Category Archives: fitness

Yin Yoga to feel AMAZING!

BUY NOW: Rent for 24 hours or Download for keeps

This Yin Yoga class will have you feeling CALMER, RELAXED and TENSION FREE, mind and body.

Create balance and harmony in your life and work on strengthening your joints and connective tissues!
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FREE Guided Meditation…

Sign up to the fortnightly Zen Woman newsletter to get your code for my lovely, 15minute download of the ancient doaist inner smile meditation.

Newsletter includes access to more freebies, info on upcoming events, online courses and videos and general zen/womanly information on everything from meditation and ancient traditional practises to art therapy, life coaching and modern practise/neuro science.

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My Snowy Snowdon experience!

After finally arriving home just a few weeks ago, I haven’t had the chance to trek much, in fact not at all and I hadn’t done much trekking really since spring last year. As you can imagine my experience with Snowdon was hard and I was not prepared!

First off we had to park further down the valley as all the damn people were in the way! Fools! So we parked and started walking, It was damn hard but the sun was shining and it was real warm. Vest tops ahoy I fact. The initial hour or two was actually nice.

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The third hour brought the best views and the beginning of the realization I may have bitten off more than I could easily chew.

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By the end of the third hour it was so very cold and getting quite misty, I was tired, teasy and I imagine, not very good company at all! The talking stopped and I just had to get the head down.
The last hour up was very hard, lots of snow, lots of wind, lots of incline and by the time we reached the top I was so over the whole experience.

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Looking back its funny, I was ready to strop for England!

The decent was initially fun, very deep and steep snowy mountain meant lots of fun slipping and sliding down, although this did cause me big knee issues and I was in a hell of a lot of pain on the decent.

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We arrived at the car just after dark, 6 and a half hours of trekking and I was done. Had my full blown quasimodo walk going down, my determined, stroppy aggressive face on and a shroud of aggressive air surrounding me.

It took about an hour before I actually smiled at the though of what I had done and that actually there were fun parts. The lesson to learn here though is not to be a cocky bastard and assume I can just tackle anything without being properly prepared. Just because I did a lot of trekking before, doesn’t mean I can just jump In and safely do anything now.

I must get out trekking again, I did not like feeling so weak and pathetic!

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Attention span fail…But I got some cool/random stuff and here’s a yoga clip!

My aim this morning was to write a blog for my fitness site about yoga to support a yoga clip I made. This is what happened:

I started reading some information online and found myself humming to myself. After realizing I was home alone this turned into a full blown karaoke song…or two…and yes this includes standing up doing a full performance. I then decided I needed some radio!

So I manage to sit back down and content myself just humming along with the radio as opposed to my more extravagant solo work and get back to my research.

Somehow I get from yoga to club swinging and remember I really need to get some 1lb clubs so I start researching…FYI typing club swinging UK comes up with some rather interesting results, one must remember to enter ‘Indian’ club swinging for a more savoury result.

Of course so far I had several amusing experiences I needed to share with facebook, which led to a few conversations on clubs and such, I made connections to encourage a friend, and amused several with my apparent wit!

OK so back to the research. Oh wait I’d best check my email for order confirmation…oh there’s my confirmation for the jade circle workshop I booked in Ireland. Hmm what do I need for this I wonder…more shopping!

Mm, My back aches at this point so I get up to make more tea(3rd cup), and look at yoga for back ache, try out a few moves. Yes good. Oh wait is that the time??

So basically 2 hours after sitting down to write a serious fitness blog I am now the proud owner of some Indian clubs, some yoga pants and a jade egg!
Ironically I now sit here to write a blog about this.

Not to admit failure…Here is the said yoga clip, Heart Salutations! Just a short one, give it a go.  I dont thint it helps with attention spans but it feels good 😉

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Filed under atttention, fail, fitness, funny, indian clubs, jade egg, salutatioons, yoga

Defeating the dark times

Almost all of us will, at some point in our lives, experience depression. The darkness within, the uncompromising bleakness and often unexplainable feelings of failure, hopelessness and emptiness. But how many of us admit it? How often do we bottle it all up, mentally reprimanding ourselves for being stupid, telling ourselves were being ungrateful, ridiculous, weak, self pitying..?? The list goes on.

A list of self abusive words, taunts. A list of negatives which will only enforce the darkness and give the depressive part of our psyche even more to focus on and hold on to, giving it a firmer hold on our overall well-being.

Its ironic the wording we use to try to snap out of it are often the very words forcing us deeper in and why? If a friend was feeling depressed, would you use those words of advice to them?? The answer is no, because quite frankly, they are wrong! We are not weak for feeling, we are not ungrateful or self pitying for occasionally getting snowed under by life’s less savoury moments!

As long as we are trying, a long as we are fighting the internal battle we are not weak, we are strong! We are fighting day after day for something most people take for granted, going about our days when even the smallest task can feel like a struggle, every encounter with others feels like a trial, pretending everything is fine whilst secretly feeling so envious of their apparent ease at happiness. If only we opened up and talked…really talked!

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Most of us have had or regularly have depressive episodes, if we talked to each other more not only would it help to know you are not alone, often the most surprising people will admit to feeling the same, but also just letting it out, hearing it all said out-loud and discussed as a real problem as opposed to just going round and round the same stale old thoughts in your head, trying to convince yourself your not feeling it, can really help give you some perspective.

Of course there are also other things we can do to help ourselves. Personally I have a list of things which help. Some are instantaneous little pick me ups like singing as loud as you can in the shower, surrounding yourself with your happiest, silliest friends and just allowing yourself to forget and laugh, putting on your favourite comedy series or film. I swear The Big Bang Theory, Cougar Town, Mike and Molly and celebrity juice are sanity savers for me!

There are also more longer term activities we can partake in to improve mental well-being. Exercise for starters. Whether its a full on workout or just some yoga or a walk, the benefits are enormous. Not only does this increase happy hormones in the body, but it tires us out leaving less energy for agitation and aggression. We will often sleep better as mind and body are feeling satiated. Of course a good diet is also key here, junk food actually contributes to the release of hormones which will counterbalance the positives brought on by exercise and makes us feel lethargic and bloated.

Another beneficial habit is meditation, learning to let go and just be at one with yourself. Learning to relax and allow the universe to just be, accepting you are a part of a great vastness and allowing yourself to be lost in this. Getting a break from the mental chatter for a while and again aiding in sleeping.

Reading a good book is often beneficial. I find a good book helps put my life into perspective for a variety of reasons, depending on the book your reading. For instance reading a horror will not only distract you by taking you to a whole new place and adventure but also make you feel it could be worse…You are not in fact being stalked by the rabid dog Cujo or being chased by some sort of fog or mist which is turning people into zombies. Reading chick flicks can also be helpful as they are often emotional but your heroines always find happiness in the end, the autobiographies are great for really showing you how everyone suffers, again your not alone.
Then there are the little things, things unique to you which bring hope in your downtimes, light in the darkness and a smile to the saddest days. For me these are things like, tarot cards, getting creative making something, whether cakes, woodwork, paintings…anything, keeping a journal making sure to note good and bad feelings as well as things your grateful for, things you wish for in the future and short term goals which will help gain those wishes.

Lastly, charity. OK so I don’t mean you have to go to a third world country and build a well for thirsty children (although if that floats your boat…why not!), what I mean is doing something for someone else. Being responsible for someone else’s smile is incredible rewarding and not only that but if you believe in karma… This could be something simple like calling or writing to your Mum, Aunt, Grandma, someone who you know will be thrilled just to hear from you, your words brighten their day. You may want to bake or make something for someone, offer to babysit to give someone a break, picking up some of the extra workload from a stressed colleague or even just smiling at strangers in the street.
So to sum it all up… You are not alone, this isn’t a solo fight. Your friends and family are there to help as long as you are helping yourself and giving back as well as receiving! Keep your chin up and one day you will look back on this battle and realize you won, and you can win again if and when that dark old enemy shows its ugly face again.

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Filed under battle, darkness, depressed, depression, fighting, fitness, health, mental health

Life at Aio Wira retreat!

Upon arrival, or collection at the train station you are greeted with a big hug and an open, kind-hearted face. Di, the coordinator is a lovely woman who, from her attitude and spiritedness in life, you would never place at almost 70 years old!

The centre itself is situated not far fro Swanson, about an hour by train from Auckland, south Island and is hidden away amongst a multitude of plant-life. It is surrounded by bushland, which means forest, trees as far as the eye can see, total lushness! At first the weather was wet wet wet, this area is rainforest after all and catches most of the water supply for the whole of Auckland, but eve in the downpours there is something magical about this place.

The air is clear, there is a feeling of freedom, of letting go of the restraints of civilization as we know it, you are getting back to nature, partaking in activities specifically designed to help you reach inner peace, a higher place inside yourself. It is a place for self discover and self improvement and of course, it is fun. The people you meet here are all incredibly open minded and positive, you can literally feel the positivity radiating from the walls themselves.

The bedrooms are cosy, there is a big communal kitchen, dining area, sitting room and big relaxation room along with a little sanctuary in the meadow and a hot tub and sauna. It is very cosy and, although I am not a person suited to living communally in the long-run due to my need for lots of personal space and alone times, I still saw and felt the benefits of having interesting people around the place, the wealth of experiences and information was incredible and I have already learned a lot from my stay here. The whole place has a very welcoming, homely, cosy feel to it.

And then the sun comes out and a whole new lease of life is bestowed upon you. Although there are places to explore and a certain fondness does arise for getting out there in all weather, it is an altogether enchanting experience to be here when its sunny.

All doors and windows are open, the only sounds you hear coming in is from the animals, the birds, frogs and bees, it is tranquil, peaceful and beautiful. The light glints off the plants and flowers showing their true lushness, you can almost feel the life, the nature and the power resting in the natural world just slipping in around you on the lazy breeze. The great thing is there is nothing really here to sting, bite or prick you (apart from mosquitoes) so you can walk barefoot through the forest, feel the earth beneath your feet, get to grips with nature and you know, its incredibly enlightening!

To be working here is a blessing, although it can be tiring chopping veg and washing up after guests, its not so bad and particularly at the moment there are no guests, the place is quiet, the work consists of a little gardening, washing, tidying up ready for the next guests later in the week, there is so much time for exploring, walking, swimming in the river, or just sitting about with a good book.

For me one of the best parts is the knowledge here, I am learning more about yoga and meditation here than I could have hoped for, not only from guests but fro the library of books on everything from meditation, self discovery, and fasts to faith, tarrot cards, runes and everything else in between! There is so much to learn, and all of great interest.

The centre itself often hosts events such as group fasting for 3 or 10 days, meditations for long weekends and a multitude of seminars as well as anyone wanting a few days at the retreat to unwind, relax and get centred.

Of course there are a few points which are not so positive, maybe you read my last blog, ref the German exhibitionist, but they are minimal in the grand scheme of things.

Below are pictures from my time here so far:

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Don’t forget your joints! Get them moving, prevent injury, loss of movement and slow down ageing in them!

Whether your a body-builder, the cardio king/queen, a yogi or in your golden years, joint mobility AKA ageless mobility is for you!

This process of moving the joints through the full ranges of motion helps strengthen the connecting tissues, keep the joints supple and cushioned with plenty of synovial fluid and warms up and prepares them for following movement. This means you are less likely to get injury not only following the session but in every day life as well as it means your joints are at their best all the time. It helps alleviate the stresses exercise can put on the joints, and its key in preventing ageing of the joints and helps reduce loss of movement as we age.

As with most styles of ‘workout’ the mobility comes in various shapes and sizes. There are numerous moves for each joint and variable levels so it really can be adjusted to work for anybody.
For instance, I use this every day. Some days I use it as a warm up to my workouts, whether its my body-building days or just a long yoga session and other days I will perform a whole hour, really getting every joint worked thoroughly for specific joint training and I also do sessions with a few people which I tailor to their abilities and needs, depending in age, mobility, ability and time.

Its also something I use if I am travelling, before and after long drives, plane journeys etc… You may get some funny looks in the airport lounges for performing the moves there but its worth it to prevent the aches and pains long haul flights can inflict!

This particular clip is just a standard demo. Its probably the sort of thing I do for a warm-up to a regular workout, going through the whole body. I have performed 6 reps of most moves, you can up it t 10 for a longer, more intensive session if you prefer.

I will add further clips over time covering different difficulty levels and showing more specific training on specific body parts, so intensive arms, legs etc… You can then choose to run them together for full body, use them to work on problem areas, choose the shorter clips for warm-ups or just get to know the moves well enough to do your own sessions.

So enjoy, give it a go, see how you feel and look out for upcoming variations 🙂

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Filed under age, fitness, health, joint, joints, mobile, mobility, strength, warm up, workout

Globe trotting and Fitness, working hand in hand!

So there are a million excuses for not working out. I’m sure many of us have used a great proportion of them in our lives and will use a lot more before were done but travelling need not be one of them.
When your on holiday its different, for me a holiday is a break from the monotony of your every day life, and although I will try to be active and eat relatively well half the time, I am not going to punish myself for not doing intensive workouts and eating badly the other half.

The problem with the holiday excuse is where does it stop? How many times have you heard ‘I’m getting into the holiday mode’ or ‘I’m still on another time zone inside’? Well these are, realistically, infeasible excuses. The holiday reasoning should be on the holiday, not around, in preparation for or whilst thinking/booking the holiday…Yes I have heard this one!
But what about duration of your ‘holiday’, at what point does holiday become trip, and how long does it have to be before you really should start working out?

Well, I have been travelling for several months now and I tell you, the sooner you start incorporating fitness into your ‘trip’ the easier it will be. Now when I say trip I mean anything longer than, well for me, a week. Some people may say 2 weeks BUT it certainly shouldn’t be longer than 2 weeks, unless your resting from injury of course, because 2 weeks is all it takes for atrophy AKA muscle wastage! 2 weeks is all it takes to start loosing all the good work you put in up until now.

There are a number of excuses you can use for not working out whilst travelling. The main one pointing out its a once in a lifetime trip, I don’t want to waste it working out, I can catch it up. OK, but what about all the muscle wastage? If you don’t keep something up, all the time you put in already was a waste, all the hard, sweaty, painful work! And what about the lovely holiday snaps, by the end of the trip do you really want to remember looking like a beached whale? Well OK maybe that’s excessive but you all know what I mean and what about the general well-being you get from looking after yourself, this will be incredibly beneficial for working out! Be on top form!

The next excuse is lack of time and equipment. Well this really is no excuse at all and can actually be beneficial. So the issues with time, never knowing when you will get a spare hour or how much time you will have…Well I have several ways to tackle this Firstly every morning as soon as I wake up I jump out of bed and do 10 minutes of something, usually the 5 Tibetan Rights, or a few rounds of Surya Namaskar (clips in previous posts), that way I know I have done something even if unforeseen forces mean I cant get a proper workout done later. Secondly, you learn to grab the moments whilst you can. You learn to plan ahead when you have time and have workout plans ready BUT also to be adaptable. Maybe you can’t grab the full hour so you learn to make it short and hardcore. The point is to grab the opportunity as soon as it arises and this is a great habit to get into. No putting it off until later, you are always ready to jump into your workout, no slacking, no excuses and this is a great skill to bring home and put into practise.

With regards to equipment, again adaptability is key! There are ALWAYS equipments you can use to workout, whether your doing strength, endurance, or growth! Its just a case of being smart, thinking outside the box, keeping your eyes open for items of use and not being afraid to give it a go.
Grab that big log and hug it for some goblet squats, use those metal poles or tree trunks for overhead presses or curls or dead lifts. Rocks make great weights and stuffing a rucksack with them is a great way to add weight for squats, lunges and walking! Use tables, chairs, any ledges you can use to elevate yourself to add extra work to bodyweight moves making them more hard work and pushing you into the growth category! Find a door frame or overhead bar somewhere you can pull up from, steps you can run up and down or use to do a step aerobics style workout. Find your nearest, steepest hill and work those legs, walk run, lunge, jump, skip, squat jump or crawl up it! And down again, coming down will use a different set of muscles! Throw yourself into any physical activity you are given! I have made use of wheelbarrowing dirt, shovelling sand, lifting and stacking big logs as well as smashing in fence posts and even helping demolish a wall! Whatever you get the chance to do, give it some welly and get the most out of it!

Saying all this, there are a few necessities I bring with me. Firstly a yoga mat, for obvious reasons. Its hard to yoga on a hard floor or to do a press-up with grit digging into your hands. Secondly a bring wrist bands. For me yoga is an important part of my workouts and when your somewhere hot, maybe there’s no air con or maybe your outside somewhere, sweat can literally ruin your grip, there’s nothing worse than slipping around trying to do a static pose. Thirdly I bring a stretchy band. This is not essential but its small, easily transportable and great for numerous moves, and for a full body workout or as part of a workout with other items. Lastly I always bring my weight lifting gloves. Brilliant for weights and also for all those unsavoury items you may be picking up to workout, saves your hands from splinters, cuts, and helps with grip.
I will also touch on diet. Now I know its the hardest part of keeping fit and especially when travelling so there, I just try to do I my best. I say to myself, as long as I have my 8 fruit and veg, my 100g of protein(weight gain), ensure I get good fats every day, keep my carb portions small and wholegrain where I can, try to limit junk foods to one small treat a day OR a full cheat day, then I am happy. Its not perfect. Obviously I am more strict at home but travelling makes it almost impossible, especially as I am travelling using helpx, meaning I am fed for my work. I don’t get to be picky and choose my meals, I use a few supplements and buy extra fruit, nuts and protein shakes to ensure I am getting the best foods I can whilst I’m here. This can also be beneficial though, this lack of control and being in someone else’s house means I can’ simple go get a biscuit or midnight snack…this is not my house, not my food so in a way it is helping me control my cravings!

Now it may seem hard to do all this but it really isn’t. Use it as a positive, use it as a goal, some thing to accomplish and just think, all the changes, the variations and the fact you have crated workouts yourself mean its never going to be boring, workouts will rarely be the same and they will be exciting, trying out new ideas you have come up with, it will be an adventure in itself! There are also numberous apps and online programs to help if your stuck for inspiration!

The skills you learn from workout out whilst travelling, the adaptability, the motivation to get it done when the opportunity arises, the readiness, the research you will do, and the way you learn to keep a workout interesting, using your initiative means you need never be stuck in a boring fitness regime again! Use this experience to keep it exciting even back home. Keep researching, keep trying new things, new places, keep pushing yourself, creatively, mentally, and physically!

So you see, travelling really needn’t be a hindrance to your fitness lifestyle, It could in fact be the boost you need too shake it up, see it in another light and find new ways which excite and motivate you! Share your experiences, help others from your experience and get satisfaction knowing not only have you helped yourself but improved your karma by helping others as well!
Everything positive I find, I share and its really gratifying and good for the soul, even if just one other person benefits from your experience!

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5 Tibetan Rights, the morning miracle cure for dowsiness!

Tired of waking up and staying tired well into your second or third cup of caffeine??  Well here is the answer, for me anyway this is a godsend!

Doing a small amount of activity before breakfast is great for really kickstartin the metabolism, and getting those hunger pangs growling ensuring your body is ready and able to take on the fuel you need to get through the morning, minus the groggy, drowsy head and caffiene induced hyperactivity and then slump!

I’m not talking a long run or strenuous workout as i really dont recommend this on an empty stomache and before your body is warmed up and prepared for the onslaught.  Your mind and body need fuel and time for a full blown workout but something light in the morning has been proven to help wake you up, reconnect the mind and body and put you in a much more positive mindset for the day.

Give it a go, its literally abou 6 minutes from start to finish, not long at all and it really will leave you feeling fresh and ready for the day!

The 5 Tibetan rights in particular is thought to help slow down the ageing process, increase personal power, and help with mobility, flexibility and both physical and mental strength!

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Surya Namaskar AKA Sun Salutations…My yoga lifeline!

This little beauty has helped me out no end through my recent trials.  All this being alone, suddenly single on the other side of the world with nothing and nobody left me feeling lost to say the least.

Thanks to me new fitness regime, yoga and this flow in particular, i am now feeling strong and well physically AND mentally!

I use it to wake up some mornings, for warm ups to more intensive yoga static poses, cooldowns and stretching after a workout and just for any time of day i need a little zen time.   Its a nice, short flow so you can do as many or as little repetitions as you like, fitting it in perfectly wherever you need it most.  Executing a simple flow repetitively can really hel release the mind as your not trying to concentrate on remembering a large number of complex moves and the moves themselves really do seem to work the whole body.

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