Heal Your Body With Yoga

Universal Post

Stand with heels together, toes out at a 45-degree angle. Bend knees slightly; shift weight into center of left foot; step right, weightless, foot forward. Shoulders relaxed, pretend you're hugging a giant beach ball against your chest (as shown). Close eyes; breathe deeply for two minutes. Switch feet. Repeat.

Triple Heater Stimulator

Feet together, clap hands in front of forehead and rub palms together for 10 seconds to create warmth (as shown). Next, clap and rub in front of heart, then repeat in front of navel. Inhale, bringing hands in prayer position to head. Tuck chin and hold breath as you rub lower back two to five seconds. Exhale.

"I tried it"

Needles for Blood Pressure

Acupuncture so terrified me that it should have made my blood pressure worse. Yet here I was, having a man perform a task that had the actual word puncture in it. I was in my second trimester of pregnancy, and my blood pressure read a worrisome 140/100 at my OB's office. I was willing to try anything to fix it.

I began seeing Jason twice a week. He adjusted pillows and blankets for me. He listened to my story and asked after my family. I swear I could hear a pop as he punctured (yes) my skin. But the room was warm and cozy. And when I returned to my OB, I was holding a scrap of paper showing a normal reading of 110/80.

I've heard of white coat syndrome, in which vitals get worse simply because you are in the company of a doctor. I think part of what made my pressure drop in Jason's office was the opposite—a sort of kindness syndrome, in which a medical professional gives you the time you need, puts his hands on you, looks you in the eyes and tries to understand you.

I'm glad that acupuncture helped my blood pressure. But I'm even more grateful that for those few hours, over those few months, it helped me. —Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Qigong for Cancer

I was 32 years old and five months pregnant when doctors told me I had colon cancer. At that time, in 1996, it felt like a death sentence. Still, I told them I wanted to deliver the baby and then focus on the cancer—I had gone through eight miscarriages, and this time, I was really having a baby. That's all I wanted to think about.

After my son was born, I had a six-hour surgery to remove my colon. But six months later, I learned the cancer had spread: I had a huge tumor in my liver. Surgery was difficult—40 percent of my liver was resected. Doctors offered up chemo but said they honestly didn't know if it would help. I told them, 'I've spent too much time in hospitals, away from my son. I don't want it.

Then I met Shane. He was an incredible athlete who had never smoked yet had lung cancer. He told me about qigong, and I went to our local wellness center and joined a class called Chi-Lel Qigong.

The master taught us to direct life energy: We used meditation and hand movements to direct the qi to our body parts. The point is to use your mind to overcome your 'matter.' It was calming, while also making me feel present and alert. The energy 20 people gave off was so positive. You could feel it.

The instructor told me this is not a once-in-a-while thing; to heal myself, Qigong would have to be part of my life. And it has been for 13 years. I am cancer-free, and my liver regenerated. I go in yearly for blood work, and the oncologists says that's all I need to do.

I'm so grateful that I've been able to stay and watch my son grow. Who knows why people really get better? But this is what worked for me. —Cris Epstein, as told to Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn

Hypnosis for Stomachache

The gnawing pain in my abdomen arrived one morning and wouldn't quit. When one specialist after another failed to help, my therapist suggested hypnosis. I sat on her couch, my eyes closed. "Feel how the couch supports your body," she intoned. I felt lighter, as I let the couch, not my muscles, hold me up. In the same monotone, she instructed me to relax my body. I imagined a flickering flame as I fell into oblivion.

Yet I could still hear her talking. About a mental dial I could turn down. About a word I could choose that, when I said it later, would dull the pain. After 45 minutes, she counted backward from 10 and I was out of it. The agony was not gone, but it was dulled.

My therapist told me I could do the same exercise at home—self-hypnosis. I used it until, after five years of pain, a new doctor finally pinpointed the cause: an intestinal parasite. A few antibiotics later, I was well.

I still use self-hypnosis, now and again, when I want to quiet my mind. I like that awake-falling-asleep feeling. And I like, too, having a tool that I can wield to help myself when medicine can't—or when I don't like what medicine has to offer. —Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn

Paradise in One minute Flat

Get comfy, take a few breaths, and picture yourself on a beach. Feel the soft, pink sand, and listen to the steel drums.

Visualization takes you on vacation: "When you imagine a serene image, the optic cortex is activated in the same way as when you really see the vista," Dr. Bauer says. The brain relays your bliss to the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure and goosing immunity. Imagine that.

Reboot Your iPod: Now it's a Painkiller

For headaches or joint pain, groove out. Chronic pain sufferers who listened to music for an hour a day for seven days reduced their hurt by 20 percent, according to a study by Sandra L. Siedlecki, Ph.D., senior nurse researcher at the Cleveland Clinic.

The key is to choose tunes that recall a time when you were happy and free from pain. "Usually, we listen to music to validate how we feel. That's why we play sad songs after a breakup," Siedlecki says.

"But to use music therapeutically, you need to listen to songs that make you feel the way you want."

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