I transitioned from a professional dance career into becoming a Pilates Instructor and Massage Therapist, and now I am a student of Osteopathy with the College D’Etudes Osteopathiques at the Halifax Campus. All of the practitioners at Choice Health Centre practice the power of mind-body medicine to varying degrees. We enjoy sharing our knowledge and assisting you to evoke your Relaxation Response to enhance your body’s ability to heal and thrive.
What is the Relaxation Response?
The relaxation response is defined as your inherent ability to engage your body’s release of chemicals and brain signals to slow down your muscles and organs and increase blood flow to the brain and throughout the arterial tree, your body’s network of blood vessels. It is a process of training your central nervous system to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), the part of the nervous system responsible for automatic processes related to relaxation, known as the 'rest and digest' part of our nervous system. The PNS, when activated, automatically deactivates, distracts and soothes the sympathetic nervous system, known as the 'fight or flight' part, which kicks in automatically in stressful situations. Most of us can identify with and feel the difference between these two states of being. Unfortunately, far too many of us are spending too much time in a fight or flight state of being, and need to train ourselves to function under the control of the PNS, which allows for a healthy, yet high performance lifestyle. Consider the ballerina Karen Kain or the boxer Muhammad Ali. Both have displayed excellent examples of the relaxed and alert state of well-being at a very high level of performance.
How do we, as clinicians, measure the Relaxation Response scientifically to provide an evidence-based practice?
To evoke your Relaxation Response, consider how you experience your body and what helps you feel at ease. Repetitive exercise and mindful movement, such as urban pole walking and running, release endorphins and improve circulation. Yoga and diaphragmatic breathing, nutritious and delicious food, hydration, and sleep engage the rest and digest reflex. Massage therapy and osteopathy employ a variety of manual therapy techniques to increase your awareness of tension holding patterns in your body, and help you unwind tension by helping you to feel pressure and the release of pressure, sometimes referred to by your clinician as 'strain and counter-strain'.
Remember to make time to care for yourself, so you can care for those near and dear to you, and continue to work and play with ease. Take the first step toward achieving this and book your massage or osteopathy appointment today. I look forward to hearing what you think and feel regarding your experience of mind-body medicine.
by Susan Cook, RMT, Student of Osteopathy