Keeping well in Summer

TCM Seasonal Series

TCM summer blog post

Change can create challenges in our lives and a big one that we are all experiencing right now is that of the of seasons – from spring in to summer. 

I wrote a blog post earlier this year on supporting yourself through Autumn from a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective and a lot of people found it useful, so here is the Summer Edition!

Five Element Theory

Firstly, a simplified and brief explanation of the TCM therory that this guide is based on; the theory of the Five Elements. Qi (energy) is split in to five elements which are metal, earth, fire, water and wood. The theory being that we need harmony between each element for health. If one element is deficient or excessive, then we will experience illness or dis-ease. 

Summer from a TCM Perspective

Each element has characteristics from the natural world assigned to it which provide guidance on how to balance this aspect of our health. Summer is the season associated with the element of Fire. The emotion of joy when in balance. When in excess, the emotion is restlessness and when deficient, apathy.

Summer is a very Yang time of the year, which is associated with movement, activity and action. The organs linked to the Fire element are the Heart & Small intestine. 

It is associated with the colour red as well as growth, social activities and celebrations. 

Symptoms of Fire Imbalance 

  • Perspiration (too much or too little)
  • Rashes/Hives
  • Insomnia (and disturbed sleep)
  • Palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Anger

Practices to Support Balance

As the taste associated with Fire is bitterness, you could incorporate foods with this quality in to your diet eg endive & swiss chard. Bitter vegetables support digestion and remember that the Small Intestine is the organ associated with the Fire element. Try to eat foods that are in season and locally produced.

Keep cool by adding cucumber and mint to water and staying hydrated. Eating more fruit and veg generally will help with this too. It’s best to avoid hot, spicy and greasy foods.

The Heart is also associated with Fire and Summer, so this is the perfect time to practice using your intuition and ‘following your heart’. In TCM, the heart isn’t just a physical organ, it also houses our Shen, or our spirit. 

Swimming, yoga and meditation are the perfect antidotes to the fiery restlessness that summer can bring, and great for connecting to ourselves and tending to our inner fires. 

I hope you have found this interesting, and let me know your favourite ways to cool down in the summer!

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Wholistic Facials at Atlas

Wholistic Facials at Atlas

Since working with Dien Chan Zone (Italian Facial Reflexology) and seeing the effect that working on the face can have for the whole body, I was keen to add advanced facial massage techniques including facial gua sha and herbal poultice facial massage to my treatment offering. In November I traveled to London to undertake some intense training in these modalities and it was more than I hoped it would be! When I got back to the treatment room, I jumped in to practising case studies to really get to grips with the technique and the results have blown me away.

Warm Herbal Poultice

Herbs wrapped in organic muslin, steamed until hot & aromatic then massaged over the face and neck using a variety of specialised techniques.

Massage with the herbal poultice is based on the philosophy of traditional Thai Bodywork and works on the skin, fascia, muscle and sen points. The body absorbs the heat and herbal goodness which reduces muscular tension and pain, stimulates circulation, increases lymphatic drainage and soothes and conditions the skin. You will notice immediate improvements in the look and feel of your skin.

The Facial Gua Sha and Herbal Poultice massage have immediate results (listed below) that become longer lasting and more profound the more often they are applied. The benefits aren’t just on a skin/surface level but on a deeper level too, working with the muscular, lymphatic & energetic systems to create radiant & glowing complexion.

Facial Gua Sha

Facial massage technique using a small, flat gemstone combining a unique blend of facial massage therapies that clears stagnation, releases tension and promotes the flow of nutrients which feed the skin and repattern the way it ages.

This is really quite incredible because at the moment, most “anti-aging” treatments and other skin therapies are quite harsh on our skin and don’t do much to enhance the function and health of our largest organ. Quick fixes that create long term problems.

The modalities that I am introducing to Atlas follow the “Slow Beauty” philosophy of revealing your inner beauty – not with injections, peels and fillers but with healthy food, skincare, massage,  and lymphatic drainage amongst other things. When you think of slow beauty, you should think nurturing, soothing, calming and nourishing. It’s these things that create long lasting and sustainable change in the health of our skin and sets us up to age healthily.

Benefits of Facial Gua Sha & Herbal Poultice Massage:

Works on three levels; muscular, lymphatic, energetic & emotional

+  Muscular Benefits | Lifted cheeks, eyes & jawline, contoured cheekbones and jawline, eased tension in jaw, temples, cheeks & forehead

+  Lymphatic System Benefits | diminished dark circles & puffiness, reduced inflammation and inflammatory conditions such as rosacea and acne, creates a vibrant, radiant & glowing complexion

+  Energetic & Qi | prevents stagnation of energy, improves wellbeing, whole body benefits as many meridians in the face pass through other body systems

+  Emotional | relaxing, soothing, nurturing, calming, encourages ‘rest & digest’ state which is a healing and rejuvenating state, self connection and mindfulness

The Atlas Signature Facial debuts next month. Sign up to receive Atlas emails to be the first to hear when they launch.

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Bonjour from France 🇫🇷

Bonjour from France 🇫🇷

Hello!

I hope this letter finds you well – enjoying the last of summer and our transition in to autumn! I just wanted to get in touch and give you a few updates on what has been happening at Atlas, along with plans for the next few months!

Firstly, you might be aware that I have relocated to the south of France (a beautiful place called Aix-en-Provence, I highly recommend that you visit if you haven’t been already!). My partner was offered work on a project here and honestly, it just seemed like too good of an opportunity for us both to pass up – these offers don’t happen that often! So although the move has ultimately been a good thing for us, it has also meant that I had to take the difficult decision to step away from in-person client sessions for the time being. However, I am taking this time to really evaluate where Atlas is just now and how I can create new offerings that best serve you all!

So at the moment I am working on creating a way to work with people online, creating ideas for classes as well as various policies to make sure that you are taken care of (a loyalty & referral reward programme and packages). All of these things (and more!) will come to fruition in the next few months so although things might seem quiet on the surface, please know that I am still very much devoted to this work 💛.

Now that you’re all caught up, lets look to the future and what you can expect when I get back to the UK! In November I am undertaking training in a new modality of facial massage (please follow my instagram account to hear more about this soon) with a fabulous teacher who is coming from New York to share this skill. I’m really so excited to be in the first group of therapists learning this new technique outside of the US. It will work beautifully with the Dien Chan Zone facial reflexology that some of you have experienced already. After this, I will be back in Glasgow and open for treatments again from the end of November – I will notify you with more specific information closer to the time ☺️.

In the meantime, I plan on keeping in touch with you by email at least monthly and much more frequently on instagram so please follow me there for everything related to holistic women’s health. If you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions I encourage you to just reply to this email – it’ll come straight to me! If you feel comfortable, you could also maybe share with me some topics that you would like some advice and guidance on from a holistic point of view. This would really help me to develop some useful resources for you to access in the near future. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Take care and I’ll speak to you soon,

Rachael x

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How To Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy

How To Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Aromatherapy and, in particular, essential oils have many benefits to offer during pregnancy. With a little caution, they can be used safely and positively throughout the whole of your pregnancy to help maintain your wellbeing and naturally manage any issues you experience. This guide will cover how to use adapt aromatherapy for pregnancy. This post details some of the safest and most effective oils you might want to use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using Essential Oils Safely
Dilution – Essential oils are sold in their highly concentrated form and therefore must be diluted prior to use. In aromatherapy, dilution is measured in percentage and a dilution of 1% or less is recommended for pregnancy. This equates to one drop of essential oil in 5ml of base oil (almond, coconut, olive, avocado, jojoba oil etcetera).
Skin sensitivity – Your skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy so it’s a good idea to patch test oils 24 hours before first use. To do this, just create your blend, add to a cotton bud and swipe onto your inner arm. Monitor for any itchiness, redness or irritation at the site.
Light sensitivity – Due to increased melanin stimulating hormone levels in pregnancy, your skin can be more sensitive to the sun. Citrus oils can cause further light sensitivity so make sure that your exposure to the sun and/or sunbeds is limited for up to 24 hours after using.
Smell sensitivity – Throughout pregnancy you will have a heightened sense of smell. Some oils that you liked previously might now smell overwhelming to you. This is another reason that a dilution of only 1% should be used.

How to use Essential Oils
Diffuser – fill the diffuser with water and add up to 4 drops of essential oil
Massage – use 1drop of essential oil per 5ml of base oil then gently massage into skin or book an appointment here.
Bath – Dilute 1 drop of essential oil in 5ml of base oil then add to your bath

Categories: Complementary Therapies, Pregnancy, Uncategorised
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Twenty essential oils safe to use in pregnancy

Twenty essential oils safe to use in pregnancy

Many of my clients enjoy using essential oils at home but during pregnancy it can be difficult to know what oils are safe to use. It’s a question I hear a lot so, to answer it, I’ve put together this guide. I have grouped the oils into three distinct categories based on their main effect to make it easier to choose the most appropriate one for you.

 

Calming Essential Oils

The following essential oils are renowned for the soothing & calming effect that they have on the body and emotions. Best used when feeling stressed or anxious.

 

 

Chamomile

Soothing to the skin & emotions. It reduces oedema and encourages sleep.

Benzoin

A vanilla – like, warm and comforting oil. It helps relieve heartburn and is also good for healing cracked skin. 

Cypress

This oil improves circulation and eases the discomfort of varicose veins.

Eucalyptus

An excellent oil to use when congested, Eucalyptus acts as a decongestant as well as relaxing muscle tension.

Frankincense

Historically one of the most precious essential oils, Frankincense relaxes the body by encouraging deeper breathing. Often used in meditation.

Lavender

This oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It can reduce muscle tension & relieve insomnia.

Mandarin

A gentle and soothing oil, Madarin is great to use in skin care as it can help prevent stretch marks.

Energising Essential Oils

These oils have an uplifting effect on the body & emotions. They are good to use when feeling sluggish, tired or down.

Bergamot

Uplifting to the emotions, relieves insomnia & settles indigestion.

Black Pepper

Warming & stimulating. Black pepper eases muscular tension by encouraging blood flow to the areas that are achey.

Clary

Lifts the spirits and eases muscular tension

Ginger

Another warming oil that settles indigestion and nausea.

Grapefruit

This oil balances emotions and energises the body and mind.

Lemon

Uplifting, stimulating & cleansing.

Sweet marjoram

This oil is has a  warming and analgesic effect on the body.

Balancing Essential Oils

These oils are good to use when you’re feeling out of sorts and need some extra support. 

Geranium

Balances the mood and hormones. It’s also effective at reducing oedema.

Rose Otto

Regulates appetite, relaxes and balances emotions. It’s known for having an affinity with the female reproductive system and is often use to ease women;s health issues. 

Neroli

Relieves stress, anxiety and has an aphrodisiac effect.

Sandalwood

Very calming & grounding. Can increase focus but is almost sedative if too much is used. 

Ylang Ylang

Lifts the mood and promotes self-confidence

Tea Tree

Wound healing and stimulating to the immune system

Information taken from:

“Pregnancy Guidelines” by The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists 

 “The Essential Guide to Holistic & Complementary Therapies” by Beckmann and Le Quesne.

“Aromatherapy: An A-Z” by Davies

 

Contact me to work together – if you would like to experience the benefits of essential oils with an experienced aromatherapist, you can book an aromatherapy massage at my clinic in NYR Glasgow online here, or I can create a bespoke aromatherapy oil blend for you. Email rachael@atlastherapies.co.uk for more information.

You might also find the next post helpful, detailing how to use oils at home safely.

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Seasonal Wellbeing – Surviving & Thriving over Christmas!

Seasonal Wellbeing – Surviving & Thriving over Christmas!

The festive season is well and truly upon us! I hope you are all having a lovely time and enjoying everything it has to offer – from time with friends and family to delicious festive food and drinks. I know that for all the benefits that this time of year brings, there are a few downsides. It’s so easy to overindulge on everything, saying no (to socialising, shopping, eating, drinking…) is so difficult when you feel that you have to make the most of it because it only happens once a year!

There is often a lot of stress involved with trying to get organised for Christmas, feeling the need to please everyone and not to mention the financial stress that can affect us too.

Often these things combine to result in us feeling tired, run down and not at our best to enjoy the things we want to say yes to! With this in mind, I’ve put together a few tips to keep you glowing over Christmas and to start the New Year off in a happy and healthy place!

15492312_860682314068684_8213854764066920618_n“Prevention is better than cure” 

Balance

If there is one thing that I’ve learned about health and wellbeing, it’s that balance is the key! So enjoy that mince pie and mulled wine, but also cram lots of veg into your meals. Have a great time at your Christmas night out but also schedule a quiet night in to restore your energy later in the week.

You can always get by for a while if one aspect of your life is out of balance but if everything is then you will feel run down much more quickly.

Beauty Sleep

Good quality sleep is the key to enjoying yourself this Christmas and approaching events with energy and vitality. Your body loves a routine to help wind down at night so why not create a lovely ritual to encourage this? You could start by having a bath with some lavender essential oil and magnesium flakes added to it, listen to some calming music or a podcast and drink a cup of herbal tea. Finally, spritz your pillow with a sleep mist and you’ll find getting your beauty sleep a breeze.

Obviously, at this time of year it can be difficult to switch off and if you find that this is affecting your sleep, why not try keeping a notepad next to your bed to jot down anything that’s on your mind before going to sleep? You might also find that only drinking caffeine before 4pm can help too, as can getting some exercise every day.

 Hydration

The cold weather, central heating and air con during winter really affects our skin and hydration levels so ensure that you’re looking after your body inside and out by drinking plenty of water, fruit and herbal teas throughout the day. This not only helps your skin, but it also keeps your body functioning well and helps you to keep thinking clearly and feel energised.

If you find that your skin needs some extra help, you could try applying some rich moisturising cream or oils to your skin. Olive oil is great for chapped hands and feet, while sweet almond oil is lovely on the face.

Exercise

When it’s cold outside it is so tempting to stay indoors and hibernate and there is definitely a time for this, but make sure that you introduce some movement into your body every day too. This is also good for your mind and emotional wellbeing. You could go for a short walk during your lunch break to try and absorb some natural light, or wrap up warm and take in all the festive lights and decorations around town in the evening. A gentle walk after dinner has the added benefit of aiding digestion.

Extra Support

Finally, there is also extra support to be had in the form of herbal supplements, superfoods and therapies. You could try some Echinacea in a tea to help support the immune system or baobab powder added to a smoothie or your porridge for a boost of vitamin C.

Aromatherapy massage is fantastic for helping to energise and restore, or calm and balance depending on what you need. Reflexology is also a lovely way to spend some time on yourself and to achieve balance.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year!

Categories: Holistic Health, Reflexology, Stress, Uncategorised
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