There are many clinics offering treatments from firming facials, to Botox to a full facelift. As I only use natural methods I am often asked if there are ‘less invasive’ ways to support mature skin and if they ‘work’. So here are a few suggestions you might like to add to your normal skin care routine at home.
My own approach is to support the skin so it can do its job as well as possible. I am sure you will have heard this many times before – to support healthy skin function we need to have a healthy diet, avoid toxins, manage our stress levels, take exercise and get sufficient sleep. These changes in lifestyle may be much more difficult to make than applying a skin cream but bear in mind the fact that the physiology of all these processes directly affect our skin.
The one thing that is guaranteed to make skin look older is exposure to the sun. Trying to prevent this means wearing a complete sun block or factor 50 on our face, even in the UK from March to October. From a cosmetic perspective this will help prevent pigmentation marks and free radical damage that result in the skin losing its elasticity.
Our faces change as we grow older and the three most obvious signs are; changes in skin texture, reduction in the plumpness of underlying soft tissue and loss of muscle tone.
Lets start with skin texture. As we age our skin becomes thinner, more transparent and fine lines may appear. Vitamin A in its natural and synthetic forms has been used since the 1950s to make the surface of the skin appear smoother. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin cell regeneration and a natural form of it called trans retinoic acid can be found in rosehip seed oil. Rosehip seed oil can be used on its own, and is often included as an ingredient in natural moisturisers. Pure Rosehip seed oil is light and easily absorbed so if you have a dry skin you may need to use a moisturiser in addition after applying it. There are many other plant oils that help promote healthy skin cell growth including argan, which also contains Vitamin A; avocado, which contains Vitamin E; sea buckthorn, which contains Vitamin C, and borage and evening primrose, which contain amino acids that also encourage the growth of healthy new cells. Remember plant oils are sensitive to heat and sunlight so to retain their therapeutic properties store them somewhere cool and dark. Always buy the best quality, organic and as unprocessed as possible.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance our bodies produce naturally. Our bodies contain about 15 grams of it and it can be found in cartilage and synovial fluid as well as our skin. If there is a plentiful supply of hyaluronic acid in our skin it will look plump and hydrated, but the amount present in the skin decreases with age. Hyaluronic acid can be applied topically in the form of gel/serum or in a cream. It is only able to penetrate the upper layers of the skin but it may still have a gentle ‘plumping’ effect if used regularly. In most skin care products hyaluronic acid is derived from an animal source, so if you are vegetarian or vegan you will need to look for animal free sources – algae is often used instead.
We all know that exercising our body helps tone our muscles. Facial muscles can also be toned by exercising them correctly, and if carried out regularly you may even see some gravity defying results! Eva Fraser is one of the best-known teachers of facial exercises and has been teaching her own system for many years.
Frownies – the natural Botox!
These are paper triangles that are gummed on one side. You stick them between your eyebrows before you go to bed. What does this do? It prevents those of us who frown in our sleep from doing so and as a result will soften lines between the eyebrows. It is of course temporary and will wear off during the day depending on how deep the line is, but it may prevent lines from deepening prematurely if used regularly. If you have a partner probably best to explain beforehand what you are doing in case they are worried you have joined a strange cult!
Essential oils are well known for their ability to encourage healing and healthy skin function. Frankincense, helichrysum and lavender are good examples. However, I would advise proceeding with caution if using essential oils on the face, as some skin is not able to tolerate them. Always patch test first to be safe or use pre-blended products.
Face massage has so many benefits, including promoting blood and lymphatic circulation and removing toxins and excess fluid, and what’s more it feels good! So treat your face to a little massage everyday after cleansing your skin or come and see me for a facial!
Aslihan from Yoga Crow has kindly written a guest blog about the breath. She has shared her knowledge about something we take very much for granted and given guidance for a five minute simple breathing technique, which can be used anytime and anywhere if you need help to calm your mind and body this festive season.
Our breath is our life’s teacher and the greatest healer. The breath’s qualities constantly change according to events in our daily life. When we walk, when we talk, when we sleep or rest, when we exercise, when we get excited or when we feel under stress. As everything in our body is linked, our breath also responds to any emotional, mental or physical change by changing its depth, rate and path.
The average respiration rate for an adult is twelve to seventeen breaths per minute.
A healthy adult after a good rest and in a very relaxed body might take as few as four to ten breaths per minute and breathe primarily into the lower lungs (belly breathing).
A faster breathing rate without any physical activity might be an indicator of high stress levels when the breath is mostly shallow and into the upper body.
These types of changes in the depth, rate and path of our breathing also influence many systems in our body on many levels such as physical tension, oxygen intake in the blood, our immune system, the functioning of the brain and internal organs, heart rate, sleeping habits, clarity of the mind, stability of our emotions, our focus, decision making abilities and many more.
The good news is the rate and depth of breathing can be modified in a deliberate and intentional way as we learn the principles and techniques of conscious breathing.
Increasing awareness of the breath and regular breathing exercises are the simplest antidote to finding vitality and well-being as well as to return the body systems back to their natural or more restful state when needed.
Breathing exercises for centering and grounding are the most powerful to enhance our inner resilience and mental flexibility. They often calm our mind and body when we need more empowerment especially around this time of the year.
Below is a five minute basic and easy breathing technique, which you can use anytime and anywhere when you need the guidance of your breath in this festive season.
This is a great exercise that you can practice at home, at work, on the go or in nature, whenever you need the feeling of being grounded and centered in mind and body.
This is also a very beneficial breathing practice when it’s practiced on a regular basis every day to stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System, to help you with letting go of mental stressors, to enhance positive thinking and create ease in the physical body.
Grounding & Centering Breath
Set your alarm for five minutes and start by finding your most comfortable pose either in seated or lying down position.
If you prefer to sit on the floor, ensure that your back is nice and long throughout the practice for more space in your lungs. Your back may be fully supported by the wall or with some cushions.
Adjust your hips higher than your knee levels, so use as many supports as you need under your sit bones.
If you prefer to sit on a chair, adjust your legs with a 90-degree angle at knee level, feet flat, parallel and hip distance apart on the floor. You can use cushions under the hips if the chair is low or under the feet if they don’t reach down to earth.
Your back is also fully supported when needed to maintain a nice and long spine.
If you choose to lay down on the floor, have your feet a little wider apart than your hip level, knees bent and drop them in together for a support. Use a folded blanket or a cushion to support the back of the head and neck down to the top of your shoulders. Ensure that your chin level is lower than your forehead. You can close your eyes or gaze softly down. Relax your body and begin to breath in and out through your nostrils naturally.
Stage 1 (one minute)
Observe the pace, depth and path of your breath without changing or analysing anything. Let your thoughts come and go, with no attachment to any of them. Gently welcome your thoughts and come back to your breath each time when you find yourself distracted. This is perfectly normal and with regular practice you will improve the time of holding your attention on your breath.
Stage 2 (one minute)
Gently shift your attention to your upper abdomen, your belly. You can rest your palms on your upper abdomen just above your navel and below your breastbone, or simply release and relax them on your lap or thighs without interlocking the fingers. Keep holding your attention on the belly area. Remember, wherever your attention goes, your breath follows. Naturally send the breath to the bottom of your lungs by lengthening your in-breath deeply and exhale fully. Repeat this a few more times.
Stage 3 (one minute)
With the next inhalation take the breath in deeply down to the belly through the nostrils and send it out fully through the mouth with a “whooosh!” sound. Repeat this a few more times. Remember it is not about the volume of the breath but the pace of the breath. Keep your breathing soft, gentle and steady. Come back to your natural breathing anytime when you feel light-headed and start again as instructed when you feel normal again.
Stage 4 (one minute)
If you feel comfortable you can keep going on with the stage 3 for another minute breathing in and out through the nose or you can advance your breathing by counting with a 2:3:4 or 4:7:8 ratio through the nose again. Take the breath in down to the belly by counting to 2 or 4, hold it for 3 to 7 and breath out fully by counting to 4 or 8; and repeat it for a few more rounds with full focus on your breath. You can listen to the ticking sound of a clock to count your breaths or use a metronome application on your phone or tablet if you need an aid to count your breath.
Stage 5 (one minute)
Release the above stages gently and come back to the natural rhythm of your normal breath. Give yourself some time here to observe and to breathe naturally. Then release the practice. Gently open your eyes. Stretch your body, smile and return to your next daily activity!
Breathe well, flow well, connect well!
With infinite Love and Gratitude!
Aslihan, the Crow
How can Craniosacral Therapy help you?
Craniosacral Therapy can work well for people suffering from stress, but it is also very much used for a range of acute and chronic physical issues.
Modern day stresses and hectic lifestyles mean that we burn ourselves out quickly and our emotional and physical health become compromised.
We may be triggered into a fight or flight stress response more often than we think. Parts of our bodies contract as we adopt defensive postures, our breathing gets quicker, and our digestive systems shut down. Our immune systems also become compromised and we struggle to think clearly when in 'survival mode'. CST can help us shift into a more relaxed state of being where we can start to function more optimally on every level.
Craniosacral Therapy is suitable for all ages, and it can be used for specific conditions or equally as a maintenance treatment to help keep the system oriented towards health.
What is Craniosacral Therapy and how did it emerge?
Craniosacral Therapy has its roots in the work of William Garner Sutherland, who in the early 1900s, observed the cranial bones had a very subtle motion and that the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes our brains and nervous systems has its own pulse, and is essential to maintaining our health. John Upledger went on to develop techniques for working with these pulses and coined the term ‘craniosacral system’.
Modern Craniosacral Therapists work with releasing stored tension, stresses and traumas from the client’s system as a whole.
What happens during a session?
During a treatment, a case history is taken and the therapist will usually treat you on a massage table or chair fully clothed. Gentle hand-holds are carried out on the body, and sensations such as heat, cold, tingling or gentle movements may be felt by the client as the body responds to the therapist's touch.
All therapists work differently, but they use a variety of light-touch handholds on the body and the skull. They may pick up tension, restrictions or distortions in the client's physical and emotional systems, all of which may be indicative of ill health or a lack of well-being. These restrictions are gently helped to release, allowing the body to find its way back to wholeness, balance and its potential for full health.
A course of treatments may be needed depending on the condition being sought relief for. Many people also choose to have regular sessions for maintenance or to avoid getting to the point of feeling overwhelmed and stressed in the first place.
Who is Craniosacral Therapy for?
Different people make use of Craniosacral Therapy in different ways.
Craniosacral Therapy is suitable for all ages from babies to the elderly due to its gentle nature and profound effects.
It’s used by all sorts of people: celebrities, lawyers, actors, bankers, NHS staff, athletes, children, babies and the elderly all enjoy the effects of Craniosacral Therapy.
What makes Craniosacral Therapy special?
Craniosacral Therapy is often referred to as the crème de la crème of therapies as it works on every level: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and can enable the client to access very deep parts of themselves. It can be intuitive work and clients will often leave the session feeling ‘heard’ in ways it can be hard to achieve with other therapies.
What research is there about Craniosacral Therapy?
In association with Meningitis Now, the CSTA is conducting a study into the impact of Craniosacral Therapy as a complementary therapy for those experiencing the distressing after-effects of viral meningitis. Common after-effects of viral meningitis include exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, anxiety, depression and dizziness/ balance problems. As antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, treatment is limited to symptom relief.
Recent studies, along with research by Meningitis Now, suggest that Craniosacral Therapy could be beneficial to many people suffering the after-effects; research outcomes will be published in due course.
The CSTA have also collaborated with the University of Warwick to create a research tool that will be of public health interest.
Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown of the University of Warwick says: "It has been a pleasure to work with the CSTA to further our understanding of the ways in which CST benefits health and wellbeing, and to develop the Warwick Holistic Health Questionnaire (WHHQ). This scale will enable robust studies of the effectiveness of CST and other complementary and alternative approaches because it captures key outcomes other scales of health and wellbeing do not cover."
This is a very exciting time for Craniosacral therapists to have a tool to use to measure the effectiveness of CST with their patients. Lulu Ferrand, CSTA Chair, states: “complementary therapies have become a popular choice for people to use to enhance their wellbeing. It was therefore appropriate for the CSTA to invest in research to create a holistic wellbeing tool that will help to evaluate the benefits of CST.”
I suffer with pain in various parts of my body due to arthritis. I also have a tendency to suffer with stress and anxiety at times.
Dawn was recommended to me by my yoga teacher. I knew nothing about craniosacral therapy but I was very open to trying something new.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made and I now have regular appointments and have recommended her to friends.
Dawn is a calm and kind person and just being in her treatment room and her company relaxes me before the treatment even starts.
"I had a fantastic 70 minute treatment and I can already say my skin looks different" - Helena Pujol Bech
I loved everything!!! I just wished I could have this treatment every week! Dawn is very professional and her hands are just magic. I had a fantastic 70 minute treatment and I can already say my skin looks different since then and healthier. I would recommend everyone to book an appointment! Thanks so much, Dawn!
Helena Pujol Bech
via Google Reviews
"Dawn's gentle hands and her professional approach to general well-being makes this experience priceless" - A Ye
I can confidently say that Dawn's holistic therapy room is one of the best places to BE in the entire Essex & London region. I had most amazing and beautiful 70-min holistic facial treatments combined with back and feet massage from her and I felt very much relaxed, purified, nourished and balanced each time - exactly how she promises. Her gentle hands and her professional approach to general well-being makes this experience priceless! The products that she apply on my skin are pure and natural and smells heavenly. Highly recommended!
Via Google Reviews
I realise in order to read this you will probably be using Wi-Fi and I am not suggesting for a minute we do without it! It is a great tool in helping us communicate and connect with one another. As human beings we have an innate desire to connect with another human. This feels so natural to us, we don’t even think about it, we just do it. So it might be no surprise that this need to connect arises from our basic instinct for survival.
As babies, we humans are unable to do pretty much anything for ourselves for the first year of our lives. We are totally reliant on our mother or other kind adult to provide us with food, warmth and safety. At this stage being able to connect with another human is a matter of life and death and is the basis for our strong desire for connection.
As we grow, forming strong healthy connections with our adult carers is essential for our mental and emotional wellbeing. Many issues with mental health in adult life can be traced back to the lack of having this need met during childhood. Being cut off from other people has a detrimental impact on our physical as well as our mental health, as research on loneliness in older people has shown.
Most of us will know how good it feels to connect with another person, whether it is in a group, individually with a friend or romantically. It makes us feel good, and when I say this I literally mean it FEELS good. Our emotions are mostly based on our brain responding to body sensation. How do you feel when you are with someone you have a strong connection with? Light, expansive, fizzing with energy or you may get that warm and calm ‘fuzzy feeling inside’.
But we are busy people. We rush from place to place with our heads full of ‘stuff’ and our ‘to do’ lists. We are often distracted and prone to daydreaming. Some of us may have even had experiences in our lives that mean we are completely out of touch with ourselves. All of this makes it difficult to connect with ourselves, let alone another person.
However, one way to help us connect well with ourselves and others is to be ‘present’. You know how it feels when you are talking to someone but you can sense they are not listening? This is an example of them not being ‘present’. How does it feel? Frustrating, upsetting? Now try and remember a time when someone gave you their full and undivided attention, listening carefully to all you said. How did that feel?
One of the ways to help us be more present is to be embodied. What I mean by this is that you can feel yourself in your body. All of you – your body, mind and consciousness are all fully attending and in the same place at the same time. You may have heard this called being grounded.
Fully inhabiting our bodies will help us bring our attention to the present and one of the best ways of doing this is to focus on our felt sense. This is the world of sensation, touch, smell, sound and taste. Focusing on our felt sense takes us out of our heads, where we often spend most of the time, and into our bodies. It helps us stay present, and yoga is the perfect way to make that deep connection with our body.
In yoga practice we focus on our breath, and on our body sensation as we go into a pose, hold it and come out again. We notice what is stiff, what moves easily, and notice if we are trying to force our body or can't be bothered to make the effort. We also notice if our mind becomes distracted – and as a result we get to know ourselves a whole lot better.
Another great way for those seeking deeper insight into and better connection with themselves is craniosacral therapy (CST). It allows you time and space to be with your self in a supported environment and the possibility to experience peace and stillness.
CST is a complementary therapy that has its origins in osteopathy. Biodynamic craniosacral therapy, the form I practice, is based on the understanding that the tissues in the body display a rhythmic motion and recognise this motion as a natural self healing force.
Throughout our lives factors such as accidents, injuries and physical and emotional stress cause our tissues and bodies to contract. This creates an imbalance that may result in illness. By listening with our hands to the subtle rhythmic tide-like movements, craniosacral therapists work to help raise vitality and support your body’s innate ability to balance and heal itself.
Who is it for? In this Biodynamic form of craniosacral therapy, we do not use manipulation. In fact, the treatment is so gentle it is suitable for people with fragile conditions. For example, after an operation or accident. People seek CST for many reasons, from helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation, to helping recovery from an illness, accident or chronic conditions like headaches or digestive disorders.
Whether you choose to connect with your friend, your loved ones, your pet or go for a walk in the forest and connect with nature, I wish you meaningful and fulfilling connections.
Originally posted on yogacrow.com
Taking a holistic approach to skincare means rather than just treating the surface of our skin we should look at the bigger picture and take into consideration how we are as a whole; our health, our thoughts and how this might be affecting our skin.
Most skin issues originate from an imbalance in the body or mind or, as one well respected complementary therapist calls it, the bodymind – as the two are inseparable. A perfect example of this is how stress can cause an outbreak of or exacerbate eczema. So if we can help ourselves by looking beyond the surface, we will get to the root of the problem rather than just managing the symptoms
Detoxing helps clean our system by removing toxins that have built up in our bodies. It is beneficial as our whole system is able to function more efficiently afterwards resulting in us feeling and looking healthier.
A cleanse or detox can be as gentle or as strict as you wish to make it. It will look very different for a coffee drinking, wine loving smoker than for a teetotal vegan but whichever detox route you choose to go down, cleansing and detoxing should be carried out with care. It is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or anyone who has a history of eating disorders. In some cases, particularly if you are taking medication or have a chronic health condition, it is only safe with supervision of a professional dietician, nutritionist or naturopath. However if you are able to do some form of cleanse it is well worth the effort.
Anyone who has ever been on a detox will tell you that half way through, they tend to look and feel pretty grotty but at the end their skin always looks great and they have more energy. A facial is a great treat in the middle of a detox when your skin is looking grey or spotty as the toxins are expelled and your enthusiasm is flagging. It helps boost morale and keep those mirages of chocolate at bay!
Although we have to stick to the rules whilst detoxing if we want the best results, it is important to bear in mind that we are dusting the cobwebs from the corners. Be gentle and kind in your approach - this is a way of caring for ourselves by supporting our health and well-being and not an endurance test.
Have a plan that you feel will challenge you but is achievable. It pays to plan well, avoiding time when you may have social engagements that involve eating or drinking alcohol. Make sure you have the cupboard stocked with food you are allowed to eat and within the limitations include things you enjoy; for example fruit smoothies.
Amina Pfeufer, Nutritional Practitioner
There is a great deal of information on how best to cleanse your system but I would recommend seeking advice from a professional nutritionist. If you are thinking of doing a body cleanse for the first time, I know just the person.
Amina Pfeufer is a nutritional and craniosacral therapist. If anyone can make you feel happy at the thought of eating your greens it is Amina. She is a ray of sunshine; her positivity is truly contagious and I highly recommend her.
Amina is a registered Nutritional practitioner (mBANT, mCNHC) practicing in London and Oxford, helping her clients in a wide range of areas, including digestive, reproductive and skin health.
After seeing friends and family battling with a variety of health conditions but failing to find conventional solutions, she decided to retrain in nutritional therapy, convinced that diet and lifestyle play a vital role in optimal health.
It is winter and spending more time indoors in heated houses and cars, along with colds and seasonal infections all contribute to drying out our skin. Here are some things you can do to help prevent dryness and keep skin hydrated.
Just like your wardrobe, skincare should change with the seasons. In winter using a cleansing milk or cream will be less drying than a face wash. You may need to use a night cream or heavier moisturiser at night and for those with very parched skin a face oil underneath a night cream.
Exfoliate skin once a week. This removes a build up of dead skin cells and ensures the products you use will be more effective.
When you apply your moisturiser or body lotion after washing or cleansing do it immediately – do not let you skin dry out too much. This will trap some much needed extra moisture.
The water in this part of the country is very hard, if you are lucky enough to have a water softener you will really reap the benefits at this time of year alternatively some bath salts will soften the water and prevent further drying out skin.
Use plant based products they have so much more to offer than mineral oil or paraffin used in many skincare products. There are a huge variety of plant oils and fats that contain beneficial vitamins, omega oils and phytosterols, some light and easily absorbed like Rosehip seed oil and others heavy and protective like Shea butter.
Massaging your face will detoxify and bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to your skin so do a little every day or …… book a facial and have me do it for you instead!
I am looking forward to joining Amy Bramble and her group of students on their retreat in Suffolk on 25 November. In between enjoying the yoga and relaxing, I will be giving some of the students craniosacral therapy treatments.
Yoga and craniosacral therapy complement each other really well as they share so many common aims. One of these is to help us have a better relationship with our physical bodies, to fully feel body sensation and get in touch with our ‘felt sense’. More about why this is so good for us in the future!
I have been a student in both Amy and Aslihan’s (Yoga Crow) yoga classes and it is always a genuine pleasure as their deep love and appreciation of yoga shines through.
They embody all they teach and deliver it with a warmth and sense of humour that is always welcome especially when I am trying to get my creaky body into the postures whilst frowning with concentration!