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YES PLEASE + NO THANKS LIST

YES PLEASE + NO THANKS LIST

Posted October 31, 2011

WIthout delving into the complicated world of nutrition (a nutritionist says this and a dietician says that) I like to keep it simple and focus on whole foods. I’ve come to realise lately though, that just telling my clients to focus on a wholefood diet doesn’t necessarily bring to life what that is, exactly. Some people, it seems, believe that foods such as bread, pasta and the like are whole foods. Don’t laugh, it’s true… and not so funny. Unless someone is there to guide and help, many people spend their whole life eating the food that the TV, giant food chains and fast food outlets tell them too eat. So it’s important that we spend the time learning about what wholefoods really are. The simplest way to think about a wholefood diet is to stop and ask this question – is this food as close to it’s natural state as possible? When you look at bread and the process involved you can quickly see how it’s no where near it’s natural state. The grain is milled, refined and turned into flour. From here the flour is often mixed with salt, sugar and other additives, then a yeast starter gets the process of fermentation within the dough going and then it is baked. No quite a whole food anymore, huh?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking bread. In fact, I love nothing more than a properly fermented, sprouted sourdough (the correct way to process the grain and the kinder option for the body). But the reality is eating bucket loads of any food that is no longer in its whole state adds in extra additives and toxins that the body simply doesn’t need. I wanted to highlight two things in this post. 1) What a whole food diet might look like and 2) the food philosophy that I resonate with, live by and recommend where possible. Now, I am totally open to and accepting of anyone who is vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free etc – this is not about pushing a diet regime, but showing as an overview a beautfiful (flexible!) way of eating that is whole, nourishing, healthy and balanced. Not a diet, but a lifestyle. So check it… I’ve listed the YES foods – which you can see are mostly whole – and of course, the NO foods. YES PLEASE:  Organic, locally grown and seasonal fruit and vegetables Pastured (grass-fed and finished) organic meats, poultry, and eggs Organic full fat dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, and milk Sustainably sourced fish and seafood Extra virgin organic olive oil (use raw for dressings) Fats for cooking: organic butter, ghee, extra virgin organic coconut oil and animal fats (duck fat is beautiful) Soaked grains such as barley, oats, brown rice quinoa (actually a seed) millet Highly nutritient dense foods such as fermented foods, bone broths and good quality fats Organic herbs and spices Soaked and sprouted nuts, seeds and legumes Sweeteners such as raw honey, stevia, organic (real) maple syrup Dried fruit such as figs and dates – soaked and activated Unprocessed superfood supplements – spirulina, cacao, maca Filtered water NO THANKS: Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners Processed juices, cordials and soft drinks Refined grains and cereals – boxed breakfast cereals, white breads and pastas Non-organic, grain fed, poultry, eggs and meat Heavily pasteurized, homogenized, skim or low fat and processed dairy products – all the nutrients and enzymes are gone and the light options are just pumped with sugar! Hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarines and trans fats (evil!) Soy milk (fermented is ok), processed soy products High-fructose corn syrup Skim milk, milk solids and powders Colours, additives, preservatives, thickeners and flavour enhancers (MSG) Heavily fried foods ‘Fake’ condiments and sauces My advise. If you aren’t sure how it grew, where it came from and how it ended up in that box or packet, put it back on the shelf. If you flip it over and read the ingredients and there are way too many words you’ve never heard of, or in fact, too many ingredients… put it back. Enjoying a wholefood diet is exciting. It opens up the door to creative cooking – experiementing with fresh produce and creating foods that really delight and satisfy you. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

6 EASY WAYS TO GET YOUR SELFISH ON

6 EASY WAYS TO GET YOUR SELFISH ON

Posted October 20, 2011

I bang on about finding balance a lot… mostly because I have directly experienced the benefits for myself by slowly finding my still point amongst the spinning world. I truly believe that part of achieving balance is in the art of selfishness. Now, of course I don’t mean the pointless, nasty kind. I simply mean putting yourself first in order to keep the little pieces of yourself together. Recently I posted up 17 ways to find balance after a recent talk I gave on balance. I tried to make it clear that balance isn’t something you can just sign-up for and hey-presto, there it is. I also tried to clarify that it is a) simple – you just need to tune into who you really are and b) it is forever changing – be prepared to stop, reassess and reevaluate what ‘balance’ means to you at different life stages. Today, however I’m offering up 6 ways to get selfish. I get asked a lot how I became calmer, more focused and centred – mostly by the people that didn’t know what I used to be like!  So in answer to that question below is a list of really simple ways to help you on the road to a little more ‘me-ness’ in your life, which will ultimately lead to balance. They may seem very obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many things on this list we don’t do regularly. And that is the key – regularity, consistency. Just like you shower and brush your teeth daily (hopefully!) we, as human beings, need routine and regime for change to occur. Get cherry-picking from this list, or find other ways that resonate with you. Inject them into your life one by one and do so with awareness. Pay attention to how they make you feel, the changes you experience and try to connect with the experience. Don’t be a martyr… if you are sick, take a day off work. If you are super-strung out, take a mental health day. No one needs you to be a hero! Really it just shows that you don’t love yourself enough. No one else is going to hold back when they need a day-off, leaving you to pick up the slack. So if it’s legit, please, just realise that your body (and your mind!) is singing out loud and clear, so listen up and just press pause.  Journal – if not daily then weekly. Brain dump – get all the junk out of your head and onto paper. I mean, really, truly say all the angry, annoyed, horrible things that even surprise you to hear/think and make peace with the realisation that those thoughts aren’t you! Once that is done, slowly allow your creative brain to start ticking over – you’ll be surprised by the things that come out. Often you’ll find clarity on issues you are facing, or you’ll be enlightened by a new idea. Mostly you’ll just spend time with yourself – your internal self – and start to understand yourself better – you’ll start to make more sense to yourself and realise what you want, or don’t want in your life. Schedule ‘me’ time. Once a week do something in that is totally about you – get your nails done, have a massage, go shopping, do a yoga workshop, read in the park, have an afternoon nap … do it without rhyme or reason and try not to rationalise it or analyse it. React to how you are feeling in the moment and then do exactly what pops into your mind, what you desire. Be free with the experience – everything we do it so controlled and planned, so try and be spontaneous! Just do something simply because you can and you want to – guilt free. Cull. Weed out the people in your life who don’t nourish who you are or where you want to go. A friend of mind refers to them as energy vampires because they suck the life-force out of you. Start to reassess the people you surround yourself with and question if they will encourage your lifestyle changes or impede them. And ask – what do I get out of this relationship?    Say no. Yes, I know you’ve all heard this one before. But, do you practice it? I give a lot of myself to my friends, family and clients. But I know that I need to say No in order to keep giving with love sans bitterness. If you don’t want to do it, or you haven’t enough time, or your body is saying rest, or even if you just need to practice saying no – just say no. Do so with kindness but realise you are in charge of yourself, your life, your actions. It is always a choice. Like this post, I wrote this sitting in the sun in the park by the harbour. I had a choice to do something that didn’t excite me, nor was it a good use of my time. Instead I kindly passed on the offer and enjoyed some alone time studying, reading and writing. It felt so good and no one is any worse off because of it! Disconnect. Turn your phone on silent or leave it at home! The world won’t combust. You can enjoy a short amount of time without distractions and forced conversation. And simply, just to learn how to be you without you + iPhone, iPod, Twitter, Facebook … blah, blah, blah! There are hundreds more ways to bring balance into your life. But we all need to start somewhere … being selfish is a great place to start. I’d love to hear how you get selfish?  Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more

GRATEFUL MUCH?

GRATEFUL MUCH?

Posted September 30, 2011

I am starting a regular blog post on Gratefulness. Through my yoga practice and studies I’ve learnt the art of giving thanks. I guess you could call it prayer in the traditional sense, but without asking for anything. Simply noticing the big, the small, the mundane and especially the things that change the way you think and feel. Today I simply want to honour and thank the people in this world that put themselves out there. Hearts flung wide open, emotions, feelings, fears – all of it – worn on their sleeve, right there in public for all to see. This week I was reminded how important it is to live openly, because with each gesture you act out, or phrase you utter with an open heart you pass on love, kindness and inspiration to those around you. I am blessed to have some pretty incredible friends in my life. Some of which continually surprise me, others that challenge me, some give me more love than I’m sure I deserve and then there are the ones that motivate me and reaffirm my belief that I am on the right path and meant to be out there helping people. This week a beautiful friend, whom I met during yoga teacher training, wrote me the most heartfelt message. She simply wrote to tell me she was loving my blog and that it had inspired her. What rocked my world was that she was living 100% openly in that moment. When she wrote that message she probably didn’t understand the weight that her words would have on me, but mostly I’m sure she was just living in the ‘now’. She wanted to reach out and share her feelings – no insecurities, no second guesses, nothing manipulative or calculated. Just simply being openly grateful. And although she said I have inspired her, in fact, it’s the other way around. Because through the act of her writing that message, the words in it and the idea that I could actually have helped one person (that’s all I’ve ever wanted) my entire perception of who I am and what I could possibly achieve has changed. Who know’s maybe next week something opposite will flip these feelings around, but right now I am feeling deeply grateful to have that connection and to my friend for being open. So, I ask… Why aren’t we more open? Why can’t we live our lives with a little rawness? I know we are so scared of being ‘out there’, naked, alone and shaking with the reality that everyone knows the truth of who we are, how we are feeling, what we want. But what is so wrong with that? Perhaps a lot of good can come from being honest with ourselves and those around us. I truly believe that there is a way to live more honestly, openly and free from the incessant questioning and insecurity that circulates in our mind. I also believe that there is a way to do this whilst protecting your heart and retaining energy and life-force for yourself – nurturing you and those around you, simultaneously. I also don’t mean lets share every nasty, vindictive, manipulative thought we have – yes, that’s just cruel, but mostly, because that’s NOT who you really are. It’s your ego, your insecurities and your fears snapping away inside your mind and convincing you that maybe you aren’t as nice as you thought. Wrong. We are above that, we just need to go deeper within and connect with our true selves – living in truth and living in the moment. I was reminded of an important lesson this week. One about living with kindness, openness and compassion. Every morning after my yoga practice I hold my hands in prayer at my chest and I give thanks for love and compassion in my life and I ask that I am always able to live openly – putting compassionate out to the world. Now, I am also going to give thanks for the people in my life that live this way and share their hearts and ask that I always attract these kind of people in my life. I ask that others do this too. How do you live openly? What are you grateful for this week? Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more

THE CENSUS MADE ME RETHINK ‘RELIGION’

THE CENSUS MADE ME RETHINK ‘RELIGION’

Posted August 12, 2011

The other day my boy and I were at home doing our first census together. It was interesting to say the least, especially when it came to listing our income and trying to remember all the places we have lived over the last five years. There was one question that I tripped up on. Religion. There was a whole list of ‘religions’ listed to choose from… none of which really fit me. My boy looked at me and said ‘wait, you are saying ‘Catholic’ right? Umm… no. I felt sheepish (and a little silly) saying this… but my answer to his question was – “I’m not really religious, I was raised a catholic, but I’d say I’m more spiritual?” So after a little back and forth, we decided that I would write just that on the census form. It made us laugh, seeing ‘SPRITIUAL’ written in the little boxes and thinking about the person on the other end collating the data… but I had to be true to myself – that’s just what made sense to me. The difference between spirituality and religion? Well, I’m definitely not an expert and I’m only a new student in this long spiritual journey but I feel (not know) that spirituality is more about the internal life. It is the continuous search for meaning and the understanding of me, myself, the ‘I’, in this universe. So ultimately, it’s about moving inward and finding that still point – I talk a lot about this when teaching a yoga class. Slowly loosening the strong-hold grip on the outer world and reconnecting with your true, inner being and that being which is born from and forever tied to the source, the divine. And in turn I feel that I become more connected to the world and the people around me and hopefully continually improve as a person, a soul. When I think about religion I see it as external spirituality with a story, in a structured house, with guidelines and rituals that are shared within a community. An experience, a doctrine, a map to life and one that brings people together. I’m not going to go into how religion can bring about pain and suffering – I know you all have your opinions on that – I’m just talking top line here, peeps! Now, don’t get me wrong; I totally and utterly respect religion. It was and still is the saving grace for my mother. Without a shadow of a doubt it has offered thousands of people in difficult situations refuge and faith to stay strong and move forward. But to me, believing is enough. If you want to believe in the trees, the sun, the sky, all of mother earth and that is your religion, then so be it. If you want to bow to a statue of every spiritual icon that walked this planet, then so be it. If faith, religion, spirituality of any sort helps you feel whole, connected and true and in turn makes you a better person to those around you, then so be it! For me, my religion, my spirituality is most definitely an amalgamation of experiences, passions and lessons throughout my life. It consists of meditation, private prayers to the universe (or God, whatever you wish to call it), my yoga practice – a silent meditative prayer with each breath – being in nature and community experiences (such as Kirtan, or yogic events) shared with like-minded friends. Relishing in the moment, sharing what I’ve learnt with my students, enjoying time with friends, being there for my family, living my life by giving and receiving happiness, being true to myself. So, how did you answer the religion question on the census form? I’d love to hear your thoughts on spirituality/religion? What do you think is the main difference between spirituality and religion? Signing off with an exhale. Pause.Listen.Live Cx Read more

8 WAYS TO BALANCE YOUR VATA

8 WAYS TO BALANCE YOUR VATA

Posted August 10, 2011

I’ve mentioned Ayurveda before, here and here… It’s one of the health/lifestyle systems that I truly connect with and leaves me with a sense of promise. Why promise? Well I find it so inspiring that a 5000-year-old tradition was and still is so far ahead of our modern day. Ayurveda, unlike modern medicine focuses on treating the individual to come into balance or Perfect Health, rather than treating the disease in a isolated way. The other reason I love Ayurveda is because it’s the sister science to Yoga – we all know how much I dig Yoga! Together, when combined they complement each other. So Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yer-vay-duh) is an Indian Holistic health system that means ‘life knowledge’. Forget quick fixes, drugs and hospitals, Ayurveda works at achieving optimal health, every day of your life for your mind, body, and spirit. Yoga, nutrition, meditation, pranayama (breath-work), herbs, massage and more encompass the healing method that is Ayurveda. The bit I heart the most about Ayurveda is that it simply looks at the individual – YOU – in the scenario. What is happening in your life, around you, what are you eating, what are you exposed to – all the different elements that could be throwing you out (mind/body/spirit) of balance. And YOU are made up of more than one energy – Vata, Pitta, Kapha – which are called doshas. And each dosha relates to one of the five key elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth. In a nutshell – you could be dominantly Vata with a little Kapha, or equal parts Pitta and Vata or a different combination. The key is to understand the doshas, or your individual Prakriti or nature and bring them into balance. Now… Let’s talk about Vata. Vata is an Air + Ether Dosha. It is the energy of movement. The best way to describe Vata is by inviting you to visualise the air, the wind. It is ungrounded, floaty, changeable, cool, dry, erratic. But it’s also free, mobile, doing its own unique, creative thing. Vata is referred to as the ‘king of the doshas’ because it is responsible for any movement in the body – blinking, heart beating, dancing, running, talking, jumping, circulation, elimination and so on. But, as you can imagine, Vata people, made of air and ether or those of us with a Vata imbalance (perhaps caused by an unstable situation at home/work etc) generally need to work at creating stability and grounding. The other thing to note here is that despite that fact that we are all blessed with a different Dosha mix – a different Prakruti – we are all living in a predominantly Vata world. A world of fast cars, fast entertainment, fast information. Everything is now, quick, speedy. So often, each of us can be affected by Vata even if we don’t have much of it in our Dosha – our own nature will be effected by the world and environment around us. So these 8 tips to balance and ground Vata are vital for all of us. If you have had a hectic, all-over-the-place, feeling kind of spacey week – then these are perfect to bring your Vata back into balance. 1) Slow down + stop. Practice meditation. Learn to still the monkey mind each day, even if it’s just 10 – 20 minutes. Find quiet and see how Vata quietens too. 2) Practice grounding yoga. Avoid too much Vinyasa or Dynamic style practices, or at least, go slow if this is the style you prefer. Find a way to earth yourself in the practice – focus on the breath and move fluidly and with calm. 3) Breath into it. Focus on the breath – simply sitting for 5 minutes each day and practicing breath awareness. Watch the breath, feel the quality of it as you inhale and exhale and automatically the breath begins to slow. This helps Vata move from fight or flight mode (sympathetic) to the more calmer state of parasympathetic nervous system. 4) Keep Oiled. Add nourishing oils to your meal. Oil is warming, soothing and grounding. So avoid crunchy, fresh salads sans oil – don’t be afraid to add in some good quality Olive, Coconut or Walnut and notice how much more stable and nourished you feel. 5) Get warm. Seek out the sunshine and feel the warmth on your skin. Not only do you get your Vitamin D hit but you will feel less of the cold + dry Vata qualities and more energy and balance through the heat. 6) Stick to schedules. Having a solid routine from morning to night is best to ground the airiness of Vata. Try to wake up at the same time each day and follow a similar routine – exercise, meditate, breakfast etc… This will help Vatas who tend to be forgetful, late and constantly change their mind! 7) Rise with the sun. Between 2am – 6am is when Vata is most active. Ever noticed how you might wake between these hours and you are wide awake and unable to fall back asleep? The best way to work with Vata is to rise with the sun – this will get your energy going and help you maximise it! 8) Get your massage on. If you are feeling particular airy, ungrounded and restless try an oil massage in the morning. Get your hands on some good quality sesame or coconut oil and perform a mini massage. Starting at the feet and working up towards the head, massage with strokes towards the heart. Work clockwise on the belly and around the joints. Wait 5-10minutes and let the oil soak into the skin before showering A few tips to help you find stability in our crazy Vata world, and especially good if you have a lot of Vata in you – will bring you into balance. Love + light to you, Cx *Images kindly borrowed from http://www.yogaanonymous.org, http://www.ayusarathi.com and www.peacefulmind.com Read more

THE UNIVERSE GETS WHAT THE UNIVERSE WANTS

THE UNIVERSE GETS WHAT THE UNIVERSE WANTS

Posted June 26, 2011

Isn’t it funny how we all insist on ignoring the signs? I mean, sometimes they are screaming at us, right up in our face… and still, nothing?! We pay attention to street signs, instructions, directions and more on a daily basis. But do we pay attention to the signs that really make a difference to our life? It’s only lately that’ve I’ve had the enough ‘pause’ in my mental chatter to actually notice the little calling cards the universe has left me. I think it might be because of the daily meditation, or perhaps focusing on my breath in yoga, or maybe it comes with maturity? I don’t have the answer, but I do know something. If we listen to the universe it’s just trying to help. Without trying to philosophise the ‘universe’ too much or dance around a topic I don’t fully understand, there is one thing I want to break down. What is the ‘universe’ that people speak of? To me… it’s quite simply me, you, ‘us’, everything all around. We are all connected to the same source, the same energy, the same vibration (more on that later!)If we literally tune in, the universe we’ll find that it is continually ‘talking’ to each living thing on this planet. And it’s working at making everything happen the way it should – be fulfilled. So, I got to thinking about the universe on Friday. It had been a long and literally painful week. After changing my yoga practice to Mysore, Ashtanga my body was feeling it and so was my mind – it left me a bit shaky. That was the first sign. I had made plans to do an inversion workshop at Jivamukti in Newtown with my friend Nadia. All day I was quietly concerned about how I would get through a 2-hr workshop after a week of dynamic yoga, full time work, study and well, LIFE. I worked through my issues and stuck to my commitment to Nadia. Driving to the workshop I sent Nadia a text. 5 minutes later, no text and a thought literally popped into my mind – “Oh wow, she thinks the workshop is next week’. Second sign. I heard it, I acknowledged it but silly me thought I was bigger than it. I pushed the thought out and kept driving. As I arrived at the studio Nadia rang me. Would you believe it? She thought the workshop was the following Friday. Relief swept over me! The universe had tried all day to tell me I needed to listen to my body and go home, but my ego – the part that doesn’t want to let a friend down – got in the way. So I persisted and so did the universe, until it got its way! All I could do was laugh, genuinely. I thought the whole situation was hilarious and I felt comforted knowing that the signs are always there. I just need to take the blinkers off, tone down the ego and listen. So what I am now wondering is – how far will the universe go to get the message through? Does it eventually give up when it goes unnoticed? Ignored? Is that how so many of us end up unfulfilled with our dreams washed away? A few ‘universal’ thoughts to ponder over. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more


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