Movement Vs exercise

I probably need to go back to the start.
 
My parents are both fit and athletic. For as long as I can remember my mum has been doing aerobics (I was born in 1980 so pretty typical) When I was 14 I started doing aerobics with my mum.  We went to hips, tummy, thigh and step classes. I loved it. I also started going to the gym when I was about 16 years old. I’d go in the mornings before school, have a smoke afterwards (uggghh I shudder now) but I became pretty obsessed. I went to the gym twice a day. I loved exercising. I did enjoy it but for me it directly correlated with food and I mostly did it because I enjoyed being thin and I was definitely afraid of becoming fat. It was just something you did in my family.
 
Fast forward a few years, I continued to work out, do classes at the gym then I discovered Yoga and I loved Yoga. I started doing Bikram Yoga and then Ashtanga Yoga, which is a very physical practice (it’s the type of Yoga Madonnna did when she had guns of steel) When I left my job as a flight attendant, I worked at an IVF clinic and became pregnant almost straight away. After working as a long haul flight attendant (where to be honest there was a lot more downtime than there was work) I couldn’t handle being in a 9 – 5 environment. I felt so stifled. I didn’t like going to work every day, sitting at a desk mostly and doing the same thing day in and day out. I had worked there for about a week when I decided to start a personal training course, I’d been looking into it for a while I was flying, it just seemed like the logical thing to do. So, I was pregnant going to Melbourne IVF every day, studying in the evening and going to classes once a week. I finished just as I had Sianh and then started seeing my first client, whom I still see almost every week just shy of seven years later.
 
After I had Sianh I went and did my pre and post natal training and learnt the importance of squats and then discovered my hero Katy Bowman and then really everything changed. 
 
I discovered that exercise is a relatively new phenomonom; it wasn’t until the mid 20th century that regular exercise as a means to improve health began to become mainstream.(I’m not talking about sport; I’m talking about exercise) Before that, we didn’t need exercise. If you’d walked several kilometres a day, hunted down your dinner, climbed a tree, spent big chunks of time squatting to collect and forage food, danced, carried your children around with you all day, spent time grinding spices or flour, transported large and awkward things around because there are no cars or trolleys then I don’t imagine you’d really feel the need for exercise. When you lay down at night, I imagine you’d be pretty exhausted. So the need for exercise has arisen as our health has declined due to our lack of movement. (I’m talking specifically about Western culture here)
 
This lack of movement in our culture now begins almost from birth. We put babies in deep car seats, prams, capsules, in shoes where their movement is restricted. Further to this, as soon as our babies have developed enough strength to sit and hold their heads up, what do we do? Stick them in a high chair (Don't worry I'm guilty as charged, see my IG post about this here) One of the things that really opened my eyes was watching Katy Bowman’s video on paleo parenting. More info on this video here
 
Some of the important movements she talks about are chewing, breastfeeding, walking long distances, movement in our feet due to walking over uneven terrains and textures, hanging, swinging and how lack of movement not only shapes us but also our communities. Chewing might not have been something you’ve ever thought of. It certainly wasn’t for me but I certainly think twice about having a smoothie now. 
 
So what does that mean for us? If you work at a desk in a 9 – 5 job, there are still steps you can take. And I think being aware of how much time you’re sitting is important. By the way, KB also includes riding a bike as sitting time. 
 
If you drive to work/come on the train, sit at a desk, drive home then sit on the couch to watch a movie or look at your phone that’s a pretty sizeable chunk of the day spent in a seat. In this case, exercise becomes super important to balance out all the non-moving and being in one position. 
 
If you’re someone who thinks sitting is the new smoking so you’ve got a standing desk, then you’re still spending a lot of time in the same position. If you’ve worked behind a counter, you’ll know the effects of too much standing. 
 
So it’s not only a question of sitting, although that’s huge but it’s being in any one position for too long and in this day and age, for most of us it’s sitting.
 
So, do we throw the baby out with the bathwater and poo poo exercise in favour of only natural movement? No, of course not. On the other hand, do we just accept being blobby in a chair all day and think that 30 minutes at the gym is going to fix everything. Also a big no. So, what’s the answer? I think at the very least we need to be aware. Being aware of how we move (or don’t) is a great starting point and then getting curious and exploring ways to make our lives more movement rich. Let’s make small changes and see what happens. I’m willing to get curious, explore, find out what works for me and others who are willing to share and then share back with you again what I’m learning. If you’re looking for a place to start, I recommend reading Katy Bowman’s book, Move Your DNA. This is a topic close to my heart, it’s changed my life and the way I live. I would love to hear your thoughts or let me know if you had any questions.

Routine or ritual?

Just wanted to ask, do you have a morning ritual? It feels like everywhere I turn lately, I’m confronted with morning rituals; people on Instagram telling me about their morning routines and listening to podcasts stressing how important they are to having a great start to the day. I listened to a podcast that went for 45 minutes outlining one woman’s morning ritual!!! And it has been making me feel totally inadequate about my mornings!

Here is how my mornings go: 
-Wake up, sometimes I set my alarm.
-I usually have a child in my bed and then the other one calls out to come and collect her from her bunkbed. Put her dressing gown on and we go out to the family room.
-I stoke the fire and get it going again.
-Make a warm glass of water with lemon.
-Warm a cup of milk for my daughter over the stove.
-Make my kids breakfast.
-Make a cup of tea for my husband and at the moment bulletproof coffee for me.
From, there anything goes…
 
So, that’s it! I have tried to get up earlier and do something more complicated and spiritual but two things happen. One, I’m too tired when the alarm goes off because I have probably gone to bed too late or I’ve woken up several times through the night (yes, it still happens!) or I do get up early and then I hear “Mum” so then we’re all sitting there in the dark, doing the above morning routine lol

So, I was getting frustrated. I was getting FOMO.  But when I started thinking about it, I actually love that start to my mornings. It’s quite relaxing and we all know the routine now. Actually, I think it is a ritual rather than a routine. Routine suggests boredom and monotony and ritual suggests something spiritual, magic, making something ordinary feel extraordinary.  
 
As much as I loved my mornings, I really wanted some time for meditation or breathing into my day. And as I can't do it in the mornings, duh I started a nightly ritual. And I love it. I don’t do it every night but I’m trying to do it (or a version of it) at least 5 nights a week.
 
 So, here is my nightly ritual.
 -Get things set up in my desired room. Make sure it is tidy. This is important; otherwise I can’t really relax. This is where washing baskets come in handy. Pop everything in, ship it out and you have a lovely tidy room. 
-Then I get candles out and sometimes incense or something that smells nice. I put them on a small side table
-I put my phone on flight mode and get my headphones out ready with my chosen playlist. I like new age music for focused relaxation but you might just like to listen to music that’s not Wiggles or the Moana soundtrack. 
-I make a tea and sometimes I get some chocolate. If I eat chocolate as part of my ritual I eat a lot less than I normally do.
-I like oracle cards. I have two sets so I choose which set I feel like and get the cards out. It feels quite special doing all this in the dark, kind of like something magical could happen (it hasn’t yet but I don’t give up hope – this is still new to me)
-I set my timer for 30 minutes and sit on a floor cushion at my table and in that 30 minutes I do a combination of listening to music, turning a card or three over, writing in my diary, focused breathing, drinking tea and eating chocolate mindfully. Even if I don’t write in my diary, I have it there in case anything interesting pops into my head that I feel is significant or I might forget if I don’t write it down. 
 
 After I’ve done this, going on my computer or phone doesn’t feel like an option so it’s perfect. (In being honest and open, sometimes I do go on my phone but a lot less than I used to) It’s actually helping me with one of my goals, which is going to bed earlier. 
 
Sometimes after that I do some gentle movement and stretches. Or read a book in bed. Or sometimes I do go out and watch TV with my husband. 
 
Sometimes, having a longer ritual like this might not be an option for you, morning or evening. But you might be able to do something else special occasionally like have a bath, take your time making some tea or a hot drink on the stove (I love making hot chocolate or golden lattes) or even cutting up some fruit mindfully after your meal can be a ritual. We can turn anything we want into a ritual. 

One day, I’d like to have more time in the morning for my own Yoga practice and more involved morning ritual but when my kids are older I’ll have all the time in the world to fill my days however I want to with body scrubbing, self massage, headstands and anything else I can think of. For now, I feel like my mornings are pretty perfect. 
 
So routine or ritual, mundane or earthly - maybe it's all a sense of perception. Is there anything mundane  or routine in your life that you could turn into a special ritual? It could be something as simple as buying a new sweet-smelling shampoo for after swimming lessons.  I hope you get some ideas from this or maybe you've realised you already have some beautiful rituals in your life and have something you can share with me. I would love to hear from you.

By the way, are you coming to my retreat on August 4th? I have planned some simple but special rituals as part of the day. A day of movement, Yoga, music, relaxation and pampering with delicious and healthy food in the company of some beautiful women. If you're sitting on the fence, why?! Come and join us.

No wine for you!

Ha ha, this subject line will only be funny if you are a fan of Seinfeld otherwise you’ll just think, who the hell are you trying to tell me not to drink wine!! 
 
So, first of all back up to my statement about no wine for you, why I won’t be serving wine at my retreat. Firstly, I have nothing against wine. I drink it, less and less these days but I still enjoy a glass or two now and then. But, I feel as a culture we have to add wine into everything; that things can’t be considered relaxing and fun unless there’s alcohol. Even Yoga has to have wine now???
 
Vino and vinyasa. I have to call you out; wine and Yoga don’t mix. Vino and veal, a much more likely match but wine and yoga - no.  So to try and match them together is just a marketing ploy. I am pretty liberal with my views of Yoga, I’m not dogmatic about it and I understand that it means different things to different people. I’ve not heard of people feeling rubbish after doing a Yoga class, I have on the other hand heard lots of people feeling rubbish after drinking wine. 
 
You often get a natural high from Yoga, which is why so many people love it. Or it maybe it’s just a feeling of being stronger and more flexible. Everyone is different, there’s no right or wrong. But whatever the feels, when you add alcohol into the mix, you’re going to make those crystal clear feelings a bit murky and dull. And I can’t understand why you would want to do that. 
 
I’m going to go a step further with this murky and dullness. I am someone who has issues in the past with alcohol so what I’m about to say might not resonate with you, which is fine. But I get triggered when I see a mum having a rant on social media (no issue with a rant) and the responses are ‘Have a glass of wine, or two or three.’ The days when I need a rant or feel down are the days when I make sure I totally stay away from wine. I have had plenty of absolutely shit days where 3:30 rolls around and I think, “Oh my God, would it be that bad if I poured some wine into my mug and pretended it’s tea?” Those are the exact days that I stay away. I have a mantra “Meditate, don’t self medicate” because I have definitely used alcohol as a way to numb and self medicate. Alcohol tends to send me into a downward spiral. And I know it doesn’t for everyone but this is my experience. If I’m not feeling in the greatest headspace, I don’t want to make those feelings murkier by adding alcohol into the mix. I want to keep them clear and see them for what they are, something that will pass if I allow them to.
 
So, if you are reading this while drinking a glass of wine, I don’t want to make you feel bad or spoil it. I love indulging in pleasure time and my last email was about rituals and there are lots of beautiful ways to enjoy wine or alcohol as part of rituals or celebration and definitely meals. 
 
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic?
 
Also, I’m closing bookings for the retreat soon. I’m not sure when but it will be very soon as I have some ordering and planning to make the day really special so once again if you’re on the fence, don’t wait too long because your chance will go. My husband and I have almost finalised the menu too, I was drooling discussing it and I’d just eaten dinner ha ha. It’s going to be good.