New wonderful year, same wonderful you

by Olivia Cartwright,

I personally love a New Year. It carries that certain familiar hope of a new beginning. The excitement that this year everything will be totally different to all others that have come before.

Human nature relishes a fresh start, with each New Year, Valentines, Birthday, Lent, Easter etc becoming a marking stone for things to be better. For us to be better. 

We knowingly divide our year into corporate opportunities to start afresh. It is for this same reason that every diet restarts on a Monday. We love to set a mental benchmark by which we strive to break old habits. As if the clock strikes midnight on a Sunday night, our halo realigns and all will power is restored once again. I'm as guilty of it as the next person. I consistently set new goals within my day to day life  to read more, lower my caffeine intake, or spend more time outdoors on a weekly basis.

However coming into the end of January I find even the best New Years intentions are beginning to waver. It is here that I believe the problem comes to a head. Once again we have set ourselves up to fail with our unrealistic goals, guaranteed to fail from the start. 

 

We do not carry such expectations of excellence within our family, friends, partners or spouses so why do we project them onto ourselves? I struggle to understand where this 'perfect' ideal has transpired from. I don't see that flawlessness is necessarily a positive, actually I'm pretty sure I would develop a thorough dislike for any flawless person. 

I suggest instead we should try not to be so hard on ourselves. Let's release all the guilt if that new diet hasn't quite gone to plan. Let's let go of the disappointment if that new gym membership hasn't quite got as much use as you'd anticipated and make a new kind of resolution. The saying "be yourself, everyone else is taken", comes to mind. Instead let's make this the year to practice some self love, get to know yourself and you never know, you might be surprised at how great you are already. 

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2015. Anything else is just a bonus! 

Olivia x


New Year Solutions

by Clare Neill, , link

Happy New Year from all of us at Radiance.  We hope 2015 is your healthiest yet!  

Every year many of us make lots of New Year resolutions but the majority are abandoned by February.  The reason so many of our resolutions fall by the way side is because they are either completely unrealistic or not specific.  

So this year I've decided to ditch resolutions and focus on solutions. Below are some of the big resolutions that are often made and the suggested solution to them. I hope this helps in you feeling your best.

Resolution: to eat more healithily

Solution: Start by defining what eating healthily means to you. Is there a particular lifestyle of eating that you believe would be good for you? You might believe you need to be dairy or gluten free, or perhaps you want to switch to a plant based diet. Whatever it is work out exactly what diet (and by this I mean long-term lifestyle, not short term unsustainable fad) you think you need to follow.  Once you've determined this think about if there are particular recipe books or blogs that reflect this lifestyle and start picking some recipes that you really like the sound of.  You're almost building a mood board or road map of food that is inspiring you and driving you forward. 

The big part: don't try to change every meal to eating in this way at once. Set yourself realistic targets of trying one or two new meals a week from the favourites you've picked.  Essentially it is about making gradual change and being kind to yourself. You will almost certainly fail at your goal of eating more healthily if you try to do a complete overhaul rather than making small but lasting change.

Resolution: to exercise more

Solution: Start by defining what more exercise is and exactly how many times a week you want to exercise, plus what type of exercise you want to do. Again, be realistic.  If you normally do a Hatha yoga class once a week don't expect yourself to suddenly start doing kick-boxing and HIIT training five days a week.  People are generally more motivated if they are accountable to someone else or if they have someone else to train with so see if you can find a friend to train with or join a class or club. Alterntatively finding a great PT is an excellent way to give focus to your training and they really know how to get results.  In London we love Dalton Wong and the 22 Training Team, but there are great PTs to be found everywhere.  Just try to find someone who has been personally recommended.  

We love the following studios and classes:

  • GoodVibes - PowerPlates, warm yoga, pilates, spinning - they've got your classes covered. Try Yoga Bliss on a Sunday for the most restorative yoga session to end your week on a high 
  • Frame Shoreditch and Queens Park - literally a class for everyone with an amazing soundtrack
  • barrecore - the original home of barre workouts, we love this place. With new branches opening
  • Sweaty Betty - the Sweaty Betty stores have lots of events on all the time, from running clubs to yoga classes. Check out your local store to see what's on

The other reason a lot of people say they can't exercise (me included!) is a lack of time. There are now so many classes available on line (not to mention fitness DVDs) that this really shouldn't be an excuse as we can exercise any time we want at the click of a button.  We'll do a blog on this later this month to give you home exercise inspiration.

Resolution: to meditate

Solution: Meditation, I think,  is one of the hardest practices to cultivate. I've been trying to do it on and off for years and I still think I'm terrible at it. So, as with everything, try to set yourself a reasonable goal. Perhaps try to commit to setting aside 3 minutes each day to try to meditate.  This doesn't have to be sat cross-legged on a cushion, it could be during your commute home. Meditation is a learned technique and we normally learn from other people, be that in person or online, so apply the same method to this as you would learning other skills. There are now some greats apps for meditation. Headspace is by far the most popluar and the founder, Andy Puddicomb, provides great guidance. 

I hope this gives you a bit of inspiration to start your new year on a positive trajectory.  Right, I better go, I have to find my yoga mat...

 


The Green Life with Jane Kersel, yoga teacher extraordinaire

by Clare Neill, , link

Jane Kersel is one of the UK's leading authorities on integrative wellbeing, specialising in energy work combined with intuitive coaching. She draws on a unique blend of holistic modalities, including: yoga (kundalini, tantra, vinyasa, yin); meditation; creative movement; hypnotherapy; spiritual psychology and natural nutrition. We are honoured to have her thoughts on being well and living a balanced life. 

Jane Kersel, janekersel.com

How do you view the connection between mind, body and spirit?

As one continual integrated loop.

It's a great shame, living in the western world we are taught that our mind is in our heads so already we see the body as separate from the mind, the spirit somewhere else.  It gives the impression that we are linear with two points of reference on that line - the beginning and the end.  So we think life is about duality: forward/back, past/future, black/white, yes/no, up/down, happy/sad, in/out, for/against. It's such a narrow minded, contracted way of living life. No wonder there is conflict in ourselves and not surprising there is therefore conflict and wars outside of ourselves.

Imagine instead that everything is concentric. The past is one of the spirals circling you, the future another. The mind is in the body, the body is in the mind.

Has your yoga practice changed over time? How?

Yes fully.  I never 'got' yoga when i was in my 20s. I was really flexible so could twist into any pretzel shape required with ease and wondered why the big deal with it.  I never understood the point of it.  Meditation even lying down to relax at the end was something I ran from. I felt then life needed to be a million miles an hour or I'd miss something. Now I realise in that speed I was missing everything - it was like being on a fast speed train and never stopping once at a station. Life moved through me or around me like a blur.

How do you encourage your clients to fit yoga into their busy schedules?

I don't ;) 

In that style, their to-do list just gets longer and they have something else to beat themselves up about if that doesn't get done too. Why feed the perfectionist inner demon; it gets enough food elsewhere.

What does your daily diet and exercise routine look like?

Well firstly, I really hate exercise. I like simplicity and letting the body move in a more playful way.

Diet is a word I don't like. I've never dieted in my life. When you focus your mind on diet then it becomes rigid and the focus is only on food. Learn to be in your body and you will naturally gravitate towards - and crave even - healthy food that has a high vibrational content.

How do you stay grounded despite the frantic pace of living in London?

That is extremely hard. You need the earth - you need to feel it, touch it, breathe it, smell it to stay grounded and in your body. I'm very lucky I purposely live on a communal garden. I have always sought a place to live near or on a park. If you live in a flat or work in a high rise building you are going to be so much living in your head that you need to put house plants around you, try to walk barefoot on grass at least once a week (that grounds you) or sleep on a grounding sheet. Learn to unplug your computer from the mains whilst you work on it at the very least. Drink one of your green juices everyday. You can never have enough green!

How can a complete beginner benefit from meditation?

I don't like the word meditation much. It's much overrated and made too 'special' for my taste - a bit like the yoga world. None of this is rocket science yet we live in a world of wanting to make things special and different. We all meditate to a degree. Sometimes you can feel that state of a calm, expanded mind when you're watching a beautiful sunset, making love beautifully and tenderly, stroking a cat, riding a horse, going for a run. It's that state where you are aware of your mind and you know that you're not your mind. You know we have about 20,000 thoughts a day - most of them the same thoughts we had yesterday and will have tomorrow. Meditation or stilling yourself so you are able to witness that onslaught of thought is the first stage of meditation. The second stage is giving the mind a particular thing to focus on - a mantra (set of words), a candle flame, your breath - anything that keeps you steady and encourages your mind not to wander.  These simple practices help quieten the mind and in turn quieten the nervous system and the adrenals.

What are your top 3 tips to de-stress the mind and body?

1. If you're feeling really stressed write down your thoughts or anxieties and see them for the 'madness' at times that they are. See what you can action and do and see those that are constant niggles. Maybe there are some things on that list that you cannot control.

2. Learn to know what you can control and what you can't. For example if you're having trouble in a relationship the only person you can change or account for is yourself. So let go of pushing out and focus inwards. What is my part in this? What is my vulnerability? Why do I react so strongly when X does Y? Once you get an insight into yourself then the next part is to choose whether you need to speak to that person. Then you get to speak/live your truth and allow the other person to meet you where they are at. So the stress gets diffused and not said from an attacking/judgmental part of us.

3. Lie down flat on the floor on your back - wherever you are - it really doesn't matter - close your eyes, put your hands on your belly and breathe five long deep breaths into your tummy. Each exhale let out a long deep sigh with open lips.  At the very least you will have raised a smile for everyone else around you and you will definately feel better.

Which are your favourite products in your bathroom cabinet?

I love sesame oill. The ancient yogis used to use it to keep their skin supple and muscles relaxed. It warms the body and skin and is very comforting to the nervous system. I massage it all over me before I have a bath or shower - London water is brutal. This helps to keep you hydrated and loved up.

What are your must-haves for staying healthy when travelling?

It's a real challenge to find the balance of staying healthy whilst travelling. Sometimes you can stay at the most luxurious hotel in the world but the food will be overly rich, wheat laden and dairy full - none of which makes me feel good and vibrant or sleep well.

1. A fresh green juice at least once a day and breakfast made of quinoa and avocado. I stayed at Amankila in Bali this year and had everyone on green juice by the time I left and quinoa was a firm fixture on the menu.

2. An enema bag - another great way to feel grounded is doing a coffee enaema when you arrive - it relieves the pressure on the liver and digestive system.  

3. A good pillow - sometimes I take my own or just use a rolled up towel under my neck instead.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

I like people who don't follow the norm because they 'should'. People who've really looked and felt into something and said 'yes this works for me/this doesn't'. Living from a place of true heart and mind alignment.

There's a difference for me, between those who are prepared to stand out from the crowd and not mind being different and those who purposely do things to be seen as different - that's too tied up in ego and specialness for me. I enjoy people who are just getting on with their lives and not making a big deal out of any of this stuff.  I've only ever studied or learnt my craft from folk who truly walk their talk, who are vibrantly healthy from the inside out, who have gone to the places that scare them in their hearts and minds and can speak from there, folk who are conscious - who realise the impact their actions/words/deeds may have on another, on the planet and choose to walk in the world lightly, kindly and generate love and tenderness around them.

 



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