Energy Matters January to March 2018
Now that the New Year has begun, this can be a flat time of year with lots of colds and flu, and the nights still feel long. Get out during the hours of daylight, take a ten minute walk at lunchtime and plan an outing to a park or a walk on a local beach at the weekend - believe me or not, the first signs of spring are already with us. Daffodils are just sprouting in my little Yorkshire garden, and so are crocuses and snowdrops. The hellebores are in flower and there are tiny green shoots on some of the bushes. The evergreens are always there, of course, to rest our eyes with soothing gold, sage and emerald tones and share their refreshing aroma with us. Hang a bird feeder or two in your garden or even over a window if you have a flat - the birds need help at this time of year, and they are easier to see with so little foliage.
When the evening falls, draw your blinds and curtains, snuggle up to a fire or heater with something warm to wrap around you and light a candle. Let your gaze gently fall on the flame, and let the tears just begin to come before you look away. Let your mind clear, and go back to the flame, enjoying the light. This is an ancient yoga practice called tratak, and it will bring the energy of pitta to help warm you and chase away the winter blues which come from low light levels.
Enjoy the season, and welcome the springtime and new life as it comes slowly towards us.
The Goddess Tree, Pinus Sylvestris
Scots Pine was the only Northern European tree to survive the Ice Age, and the different types of conifers flourished before the broad leafed varieties of trees developed. These ancient pines are part of the mythology of the ancient world, associated with Artemis and the god Pan. Pine is known as the 'Goddess Tree' to many, and it is a great healer at all levels of the person.
Evergreens are enduring plants which often grow in dry, stony ground - they include pine, yew, eucalyptus, spruce, fir and juniper. Pine trees are aromatic and delight us with their deep emerald tones and fresh scent, as well as giving us pine nuts to eat and pine cones which burn well in an open fire and bring a wonderful aroma to our homes. Pine is a plant which is believed traditionally to help us get through difficult times, and to protect us and bring joy to our lives. People once hung pine boughs over their doors to ensure happiness or put them over their beds to ward off illness. The practice of bringing a pine tree into our homes for Christmas preserves these ancient customs, along with their benefits for our health.
In herbal healing, pine is a valuable resource at this time of year due to its chemical properties. The needles and shoots of pine are rich in vitamins A and C. The vitamin A content of pine makes it helpful in maintaining a healthy, youthful skin whilst the high vitamin C content helps maintain a healthy immune system. Pine has a high level of terpenes which give it valuable qualities as an antiseptic and as an expectorant. Pine essential oil is valued for its antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, deodorant and diuretic properties.
Unusually, all parts of the pine – needles, cones, bark and resin – have valuable uses in herbal medicine and essential oil is also extracted from the plant. Pine is an edible plant – the innermost bark can be dried and eaten. Pine needle tea is popular in many countries. As well as being pleasant to drink, it can help with bladder, urinary tract and kidney issues. If you inhale the steam from the infusion it will aid nasal congestion, so it is useful at this time of year for people with colds and flu. The cones and needles can be popped into a muslin bag and used in a bath to aid respiration, help keep the skin healthy and ease rheumatic pain.
Pine is so valuable for helping colds and flu that its value as an ingredient in skincare products was lost sight of. However, it is now being hailed as the latest beauty miracle, with Black Pine Extract being heavily promoted in costly products. There is a good reason for this surge in the use of pine extracts as the vitamin A content of the plant makes it a good anti-ageing ingredient and the vitamin C is antioxidant and will help protect the skin from pimples.
There is another side to pine, which is just as important – it is an oil which helps lift our mood, assisting us through the dark times in our lives and relieving depression. It is said to alleviate a sense of guilt as well as enabling us to celebrate our achievements and to understand that we are good enough. This is a dark time of the year in many senses, and one when pine is a seasonal helper for our moods and an aid to the work of self-realization and achieving contentment.
There is an old Japanese saying that walking in a pine wood was the most health giving thing we could do. So go and find a conifer wood and enjoy the first signs of the emerging spring season, but don’t forget to take some needles and cones home to try out for yourself! Meanwhile, here are some essential oil blends to try.
Help for Sneezes! Use 50 mls of a vegetable carrier (e.g. almond or coconut) and add essential oils as follows: 2 drops pine oil, 2 drops eucalyptus oil, 2 drops lemon oil, 2 drops marjoram oil, 1 drop rosemary oil and 1 drop thyme oil. You can use this to rub on your chest or pop it into a bath.
You can add the essential oil blend on its own to a bowl of steaming hot water, and inhale the vapour too.
Bye-bye Winter Blues Blend! This will lift your spirits and help perk up tired winter skin too. Use 20 mls of a vegetable carrier with skin benefits – try jojoba, argan or apricot kernel oil with a tiny bit of hazelnut for oily skins or rosehip for a mature complexion. Add essential oils as follows – 1 drop of bergamot oil, 1 drop of pine oil, 2 drops of lavender oil. Use it in your bath, for a facial massage or add the essential oils to a burner to perfume the house.
If you are interested in aromatherapy then I offer a course which will teach you about the carriers and essential oils and how to blend them. You will also learn how to do full body massage and an aromatherapy facial massage too. We have product making sessions, and you take home the beautiful soaps, massage bars, balms, candles or whatever else you make on the day! My next practical aromatherapy course days this year will be in May/June, and this gives you time to complete the A&P and Professional Standards modules which make up the theory preparation. Then you come to me for three intensive days of learning about aromatherapy.
This is the time of year when many clients have had a cold or the flu and feel in need of a pick me up. Natural therapies are a wonderful way of helping them to recover their energy gently, and to offer them the nurturing they need when they are at a low ebb. Think about offering a ‘Cold and Flu Recovery Menu’ to boost your business now that the Christmas rush is over.
Ear Candling Therapy – the candles are hollow tubes of cotton impregnated with natural beeswax and herbs. They are inserted into the client’s ear and lit, sending a current of warm air down which vibrates gently against the eardrum. Excess earwax may be released, and in terms of ayurveda this is a treatment which helps reduce kapha (the energy which produces mucus and cold in the body). The treatment is relaxing, warming and soothing – a gentle facial massage with essential oils such as pine, orange, eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender complements the candles beautifully.
My next Ear Candling Therapy course is on 6 February 2018 and costs £175. It is accredited with the Beauty Guild/Guild of Holistic Therapists and has CPD points too.
Reflexology is a great therapy to help recovery from winter sneezes and diseases as you don’t have to take off any clothing and you lie back in the chair or on the couch, snuggled up in cosy blankets! Use a nice beeswax balm, preferably one which has helpful essential oils to warm and help clear the respiratory system. Keep the treatment firm but gentle, and focus on comforting and calming the client. Listen carefully during the consultation and think about which reflexes may need most help. We will think about the sinuses, ears, lungs, bronchi, trachea – but there may be something unexpected! Clients are individuals, not their medical conditions. A post flu client may have had time of work and be anxious about catching up, a mum may be stressed as she has had to keep going whilst she was ill, and winter illnesses can be depressing, especially if they came along whilst everyone else was celebrating!
If you want to learn how to treat feet then I can offer two very different but complementary holistic therapies, Thai Foot Reflex and western Reflexology. The Thai Foot Reflex course is two days and does not require previous A&P – you can do it as a beginner. Thai massage uses the sen lines to boost energy flow, and you will learn manual massage techniques as well as the use of the Thai Foot Stick. The course costs £225 and is offered one to one or to small groups – contact me to arrange your dates.
If you want to learn reflexology as a beginner, then you will need to take a package which includes A&P, Professional Standards and practical training with me. This is £575 and the next practical days are 30 & 31 January 2018. I will also be offering dates in May/June this year.
Hot Stone Massage and Hot Stone Reflexology are both great ways to get warm and feel relaxed and re-energised in the winter and early spring chill! If you are an aromatherapist, then you can add an extra dimension to your treatments with seasonal oils such as pine, orange, cinnamon, eucalyptus and cedar to nurture your clients and banish the sniffles. Thai Hot Herbal treatments are another fantastic treatment to offer at this time of year - and it doesn't have to be full body massage. The donuts come in different sizes and can be used in pedicure and other foot treatments, in manicure and hand massage, and even in facials treatments.
The ultimate in winter treatments has to be Moroccan Candle Massage, which combines a candle meditation with an invigorating body scrub and the use of the candle oils to carry out a blissful, warming treatment. I offer training to therapists who already have full body massage, and you learn how to make your own candles too, using specialist waxes, oils and aromas!
As well as hot stones and Thai donuts, think about offering paraffin wax in manicure and pedicure - a wonderful way to soften the skin and warm up the extremities! Advertise a 'winter warmer' manicure and pedicure with paraffin wax and a warming massage!
Whatever therapies you are offering, think about ways to introduce heat, warming aromas and a sense of being cuddled and kept cosy into your treatments. If you offer manicure and pedicure, display polish and gel in tones of red, orange, gold and bronze to give the message that the treatments will leave customers with warm toes and fingers. Offer nourishing hand, foot and body butters to help winter-dry skin, and promote warmed oil boosters with Indian Head Massage.
Most important of all, tell clients that you have a menu of therapies to help them get through the winter and leave them re-energised and glowing with wellbeing.