I am fun-loving, passionate and adventurous. Join me as I take you on my Yoga, Travel & Spiritual journey.
I am fun-loving, passionate and adventurous. Join me as I take you on my Yoga, Travel & Spiritual journey.
The last 2 weeks in Hawaii have given me lots of time to reflect on the past few years leading up to this life changing decision. I have been thinking mostly about work and how much of my time it actually took up and what my reasons were for working so hard… It turns out that I work to make experiences and memories.
We are all working so hard and for what? A nice car, a big house, clothes, shoes? Sure, all these things are nice but when you listen to stories from people, do they tell you about the size of their house they live in or the brand of watch they are wearing or how much cash they have in their wallet?
No, they certainly don’t! The best stories and the best memories are about real connections, real adventures, real laughs and the unexpected. It’s great to work hard and provide yourself with stability and nice things but don’t forget to experience life; spend some money on the experiences, the moments, and on helping other people… make time for adventure and make time to connect with people.
I can guarantee you that these are the things that you will look back on in the end.
Happy Tuesday my Yogi friends and remember what you are working for!
Mahalo from Hawaii.
Trusting your intuition is a lesson that I have to keep on learning over and over again…
Have you ever had a time when you felt something was not quite right, but didn’t trust your gut? Or felt a sense to do something, but didn’t act on it? Or have you ever felt bad vibes about a person, but ignored it?
In today’s world where logic is supreme, it can be tricky to know how to trust your intuition. I would classify myself as quite intuitive but it is a shame that I have spent most of my life not listening or following through with my intuition or ‘gut feelings’.
All day I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right but as usual, I ignored it. It wasn’t until we got to the baggage drop at the airport on our way to our first destination, Hawaii, of a 10-month journey that I realised why my gut had been telling me all day to go to the airport early.
After lining up for AGES, the gorgeous assistant behind the counter told us that our outbound flight wasn’t good enough and if we didn’t book another outbound flight from the Americas we couldn’t get on the plane. In fact, they couldn’t even check us in.
So, there and then with 20 minutes left to check in we were frantically searching our phones to find a cheap flight. The flight we ended up booking was the shittiest flight ever and cost us quite a lot of money. If we had have been at the airport earlier, like my gut had told me to do we would have had plenty of time to jump on my laptop and do a proper search and find a great flight out of the Americas.
Not a great way to start our journey but it all worked out in the end… well except for the fact that we are a lot of money out of pocket for a really terrible flight. LOL
But how do I know it is my intuition speaking to me?
You will know it’s your intuition because you will feel the “rightness” of it. You might be a bit scared, but if you are honest, deep down you will feel that it simply feels right.
When you feel something deeply, rather than over analysing it and asking yourself, “Why?”, which will often paralyse you from taking action, simply be obedient to your deeper impulse. As you take a step, life reveals what you need to know as you need to know it. So, next time you feel a gut feeling, pay attention.
Act on it.
You are being guided by life itself.
P.S. If you would like to follow our travels in Hawaii and see more pics like the one above, please click on the following link to our website: Nat’s Travels. From here, you can explore the rest of our website and travelling adventures.
I don’t believe in fad or strict diet regimes but this is just my opinion. I believe in a balanced life with yoga, meditation and good wholesome foods that makes your body work 100%.
For me eating a healthy (I do occasionally fall off the bandwagon) food is a way of life. My advice to anyone is to skip the diet and instead listen to your body and always chose the healthiest option.
My parents took great care of my brother and myself when we were kids. We always had a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables to choose from and our meals were healthy and nutritious. We played outside all the time- climbing trees in our backyard, swimming in the pool, shooting hoops at the local primary school, skipping ropes, kicking soccer balls, hitting tennis balls around with the tennis racquets, jumping on the trampoline for hours, competing in handstand and cartwheel competitions with our neighbours (one of which ended up training in the Olympic squad) and so forth.
We had 3 home-cooked meals a day and all the snacks were healthy. Mum would bake us blueberry muffins and whip up fruit smoothies after school or she would cut us up fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks. Take away foods such as McDonald’s and KFC were a treat, not a weekly occurrence. It wasn’t until I got to university that I started eating this type of food on a semi-regular basis. Moving to another city without your parents is a good way to learn how to take care of yourself but for me it took a long time to realise just how to take care of my body properly.
Getting up whenever I felt like it, going to bed late, drinking, partying and not eating properly was the beginning of sending my health into a downward spiral. All my healthy habits went away as I started to embrace new bad habit like eating McDonald’s and pizzas (Pinky’s had $5 large pizzas and one would last me a few meals), drinking soft drinks (especially Coke) and drinking alcohol.
In preparation for my wedding in 2013, I gave up Coke and all soft drinks. Since then I haven’t drunk any Coke and I could count on one hand the amount of times that I have had another type of soft drink. In addition, Damien and I did a detox a few years back and I haven’t been able to stomach McDonald’s since.
Damien and I cook healthy, nutritious meals and when we do have hamburgers and pizzas they are homemade with lots of vegies. I have also replaced my entire white sugar intake with natural substitutes like honey.
We often go hiking and biking on the weekends so we need the energy that good wholesome food provides our bodies. We like to go on one major holiday a year where we will be active the whole time- from hiking, climbing volcanoes, and bike riding to snorkelling, white water rafting, and kayaking- we enjoy being active in the outdoors and we don’t have time to be sick or not have the energy to do the activities we enjoy doing (if you are interested in reading about our travels, please click on the following link to be directed to my Travel Blog).
Life is so short and I don’t want to make it even shorter. I have so many things to do and so many places to see. This is why I eat healthy.
Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle.
Square breathing, box breathing, or the 4-part breath… it doesn’t matter what you call it, just make sure that you know how to do it!
What is it and why should we do it?
Juggling work, physical fitness and family can make you feel stressed. A stressed body can manifest itself in many ways, from tightness in the chest and shoulders to your whole body feeling tense or in a state of dis-ease. It can also lead to a lack of focus and clarity in your daily life.
Four-part breathing is a proven method for recalibrating your nervous systems. Research shows that it is especially useful for rapidly decreasing stress, anxiety, heart rate or blood. It is a useful tool during times of stress, when you feel overwhelmed or when you are looking to more fully activate your creativity or ability to concentrate fully on the task at hand. In only a few minutes, you can use the 4-part breathing technique to help you regain focus and calm your mind so that you can think better. Try this once every hour at work or whenever you feel stressed.
Where to Practice
While the environment can help to add to your relaxed state, it is not imperative. If there are other people around and you cannot find a private, quiet place, this exercise can be performed quietly with your eyes open. If you do have a private place to practice, you may like to get yourself into a comfortable yoga pose such as Sukhasana (Easy Pose).
As easy as 1,2,3,4
If comfortable, hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth throughout the exercise. Do as many sets as you like until your mind feels calmer.
For a slightly more advanced variation:
During step four notice your body sensations with gentle curiosity. Don’t try to change anything, just allow your attention to rest with the sensations in your body for these four counts. On step one, return your full attention to breathing in through your nose.
For a simpler alternative:
Focus only on slowly counting to four as you breathe and pause and let go of breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Always listen to your body
If you practice this breath technique for a few minutes and it doesn’t feel good, let it go and return to your natural, calm breath. If you choose to play with it at a later time, you can also begin by using a count of two and working up to a count of four.
If you find it difficult to slow down your thinking or concentrate, try either repeating a mantra over in your head or try the following visual guide:
Repeating a Mantra
Repeat a calming phrase or sound such as “om” as you breathe. For example, as you inhale, say “om,” two, three, four and repeat on the exhale. Your concentration will begin to narrow as you continue with the exercise.
Use a Visual Guide
If you find yourself losing focus during the breathing process, use a square or rectangular object as your visual guide. A laptop screen, window, piece of paper, or a book are some examples. Start by focusing on the upper left corner of the square. As you inhale for 4 seconds, move your gaze smoothly to the upper right corner. Hold your breath as you bring your gaze to the lower right corner. As you exhale, glide your gaze to the lower left corner. Finally, as you hold your breath, draw your gaze up to the upper left corner. Do this as many times as you’d like. You may even reverse the gazing sequence after you do the original sequence a couple of times.
While meditation has many positive benefits, it should never be used as a substitution for conventional medical care, regular exercise and a proper diet. Please check with your health care provider before starting a meditative practice and always inform your meditation instructor about your condition if you have one.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday full of laughter and love.
P.S. If you enjoyed practicing 4-art breathing, you may be interested in learning more about another breathing technique called Nadi Shodhana (Alternative Nostril Breathing). If you enjoyed reading this post or practising meditation, you might be interested in reading my love and gratitude post.
Recently, I have been dabbling with reflexology. I purchased the book ‘Sole Guidance’ along with a few other reflexology books and have been practising massaging different points and observing any differences.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a complementary healing therapy in which the reflexologist uses their fingers or sometimes a special stick to apply pressure to specific zones and reflex areas of the feet and sometimes, hands and ears. Every part, gland, and organ of the human body is reflected on the feet and working these zones have been shown to have profound positive effects.
What are the benefits?
Reflexology is well known for its ability to decrease stress levels, promote relaxation, improve circulation, help the body return to a state of balance by activating and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system so it can more effectively repair itself. Reflexology also helps the body reach homeostasis, where the body can then work to heal itself from both chronic and acute issues.
How long will it take until I notice a difference?
From personal experience, I immediately feel calmer and more relaxed after going through one of the sequences in ‘Sole Guidance’. I often perform reflexology on myself just before I go to sleep and I find that I sleep well after the treatment. When I perform reflexology on myself in the morning, I feel more prepared to face the day.
While some acute issues may respond positively to reflexology after the first treatment, chronic issues may take some time or a series of treatments as the patterns being addressed are more deeply established in the body.
The series of reflex points that I would like to write about today works instantly for me whenever I need to use it.
Using your large intestine reflexology point to help you evacuate your bowels
The large intestine reflexology point is located on your left hand and includes 3 points- the transverse colon, descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. Please refer to the diagram below.
How to massage your large intestine point
You can massage them altogether in one continuous motion by using your right knuckle or thumb to stroke your left palm in the direction and location indicated in the diagram provided. Massage all 3 points in one continuous motion up to 15 times (I find 3-5 is suffice).
Massaging for temporary constipation
According to Holly Tse, author of ‘Sole Guidance’, if you are massaging these points for temporary constipation, you’ll want to take a breath and relax the muscles in your abdomen for a few seconds to release any tension before starting the massage.
You may also want to give a bit of extra love to your anus and rectum point by using the knuckle of your right index finger to press into the point. Twist back and forth for 15 seconds.
“The past is a pebble in my shoe.”- Edgar Allen Poe
Before reading this post- This post is the 2nd in a 2 part blog, please feel free to read the first part: A reason, a season, a lifetime.
If you have been reading my Blogs, you have probably already realised that I am an avid and varied reader. I enjoy reading literature of all genres and often take inspiration from things I have read.
Brene Brown said “If you have a rock in your shoe you don’t just keep walking, you stop and deal with it. But we often don’t do that with our emotions.” For me this was mostly the case, I thought that I had dealt with my emotions surrounding my traumatic accident that caused multiple fractures to my right ankle and a partially torn ACL (See: How did I find yoga?) but my reoccurring pain told a different story. Not only was the accident itself and learning how to walk traumatic but the circumstances surrounding the accident also caused me great emotional distress (See: Road to Dhyana).
I believe that unresolved emotions are at the heart of our health issues and yet so many people don’t want to or can’t work on them. As I mentioned previously, my accident was in 2010 but it wasn’t until 2016 that my deepest emotional pain manifested as a severe pain in my right foot. It was a pain that left me limping like I had a huge stone in my right shoe whilst on a road trip up the Eastern coast of Australia with 2 dear friends.
I am a real believer that everything happens for a reason so when the 3 of us stopped at a friend’s place in Byron Bay and she offered a kinesiology session; I jumped at the opportunity to try to fix my foot. Thinking I knew quite a bit about kinesiology from other conversations that I had had with Nicole, I thought that this session would be relatively easy but I got more that I bargained for.
It is from my experience with Nicole that I now believe that kinesiology is an exceptional modality for dealing with any emotional pebble/ rock/ stone in your shoe.
Kinesiology and the releasing of unresolved emotions
Nicole asked me to lie on her table as she got me comfortable. She explained that she would use a technique called muscle testing to uncover what was really going on with my right foot.
Almost immediately Nicole tapped into and uncovered a range of subconsciously stored emotions pertaining to the accident. The best way I can explain these stored, unresolved emotions is likening them to a computer virus (not just because I don’t really understand either) but because they both lurk around unseen, causing upheaval within their host.
Clearing emotions and eliminating my pain
This uncovering of unresolved emotions resulted in a 90 minute session of crying and releasing everything that happened to me whilst in hospital in Honduras- the negligent insurance, the corrupt hospital system, the inhumanity of a 3rd world country.
It surprised me that I still held onto so much hurt and pain despite having already discussed these issues at length with friends and family many years ago. I guess my body was storing these feelings until I could deal with and process them thoroughly.
My foot has never felt better
Through kinesiology Nicole enabled me to stop to pull out my pebble, look at it and then toss it away. I literally walked away from our session feeling better, stronger and happier than I had for a very long time.
At the end of the session, I was healed because Nicole was able to bring the problem and its underlining causes to a level of consciousness and above and beyond the level at which the symptoms and causes existed. To this day I have not experienced any more pain in my right foot. Thank you so much Nicole.
Dedicated to Nicole who is an amazing person, an inspirational healer and a true friend, sending you lots of love, happiness and kindness, X
If you enjoyed reading this post, you may like to read a very short Blog from one of my previous posts, Scars.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed or just felt. They have come to assist you through a hard time, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. Then, suddenly, the person disappears from your life. Your need has been met; their work is done.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share or grow or give back. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They give you great joy. Believe it; it is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons- things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all your other relationships.
Think about the people in your life over the years. Whether they were there for a reason, a season or a lifetime, accept them and treasure them for however long they were meant to be part of your life.
And when they are gone, be thankful for the gifts you received from them when they were here- for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
– Annette Petrick
When we cross people’s paths in life; it may be fleetingly. Occasionally, it may be more long standing and endure the test of time- or it may be for just a season. Sometimes we are ready to move on, and sometimes it is out of our hands and the people we have met and want to share more with have other ideas, and they move on leaving you a little hurt and a little bewildered at times. I am not only talking with regard to a romantic capacity. This can be with regard to friendships, family, people you have brushed shoulders with in a working capacity and then circumstances change and you need to part company.
Often relationships come for a reason…. to learn something new, to open a doorway, to gain insight, to direct you to another part of your path or purpose. They are there simply for a reason… and once that reason is served, they disappear, fall away, or feel out of alignment… sometimes for no apparent reason.
Writing this Blog, I have been reminded of all the people who I’ve met briefly but have left a huge footprint in my heart. From the strangers who came and sat by my side whilst I was in hospital in Honduras so that I would have someone to speak English with and not feel so scared and alone, to the surgeon in Melbourne who finally listened to me and decided to operate on me for free. These people have come into my life for a reason, to comfort and heal me.
Other times, relationships come in for a Season…. to bring you a new awareness, new love, a new life and new lessons. These season relationships are usually a bit longer, and with that are often harder to let go of or release, unless of course you recognize they are here just for a season.
During this process, I have thought about my yoga teachers who have supported me on my yoga journey. They have nurtured me; have helped me grow, develop and evolve. They have inspired me. They have been in my life for a season but will stay in my heart forever. I have taken the experience and been grateful for all that it was… and it was an amazing season.
And finally, others are for a Lifetime. Lifetime relationships last a lifetime. There are my friends and family who have been in life and will be in my life for a lifetime. They support, encourage, inspire and love me unconditionally. I am so lucky to have such amazing people in my life.
I personally believe that everything happens for a reason, and so when I part company for whatever reason, I take it as part of life. I am thankful that I have had the pleasure of meeting all the people that have made a positive difference in my life. I would also like to thank all of those who at the time didn’t immediately make a positive difference but who, in retrospect, have taught me a valuable life lesson along the way.
To everyone who has touched my life, thank you for being a part of my life… Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime
I believe that even the season and lifetime relationships are also for a reason. One of my lifetime friends, Nicole is a perfect example of coming into my life for a reason. Please continue reading my next Blog to learn how Nicole has touched and my life and healed me from the inside out.
But for now I’d love to hear your comments on Reason, Season or Lifetime relationships. Please use the comments section below to let me know your thoughts! If you liked this Blog you may be interested in reading one of my past posts: Life’s Lessons.
Does shirodhara really help to soothe your mind and body?
Practised for over 5000 years, shirodhara is an amazing, unique body therapy from the ancient natural medical system Ayurveda that involves gently pouring oil (or other liquid) in a continuous stream over the forehead (‘ajna marma’- an area where nerves are highly concentrated). It can be administered as a one of the steps involved in Panchakarma or an isolated treatment. It originates from India and its name derives from two Sanskrit words: shiro and dhara. Shiro means head and dhara means to flow.
The pressure of the oil onto the forehead creates a vibration. As the oil saturates the forehead and scalp, it penetrates into the nervous system. For this reason, shirodhara has a profound impact on the nervous system. The treatment directly and immediately calms, relaxes and has a cleansing effect on the mind and nerves. Through this process, it soothes, nourishes and pacifies the doshas. Manjot told me that: “When the warm oil is being gently poured on your forehead, it induces a deep state of relaxation, soothes the nervous system, stimulates the endocrine system and awakens the third eye.” The gentle pressure and soothing warmth of the oil allows the body, mind and nervous system to experience a deep state of rest. This deep state of rest is similar to meditation.
According to Ayurveda, shirodhara is beneficial for pitta and vata doshas. When out of balance, pitta dosha exhibits as anger, irritability, frustration, and judgment. Out of balance vata dosha exhibits as fear, insecurity, worry, and experiences racing thoughts.
Preparing for a Shirodhara Appointment
What is it like?
After a vigorous head massage that stimulated every hair follicle in my head, Manjot instructed me to lie on my back and positions my head under the oil “fountain”- a metal pot with a slow-flowing spout. I closed my eyes as Manjot reassures me it will act like a balm on my constantly buzzing mind and bring a sense of clarity to my thoughts. She cocooned me in warm towels and asked, “Ready?” I nodded. I felt more gentle massaging as the warm oil poured onto my forehead and ran through my hair. When the pot ran out, Manjot added more oil. During these interruptions I realised that I was enjoying the entire experience; it was divine.
At home, instead of my usual rushed self, I felt time flowing at my pace. Perhaps the treatment has nourished my soul, as well as my scalp.
Benefits of Shirodhara
It is said that Shirodhara is a great treatment for a compromised nervous system.
Who Should NOT Have Shirodhara
Shirodhara is suitable for any dosha or constitution however there are some contraindications. It should NOT be given:
Other contraindications* include:
If you have an aversion to oil then it is also not recommended for you.
* A contraindication is a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient.
Getting back to the original question posed: Does shirodhara really help to soothe your mind and body? Why not try it and find out for yourself?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Is there something you’d like to add? Have you had this treatment and what was your experience like? Join us in the discussion!
P.S. This post is part of my Ayurveda series, if you found this post interesting, please check out some of my other posts in this series: Being healthy in Ayurveda, Oil Pulling and Tongue Scraping, Abhyanga & Skin Brushing, and Pinda Sweda.
This Ayurvedic technique requires a very small-time investment, but has many benefits such as: shedding dead skin cells (and encourages new cell renewal), resulting in smoother and brighter skin. It can also help with ingrown hairs and assist in improving vascular blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Dry brushing can be done daily, preferably in the morning before showering. Using silk gloves or a dry skin brush, start at the feet and work your way up to the crown of your head. If using a dry skin brush, start with a gentle brush and soft pressure and work up to a firmer brush and apply firmer pressure over time. Brushing toward the direction of your heart drains the lymphatic system and can help the body move waste more quickly while stimulating the burning of fat. For added benefit, this technique can be practiced preceding self-massage.
Self-oil massage, or abhyanga, helps calm the mind and nervous system. Daily abhyanga is especially important for Vata types, as it helps alleviate dry skin that is often a result of Vata imbalance. Massaging your body can soothe the entire nervous system and emotions. Abhyanga, when performed daily, enhances balance in the energy bodies and overall longevity, releases toxins, calms the nervous system, increases circulation, softens skin, stimulates nerve endings, and tones muscle.
How to Perform Abhyanga:
1) Heat the abhyanga oils to a pleasant temperature, the oil should always be applied warm to the body.
2) Place a small amount of warm oil in the palm of your hand for each point listed below (using small amounts will help you avoid feeling too oily).
3) Now start applying oil to your head gently massage the oil into your scalp using fingers and palms (if you do not wish to put oil in your hair, simply skip this step).
4) Apply oil to face and neck, front and back, and the outer parts of your ears.
5) Massage the arms, using a back-and-forth motion over the long bones and a circular motion over the joints.
6) Use a circular motion to massage over the heart and a clockwise motion over the abdomen.
7) Massage the legs, using the same long motion over the leg bones and a circular motion over the joints.
8) Last but not least, massage the feet. Take your time doing this since the feet contain many important Marmas (pressure points according to the principles of Ayurveda) if massage properly can boost circulation. While massaging your feet make sure to apply oil to the entire foot (i.e. between your toes). Use your palms to massage vigorously back-and-forth over the soles of your feet with firm pressure.
9) After massaging is complete allow for the oil to marinate into your skin while you sit quietly for 15-20 minutes so that oil is deeply absorbed by your skin. You can also meditate or perform other Dinacharya (such as Pranayama- breathing exercises). Once the oil has absorbed, follow with a warm bath or shower.
When Abhyanga Massage Is Not Recommended
P.S. This post is part of my Ayurveda series, if you found this post interesting, please check out some of my other posts in this series: Being healthy in Ayurveda, Oil Pulling and Tongue Scraping, Shirodhara, and Pinda Sweda.
I saw them in the distance, one of my favourite animals: swinging their trunks and tails in all possible directions but as I neared them I saw why they were doing that. Chitwan National Park is also known for its elephant safaris but to be honest, knowing how it is possible for humans to ride on the back of an elephant has made me never want to be involved in such an archaic and cruel practice. As I approached the shelter, I saw them paired, chained, hot and distressed: Mothers with their little babies, one as young as 10 months…
Today’s inspiration has come from my disturbing experience at the Chitwan Elephant Breeding Centre in Nepal (if you would like to read about this and get the word out to other fellow animal lovers, please click on the following link: Chitwan Elephant Breeding Centre. Read, like and share- Get the word out that exploitation of animals is not alright and we do not support this archaic and cruel industry).
Yoga is not only about finding inner strength, peace and love on the mat, it is also about finding that in the real world, when you are off the mat, when it really makes a difference. To stand up and say when something is wrong, be the voice for the unheard, to not do something you know to be wrong just because it is easier or because ‘everyone else is doing it’.
When faced with a decision or a problem, it is sometimes easy to ‘go with the flow’ and do what everyone else is doing but it is far more important to stick to our morals, to break away from the pack and do the right thing, after all:
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is a Sanskrit mantra which means:
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”