How to Find Love in a Bottle 

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Yes, you can find love in a bottle. And no, it’s not in a wine, spirits or beer bottle. Nor is it a magic potion. But keep reading, this might just change your life.

So where is this bottle of love? Believe it or not, you can find in on the shelves of most grocery stores (and no ladies, it is not a bottle of silky, raw, organic chocolate).

It’s a simple bottle of oil.  Well not just any oil. We’ll take organic ideally, either coconut, sesame, sweet almond, avocado or sunflower.

And how do we find love with this bottle of oil? By rubbing it all over our bodies on a regular basis!

Self oil massage is an Ayurvedic practice that has changed my life. 

It has so many benefits but the greatest for me is that it’s helped me practice self love.  And if you don’t know this little secret about self love, practicing it means that it starts to overflow in all other areas of your life.

The more I’m connected to love and caring for myself, the more my heart is open and loving to the people around me and I fall in love with the work I’m doing.

According to Ayurveda, oil holds the same energy as love, and love is the vibration of consciousness coming into form. So every time we rub oil on our bodies it become a gesture of love.

Daily Dose of Love 

I used to slap lotion all over my body just to keep my skin moisturised, but when my Ayurvedic teacher taught me the practice oil massage, explained about the quality of love in oil and the shit contained in most lotions, my whole relationship to moisturising my skin changed.

Firstly, I only use oil on my skin now (read why below) and every morning or anytime I moisturise my skin I’m aware of this energy of love in the oil (even if just as an idea) and as I put it on I feel grateful to my skin and body. It puts me in a mindset of appreciation and acceptance rather than self criticism.

It’s become a ritual that changed how I look at myself. It makes me stop, even if just for a moment, and take note of how I feel. I might give my neck and shoulders a little extra rub, or my feet or hands if they feel sore. It doesn’t have to be a huge ritual, and just this little bit of self care can change my day.

Oil is also grounding and has the qualities of connection and cohesion. When I feel scattered, lonely, exhausted, overwhelmed or my heart feels a bit achy, taking some time to do a little oil massage is like putting myself back together.

It can be a lifesaver when you’re going through big things like breakups, moves, job changes, sickness, ect.

This can be a great time to set more time aside to and make oil massage a longer ritual where you really take time with yourself. Release the stress accumulated in your tissue, improve your circulation of blood and lymph, nourish your soul with lots of love and self acceptance and allow the nervous system to wind down.

Lotions and Creams are Crap 

Secondly, our skin is our largest organ and is a permeable membrane. Anything we put on it soaks in and penetrates our bodies. Ayurveda looks at the skin as ingesting the substances place on it, and for that reason says we should only put food grade quality stuff on our skin. Next time you grab a cream to rub on, ask yourself it you’d eat it?

Lotions and creams are a combination of oil and water plus emulsifiers to keep the two from separating. Because of that they don’t really nourish and feed the skin, but just coat it so it doesn’t feel so dry.

Many of them also contain fragrances and other toxic chemicals that can damage, clog or dry the skin. What did people put on their skin before these relatively new products existed? Natural oils!

For my face I use rose hip oil. It doesn’t leave you skin feeling greasy at all and it reduces the wrinkles that come from dehydration and sun exposure. I prefer sweet almond oil for my body on a regular basis because it’s lighter, and coconut when I really need nourishment and deep moister.

Simple Rules for Self Massage

  1. Listen to your intuition and just massage wherever you’re body is asking for it.
  2. Massage your feet if you don’t have time for your whole body. Reflexology has mapped the entire body on the feet so you’re still giving whole body love.
  3. Do long strokes on long bones, circular strokes around joints.
  4. Stroke moving from periphery toward heart to stimulate lymph and circulation.
  5. Do it somewhere warm, and use towels that you don’t mind getting oily.
  6. Be careful of slipping if you do it in the shower, and pore hot vinegar water down your drain every so often to avoid build up of oily film in pipes.

Benefits of Self Oil Massage Unknown

• Nourishes mind and body, grounding, connecting

• Rejuvenates the whole body, including the skin

• Increases longevity

• Delays aging

• Relives fatigue

• Builds stamina

• Promotes deeper sleep

• Enhances complexion and luster of skin.

• Enhances circulation and detoxification

• Releases stress

• Awakens the senses

• Recovers muscle fatigue

Join me April 1-7 for the Bali Spirit Retreat and let your spirit shine! 

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• Supports digestion, corrects blood pressure, and supports organ communication

• Shifts the attitude into positivity

• Teaches self-love + self-care

From Eating Disorder to Body Love

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Last night I was privileged to speak at a fundraiser for the Butterfly Foundation, an organisation that supports Australian’s experiencing eating disorders, and the topic of the evening was about body image.

I’ve been a professional body worker now for 12 years, and have worked therapeutically with thousands of people through the medium of physical touch, body awareness, movement and connection.

The topic of how we perceive our bodies, our body image, is one that’s been at the heart of my professional exploration for a long time. It’s also been central to my personal growth, struggles and breakthroughs.

What I’ve come to learn over the past decade is that cultivating a positive body relationship is intrinsic to our health.

In fact, let’s leave out the words positive and negative and just say cultivating a relationship with our body is intrinsic to health.

Do you feel connected to your body or disconnected from it? 

When I think about and observe negative body image in myself and others I get a sense of real disconnect from the body.

A lack of seeing the body as something to engage with but instead seeing it as an object that we just happen to be stuck with.

Weight and good looks are always in the forefront of body image issues, but body image is so much bigger than that.

I see negative body image expressed in both women and men in phrases like: too fat, too old, too thin, too stiff, too flexible, too weak, too short ect.

In phrases like, “My shoulder just won’t work.” “My hips always give me problems.” “I”m always getting sick, my body just isn’t that resilient.” “I have terrible skin.” “I’m just too old.”

The comments always are about being too much or not enough or stuck in some pattern.

In this paradigm the value of the body is placed on how it looks and what it can do for us, and our self worth and identity are attached to that.

The yoga system tells us that this approach to our existence leads to suffering, and I can tell you from personal experience that it does.

I grew up doing ballet and dancing since the age of 5 and was very much influenced by the feminine ideal of thin and delicate.

I had the role modelling of older dancers exchanging tips on diet pills, laxatives and it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone purging in the studio toilets.

When I was 16 my body attacked itself. I got an autoimmune disorder that attacked my endocrine system and hormones, I rapidly put on weight, and had to deal with a number of symptoms that left me feeling exhausted and unwell.

I cursed my body for not functioning like it should. I felt ashamed of how my appearance changed and inability to dance like I used to. And I felt lost without my identity as a lithe ballerina.

I spent the next few years trailing hormone therapies that had worse side effects than the actual autoimmune disorder and tried to escape my body, anxiety and misplacement of self worth through eating disorders.

AKA: Suffering! 

When I was 19 I quit Uni and decided to go to massage school in search of something more meaningful. I was on a quest to heal and understand why my body attacked itself and I knew that the high stress environment of achievement was not the path.

This is when I started practicing yoga and I began to learn about a whole new value system.

Identity

I think the greatest lesson Yoga taught me was that that our true identity is the pure light within us. It’s called purusha and can be likened to the word soul. It’s the light in our eyes that connect to the light in other people’s eyes, that knows without saying, that we see illuminated in innocent children.

This is the part of us that does not change. Everything else through life changes, our appearance, our relationships, our work, or health everything else changes, but the light within us stays constant.

The Yoga Sutras tell us that identifying with that which changes leads to suffering. We therefor need to learn to identify with our light, our purusha, that does not change.

The Body Speaks 

Secondly, this system teaches us that our body is not just a machine to do tasks or a mask to live behind, but an expression of a deeper truth and a fascinating and complex sensory organism giving us information about ourselves and the world around us.

It is a microcosm of the macrocosm, a dynamic ecosystem containing the mysteries and laws of the whole universe. The yoga system teaches us that everything we need to know is within us, and we simply need to look inwards and listen.

Rather than just looking at my body, I was slowly learning how to look into my body and listen to it. 

And this is what I mean by developing a relationship with our body.

When we’re connected to our body we learn to dialogue with it, when we’re disconnected from our body we place demands on it.

Breath body practices, especially ones with mindfulness involved, like yoga or chi gong, thai chi teach us how to have a working relationship with our body and then the way we value it begins to change completely.

I see two major disconnects that trigger negative body image:

  1. One is that we think more about how we look than how we feel, and 
  2. Secondly we think more about what our body can do for us rather than what it’s telling us.

Awareness of our body is the gateway into who, what and how we are right now in this present moment. It’s a system full of feedbacks and information telling us exactly what we need.

Look at your body as a book full of information about you and giving you information about the world around you. Your body is not just a car carrying your mind around, but is an expression of a deeper truth, it is a manifestation and expression of our beliefs and ultimately our inner light.

Shift into a more positive body image right now!

  1. Remember your true identity is the light within.
  2. Ask how your body feel, rather than how it looks.
  3. Ask what your body is telling you, rather than what it can do for you. 

What has helped you cultivate a positive relationship with your body? 

Hindsight’s a Bitch

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How many times have you looked back on a situation and thought, “Wow, if only I’d seen it from this angle in that moment.” Who hasn’t?! Distance and time always bring clarity,  but it’s so frustrating that we don’t always see so clearly in the moment. I guess that’s why they say, “Hindsight’s a bitch.”

Everyone experiences this because in the moment it’s often hard to have a clear understanding of the bigger picture. This lack of clarity in the Yoga Sutras is called Avidya, or “the veil of misperception.”

This is one of the most important concepts in the Yoga Sutras and sheds light on why all people find themselves suffering.

Ultimately, the purpose of Yoga is to lift the veil of Avidya, and the trusty old Yoga Sutras provides us with four tips for how to see more clearly in the moment (see below). Let’s look a little closer at the concept of Avidya. Here’s what TKV Desikachar says about it.

Now what is this avidya that is so deeply rooted in us? Avidya can be understood as the accumulated result of our may unconscious actions, the actions and ways of perceiving that we have been mechanically carrying out for years. As a result of these unconscious responses, the mind becomes more and more dependent on habits until we accept the actions of yesterday as the norms of today. Such habituation in our action and perception is called samskara. These [unconscious] habits cover the mind with avidya, as if obscuring the clarity of consciousness with a filmy layer.

We seldom have an immediate and direct sense that our perception is wrong or clouded.

Avidya seldom is perceived as avidya itself. Indeed, one of the characteristics of avidya is that it remains hidden from us. Easier to identify are the characteristics of avidya’s branches. If we know that these are alive in us, then we can recognise the presence of avidya.”

Recognising the Four Branches of Avidya as Warning Signs

This gives a tool to see our blind spots. When we realise that one of the four branches of Avidya (ego, aversion, attachment and fear) is showing up in our lives it’s a warning sign that we’re not seeing the big picture.

Ideally, we then catch ourselves and ask ourselves, “What am I not seeing/understanding?” We’ve explored this concept this week in my yoga lifestyle programs and I personally have done a bunch of journaling about this week. It’s fascinating, sometimes scary, but always helpful what can be revealed.

Below I’ve explained the four branches of avidya with a bit more detail and provided thought provoking journal questions for you to dive deeper into what might be clouding your current vision and understanding. Enjoy!

The Four Branches of Avidya, Misperception

1. Ego – Asmita - Ego pushes us into identifying with things that change, with something other than our inner light (purusha), and expresses itself in statements
like, “I’m the worst/best/right one.”

Journal questions: Recently, what impermanent aspects of myself or life have I been strongly identifying with? How has this been influencing my decisions, interactions and beliefs? When I take a step back, and identify with my observer mind and inner light , what is the deeper truth or bigger picture?

2. Attachment – Raga - Attachment shows up often as demands, cravings, resistance to change and a feeling of needing something we don’t need or know is bad.

Journal questions: Recently, what necessary changes have I been resisting? Or, what have I been craving and/or demanding and is this necessary? How has this been influencing my decisions, interactions and beliefs? When I take a step back, and identify with my observer mind and inner light , what is the deeper truth or bigger picture?

3. Aversion – Dvesa - Aversion expresses itself as rejection of people, thoughts, experiences and especially things that are unfamiliar. Not wanting to see what something is mirroring back to us about ourselves.

Journal questions: Recently, what ideas, thoughts, people or new experiences have I been strongly rejecting? Why? What is that idea/thought/person/experience showing me about myself? How has this been influencing my decisions, interactions and beliefs? When I take a step back, and identify with my observer mind and inner light , what is the deeper truth or bigger picture?

4. Fear – Abhinivesa - Fear appears in many aspects of our life and is perhaps the most insidious of the branches. It manifests as uncertainty, doubt, hesitation, anger, depression and in many other ways effecting our decision, interactions and lifestyle.

Journal questions:  What have I been afraid of, worried about, anxious about lately? How has this been influencing my decisions, interactions and beliefs? When I take a step back, and identify with my observer mind and inner light , what is the deeper truth or bigger picture?

How do you remind yourself to see the bigger picture? 

A New Definition of Purity 

Saucha

The idea of living a life of purity used to bring to mind virgin angles sheltered from the world, untouched by the sometimes harsh experiences of life, or celibate sages living in far off ashrams or monasteries. In other words, not the reality most of us live in, and as such I didn’t really understand how to strive for it as the Yoga Sutras suggests we should.

But I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to purity in recent years as I’ve explored more deeply the meaning of Sauca.

Sauca, means purity or cleanliness, and is the first of the niyamas, or attitudes of a yogi as outlined by the Yoga Sutras.

The more I use yoga practice to read my life in terms of energy rather than stories or ideas, the more logical all of these practices become.

Energy, or Prana, is the stuff of life, and really all of our yoga practices aim to improve the flow of life-force into us and through us. As Darren John Main says, “Prana is the difference between a block of wood and a living tree. It is the difference between a corpse and a living body.”

I’ve learned through practicing yoga and studying Ayurveda that the most important question isn’t, “Is this good or bad?” but rather, “How is this effecting my prana?”

In this way we can make decision based on what’s best for us as individuals, not based on a list of should’s, and the more we do this the more we learn to trust and take care of ourselves.

So, from that perspective I’ve redefined purity and cleanliness, Sauca: anything that improves my intake and flow of life-force energy is pure; anything that depletes, blocks or stagnates my life-force energy is impure.

In my yoga lifestyle programs this week we’ve explored how Sauce based on this definition plays out in our lives. And how we can make Sauca a practice rather than simply an esoteric ideal.

We often hear people taking about practicing purity in how we eat and cleanliness of the body, but below you’ll find some of the less commonly looked at areas of our life that we’ve been practicing Sauca.

Practicing Purity of Place

If we’re surrounded by clutter and mess then the energy around us will be blocked and have a big impact on how we feel, think and act.

Today, simple take some time to clean up the space around you.

Even if you only have 10 minutes just clear out some small drawer or your wallet. If you have more time and energy go to town and get cleaning! Notice how your energy feels afterwards.

Practicing Purity of Speech 

When our communication is unclear it means that the interactions surrounding that communication is not flowing optimally. Remember, think about everything in terms of energy and how it flows or stagnates.

We all know it feels so much better when we’re understood or when we’re understanding someone else clearly, and that when this isn’t happening there seem to be problems.

Today, simply remind yourself to speak from your highest self and deepest truth.

If you’re finding it hard to speak your truth take a moment to ask yourself, what is the limiting belief that stops me from communicating clearly? And, what is the deeper truth?

Practicing Purity of Thought

Our beliefs and thoughts are truly what create our lives.

Purity and cleanliness in thought means flowing and liberation of energy. The biggest way to stop the flow of energy is to have negative thoughts about yourself.

Unfortunately, this negative self talk also seems to be a universal trait of man kind. A lot of our modern culture actually perpetuates this negative self talk, particularly the advertising industry that plays on our feelings of inadequacy to sell us something we don’t need.

Today, let yourself hear the self limiting thought that is arising, acknowledge that there is a deeper truth beyond that self limiting though that will liberate your energy. Write that deeper truth down! Repeat it to yourself as much as you can!

How do you practice purity?

I’ve Neglected My Kitchen Lately, and Myself 

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I opened a cupboard recently and out toppled a box of tea and a jar of spices. I started to hastily shove them back into the cluttered mess and rummage around to find what I needed, but then I stopped, looked at the state of those shelves and thought, “Wow, I have seriously neglected my kitchen lately, this has got to change!”

Now the truth is, it took me a couple of days before I set aside the time to dive into the mess and reorganise. But once I did start ripping everything out of the cupboards, throwing old junk away, making the shelves sparkle and stacking those pots, pans, jars and even all the annoying mismatched tupperware ever so neatly, I wondered why I’d waited so long.

Clearing my kitchen felt like clearing mind, emotions, and priorities and, I had great insights into how the way I treated my kitchen reflected how I treated myself.  

Before I dove into the chaos I remembered a free talk my Ayurvedic teacher Cate Stillman gave called the Simple Kitchen. I found it saved in my files and listened to it again as I sat on the kitchen floor surrounded by the explosion of all it’s contents.

The Kitchen is the hub of consciousness 

Cate reminded us that the kitchen is the hub or centre of the family, the household, and our  consciousness. The energy of the kitchen takes hold of and influences the consciousness of everyone it’s feeding.

Even if you’re single like I am and it mostly feeds just you, the way we treat our kitchen reflects how we’re relating to our daily act of nourishment.

I must say, to begin with I felt a bit embarrassed and down trodden sitting amongst the mess and listening to Cate asked probing questions like, “What has the energy in your kitchen been lately? How does that relate to your eating patterns? What would you like the energy of the kitchen to be like?”

I realised that lately my kitchen was not nearly as intentional as I’d like it to be (and nor were my eating habits), and this being the hub of my consciousness I could also see how that was influencing my sense of clarity, self love and health.

The Kitchen holds the fire of transformation

Well this insight lit the fire under my procrastinating bum and I got organising. The kitchen is after all about fire, agni, the heat of transformation or as Cate put it alchemy.

Even if we’re not actually cooking with a flame, every time we step into the kitchen we’re engaging the process of transforming substances into the fuel and make up of our body. I could feel that heat of transformation working it’s magic on me just by organising tea boxes, bags of grains and jars of herbs.

Cate lectured about this space being like a laboratory where we use our food as medicine, where we experiment and discover ourselves, our needs and our inner nature.

Our engagement with the kitchen is a yoga practice.

Yoga is not about doing everything perfectly, it’s about exploring who we are, and discovering what we need to find balance and harmony and connect to our most sacred self.

Cate dug deeper and asked questions like: What is your attitude when you walk into the kitchen? What attitude do you want to have in the kitchen? How can your kitchen be your yoga practice?

She also gave great tips on getting organised to support weekly kitchen sadhana. Sadhana refers to a practice that invokes spirit or calls to the highest.

Our food prep can be a sadhana of self care, a practice that connects us to our spirit and our intention for the whole week, for our health and deeper purpose. By simply picking on day to do extra prep we’re set up to nourish ourselves deeply for the week and feel more supported for our work in the world.

Honouring the Kitchen, honouring ourselves

The probing continued: Do you honour the kitchen as the hub/centre of the family organism, of consciousness? How do you want to honour the kitchen as the centre? How do you want to refine the kitchen so that it becomes an even more intentional hub or creation centre?

Cate recommend placing something in your kitchen to remind you of your deeper intentions and the power of the kitchen as the hub of consciousness. I placed two little Balinese statues in prayer above my cupboards to remind me, and recipe booklet I got from my meditation teacher called “The Yoga of the Kitchen.”

Just before sitting down to write this I made lunch, looked at those two things and felt a sense of calm and ease come over me. It changed my whole attitude from “hurry up and make lunch so you can do your other things” to “This is sacred, this is self love and self care and meant to be enjoyed.”

The kitchen is a place of joy and connection

There is a reason everyone crams themselves into the kitchen at parties, and yes part of it is because we all love the food. But I think the bigger reason is that it feels like an intimate space that is also familiar and safe where we can be real and enjoy each other’s company.

We need to be nourished by connection and joy, community and intimacy as much if not more than by any kind of food. It’s no wonder that sharing food throughout all cultures has been the meeting ground for family and community.

As my meditation teacher Tim Mitchell, who is also an Ayurvedic chef once told me, “the most important ingredient for any recipe is love.”

Spring is the best time to clean, so get going and clear the energy of your kitchen and your consciousness!

Tell us, what do you do to make your kitchen more sacred?

Ayurvedic Tips to Get Your Body Summer Ready

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The weather’s warmed up around Sydney and I can feel a real buzz in the air with the anticipation of summer just around the corner. But while our mind’s might be ready for fun in the sun, but how about our bodies?

I’m seeing a lot of students lately sniffling their way through class, complain about throat tickles, feeling a little low energy and worrying about dawning the bikinis again.

Spring is the sticky season according to Ayurveda. Our body’s often have an excess of mucus from winter stagnation and we want to use this time of year to shake that off, clear our channels and get things moving again.

This is the season dominated by the elements water and earth, called Kapha, and after the winter months of slower metabolism and movement many of our digestive, breath, immune and energetic channels can be clogged up with accumulated toxins.

Basically, we’ve got a bit of the winter sweater hanging on still and Spring time is the perfect time to shed it by cleansing the body. So I’ve come up with a list of yogic and Ayurvedic recommendation for how to do that.

  1. Up your exercise

Spring time is the best time for vigorous exercise because the weather is not yet too hot and our body has extra stored fuel from the winter insulation we often put on.

Being that is Kapha season also means we’re most connected to the dense physical earth and water elements and naturally gravitate toward being more aware of our bodies. Try those hand stands, forearm balance or challenging physical things you’ve always wanted to do. When we have greater cohesion of Kapha energy we’re less likely to get injured.

  1. Eat more pungent, bitter and astringent foods

In Ayurveda all food falls under one of six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.

Sweet, sour and salty are considered building tastes, meaning when we eat them they build mass. Pungent, bitter and astringent are considered reducing tastes, meaning when we eat them they reduce mass.

We want to reduce mass and shed the winter sweater, burn through accumulated fat which holds toxins and lighten our physical being to find balance.

Pungent includes anything spicy, onions, garlic, chills, ginger ect.

Bitter includes bitter greens, turmeric, dandelion root, herbs ect.

Astringent includes things like grapefruit, legume, raw veggies ect.

  1. Drink spicy lemonadeUnknown

Hot or cold this a great drink to have in the spring time to stoke the digestive fire and bring lightness into the system. Simply mix juice of half a lemon, slice of fresh ginger, pinch of cayenne pepper and teaspoon of maple syrup or coconut syrup.

This is a great thing so sim warm in the morning or evening, and cool throughout the day. It also curbs appetite and can helps us snack less through the day.

  1. Relieve allergies and sinus with neti pot

For years I dreaded spring time because my sinus were so sensitive to the the pollens and flower fragrances newly bursting forth. But that sinus pain has nearly vanished since I started a regular practice of flushing my sinuses using a neti pot (one of the traditional yogic cleansing practice). Ask at any health food store or chemist and you’re likely to find one with instructions.

  1. Eat more greens

Eat all the fresh greens you can! Nature is always guiding us into balance. In the Autumn when we want to put on a bit of weigh for winter it provides us with a harvest of nuts and root veggies, in the spring when we want to lighten our system for summer it provides us with a harvest of leafy greens.

Try to bring greens into every meal this time of year. Play with spinach in your green smoothie for breakfast, big salads at lunch and steamed greens for dinner.

  1. Sprout at home 

Along the same lines as above, we always want to fallow the wisdom of nature. Right now everything is Unknown-1sprouting, and sprouts are an amazing super food. Sprouts have more protein per pound than lean meat and far more absorbable and diverse nutrients.

It’s so easy to sprout at home there’s no reason not to do it! Simply get a packet of alfalfa seeds, put a scoop full in a jar, place a cheese cloth over the mouth of the jar and hold in place with a rubber band, rinse the seeds with water and drain in the morning and evening. In a few days you’ll have a jar full of fresh sprouts, voila!

  1. Fire up your breath with pranayama

Keeping the breath channels open and cleanse is really important. Our body pushes unwanted waste out of us via the mucus channels of our body, and one of the main ways we see this in the Spring is through a snotty nose.

Get a box of tissues ready and practice Kapalabhati and Bhastrika pranayama. Check out this article by Yoga International to learn more. 

  1. Spring clean your space

Finally, we feel energetically clear and light when the environment around us is also clear and light. Spring cleaning our home and space helps the energy around us flow better, and when this happens the energy within us also flows better.

The Mysteries of Second Winds and Sluggish Mornings

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Ever wonder why you get a second wind late at night? Why you can wake up early but then feel heavy the rest of the morning? Or why you just can’t seem to stay focused in the afternoon? 

Amazingly, the traditional medicine system of India, Ayurveda, has an explanation for all of this and it’s been the topic of the free talks I’ve given over the last few months.

As mentioned in previous posts the Ayurvedic system understands that EVERYTHING is composed of the five elements — ether, air, fire, water and earth — and paying attention to the elements that dominant in and around you is a crucial part of living a healthy life.

Why? Because health is synonymous to balance and when we have an imbalance of elements in our life we have health problems.

The beauty of this system is that once we get our head around the qualities of the elements and how they show up in our food, body, personality, environment, and all things, we can easily design a life of balance and health.

It’s really simple. Just remember that like increases like and opposites balance. 

If there is too much of one element in your life, just bring in the opposite to find balance.

Ask yourself right now, what is out of balance in my life? Intuitively you might have a sense that this imbalance relates to an element — for example, too much movement (air), or stimulation (fire), a sense of emptiness (ether), lack of structure (water) or stagnation (earth).

The next step is to simply ask: What is the opposite element or quality and how can I bring that into my life to find balance?

Life is no more than an accumulation of days and moments. As such, to change our lives we’ve got to change our day to day patterns. 

One of the most practical and powerful lessons of Ayurveda is understanding how the elements show up throughout the day and then creating daily routines based on this understanding that bring balance into your life.

It’s called Dinacharya in Sanskrit, and means daily rhythms or routines.

When our daily routines align to the daily rhythms of nature we thrive — in mind, body and spirit. When we’re out of synch with these rhythms health issues start to manifest.

Sadly, our modern culture is very out of synch with the natural daily rhythm, and as a result we have an epidemic of lifestyle diseases and issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, irritable bowl syndrome, cancers, depression, anxiety and many many more.

So what are Nature’s daily rhythms and how do we align to them? 

The day is broken down into three periods each with dominant elements (see clock graphic). This cycle happens twice in a day and is influence by sunrise, sunset and when the sun is highest in the sky or other side of the earth. Worry less about exact times and feel more into the influence of the sun on the planet.

When we know what elements dominate in each time of the day, we can be wise about how we choose to spend that time, always remembering that like increases like and opposites balance.

Element and energy dominance at each time of day:

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2:00 – 6:00 – air & ether (Vata dosha) — the subtle wind energy

Before the sun rises, air and ether dominates, meaning there is a lot of lightness, movement, and connection to spirit and subtle energy. This is a perfect time to meditate, and also why some people wake up in the early hours of the morning full of thoughts.

In the afternoon these elements cycle around again creating lightness. This can sometimes cause scattered thinking in the afternoon, but if you ground yourself (opposite quality to air is earth), then it can be a fantastic time for creative thinking and projects.

6:00 – 10:00 – water and earth (Kapha dosha) — the nourishing water energy

Once the sun rises, the heavier, denser elements of water and earth dominate. This is why dew forms on the grass and why we can start to feel sluggish again even if we woke up with energy before the sun came up. This is the best time to do physical activity, bring movement (air/lightness) in for balance, and use your dense physical body. Careful not to eat too heavy of a breakfast our you’ll just bring more of that earth and water into you and get out of balance.

In the evenings water and earth elements make their appearance again, our body physiologically reacts to the darkening of the sky and we start to feel heaviness and density. Go with it, we want this in the evening so that we can wind down and get a good night sleep. Again, careful not to eat a heavy dinner or you’ll exacerbate these qualities.

10:00 – 2:00 – fire and water (Pitta dosha) — the transforming fire energy

When the sun is highest in the sky we feel the transformative heat and movement of fire and water in our bodies.  We feel stimulated mentally and physically. All primates, not just humans, produce the most bile (digestive fire) in the middle of the day. To capitalise on this fire we want to eat our biggest meal at lunch, and also be mindful not to overheat ourselves with too much sun or stimulating food and drink.

The infamous second wind kicks in usually around 10pm when the fire element makes it’s second appearance in the day. Ideally, we want to be in bed at this time so that rather than stimulating our mind this fire quality can go to stimulating tissue reparation and digestion of the day’s experiences and substances while we sleep. If we skip this and stay up too late our body really starts to suffer.

Want to start living in alignment? 

It’s well and good to think about these concepts, but making them part of your day to day life is when the real magic starts. From this blog you can already start to apply this information by paying attention to how you work with the energy of the day or exacerbate it.

If you really want to dive into this juicy material and start to see it transform your life into greater health and vitality I’ve created a 30 Day Yoga Evolution program that guides you through designing ideal daily rhythms.

This program also uses the latest habit science research to help you create new habits that you’ll actually stick to and a healthy life style that is sustainable.

The next 30 Day’s starts this Sunday, September 28th at Qi Yoga in Freshwater and part of the program includes a one month unlimited class pass. I’ve also created an online version of the program for people who can’t make it to the Sunday sessions, find out more here.

Tell us, what’s your favourite time of the day and why?