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Well, I’ve been sick with one of those things that’s been going around.  Low fever, cough–mostly at night, nasal congestion, and very tired and spacey.

As you might guess, when I get sick, I pull out all my acupressure tricks.  But what is most helpful is just poking around.  After all, there are 365 “official” acupressure/acupuncture points on the body, but many hundreds more unofficial ones all over.  I figure, when I’m lying in bed, suffering from a cough and stuffed up head, I have nothing to lose.

So, for example, in the last few days, I’ve been pressing points all over my face around my eyes and nose where I’ve been feeling lots of pressure and discomfort.  Everyday, there are different points that respond to the pressure; where I get that distinct balance of pain-pleasure that allows me to take an extra deep breath.

  • along the bridge of the nose
  • points along the inner eye socket, starting at the inner eye (careful not to poke my eye, of course): these points can be extremely tender, so be gentle
  • right along the eyebrow ridge

I just made two cross-country flights to visit my friend, and unfortunately came down with cough and fever during my visit.  I suspect I had already caught whatever it was before I stepped on the plane.

Anyway, I’ve written before about the important of good hydration during airplane flights.

But this time, in addition to drinking lots of water, I did an experiment in steaming myself, because my throat and upper respiratory/chest area was hurting. 

I did this before I got on the plane.  I boiled a pot of water and put it on the kitchen table, then carefully leaned over it with a towel over my head–to create a little steam room–and inhaled the soothing steam.

Be careful that the water is not too hot!  And of course, always supervise if kids are doing this or if you kids around.  

And then on the plane, I asked for a cup of hot water–which they were happy to give me–and I cupped my hand around it to create a tiny sauna between the cup and my face, and breathed in the steam.  Of course the water was not as hot as direct-from the kettle, and it cooled pretty quickly, but in the context of the desert-dry airplane air, it felt great.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Springtime is associated with the Wood element and the gall bladder and liver meridians.  It’s a season of cleansing and renewal, as new movement and growth start.
I think of “cleansing” my body by making an effort to cut back on sweet and heavier comfort foods, like my beloved almond croissants, and increase greens and fruits.  Check out Staying Healthy with the Seasons, a book I’ve written about before, for more information on cleansing.
Also, cleansing my physical space with a de-cluttering, is a part of spring cleaning
As you move into this new season, consider these questions:

  • What new movement do I want to create in my life? 
  • What energizes me?
  • How can I clear out the blocks to growth?

Because of my yoga practice, my awareness of feet has increased in the last few years, and my history of flat feet and weak ankles drives my interest in learning about foot health and its importance in long-term health.

I found some info about yoga poses and other exercises for the feet.


From Yoga for the Feet:

Feet can also be the root cause of leg, pelvis and back problems. A fallen arch, or flat foot, can cause knee, hip, back and shoulder misalignment and pain. Adult bad posture and back pain can be traced back to lack of muscle tone or misalignment in the feet.

    • One in six people in the US have foot problems.
    • Nine out of ten women are wearing shoes that are too small for their feet.
    • Women are nine times more likely to develop a foot problem because of improper fitting shoes than men.
      • Eighty percent of all foot problems occur in women.
        • Two-thirds of foot problems can be attributed to shoes.
          • At one time or another, 85% of Americans have foot problems serious enough to require professional attention.

            Yoga poses for the feet

            • Virasana (hero post): very therapeutic for flat feet
              • Another article in Yoga Journal focuses on the benefits of the pose; the author does this post 45 minutes every day!
            • Vajrasana (thunderbolt or zen pose): similar to Virasana, helps to recreate or maintain healthy arches, increase flexibility in the ankle as well as reconstruct the alignment of the tarsal bones.
            • Baddha Konanana (bound angle pose)
            • Squat with Toe Stretch, knees on floor
            • Squat, knees up, heels on floor
            • Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog

            Other foot exercises are also explained near the end of the Yoga for the Feet article, which you can read here:

            Warning: Do not use this point on pregnant women.

            Name: Three Yin Intersection (Spleen 6)

            This point, on the inside lower leg, has one of those helpfully descriptive and practical names, because it is indeed where the three yin meridians–spleen, liver and kidney–intersect.

            This point can help address reproductive disorders, including menstrual cycle irregularity, pre-menstrual discomfort, and menstruation pain.  Since it’s on the leg, it can be used for pain in the lower leg and ankle.  Helpful also for digestive problems and pain in lower abdomen, for “restless” fatigue and insomnia.

            Location: You’ll find this point on the inside lower leg, four fingers’ width above the ankle bone.
            spleen 6 dot  spleen 6 four fingers
            As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both legs.

            To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders, arm and hand, and also your legs, so experiment with different ways to hold the point to see what is most comfortable.

            spleen 6 fingers

            You can take the thumb of one hand, and gently hold the point on the opposite leg, as in the photo above (right hand thumb holding left leg).  Sitting in a chair, you can put one foot flat on the floor and cross the other leg with the shin over your knee, so you can reach the point easily.

            Lying on the floor or your bed, you can take the same position as if you were on a chair, with one foot flat on the floor, and the other leg crossed over so you can reach the point with the opposite hand. 

            To try it sitting on the floor, on a bed or a couch, bend your knees and bring your feet toward each other so your legs form a diamond or omega shape. Using the same hand as the leg, hold one point or both hands; one hand on each leg.  Depending on your flexibility, this may or may not be easy and comfortable.  Try putting a bolster or cushion under you knees for support.

            Experiment to see what is most comfortable, and what is reasonable based on where you find yourself.

            How much pressure?  Spleen 6 can be a very sensitive point, and may be tender even with just a light touch, especially for women pre- and during menstruation.  Just rest your finger on the point, there’s no need to apply pressure. If it’s too tender, release gently. 

            On the other hand, you may feel nothing, and pushing harder won’t change that.  At such times, it may be impossible to find the point because you don’t feel anything.  Try holding the palm of your hand over the general area; this can be effective even though you don’t feel it directly.

            How long?  Some women feel immediate relief from pain and discomfort when they hold this point.  You can start out by holding for 15 to 30 seconds, if that feels comfortable.  If you are dealing with a chronic issue, daily holding of this point can be helpful.  Hold the point longer every day or so until you work up to one minute.  Repeat a couple of times on each leg.

            Warning: Do not use this point on pregnant women.

            You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

            According to the NYTimes (An Enduring Measure of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up):

            “Based on national averages, a 40-year-old woman should be able to do 16 push-ups and a man the same age should be able to do 27. By the age of 60, those numbers drop to 17 for men and 6 for women. Those numbers are just slightly less than what is required of Army soldiers who are subjected to regular push-up tests. “

            It’s hard for me to believe that the numbers are so high, considering the numbers of Americans who are overweight.  But maybe I’m on the super-weak end when it comes to push-ups.

            It’s only in the last 5 years or so that I’ve had enough upper body and core strength to do anything resembling a full push-up.  This is because of my yoga practice (plank pose and chaturanga dandasana especially).  Because of the benefits of flexibility, as well as strength and alignment, and mind-quieting, I want to do yoga until I am very old.

            And now the information in this article gives me more reason to focus on the push-up benefits of yoga, for my long-term health.

            “The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit.”

            “Push-ups are important for older people, too. The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigors of aging.”

            As some of you know, I spent the past year in braces.  And last week, they came off!  (If you want to read the chronicle of the year, read my What’s In A Smile blog.)

            As most braces wearers will tell you–especially adults–much of the time in braces is spent fantasizing about the foods we’ll be able to eat post braces.

            On the top of my list were dried dates, which I love love love.  But I abstained for the year of my braces treatment because those chewy gems would have gotten stuck all over my braces brackets and wire.  I guess I didn’t want to spoil a joyful eating experience.

            A few days ago, I received the 15-pound box of dried dates from my date supplier in Southern California, the Date People.  (I freeze most of the dates, and also will share with friends.)  Rather than get just one variety, as I had in the past, I ordered the 4-variety pack.  I didn’t know what it would include.

            I opened the box and immediately ate one each of the four types–deglet noor, zahari, halawi, bahri–which range from light, firm and not too sweet, to brown, round, plump and chewy sweetness.  Because I had ordered the chewy/sweet ones in the past, that’s what I thought dates were supposed to be.  So my immediate reaction to the firmer deglet noor was disappointment.

            But you know what?  I have come to appreciate those more understated deglet noors.  I find them nutty and refreshing.  This reminds me that flexibility comes from being open to variations on a theme.  In this case, the theme was dates, and I got the benefit of “stretching” as part of a variety-pack.

            There’s nothing as lovely and cozy as a well-known routine, and beloved treat.  And it can be difficult to let go of that security to try new things.  But by trying new things, we discover new possibilities. 

            So consider how you could add the spice and potential new discovery by going for variety.

            • Next time you’re at your favorite restaurant, order one thing tried and true, and one new dish.  Or invite along some friends so you can try the dishes your friends like.  You may discover a new top favorite.  Or not.  In which case you still have one dish you can enjoy whole-heartedly.
            • Is there a neighborhood you like to walk around?  Or a park that you regularly visit?  Change it up by taking a different route to get there, or vary the path you take when you are there.  At the fork in the path, take the right instead of the left.

            Here’s to celebrating the wonderful variety that is all around us, and within us.