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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Learning to Live and Age with Grace

Aug 31, 2017 05:58PM ● By Gisele M. Siebold

While aging is part of life, using an educated approach can enhance the experience. According to the Mayo Clinic, the ill effects of stress can contribute to health problems and disease that effect body, behavior and mood. By learning and implementing ways to relieve stress, eating a nutritious diet, partaking in regular physical activity, getting plenty of sleep and setting aside time for hobbies and activities that bring about feelings of satisfaction and joy, aging becomes an enjoyable experience, rather than a dreaded process.

Local practitioners Jose Johnson, Maria Crosby, Rickie Freedman and Melanie McGuire offer products and services that contribute to aging gracefully. Passionate about staying active and well throughout a lifetime, they offer resources for helping the community thrive.

Owner and chief instructor at Jose Johnson's Chinese Martial Arts & Wellness Center, in Harrisburg, Johnson holds an eighth degree black belt in kung fu and offers the knowledge he has gained through his personal martial arts practice. “As we age, we start to lose not only strength and flexibility, we also start to lose balance, coordination and kinesthetic awareness,” explains Johnson. “The practice of martial and healing arts focus on improving these areas.”

Johnson recommends tai chi and qigong as methods for improving balance, mobility and overall health and well-being. He explains that qigong is less memory-intensive than tai chi, focusing more on the awareness of breath and circulation. Because tai chi adds an additional element of memorization, it can also help offset memory loss. “The great thing about martial arts is that it provides a complete approach to self-improvement,” notes Johnson. “The Chinese term “kung fu” actually means a skill developed through effort. Martial arts helps people to learn how to learn.”

Maria Crosby, a licensed esthetician, massage therapist and owner of Beyond Beauty Skin Therapy, in Camp Hill, recommends that healthy skin care habits are essential, no matter at what age. As the body ages, the skin changes, typically including a loss of moisture, discoloration, wrinkling and sagging. Skin care needs to change with changing skin. “Although there is no such thing as an anti-aging miracle, there are many practical things that can be done to slow the aging process and improve skin health and appearance,” suggests Crosby.  

“When caring for the skin, think of caring for a beautiful flower,” she notes[1] . “By keeping away the weeds, providing plenty of water, extra nutrients and adequate light, and protecting it from the elements, the flower grows stronger and more beautiful. Quality skin care involves the same basic elements: exfoliate away dead skin cells; drink plenty of water; use a moisturizer; nourish the skin with essential nutrients; and use sunscreen to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Avoid refined sugar and make sure to get enough antioxidants to combat free radicals and prevent premature aging. These can come from foods like fruits and vegetables, supplements and antioxidant ingredients in skincare products.”

At Beyond Beauty Skin Therapy, a variety of facials and body wraps target deep cleansing, hydration and antioxidant care, as well as light therapy using the Lightwave LED system.  Light therapy, which uses highly concentrated beams of photons to rejuvenate skin, can be considered an addition to any skin care regimen. Just as plants trap light energy with their leaves and use the energy to grow, the skin absorbs the light energy and uses it[2]  to naturally generate new collagen that fills fine lines and smooths wrinkles. “Aging gracefully does not mean accepting dry and sensitive skin, discolored patches or deep wrinkles,” advises Crosby. “With proper care, people can look and feel great at any age.”

Rickie Freedman is a reiki master/teacher and physical therapist at her ReikiSpace & Learning Place, in Harrisburg. Freedman’s specialty is Reiki by Rickie––Gentle Touch, Deep Healing, with a focus on the integration of complimentary healing with traditional healthcare. She explains that reiki is a very gentle and deeply relaxing hands–on healing modality, based on the principles that everything alive is comprised of energy, and that the ability to heal is deep within us. It is helpful for stress management, feeling more balanced and finding inner peace. The reiki experience is shared fully clothed, lying comfortably on a massage table. Many people fall asleep or go into a deep state of relaxation during a session.

“Reiki helps to balance our energy so our bodies and immune systems can work more efficiently,” describes Freedman. “Reiki works at the level of the underlying mental/emotional source of our stress. For example, a doctor visit can be a stressor which affects every physical system in the body. When we find a way to help manage our stress and stay more relaxed in the midst of life's challenges, we can stay healthier,” she shares. “The effects of stress ages our bodies, weakens our immune systems, and we certainly even look older. Reiki helps us feel lighter and freer, and more in tune with our true passion and purpose in the world.”

Melanie McGuire is the owner of SaltEFX, a halotherapy salt room center in Harrisburg. She explains that halotherapy involves exposure to kinetically activated dry salt, where the micro-sized particles are inhaled, while the large salt particles fall on the surface of the skin. Forty-five-minute halotherapy sessions, available in two salt rooms, as well as a 15-minute session in a private, highly concentrated salt bed chamber, are offered at SaltEFX.
“Regular and consistent halotherapy improves skin’s elasticity, kills bacteria and helps to manage many skin conditions,” advises McGuire. “It is a chemical-free, natural, anti-aging alternative that can keep the skin looking clean, young and firm by stimulating the skin’s microcirculation and balancing the skin’s pH level. Halotherapy is also helpful in relieving migraines and sinus headaches, improves lung and respiratory function, and helps aid in the reduction of inflammation and swelling.”
With these local resources available to assist with a thriving and vibrant lifestyle, aging becomes a fulfilling journey.

Jose Johnson's Chinese Martial Arts & Wellness Center is located at 2233 Paxton Church Rd., in Harrisburg. For more information, call 717-540-5345 or visit

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