Shiatsu and Massage on Ibiza

Shiatsu treatments are different wherever you go. Some people only use their thumbs to work along the meridians, with very light pressure. But in my school we learned to use the whole hand, our elbows, knees and feet. That’s exactly what I love and need.
If I receive any kind of massage or treatment I need to feel something. I don’t need or want to feel pain throughout the whole session. That would just make me more tense than I was before; it would just lead to even more tension in my muscles from the pain. However, I need a firm but gentle touch.
To stay open, to get and to stay relaxed I need to feel safe and comfortable.
There are a few things a therapist can do to create a safe and comfortable environment so this is always what I prepare before my clients come into my practice:

• Warm and comfortable room temperature
• Scent – some essential oils in a candle to support either relaxing or vitalising effects of the Shiatsu treatment
• Quiet relaxing music in the background
• A space where my clients can switch off, feel safe and taken care of

The preparation time (of the room and myself as a therapist) is as important as the treatment itself. If I get there just a few minutes before the client, being stressed myself, it will never be as relaxing as it could be.
There is always enough time in between clients, so there is some time left in the end to rest a few more minutes before getting up, and also for any kind of questions or support if needed.

If that’s the kind of treatment you’re longing for I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Growing up…

…is not necessarily at trap. It can be a wonderful thing, it just depends on how you create it for yourself. If you trade responsibilities for playfulness instead of integrating both into your life, if routine and the need of security eat up all your freedom, and if ease and joy are replaced by pressure and worries instead of accepting both as part of life, well then that truly is a pretty bad deal.

The past few weeks have been a joyful ride into adulthood for me. I am blessed to do what I love: Teaching Yoga all around the island in beautiful places and giving Shiatsu and treatments to beautiful people and help them relax and heal; bringing good vibes, fun and ease, movement and relaxation into their vacations.

I finally started my own business and especially during the time I was doing treatments for the HABITAS festival I have found so much more confidence and trust in myself and in the work I do; I got so much more clarity about who I am and what makes me me and what makes my work special!

If growing up means growing into our potential, releasing the fears of failing, making mistakes, or not being good enough that we picked up somewhere along the way towards adulthood and if we keep or re-learn qualities like curiosity, open mindedness, playfulness, ease and joy then please, grow, grow, grow and never stop for as long as you breathe…

Love,
Annika

Island Life P-Review

It’s been almost 2 years since I moved here. Not really knowing what will happen I packed my stuff into my car and drove all the way to Ibiza.
Many times I heard people say to me that they admire my courage for doing this, but you know, it actually didn’t need much. I guess this is something I owe to my parents – not just my trust in life that comes along with the courage to do something new, something that’s unpredictable. But also knowing that they will always be there and have my back and let me move back in if things go down, allows me to take some leaps that might involve one risk or another.

Fact is we never know what’s going to happen, no matter where we go, nor if we stay where we are. Of course, staying in a place or a job, in a familiar environment gives us a sense of security and safety, but in reality nothing is guaranteed.
And at some point you got to choose if you want to feel safe or if you rather be free.
If someone had told me I would live on Ibiza one day I wouldn’t have believed it. What would someone like me (who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t party) do on a party island?

Well, the first months I spent discovering the other side of Ibiza, the side with Yoga, meditations, healing, beautiful nature and beaches; I began to learn Spanish, I made some new friends and finally I moved into the apartment where I am right now and where I truly feel at home.

Things started to come together, opportunities came up, the island basically welcomed me with open arms and showed me clearly that this is my place to be.
Now I’m not saying that everything is perfect and that my life is better than it would have been in Austria…(well, maybe a little better… 😉 ) Of course, I miss my family and friends, on days like today quite a lot, actually. But I know that I am exactly where I need and want to be. And my new family and friends here on the island make my life so beautiful as well!

So I finally decided to commit to the island, to my life here and I started my own business. I’m in the process of getting Spanish licence plates for my Austrian car that moved my stuff about 7 times since I am on the island and that’s now an essential part of my business: For the massages, Shiatsu treatments and the Yoga classes that I’m giving now in 3 different languages all over the island.

IMG_1854It feels like a whole new chapter has begun, I’m taking it up to the next level and I’m so excited for what this season is going to bring.
I feel like I have grown so much over the past 2 years, not just as a Yoga teacher and a (Shiatsu) massage therapist, but also the confidence and trust in myself has expanded enormously.
I am continuously getting out of my own way so I can be who I am supposed to be and do what I’m supposed to do.
I do what I love and what makes my heart beat faster. Sometimes because I am nervous about leaving my comfort zone, but trusting and accepting the challenges.
So bring it on, summer season 2016, I am ready for you!

Love,
Annika

The importance of relaxation

There are four main factors that have a direct impact on the health of our body, mind and soul:
1. Breathing: How deep and conscious we breathe
2. Nutrition: What and how (much) we eat and drink
3. Relaxation: How much stress we have in our life and if we find time to switch off; the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of our sleep
4. Movement: How (much) we move (strength, flexibility, stamina, balance, coordination)

Yes, relaxing is as important as eating, drinking, breathing and moving! 
You might live longer without relaxation than you do without eating, drinking or breathing, however, long term studies show that relaxation is a necessity and we all know where chronic stress can lead to.
Sadly many people wait too long and only start to begin taking care of themselves when their bodies show some sign of imbalance, like pain, discomfort, complaints or in the worst case, disease.

If you never recharge your batteries sufficiently you will not be able to perform with your full potential. So make sure you look for and find ways that work for you! Go for Yoga classes, get some comfortable running shoes, meditate, treat yourself with a massage every now and then… Do anything that works for you personally.
Make sure you find time to relax, to switch off to maintain and improve your health and to regularly recharge the amount of energy you have available to go through life.

The Fire Type

Summer is here! The season of the fire element. This element represents transformation, versatility and rebirth. It is about celebration, happiness and love.

Fire has contradictory qualities, as it gives light and warmth, prepares food and forges metals and on the other hand it can have an enormous destructive power.
It is the element with the strongest Yang-character and the energy is concentrated on the surface which enables ease and openness.

While the wood element represents growth, the fire element is nature in full blossom. With excitement, curiosity, enthusiasm, and joy the fire type burns through sensuality, inspiration and strives for finding a deeper meaning behind things in order to live life fully, rather than to survive.

If the fire energy is balanced he knows what fulfills his life and that he will keep struggling if he doesn’t follow his path. He is sensitive to other people and gains energy when he gets attention and recognition and when he inspires others.

Imbalance
A lack of fire energy shows up as a lack of excitement. Doubts, worries and insecurity capture his courage to open up, to put himself “out there”. Drama, irrational feelings, attachment and the inability to draw boundaries are not just in relationships a huge challenge for everyone involved.

An overflow of fire can result in fanatism, jealousy and in the dependence on attention.
The rising energy of the fire needs an anchor and grounding: Learning how to be alone is essential for the fire type, and also to find time to focus on what he really wants.

On a physical level an imbalance affects the main organ of the fire element: the heart.
When there are no organic disorders, a lack of expression of the fire energy can result in symptoms like a racing heart, twinges, etc.

Too much fire on the other hand can result in an imbalance of his psyche, like anxiety, nervousness, or an irrational emotional rollercoaster. Also sleeping problems and speech disorders are linked to an imbalance of the fire element.
The passion of the fire type, however, often leads to high highs and low lows, which is quite common and just a result of his strong and open heart.

How to balance the fire element
Movement is important for the fire type. Running marathons, however, or achievement-oriented sports does not exactly express the bubbly and lively energy. Dancing is the best way to do so, or any form of movement that is fun and where he can express himself and bond with others. Especially physical sensuality and sex are an important expression of the fire energy.

Nutrition-wise the best thing a fire type can do is to eat in good company. Also, bitter foods and drinks have a cooling effect that helps to balance the fire.

Finding joy in what he does keeps him sane and healthy. So does taking some time out to go inwards to re-focus the dispersive energy. Yoga can be an incredible tool for that.
Working with people, anything that involves communicationart and the expression of the self, and to live his full potential is more important to him than the financial aspect.

Fire is not tangible and constantly changing its shape, reacting to external influences; hence the physical characteristics of the fire type are less significant than his nature. However, some of his visible features can be: small hands and feet, a rather short and compact body, liveliness and that “spark in his eyes”.

What’s the state of your inner fire? Are you allowing it to burn, taking the risk to burn yourself sometimes? Or do you rather keep it small and controlled? Then you might be interested in my blog post about the metal element which will come… when the time is right 🙂

Watch out for the next blog post about the related organs of the fire element: The heart, the small intestine, the pericardium and the triple heater.

Liver & Gallbladder

The wood element is the expression of our individuality. Suppressing who we are has an effect on the organs of the wood element – the liver and the gallbladder.

Often they are also called “the general” (liver) and “the chief officer” (gallbladder), sometimes they are considered as “the architect” (liver) and “the master builder” (gallbladder). The architect is the planner and the creative energy that wants to find expression, the builder is the executing energy that makes decisions:
Considering options, wondering whether to go left or right, therefore the meridians run along the sides of the body.
The liver on the inside (yin-meridian) is the energy that gives us the possibility to plan our life’s journey. It’s the view within to finding our potentials and our individuality. The gallbladder meridian (yang) runs along the outside of our body and is in charge of carrying out, it is the active expression of who we are.

Liver
The word “liver” contains the word “live” as it has this strong force to maintain and express life. It is the “mother of emotions”, so any disharmony in the wood energy is most likely caused by emotional issues.
We are able to realise our plans and intentions when the liver is in a state of harmony:
We have the energy to work hard on reaching our goals and to create and express ourselves. If there is a disbalance it’s possible that the plans exist but don’t get executed.

According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the liver stores the blood and regulates the free flow of Qi. In case of poor distribution we can experience phases of high motivation, followed by exhaustion.
Other imbalances of the liver energy can be: physical and mental inflexibility, PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), mood swings, intense or unreasonable outbursts of emotions, aggression (seeing others as obstacles on our path) or shyness (the lack of courage to walk our path).

If we don’t get the chance to make our own decisions from early on, and if we cannot unfold our individuality we become incapable of living our potential. When our true self doesn’t find expression, we often develop conditional excessive behaviours, such as drinking, or over-eating, anorexia or drug abuse. The pain might get numbed temporarily but it stresses the functions of the liver.

Gallbladder
The gallbladder is the officer in the field who makes decisions. That requires determination and the courage to take risks. The expression “to have the gall” is therefore used in the sense of “boldness”. In order to make decisions we need to have a clear vision and we need to free ourselves from biases.

The meridian runs along the sides of the head, laterally along the body down to the feet. Migraine and related vision disorders are a common symptom of a disharmony, so are complaints with shoulders, hips or sciatic pain and anything in the lateral body area. Stiffness in our muscles or hyper flexibility are influenced by the gallbladder, as well.

Sometimes we feel like we are split in two – one side of the body shows a different level of tension than the other. This can be caused by being in conflict of two facades of the personality:
For instance the gap between how we want our life to be, what we value in life and what’s important to us versus what we do, how we act, and how we live our life instead. We cannot suppress our nature, no matter how hard we try.

You can find release of complaints through movement, relaxation (yoga is ideal as you gain strength and flexibility, you find relaxation and you step into awareness as the goal of yoga is self-realisation) and also through involvement in your patterns, beliefs (coaching, therapy). But any kind of sports that you love and enjoy doing will balance your liver and gallbladder energy, as long as you find the time to relax as well.
When the liver and the gallbladder work together in harmony we have a healthy judgement and make the required decisions to follow our life’s plan.

The Wood Type

In spring nature awakens and grows almost explosively in all directions, it’s shining in all colours and shapes. In no other time of the year we experience such a dynamic expansion. This also lies in the nature of the wood type. However, so much concentrated energy can, and most likely will create chaos, as it is not his strength to organise and structure.

His strengths are creating and doing. Creativity, activity, adventure, determination and initiative, freedom and a huge compulsion to move are characteristic for the wood type.
He is full of energy, restless, ambitious and driven. It’s not just the planning, but also the execution of the plans that lies within the power of the wood type.
Change is a necessity, and so is the protection of his personal space – space to grow and to expand. Not just on a physical level, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

One of the qualities of the wood element is aggression. Aggression is commonly linked with destructivity, however, in psychotherapy to a certain degree it is seen as a necessity to move on, to get things done, and to overcome obstacles. It is a natural impulse of expansion, and if it meets resistance in most cases it will lead to anger.

Anger is the related emotion of the wood element which easily arises when it meets stagnation, pressure or a lack of freedom. Anger is an important force to get or to stay in movement.
However, if you find yourself exploding over little things you can start taking a look where in life you might feel restricted or limited.

Challenges
A challenge for the wood type can be finding the balance between activity and relaxation. To avoid exhaustion or burn out, it is vital to find the time to slow down, and to relax. Being very competitive and an achiever makes this even harder.

If the wood energy doesn’t find its way out it can result in quick temper, frustration, depression, and if aggression doesn’t find a valve it usually turns against oneself, becoming a ticking time-bomb.
On a physical level it can lead to migraines, irritable eyes, high blood pressure, to a stiffness in hip and shoulder joints, to rheumatic diseases and much more.

Body type
Wood types are athletic, wiry, muscular, they are flexible and have strong hands, big feet, and are usually tanned from outdoor activity. They have a high muscle tone and are very energetic.

Balancing the wood element

  • The strong energy of the wood element needs to find expression, the best and most effective valve is movement. Wood needs to burn to release energy. A burning fire brings joy – the emotion associated with the fire element.
  • Find challenges, set clear (and just a few) goals and follow through. Instead of spreading the energy on many different things it is important to focus the energy on the most essential ones. Because many plans that aren’t put into action can also lead to frustration. Find out what your heart is burning for and take action.
  • Nutrition-wise it’s more important for the wood type to take the time to eat, to chew, to digest rather than focusing on what to eat. Sour is the taste related to wood, and anything that cooles down the heated body of the wood type is good for his often overloaded system.

Read here the next post about the related organs and meridians: Liver and gallbladder.

Finding balance within

We all unite the five elements within us, in our personalities, as well as physically. Some elements, however, are more distinct than others. Categorising bears the “danger” of stereotyping, at the same time it can give us a better understanding of who we, or who others are, and maybe even why we are the way we are. So we can let go of judgement and replace it by acceptance more easily.

By having a greater understanding about our tendencies (and that’s all they are; they are not common facts that are true 100% of the time) we learn more about ourselves and we can more easily find our inner balance and become more happy and healthy.

The personality, our condition, is strongly shaped by upbringing, by our parents (mostly through what or how they live rather than through what they preach), family, friends, school, etc. But then there is also our individual nature, our essence.
Sometimes we – or others, might expect us to be or act in a certain way which doesn’t feel true to who we really are. And instead of trying to fit in, or trying to please others, or forcing ourselves to be someone we are not, we can also just understand and accept that we are the way we are. Because this understanding of ourselves is the first important step to be able to change, if we even want to.

The constitution, our physique, is greatly shaped by genetics, but also by what we eat, how much we move and how much we rest. Our energy level reveals the balance (or imbalance) between Yin & Yang within the body.
It’s very common that our condition differs from our constitution. Knowing about them, however, can help us, to improve our happiness and health and to increase our energy level by finding inner balance, as well as focussing on nutrition, exercise, relaxation and breathing.

Are you, generally speaking, an active person who is more comfortable moving than sitting still?
Do you recharge your energy when being around other people and do you enjoy to be in the spotlight?
Do you love to invite your friends over to cook dinner for them and to play board games?
Is making plans and to-do-lists an urgent necessity and cleanliness and structure important for you?
Are you more introverted and do you love peace and quiet, as in meditation or thinking about life and its meaning?

Stay tuned to find out more in my next blog post…

Yin & Yang and The Five Elements

IMG_6381Once upon a time some people in old China sat around all day and night and did nothing else than observing the continual coming and going of days, seasons and life, within and without.
Ok, maybe they didn’t sit around all the time, maybe sometimes they did something else. But they sat long enough to discover the unity of humanity, nature and the universe.

As a day has its beginning and its end, there is not one moment where you have “the total day” or “the total night”, even in the darkest moment, there is either still a glimpse of the fading day, or already a glimpse of the arising one. The same is true for seasons: Summer solstice marks the end of summer and already carries the beginning of transformation within. The highest peak of the summer contains already a touch of autumn.
Nothing is absolute.
Everything that is alive is ever changing.
Those are the principles of Yin & Yang. Yin and Yang are a quite rough outline of the whole concept so the old Chinese men – or women, who knows? – broke it down a bit more to The Five Elements.
Rather than static elements of nature they are more phases of a cycle.

The Wood Element, also called the young Yang, symbolises activity, new beginnings and growth. The related season is spring, when everything blossoms and expands. This element carries the incredible power that lies within birth and growing up. The emotion associated with the wood element is anger which can find expression if the process of growth gets blocked, or stagnated by pressure.

The Fire Element, the big, or old Yang is about joy, playfulness and laughter, and the relationship to oneself and to others. It’s the spark that makes us feel passionate, inspired and connected and expresses through the ability to love and feel loved. In summer the energy goes outwards and spreads in all directions, it is wild and untameable, and it’s represented in adulthood.

The Earth Element is the nurturing energy, also seen as the period of abundance, where things start to slow down again. It’s about gathering together, and about taking care of oneself and another, feeling compassion, sympathy and empathy. It’s related to late summer, the time of harvest. It’s also the time of midlife crysis – or midlife without crisis, menopause and the more mature age.

The Metal Element is the young Yin, and the time when the energy starts moving inwards. It’s the beginning of consolidation, and the end of expansion. The falling leaves in autumn are nurturing the earth for next year’s harvest. It is about letting go and exchange. Grief is the related emotion that cleanses us as long as we don’t hold on to it. It’s the time of life of late maturity and the shift to old age.

The Water Element is the big Yin, also old Yin. It emphasizes on the essence of life. It’s the seed and the root of life, and embodied in primordial trust. The water element lies within the essential self-identity. As in winter the energy centers, and it is the time for internal work like meditation, stillness and focus. Wisdom, old age and death are related to the water element, as well as fear. In appropriate amounts it is needed, an imbalance, however, reveals as anxiety and lack of trust.

Over the following weeks months I will be sharing more of my knowledge with you about the five elements, the meridians and their connection to our life. I hope it will support you in some way or another by offering you a new way of understanding yourself and/or others. Maybe it will even connect some dots and encourage you to apply some of the knowledge in your life to maintain and improve your (or maybe also your client’s) health and wellbeing. With love, Annika

Comfortable Illusions

The past few weeks I have been lazy with writing, not because nothing exciting happened in my life, neither because I had no experiences to share that helped me grow. Actually, life has been quite crazy, too crazy to write about in a simple blog post. It would fit more into a book or a screen play.
I also believe, that I haven’t quite understood the whole meaning of the recent events.
And as if that wasn’t enough already, life continues to blow my socks off and leave me startled, speechless and deprived of my illusions.

Which is a good thing on one hand. What’s the use of a created image in my head that I admire and get attached to, and that makes me want to frantically avoid reality?
I do feel safe in my little bubble that tells me that all people are good, honest and trustworthy, except the few ones that already forced me to strip down my illusions.
But losing them (the illusions, that is) is scary and painful, because I don’t know what’s beyond them, or if I’m ready to face reality.

Without even noticing it I created – and we all do, more often that we might think – a perfect little world for myself, with perfect little people who all want the best for everyone, while bad things only happen in movies, in other countries, or to bad people. But no, life screws us all over, no matter what.
And yet, I feel more free, a bit more relaxed than before, when I was busy keeping up the walls of my little doll house.
Because that’s what it mostly was: Little. It kept me small, it made me fearful and often enough incapable of going for the things I wanted.

The walls of illusions are usually attached to the walls of the comfort zone. And, as we all know, life starts beyond them.
I guess life keeps kicking me in my butt because it’s time to really start living.
It wants me to listen to my inner voice, to my intuition, that knows whom to trust.
We do know. Always. We just don’t pay attention.
Time to listen up, my friends…