Category Archives: health

Yin Yoga to feel AMAZING!

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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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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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Travels and Teachers…How these things have changed my mind and my health and fitness routines

As you know if you have followed my blogs, I spent the majority of the last year travelling. I visited physical places such as America, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and India but I also visited places one cannot see or even aptly describe.

I visited places within myself, I discovered not only knowledge and traditions but also experiences and levels of my self I wasn’t sure existed. I became aware of my self, not just in the physical sense but I also leaned who I am on a more personal level and even where I am at spiritually.

I was pushed to my limits in so many ways, I accepted so many new challenges and jumped so far out of the comfort zone, I’m not even sure I have one any more. There were times I felt completely lost, physically and mentally and times I when I doubted everything I thought I ever knew about my body, mind and the world I live in.
But, through all these trials and tribulations I have discovered not only new methods, but new motivations, new mentalities and new meanings, leading to a revamp of almost everything I once practised.

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Yes some of my trainings are very similar on the outside, but my mentality has changed, my mind is in a different place before, whilst and after I train now. I spend time and efforts working not only on my physical workouts but also on mental workouts. I practise exercises for the mind, some for meditation and calming effect, for stress relief and centeredness. I practise exercises to activate parts of the brain we rarely use, discovering new abilities and connections between mind and body.

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I also practise cleansing techniques, for mind and body. Taking the time out of every day to look after every aspect of my well-being. I use a combination of Yogic practise, Taoist techniques and western ideas and methods at the moment, but who’s to say what’s next.

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Now this doesn’t mean I have gone completely soft, I still train hard and with regularity, I still use supplements and eat well. It just means I now have extra practises which enhance what I used to do, practises which make me feel more alive, more energized and healthier than ever before and yes, I am going to share my experiences and discoveries with you.

Not today though, today is a short introduction to what forthcoming blogs will entail. If you like the sound of what I have described and want to hear of the actual discoveries and practises, follow my blog over the following weeks to see my journey, to hear of my experiences and hopefully to ignite some curiosity for yourselves, to inspire you to do some more research and start your journey to a new you.

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Please note I will only be describing the actual practises I use myself, that doesn’t meant there isn’t much more to the systems I take my inspirations from.
For instance I practise some shatkarma (yogic cleansing techniques) but not others. I will describe my use of the neti pot and nauli, but I don’t go as far as practising vasti (colon cleanse) so I won’t comment on the use of this.

My blogs are my personal experiences, not all encompassing teaching of the full traditions and systems. A taster of some techniques, if you will. They are to inspire you to take a further step on your own path, a starting point from which you can take any direction you desire…Its a big old world out there, so many variable and interesting ways to look at things and do things, don’t just limit yourselves to the philosophies and traditions of your own country ,get out there and explore! Whether you go physically or just via information researched from your own home, it doesn’t matter, the path you take is your own.

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My Taoist Journey: The Hollistic Jade Egg Practise AKA Vaginal Kung Fu!

Follow up to last weeks introduction to Taoism.

Kirsty Jones Fitness

Lets talk about the holistic jade egg practise. This and the Iron crotch for men is probably the most wondered about and even joked about part of the Taoist practise, whether out of curious unknowing, ignorance or just plain closed mindedness.

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I cant say much for the iron crotch practise, the men’s version of course, I just don’t have the parts or that much information yet from the men I know who do use this practise, maybe I will gather some info and write something for you fellas at a later date but for now I shall stick with what I know.

So lets start at the beginnings. Initially I signed up for the course in a state of desperation, I needed to find myself and my path. During the 3 month then leading up to the course I actually did a pretty good job of getting myself back in…

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Tao Paths…Interesting tit bits!

I’ve been reading an interesting little book today on Taoist practises, Pretty light-hearted book and a few of the little quotes stood out to me so I thought I would share them.

The book is subtitled love so most are based on relationships, friends, family and the whole yin yang balance. So here they are, out of the hundreds of little quotes, here are the few I thought were wise or just worth remembering:

“The opposites have a vital need for each other, just as no human being can live fully without relationships. An attempt to do so is either to stagnate or to court metal and spiritual malaise”

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“Sometimes the only way we can truly know love is by its absence. Or perhaps it is a certain indefinable something that make us feel better about ourselves when we are with that person.”

“When our inner treasure is inexhaustible, we can provide limitless love and still remain independent and non-posessing.”

“Discipline and mutual respect between a man and a woman prevent arguments like a health regime prevents disease.”

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“It is said that in marriage, even more so than in a monastery, one can find all the challenges and opportunities for self cultivation.”

“Once you have acquired the awareness of others’ flaws, you need not poke at every one of them. Sometimes, one compassionately ignores the chink in ones companion’s armour. Constant awareness of human shortcomings can be a very gloomy way to go through life.”

“Taoists believe that the way to attain and keep physiological well-being was through proper application of the bedroom arts.”

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“If you feel unable to us your sexual power lovingly, then don’t use it at all! Sex is a gleaming, sharp, two-edged sword, a healing tool that can quickly become a weapon.”

“ We must always look to our own faults, or own problems, our own internal dynamics before we begin to judge those around us.”

“In the end, say the poets, the love we get is equal to the love we give. The seeds of love, respect, forgiveness, tolerance and gratitude that we spread throughout our life will be the fruit that will bloom in our last day.”

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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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5 Regrets From People On Their Deathbeds, Revealed By A Nurse

I had to share this, Its so true.  Too many of us go through life living as expected, by means we see as socially acceptable, performing rituals passed on through family, teachers, peers… but really the only person who has to live with your life is you.  You are the only person you need to answer to on your deathbed!   You must let go of these guidelines for life we feel we must abide by to be seen as a success and do the things that will fill our lives with positivity, experience and powerful emotions.   THIS is the true sucess of life, to live, love, laugh, do the things that add life to our years and memoories for our old age 😉

 

Whatever floats your boat, do it whilst your still seaworthy!

 

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via 5 Regrets From People On Their Deathbeds, Revealed By A Nurse.

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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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