We often talk about the benefits of deep tissue massage, but I haven’t stressed the most important benefit - increased blood circulation. Circulation is no small thing! Indeed, this one system drastically affects all other systems of your body. Below are some easy tips on supporting your circulatory health. But just to make sure you are on board let’s celebrate some of the amazing things this system does for you all day every day.
Your circulatory system supplies oxygen to your brain so you can think! Now that’s a big deal. It is also a full-on transportation system for supplying nutrients throughout the body and eliminating waste materials, working non-stop to keep your temperature regulated, support organ function and cell growth. Point being, it is keeping you alive. So, let’s raise our glasses to our heart and vessels for their hard work circulating our blood!
But sometimes we make this work harder than it needs to be. When your circulation starts to get sluggish you will experience this in a number of ways. Here are a few examples.
· Pain: When the blood is not circulating through muscle it’s like water building up behind a dam. The pressure of the build-up causes achy or even sharp pain.
· Brain fog: Lack of blood-flow to the brain will lead to loss of brain cells.
· Toxic Build-up: When the blood is not moving, the toxins are not being eliminated properly. Toxic build up can affect your overall health as well as your moods!
· Poor circulation through the muscles can also lead to muscle degeneration. For example: Tight forearm muscles can limit the blood flow to the muscles of the hands. This can begin to manifest as muscle weakness and if left untreated can lead to muscle degeneration in the hands.
· Joint pain: Blood not flowing properly through the joints leads to pain.
Tips for healthy circulation:
- Move and shake- Any physical activity will aid blood circulation. You don’t have to spend 3 hours a day in the gym. Just go for a walk in the park. Take the family for a hike over the weekend. Dance around your living room. Skip rope!
2. Breathe in, breathe out- Deep breathing is unbelievably helpful. It can get more oxygen flowing around in your body. Do deep breathing exercises to help increase your normal breathing.
3. Spice it up- Adding things like chili, turmeric, cumin, cayenne and ginger to your food can help get the blood pumping. Garlic and onion can help prevent build-up in the artery walls, making it easier for blood to flow through, as well as lowering cholesterol.
4. Massage!! Ashiatsu massage is especially great for increasing blood circulation. The long, slow and deep strokes that move along the entire length of the muscle give the blood no choice but to move. We encourage routine maintenance for overall body health and for sheer appreciation for all the body does for you 24 hours a day.
The little things make all the difference! I am going to leave you with my chai recipe which is fantastic for your circulation. I learned to make chai at the Hanuman temple otherwise known as the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram when I lived in Taos in the early 1990’s. “Chai” just means tea, but in India when you ask for chai, you will receive a warm cup of spiced tea with milk that will make you smile for hours. I am excited to share this special treat with you!
· 2 quarts water
· 8 slices of fresh ginger
· 20 cardamom pods crushed
· 3 sticks of cinnamon (optional)
· large pinch of assam black tea
· milk of your choice (goat, cow, coconut, almond etc.)
· Sweetener of your choice (coconut sugar, cane sugar, honey, etc.)
Bring water to a soft simmer, not a boil, in a large pot. Add ginger and cardamom and cinnamon. Allow it to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. The liquid should have changed color and have a fragrant scent. Add milk and bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes to fully soak up the herbs. Add black tea and strain immediately not allowing the tea to steep. It’s just long enough to get a hint. Sweeten to your liking and serve!
(Special note: I use goat milk and coconut sugar. The almond milk can tend to separate which I find displeasing)