. In a gentle way, try to actively expand the abdomen on the inhale and contract the abdomen on the exhale to support the natural movement of the diaphragm. Continue the practice for 6 to 12 breaths.
We will be learning to equalize the length of your inhale and exhale.
Begin to focus on your breath – observe it without trying to change it. Begin to lengthen both inhale and exhale by one count. Bring awareness to whichever part of your breath was shorter, your inhale or exhale. Begin to lengthen it one count at a time, until your inhale and exhale are equal. It’s important not to force the breath to do anything; this will tighten the diaphragm and, most likely, your face and neck muscles. The forcing and tension will also stimulate your nervous system. Do this for three minutes. Slowly open your eyes. Feel the difference.
We will be learning to deliberately make your exhale twice as long as your inhale. This breath ratio slows your heart rate and calms your nervous system, making it one of your most powerful tools for emotional balance.
Slowly close your eyes, breathe through your nose. As you breathe, count the length of your inhale and exhale. When your breath is longer, experiment by lengthening your exhale. At first, make it just one count longer than your inhale. For instance, if you breathe in for two counts, let your exhale be three counts. See how the longer exhale feels. Do this for three minutes. Slowly open your eyes. Feel the difference. Bring your attention to your mind. Have your thoughts become slower or calmer? What about your emotions?
Alternate Nostril Breathing
We will be learning to inhale and exhale through one nostril at a time. This can lower the heart rate, reduce stress and anxiety.
Slowly close your eyes. Hold up your right hand. We will be using our pinky finger and thumb to gently press on our nostrils to retain the breath. Pinky finger will cover the left nostril and thumb will cover right nostril. Starting with the thumb covering the right nostril, breathe in for the count of four. Use the pinky to cover the left nostril (both nostrils covered) – hold your breath for the count of four. Pinky continues to hold the left nostril shut, open the right nostril and breathe out for the count of four. Keep thumb off right nostril and breathe in for the count of four. Close nostril so both are closed and hold breathe for the count of four. Thumb stays on right nostril and breathe out of left nostril for the count of four. Continue on with your own breath for three minutes. If your nose gets stuffy, gently press higher up on the bridge of your nose to clear your nasal passages.
Allowing yourself time to progress through these exercise gradually will ensure the benefits take root in your nervous system. These are just a few different breathing techniques that you can practice every day for stress relief.
We will be learning to deliberately make your exhale twice as long as your inhale. This breath ratio slows your heart rate and calms your nervous system, making it one of your most powerful tools for emotional balance. Slowly close your eyes, breathe through your nose. As you breathe, count the length of your inhale and exhale. When your breath is longer, experiment by lengthening your exhale. At first, make it just one count longer than your inhale. For instance, if you breathe in for two counts, let your exhale be three counts. See how the longer exhale feels. Do this for three minutes. Slowly open your eyes. Feel the difference. Bring your attention to your mind. Have your thoughts become slower or calmer? What about your emotions?
How do I meditate?
Just like yoga, there are many different types of meditations and ways to meditate. I learned Transcendental Meditation (or TM) and have been practicing for several years. The idea behind TM is to keep it light and effortless. Rather than focus on any one thing, you use a mantra (or word) to focus and refocus whenever you notice that your mind is wandering. If you have taken a TM training, your meditation teacher gave you a personal mantra. If you are just practicing on your own, you can choose any word that is calming to you. I’ve practiced meditation consistently, but like my yoga practice, it continues to change over the years. I would love to say that I am a morning person that gets up early to meditate. That is not the case. Mornings are not my thing. But I have found that my mind is quietest in the morning. So I downloaded a meditation app (Erich Schiffmann’s), which is essentially a timer with soothing bells. I meditate every morning with the app for six minutes. Six minutes – that’s it. Not 30 minutes or an hour, which I would love, but I’m just not there right now.
What is supposed to happen when you close your eyes?
Am I in the meditation zone the whole time? Of course not. I would like to be, but I have random thoughts, ideas, worries, etc. that is normal. When you are meditating, when you notice that you are thinking, try to relax. Come back to focusing on your breath or the word you chose before you started.
Do I have to sit in lotus pose?
Absolutely not. In fact, I don’t think lotus is a safe pose for most of us, so I don’t teach it. Get comfortable. You can sit, you can lie down, get cozy with blankets and pillows. Really.
What if I fall asleep?
No big deal. That’s normal too. That just means you need more rest. Don’t be hard on yourself, just try it tomorrow.
The more you meditate, the easier it becomes.
Really. It starts out really hard and you might not have even a second that passes without a thought. But the more you do it, the more you get used to it and start to find some quietness in your thoughts. Which is another reason why I like meditating in the morning. my mind is quietest when I first wake up.
How often should I meditate?
As often as you want to. If you can meditate morning and night, it’s a great way to stay calm and balanced.