Craniosacral therapy FAQ’s

What is craniosacral therapy? How does it work? Can it benefit X, Y, Z condition? I get a lot of enquiries about CST and have collated some of the most commonly asked questions into this post to give you a better understanding of this gentle, yet incredibly effective modality.

 

The body is a symphony is motion. On every level, our greatest promise for health is achieved when our body parts, from cellular to gross, are free to move in harmony with one another.

(Dr John Upledger, founder of craniosacral therapy)

 

So… what is craniosacral therapy? How does it work?

I often describe CST session as a full body meditation! It comprises of slow, gentle holding techniques that put our nervous system into a meditative rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) mode, as opposed to the flight-or-flight (sympathetic) mode that we mainly operate on. During this relaxed and receptive state our body’s own healing mechanisms are able to kick in. This allows our internal, cellular repair work to take place, which helps move us closer to our natural state of health.

The aim of CST is to balance our nervous system and release restrictions in our soft tissues, mainly in the fascia. Fascia is like a three-dimensional webbing, “a body suit”, that holds our us together, connecting each part, each fibre, to the next.

Injuries, illnesses, physical and emotional trauma (which we all inevitably encounter) can affect the tension throughout our body, and sometimes affect a completely different area to the original injury site. An image that helped me visualise the formation of fascial tension patterns was cleverly demonstrated by one one my teachers. She hung up a sheet, as a metaphor for fascia, over a white board. She then attached attached a peg (restriction, injury) in the middle of it. You could now see how the fibres were pulling towards the peg. Couple more pegs were added, and more interconnected lines and wrinkles were formed, all that were “talking to” each other.

CST is not only used for releasing physical ‘knots’ and restrictions, but to address those emotional wounds as well. We now know that trauma is stored in the cellular memory.  Gently and safely addressing physical restrictions can also help us unwind emotionally, and increase ease and sense of wellness in all areas of life.

 

Who is it for?

When I am asked who can benefit from CST treatment, I can’t think of many who wouldn’t! It suits all ages and genders, even animals are known to have respond extremely well to craniosacral therapy! However, as I am not specialised in paediatrics, I don’t treat babies or children under 10yrs old.

Ongoing pain, tension, imbalances in any of the body systems are definitely indications that our nervous system and fascia are in need of re-balancing. Headaches, migraines, back and hip pain are issues commonly seen at my clinic, as well as sinus, jaw and ear aches… Sleep problems, stress, anxiety, low immune function and general feeling of being out of sorts are also commonly treated with CST.

Even if you haven’t got a specific issue and are feeling fine, CST can be the most enjoyable hour of relaxation, rest and rejuvenation that will keep you feeling well and balanced.

 

How does craniosacral therapy differ from remedial massage?

CST is a light touch modality, meaning that the pressure during the treatment is much less than during a massage. Contrary to the myth “no pain no gain”, light pressure does not mean it is ineffective or superficial. When the body doesn’t have to guard itself against pain, it can fully relax, lengthen and let go of tension on a deeper level.

During a massage we feel for tension or triggerpoints in the muscular system, whereas CST focuses on assessing the craniosacral rhythm, the fluid flow through the tissues. Sluggish or stagnant flow often indicate restrictions in the fascia and helps detect the root causes of a health problem.

CST treatment is often performed through clothing whilst the client is resting on their back, as opposed to massage on skin.

However, craniosacral therapy combines very well with massage and I often utilise techniques from both modalities in one session.

 

Is it similar to reiki?

I am not an expert in reiki so this is a little hard to answer, but this question comes up a lot so I will try. During CST treatment the practitioner’s hands are gently but firmly in contact with the client’s body as we “listen” to the tissues. As far as I understand, reiki is an energy technique where physical touch is not necessarily present (I am sorry if I get this wrong). However, during any treatment we are dealing with energy, consciously or unconsciously, as this is what all life is made of, as quantum physics has confirmed. People who are sensitive to subtle energies can often feel energetic shifts as well as physical unwinding during CST.

What to expect from the treatment?

Expect to be comfy, supported, safe and very relaxed.

Most of the treatment happens around the head (cranium), the tail bone (sacrum) and the spine that connects the two. Often warmth, tingling, twitching, or slight movement under the skin can be felt as the tissues release. Stomach gurgles are very common, completely normal and in fact a great sign that your body is in a deep state of rest. No need to feel self-conscious!

Tissue releases can sometimes bring up images, memories or emotions. Verbalising them is fine, but it is equally fine to process them in silence. Whatever feels right to you. Afterwards most people report feeling lighter, calmer, “more like themselves”. Often you will feel as I’ve you’ve been in a deep meditative state for an hour, which you have been.

 

How did you know where my pain was? 

This one has come up a lot lately. Clients have found it surprising that during CST they have become aware of pain or tension in a certain area, and then a moment later I have placed my hands on the same area, without any verbal communication between us.

There is incredible intelligence in the human body. The inner wisdom of your body of knows what you need in each moment, and it gives subtle signals to my hands, so they know where to go. It is as if, at times, your body speaks directly to my hands, bypassing my thinking mind! Other times my body mirrors your sensations and guides me to the right area.

There is so much we don’t know about the human body, and even though the science is catching up, there is still a whole lot of wonder and mystery surrounding the human body. I am becoming more comfortable saying I don’t always know why things happen the way they do. We are a miracle in motion, and to stay open and humble to the mystery, is part of the game.

 

Is it ok to talk during the treatment?

There is no right or wrong way. Some people find sharing their story, feelings, sensations and discoveries helpful, some prefer to process things internally. Some dose off as soon as the treatment starts, knowing that their body will make the most of the treatment, whether they are conscious of it or not! However, constant chatting throughout the session can distract us from the sensations and awareness of our body, so some silence is often beneficial for the best outcome.

 

What should I do after the treatment?

I highly recommend taking the rest of the day off if possible and staying well hydrated and grounded. Be kind to yourself. Have some fresh air, have a nap, a cry, a laugh… Whatever you need. Even though you’ve relaxed for an hour, your cells have been busy repairing and realigning, and they will continue to do so for the next 24-48 hours.  Similar sensations, as felt during treatment, may also continue.

 

How often should I come back?

You know yourself the best. Do what feels right to you. However, no treatment, CST or other, is an instant and permanent fix. Generally, if you’ve had an issue for a long time, it is realistic to expect several sessions in close proximity in order to see lasting results. Having said that, often just one treatment will improve the symptoms and a positive change is often noted.

 

When can I book in??   

You can easily book online here or if you’d like to discuss your particular case before booking in, you can give me a call 0452265966. I would love to help you.

 

 

If you put your hands on people to help them feel better, love has to go with those hands. That’s how you facilitate transformation.

(Dr John Upledger)

 

loving the body you live in

Loving the Body You live in

Body image issues are talked about a lot these days. Every era has its (unrealistic) beauty ideals and I think it’s safe to say that in the age of Botox, Photoshop and Instagram filters this pressure to look at our “best” isn’t going anywhere…

Body image is often a very complex psychological issue that has roots deep in our past experiences, trauma and culture we grew up in. I’m not even trying to dig into the immensity of it.

However, as a massage therapist, I see a lot of bodies, in all shapes, sizes and ages. I also see a lot of shame. A lot of hiding, a lot of apologising.

And it is not our fault. It is what we are taught to do, (especially) as women, when we think our body doesn’t fit into the elusive ideal that we are so used to comparing ourselves to.

I’m no exception.

I have certainly had my share of issues with body image and self-confidence, as most of us have.

Growing up as the shy nerd wearing coke-bottle glasses and piling on weight in my late-teens didn’t make love the mirror… quite the opposite. And even though I’ve made peace (mostly!) with the way my physical body looks like these days, the critic in the mirror still pops up uninvitedly from time to time.

As with anything in life, I am a work-in-progress, and every day presents me with challenges and opportunities to work on loving and accepting myself more.

But looking back, I have come such a long way in learning to look at myself with eyes of compassion. And the more I learn about the amazing ways our fascinating human bodies function, the more love and gratitude I have for mine.

And for me, it is more about loving the experience of inhabiting my body. The looks are less and less important. (Getting older helps in this, ha!)

Below I am listing some things that have helped me over the years to shift my perspective from criticism to love and gratitude when it comes to this body of mine:

 

  • Touch therapies

Well, I am a massage and craniosacral therapist after all. I love giving massages, but I also ADORE receiving them, and do so on a regular basis. Nurturing, non-judgmental touch has given me a chance to practice shifting my focus from what (I think) I look like to HOW I FEEL in my body. And the better I feel, the easier it is to love the experience of living in my body, which in turn makes me want to treat myself kinder by choosing habits that support my physical and mental health. It’s like a positive circle that keeps on giving!

  • Consciously seeking pleasure

Do you think this sounds a bit selfish? Bit indulgent? I assure you it is not! Pleasure is a choice and a mindset, and it isn’t taking away from anyone else.

Seeking pleasure for me, means choosing and allowing myself to experience things that make me feel good. It is also a way to practice being in the moment, taking in the fullness of the Now.

Going for a beach walk, having a dance for no reason, inhaling the smell of coffee, sinking into a good hug, getting emotional over a nostalgic song, swimming in the ocean, giving myself a little face massage whilst moisturising with rosehip oil. Little things, done mindfully, and soaked up to the max. That’s pleasure right there.

What does your list look like?

  • Think of the things your body allows you to do and achieve

There’s nothing wrong about wanting to look good and loving what you see in the mirror, but what is REALLY FUN is all the experiences that our body allows us to experience! Yes, there’s the pleasurable everyday things, that deserve to be savoured, but there are also those huge achievements that we couldn’t have done without this amazing sack of flesh and bones! They are worth listing too.

Hiking up mount Kilimanjaro, bringing a baby into this world, marrying that dreamboat of a hubby/wife of yours, starting a new business that helps save the world (yep, that one!), photographing that stunning Tuscan landscape, growing the biggest pumpkin in your neighbourhood, rescuing 100 dogs from the pound.

I don’t know, obviously I made that list up (I’m too shy to share mine in public!), but whatever it is for you, your body allows you to do all those things. Plus you’ve got all the cool memories to prove it.

  • Meditation

This has been a big one for me. Many meditation practices teach that we are more than our body. There is often a focus on connecting to the spirit/soul within us, the part that is more than meets the eye. Our energetic body, if you like.

And amazingly, regularly tuning in to this ‘inner spaciousness’ helps create distance to the idea we have of our body (the ‘flaws’ become less of a deal, as do the ‘good looks’). Focusing on the energetic body somehow makes the experience of being in the physical body more profound and gratitude-inducing. Paradoxical, I know.

PS. Craniosacral therapy is an amazing modality that can help with achieving this utterly relaxed, meditative state that allows to feel into all aspects of our Being, physical body and beyond. Highly recommend!

  • Body positivity in the web

Internet and social media can be such traps sometimes, by getting us to compare ourselves, our bodies, houses, jobs, to the glossy, staged lives of the ‘influencers’. Not to mention the time we spent scrolling instead of savouring that frothy cappuchino in front of us…

BUT! There is also a lot of cool accounts and sites that celebrate body positivity and advocate selflove and kindness.

I love seeing real size women modelling (ethical) fashion, and cellulite and body hair celebrated rather than photoshopped, our imperfectly beautiful bodies made into works of art… Because that’s what they are.

What I’m doing more and more, since I’m still a social (media) butterly, is unfollowing people and accounts that make me feel “less than”, and filling my feed with inspirational and brave images and stories. The ones that make me appreciate our diversity and the beauty of our perfectly imperfect human bodies and lives.

Here’s some of my favourite ‘body positive’ Instagram accounts to give you an idea:

 

 

 

 

Riina Kosonen is a remedial massage and craniosacral therapist in Newcastle, NSW. To find out more or to book an appointment, you can visit www.riinakosonen.com or www.instagram.com/riinakosonenmassage

Sacred seasons of the menstrual cycle

Unless you’re actively trying to conceive, you probably don’t give your menstrual cycle much thought. It’s just a thing that us women ‘put up with’ throughout our reproductive years, right?

In general, periods tends to have quite a bad rap. We talk about PMS, mood swings, bloating, irritability, cramps, that time of the month (with an eye roll) – as if it’s the biggest curse womankind has had to endure. And sure enough for some it can be a painful, uncomfortable experience, and I don’t mean to discount that.

But what if I told you that we can look at our menstrual cycle as our teacher, guide, compass that allows us to access to the wisest part of our self? The part that knows what is best for us, and how to heal and be well.

Because, trust me, there is beauty, wisdom and genius in the design of our cycle. (This also applies to women who have ceased to menstruate.)

I’m not claiming to be an expert in the topic, it is just something that I have an interest in and feel called to share. For me, knowing and appreciating my own rhythms has helped me develop a much healthier and more compassionate relationship with myself.selfcare

LOST ART OF SEASONAL LIVING

In our world where the pill and various menstrual products have made it possible for us to control and hide our periods (which can be great in many ways, don’t get me wrong) I believe we have lost touch with the innate wisdom that our menstrual cycle holds.

The pressure to stay happy, energetic and on the go all the time can make us feel like there is something wrong with us when the mood or energy levels naturally fluctuate as part of the cyclic nature of life.

I definitely used to feel like that. Wondering why some days I felt so down or lethargic and unproductive, and blaming myself for not being able to keep up.

STAGES OF THE CYCLE

Just like nature has its seasons, so do we. The menstrual cycle can be divided into different stages: follicular phase (“spring”), ovulation (“summer”), luteal phase (“autumn”) and menstruation (“winter”).

Spring

Follicular phase is the time between menses and ovulation when the focus of the ovaries to grow follicles, out of which one will mature into an egg, in preparation for potential conception.

Energetically this is a season when most women feel at their “best”, most productive, enthusiastic, upbeat, outgoing. This is the time to start new projects, initiate change and make things happen, thanks to the rise in oestrogen, follicle stimulating hormone and lutenising hormone. This is the time for most women to engage in more vigorous exercise and push their limits.

Summer

Ovulation, which occurs mid way through the cycle, is when the egg is released. We tend to be more receptive to others and a fertile ground (literally) to new ideas. Sexual desire naturally peaks at this time, and creatively we often feel our most inspired, as we release our masterpiece (egg!) into the world!

Studies show that women could be more susceptible to sports injuries just before ovulation. This could be due to drop in oestrogen levels, leading to a reduction in the strength to muscles and ligaments. Exercise-wise this is the time to stay clear of intense or jarring workouts.

Autumn

If we don’t become biologically pregnant during ovulation, we move into the luteal phase, the autumn of our cycle. Hormone levels are on the steady decline, and we can start to feel our energy drop. This is often seen as a negative thing, but it doesn’t have to be.

During the luteal or premenstrual phase we tend to be more intuitive, introspective, and in tune with what is meaningful in our lives. It is also easier to see what isn’t working so well, where we need to make changes.

Dreams can become more vivid and meaningful as our unconscious mind processes where we are at in life. We can feel quite emotional (remember, not a negative thing!), moved to tears by happy or sad stuff going on in and around us. We are more ready to defend our boundaries, which too, can be a healthy thing, when done in a constructive manner. 😉

It is important to allow ourselves to feel ALL the emotions and not judge ourselves because of them. They are letting us know how we are feeling, what is important and matters to us.

Resting when we are called to do so is also wise. We don’t need to be everything for everyone all the time, ladies.

Gentler exercise is better during luteal/premenstrual phase, as a torturous workout is most likely going to leave you more depleted than energised. On the other hand, if the steam is building up too much, perhaps a jog in fresh air or punching a boxing bag is the way to go.

Just before your period starts, levels of hormone called relaxin increase to help soften and open up the cervix, and this affects laxity in the ligaments elsewhere too. Just like at ovulation, it’s best to avoid heavy exercise and overstretching as the risk of sprains/strains is much higher.

Winter

And as the menstruation begins, we naturally tend to want to hibernate and stay under the blankets for the first couple of days. This isn’t always possible, but being kind to ourselves and resting as much as possible is what nature intended for us. A nice gentle walk in the fresh air can be nice, but so can cuddling a hot water bottle whilst watching Netflix.

Many ancient civilisations used to have traditions where women were sent to a separate Red Tent away from the rest of the tribe during their ‘moon time’. Sure, it could have been for the lack of understanding and fear of the feminine power, but there is wisdom there too, don’t you think? A few uninterrupted days to rest and recuperate. No other responsibilities apart from the cleansing and letting go of the old that naturally happens during the days of bleeding.

Nourishing ourselves in whatever way we can is the sacred medicine of the Inner Winter. Finding inspiration in the quieter, more inwardly turned life and in the metaphorical darkness is how new seedlings start to grow. Nothing in nature blooms all year round and the resting period is just as important as the growth season.

NEW APPRECIATION

There is so much insight and information available to us just through the awareness of the stages of our menstrual cycle. Paying attention to and learning about the seasons within your monthly cycle will hopefully open up a whole new appreciation for your own rhythms.

For me, it has definitely resulted in less unnecessary pushing and striving, and more self-love and compassion as I’ve learned to (not-sorry for the pun) go with my flow!

MORE INFORMATION

If you want to learn more about this inner guidance system and women’s health and wellness in general, I highly recommend Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book “Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom” and her extensive blog library.

If you want to track your period better and know exactly where you are in your cycle, there are lots of free period apps available. Although as you start to tune in to the fluctuation of your emotions and energy, you will probably learn to recognise (with amazing accuracy!) whereabouts in your cycle you are even without the app.

 

Sources:

Northrup, Christiane: Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, 1999

5 reasons why I love being a massage therapist

I love my work as a remedial massage therapist and a craniosacral therapist. It may seem like hard work for some, but I actually really look forward to going to work every day. How good is that?! Here’s my top 5 best things about my work:

1. AMAZING CLIENTS

This is by far the best thing about my job – having the most amazing clients. I truly, honestly, feel this way! I consider myself very lucky to get to do work I love and get to meet such interesting, inspiring and NICE people every day. And I’m not just sucking up here!play

Think about it. A person walking into a massage clinic is most likely in a pretty happy mood & looking forward to their un-interrupted hour on the treatment table, hence a delight to deal with! Even when clients arrive in pain, they mostly walk out feeling a better and healthier. So, I hardly ever get “difficult” people in through the door.

Instead I get to spend time with (often) likeminded people who appreciate the work I do. I also get to hear amazing life stories, learn new things about the world and form meaningful human connections every single day.

I feel very humbled that my clients trust me with their aches, pains, stresses and stories, and allow me to be a part of their healing process. It really is something special to witness the transformations that can occur on the treatment table, when a person finds their “ease,” physically, mentally and emotionally.

 

2.MINDFUL SINGLE TASKING

I am a woman, but I cannot for the life of me multitask! At. All. Actually research now suggest most of us can’t, but we seem to associate productivity with doing lots of things simultaneously. Well, it’s never worked for me.

I love the fact that I get to give each client my full attention for the whole duration of the treatment. I can be fully present for them, and listen with my hands what is going on for them physically and emotionally. I find this mindful and focused state really calming and inspiring. It’s like meditating for a living! Plus I get to listen to relaxing tunes all day long, which is a bonus!

 

hands

3.WORKING WITH MY HANDS

I’ve always been a very hands-on, tactile person. Before I changed careers and became a massage therapist, I studied Art Education and took every possible pottery course that was available through my Uni! I have always sewn, painted, baked and created things with my hands, so I guess it’s not a wonder that the human body became my medium that I now work on full time!

 

4.BEING MY OWN BOSS

If you told the 25 year old me that in a few years I was to start my own business and become my own boss, I wouldn’t have believed you! But now I can’t imagine another way of making a living.

I love my flexible hours (slow morning beach walks are the best!) and the freedom of choosing when and how much I work. Some weeks I can pull massive days and other times I feel the need to knock off early in order to schedule some selfcare in. My boss is a very understanding and lovely lady like that!

There’s the downside of course to working for yourself but so far the perks outweigh the negatives by a mile!

 

5.SPENDING THE DAY ON MY FEET

As a massage therapist I see how tough it can be for my office-bound clients to sit down at their desks all day, and it really makes me appreciate my ability to move around at my job. Sure, I’m on my feet all day, sometimes hunched over in not-so-ergonomic position, but over the years I’ve become pretty good at catching myself when my posture starts to slip.herbal tea

And amazingly my feet (or my back or my hands) don’t feel tired by the end of the day, unless it’s been an absolutely humongous day. Muscles are amazing that way, the more you use them, the stronger they get and less they complain.

But of course I do try to walk my talk too – getting regular massages, stretching, eating and moving well as well as taking time for things that bring me joy.

 

If you would like to schedule a remedial/relaxation massage or craniosacral therapy session with me, you can do so here

 

 

 

 

Could we stop apologising for our body?

This topic is so close to my heart. As a massage therapist I hear a lot of women apologise for not having shaved their legs. Or make a comment about their weight or cellulite or some other feature they deem unacceptable. I used to do this too, and it breaks my heart every time I hear an apology like this.

Who taught us our bodies were wrong / ugly / too much / too little?? What happened to the little child who ran around freely, not holding their tummy in or not worrying about the shape/size of their body? Life, I guess, happens, and we learn to hide and conceal and be ashamed.

But the truth is our worth has got absolutely nothing to do with looks, even beauty has got nothing to do with looks. What is beautiful, is self-love and acceptance. Loving our body the way it is. Not 5kg thinner but as we are NOW.

Self-acceptance is a skill that can be learned with practice, practise and more practise. It a relentless commitment to love and praise out bodies for all the things they allow us to do and feel and experience. It is also a commitment to stop criticising ourselves for the way we (think we) look.

So next time you come in for a massage with hairy legs, trust that I’m not there to judge you, I am there to support and cheer you on on your journey to wellness, freedom and joy!

Practising stillness in the desert

Recently I took a few weeks off to to walk the Larapinta trail in the Australian desert. Larapinta is a 230km hike sprawling across the West McDonnell ranges near Alice Springs.

Hiking in remote nature, taking in the desert scenery, cooking dehydrated meals on a little gas burner and sleeping in a tent under the stars… No phone reception, TV, books, entertainment, hot showers. Maybe it’s my introverted, nature-loving Scandinavian heritage, but these kind of holidays are my dream come true!

We had a perfect plan.

The trail divided into 14 sections, two weeks of walking, food boxes delivered to us every three days by a trek support company, our gear reduced to a minimum weight (about 10kgs) and shoes perfectly worn in. What could go wrong??

This is a story of one of the Best Trips I’ve ever done, mostly because things didn’t go to plan!

 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

We started out our hike on a high. The rugged beauty of Australian desert took me by surprise, but so did the rocky, uneven terrain! The trail climbs up and down the magnificent mountain ranges, through waterholes and gorges, spinifex covered plains, sandy and pebbly riverbanks, stunted but shaded and cool Eucalypt bushlands. And there is so much sky in the desert! Cloudless and blue during day, lilac at dawn, and splattered in bright stars at night.

However, despite of training, our legs weren’t used to the sharp, scrambly rocks that covered every inch of the trail. The unevenness and roughness of the terrain kept our eyes glues to our feet and gave our knees and ankles a fair workout.

With my 20/20 hindsight I can see that we pushed ourselves too hard at the start, eager to hit our daily km targets and forgetting the most important reason why we were doing this walk: to enjoy ourselves!

And soon enough we both had an excruciatingly sore knee (ITB syndrome) and every step up or down was agony. We tried pushing on for one more day (unwilling to let that perfect schedule lapse!) until we could not walk any longer.

FORCED TO REST

But what happened next was the start of a different kind of holiday.

We rested. (Because we had to!) We perched ourselves on the sandy banks of Ormiston gorge. We soaked our legs in the icy waterhole. We tended to our sore knees. We admired the carvings and rusty colours of the rockfaces. We birdwatched. Heck, we even we even insect-watched, if that’s a thing!

But mostly we just sat in nature. All we could do for two whole days, was to be.

And… we relaxed! For the first time in a long time it felt like the stress and busyness we had been carrying for so long was finally starting to drain out of our systems.

The strict schedule had to be scrapped as we were now well and truly unable to catch up. When we eventually resumed walking, it felt like such a privilege to be traipsing through these ancient landscapes, walking with Nature rather than ‘against the elements’!

The desert nature had right from the start felt friendly, familiar and supportive to me (as opposed to being described as ‘harsh’, ‘barren’ or ‘hostile’). But after our pause the gratitude, connection and the loving support I felt from the Earth beneath me was so incredibly strong I may have cried little silent tears into the upturned collar of my shirt…

 

SILVER LININGS ALL AROUND

Our sore knees had given us a beautiful gift of time.

We were now taking more breaks, looking after our bodies better and being more aware of the present moment. We were really taking in the ever-changing scenery and noticing the smaller details around us. We were loving the actual journey (pardon the cliché) rather than wondering if we were “there yet”.

It was impossible to plan ahead as my partner’s knee kept flaring up without much warning, so we had to let go of expectation and take every day as it came. Walking when we could, resting when we needed to. And being equally grateful for both.

After our we finished our Larapinta trek, our trip continued with rental wheels to Uluru, Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas) and Kings Canyon, all which amazed us in their majestic, powerful presence. But the urgency, busyness and strict scheduling was gone. Camping under the stars continued, so did our enjoyment of the desert life.

 

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER

The challenge of course is to being the same sense of ease into the everyday life after holidays are over. After experiencing the silence and peace of the desert, I am consciously trying to create more gaps in my day.

Moments where I am not checking my phone or thinking of the next thing to do. Moments where I pause to look at the clouds, or breathe deep into my belly.

I am not saying I’m great at it, but Larapinta certainly inspired me to keep up the practice.

Discovering Winter’s blessings

Winter seems to invoke two very different reactions in the Australian population. One half rejoices in the relief that the cooler weather brings. The other half whinges about the lack of day light and shivers with the first breath of cool air. I, despite of been brought up in the Northern hemisphere, belong to the second group. Not a huge fan of winter, be it Finnish or Australian.

However, in the recent years I have started to ponder the meaning, the blessing, of Winter.

THE NORDIC WAY OF WINTER

Looking at it from my Finnish perspective,  Winter has historically been the time for hibernation and rest. Autumn jobs, like harvesting, picking, foraging, preserving, wood chopping are (or should be) done by the time the first snow hits the ground. One hopes that the supplies will last all the way till Spring. And then, during the long cold months, one rests. The shorter days are a perfect excuse to cozy up, potter indoors and slow down the pace.

This is not of course the way of the modern world.  Warmth comes from the electric heaters and food from supermarkets. Perhaps Australian winters aren’t dark or harsh enough (says the Finnish girl, you may kindly disagree!) to really stop us in our tracks, and force us to rest.

But maybe we still should.

In fact I really think we should.

SLOWING DOWN FOR A REASON

No animal, plant or human can be ‘on the go’ all the time. We all go through cycles of activity and inactivity, action and rest. But in a society where our self-worth seems to be tightly linked to productivity and being busy, there is literally no time to rest. Unless we give ourselves that break.

And Winter just seems to be Nature’s genius way of handing us this chance on a plate.

So why not use it for replenishing and restoring our energy? Why not go to bed earlier, since it’s dark anyway? Why not reduce the outings and snuggle up on the couch, since that’s what you *really* felt like doing? Or go for a walk in the brisk air and have a hot bath afterwards? Read books instead of scrolling. Swap salads to a steaming bowl of soup.

It is a beautiful thing to honour the pace of Nature. To bless the cold and the dark, and use it for nourishing the body and soul.

 

 

Riina Kosonen is a Finnish-born massage and craniosacral therapist based in Newcastle, Australia. She is passionate about educating her clients on the importance of self-care and loving ourselves to great health. You can read more about Riina here and follow her selfcare journey on instagram.

My Kimchi recipe aka Sauerkraut on steroids

Winter is here (in Australia) and it does seem to be the season for sniffles, colds and flus. Boo! Nobody likes to get knocked around with whatever’s going around the office.

In order to be able to resist all the bugs we need a strong immune system. And to strengthen our immune system we need A) to reduce stress – hello regular massages! and B) to strengthen our good gut bacteria with probiotic rich foods!

I could talk about the benefits of massages and relaxation for hours… Instead I will share my tried and tested recipe for gut-friendly kimchi, which is a Korean style vegetable pickle.  It is not only delicious, but also full of probiotics due to the fermentation process it goes through. In other words; a real immune booster. And to top things off, my kimchi includes a whole lot of ginger, turmeric, garlic and chili to bump up its flu-fighting abilities!

And the main thing is I eat this stuff DAILY. At breakfast, on my sourdough bread topped with cheese and butter. It is delicious, trust me. Its tangy flavour makes it a nice condiment or a side salad with your main meals.

MY VERSION OF KIMCHI

You may have had red’ish spicy kimchi at a Korean restaurant. Word of warning. Mine is quite different. This recipe has evolved over time, it is more like the German sauerkraut supercharged with Asian flavours. I can’t even remember where I got the initial recipe, I must have googled it. But once you make kimchi/sauerkraut once and know the process, you can keep improvising with flavours, and this is exactly what I have done. Here we go, are you ready? (It’s easy-peasy.) 

CHOP

  • Thinly slice/chop about half a cabbage (any colour or variety), couple of carrots, handful of radishes, spring onions, bok choy, turnip, whatever crunchy veggies happen to be at hand. Add them to a large bowl. Toss to mix.
  • Add a large 4-5cm piece of grated or sliced fresh ginger, several sliced cloves of garlic, either a large 4-5cm piece of fresh or couple of teaspoons of ground tumeric, fresh chillies (I usually only use one red chilli with seeds for a mild one, but you can use more if want a spicier one) or dried chilli powder to taste, I’d recommend starting with 1-2 teaspoons. Feel free to experiment with other spices too.

MASSAGE

  • Make a brine with a ratio of 1 tablespoon of rock salt per 1 cup of hot (filtered) water. I usually make about 5-6 cups.
  • Once salt has dissolved, pour the liquid over the veggies and give them a little massage, softening the veggie mixture with your hands. If you’ve used a lot of chillies, I recommend wearing clean rubber gloves for this!
  • Leave the veggie/brine mixture covered with a tea towel for a few hours. You can use this time to sterilize a large 1l jar or couple of smaller ones. Jars with wide mouths are the best, you’ll find out why.

PRESS TIGHTLY

  • Line up your jars, and with clean hands take out a handful of veg mixture (let excess brine drain out back to the bowl) and start pressing it tightly to the bottom of the jar. Use your fists or a potato masher to push out as much air as possible. Keep filling and pressing.
  • You’ll find out that as you push the veggie mixture down, the brine will rise to the surface. This is great! The layer of brine will act as a seal to keep the mixture air tight. Contact with air will spoil the kimchi. If you don’t have a about 1cm layer of brine sitting on the top, add some from the bowl.
  • You need to keep the veggies submerged in the brine during the fermentation process, and for this you will need a weight. I use a drinking glass or a smaller jar (with water in it for extra weight) to sit inside of the larger kimchi jar (see picture). Leave the open kimchi jars sitting in the corner of the kitchen (covered in a tea towel) for 1-2 weeks to ferment. In summer when the weather is warmer, the fermentation process can be quicker, and vice versa in winter.
  • I like to sit the jars in a baking tray or a deeper plate just in case the brine overflows. (Tried and tested this one too!)

SAMPLE AND CHECK

  • Keep checking the kimchi every 1-2 days, use the weight to press down on the mixture to release more air bubbles. Don’t worry, you’ll never get all the air bubbles out, but as long as the veg stay submerged, you should be fine.
  • You can sample the kimchi throughout the fermentation process (with clean hands to avoid not-so-good bacteria getting in and spoiling your pickle).  When it is tangy enough for your liking, close the jars with a lid and refrigerate. I tend to eat mine in a month or so, but it should keep in the fridge for months and months.

 

Isn’t it amazing that something so yummy can be such a flu-fighter and health booster!? Have fun and get creative. And don’t forget to let me know how you go!

Stay well, my friend.

 

 

Riina Kosonen is a massage & craniosacral therapist based in Newcastle, Australia. She loves to experiment with natural remedies and recipes for better health and wellness. Read more about her philosophies here.

remedial massage is freedom from pain

Why I love using magnesium

You may have been recommended trying Epsom salt baths after exercise or magnesium supplements to reduce muscle cramps.  This is because magnesium is well-known for its ability to aid in optimising our muscle function and recovery.

But what you may not have known is that magnesium also plays an important role in our cardiovascular health, bone density, energy production, appetite, hormone balance and sleep quality. Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to anxiety and depression. This mineral is quite the achiever, isn’t it??

Unfortunately though, most of us are deficient in this important mineral.

MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY

Our Western lifestyle with high levels of stress, processed foods, sugar, coffee, alcohol and prescription drugs deplete the magnesium levels in our body. Agricultural studies also show that our soils (therefore the plants and meat we eat) contain much less minerals today than what they did before the start of chemicalised broad-scale farming practises.

So you can see why most of us aren’t getting enough magnesium through our diet, and how we can lose a great deal due to lifestyle factors. (Hello cappuchinos, cakes and red wine!! I don’t want to give you up…)

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY:

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

  • muscle cramps, tension and spasms
  • period pain, cramps
  • headaches, migraines
  • insomnia, restless sleep
  • anxiety, depression
  • low bone density
  • hormonal problems/imbalances
  • low energy, poor memory
  • calcification of arteries, high blood pressure

(If you’d like to read more about magnesium deficiency, I’ve added a couple of links at the end of this post.)

HOW TO INCREASE MAGNESIUM INTAKE

Mother Nature has packed magnesium into many fruit and vegetables, such as leafy greens, bananas, almonds and black beans, but as mentioned earlier, the supermarket bought goodies (even organic ones) have often lost a lot of the nutrients to broad-scale farming practises, food miles and storage.

Magnesium can be taken in tablet or powder form, but it is estimated that over half of it fails to absorb during the digestive processes, especially in the older adults with reduced gastric acid levels that can reduce its availability.

The best way to ensure maximum absorption is transdermal application, aka directly through the skin! Creams, oils and sprays made with magnesium chloride tend to work the best, as this form has a high bioavailability, meaning our bodies can absorb and use it effectively.

MAGNESIUM SPRAY

I have been using magnesium supplement in powder form for a while now. But as it often happens, the same pineapple flavoured crazy-yellow drink just wasn’t going down so well anymore. I’d forget to take it… Or only take when I REALLY needed it.

Then I discovered magnesium spray! I make my own, and keep a bottle of it next to my bed. It is so easy to spray it on the bottoms of my feet or my back and tummy before bed time.

I have had great results with magnesium spray. I managed to dissolve several budding tension headaches with a liberal spritzing of it, and my sleep has improved a lot since starting to spray my feet and back daily.

You can spray magnesium anywhere in the body where there is tension or pain, but it’s best to avoid sensitive areas such as face, eyes, skin rashes or cuts. Initially you may feel a stinging sensation in the sprayed area, but this usually subsides within a few application as your skin gets used to the new routine and magnesium levels in the body start to return to optimal. It took me couple of days to get used to it. But with the amazing health benefits to our muscles, mood, heart, bones and hormones, it is a small price to pay.

If you’d like to try magnesium spray for yourself, here’s the good news! I have whipped up a whole batch for sale! This is way too good a health routine to keep just to myself. Alternatively you can ask your local chemist or even make your own!

Either way, you body will thank you for it….

 

https://wellnessmama.com/54128/magnesium-deficiency/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h5