women’s health

Rest and Release Course

Why we need rest for natural pain relief

Usually when we feel uncomfortable in our body it’s because we’re not attending to our own essential needs. The most underrated of these is REST.

Most women put their own needs last – after the needs and demands/requests of their colleagues, partner, children, parents, friends etc…….

Like my friend. She looked tired recently so I asked her if she was okay. She rolled her eyes and said she had been up since 7am (this was Saturday) to work with her personal trainer to try to stop her awful perimenopausal hot flashes. She works full time supporting disabled people. She also has a husband and two teenage sons. And she does ALL the cooking and housework. You read that right. All.

Women need a lot more rest when we’re progressing through the major life transition of menopause. So I suggested she might need to rest more than she needed to work out.  What she said next shocked me: “If I rested, I’d have to leave my husband and sons because I couldn’t look after them.” She believed she couldn’t be part of the family AND get enough rest.

She also believed she had to work her body hard to conquer her symptoms, as if they were signs of weakness or something being broken. 

This is an extreme form of what many of us believe. It isn’t deliberate, it’s unconscious. Society has programmed us to look after others first. These expectations mould the psyche of people assigned female at birth from the time we are infants. 

So it’s not our fault – don’t feel bad if this is you (because that’s another thing we’re taught to do – self-criticise).

And although there is evidence that nurturing instincts are biologically driven, putting ourselves last is not, especially when we do it at the expense of our health and safety. And those who depend on us need us well-rested and well-resourced.

When we ignore our body’s call for rest the call gets louder until we can’t ignore it anymore. This is what’s happening when you’re irritable and short-tempered, lacking patience, feeling tired, making errors, forgetting things.

If we keep on ignoring it, it starts to hurt – we get achy and stiff, we get a cramp or a pulled muscle, a headache, sore neck, back pain. If there’s a particular part of your body that’s been injured or troubled, it might start hurting ‘out of the blue’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s damaged now – it might just be that you’re ignoring your body’s needs. Next time you hurt somewhere, stop and think:

  • Are you tired?
  • Do you need to eat or drink water?
  • When was the last time you sat still and did nothing, (or moved if you work all day at a desk)?

What happens when you address these needs – is the pain still there? If it is, then by all means check with your health practitioner, but often this will be enough to reduce or stop the pain altogether. 

It’s because your body can’t do without rest. It just can’t. You can’t. You need it so you can repair and recover – from the physical, emotional and mental work you do everyday, from the stress we experience on a daily or hourly basis from living this pretty unnatural life, cut off from nature and forced to ‘make a living’ instead of just living.

The good news is there’s gold on the other side. When you rest often, you are well-resourced, refreshed, resilient.

You can think clearly, make decisions easier, hold to your boundaries and express your needs to those around you.

When you prioritise your own rest you also give others permission to rest more.

And this is how we’ll change this crazy world from one that pushes constant productivity at all costs to one that’s nurturing and sustainable – for us and all of Nature. In a capitalist, rationalist society Rest is a radical act.

So how do you change a lifetime’s habit of putting your need to rest last? How do you do it when you think you don’t have time to rest?

First, notice those thoughts of ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I should be doing something else’, ‘this is selfish’ etc. They come from outside of you. They are conditioned by society. Animals, babies and children don’t think these thoughts when they’re tired and need to rest, because they haven’t learned that they ‘shouldn’t’.

And Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Colour are conditioned even more than white women that they don’t have the right to be well-rested – for more on this topic see the excellent work of Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry and @thenapministry on Instagram.

Once you notice your body is telling you to rest while your mind tells you not to, trust that your body knows best and do what it asks. If you need to schedule it, add it to your calendar with an alert to remind you to do it.

Then just stop for 5-15 minutes and breathe slowly. Listen to your breathing. Feel your breathing. Let your mind follow your breathing. Do this every day for a week. Notice the difference as your body and mind start to enjoy it and look forward to it.

Next week, add something to your rest time like lying down, or napping, or walking if you’re restless. Notice your moods and energy levels this week. The following week, increase your rest/nap time to 30 minutes or twice a day – if you dare!

The people who depend on you need you rested and nourished. But don’t rest for their sake – rest like YOUR life depends on it – because it does. 

What to do next:

If you still have nagging pain after trying this approach (and you’ve confirmed with your health practitioner that it’s not caused by a medical condition), book an appointment to see me for in-person sessions or online coaching, or check out my online course & workshops, Rest & Release

nightmare period pain young woman sitting on a hill, head in her arms

How to get free from nightmare period pain

This is a recent testimonial from a client, who brought her daughter to see me for her nightmare period pain. I’ll let her tell the story:

“My 15 yr old daughter suffered terribly when she got her period. She couldn’t walk, had unbearable pain and vomiting and she missed days of school – not to mention the mood swings.

She had 3 sessions with Janine and the first period after that was fantastic – almost no pain, no vomiting or nausea, the pain meds worked and she went to school as normal. Then she had another session a week before her next period and again had a great result – the period symptoms were gone. We didn’t see Janine before her third period yet she had the same result, an easy period – as she puts it “this is magic”.

My daughter has now had three periods since her first session with Janine and the results are amazing. Her periods were completely different, all her symptoms had disappeared. No vomiting, no cramps or pain and she was able to go to school. Her mood was completely positive because she had no pain to deal with.  Best move we ever made! Everyone was suggesting I should put her on the pill but I knew there was a better solution – and we found it.” – Annette

I had a similar experience in my teens and 20s. Unfortunately my doctor did put me on the Pill, which stopped my period pain and PMS but led to many other health problems including trouble conceiving when I was ready to have a family.

Yet this young woman’s experience shows how, with only a few sessions to balance her pelvic alignment, her body’s natural cycle was restored and those awful symptoms were gone. No diet change, no special exercises, no surgical or other interventions – and a LOT less pain meds.

How to get started

It doesn’t matter if your periods have just started or you’ve had them for years, you CAN get free of the pain and other symptoms.

If you or your daughter suffer with nightmare period pain, book an appointment to see me for in-person sessions. If you’re not in Melbourne (Australia) we can work together online with my Body Reset coaching package

Take the Period Quiz

You can find out if you have a pelvic imbalance by taking my Period Quiz – and be sure to sign up for my free Period First Aid Kit to start balancing your body right now.

Photo credit: Kelli McClintock – Unsplash

period pain woman holding her belly

Get free from period pain by balancing your pelvis

No. 2 in the series: Why are your periods hard?

If you have period pain and other PMS symptoms, chronic low back or hip pain, fertility issues or postnatal pelvic pain it’s likely your pelvis is out of balance or alignment in some way. In my clinical practice, every woman who has come to see me with period problems has had an imbalance in the structure and muscle tension of her pelvis.

But how does the alignment of your bones cause these problems?

Your uterus (womb) and ovaries are held in place inside your pelvis by ligaments – like bands of firm elastic – which are in turn attached to the bones and other tissues of your pelvis.

The role of Posture & Movement

When you sit a lot (like at your computer for work) or stand all day and don’t walk or move around much, if you cross your legs whenever you sit or you sit slouched back in a soft slouchy chair or sofa – hang on, this is most of us now isn’t it?

Anyway, when we do that it makes the muscles through the pelvis, low back and legs really tight, and this can pull our bones slightly out of alignment in their joints. This out-of-balance structure in turn pulls on the ligaments between the bones and the organs they support, which in some people can lead to organ dysfunction – which is why it can be one of the causes of period pain, PMS, cycle irregularity, PCOS, endometriosis, fertility issues and more.

The imbalance in the bony structure of the pelvis can also be the cause of muscle and joint pain in the low back, hips, buttocks and legs, as well as the pelvic pain experienced by many women during pregnancy or after the birth of their baby.

But what to do about that? 

Balance your body first, before trying anything else.

The right foundation

The foundation is everything. Like the foundations of your house – if they’re unbalanced nothing works right, your doors won’t shut properly your windows get jammed and there are gaps where draughts get in. Like the structure of a business – it can’t function and grow if you haven’t set up the legal framework, banking and insurance.

One of the osteopathic principles of Ortho-Bionomy is ‘structure governs function’, meaning the functioning of everything – organs, circulation, breathing, digestion, thinking – is dependent on the state of your structure, your bony alignment. You feel this when you sprain an ankle and have to limp for a while – everything in your body feels a bit off and you get a headache or pain in the shoulder or just don’t feel right.

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Okay, if I have an imbalance in my pelvis, what can I do about that? Am I stuck with it? Will it be hard to change? Will it take a long time?

I know for sure that your body knows exactly what to do to get back into alignment when we give it the right support. Periods just get a whole lot easier when your body is balanced.

It doesn’t take an intense exercise program over months or a long-term treatment plan or a new diet. Those things may be useful to address other health issues, but you don’t need them to restore your natural pelvic balance.

And when your body is balanced your periods are easier, your moods are better, you feel more comfortable more often and you feel more in control of your life.

You can focus better on your work, be more present with yourself, your family, partner and/or friends and best of all you’ll know how to take care of yourself.

If you’re in Melbourne (Australia) make an appointment to see me for a few gentle, restorative Ortho-Bionomy sessions – most people get lasting change from 3-4 sessions and you’ll leave the sessions with a personalised toolkit of techniques to use at home to maximise your progress. If you’re not in Melbourne, I’m building an online course – Menstrual Cycle Rescue – to teach you how to restore your pelvic balance for yourself – join the waitlist to hear when it’s open for enrolment.

Either way, I’ve made a quiz to help you find out if you have a pelvic imbalance – when you complete it you’ll receive my free Period First Aid Kit showing you how to start relieving your symptoms today.

soothe the body - person sleeping

Soothe your body to calm your mind

Because we’ve collectively experienced a lot of trauma over the past 2 years, many of us are currently feeling a deep sense of exhaustion, also known as burnout and even depression. This often comes with an intensification of our physical symptoms too; when our brains feel unsafe they sometimes amplify our tension or pain to make us reach out to someone for help.

Despite being cloistered at home so much in recent times we are simultaneously living outside of ourselves, desperately looking for signs from the external environment that things are ‘normal’, that the danger has passed. And when we’re looking outside of ourselves for things to make us feel better, we usually find something – often more than one thing – that makes us feel worse.

So what to do? How can you stop spiralling into burnout, feeling guilty about not being able to do anything about the big traumatic events happening in the world and ending up in a heap, unable to look after our families or ourselves or get out of bed each day?

Soothe the body to calm the mind

The best way I know to help yourself is to come home to your body. It’s the only thing that’s with you in every moment. It’s the only place where you can create a tangible, repeatable feeling of safety, a sense of being in control. It’s the only place where you can really take care of yourself. And taking care of yourself is the only way to start making a difference in the world, when everything else is out of your control.

Traumatic and stressful events are emotionally – and physically – exhausting. Our recovery from them requires two things:

1. Complete the stress cycle

We must release the built-up charge from our bodies so that we don’t stay in the stress cycle. There are examples of this in Nature – when the deer outruns the lion it shakes all over and leaps about, discharging the excess adrenaline, sweating and releasing the intense energy from its muscles – and signalling safety throughout its nervous system. This is a great model for us too, because we, like deer, are animals in Nature (though we deny it to ourselves). The difference is that we live with constant daily stresses, so we must actively release the charge every day to complete the stress cycle and return to a calm baseline, allowing our bodies to repair, recover and restore. Some great ways to do this are

  • walking, running, cycling, swimming – any exercise that increases your heart rate
  • punching or screaming into a pillow
  • dancing (on a dancefloor or in the loungeroom)
  • laughing – with kids, with friends, at funny movies
  • rolling around on the ground outside – with kids or animals if you have them (with the added bonus of connecting with the immune system-supporting natural biome)

2. Deliberately, intentionally R E S T

Resting is one of our superpowers – one we vastly underestimate. We must rest as a matter of course every day. It should be scheduled in – it’s a non-negotiable basic daily need, like drinking water, moving and eating real food. Nature is always seeking to repair and restore balance and your body is the same. You don’t need to force it to repair itself, it happens naturally given the right conditions – one of which is rest.

Fortunately the Ortho-Bionomy self-care techniques offer a way to deliberately take your body into a deep resting state to soothe your body AND calm your mind. One of the ways we do this is by using the principle of exaggeration. It assumes your body knows best what it needs right now.

Test it now:

  1. Sitting where you are now, close your eyes and tune in to your sit bones – the two big bones under your butt. Is your weight evenly balanced on both sides, or do you feel more weight on one side?
  2. If it’s the latter, normally we would try to ‘fix’ it, to correct it by adding more weight on the lighter side to even it up. Instead, I want you to try exaggerating what is present by leaning slightly towards the side that feels heavier to add more weight to that side.
  3. Stay there for about 30 seconds, breathing slowly, then move back to the centre.
  4. Now notice again how the weight is distributed on your sit bones. Do you still have the same imbalance with more weight on one side, or has it changed?

When I use this with clients, they almost always notice the weight has at least changed – if not completely balanced. This happens because your exaggeration of the imbalance has acknowledged something your body needed – with gentleness, not force – and your brain has responded by restoring balance.

You can use this with any part of your body that feels tight or sore. Find a way to exaggerate the positioning or tension in that area – e.g. if your shoulders are held up towards your ears, position them up closer to your ears while lying down (so you don’t have to hold them up) and relax into the position, breathing slowly for up to a minute. Then slowly sit up and notice the changes and responses in your body (in your physical body and also in your breathing, emotions and thoughts).

This process brings you into a calmer state because it also brings your whole self – brain/nervous system/body/mind – into present time, into your body, into your breath. And it avoids re-traumatising you because you’re not talking about the things that are stressing you.

I hope this helps you feel better, even for a few minutes. If you’d like to share your experience with me, email me from the Contact page or send me a DM via Instagram.

Image credit: Shane – Unsplash

Women's healing - group of women sitting smiling

Facilitating women’s healing

Facilitating women's healing

My business has recently undergone a major transition, like so many over the past 2 years. Sadly, I’ve had to close my in-person practice of 20+ years.

But the good news is that this has given me a long-awaited opportunity to take my services online so that I can serve many more people than I can see in my clinic day to day. It’s been a dream of mine to facilitate millions of women to have a better experience of living in their own bodies. So now the time has finally come for me to welcome this baby into the world!

So here’s my line in the sand: from now on I’ll focus solely on supporting people who identify as women and non-binary people who menstruate, so I’ve chosen to launch my new offerings into the world during March, in honour of International Women’s Day

I honour all the women who have gone before me to support women to live with freedom, joy and dignity in the world. I give thanks for the women who are supporting women now and in the future to uplift ourselves and the world by restoring the Feminine to equal partnership with the Masculine. We all have both energies within us – so this is about caring for ALL humans.

Restoring balance

Facilitating women’s healing has always been a vital part of my practice. I’m passionate about teaching people who identify as women and non-binary menstruators how to free themselves from the tension, pain and stress we experience from living in a patriarchal world.

This world tells us daily that our bodies are wrong and need to be fixed by someone else, that our natural cycles and our power to create human life are problems to be medicalised and that our intuitive wisdom about our bodies should be ignored.

I’m not against conventional medicine – in fact I’m thankful for its presence in my own life – but it only offers very limited solutions for the chronic pain, tension and stress many women experience, especially related to menstruation, menopause and pelvic/reproductive health.

In contrast, my 20+ years in clinical practice have shown me that our amazing bodies have an infinite capacity to self-heal, self-correct and regenerate. They require very little input from outside. What supports that best is being able to come home to our bodies, feel safe in our skin and rest deeply. 

With suppression of the Feminine principle and domination by the Masculine, our world has long been out of balance – resulting in inequality, destruction and war. This imbalance hurts all humans and all beings living on our Mother Earth.

It’s time now for Earth to be governed and cared for by an equal balance of both energies. For that to happen, women must be supported to feel comfortable and safe in our bodies as the vital foundation for our work in the world. 

I’m here for that.

Women's healing - women laughing together

New Offerings

The mission of my work is now two-fold:

  1. Facilitating healing our relationships with our bodies and ourselves by teaching women, girls and non-binary menstruators how to use simple pelvic alignment techniques to reduce or eliminate the pain and distress many experience with menstruation, pregnancy/post-partum and menopause. If you’re interested in this, work with me 1 to 1 and/or join the waitlist for my upcoming Menstrual Cycle Rescue course.
  2. Teaching women and non-binary people how to release tension, pain and stress for themselves with gentle Ortho-Bionomy positional rest techniques, to counter the burnout and exhaustion of being a woman in this world by harnessing our body’s self-healing intelligence. If you’re interested in this, work with me 1 to 1 and/or join my monthly Rest & Restore classes

My newsletter each fortnight features advice about simple pain relief/body alignment techniques, gentleness as a super-power and practical self-kindness. If you’d like to join in, subscribe here. If you’d like to try one of the powerful positional rest techniques I teach, click the link at the top of this page to download the free video and pdf guide.

I’m excited to see where this journey will take us.

Image credits from top of page: Joel Muniz-Unsplash, Mentatdgt-Pexels, Aline Viana Prado-Pexels

How to get relief for pelvic pain

Do you suffer from “pelvic girdle pain”? Many women suffer intense pelvic pain both during pregnancy and post-natally, making walking, standing and even sitting extremely uncomfortable. Conventional medicine offers pain-relief medication and not much else. But Ortho-Bionomy helps reduce this pain dramatically by assisting the body to regain its natural pelvic alignment, relieving tension and pain and allowing comfortable movement to return.

One of my clients suffered from this condition after the birth of her baby, along with a partial prolapse, diagnosed by her obstetrician. She couldn’t stand or walk for more than 10 minutes without intense pain. She followed the physiotherapist’s advice for some exercises but after 7 weeks had minimal improvement. She wanted to walk to help her body recover from the pregnancy and birth, but she couldn’t even walk around the house much. Her frustration level was pretty high! She visited me for Ortho-Bionomy and noticed a reduction of pain the same day. I gently worked to encourage her pelvis to remember its natural alignment, and she found the work comfortable and relaxing. It took only 2 sessions of Ortho-Bionomy for her to be virtually pain-free. She is now able to go for daily walks with her baby in the pram and her prolapse has resolved. That’s better for her mental health and her baby as well as her body. Lee wrote “I would not have recovered so well and so quickly without you. Thank you for everything, you’ll see me again!”

Another client experienced severe low back and hip pain during the late stages of her pregnancy. She describes her experience here:

“At 35 weeks of pregnancy I came to Janine for help with excruciating sciatica & lower back pain. As this had been a recurring condition for the past 10+ years it did not surprise me that it had returned at a time when the body is under such pressure, but the intensity was like I had never experienced before. Shooting pains down to the calf, I could not walk further than the mailbox and spent the majority of the day on hands & knees, it was pretty bad! It took a couple of sessions to feel some results, as everything was so jammed up and tight. [In fact, Alicia had improved enough after 2 sessions to walk to my clinic for her third visit. – Janine] However, slowly & gently, after 4 sessions and with practice at home all symptoms had cleared up entirely; my back was actually better than at the start of the pregnancy. I really had not anticipated such a result, to say I was delighted to be pain free is an understatement. The treatment is very gentle, I felt completely safe at all times, my body felt wonderfully light at the end of each session. I would not hesitate to recommend Janine to anyone experiencing similar symptoms.” Alicia visited me 4 weeks after her baby was born because her back was uncomfortable with the new routines of feeding and carrying her baby, but her other conditions had not returned.

Because Ortho-Bionomy provides natural pain relief, it provides the perfect alternative to taking pharmaceutical drugs, especially when you want to avoid sharing those drugs with your baby through the placenta or your breast milk. Many women put up with this kind of pain during and after pregnancy because we believe we can’t do anything about it, but Ortho-Bionomy has a wonderful way of helping our bodies remember how to find comfort and return to balance, even through the most extreme experiences.  Don’t just put up with this kind of pain, find an Ortho-Bionomy practitioner in your area; once the pain has gone you will be able to enjoy your pregnancy or your newborn baby, and every woman deserves that!

natural relief for period pain

Is natural relief for period pain possible?

Is lasting, natural relief for period pain possible?

So many women, girls and other people with periods suffer severe pain, cycle irregularity, ovulation pain, emotional distress and other symptoms of hormonal imbalance – often lumped together as PMS.

Conventional medicine offers pain medication or synthetic hormones (e.g. the Pill) which can relieve some period symptoms. Unfortunately many people experience other health problems caused by these medications, and other just don’t like taking them long-term.

Natural medicine can help by relieving symptoms and balancing the whole reproductive system.

However most people are unaware that one of the most common causes of period symptoms and hormone disruption is structural imbalance of the pelvis.

This can result from:

  • Hips shifting slightly from their natural positions with forward or backward rotation,
  • reduced range of movement caused by tension in pelvic muscles,
  • lack of movement or exercise, too much sitting
  • chronic stress that contracts the psoas muscle, pelvic floor and other muscle tissues in the pelvis.

These can cause tension around the ovaries that over time affects hormone production. The hormone imbalance is often associated with period symptoms, fertility issues, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis and more.

Many people who suffer these period and hormonal issues also experience low back, hip and pelvic pain that are also associated with pelvic imbalance.

Ortho-Bionomy offers a gentle but very effective approach to all these symptoms. We work to balance the structure of the pelvis to make sure the bones are sitting in their joints naturally, which relieves tension in the muscles and ligaments attached to the bony structure.

This process can then bring balance to the pelvic organs and the hormones produced through the menstrual cycle. Many clients report a dramatic reduction in their menstrual symptoms as well as more ease and comfort in their hips, low back, legs and throughout the body.

Here’s what one client had to say:

Before having Ortho-Bionomy sessions with Janine I was suffering from strong period pain every month. I was seeing Janine for ongoing neck tension and I was really surprised when she said Ortho-Bionomy could help with period pain and PMS. Then I came to see her once when I was in real pain with my period and I was delighted by the immediate results of her gentle work. After feeling these amazing benefits I decided to see Janine regularly to help reduce the imbalance responsible for my pain and after a few sessions I can now enjoy pain-free cycles!” – Marie
 
If your periods are giving you a hard time, take the Period Quiz to find out why and get started on the solution.