Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


Isolating the Joints: Beginning with the Upper Body

Hello mind-body students!

We have had a few months now of blogs that were full of science, studies, and lectures. This is all good stuff! But I know that many of you blog-readers are most interested in the simple, 5-minute videos I do that show you a mind-body technique that you can start practicing that week.

It's been a while since we've had one of those, so this week, we are going to have one!

This will be the first video in a series of videos about isolating the joints. Isolating the joints is a key part of any mind-body practice. If you cannot isolate the joints you should move in each exercise you do, you will unconsciously move in other areas of your body. Doing that will prevent you from achieving the full benefit of the exercises you do.

Isolating the joints is also an excellent way to practice both the body and mind blocks of our five building blocks of being (the other three are breath, energy, and spirit). By focusing on a particular joint (or group of joints) in the body as you gently move or stretch, you are practicing both a body technique and a kind of meditative mind technique.

As I mention in the video, the more building blocks you can add to each exercise and technique you practice, the better!

As always: happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Integrative Pain Management, Part 1: The Problem of Pain

Chronic pain is a common symptom of countless conditions and injuries. Whether it's from fibromyalgia, knee osteoarthritis, cancer, or any other ailment, chronic pain can take you from 60 to 0 in no time flat. When doctors can't treat the underlying causes of chronic pain, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning" just doesn't cut it.

Over the years, numerous solutions to the problem of chronic pain have developed, such as surgery, Cortisone shots, and Physiotherapy, to name a few. Each of these strategies has their ups and downs with regards to cost, invasiveness, permanence, chance of success, and so on. Many people find that one or more of these treatments is the solution they were looking for. Others, however, try all of them without any luck.

A recent development in the world of pain treatment is the widespread use of prescription painkillers, opioids in particular, which are a type of drug that works on the nervous system directly to inhibit pain. Common prescription opioids for pain relief include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, an accidental overdose of which is believed to have caused the death of the late great musical artist Prince

The consequences of prescribing addictive substances to patients, even in highly controlled dosages, are only coming to light now. The numbers, however, are already staggering. In 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written in the US, which is enough to give one bottle of pills to every adult in America. In 2014, nearly 2 million Americans were addicted to prescription pain killers, and in the same year, almost 19,000 Americans died from overdosing on them. The rate of such deaths has quadrupled since 1999. (For these stats and more, check out the ASAM's opioid addiction report, as well as the CDC's section on opioid overdose.)

And perhaps the worst part of this national situation is that these people still have chronic pain. The painkillers only work for as long as they are taken, and eventually the body will develop a tolerance for the medications that will make them less effective. The solution that I and many others have collaborated on is Integrative Pain Management. This mind-body approach not only avoids the dangers of prescription medication or surgery, but also seeks to incorporate the entire being (body, breath, mind, energy, and spirit) into the healing process, and fix the underlying causes of the chronic pain so that, through practice and discipline, it can be cured and not just numbed.

Over the next several weeks I will be posting integrative pain management content selected from my chapter in the book Integrative Pain Management: Massage, Movement, and Mindfulness Based Approaches. Share the blogs with your friends, post them on Facebook, and retweet me on Twitter so that we can get this pain-fighting knowledge to the people who need it.

Happy Stretching!

Medical Qi Gong for Breast Cancer

In this final installment of the Breast Cancer Awareness vlog series, I show you a move called "White Ape Pick Up the Peach." This movement utilizes a lot of shoulder rotation that will loosen up any muscles in your chest that haven't been covered by my past three videos on Breast Cancer here, here, and here. I hope these videos have helped all of you prepare and recover!

This movement is extremely versatile, it can be used to prepare and recover from upper body surgery, relieve carpal tunnel symptoms, and build up your lower energy center. Definitely add it to your repertoire!