In the city that never sleeps, striking that fine balance between work time and downtime can be a challenge. In the interest of helping our readers make healthy changes to their lifestyles, we decided to explore the world of natural therapy in Hong Kong. In our first installment,we catch up with five leading practitioners who know exactly how to relax the mind and body and tip those scales to blissful equilibrium without even laying a finger on you. After all, not all of us like the hands-on approach to healing.
Photo courtesy of Beatrice Lee Photography
It’s an age-old classic and it’s stood the test of time, for literally centuries. ‘Yoga’, meaning the union of all four bodies (our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) is a lifestyle practice which aims to create balance in the mind and body through various techniques such as exercise, breathing, use of mantras, physical movements, poses and postures, and meditation. The breath and poses can assist in a regulating of the parasympathetic nervous system, our calm, healing, de-stressed nature; making us switch off that continual fight mode. Through deepened awareness, Yoga provides a map of the mind and body we can follow, and a process of self-adjusting which allows us to stay positive.
“A Yoga (therapy) class is like a swift holiday for the soul,” explains Jill Marshall, owner of Jill Marshall Health & Wellness. “But it is also a strategy tool-box of ways to tweak our self to feel brighter, stronger, more relaxed, more or less hyper, and improve our life. This is achieved through blending all eight limbs of Yoga, which cover everything from universal morality through to control of the senses, in our everyday lives as well as on the mat. The benefits of Yoga are many-fold and include a grounded and centered feeling for all four bodies, meaning we not only get a stronger, more open, and flexible body, but mind too. We can concentrate and focus better, make better decisions, and make decisions better, feel more confident, less anxious, and more joy.”
According to Marshall, Yoga is suited to absolutely anybody, and whilst it can heal and prevent any range of physical ailments caused by wear and tear, it also does wonders for the mind. “As well as benefiting physically weak or ill people needing strengthening, Yoga is ideal for stressed-out manic minds, those with depression, and even bored people who are looking for direction and focus.” She notes that people will feel instantly better after a class, but for a health issue or postural issue, such as back pain, to get better a regular weekly or bi-weekly practice could take a few months to resolve. For the best results, daily practice of various shapes and forms of Yoga is ideal. Find out more about classes on offer.
Ready, set, stretch! Thanks to Joseph Pilates and his intuitive sense of the correct physiological use of the body, we now have over 500 effective and specific exercises to help dramatically and rapidly improve our strength, flexibility, posture, and overall alignment of the musculature and skeleton. Featuring apparatus such as the spring-controlled reformer, the trapeze table, the wonder chair, and barrels, the Pilates exercise system strengthens the ‘powerhouse’ of the body, the abdomen, back and buttocks, thus stabilising the body and enabling it to move freely.
“The great thing about Pilates is that anybody and everybody can benefit,” says Ashley Wayburne, Business Development Manager at Iso Fit. “It is an indispensable tool for athletes and unconditioned people alike, as well as a fantastic method to treat injuries. Pilates rehabilitation produces excellent results across a wide spectrum of patients such as improved flexibility, increased core strength and stability and improved balance, coordination and circulation. Pilates is not just exercise, the very specific movements and breathing patterns require focused attention engaging both body and mind.”
If you fancy giving this a go but are a first timer, don’t worry because Iso Fit offers an easy to follow Rehab process with up to 10 sessions to help you move quickly and seamlessly from beginner to pro. Check out what’s on offer.
If you’re a firm believer that ‘less is more’ then Homeopathy might be just what you need. Developed in Germany at the end of the 18th century, this alternative therapy rests on the notion that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness, otherwise known as the ‘law of minimum dose’. It also sits with the idea that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people, the theory of ‘like cures like’. Recognising that many symptoms of ill health are expressions of disharmony within the person, Homeopathy assists the natural tendency of the body to heal itself and works in harmony with your body to gently restore it to health.
“Homeopathy is often effective when conventional medicine is not,” explains Dr. Benita Perch (ND), Licensed Naturopathic Physician and Homeopath at Integrated Medicine Institute (IMI). “Take for example, a case of insomnia. The conventional way to treat this is by giving a drug to bring on an artificial sleep, which can often cause side effects or addiction. The homeopathic way is to treat insomnia by giving the patient a minute dose of a substance, which in large doses causes sleeplessness in a healthy person, such as coffee. Surprisingly, this will enable the patient to sleep naturally.”
Homeopathic remedies are derived from substances that come from plants, minerals, or animals, such as red onion, herbs, crushed whole bees, white arsenic, poison ivy, belladonna (deadly nightshade), and stinging nettle. Pure natural goodness! These remedies are often formulated as sugar pellets to be placed under the tongue or other forms, such as ointments, gels, drops, creams, and tablets and are tailored to each person. According to Perch, most people can benefit from treatment, but only if they suffer from a dynamic disease i.e. not lifestyle induced like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It is useful for immunity, asthma, allergies, eczema, depression, anxiety, hormone imbalance, autoimmune disease, pain, insomnia, anger and irritability, and more, and because there are no side effects and it is non-addictive, it can be used safely in babies, children, and during pregnancy. Find out more about this natural remedy.
What could be more blissful that escaping the madness with a little meditation? Wherever you are and whatever is going on around you, meditation is an ideal way to access a sense of tranquillity and peace. The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. It can come in various techniques and forms and brings a wide range of wellness benefits to those that wish to take part.
“Meditation is beneficial for everyone and is great for people who would like to perform at their peak. It relaxes your body, calms down your mind, and inspires you with creativity, new thoughts, and activates abilities of your body that you might not be aware of,” explains Linda Fancy, Meditation Facilitator at Balance Health.
Mediation, according to Fancy, can be used to reduce anxiety and depression as well as insomnia, lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, normalise blood pressure, and improve memory. Some ailments require more meditation than others but, Fancy says, ideally one would incorporate meditation into their daily life and make it a habit similar to sports and workouts.
Fancy advises that anyone who wants to further grow their self-awareness and become a stable and reflective individual should consider meditation. It can also prove to be very beneficial to strategic thinkers and busy professionals that need to be able to deal easily with stressful situations and want to learn how to focus on their goals would benefit from meditation. Explore the world of meditation for free at one of these meditation classes at Balance Health.
Where energy flows, health grows! That is the mantra of this popular Japanese alternative therapy which rests on the notion that to be fit and healthy on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level, energy must be able to flow freely without any problems within our bodies. Reiki is a safe, gentle, non-intrusive hands-on healing technique which sets out to balance all the chakras of the body by using our electro-magnetic energy to treat physical ailments such as stress, insomnia, and even grief and depression, without using pressure, manipulation, or massage. It can be used to balance, heal, and harmonise all aspects of our body and encourage personal and spiritual awareness and growth.
“There are many reasons why our energies get ‘stuck’, or blocked, hence causing our illness,” explains Jacqueline Graham, Reiki Master at Integrated Medicine Institute (IMI). “There are numerous benefits of Reiki. It can help with physical ailments by unblocking the energy in the body causing the problem, but the source of the problem may actually have started as an emotional one. So as a result, it actually helps on a holistic level. It is one of the few modalities that help many problems at the same time. By balancing our energies, our emotional body becomes more stable, and as a result we feel less stressed. This has a knock-on affect on our health in general.”
According to Graham, Reiki can benefit everyone, but most of her clients come to her as a ‘last resort’ when they have tried many things without finding the cause of their problem. “Reiki works on all of our subtle bodies at the same time, (spiritual, emotional, physical), quite often the source of the illness can be pinpointed. It’s not always what clients’ expect. Receiving Reiki treatments is a unique experience for each client. Some feel intense heat, others feel energy ‘moving’, others feel a deep sense of peace and calm. But for everyone, it is a beautiful, natural, and effective treatment.” Find out more about Reiki here.
What do you think about natural therapy? Have you tried and tested any of the treatments above? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comment box below.