Targeted Stretching for Different Exercises energy exercise health self care wellness yoga Jan 20, 2022

Stretching can be something we look forward to or dread within our exercise regimens, so understanding its purpose and effects can create more depth and motivation, however we feel. Messages can be conflicting, so some simple basics can help us navigate confusion towards following your body’s needs.

Stretching for sports is not the same as in yoga; rather than looking to improve flexibility alone, static (still) stretching after exercise is designed to lengthen muscle shortened through use back to its normal range of motion (ROM). This is why dynamic (moving), rather than static is recommended for warm-ups. More flexibility ie more range through muscle and around joints may actually impede the action and strength of specific movements needed for sport.

We can’t actually lengthen muscle – this is already determined by its insertion and origin ie where it is attached and leads to in terms of bones and tendons – but we can lessen resistance to a stretch, where...

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Brush Strokes health self care wellness winter Jan 13, 2022

Simple and effective

One of the most popular recommendations I give to clients is dry skin brushing. This is a simple self-care home routine that can take as little or long as you have. Even doing for a minute a few times a week can have noticeably beneficial effects and most people find it is so enjoyable that it becomes part of their bathing routine very easily. Stimulating the skin in winter is important when it gets less exposure to the natural stresses of the outdoors.

Self stimulation!

The main aim behind skin brushing idea is to move out surface toxins and 'energise' your skin to get blood flow going. This is also stimulating your lymphatic system, the fluid channels of your immune system which run beneath the skin. As your skin is your largest organ and the second organ of detoxification after the liver (via the lymphatic system), brushing it increases the capacity of your skin to eliminate toxins, making it easier for your whole body to shed wastes. Dry skin brushing also...

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Are you Living True to Yourself? digestion energy food health sugar wellness winter Dec 17, 2021

January is a time of new beginnings and even recalibration – taking stock of the aspects of our lives where we go awry and find ourselves going round and round in circles.

So much of where we can get stuck is based on old survival strategies learnt in early childhood and listening to these inner voices of what we need to feel safe and secure is a key part of moving through life in a stress-free way.

The more we can let ourselves off the hook of expectation and recognise our true needs, the less self-judgment we need to throw up and the kinder we can be to ourselves.

This is the stuff that can help us be free our reactions and behaviours that we might be fed up with with; turning to sugar or alcohol when we’re stressed, arguing with our partner or feeling a mental and physical exhaustion that stops us from exercising in the way we’d like.

For instance, my ‘resolutions’ last year were:

1. Notice when I’m close to or have become overwhelmed and...

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How to Make a Resolution Stick Without Stress – The Five Stages of Change exercise food health mindful nutrition self care stress sugar wellness yoga Dec 16, 2021

We are always going through phases of change, whether we notice them as substantial or not. This January one can often seem like the motherload though, with high expectations and suggestions coming at us from all angles.... whether it's giving up something, doing something else or fixing that thing that is 'wrong' with us, there is a sense of this ideal, other self that we should be.

There is a phrase doing the rounds at the moment that is particularly pushing my buttons; "be the best (or better) version of yourself" - eh? What on earth does that mean? To me, there is an implication that if all the boxes are not ticked, I am simply not good enough. I guess it's the word version I react to there - we have so many facets to our beings that to judge some as good and others not so much adds in to our cultural norm of self-criticism.

I do believe in constant awareness of which unmet needs I am playing out for sure, but have learnt that I need to be mindful of looking at the unconscious...

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A Calm and Conscious Christmas for a Happy New Year digestion energy food health nutrition self care sugar wellness winter Dec 16, 2021

"With Christmas comes the onslaught of brightly coloured wrappers and decorated boxes adorning chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For some, this represents dietary abandon with the resolution to bring it all round in the New Year.

But some of us have had enough of that swing and prefer not to feel like we’re lurching from a sugared-up state that leaves us feeling sluggish, bloated and, well, a bit dirty, to somehow suddenly having the willpower to give it all up come Hogmanay. So let’s unpick some of those Christmas habits in order to maybe evolve some healthier ones...

While original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the third round of mince pies of the day, you can receive sideway glances that make you feel like you’re Scrooge.

Personally, a few...

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Can You Create a New Relationship with the Christmas Sugar Onslaught? digestion energy exercise food health nutrition self care sugar wellness winter Dec 13, 2021

Whilst original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the coming deep winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the stollen cake, you can receive a sideways glance that makes you feel like you’re Scrooge.

Personally, a few years back I reached the limit of feeling like c*&p after each Christmas Day finally arrived – sluggish, head-achy, tetchy and with raging sugar cravings – and longing for when all the so-called ‘Christmas food’ was finally gone. I have a tendency to want to hoover up sugar just to get it out of the way, so this can seem endless with so much around!

For those of us with sugar-addictive tendencies, constantly having it around can be a major source of stress.

Many of my clients get pretty agitated going to meetings where there are always biscuits and the...

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Can We Retain a Sense of ‘Enough Already’ in the Face of Excess? energy exercise food health mindful nutrition self care stress sugar wellness winter Dec 07, 2021

It's easy to lose our sense of satisfaction and need-over-want at this festive time, but finding ways to stay connected can make the whole shebang leave a better taste in our mouths in the aftermath...

So the big question is, can we retain a sense of 'enough already' in the face of excess? The lead up to the main event is a good time to step back, take stock and see how Christmas is permeating our lives and our expectations.

Are you dizzy as a child at the thought of Santa’s touchdown or feeling the heavy burden of endless present-buying or relatives descending? Personally, I tend to feel quite different each year… BC (Before Child) I used to be able to get full-on festive one year and then positively ignore its existence the next, just enjoying some holiday time without the razzamatazz.

Now I’m swept up in the childhood vision of it all, it’s a time to experience with my daughter what I wish it to be; not about buying and getting yet more stuff, but...

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The Benefits of Barefoot Running exercise health wellness Nov 18, 2021

Running without shoes or in shoes that allow us to feel the ground is part of a primal movement trend, where greater anthropological understanding has created a shift across many exercise systems. This return to physical activity that honours our inherent design has taken up a more natural approach to our bodies by many, but what is thinking and research behind it?

“Shoes do no more for the foot than a hat does for the brain.” - Dr. Mercer Rang, orthopaedic surgeon and researcher in paediatric development.

This subject came into public awareness in a big way following the release of Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Profile Books 2010), the best-selling book from journalist Christopher McDougall, who after years of repeated running injury, successfully changed his running style to model that of the reclusive Tarahuma Indian Tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. They run over 100 miles at a time, at incredible...

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How to... Maintain Mood Levels energy mindful mood moodfoods nutrition selfcare sugar Nov 10, 2021

Happy, regulated mood is where life can feel most calm, easy and enjoyable. Yet many often feel in the grip of a rollercoaster rise of emotions, inner criticism, worry and self-doubt. These can include periods of low mood that can make existing daily feel extremely difficult and even downright exhausting.

Whether this falls into a label of ‘depression’ or not, from a holistic point of view, there are some key potential underlying causes that may offer potential change in how we view ourselves and the world. Attending to the self-care we need to be able to cope and find a more positive outlook can in turn allow us to participate in activities that we know elevate our mood. Humans have a naturally raise in mood and motivation via the reward neurotransmitter dopamine when we do anything that propagates survival of the species; eat, drink and exercise, but as pack animals, also through group bonding and cooperation, so group activities, sports, talking, eating together and...

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Winter as a Time of Immunity Support energy food health immunity self care winter Oct 25, 2021

Winter in the 21st century can seem all about preparations for Christmas - shopping, decorations and TV, but inside, it’s all systems on heat and protection as we move into the coldest months of the year.

How can we ensure we keep strong through these months, instead of crippling our resources when we need them most?

It is always good to remember that Christmas for our fore-mothers and fore-fathers was always a time to see in the winter and prepare for the colder months to come. A huge difference between then and now is the availability of the food itself.

When we relied on what the land gave us – or later what we grew and raised – every calorie was precious, especially those from fat, the best compact source of energy to see you through the winter.

Now calories are all too abundant and living in centrally heated homes, we have removed the need to produce as much body heat from fat.

The motivation of a feast at the height of winter no longer fits with the way...

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Mindful Eating – Digestion and Satisfaction digestion food health nutrition self care Oct 08, 2021

With so much emphasis on what to eat, the how can get rather left behind, but the full process of digestion – breaking down and absorbing food – demands as much calm and mindfulness as any aspect of our yoga practice. When this is compromised, partially digested food in the gut can cause gas, bloating and contribute to IBS symptoms.

Time, stress and habit often see us bolting food or eating on the go without much thought. Optimal digestion needs energy resources fully directed to the gut and any movement quickly reroutes it out to the muscle; including just standing and using postural muscles. Stress also sends a signal to prepare for protective physical movement and again, muscle wins out. We feel a tense body, often including gripping and tightness in the belly as digestive processes are halted. Our digestive tract has nervous system activity of its own and you really can trust ‘gut feelings’ as a measure of stress.

It is the parasympathetic or calming and...

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Movement for Supporting Thyroid Function energy exercise health hormones thyroid yoga Sep 23, 2021

Our energy and vitality are bound up in optimal function of a small, but important gland in our throat. Whether you have been diagnosed with a specific thyroid condition or simply feel sluggish and have difficulty losing weight, supporting the health of your thyroid may help improve how you feel.

Our energy levels are profoundly linked to our mental health and those with thyroid issues often reported that it feels like “life is passing them by.” From an Eastern perspective, the thyroid is associated with the throat chakra (energy wheel). Yogis believe this area represents expression and an energetic blockage here may have its roots in fear, inability of self-expression and frustration. Exercise is shown to support thyroid function, but ironically when it is under-functioning, motivation to move can be lost.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ in the neck that produces thyroid hormones that travel to cells throughout the body. One of its major jobs is to...

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