Happy Yoga Day!

Hi guys! Sorry it has been so long since my last post. Damien and I have been so busy travelling (and having an amazing time) and I have been posting about our travels on my other website: Nat’s Travels. Feel free to check it out if you have time. 🙂

Happy Yoga Day! June 21 is Yoga Day around the world, where people take part in Yoga classes and do Yoga poses and celebrate all things Yoga. With that said, here is a picture of me in Hawaii practicing asana on the beach (and yes, I recognise the irony of this photo and what I say am about to say next).

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But International Yoga Day is about more than just taking part in Yoga classes and doing Yoga poses. The day marks the celebration of Yoga as one of the greatest philosophies about life and spirituality.

Many people don’t realise that Yoga is much, much more than a system of Yoga poses or exercises. Asana, the physical practise of Yoga, is just one of eight limbs and, to some people, Asana is the least important of the eight. However, for me, asana makes me feel good; strong, fit and healthy and I enjoy doing it. So, for me, it holds equal importance with the yamas, niyamas, pranayama and meditation- part of the 8 limbs of yoga (click here to read more about these 4 limbs which are part of the 8 limbs of yoga). 

Essentially, Yoga consists of eight limbs. Through following the eightfold path, an individual can work towards attaining his/her higher self or true self and eventually attaining the state of bliss or Ananda forever.

As I progress on my Yoga journey, I am continually amazed to discover the vast potential of Yoga (take a look at one of my previous blog posts: Life’s Lessons to learn more about what I have discovered during my yoga journey). Yoga for me is a way of being in the world, an attitude, and a source of strength- physically, spiritually and mentally. One of my yoga teachers once said to me that it helps “strengthen the body, calm the mind, feel joy in the moment, and soften the heart.”

Through breathing, moving and meditating, I have learned how to still my mind, relax my body, and change my mood. At the best of times, I can attune myself to the joy and wonder of existence in the present moment. At the worst of times, I can calm, uplift, motivate and inspire myself. This, to me, is far more valuable than any of the goals that an asana-centric practise might offer- Who wants to be able to put their leg behind their ear anyway?

Yoga is something that catches you… and when it does, it can transform your life.

Happy Yoga Day!

Namaste,

Natalie

P.S. If you are interested in travel, Damien and I have been travelling for a while now, why not check out some posts from our favourite locations:

Poon Hill, Nepal

Agra, India

Maui, Hawaii

Big Island, Hawaii

O’ahu, Hawaii

Trinidad, Cuba

Paris, France

Venice, Italy

Ometepe, Nicaragua

Caye Caulker, Belize

Krka National Park, Croatia

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

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World Earth Day 2018

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Monteverde, Costa Rica

Today, April 22nd, is World Earth Day and this year’s campaign is entitled “End Plastic Pollution”. Plastic pollution is poisoning our oceans and land, injuring marine life, and affecting our health. This year’s campaign is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behaviour about plastics.

Watch this short video for background to this blog if you like (not essential but I think it is a good video to put the issue in context): The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary.

Why is plastic an issue?

The headlines about the current state of the environment are grim- icecaps melting, species disappearing, water tables drying up, or one of the most devastating environmental issues to date: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is twice the size of Texas, has 7 million tons of garbage up to 2.7 metres deep in some places, and is destroying our ocean and murdering our marine life.

It is estimated that 80% of the plastic in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch originates from land; floating in rivers to the ocean or blew by the wind into the ocean. The remaining 20% of the plastic originates from oil platforms and ships.

But don’t lose hope, something inspiring and exhilarating is happening- and if you pay attention, it just might reinvigorate your motivation to help make a better world. There is a global outpouring of passion and ingenuity to solve our eco-troubles.

So, how does this relate to my yoga and lifestyle blog?

Be the change you want to see in the world

Yoga is more than just sitting on a mat and doing some asana (physical movements), pranayama (breath work) and meditation. It is about observation, dedication, peace, and love not only for ourselves but for our fellow humans, animals and our planet. We must make our way back to the basics and align ourselves with the original intention of what a yoga practice truly means, which I believe, is living a complete, peaceful, balanced, liberated and compassionate life, in which asana is only one small part.

So, I urge you as part of your yoga practice that you take it off the mat, look further than to yourself and think about the kind of planet you want to live in, the kind you want your children and grandchildren to live in and then be the change you want to see in the world. No act is too small.

“The beauty of small acts is that they cannot be stopped. There is no inconsequential action, only consequential inaction. Real transformation originates from the bottom and moves outwards.” – Paul Hawken

 

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For a beautiful ocean for our children’s children, say no to plastics today!

 

How can you make a change?

Take some time to be in nature. Spend quiet, reflective moments in meditation. Ask yourself what kind of world you want to live in and what you can contribute to the quality of life on Earth. Then offer up your best!

Here are some things that you might like to think about changing immediately: Stop using plastic bags at the supermarket, refuse to buy packaged food- especially fruit and vegetables, pre-packaging them is unnecessary and wasteful, stop buying bottles of water, or think of creative ways to reuse plastic items that you have already purchased, so they don’t end up getting washed into our rivers and eventually into our oceans.

Some things that you might like to think about changing in your community: Write to your local government with suggestions about improving recycling in your town/city or contact your local supermarkets (if they still use plastic bags) and demand that they stop using them.

Some things to think about on a broader scale: What is your country doing to clean up the mess their oil platforms they have made in the ocean?

If you’d like to get started straight away on this special day, you can make a pledge to reduce the amount of plastic that you consume on the following link: I pledge to reduce my plastic usage or for more information about this year’s campaign: Plastics campaign 2018.

 

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For a beautiful Earth for our children’s children, say no to plastics!

 

Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu (A powerful mantra for peace)

This Sanskrit phrase translates into English as ‘May all beings be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.’

 

Namaste, Natalie

The butterfly inside us

 “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” – Jason Woodring.

If you have been visiting both of my sites: Inspire & Nat’s Travels, you may have noticed that I like butterflies. Whenever a butterfly flutters by, time just stops and I can’t help but admire its beauty but even the smallest of creatures can teach us something… if we are prepared to listen and learn.

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“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelo

 

Our greatest power is within

“Every genius has known something of the inner more than the outer world; find your inner power.”- Unknown

Never forget that your greatest power is within! Here’s an inspirational tale from ancient India that I just can’t wait to share with you:

Long back, humans were as powerful as the gods. But somewhere along the way, humans lost their way and starting misusing their powers. So, the gods held a meeting to discuss possible solutions. All gods agreed that the superpowers had to be removed from humans. Once decided, the gods had to decide where to hide them so humans couldn’t get them back.

One god suggested, “Let’s hide them in the top of the highest mountain.”

“No, they’re really courageous, they will climb it,” answered another.

Another said, “Then we’ll hide them in the bottom of the ocean.”

“No, they’re so clever they will find a way to it,” replied another.

Finally, one god said, “Let’s hide them really deep inside them. Since they’re always looking outside for everything they will have no clue that all the powers are deep within them.”

All the gods agreed that this was the best hiding spot for the superpowers and so the superpowers were hidden deep within each and every human.

Find, reclaim and then embrace your hidden superpowers.

Love and Sunshine,

Natalie

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Wondering where this beautiful photo was taken? Click on the following link to be redirected to my travel website to read about how to get here and view more photos like this one!

How my life has changed in just over a year

Wow, a year can go by in the quickest of flashes! I just received a notification a little while back that it has been a year since I set up this website in the hope to share my love for yoga and meditation with others. I started writing my blog posts while I was in Thailand during my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I felt so knowledgeable and more inspired than I have ever felt. The words just flowed from my fingers and onto the computer screen. But after getting back to Australia from an amazing 5 weeks of the YTT course and virtually going straight back to work and with my husband hospitalised, my thoughts of setting up a website as a place to actually post my pieces of writing went out of the window. I’m not going to lie life was tough in February last year. There just wasn’t much time for anything between working and going to the hospital.

It wasn’t until a friend and fellow yogini started her website, that I had the push to get mine up and running. At first, I was nervous; what if people thought what I was writing was utter shite? What if I got heaps of negative comments? What if this… what if that… But it was my ego talking. After meditating on it, I realised that I wasn’t writing to get ‘likes’ or positive comments, I was writing because I had something to say about something that has really helped me and something I love and people will get what they get from it.

So, with that realisation, over the past year, I have tried to stay true to my initial purpose; write about things I love, life lessons I’ve learnt, yoga and meditation, in the hope that my words will touch and INSPIRE others.

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I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year and a bit as so much has happened.

2017/ 2018 at a glance:

While the past must stay in the past- as dwelling will do us no good- I think that reflection is an important component of personal growth. So, here is my snapshot of 2017/2018 thus far:

 January- Completed my YTT. I left Thailand feeling recharged, rejuvenated and full of inspiration. I had been writing during the YTT and leading up to returning to work. I was pumped about the year ahead as I was going to be part of a new program that I thought would be amazing…

February- Returned to work. Damien got sick and ended up in hospital. Tried to set up a yoga, mediation & self-Reiki routine but found this difficult between commuting to and from work and the hospital.

March- Damien was released from hospital. I started my website: INSPIRE and it felt good to have a creative outlet. I started to hate work. The program I was locked in to for 2 years was not amazing, in fact it was horrible. Started to practiced yoga, mediation & self-Reiki every day.

April- Damien was still sick. Life at home was difficult. The new position that I was in was horrendous and I felt I had lost everything I loved about the job. Practiced yoga, mediation & self-Reiki every day just to balance myself; I was just staying afloat.

May, June, July, August, most of September was like Groundhog Day: Damien was still sick. Life at home was difficult. Hated work. The new position got worse each day. Practiced yoga, mediation & self-Reiki every day but still felt low, unfulfilled and uninspired. Something had to give. I was at breaking point.

End of September and October- We went to Nepal and India and made some decisions as a team, something that seemed to be impossible to achieve back home. Maybe it was the feeling of change and letting go/ leaving all our baggage at home, maybe it was because we got the opportunity to get a different perspective, I don’t know but whatever it was worked because things just fell into place after that. We both got a new lease on life and came back recharged. I started my travel blog- Nat’s Travels and started writing about my other passion- travel!

November- Things were different at home; life was on the up and up. I quit my job. It was still the same at work but I had a different attitude towards it. It no longer got me down all the time. I started to practise and experiment with different forms of meditation. I was feeling great and empowered!

December- December consisted of finishing up at work and starting to pack up our house- it was stressful times! I started to forget to practice yoga, mediation & Reiki every day, the time I needed it most. By Christmas I was falling apart again and just wanted to sleep all of the time.

January 2018- We said goodbye to family and friends, while we were still packing up the house. The first half of January was an extremely stressful time. I was edgy and worn out. On the 16th January, we arrived in Hawaii and it felt like a weight had just been lifted from my shoulders. We were greeted with wonderful weather and friendly people. I had lots to write about (probably too much) and my travel blog started to explode.

February/ March- Travelled around Maui, Big Island and O’ahu in Haawii. Flew to Mexico. Travelled around Cuba and then back to Mexico. Fell in love with Belize all over again…

And that brings me back to the here and now, the end of March 2018, sitting in Antigua, Guatemala writing this blog. Ain’t life grand?

Looking back at a period of time all at once, like a snapshot, can allow us to see what we’ve accomplished and how we’ve grown and changed- spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can also show you just how much life ebbs and flows through good times and the rough times. It shows you that life comes in phases- both good and bad. These phases are here to teach us something, and if we are prepared to listen and learn from them, they won’t be repeated again. The truth is that I was chasing something that would never make me happy and unfortunately, it took a terrible position at work and a sick husband to realise it.

On New Year’s Eve Damien and I said let’s forget about 2017 as it was a terrible year for both of us but the truth is that whether your year was full of big changes, or small changes, good ones, or not so good, it’s always best to look back with a smile. Be grateful for all the year’s experiences as they have all taught you something and have been integral part of your personal growth. It is a healthy practice to be proud of your accomplishments and look at hardships as both opportunities and learning experiences. Know that everything is happening as it should- and use this reflective snapshot as ammunition to create the best next year of your life.

Namaste,

Natalie

 

P.S. In case you are wondering, I have hyperlinked a post for each travel destination throughout this blog, please feel free to click on any of the links provided to read one of(and hopefully the rest of my blogs) about that country!

Be Forgiven at The City of Refuge (Pu’uhonua O Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii)

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Puuhonua O Honaunau- The City of Refuge.

In Hawaii, on the Big Island just south of Kona is the City of Refuge, known as Puuhonua O Honaunau. This, like all of my other travel INSPIREd blogs, is linked with my travel blog: Puuhonua O Honaunau, please feel free to click on the link to read more about this beautiful place.

In ancient times, Puuhonua O Honaunau was the place where those who had broken laws could go to be forgiven and to avoid death. Today, you may visit Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and still feel the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place. Today, it’s a place where people go to ponder what needs to be released in their lives.

Walking around one gets the sense that this was a place of new beginnings and of forgiveness with coconut palms scattered throughout and the ocean softly lapping along the rocky shore, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is tranquil, peaceful, and welcoming.

Seeking Forgiveness at Puuhonua O Honaunau

Puuhonua O Honaunau is a place where people went for a second chance at life, to ask for refuge and forgiveness; a place to forgive and be forgiven to be given a second chance at life. I think when we ask for forgiveness from others and truly forgive others and ourselves, we give ourselves a second chance at life, too.

It seems to me that forgiveness and reconciliation was an important part of ancient Hawaiian practice- from cities of refuge to meditations of forgiveness and reconciliation, the Hawaiians could see the importance in forgiveness, repentance, gratitude and love for a happy and healthy life.

And immediately upon arrival at this sacred site,  having some knowledge and experience of ho’oponopono, I recognised that it would be a wonderful spot to practice the Hawaiian ritual of ho’oponopono. 

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The power to change the world around us.

Ho’oponopono

Have you ever heard of Ho’oponopono? Probably not. In fact, I hadn’t heard of it either until a friend of mine who I sometimes meditate with suggested that I try it out. I started doing this practice just before visiting Hawaii. Ho’oponopono is the ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. Ho’oponopono means ‘to make’ (ho’o) ‘right’ (pono) ‘right’ (pono), and its practice allows people to harmoniously re-align with themselves, others and the universe. According to the Hawaiian worldview, ho’oponopono is a forgiveness and reconciliation practice whereby you cleanse ‘errors of thought’ (which, the ancient Hawaiians believed, is the origin of problems and sickness in the physical world).

Obviously, you do not need to travel to Hawaii to practice Ho’oponopono, as you can do this meditation anywhere. Ho’oponopono uses the steps of repentance, forgiveness, gratitude, and love to put things in right order with another.

Ho’oponopono can help restore harmony within, and with others

There are four simple steps to this method, and the order is not that important. Repentance, Forgiveness, Gratitude and Love.

For Ho’oponopono to work you don’t need anyone else to be there and you don’t need anyone to hear you; you can just do it yourself. You can “say” the words in your head. The power is in the feeling and in the willingness of the Universe to forgive, feel gratitude, repent, and love.

Today, I will guide you through just one way that you can use these 4 phrases in your mediation practice to help bring about forgiveness, love and therefore, healing from within. I recommend that you start to practice this method on your more obvious problems until you start to see results. In a later post, I will discuss how it may be used to bring about forgiveness, love and therefore harmony with others.

Before you begin:

Whenever you do inner work, you should always begin by relaxing the body and mind by breathing deeply. Try sit or lying in a comfortable position either inside or out in nature, closing down the eyes or darken the room if inside, taking a few deep breaths and just feel yourself start to relax. You might also like to try a tension and release technique if you cannot relax.

Step 1: Repentance- I’M SORRY

To start with, choose something that you already know you’ve caused for yourself: Are you unhealthily over-weight? Have an addiction? Do you suffer from anger issues? Are overly negative or judgemental? Or maybe you have a serious health problem? Whatever! Think of something that you would like to work on changing in your life and focus on that.

Start there and say you’re sorry. That’s the whole step: “I’M SORRY”. Say it, believe it, and feel it; actually feel remorseful, the more you feel it the more real it is. If you feel the need to make it clearer or that actually stating the issue and how sorry you are will make it more powerful, you could say something like: “I realise that I am responsible for the (issue) in my life and I feel extremely remorseful that something in my consciousness has caused this.” (or something to that effect).

Step 2: Ask Forgiveness- PLEASE FORGIVE ME

Don’t worry about who you’re asking. Just ask! “PLEASE FORGIVE ME”. Say it over and over and mean it. Remember your remorse from step 1 as you ask to be forgiven. Again, say it, believe it, and feel it.

Step 3: Gratitude- THANK YOU

Again, it doesn’t really matter who or what you’re thanking, just say “THANK YOU”. It could be to your body for all it does for you or to yourself for being the best you can be. Thank the Universe. Thank God (if that is part of your belief system). Thank whatever it was that just forgave you. Just keep saying THANK YOU. Say it, believe it, and feel it.

Step 4: Love- I LOVE YOU

This could also be step 1 (and in other variations of this practice, you may like to use this as your first step). Say “I LOVE YOU”. Say it to your body, say it to Universe, say it to God. Say I LOVE YOU to your challenges. Say it over and over again. Mean it. Feel it. There is nothing more powerful than love.

That’s it. The whole practice in a nutshell. While it is simple, it is amazingly effective.

Once you start to see changes, you can try this practice for different purposes. If you enjoyed this meditation, keep following for more to come on this beautiful and powerful practice.

Returning to Puuhonua O Honaunau

Puuhonua O Honaunau is one of the places you absolutely must visit on the Big Island. The feeling of spirit is very powerful here and the reminder of the importance of forgiveness and love is an important message for all.

While I was there enjoying the sunset and practicing ho’oponopono, I experienced a surreal but illuminating moment. With the clouds rolling in, suddenly the entire sky  turned dark,  momentarily blocking all light. Then, just as quickly as it had turned dark, the light shone through lighting up the whole sky once again. It was in that illuminating moment that I was reminded that light will always rise above. Light doesn’t have to fight the darkness because light turns the darkness into light just by illuminating it. With repentance, forgiveness, gratitude and love, we are that light illuminating the darkness.

Aloha from Hawaii.

Namaste,

Natalie

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.

Make Experience, Memories & Connections

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!

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                                                                Don’t miss experiences like this!                                                                                (Spoiler alert- Sneak peak at a pic from my upcoming Blog on my Travel website: Nat’s Travels

 

Mahalo from Hawaii.

Namaste,

Natalie

 

Trust your intuition

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.

Trust it.

Act on it.

You are being guided by life itself.

 

Namaste,

Natalie

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We made it to Hawaii! 🙂

 

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.

Why I eat healthy

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.

Namaste, Natalie 

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Stress less this holiday season

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!

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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

  1. Breathe in through your nose for four counts.
  2. Pause/hold your breath for four counts.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for four counts.
  4. Pause/hold your breath for four counts.

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.

Tips

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.

Considerations

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.

Namaste,

Natalie

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