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Do-it-yourself Zen shiatsu
The step-up Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the ground and knees hip-width apart. Place your left hand on your right shoulder and slide it up ever so slightly until it’s on the large muscle of your shoulder: the trapezius. “This muscle collects our tension,” explains Adarsa Chakra, Zen shiatsu instructor and director of Kokoro Dojo in Toronto. “When we’re stressed, we clench this muscle without even realizing it.”
Spot-check Using your fingers, gently massage the trapezius in a circular motion seven times. Then repeat the process on the opposite shoulder using your right hand.
Balms away “Lavender and sandalwood reduce stress,” says Bonita Barth, herbalist at Essential Botanicals in Guelph, Ont. Try Decléor Aromessence Spa Relax Balm ($54) or Fruits & Passion Somnea Pressure Point Balm in Emotions ($15). Dab a bit on your muscle before you begin.
The set-up Stand up straight with your feet together. Place your hands flat against each other and vigorously rub them back and forth for 10 seconds to create heat. Then place your palms on your lower back with your fingers pointing down. “Your kidneys hold ki [energy] and determine whether you feel sluggish or invigorated,” says Chakra.
Spot-check Keeping your hands against your lower back, swivel your hips in a clockwise motion seven times. Then repeat the motion in the opposite direction seven times.
Balms away “Products that contain peppermint or lemon are revitalizing and energizing,” says Barth. Try L’Occitane’s Revitalizing Bath and Massage Oil ($16) or Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Lemon Body Oil ($28.75). Before you begin this exercise, apply three drops of essential oil to one palm and then rub your hands together.BALANCING ACT
The set-up Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the ground, about hip-width apart. Place your hands on the back of your head so your fingers slightly intertwine. Put one index finger on top of the other and press them into the hollow at the centre of the base of your head (the “jade pillow”). “This spot connects to the brain directly and harmonizes your body and mind,” says Chakra.
Spot-check Gently press down on the jade pillow for 10 seconds and breath in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Release your fingers for a moment and then repeat the exercise three times.
Balms away “Products with basil, vetiver and cardamon ease your troubled mind so you can think clearly,” says Barth. Try Origins Sensory Therapy Relaxing Massage Oil with basil ($25), The Aromatherapist Vetiver Bourboon Extra ($26.14) or Darphin Purifying Balm ($96). Dab a bit of balm or oil on our index finger before you start.
The step-up Continue sitting in your chair with your feet flat on the ground. Intertwine your fingers with your palms facing toward you. Then place your hands flat against the back of your head. Put your thumbs on your jade pillow. “Your neck holds a lot of physical tension,” says Chakra. “By moving your thumbs outward along the base of your skull, you release the pressure from your neck out through your body.”
Spot-check Gently walk your thumbs outward along the base of your skull toward your earlobes. When your thumbs get to your ears, move them back to the centre of your head. Repeat the exercise five times.
Balms away “Bergamot, camomile and rose geranium relieve tension and feelings of restlessness,” says Barth. Try The Aromatherapist in Geranium Rose ($19.50) or Fruits & Passion Somnea Pressure Point Balm in Nervousness ($15). Dab a bit of balm or oil on your thumbs before you begin massaging your neck.
IN THE MOOD
The set-up While sitting or standing, hold your left hand out in front of you with your palm up. To find your “pleasure and leisure spot,” place your right hand over the pulse point on your left wrist so your ring finger is at the base of your palm and your index finger is closer to your elbow. Then place your right thumb on your arm, to the left of your index finger, and release your fingers from your arm.
Spot-check Press and release the point three or four times. Let your arms hang at your side for a moment and then repeat the exercise on your other arm.
Balms away “Ylang-ylang, sandalwood, lemon verbena and jasmine are natural mood lifters,” says Barth. Try Narcisco Rodriguez Musc For Her musk oil extract ($185), Primavera Life Eros Body Oil ($35) or LUSH Therapy Bar ($9). Break off a dime-size piece of the bar or put a few drops of oil on your arm and massage it with your thumb.