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 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.”
Today we visited the Shanti Stupa, shanti being Sanskrit for peace and stupa being pagoda, an immaculate white shrine atop Ananda Hill that was built by a Japanese monk.
Balanced on a narrow ridge, 1,100 metres above sea level, the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda was constructed by Nipponzan Myohoji clan monk Morioka Sonin. The entire initiative was led by Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of Nipponzan Myohoji clan of Buddhism who is famously known as the initiator of constructing Peace Pagodas across the world.
Situated high above Phewa Tal, the Pagoda is one of the major tourist attractions of Pokhara. It has got two tiers for tourists and religious people to circumnavigate. The second tier consists of 4 statues of Buddha gifted as souvenirs from Japan, Sri Lanka, China and Lumbini (the birth place of Buddha) in Nepal.
Shanti Stupa is the shrine built as a symbol of peace which got me thinking, there are so many definitions of peace and different types of peace from inner peace to world peace.
I found this quote that talks about peace of mind that I really like:
“Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown
What is your favourite peace quote? What does peace mean to you?
P.S. Please feel free to add your favourite quotes in the comments section. 🙂
P.P.S. If you would like to visit my travel Blog, please click on the hyperlinked title above.
The Magic of Metamorphosis
“We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.”- LeeAnn Taylor
Today was our last day of our trek in the Annapurna region of Nepal (See: Australian Base Camp to Pokhara via Khare to help me celebrate this amazing feat). As I reflect on the last 10 days; the beauty I have witnessed, the happiness of the people and the serenity of nature. All of what I have experienced reminded me of a poem that I read a long time ago and resonated with me deeply. I feel that this poem encapsulates my experiences trekking in Nepal.
“-We need more love, to supersede hatred,
-We need more strength, to resist our weaknesses;
-We need more inspiration, to lighten up our innermind.
-We need more learning, to erase our ignorance,
-We need more wisdom, to live longer and happier,
-We need more truths, to suppress deceptions,
-We need more health, to enjoy our wealth,
-We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren
-We need more smiles, to brighten up our day,
-We need more hero’s, and not zero’s,
-We need more change of ourselves, to change the lives of others,
-We need more understanding, to tackle our misunderstanding,
-We need more sympathy, not apathy,
-We need more forgiveness, not vengeance,
-We need more humility to be lifted up,
-We need more patience and not undue eagerness,
-We need more focus, to avoid distraction,
-We need more optimism, not pessimism
-We need more justice, not injustice,
-We need more facts, not fiction,
-We need more education, to curb illiteracy,
-We need more skills, not incompetence,
-We need more challenges, to make attempts,
-We need more talents, to create the extraordinary,
-We need more helping hands, not stingy folks,
-We need more efforts, not laziness,
-We need more jokes, to forget our worries,
-We need more spirituality, not mean religion,
-We need more freedom, not enslavement,
-We need more peacemakers, not revolutionaries…with these, we create a heaven on Earth.” – Michael Bassey Johnson
What type of Earth do you want to create?
On self-worth & Inner Strength
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” said Christopher Robin to Pooh. –AA Milne
One thing I learnt from trekking in Nepal (Please visit my travel blog: Tolka to Australian Base Camp) was that I am stronger, more resilient and more capable than I ever thought I was. Today I feel like I have the inner strength of a Warrior.
So, for my second last post from the Annapurna region trek, I’d like to share with you Warrior II Pose. Warrior II is a strong, powerful pose, which always makes me feel capable of achieving anything, which I now know is true.
The term ‘Warrior’ shouldn’t be interpreted as a negative; the idea is that you are a strong compassionate warrior, facing challenges and gaining strength from your practice. As with all aspects of Yoga, the idea is of non-violence and compassion.
Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the pose below. As always, listen to your body and modify as necessary.
Warrior II Pose:
Hey Natalie, why am I hearing about the chakras a lot lately?
Lately, the concept of a mind-body-soul connection has become more popular and accepted within many ‘Western’ cultures, but it has been a governing philosophy in many Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Let me take you back a step first…
What are the chakras?
There are many powerful energetic centres located in the human body, and they are most commonly referred to as “chakras”. This Sanskrit word originated in India, and literally translated, means disk, vortex, or wheel.
In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, the chakras are said to draw energy from the world into our bodies while simultaneously sending energy from our bodies out into the world, connecting us to our environment on a deeper level.
Although our bodies consist of a number of energy centres, we tend to focus on the seven major chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. Each chakra comprises of energy relating to specific life lessons and experiences, and each one is associated with a particular element and colour based on the frequency of vibrations (please see below).
To visualize a chakra in the body, imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet. This invisible energy, called Prana, is vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.
What are the 7 major Chakras and what do they do?
The Root Chakra
Functions: Safety, grounding, right to live
The Sacral Chakra
Functions: Emotions, creativity, sexuality
The Solar Plexus Chakra
Functions: Will, social self, power
The Heart Chakra
Functions: Compassion, love, integration
The Throat Chakra
Function: Personal truth, etheric, expression
The Third Eye Chakra
Functions: Extrasensory perception, intuition, inspiration
The Crown Chakra
Functions: Wisdom, transcendence, universality
Why am I writing about Chakras?
Well, I am currently on my last few days of trekking in Nepal (See: Jhinu to Tolka if you want to find out where today’s inspiration came from) and it is my belief that not only is hiking good for the physical body, mind, and spirit but also for our chakras. This is because each chakra also relates to a sense and an element:
Therefore, when you are hiking you are stimulating all your senses (smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste- as taste and smell are strongly linked- or so my friend, who is a scientist, tells me). You are also connecting with the earth with every step you take, fuelling your body with water, filling your lungs with pure fresh air (most people hike in pristine locations not dirty, polluted ones), indulging in the sounds of nature and exposing your bare skin and eyes to light. I cannot think of a better way to heal and awaken your chakras.
Rest, Relax and Recharge.
As you may know, my most recent blogs have been revolving around my travels with my husband in Nepal. Today, as I sat in the hot spring (See: Lower Sinuwa to Jhinu Hot Springs), I could feel all my tight, stressed muscles relaxing and knew that it was far more than just the last 7 days of hiking being released. As all the tension that we had been holding in our overworked bodies slowly vanished, I thought about how often throughout this year I had actually taken the time to rest, relax and recharge.
Everybody knows the importance of adequate rest and relaxation in order to recharge our bodies, minds and spirits, but let’s be honest, how much time do we actually devote to resting and relaxing? I know I am guilty of doing work while I am supposed to be sitting relaxing and watching a movie with my husband. I imagine that I am not alone here.
In a busy, fast paced world where we are trying to squeeze everything in, one thing that I do find useful when I need a quick rest, relax and recharge is Nadi Sodhana, or alternative nostril breathing. Below you can read a little bit about this relaxing pranayama and follow my step by step guide so you can practise this at home or at work or whenever you need a little ‘pick-me-up’.
What is Nadi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)?
Alternate nostril breathing may sound a little strange at first but once you know how easy it is to incorporate into your routine and how calming it is on your entire body, you’ll be addicted.
So, let’s jump straight to what you are probably thinking at this stage of the blog: How can you breathe out of one nostril at a time and why would you want to? Using your fingers to block off one nostril at a time as you breathe through the other, you alternate your breath between nostrils. Alternating your breath between nostrils in a regular pattern is not only extremely relaxing but also has a balancing and calming effect.
This method is traditionally thought to balance the two sides of your brain and to clear the Nadis, which are energy channels that run along the base of the spine to the crown of the head and recent research suggests that this breathing technique can reduce your blood pressure.
Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the above breathing technique. As always, listen to your body and modify take breaks as necessary.
Additional Advice: If you are a little congested, expect this pranayama to move the mucus out so have some tissues handy. However, if you are too stuffed up to breathe out of either nostril you won’t be able to get the intended benefits, so wait until the air passageways are clear to do this exercise.
If any of the below are experienced, discontinue the Pranayama exercises and allow the breath to return to normal.