Self Care

Do you wear sunglasses at night?

I love screens, I love my phone, and I like playing computer games at night, and enjoy curling up in bed reading from my ipad. The problem is as I journey down the yogic path and tune more into cause and effect, I notice when I don’t use screens at night I sleep a whole lot better…

Why?

Exposure to light at night interferes with your circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin secretion. Melatonin is made in the pineal gland (connected to our third eye) and is the hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles. Any artificial light at night can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion but the worst offender is blue light.

Harvard researches have now shown that blue light suppresses melatonin for twice as long as green light, red light suppresses it the least. Unfortunately blue light is the light emitted by backlit portable screens, as well as energy efficient lighting. How annoying!

The research also states, ‘Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep…researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.’

I’m currently studying natural rhythms and how we evolve body habits so I’m really interested in this research. Adjusting your rhythms to adapt to the rhythms of nature is one of the best ways to increase your energy levels. Check out my post on amplifying your energy here.

What can you do?

I don’t fancy wearing those Bono style blue light-blocking glasses and I’m not going to stop using technology.

The most practical advice I can follow is to switch off screens one hour or even two hours if you can manage before going to […]

Increase Immunity – more tips from ‘The Ancients’…

When I refer to the ‘Ancients’, I’m not talking about my parents or even my grandparents, I’m thinking about wisdom passed down from thousands of years ago. Let’s look at two ancient systems Ayurveda from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from China. What similar guidance have these traditional systems sent us?

Three layers of the body are recognized in each system, the Physical Layer, the Mental Layer and the Subtle Layer. As a yoga teacher, I’m curious about the Subtle Body. The non-visible energy channels that travel through the body are recognized in Ayurveda and are called Nadi’s and they are also acknowledged in TCM and are called Meridians, many pressure points along these energy lines are similar in both systems. To access the subtle body, both ancient wisdoms link breath and movement, think, Tai Chi, Yoga as well as Meditation.

Elements feature in both systems, TCM recognizes the five elements Fire, Water, and Earth, and in Ayurveda the 5 elements are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Importantly, both systems recognize the microcosm and macrocosm idea, what is outside is also inside, each constantly influencing and affecting the other. In other words how we interact with our environment will hugely influence our energy.

Practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation are the best way to start to access the subtle body. When we strengthen and heal the subtle body we will amplify our energy but also strengthen our body on a cellular level and build immunity. To dive in deeper come and try a yin yoga class!

See you on the mat!

Justine

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Aloe, Aloe – 12 ways to use Aloe Vera

It warms my heart when I notice my kids harvest Aloe Vera, split it open and rub it on their cuts and scrapes. I have succeeded in teaching them something, they know that Aloe Vera is a living first aid plant, soothing, healing, cooling and calming, how cool is that (excuse the pun)! This plant has a long and rich history, it has been used medicinally for over 5000 years, Cleopatra used it as part of her beauty routine and it is mentioned in the Bible.

This plant is heavy, unctuous and slimy (Kapha qualities for those interested in Ayurveda), although it looks spiky it is a very nurturing plant. Aloe Vera is super useful and it grows really well in pots, so no matter how small your home; you can always find space for a small Aloe Vera plant!

Commercial Aloe Vera juices are often diluted and combined with unwanted additives, so I would encourage you to grow your own plant. Here are 12 of the many benefits of this wonderful plant that the American Indians call ‘The Wand of Heaven’:

Aloe Vera is widely used for many skin conditions, it is an excellent healer for cuts and wounds, and this plant has amazing antibacterial properties, rub the gel directly on.
This plant is high in vitamins and minerals so helps boost the immune system.
Aloe Vera contains Vitamins A, C, E (along with K and B12) so it is fantastic for the skin, just rub the gel directly on your face to cleanse before you moisturise.
Make a homemade facemask, scrape the gel straight from inside the leaf of the plant, mix with some honey, apply to your face – leave for 20min while you relax and then […]

Dinacharya – Daily Routine

How aligned are you to the daily rhythms of nature?

It is easy to get out of sync with natural rhythms. Demanding careers, busy social lives, family pressure and exponential improvements in technology that mean we are plugged in 24/7,  all take their toll on the body.

For a long time I have been a night owl, I enjoyed being a creature of the night, staying up all night, going clubbing, hanging out with friends or playing computer games into the early hours. I enjoyed the intensity of this lifestyle, overriding natural daily rhythms. Having children was the grounding force that brought common sense to my life. Children naturally live closer to nature; they are less affected by the stresses of modern life it is easy for them to wake up with the sun and sleep when the sun goes down.  I still struggle with the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ philosophy but slowly over the years, I have started to switch my patterns and I understand and respect the profound importance of daily rhythms. These gentle changes make a huge impact to overall energy levels.

How do we become more aligned to the daily rhythms of nature?

Throughout the day the different universal energies (made up of the elements water, earth, fire, ether and wind) are present. Each of these energies sets the tone for the activities best suited to that time of the day to promote optimum well-being. When we tap into these energies we become more attune to our body and are more able to access the bodies natural intelligence.

In Ayurveda ‘like’ increases ‘like’ (a bit like facebook). To give you an example of working with natural daily rhythm, we need to think about […]

6 Ayurvedic Home Remedies that really work!

I’ve always been a seeker of natural remedies.
 
The beauty of Ayurveda is that the home remedies have been tried and tested over generations, they are usually simple and they really work! Another bonus is, you will find most of the ingredients in your kitchen or garden.
 
There is plenty of science behind these remedies, and when you think about it many pharmaceutical products are based on natural occurring substances.
 
Here are 6 ‘go to’ remedies I often use for my family…
 
Herbal tea for colds and flu
Dry roast 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds to release the flavour (approx 2min). Add 3 slices of ginger and 500mils of water; bring to the boil for 10min then strain and drink.
Viral stomach bugs
Peel two apples and then stew them until soft, add a teaspoon of ghee (or butter) a pinch of cardamom and a pinch of nutmeg. This works a treat!
Hangover
A glass of coconut water will rehydrate you!
Insomnia
A few options here…

Warm some milk add a pinch of nutmeg or saffron.
Snack on some cherries.
Try Nadi Shodana Pranayama a breathing exercise that will help you sleep.  Read my post here for instructions.

Hayfever
Eat some coriander leaves, as they are a natural antihistamine. If you have time you can make Coriander chutney go here for my coriander chutney recipe.
Liver cleanse
Add the following ingredients to a bowl

1 tsp of dandelion root (you find this in a health food shop)
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
5-6 slices of ginger
3 cups of boiling water

steep for 5min, strain and drink!
On the topic of your Liver, click here to check out my post on 2 yoga poses for cleansing the liver.
 
Enjoy!
Justine
x
 

 

Yoga for Mamas with Bubs

Calling all new mamas…

Bring your bub along to a Private Yoga Session

Are you exhausted?

Do you need more quality sleep?

Not ready for a regular mums and bubs class yet?

Enjoy and nourish yourself for 1 hour moving your body in an easeful way as you focus on neck, shoulders and core muscles.

Take home some easy to follow techniques to help you tune into a more relaxed state, fast.

If you care for your-self you will be able to care for your baby and family in a more responsive way.

Private Yoga Studio, Bondi Beach.
To book your session, contact Justine here.

Testimonial

As a new mum, time spent doing something for yourself is such a rarity. To spend an hour having a private session in a divine yoga studio in North Bondi is just pure magic. Not only did Justine carry my baby in the Ergo so I could practice, she tailored the session to focus on the exact areas that my post-birth body needed and gave me a toolkit to take home so that I can continue my practice every day. – Beki Grice, Sydney, Australia

 

 

Love your Liver – Twist out your Organs!

Yoga for the Army General a.k.a the Liver
I’m obsessed with organs at the moment, not in the ‘head-to-tail eating’ variety, but the internal organs of humans and in particular, how they are affected by yoga. I think it’s incredible that when we pay close attention we can actually imagine and even feel these organs and the affect the different yoga poses have on them.
This week all my classes have been about the Liver. In the Chinese philosophy, Taoism, the liver is described as ‘The Army General’. I really love the idea of creating characters out of organs to explain bodily functions. ‘Organ characters’ become even more interesting when we think about their personality. We can do this by looking at the energetic body, the energy/chi/lifeforce running through the organs. Taoism refers to certain emotions arising when different organs are out of balance (for example a liver that is sluggish/congested or alternatively an over active liver). The Liver is most commonly associated with the emotions Anger & Kindness. When you think of the expression, ‘he/she was Livid’ this makes sense. I wonder what happens when the Army General is over active/hyper? How will this affect our demeanour?

‘The Liver is a very complex organ; it has a number of functions, protein production, storing and releasing blood, blood clotting regulating cholesterol, and glucose and iron metabolism. And by continually filtering our blood, the liver detoxifies and cleanses our bodies.’[1]
With tasks like this, it’s no wonder the Liver is referred to as the Army General. Without a doubt, no matter how clean living you are, urban living means everyone can benefit from a boost to liver function. The good news is the liver is able to heal […]

Ajna Chakra & My grandmother’s insane healing powers!

Everyone gets sick but why do some people bounce back so much faster than others? The answer is very complex and depends on myriad factors such as individual constitution, genes, environment, and lifestyle, diet, thought patterns…I could go on and on. What I do know is that my Grandmother has insane healing powers! She is always quick to bounce back from illness and at 93 years has just had an amazing recovery from a stroke.
About 20 years ago when ‘Gigi’, as my children know her, broke her leg the Doctors were amazed at her quick recovery, especially considering her age. While I sat with her in hospital I asked her how she was healing so well.
She let me into her healing secret that I will share with you…

With her leg in plaster, throughout the day (whenever she thought of it) she was practicing a powerful visualization technique. She would close her eyes and picture her leg as a building site. She would imagine the builders arriving to work each day, thinking about every detail down to what they were wearing and what their lunchboxes looked like. She would think about this miniscule world where each builder was doing his or her part to repair the bone of her leg, she would continue to think about this until she was interrupted or bored with it. She told me this really helped with her healing and I believe it did.
I really love this story, but what does it have to do with Chakra 6 (Ajna Chakra)? This Chakra is also known as your third eye. It is located on our forehead between the two eyebrows. While our two eyes see out into the external […]

How to do a Self Abhyanga (Self Massage)

As the weather cools down enjoy this Ayurvedic Ritual to help you stay warm and supple.

Massage is the oldest healing modality on the planet. In the ancient science of Ayurveda there is a practice of self-massage that helps to ground and nourish us. It is ‘Self Abhyanga’  or ‘Self Warm Oil Massage’ (massaging the body with large amounts of warm oil).

I really encourage you to try this as not only will it keep you feeling warm and looking young, it is also a delicious, calming and relaxing experience. It is a simple self-care exercise that you can introduce into your weekly or even daily routine.

There are numerous benefits to Self Abhyanga including the following:

Soothes Vata Dosha
Helps build resilience to stress
Increases energy and removes fatigue
Helps to eliminate toxins by stimulating strengthening lymphatic flow
Strengthens and tones skin and body
Grounding and nourishing
Helps with insomnia

Here’s how to do Self Abhyanga:

This massage is best done before your shower, either in the morning or before going to bed.

Select your oil – As a general rule of thumb go with Coconut oil in Summer and once the weather becomes cooler and coconut oil begins to solidify switch to Sesame (Melrose Organic is a good one) or Sunflower oil. For an extra dimension to the experience, you may like to add an essential oil of your choice to your massage oil.
Warm the room you are in and warm the bottle of oil in a bowl of hot water.
Stand on a towel that you don’t mind getting oily.
If you prefer the oil warm, sit the bottle in a bowl of hot water. Pour a small amount of oil into the palm of you hands and begin with a head massage, slowly massage oil […]

Clear the Mind with ‘Nadi Shodana Pranayama’

 

 

Pranayama means breathing technique. One of my all time favorites is Nadi Shoda (Alternate Nostril Breathing). I include it in almost every Yin class I teach as it helps to calm the mind. You can practice this technique at anytime throughout the day and it is a great one to do if you are experiencing stress at work or if you are stuck in traffic!

How to do it

Sit comfortably, keeping the head and spine upright.
Close your eyes or keep your gaze low.
Take Vishnu Mudra (hand gesture) as shown in the diagram. Use your thumb to block the right nostril and use your ring finger to block the left.
Start by blocking the left nostril, slowly inhale through the right nostril, then block the right and exhale left. Inhale through the left nostril, then block the left, and exhale right.
This technique uses the ration of 1:1 inhale to exhale, as you progress you may use 1:2 extending the exhalation. For more advanced versions using breath retention, please work with your yoga instructor.

Benefits

Calms the mind, creates a feeling of peace and happiness.
Increases vitality
Reduces stress levels
Fantastic to do a few rounds of this breathing if you suffer from insomnia.
Improves concentration

Why this works

This pranayama (breathing technique) clears out blocked energy channels in the body. It works on the subtle energy channels (nadis), hence the name. Nadi = subtle energy channels Shodana = cleaning/clearing