Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We have launched our new online massage course. Learn Raynor Massage Anywhere in the world. Check us out and learn massage from home.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Great courses for exiting massage therapists that would like to learn new skills

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mssage deregulation. Interestingly massage regulation started in Hawaii when non Hawaiian tried to repress traditional Hawaii healing arts.
We are no trying to allow more health freedom in Hawaii

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Body as Elements

In may last article I discussed the nature of chi, as being the life force or animating principal within the body, and its connection with the emotions and mental parts and physical parts of the person.
In this article I would like to elaborate upon the more physical aspects of the person as seen by traditional medicine systems such as Chinese medicine and Ayurveda and ancient Greek medicine.
The physical body, that is the physical manifestation of the spirit, can be looked at as being composed of elements. When I talk of elements I am talking about the elements of nature such as earth, water, fire and air. In Ayurveda they also go into the element of ether, which is space without air, such as exists outside of our earth’s atmosphere.
People can have imbalances in the various elements of their bodies. For example too much fire element can manifest as a red face, high blood pressure, heat rashes, a bad temper, frustration, red spots on the face, etc etc. Too little fire in the body can manifest as paleness in the face, cold conditions such as mucus, and poor digestion. In Ayurveda, your digestion is considered a fire, called agni. When the agni is healthy you can digest food well. When it is weak it is hard to digest food properly as so toxins, called ama in Ayurveda build up from the improperly digested food. In Ayurveda, the small intestine is the seat of the Fire element and in Chinese medicine the small intestine meridian is also of the fire element. In Ayurveda, which actually means the science of living in Sanskrit, the world oldest language, the combination of the fire element and water or oil in the body is called Pitta.
The air element rules the nervous system. In Ayurveda the mixture of the air element and ether is called Vata or wind. Too much air in the body will produce nervous conditions such as anxiety and a mind that never is still. It can also produce digestive problems and arthritic joint problems, as well as dry conditions such as dry skin etc... Too little of the air element may produce dullness in the mind and stagnation.
The water element rules emotions such as tranquillity and melancholy. When in balance the water element can produce a calmness, and loving energy such as a mother gives to her children. When there is too much water in the body we will usually see imbalances in the lower body as water tends to sink so we will see oedema, or swelling of the ankles or bloating. We may also see a person being too overweight, or lacking in drive and living in the past. Not enough water in the body can lead to dryness both physically and emotionally. Someone with a dry or cutting intellect and not much love or care for others could be seen as lacking the water element. Again dryness in the body would cause joint problems and dry skin and a lack of fluids in the body such as low amounts of semen, or lack of menstruation etc...
The earth element is what makes body mass such as muscles. Strong muscles, as well as making us be able to do things in the world also give us stability such as the earth provides. A person with a lot of muscle mass is not easily blow over by the wind. They can be “solid as a rock”. When out of balance the earth element could lead to stagnation as earth has a tendency to not move. In the physical body it could manifest as such things as constipation etc

In Ayurveda, earth and water work together in the dosha, or constitutional element, known as kapha. So kapha rules phlegm , mucus, breast milk , lymph and some digestive secretions in the body. Not enough kapha will produce an ungrounded person that is too thin or spaced out. Too much kapha will produce an overweight person that is hard to get out of their routines.
When it comes to massage and the elements again our goal is to bring the body into balance. We need to reduce excess and support deficiencies. Sometimes it is easier to support deficiencies through other means such as healthy diet or herbal medicine but massage can certainly play a part. Also sometimes an element may appear to be deficient because another element is too strong. So in this way too much fire will burn up water or too much water will suppress fire. If we get rid of the excess the apparent deficiency may correct itself.
So, if a person is manifesting symptoms of too much fire in the body then we want to reduce this. The cause of this is often in the small intestine, as this is the seat of Pitta. Often too much fire comes from the repression of emotions such as anger and frustration. So we may do a lot of work on the small intestine and find that a person releases some anger. This should be done by the person naturally feeling the urge to scream or even to hit something such as a pillow. In Chinese Medicine this trapped anger or frustration, is also ruled by the Liver meridian system and the sound of Liver energy releasing is like the sound of wood breaking. This is also why traditionally chopping wood can be a good way to release anger, but vocalising by screaming also helps a lot. The sound vibration coming out of the body in a scream is actually energy that is stored in the body coming out. So it is good to encourage people with too much trapped fire energy to scream it out if they feel the urge to when you massage them. By letting this energy out they will feel more calm and allow for the more peaceful kapha type feelings of earth and water to increase.
Too much air in the body will manifest as too much thinking, rapid eye movements, nervousness, ticklishness, and a feeling of being ungrounded. It can also manifest as a feeling of bloating in the belly. Air and fire symptoms tend to affect the upper body as air and fire rise while water and earth imbalances are seen more in the lower body.
In Ayurveda, the air element or Vata, is situated in the large intestine. I also find, in my 20 years experience of massaging people, that people often have a lot of tightness in the small intestine, even the feeling of a rock in their belly when the Vata is deranged. Often, in order to loosen the intestines in a vata deranged person we need to massage the head first in order to calm their mind. This is especially true in ticklish people who will not be able to tolerate abdominal massage on their feet or legs, the massaging of which will usually proceed an abdominal massage.
Vata releasing from the body may come out as sighs, yawns, burps, or flatulence, as well as the release that comes through deep breathing. These are all ways that vata will release. When the air releases from the body a person will feel calmer and more centred and less agitated by anxiety or a restless mind. They may also feel their abdominal area to be less bloated often making them look thinner or more toned. Many other benefits can be achieved through the release of vata such as better joints etc...
Kapha releasing from the body can be achieved through deep long strokes and pressure points. The kapha that will come out will come out as mucous, or phlegm. It can also come out through releasing constipation and extra bowel movements. Many times after a massage, or during a massage, people will experience a feeling of nasal congestion or the feeling of wanting to cough up phlegm. This is Kapha releasing. They may also experience a feeling of invigoration and get up and go. This is due to the kapha being released which was previously causing stagnation for the person.
Ayurveda recommends for Vata imbalances that we massage lightly, for Pitta imbalances that we do a medium depth massage and for kapha imbalances that we massage more deeply. We can also use Ayurvedic massage oils that have herbs specifically designed to balance the doshas, or constitutional elements within the body. This is one of the main principals of the practice of Ayurvedic massage. I recommend Banyan Botanicals range of oils for this purpose.
Of course, essential oils can also affect the various elements such as lavender calming the Vata, cinnamon increasing Pitta, frankincense increasing Kapha etc.
For Ayurvedic dietary recommendation for treating elemental imbalances I recommend Paul Pitchford’s book Healing with wholefoods and Amadea Morningstar’s book The Ayurvedic cookbook, both textbooks in our Naturopathy and Wholefood nutrition courses.
For various examples of releases of elements such as Pitta and Vata releases see some of our massage videos on you tube.


What is Chi?

What is Chi?
The understanding of the term chi is very central to understanding many forms of massage including Raynor massage. Chi literally means life force. It can be also spelt Qi and in different cultures can be called prana or sen or spirit. Chi is the underlying energy beneath the physical body. It is the difference between a living body and a dead body.
Modern science can’t really explain what is the difference between a living body and a recently dead body. Anatomically there is no difference between a live body and a recently dead body. They are exactly the same. Of course all the physiology or bodily functions have stopped, once the life force has left.
However ,everyone with any common sense, will know that there is immense value in a living person while a dead body is often just buried or cremated before it starts to smell. There is no longer a person there to relate to.
There are many ways to prove the existence of chi. I will go into some of them here.
It is easy to prove that we are not the physical body. Our body changes all the time according to the food that we eat and the air we breathe and the various other sensations and things that we take into our body. We can all realize that we existed 20 years ago, if we are over that age. For example I am in my 40s and I can clearly remember the experience of existence when I was 20 or even when I was 1 . I can still remember when I took my first steps as a toddler. However my physical body is completely different to that childhood body. Every atom has changed in my body. Scientists have shown that every atom is replaced in the body every 7 years. The body I have now is a completely new body than what I had 7 years ago let alone 20 years ago or 40 years ago.
Even the brain where many people think is the epicentre of their existence is completely new. The brain is continually having old cells die and new cells replace them so that our brain is a completely new brain after a few years.
So we can see that although our body is continually changing and growing , we still have a continuum of existence throughout that period. I am still the same self that existed 20 years ago, although of course I have learned from my experiences but still I am the same actual person. This aspect of ourselves that continues to exist over time is called the life force or chi or atma in Ayurveda. Some people might also call it the spirit or the soul.
We can look further at this idea that we are something other than just the material body by going through each part of our body and seeing am I the hand, am I the leg, We can clearly see that we aren’t our hand because if it got chopped off for some terrible reason we would still exist. We can see that we aren’t our leg by the same reason. We can even see that we aren’t the physical heart or liver because that can be replaced in a heart transplant or a liver transplant. Many parts of the brain, also have had brain damage through car accidents, bullets etc and yet the person still experiences the same sense of self, even our faces can now be transplanted, the outwards appearance can change but the inner person remains. So we can see also that we aren’t our brain in this way, although of course all of these major organs are very important for our physical manifestation.
We can also see that many people in older bodies often don’t experience themselves as “old”. They often say I am just the same person I was when I was young. Of course if there body has aged badly they may experience that their body doesn’t work as well as it used to but they themselves are the same person inside the body.
So this is where we can start to understand the question of what is chi. Chi is the animating factor of life. It is what distinguishes a living thing like a human, animal or plant from an inanimate object like a rock. While there is chi in a group of matter, such as a body it is alive and holds together in one form. When the chi leaves, the group of matter starts to break down into its’ constituent material parts such as a dead body decomposing and becoming part of the soil again.
This is such an important point when it comes to paradigms, or systems of thought, about medicine. Modern Western medicine is based on the idea that if we fix the matter then that is the problem fixed. This can work in some situations. But it doesn’t work in all situations. Eastern medicine and many traditional medicine systems such as Hawaiian medicine, and many Aboriginal and holistic forms of medicine, recognize the existence of the chi or spirit in a person and consider the treatment of the spirit to be the most important aspect of treatment because that is the real person. The material body of the person is merely a physical manifestation of that spirit, it is not the person themselves.
So when we look at mind- body – spirit forms of medicine, and we would have to include the Ayurvedic medicine of India as one of the most powerful and ancient forms of this type of medicine, Ayurveda often deals with disorders or imbalances in the chi or life force aspect of the person first. Fix the imbalances in the spirit or chi, and the mind and emotions will harmonize and the body will balance itself.
So, Raynor massage with its philosophical origins coming from Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Hawaiian medicine, Thai medicine and other traditional medicine systems looks at balancing the flow of the chi in the body and therefore helping to bring about a better state of health. This of course is also the basis for systems of medicine like acupuncture, reiki, Tui Na, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and the like.
So at the heart of the philosophy of Raynor massage is this concept of chi or life force and how it flows through the body. Chi can be compared in a poetic sense to the flow of water in a river. If there is a dam or blockage in a river then the chi won’t flow properly and this will result in a swelling. This swelling can also be seen in the physical body as muscle tension or a feeling of fullness in an area. This could then cause physical problems as muscle tension which will restrict blood flow, nerve function and lymphatic function as well as cause the skeleton and the bones to be pulled out of their healthy position.’
If we correct the flow of chi in the body by removing that blockage then we can see many of these problems go away.
How do these blockages occur in the first place?
Blockages in the chi flow can occur for many reasons. One of the first ones can be improper breathing. As can be seen though martial arts such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi and the art of hatha yoga we can see that breathing is very important in influencing the flow of chi or prana in the body. When we breathe strong and deeply we can positively affect the flow of chi in our body. We can also see the influence of things like rebirthing or integrative breath therapy here, where through deep breathing we access blockages in our emotions that can then be released, making a person feel better.
The other ways our chi can be blocked as I just touched, on is through emotional repression. When a person undergoes an emotional experience but “shoves it down” it can imbalance the flow of chi. For example, many people have repressed anger that hasn’t been healthily dealt with and this will cause interruptions to the chi flow. Other people have repressed sadness or grief and need to cry but don’t and so the chi becomes blocked.
Another way that I see people’s chi often gets blocked is when a person isn’t living a life that is in harmony or true to their spirit. When a person has an inner calling to be a certain way or do a certain thing in life but they don’t do it because of social reasons such as parental pressure, or social mores, or fear of social ridicule, then a person develops a blockage in their chi flow. In other words, when the person’s chi is flowing there will be a connection between their spirit and mind and body and any spiritual inspirations coming from deep in their soul will then start to manifest in the world. However, if a person has an inner calling to do something but doesn’t do that in order to please someone else, such as their parents their partner , their children etc then this can result in a distorted chi flow and eventually in ill health, sometimes even cancer or other serious diseases.
I see this often where people are doing a job they don’t want to do because they are trying to please their parents or doing it just for the money. This makes them depressed , which is a sign of stagnant chi flow and eventually that can also lead to physical or psychosomatic symptoms, some of which Western medicine has a difficult time in dealing with, because they may say it’s all in the persons mind.
So real health is when a person is living a life in harmony with their inner calling or what is referred to in Ayurveda as their dharma or life path. In fact, the deeper goal of Raynor massage is to get a person back in touch with this real sense of self.
Blockages in the flow of chi will be felt as a sense of pain as chi blockages are like a swelling in the river and this can feel sore for the person.
When we release these chi blockages many people experience the sudden sensation of the chi moving as a sense of a huge burst of electricity moving through their body. This is like a dam bursting. All of a sudden there is circulation to places where the chi never circulated before. People will also experience awareness and release of emotions that have been stagnant in their subtle body.
We can look at this subtle body, which could also be called a mental and emotional body, as something in between the chi or life force which is the essential self of the person, and the physical body. This middle layer of the person is where we hold all emotions. When we release the deeper layer or the chi , then the energy stored in this middle layer gets activated and can be released, especially if the client is working with the therapist by proper deep breathing methods.
So from the spirit or chi we unblock blockages and this opens up the emotional and mental zones and this then gets rid of physical tension in the body. We work through the physical body to get through the emotional body and then to the chi. Sometimes this involves very deep tissue massage and ,most often this is the case, but at other times it can involve the lightest of touch or in some cases we don’t even have to touch the person because the interaction of our life force and their life force is very subtle and their chi body can be affected by very subtle energies coming from our hands.
So Raynor massage can range from being one of the deepest styles of massage to being one of the most gentle and subtle forms of massage. It’s all about the practitioner developing their ability to be able to sense the subtle imbalances in their client’s chi flow. So in one sense this massage can be learned very easily and quickly but in another sense it can take a lifetime or more to really master it. Because we are dealing with such deep issues as the life force itself we need to constantly be in a humble frame of mind, knowing that we are always students and that life is always going to be great teacher for us and also that every person that comes to us is a unique individual, unlike any that we have seen before although some patterns of imbalances can definitely be similar but never the same between people.
This makes for a very interesting career and one where a person will never get bored.
In my next article I will discuss the ways of seeing the physical body as elements such as earth, water, fire and air.