Friday 14 October 2016

Three Easy Mindfulness Activities for You and Your Kids

Mindful Chidren

As kids head back to school and work-life ramps up after the leisure of summer, you and your children might be experiencing more anxiety and searching for a way to bring more calm into your lives. 

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention on the present moment in an intentional and accepting way. It is a great antidote to the way many of us live on automatic pilot as well as our search for constant distractions when the stress of life is overwhelming. 

Early research on introducing mindfulness techniques with kids has shown that they are effective with specific instructions, for a short-time period, and with dialogue about what the child is experiencing in the moment.

Here are three simple activities that you can do with your school-aged child to introduce a little bit of mindfulness into your lives:

1. Mindful Eating 

While sitting at a meal together, invite your child to take a moment to play a game of discovery with you. Ask your child to choose one thing on their dish to examine. Then suggest that they spend a few seconds really looking at it on the plate. 

Ask them what they see.

Then ask them to smell the food and ask them what they notice. 
Ask them to put the food against their lips and ask them what they feel.

Ask them to put it in their mouth and let it sit there without chewing it for a moment and ask what they taste. Finally ask them to chew it slowly and to count how many chews they can do before swallowing the food. 

2. Mindful Listening 

Stand in a park, in your back yard or anywhere else where you could hear a variety of sounds and suggest to your child that you want to play a game with them.

Ask them to stand very still without making a sound so that they can really listen for different sounds. Depending on the age of your child, you might suggest that they tell you what they can hear or you could offer a suggestion like “do you hear the wind in the trees?”

After they have spent some time listening for different sounds, you could ask them which sound do they think is closest and then which sound do they think is the furthest away.

3. Mindful Breathing

A very simple way to include a mindfulness exercise into your child’s life is when they are giving you a hug. This technique could especially be useful when a child is upset about something and needs some extra support to calm down.

As you hold your child in an embrace, take three slow deep belly breaths yourself. A useful way to ensure your breath is deep and slow is to inhale through your nose for a count of seven, hold for a count of four and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. 
You could also introduce this type of counting breath to your child and modify it to a count of four for all the inhaling, holding and exhaling if the seven, four, eight breath is too difficult for them.
I hope that these simple activities will add a little bit more calm and stillness into your and your children’s lives.

About the author

Sofia Lopoukhine Counselling and Psychotherapy Ottawa
Sofia Lopoukhine, Counsellor for individual adults, understands that deciding to see a counsellor and psychotherapist can feel overwhelming and that’s why she is happy to offer you a chance to meet with her in person to decide if you would like to work with her. Clients that Sofia has worked with have experienced a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship boundaries, communication and intimacy, low self-confidence, identity questions, unresolved grief, chronic pain, and life transitions.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

ADD, ADHD? Or is your child simply escaping reality?

Recently I treated a 13 yr old boy, who has the inner wisdom of Gandhi. 

His mother was concerned about his apparent lack of focus at school, and how his self-esteem was so significantly affected by his low marks.  

He was bullied and, having a genuine sense of caring for those kids who would be blamed, he believed that he needed to accept the responsibility of fault in the schoolyard as well as at home. 

In sessions, we discussed how he saw his inner warrior. He realised that when he felt weak or powerless that his inner warrior had retreated to the’ head in the clouds’ place, and as a result, he was left with a feeling of defeat and surrender.  

When I asked him to describe his warrior, his response left me speechless.  

This is indeed a moment in my practice when I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how very much I love what I do!  

This young sage went on to describe a Sumari warrior. He held a golden sword with a dragon etched into the blade. 

He said that when he swung the sword that it moved in an empowering way, not a destructive way, and it was in the name of justice, courage and strength.  

Ultimately he said…it was in the name of Love.  

When I suggested that this young man might call his warrior home, to be present, he lit up with the knowing that that is what he needed to do.  

As it is with so many kids I treat, I can see the pattern of the "head in the clouds" and lack of focus as being a result of not wanting to be 'present' here in reality. 

A place to escape 

Some kids have anxiety around performance, where others want for escape from the classroom due to lack of interest or boredom. 

Through my work with these children, I can see that they often literally make a choice to leave their bodies and connect with their ‘head in the clouds’ place of retreat.  

As a result, they may appear to be daydreaming or in a fog. This can cause a sense of not belonging for these kids and can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of guilt, shame and self-blame for their lack of achievement. By making these kids aware of the importance of breathing and with other tools I share with these kids that they can make a conscious choice to be fully present as opposed to ‘checking out’ to the cloud zone.  

They soon realise that in doing so their marks improve and they find a greater sense of wellbeing. Ultimately they gain a sense of feeling grounded and can see that being present is a very cool place to be! 

One young man was very aware of his head in the clouds place and described a sense of flying out of his body. His parents had recently separated, causing a lot of stress at home,  so it was a happier place for him to be.  

When he realised he could bring this fun cloud place here in the present moment, he was more in control of his emotions and his anger depleted, his focus and performance at school improved dramatically. 

Where children, young people, and even adults are showing signs of ADD or ADHD, I always recommend looking at reasons why they might be making that choice, conscious or subconscious to simply not be here in the present.

About the author

Deborra Cameron has a nursing background, and for over 20 years, has been using Clinical Reflexology and Emotional Blueprint Counselling to help her clients experience relief from chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, digestive issues, migraines, and many more symptoms as well as achieving relief from paralysing emotions.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Breech Birth - Can Chiropractic help?

The safest and optimal way to give birth naturally is to have the baby’s head facing downward, toward the birth canal, however, 3-5% of woman will have a breech birth baby at the time of birth. A breech presentation means that the baby’s head is pointing upward towards the ribs, and their bottom is down into the birth canal.

A technique developed by a man named Larry Webster (later termed the “Webster Technique”), was created for chiropractors to help woman later in pregnancy whose baby is breech, it is used to help ease the natural birth process.  

So how does it work?  

It is important to remember that the chiropractor does not “turn” the baby.  Manual therapies are used to help relax the ligaments and muscles around the pelvis and uterus. The baby then has more room to move and is in a more relaxed environment that will better allow him/ her to turn. 
The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) says that it helps to restore balance in the pregnant woman’s pelvis. It also contributes to reducing undue stress to the mother’s uterus and supporting ligaments which can help to reduce back pain related to the pregnancy. 
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported an 82% success rate of babies turning when doctors of chiropractic used the Webster Technique (ICPA, 2016)

When should you see the chiropractor? 

Almost all babies present breech until about 37 weeks, however, seeking a chiropractor four weeks before the due date, so around 36 weeks, is a good idea. Since the baby is smaller, they will have more room to turn within the uterus compared to waiting until days before the baby is due.  The longer a woman waits, and the closer to the due date, the less likely this manual technique will be successful. 

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your chiropractor to see how they can help optimise the chances of conceiving and help you through your pregnancy. They can also give you more information on the Webster technique or refer you to someone that specialises in pre-natal chiropractic. 

There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant. 

Approximately 50% of pregnant women experience some back pain, with 10 percent reporting severe discomfort that prevents them from carrying out their daily routines. Chiropractic can help to relieve this pain, assist with regular daily life and reduce the risk of trouble during childbirth.

About the author

Dr Stacia Kelly is a chiropractor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Clinic, located in centre town Ottawa. The clinic has over 15 different wellness practitioners. They work as a team and consider individuals symptoms to provide a real holistic approach, which enables them to identify and treat the underlying causes of your issues to give deep, long lasting healing.

Monday 8 August 2016

Flathead and Plagiocephaly in Infants

What is Plagiocephaly (Flathead)? 

Phagiocephaly or Flathead is the name given to any deformity of the cranium or head. Although in babies this can be quite aesthetically disturbing it is important to know that it rarely causes any severe problems and will usually resolve within the first few months after birth.

At birth, the bones of a baby's cranium or skull are not entirely formed. They are cartilaginous or flexible which makes babies much more resilient than we often allow. There is also space between the bones. This flexibility and space allow for the bones to mould and overlap during passage through the birth canal. Without this flexibility, it would be impossible for the baby to pass through the birth canal and be born. 

On a historical note; Aztec aristocracy thought a sloping forehead to be a sign of upper-class breeding so would bind their baby's heads to influence the shape. They suffered no ill-effects. 

A note on bones 

It is important to understand that bones are living tissue. They can be classified as organs and are responsible for producing red and white blood cells and also platelets which are essential for clotting. 
They can be likened to a living tree branch which is flexible and springy, only becoming dry and brittle when dead or removed from the tree.

A baby's bones have not yet ossified (hardened) and are even more malleable than those of adults. 

Causes of plagiocephaly 

Just the passage through the birth canal will cause changes in the shape of a baby's cranium. Where there is intervention such as forceps or suction, this will be increased.

Vaginal birth is always preferable for many reasons. The forces experienced by the baby passing through the birth canal will mould and shape the cranium and trigger various reflexes in the baby. This includes the extension reflex which is essential for strength in a human being. 

Postpartum laying the baby in the same position can influence the shape of the cranium and also develop a torsion or rotation in the body that can lead to imbalances in later life and issues with structure and movement. It is good to change the position of your baby and to make sure their head is turned to alternate sides, not always facing straight up. 

Treatment for Cranial Deformities 

It is important to remember that just because a baby is born with deformities in its cranium, it is not the end of the story and usually will cause no problems. 

In most cases no treatment is necessary. The typical actions of suckling, yawning and moving will normalise the cranium. The repetitive movements working to balance the cranial tensions. Ideally, the baby will be breastfed. If bottle feeding it is a good idea to use your finger or thumb to stimulate suckling - make the child work to suckle. Pacifiers will not achieve the same result. 

Osteopathy for Cranial Deformities 

Many would consider this to be the first line of treatment along with positional therapy. It is a dynamic treatment that works with the baby's body and can be used literally from the time of birth. 
It is best done within the first three months, although it can be beneficial after this.

It works with the plasticity of the bones and equilibrate membranous tensions and can address the imbalance in the bones themselves (the Trabeculae or struts within bone). The osteopath will apply subtle pressure which can affect the alignment and arrangement of these struts. The baby's body will appropriate the changes and grow more balanced and aligned.

It is sometimes necessary to work with another part of the baby's body as the physiological chains of the body continue into the cranium and may be the source of any distortion. 

What can you expect? 

The child will be placed on a treatment table, and the osteopath will assess sacrum, cranium, movement of the head, arms and legs and also reflexes.

The reflexes are our genetic, pre-programmed movements of the body. They are essential for all other motor, emotional and cognitive function. The neurological system develops along with the reflexes; movement develops the nervous system, in the womb and after birth. The action begins in the fetus as early as four weeks after gestation.

It is normal for the baby to cry during treatment - it is their way of communicating with us, of telling their story, although as a parent it can be upsetting at first. There is the distress cry when they are hungry or uncomfortable, and there is a very different cry when they are just communicating .. "I was stuck in the womb, wedged up against mum's hip, couldn't move. Wah, wah, wah."  
They will also wave a fist towards an area of their body, or twist themselves sideways, or arch back; this is normal, and the experienced osteopath will pay attention to this communication. 

After the session, there may initially be no visible change as the baby will take a time to integrate the treatment. Usually, a short course of treatments will be needed, and these may be several weeks apart to allow the child's body time to assimilate each visit. 

Positional therapy 

This works by removing or changing the pressures on your baby's head. There are several things you can do: 

Alter the part of the head that is against the bed or seat. Make sure to encourage your baby to face different directions when sleeping - try placing them at opposite ends of their crib as they often turn away from a wall, or using a mobile to attract them to look one way. 

Feed them on alternate sides - this happens naturally with breastfeeding. 

Tummy time - place your baby on their tummy for short supervised hours when awake and for longer as they get older. 

Cranial Orthotic Therapy, a Helmet 

One option used by the medical profession is a helmet. This forces the cranium to take a particular shape. It is usually applied after six months of age. One down side is that it is not dynamic, forces the body to grow in a certain way and does not work with the body's natural healing mechanism.
As with many western interventions, it uses outside mechanical force to direct the body instead of facilitating the body to heal itself. 

If you would like more information, please book a complimentary meet and greet with Robert to discuss your needs and how cranial osteopathy can help. 

An interview with Robert Black, Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, written by Sue Taylor, Clinic Director, Ottawa Holistic Wellness 

Friday 22 July 2016

Pregnancy and Nutritional Supplemention

Finding good information on the proper do’s and don'ts of nutritional supplementation during pregnancy is not always easy. There are many websites, books and personal opinions on what are the best supplements for the mom-to-be. 

Here are my top 3 recommendations for any woman wishing to conceive or who is currently pregnant.

1. A good quality prenatal multi-vitamin including folic acid

There are plenty of prenatal vitamins on the market and when it comes to a decision on which one is the best to consider the following: 

Make sure you are taking the active forms of all the vitamins and minerals or a food-based supplement to increase the absorption rate of the nutrients. Pregnancy is a time when optimal nutritional status is important for mum and developing baby so be sure you’re getting top quality ingredients.
Ensure the supplement has a good supply of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. If you have a known MTHFR genetic deficiency, it would be best to consider the active form of folic acid which is L-5-MTHF to bypass the need for conversion.

2. A good supply of Vitamin D3

It’s likely that your prenatal vitamin isn’t providing you with enough Vitamin D3 since higher levels are necessary for combatting pre-term births, pre-term labour, infections and gestational diabetes. 
Research supports regular supplementation of higher quantities than is regularly recommended – in the range of 2,000-4,000mg daily. It supports bone development, immune system functioning and healthy cell division. Don’t skimp on the D! (You may wish to get tested to make sure vitamin D levels aren’t too high during supplementation).

3. A healthy dose of fats: Fish oil or Flaxseed oil

Fats are critical for both mum and baby. If you have an Omega-3 deficiency, supplementation should be considered by those trying to conceive and during pregnancy. 
The two main components, EPA (touted for its mood, inflammation and immune system benefits) and DHA (essential for brain, eye and central nervous system benefits) work in synergy to create beneficial prostaglandins to support babe’s brain development, immune system and healthy birth weight. While fish oil provides direct access to EPA and DHA upon absorption, flaxseed oil can be suitable for those not wishing to consume fish products, especially those who are vegan.

If you are unsure what you should be taking, or would like a more personalised approach, your Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Nutritionist can provide advice. Try to choose one that has a particular interest in women's health.

Friday 1 July 2016

Headaches and Migraines: How Reiki and Energy Healing can help.

Headaches and Migraines

Can underlying energetic blockages and imbalances cause headaches and migraines?

The simple answer is ‘yes’ they are one of the possible triggers or causes. 

Both an excess of energy in the head or deficiency can lead to pain. This state can be the result of an issue with the head itself or disruption further down the body which obstructs the free flow of energy.
So a blockage in the throat will prevent the flow of energy into and out of the head. A blockage at the root or 2nd chakra, so in the pelvis or lower abdomen, will affect how much energy can move into the body or be released. 
It is not uncommon with our daily lives to become focussed in our head. We are continually busy, using our minds nonstop, and often allow little time to decompress and ground ourselves. This behaviour leads to an inability to let go of the stresses of the day, to drain the excess out of our heads and to become grounded.
 Almost all of my clients come in needing to open their lower chakras, reconnect to the earth, and to release some of that pent-up energy.
This disruption in energy flow may result in many different headache symptoms such as a dull ache, pressure, throbbing, pain spikes or any other.

An energy healer, whether practising Reiki, Chakra balancing, Pranic Healing, Angel Healing, or one of the many other approaches will be able to assist your body to better balance and to bring relief effectively.
During a session, they may work on your head or any other part of the body. If there is an excess or stagnation of energy in the head, there is little benefit to treating the head. What is needed is to open up the channels throughout the body so that the energy can move and the pressure in the head can be released.
They may also bring about longer term healing by addressing the underlying reasons for your energy imbalance. This focus can be achieved by releasing trapped emotions or by bringing you more into balance so you are no longer as reactive to daily stresses. Clients who receive energy healing report that they feel better in many ways emotionally and physically.

Dispelling some energy myths.
Energy is not some mystical, magical element. Science shows that it exists all around us; energy and matter are interchangeable and that everything is connected energetically.
Science also shows that the human body clearly has an energetic component. It is possible to produce an image of the body’s aura and to identify acupuncture points scientifically. However, we do not currently have the science to show what these points are or what they do.

There are many healing approaches worldwide that address imbalance or blockages in our energy, many of which are very ancient. These include Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Reiki, Chakra Balancing, Shamanism, Eastern Tantra, Pranic Healing, Angel Healing, the Laying on of Hands and much more.  

Whichever approach is used by the healer the intention is the same; they will seek to bring balance and flow, to release stagnant or congested energy, to channel energy into areas that are deficient and to assist with letting go of any trapped emotions which are interfering with correct balance.

When directing energy, the healer is tapping into the universal energy that is all around us. Depending on the approach they may consider this energy to be from Mother Earth, from the Father, from God, the Angels, the Source, the One or the Light. Or they may have another name for it. There have been scientific experiments that show the healer is affecting energy when healing is taking place (see “The energy healing experiments” by Dr Gary Schwartz).

Next steps

If you want to understand more about your headaches or migraines you can book a complimentary no-obligation assessment with one of our experienced health coaches who can answer your questions. Call 613 230-0998, book online, or email today!

About the author

Sue is co-founder and Clinic Director at Ottawa Holistic Wellness. She also works as a Natural Allergist and Energy Healer.

Monday 16 May 2016

Tension Headaches - How to manage your symptoms

tension headches
According to the World Health Organization, tension headaches are the most common form of a headache occurring in ¾ of the general population. Most people will experience this mild to moderate a headache throughout the entire head, sometimes described as “a band wrapping around the head” or feeling like a vice is squeezing the head. It feels like pressure or tightness, and typically doesn’t have light or sound sensitivity, nausea or vomiting associated with its presentation. Those who get tension headaches can suffer from them monthly, weekly or even daily. While tension headaches may not be as debilitating as migraines, they certainly are a nuisance and can cut into the productivity of your day.

Why do people suffer from chronic tension headaches? 

I have found 2 of the most important causes of tension headaches to be muscle tension and stress or mood disorders. Tension begins in the shoulder, upper back and neck area which extends into the head causing the sensation of pressure and tightness. Stress, anxiety and depression are rather common among those who suffer from tension-type headaches. They can often be the trigger to a headache and lead to a chronic presentation. 

What techniques can we use to reduce chronic tension headaches?

Fortunately, medication doesn’t have to be the only option in the treatment of tension headaches. Physical therapies like the application of heat with gentle stretching of the neck muscles, using acupuncture to help release tense muscles and upper back/neck massage are all very beneficial to the reduction of tension. Physical modalities can, therefore, reduce the intensity and severity of headaches.

Relaxation techniques are becoming more popular and efficient in the management of the chronic presentations of tension headaches. Studies are now showing that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs (MBSR) are significantly reducing pain severity and improving the quality of life in those participating in weekly sessions of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a self-care technique to deal with stress and suffering or illness. The practice involves focusing on your body’s sensations, thoughts and emotions in a non-judgemental way. By increasing your awareness of your body and mind, you can explore your personal mind-body connection and participants are noticing a decrease in overall symptoms and pain. Knowing that the mind-body connection can be so intimately linked to headaches demonstrates that stress can be a dominant contributor to symptom presentation. By focusing on the root cause, medication can become less necessary over time.

I love incorporating mindfulness into my naturopathic practice. It helps people connect to their bodies, recognise pain and stress patterns and provides an immediate tool to use anytime, anywhere. Combining mindfulness with a physical modality like stretching, acupuncture or massage are useful options when trying to manage headaches while reducing the need to control them with medications.


1. Bakhshani, N.M., Amirani, A., Amirifard, H., Shahrakipoor, M. 2015. The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction in perceived pain intensity and quality of life in patients with chronic headaches. Global J Health Sci. 2015. Aug 6:8(4):47326.
2. Omidi, A., Zargar, F. 2014. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction in pain severity and mindful awareness in patients with a tension headache: a randomised controlled clinical trial. Nurs Midwifery Stud. Sep:3(3):e21136

About the author

Dr. Josée Boyer is a board certified bilingual Naturopathic Doctor with a general family practice. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree (Biomedical Sciences) from Laurentian University, in her native Sudbury, Ontario before pursuing her naturopathic medical training in Toronto.