Blue Heron Holistic Health Shaping Healthy Bodies, Minds, And Hearts Through Chinese Medicine

Year of The Fire Monkey


Didn’t feel the New Year of January 1st was off to anything new? You may feel more in sync with the rhythms of the Chinese New Year, which is always two new moons after the Solstice. This year’s will fall on February 8th and is the Year of the Fire Monkey. So what does that mean?

When you think of monkeys, you may think of their intellect, their playfulness and prankster ways, their ability to work with the group, as well as their curiosity, liveliness and altruism. A year with a monkey influence will have these characteristics as well as be communicative, have the ability to problem-solve, be innovate, reasonable, influential, and dare to come from a place of personal truth. These aspects can be present within the individual and collective.

Monkeys when out of balance can be insecure, have that “monkey-mind” (being unfocused or scatter-brained), be self-indulgent, hyperemotional, fickle, impatient or immature. The monkey is honest, but it can also be gullible. Be careful when making any agreements to be sure you aren’t being taken advantage of.

The monkey is freed from inhibitions, and because it will test its theories, you will see its sometimes rebellious nature, but often with discernment. It’s not afraid to throw out old conventions, and take risks. Monkeys can do just about anything and do not give up easily! Because there is no shame or guilt holding them back, they are okay to march to the beat of their own drum. They also have an ability to use humor to keep them playful and youthful. Physical stamina is another thing they have, and keeping up routines or starting one will be a good focus this year. Keep these attitudes in mind as you continue creating your heart’s desire!

Five element theory shows how the elements of each season affect us on an emotional/psychospiritual level. These are earth, water, wood, metal and fire. Each year also has a correlating element.

The element of fire is creative, action-oriented, brings out one’s courage, generosity, passion and joy. When in balance we are open to and excited for change! The season of summer is associated with fire and we can also burn out if we overdo it, especially as the physical heat affects us. Out of balance fire within a person looks like being afraid to play, being overly serious, or even overly joyful. In harmony we can sort things out, be compassionate, we have a good sex drive and have sound judgment. There is freedom in finding a balance within one’s self with the fire nature this year. Look to how in the outer world you can assist the group mind to be in harmonious fire balance as well. And enJoy the monkeying around!!



Mindful Movement

After talking with several clients about movement, it occurred to me that the language of it is imperative. Many of us have negative connotations with the word exercise and I believe it is because so many of us feel that we are failures at it or have not enjoyed the activities associated with “exercise”. Some people have aversions to words like “yoga” and prefer “stretching”. See if word play can help you to enjoy getting movement into your day. Movement is medicine and you are actually nourishing your body and being your own doctor by taking the time to do so.

The way we were taught to think about moving the body in Amma school is referred to as mindful movement. Part of my practice of this includes Qigong and yoga, dance and hiking. There are many activities that you can be mindful in. The key is to stay in the moment of what it is our body needs now. It may be up for a vigorous hike or a swim, or it may need some Tai Chi or yoga. Perhaps your body needs a day off for rest. Not listening to our bodies is often what leads to injuries, or not being able to enjoy the activity.

Repetitive movements at work also cause problems and this includes sitting for too long as well as typing on a computer all day. Our bodies actually create scar tissue from repetitive movements and often times we don’t necessarily have injuries so we don’t realize the blockages that have occurred there. Amma is the perfect modality to address this either way and moves the fascia as well as moves the stagnant energy in the body. It will get qi and blood flowing where you have been stuck because of improper exercise.

Improper exercise can be doing things in a way that is hard on the body, but it can also be overdoing it. While some people can work up to running, if you have just begun working out, it is not the wisest place to start. Look at prior injuries, weight, age and your comfort with an activity before you begin something. If you are feeling worn out afterwards and feel totally depleted, it may not be the right movement for you! Remember, no two bodies are alike and while everyone you know may love Tai-Bo, it may not be for you. The other thing to be aware of is to be sure of the best time of day to work out. If you aren’t a morning person, requiring yourself to go to the gym at 6:30am will probably set you up for failure. If you are someone who has insomnia, a hard cardio at 8pm could keep you up too late.

Other thoughts with movement are in regards to your goals. Remember that some days are better than others, and while we all wish we made it to the gym 3-5 times a week, we are going to miss some days because life happens. Be compassionate with yourself when you don’t always achieve your goals. And remember some days that ten minutes of stretching or twenty minutes of walking is better than nothing. We don’t always need the hour long aerobics class, and we sometimes need to (and have to!) do less. That is okay too.

The last thing to think about in getting yourself moving is to be sure and get support. Find an accountability partner, a movement trainer, talk to your doctor or Amma Therapist, and use goal planning skills. Some of you may be familiar with SMART, but even more fun is to remember to RUMBA! Goals should be R=Realistic (Attainable, but do stretch yourself a bit), U=Understandable (Clear and in language that you like), M=Meaningful & Measurable, B=Believable and A=Agreed (Share it with others to have it stick!)

Much Healing and Blessings,


High Blood Pressure and Chinese Medicine

The view of hypertension from a Chinese or Eastern Medicine System is similar to the Western in that the organs of the heart and the kidneys have a crucial relationship and must be addressed. Additionally, the liver plays an important role and all the assisting organs to those aforementioned: the small intestine, pericardium, bladder and gallbladder.
There is a heart and kidney balance that must be maintained as the heart gives blood to the kidneys, and the kidney raises heat for the fire needed in the heart. The kidneys not only need to assist the heart, but they store our essence and life energy.
In Chinese Medicine there is Five Element Theory and the elements that are of particular importance with hypertension are the ones that govern the kidney and heart. These elements are water and fire, respectively. The main functions of fire in the body are of heating and circulating. The heat is essential in the body to warm the digestive fire to assimilate the food and to extract the nourishment as well as regulate the blood flow. The other aspect of heat is that of the emotion and energy of vitality, joy and warmth to others. In an imbalance, those may not be present.
The water element is ruled by the kidneys. The kidneys move water and all the body fluids through, as well as filtering our blood. They move out the waste and are therefore imperative to immune function. Water carries heat to warm us and therefore when in balance one’s circulation will be good. When there is an imbalance or stuck energy of the water element, we can become overly emotional and fear can easily rise up.
With high blood pressure, it is imperative to exercise, get good sleep and reduce stress. I recommend Qigong, Tai Chi or Yoga or other mindful movement. Emotionally it is important to process any anger, sadness or worry with journaling, counseling, play and other therapies.
A low sodium diet is necessary and this means very little processed foods. There is a chemical addiction to using salt excessively or foods that have salt in them. Red meats and uncured meats should be reduced. MSG, if not taken out of the diet completely will disrupt the sodium balance in the body. If you wish to add salt to a dish, it’s important to use sea salt as this is a more natural form than table salt. The process in which table salt is made includes heating it, bleaching it with chemicals to make it white, and adding aluminum stearate. If you think you need iodine, try using seaweeds or a kelp iodine supplement.
Amma sessions harmonize the kidney and heart axis. They connect all the organ systems so that they may each individually work as need be and assist one another. The results are increased ability to sleep and relax, increased energy, improved circulation and digestion, reduced blood pressure, and having the willpower and warmth to carry out one’s duties and enjoy life!


Many Blessings,



Those of you who have been coming to see me for a while know that I love to share lifestyle antidotes to assist in the healing process. Amma is holistic and because of my education I am emphatic about how a holistic approach to health is the best way to achieve optimal health. You have probably heard me share the importance of using affirmations, of incorporating mindful movement into one’s life, and I often suggest journaling and seeking other forms of therapy. I am on a mission to share my research and ways in which one can achieve more health and happiness.

At this time of year as the days shorten and we come inside more, we find our focus on family and loved ones. At this time we can reflect on tradition and dream up what new ones you want to bring to fruition. I bring up tradition because research shows that the families that have traditions are the ones with children (and adults) who have the highest levels of self-confidence and emotional well-being. The rate of teens and young adults with depression continues to be the highest and the holidays are known to be a trigger of grief and anxiety for some. Without a sense of who one is and where they came from, we can feel lost in a society that emphasizes consumerism and media as a way to boost ones’ happiness. So today I want to talk about the ways in which you can add in family ritual to become a healthier individual.

I think most of my readers strive to be healthy. And since our rituals often surround food, we need to find a way to incorporate ones with holidays that are delicious and also not filled with sugar. There is a time and place for sugar, and a small amount can go a long way. There are also many alternatives available now and so we have an opportunity to explore and find ways to make a meal or dessert that everyone loves and isn’t going to leave us stuck to the coach immobile the rest of the evening. A favorite tradition we had at our Halloween parties as kids was bobbing for apples. No kid ever thought, “Oh no! It’s just an apple!” We loved the sweet fruit! It can be easy to find ways to make healthy choices fun too! Here are some ideas I have for rituals that can assist your family being healthier this year:

• Have a weekly tradition (maybe Tuesday nights) where you go for walks as a family. In the fall make it a tradition to kick the leaves or rake up a pile for the kids or (adults) to jump in!
• Have a weekend morning be one in which you make your favorite breakfast food. (Mine is a big veggie stir fry with an egg scramble and gluten-free banana pancakes & real maple syrup. Yum!)
• Have a weekly family night where you do an indoor activity such as board games or movies. You can make homemade popcorn, kale chips or roasted pumpkin seeds for nights like these.
• Have your spouse or kids help you make a meal one day a week. Making food together brings in teaching moments and can help you to experiment with new dishes!
• Volunteer with a group that the family decides on and can be passionate together with. This is a great way to meet and make new friends too!
• Break traditions that don’t serve you. That’s right, if you hate Christmas and don’t want to participate, take a vacation at that time. Or let your family know how you would like to celebrate it with them (or not celebrate at all). And let them know it’s not about them!


Here’s to creating new memories and health!

Late Summer Energetics

The season of late summer is upon us. The weather is changing and the season is in transition towards fall. The element of Earth is the overarching one for late summer as well as each change of season and is associated with the organs of the stomach and spleen. The changing of the season can be difficult for some, but it doesn’t have to be. Are you in balance? This season has to do with nourishing ourselves and feeling the abundance in our lives. Are you satisfied? Do you have enough and are you able to share your abundance? If you find yourself feeling resistive to change, are overindulging, overly ingratiating, forgetful, extremely fatigued, worried, foggy-brained or needy of attention, then you are experiencing Earth out of balance. If you are able to be accepting of the opinions of others, life changes (and cycles) and new ideas, you are in balance. If you are especially drawn to the color yellow and/or have a yellow colored complexion you may have a propensity towards having too much of the earth element. Amma bodywork therapy can re-balance you if your body, mind and emotions.

Often times in this season we see the body present itself with ailments related to the digestion. Physically the body can be affected by nervousness or hurried eating, and the food will not be assimilated if this is the case. If you are “holding on” to emotions and thoughts, you may experience constipation. An inability to “stomach” ideas of others or resisting the end of summer may cause indigestion for some. An inability to nourish the body or mind is imbalance as well. Eating whole foods deliberately and without other distractions is important to the absorption of nutrients. If there are problems with the skin or muscles there is an imbalance with the Earth element. This may come in the form of tension (inflexibility), stiffness, edema, loose or flabby skin or muscles and cracking or peeling of the skin.

By getting Amma bodywork, you can have your imbalance shift and your body will get back into its natural rhythm. An increase in your immunity, increased energy, improved digestion, and heightened willpower will happen as the result of a session. Let go into the coming fall by nourishing your body and getting things flowing!


Many Blessings,

Why I Practice Amma

I have often been asked why I became trained in Amma and why this is the path I have chosen. Those who know me are aware of my passion for Chinese Medicine and Eastern and Holistic Nutrition. There have been many reasons that I began this work. First off, there was seeing my grandfather suffer for years on medications and the results of their side effects and interactions with one another. Then there was always my passion for alternative health and living ideas, which coincide with my holistic view of the Earth and deep care for this sweet planet we call home. The implications of being born into a time and place where we have grave environmental contamination from pollution of all kinds and where we all are paying the consequences has weighed heavy on my mind since I was a late teen. And then there has been my personal journey in which I have had blood sugar issues all my life, and later on I was faced with being diagnosed with a “disease”. I was told I would have to either have radiation, surgery or be on medication the rest of my life. I knew there were alternatives, and I have incorporated those to become dis-ease and pain-free! Today I am not on medication and have never had invasive Western treatment because of several Amma Therapists that shared their wisdom and knowledge with me. I am grateful.

For those I haven’t shared with I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, a form of hyperthyroidism that speeds up your metabolism and your heart rate. Not only was I constantly eating and hungry, but I was an emotional wreck on a daily basis. At that time in my life I was close to losing everything: my mind, my job, my relationship, and I have never felt more out of control. While I did get on Western medication to get stabilized (and for which I am deeply thankful), I quickly reversed my condition and within three months was off of medication, never to be on it again.

It has now been four years and I no longer suffer. I have adopted a gluten-free life which is imperative to my thyroid health. I also take many high quality supplements daily and have incorporated a daily meditation practice into my life. I eat organic and many locally-raised foods. My exercise regime is full of regular hiking, dancing and mindful movement. And last but certainly not least are the Amma treatments and other energy and healing modalities I receive monthly or more. My thyroid only acts up a little now and again when in times of stress and imbalance. It is a reminder to me to take the self-care needed to feel good in my body.

I am grateful for the life I live and while it takes persistence and continual learning, I know that those things come with greater ease than accepting a path without it. I am now dedicated to working with people to prevent pain and to reduce and alleviate pain for those who suffer. I know pain has its lesson for all of us, but I have learned that once you stop and listen to what your mind/body/heart is saying, it will move on as it is temporary like all things in life.

Many Blessings,


The Summer Season

In Chinese Medicine there is a ruling element for each of the seasons. The fire element rules the summer season. The main functions of fire in the body are of heating and circulating. The heat is essential in the body to warm the digestive fire and help the body absorb the nutrients. The other aspect of heat is that of the emotion and energy of vitality, joy and warmth to others. The fire element also carries out the ideas that the wood element sets forth and it feeds on creativity, action and change.

High blood pressure and low blood pressure, edema and cold hands and feet can be signs of a fire imbalance. Out of balance fire may also look like excessive joy, nervousness, inappropriate laughter or sadness. If there is fatigue, being overly shy, afraid to play, overly serious, or fainthearted then you also have a need to get your fire back in balance. Other signs of disharmony include not being able to sort out things in your life, difficulty having sound judgment, trouble with compassion or serving others, and either no sex drive or too much sexual activity.

Some of the ways to build up your fire are to eat more cooked foods esp. some whole grains and lots of vegetable, as well as some fruits during the summer. Keeping hydrated as well as limiting sugar, alcohol, meats, fats and dairy will help you feel light and at your best. As always, avoid processed foods and keep salt and caffeine to a minimum. Getting regular exercise is also necessary and this should always be mindful movement. My favorites include Qigong, a gentle yoga, biking, hiking, running or strength training. Emotionally it is important to process any anger, sadness or worry with journaling, counseling, play and other therapies.

Amma bodywork is one of the best ways to balance the fire element. Because Amma is based on Chinese Medicine, I can address the correlating organs of the fire element: the heart, small intestine, triple warmer and pericardium and help remove any blockages that have occurred. The body will then begin to regulate the blood flow better, assimilate the food digesting, and extract the nourishment. And finally the person will be able to express themselves with creativity, warmth and vitality!


Breast Health

It was a little over two years ago that I had an annual exam and my doctor felt lumps in my breast. She told me very seriously that I needed to have the lumps checked out, in a firm and urgent tone. I left there feeling anxiety welling in me, and later, panic formed. I was frightened, and facing what many women in our society must: to reconcile that I may have breast cancer. My great grandmother passed from breast cancer and I never got to know her, so I took this information even more seriously. I also knew the possibility that I may be totally safe and the lumps could be benign. However, after leaving there, I developed a fear of my breast tissue that had the lumps. I couldn’t touch them without being thrown into a panic. I knew that this was something I needed to overcome, but the thought of cancerous tissue was more than my mind could handle.

Luckily by this time I was graduating from the Amma Therapy program and was on my way to becoming a holistic practitioner. There was more than the physical going on here I knew, and there were alternatives for me to seek out to help resolve this no matter the outcome. I was armed with knowledge, but nothing trumps an experience of an invitation of death on your doorstep.

I also had a great resource on my shelf, a book: “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” written by an MD. This doctor had been in practice a long time and seen many patients with lumps in their breasts. Her words calmed me. I learned that fear in my body would only create more of a problem. It didn’t mean that everything was going to be okay. I was not yet in the clear. It meant that I needed to change my mind about the way that I viewed lumps in my breasts.

These lumps are commonly benign and are either fibroadenoma or cysts, and sometimes still referred to as fibrocystic disease. Disease is a strong word and I prefer to state that we can be in dis-ease, or I refer to our health issues as disharmonies. Lumps are a common phenomenon and you do not have to be in fear when you find them. There are many reasons they can occur and be there even for some time. After all, 90% of lumps are benign. And if you do have cancerous tissue, there are often ways to work to remove the cancer from the body without having to use chemotherapy, radiation, or remove a breast, especially if it is caught early on.

Over time if the blood, qi and lymph of the breast tissues aren’t moved and become stuck in the chest, lumps can form. This can happen from improper diet, from emotional issues and being exposed to too much radiation, as well as other toxins in our environment. Wire bras constrict the flow of blood, lymph and qi, and can also be a factor in this energy restriction.

The liver meridian is linked to the breasts and the associated emotions with the liver are anger, frustration and resentment. Having any of these emotional issues can block the flow of energy in this area. It is good to keep in mind that many illnesses come about due to blocked emotions. This can be highly unconscious and if you have sent unloving thoughts to your breasts because of size or other body image issues, it will be important to forgive yourself and to love yourself as you are now.

Most people in our society are pretty well educated on the importance of doing regular breast exams. This is good self-care that I highly encourage. Massaging the tissue around the breasts regularly (especially where the bra lines are) to move the energy is important. Taking your bra off when you come home from work in the evening, or at least an hour or two before bedtime assists the energy to flow properly.

Diet, exercise and reducing stress are also huge factors in maintaining healthy breast tissue. Reducing dairy products is known to benefit breast tissue. And if you are consuming any dairy whatsoever, be sure it is organic so you are not adding additional hormones to your body, which may contribute to breast swelling, tenderness and pain. Reducing caffeine (and yes this includes chocolate), sugar and refined carbohydrates will help decrease the overstimulation of breast tissue. Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco are all very hard on the liver, and therefore stagnate the energy in and around the breasts.

Exercise is also essential because you have to move your body to move your lymph (or get bodywork). Working out four hours a week is recommended. Expressing all of your emotions in a positive and balanced way through journaling, meditation, counseling and mindful movement are also important in dealing with stress.

Amma therapy, a form of acupressure and massage, is very effective in helping move lymph, blood and especially the liver qi in the body. An entire treatment is focused on moving energy through all of the body, and getting regular treatments is great preventative health care. Specific points can be done during a session around the breasts and over other areas of the body to help coordinate the flow so that all organs are networked and in proper alignment. Sessions can assist in reducing lumps, pain and treating other women’s issues.

It is my desire to bring peace, clarity of mind, and to assist you in your health so you may go out and do good things in the world!


Winter’s Energetics

Winter is a time to go within, to recharge and to prepare for the coming time of growth in the spring. It is a time of introspection and yin building, where the focus is on stillness, listening and reflection.

The water element rules the winter. Water is our life blood, and it also circulates all of the body’s fluids. Therefore, water is able to move out waste, help nourish the body, and carries heat to warm us. The kidneys and the bladder are the associated organs and assist the body in cleansing and moving water through the body. The kidneys also help heat the body. When the water energies are in balance in the body, circulation will be present and will help us to maintain warmth.

Fear is the primary emotion that is associated with the kidneys. When there is an imbalance or stuck energy of the water element, we can become overly emotional and fear can easily rise up.  Being overly negative or constantly anxious will also affect the bladder and kidney. Resentment that is held over a long period of time will strain the bladder, and can cause bladder infections.

The ears, teeth, bones, the spine and knees are additionally associated with the kidneys. If you have any issues with these areas, your kidney energy needs attention. The kidneys are responsible for our overall life force, our growth, development and sexuality. If you suffer from fatigue, overuse stimulants or any kind of drugs, or have sexual dysfunction, this also points to a tax on the kidneys. Inappropriate rest or exercise, and not nourishing the self with high quality foods will deplete the kidneys too. A person’s will is related to the kidney energy. If you lack willpower to make the changes in your life that you wish to, the kidney energy is deficient.

Amma Therapy will address all of these issues by balancing the kidney energies, as well as the other organs that have become stuck and are contributing to the dis-ease. It is always nice to see how much people are able to resolve emotional build up, unhealthy mental habits and physical stress during an Amma session.

The Metal Element, Lungs and The Large Intestine

Here we are in the beautiful autumn season ruled by the element of metal. The eliminating organs of the skin, large intestine, sinuses and lungs are governed by the metal element, and need to have extra attention during this time. This time of year is also referred to as “cold and flu” season, which runs through the winter months. The reality is that this can be a time of health and wellness for you and your family, if you are vigilant with good hygiene, healthy food and preventative measures. There are various ways to care for these delicate organs of the lungs and sinuses, as well as the large intestine, to keep them at their optimum. Traditional Chinese Medicine always looks at things holistically and I will identify ways to care for your emotions, mind and spirit as well as body.

We know that sugar causes inflammation in the body. With the holidays, we tend to over-indulge and have more desserts. Some indulging can be okay in moderation, but this is a time to also honor your body by eating more whole foods. An accumulation of mucus forming foods and processed foods will lead to sluggish digestion. This improper elimination leads to toxins building up that eventually come out of your sinuses, and respiratory system. This is how you get sick.

Begin to care for your body by cutting back on the sugar, dairy, fried foods, noodles and bread. Start drinking warm lemon water daily to alkalize the body. Eating lots of steamed organic veggies will add lots of vitamins and minerals into your system, which will prevent disease and support the nervous system, which will decrease stress.

If you are “uptight” or nervous, it may be because you aren’t expressing yourself creatively or not expressing your feelings. With all of the family and holiday requirements, this can come up more often. By not expressing one’s self, the intestines will slow down and this will again affect the lungs and sinuses.

Breathe in with the new and out with the old with consciousness. As the days get darker, it is easier to go inward more, and meditation and breathing practices will assist your health. Breathing and awareness of this helps us to be in tune with our emotional state. The ruling emotion of the autumn season is grief and sadness. When we hold on to melancholy, we are not allowing the large intestine to move things through and out. We also sometimes become stuffed up in our sinuses, holding those feelings in. Journaling and working through these emotions, not stuffing them away, is necessary.

Any kind of mindful movement practices will additionally assist the body in releasing these emotions. Getting in enough sleep and proper exercise- a good half hour a day will also move the emotions and stress through, as well as keep the lymph moving, which is the body’s defense system. Amma or other bodywork is great for tuning up the body, releasing blocks, and moving the lymph. This increases one’s immunity to the pathogens that always surround us.

Wishing you all the best in health & joy!