Rediscovering reflexology: A helping hand to everyone

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Updated 26 January 2016

Rediscovering reflexology: A helping hand to everyone

From ancient times to the present day, from Egypt to Japan, in China and throughout Asia, reflexology has helped humans maintain their health and well-being. Pictographs dating from 2330 BCE were discovered at the Tomb of the Physician in Saqqara, Egypt. This medical practice whose principles were lost in time is explored in the book ‘Hand Reflexology: Simple Routines for Health and Relaxation’ by Barbara Kunz.
The Russian physician, V.M. Bekhterev was the first to coin the term “reflexology” in 1917 and the British physician Sir Henry Head (1861-1940) developed ideas for the therapeutic use of reflex actions, mapping the connection between different organs and specific areas of the skin. Finally, a physiotherapist, Eunice Ingham (1870-1974) mapped the reflex areas of the hands and feet and their corresponding body parts. Her work marks the beginnings of today’s reflexology.
Hands help us carry out the daily tasks that make up our lives and also enable the body to gear its internal organs and muscles to respond to either eventuality. This sudden surge of adrenaline which enables a person to lift a car following an accident shows the extraordinary response of our body to stress.
According to researcher Hans Selye, seventy-five percent of an illness is stress-related. He believed that interrupting the pattern of stress provides a break in the routine, thereby resolving the wear-and-tear effect of continuous stress. Hand-reflexology work taps into this relationship, interrupting stress and helping to reset the body’s overall tension level.
“When reflexology techniques are applied to a specific part of the hand, a specific relaxation response occurs in a corresponding body part: reflexology maps of the hand show this relationship.”
Reflexology is simple and convenient and can be performed throughout the day, no matter where you are or what you are doing. You can use it while you are waiting at a red light or while watching a television program. “One of the clearest advantages of hand reflexology is the ease it offers of playing an active role in reducing stress levels.”
Moreover, reflexology can also offer a helping hand to everyone, regardless of their age, occupation, or current state of health. Babies are particularly receptive to reflexology. Touching a baby’s hands can encourage the development of nervous system pathways from the hand to the brain. A few touches can induce a baby to sleep.
Reflexology also helps ease the health concerns of the elderly including decrease in pain, improved heart, kidney, and bowel function, and reduction in stress. Reflexology work also tackles issues such as having the flexibility to fasten buttons and open doors, and maintaining an independent life for as long as possible.
A reflexology session can last up to an hour. A professional reflexologist will not only give you a sense of relaxation but he or she will also give feedback during the session as they assess different reflex areas. At the end of the session, you should feel generally relaxed and you should start seeing results after two or three sessions but remember that the longer you have a problem, the longer it will take.
This book is illustrated with step-by-step photographs which show in a clear manner how to perform complete routines for hand reflexology exercises. However, it is useful to know that reflexology techniques do not always reach deep areas and not everyone has the ability to perform hand reflexology therefore using golf balls or rubber balls can be effective. One easy exercise consists in holding two balls in one hand and moving them in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction by using the fingers. Then you change hands and repeat the same movements. These simple exercises help build flexibility in the hands, strengthen muscles and develop hand awareness.
The tendon-glide exercise is useful to prevent fatigue in the fingers and hands by strengthening underused muscles. This exercise is particularly useful for those of us whose work involves the repetitive task of keyboarding. You can practice the tendon-glide exercise before you begin work, repeating each one three to five times to start with and gradually increasing to a total of ten exercises.
First you hold your hand upright with the fingers and thumb outstretched. Second, you curl your fingers making a hook but leaving your thumb straight. Third, you keep your thumb straight and continue curling your fingers over until you touch the palm with your fingertips.
Finally, you curl the fingers and the thumb into a fist and squeeze.
Foot and hand massage have long been used to promote relaxation and improve health; reflexology is generally performed on the feet by a trained practitioner and is deeply relaxing but as this book clearly shows, anyone can easily massage one’s hands at any time to relieve stress, promote relaxation and improve health. The hands as well as the feet are considered to be a mirror of the body and pressure on specific reflex points is believed to affect corresponding body parts.
Reflexologists believe that granular deposits accumulate around reflex points, blocked flow and the aim is to break down these deposits and improve the blood supply to flush away toxins. The hand is a sensory organ, capable of receiving and communicating sensations such as pressure, stretch, and movement. Hand reflexology uses this ability to send a message of relaxation to the body, resulting in an improved response to daily stresses. This book will give you a taste of the power of what hand reflexology can do for yourself and others at any time.

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Traditional dish nourishes hope in Kabul

Updated 25 January 2020

Traditional dish nourishes hope in Kabul

  • Expats and Afghans queue together for taste of local eatery’s authentic stew

KABUL: The soft snap of customers breaking bread punctuates the silence in Waheed’s Restaurant in the heart of Kabul.

As the diners dunk pieces of hot and crispy naan into bowls of freshly cooked chinaki, or mutton stew, waiters can be seen craning their necks, looking for empty tables to accommodate those queuing outside the entrance.

The aroma of the traditional Afghan dish — made with lamb chops, lentils, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices — draws people to the restaurant every day, Abdul Waheed, the owner, told Arab News, adding that it is the least he can do to keep an authentic “Afghan tradition alive.”

“Other dishes like pizza, kabab and rice are much easier and take less time to cook,” the 43-year-old Waheed said. “But we are taking the trouble to keep the tradition alive despite getting the low returns on the dish compared with other meals.”

Chinaki is also known as teapot soup because of the vessel it was once cooked in — a teapot.

With a recipe dating back 150 years, the local dish is served by only a handful of Kabul restaurants and is one of the few remaining on menu lists as cafes and restaurants offering foreign cuisines take over.

Typical chinaki is cooked in small chinaware teapots, rarely available in markets and hard to mend after repeated use. Since the taste of the dish varies if cooked in a metal pot, customers are always on the hunt for restaurants that prepare the dish in the traditional style.

Depending on the number of pots, one or two cooks stand for hours to constantly stir the soup with a wooden spoon, adding a small amount of water at regular intervals to keep it from burning.

The arduous cooking process means the dish is cooked only once a day and served at lunchtime. Regular customers, however, know exactly what time to walk in.

“I come here at least four times a month,” Sher Ahmad said. “I like chinaki, it is my favorite food. I know people who have heard of this restaurant in other parts of the country and come to try it when they visit Kabul.”

Waheed said he hopes to keep his familiy tradition alive for as long as possible.

“I inherited the restaurant from my grandfather and father. We have been serving people for nearly 70 years,” he said.

The eatery is located on the second floor of a ramshackle building in an old and bustling part of a bazaar which was demolished by the British forces in the 19th century and destroyed again during fighting in the 1990s.

Waheed’s customers include MPs and government officials accompanied by armed guards for protection.

A former interior minister, Amruallah Saleh, who often travels in an armored vehicle, has been to Waheed’s restaurant twice, according to Feraidoon, one of the cooks.

“He liked it a lot and on one occasion ate twice in one day,” Feraidoon said.

Women wishing to eat rely on takeaways since there is no section for them in the restaurant — another sign of a male-dominated society.

In upmarket parts of Kabul, expensive restaurants have increased in the past 20 years, especially with the arrival of foreign troops and aid workers who brought along dishes from their countries of origin.

Abdullah Ansar, a manager for the Cafeteria, a leading restaurant in the city, said that although his menu features more than 300 foreign-style meals, local dishes were still a favorite for both Afghans and expatriates.

With more than four decades’ experience in the industry, Ansar has been host to regional and world leaders, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Ansar said he relies on local products, but also imports ingredients such as cheese, fish, prawns, olive oil and canned fruit from the UAE.

“Afghanistan has delicious local dishes. If peace comes, tourists will come here, and the restaurant and hotel industry will further flourish,” he said.

But like many Afghans, Ansar does not know when the fighting will end and stability will return to the country.