A few months ago, in March, I have introduced my readers to the first truly luxurious Russian natural brand of skin & bodycare called Berezka Lab. Since then I have been expanding their presence on my bathroom shelves & now want to introduce you to two more of their products, Nail Serum & Body Oil that I have been testing since August.

In July, when I was in Moscow, I had the pleasure of catching up with brand’s founder  Dana & the more we talked, the more I caught myself thinking how much I admire her professionalism & drive. Raising three kids is a full on job in itself, but Dana also started her brand & continues building it in the not so easy current economic & political environment in Russia. Yet, she doesn’t show any signs of stress – she is calm, smiling & very focussed on what she wants to achieve. She continues to develop & add more products to the already impressive range, does events & engages directly with consumers & retailers in a personal way. No task is too difficult, no target unachievable, if Dana puts her mind to it. She just puts her head down & makes things happen, while giving consumers products that engage their senses & nurture their skin.

Berezka Lab Nail Serum

Nails take about four months to grow from base to the top, so looking at them an experienced practitioner would be able to tell quite a lot about your recent state of health. We use our hands daily, yet often forget to give them the love & care that they deserve, only to be surprised when the skin becomes dry & nails brittle. I am sure those things were on Dana’s mind when she was developing this concentrated & rosemary-smelling serum, which looks after your hands & nails simultaneously.

There are 11 plant & essential oils in the formula, which in synergy deliver extra moisture & nourishment, while also protecting hands, nails & cuticles from dryness, negative effect of regular exposure to tap water, UV rays & environmental elements, like wind, rain & cold.

Ingredients: Almond oil*, Grapeseed oil*, Apricot seed oil*, Sunflower oil*, Castor oil*, non-GMO Vitamin E, Rosemary extract, Grapefruit*, Ylang ylang*, Orange*, Lemon*, Frankincense* (* certified USDA Organic)

I tend to apply it in the evening, right before going to bed, when I know I won’t be washing my hands anymore in the evening. Put four to five drops into the palm of your hand, inhaling the calming, yet zingy aroma and spread it all over your hands, between the fingers, paying particular attention to nails & cuticles. The oil is quite concentrated & will sink in quickly, so you don’t have to worry about staining the bed sheets. Dana also recommends applying this oil after every contact with water, so you might want to leave it next to your kitchen or bathroom sink, it will act as a stern reminder to nurture the part of you that hugs & cares for others in so many ways.

Another benefit of using this Nail serum is that it helps combat discolouration & dark spots that you might notice after prolonged sun exposure in the summer, as well as helps restore natural, healthy appearance of the nails & cuticles, that are quick to become dry at the first time of neglect, especially when seasons change from summer to autumn.

My personal tip is to apply this product to your hands if you do evening meditation & focus of the smell, helping to calm down your thought process. I find the scent of the serum relaxing, yet positively charged, with refreshing notes of rosemary helping to shift my focus into calmer waters.

Another thing worth noting is the practical packaging aspect. As Nail Serum comes in a solid glass bottle with a screw-on pipette, you can tuck it into your handbag, without the fear of it leaking all over the inside of the bag & use it during the day, be it in the office or on the public transport on your way to a meeting. In order for you to look & feel nurtured you need to put consistent effort into daily beauty rituals, not do it sporadically & then decided that this or that cream or serum doesn’t work for you & move on to something else. Small steps, impressive results.

For more information about this product, please click here (the website is in Russian, but please contact the brand via e-mail & they will happily reply with answers to your questions in English).

Berezka Lab Body Oil

In the summer we peel the layers off & this body oil was lovely to use after being on the beach, but I intentionally left some of it to be tried in autumn & have to say that it works well on the skin, irrespective of the temperatures outside.

The oil is meant to be applied to a lightly damp skin after bath or shower, nourishing the skin & helping it look & feel hydrated. Just gently tap your body with a towel, without drying the skin completely & leaving it slightly damp to the touch – then you are ready to apply the body oil.

Dana selected & tested different oils before arriving to the final combination. The first six oils in the formula, Sweet Almond*, Grapeseed*, Apricot Kernel*, Coconut*, Jojoba* & Avocado* nourish & moisturise the skin, as well as help it look smoother & feel firmer with regular use. You also have Vitamin E, which is great for the skin in general, be it on your face or your body, plus Rosemary extract & a fragrant blend of Sweet Orange* & Marjoram*, Frankincense*, Litsea Cubeba*/May Chang* & Black Pepper* (*signifies 100% certified organic ingredients) which together help remove soreness from the muscles tired after a long day. The smell of the oil will also help calm down your nervous system, which is always an added bonus, considering the daily negative news that arrive from all corners of the world. Let’s breed calm peacefulness in the sanctity of our bathrooms, so we can emerge feeling kinder to ourselves and to others.

Apply the oil all over your body, with upward strokes, paying attention to areas that feel sore or tight, taking deeper breaths & inhaling the scent. This turns simple oil application to the skin into a mini-ritual of selfcare that every woman, irrespective of age, needs at the end of the day. Whatever you do, whether you are a student, a young woman climbing a career ladder or a busy mum, we all need something to help us feel calm. Massaging the body helps us get to know it better & pay attention to any changes that might take place over time. Instead of rushing, pausing. Slowing down the breath, smiling an inner smile & just enjoying the moment of being you.

I feel more relaxed after applying this body oil than when I enter the bathroom & the scent of it helps me go to sleep quicker & sleep somewhat deeper. Or it might be the power of positive intention & appreciation of the ‘me-time’ at the end of the day. With skin being our largest organ I think it is important to look after it daily & not from time to time. A body massage, while absolutely perfect when done by a professional who understands your body needs when you lie down on the massage table, is a luxury for some, so using a body oil & massaging the tiredness and kinks out of the muscles after a day on the move is something that is your way of thanking your body for everything it does for you daily. We so often criticise our bodies, I almost wonder if it was a person, how it would feel & treat us in return ? I think this is a predominantly female thing, as men aren’t so critical of their bodies as we are and we are the ones who carry & give birth to children.

The oil feels a little ‘dry’ to the touch, but as soon as you apply it, it sinks in & leaves behind a protective veil over skin, which makes your skin glow & feel very soft. Something that can be elusive, particularly now, when the colder weather, warmer clothes, hot showers or baths & radiator heat all start taking the toll on the skin. And if the skin you are in feels comfortable to the touch, that is bound to help you feel better being in it. This oil works for all skin types & doesn’t contain water, so there is no need for preservatives in the formula.

As both products contain essential oils, please do a patch test first in order to make sure there aren’t any adverse skin reactions or sensitivity to a particular ingredient/oil.

For more information about Berezka Lab Body Oil please click here

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I believe that serendipity plays a big part in our lives, we just need to trust the universe and our own inner gut feeling for the right things to come along. The secret is to grab the opportunity with both hands when it presents itself. When someone I have been quite curious about arrived in London in July – hello Alexis Smart  – I was ready to jump through hoops to meet her in person and lady luck was generous!

On a grey & rainy Saturday in  July, right after I went to a Glossier pop-up & came out wondering what the fuss & hype were about, I walked to Home House, my cosy abode for the afternoon. I got a text from Alexis that her taxi driver were a bit delayed, but she was on the way. When a beautifully ethereal woman with long, flowing blonde hair, somehow reminding me of a modern version of Genevieve, came into the lounge room, I knew immediately that I was in for a big treat of insightful conversation & I was right! Alexis warmly greeted me, we ordered some drinks & food to sustain us & started talking. Hours went by & the conversation flowed as if Alexis was a long-lost friend of mine. Calm, inquisitive & very intriguing. Now, a few months after our original meeting & two bottles of her tinctures already consumed & two more arriving, I am ready to share my conversation with Alexis with you, as well as my experience with the flower remedy tinctures that she creates – some of them you can order from her website in the US, some are stocked in the UK by Naturissimo & Amelia Nour & some she makes especially for her clients after the initial, 1,5 hour-long consultation in person or via Skype.

Alexis, whose mum is half-Irish, half-English, was raised in the city of Angels, the infamous LA. Her mother was very much into healing modalities, treating Alexis with herbal teas when she was unwell as a child, but Alexis only became interested in the healing practises in her late 20s, when she encountered health issues of her own, including anxiety, which could hold her in its tight grip without warning, whether she was at home or driving. She also caught some nasty bugs on her trip to Egypt – malaria & stomach parasites aren’t pleasant to say the least.

One day Alexis wondered into a store in West Hollywood, where she saw Dr. Bach Flower Remedies on sale, which surprisingly didn’t have clear user instructions on them. A regal looking woman working in the store caught Alexis’s eye and beckoned Alexis towards her, asking her to come back in ten minutes. Something about the situation that Alexis found herself in just felt right, so she left, only to return shortly after, curious. The woman gave Alexis some tinctures, with clear instructions on the label, as well as the brochure – there were seven remedies in one bottle & interestingly enough, the remedy that Alexis made for me on the day we met also had seven remedies in one bottle, but more on this later.

Alexis’s own tinctures had remedies corresponding to her personality, which the woman clearly ‘clocked’ from just looking at Alexis in the way that Alexis initially couldn’t understand – for example, her remedy din’t have anything for anxiety, but had one for obsession with imperfections. Alexis went home & started taking the tincture. In three days she felt better, in three weeks she noticed that her behaviour was changing. Within a short time Alexis quit modelling & acting ( ‘it was a job, not a passion’) & parted ways with her modelling & acting agent for good. New prospects were beckoning & a inquisitive obsession with flower remedies developed. All of this took Alexis by surprise, as while she was interested in healing from the early age, observing her mother, not in a million years she considered it to be HER vocation.

Looking back Alexis says that modelling & acting can lead to a critical state, where you lose confidence & feel disconnected from yourself. When you are disbalanced, your choices seem more like a reaction to emergencies, so when you start acting from the place of knowing, it just feels right. Years of cleanses, yoga, reiki & therapy didn’t bring Alexis such transforming results like the flower tinctures did – and through her work with Dr Bach’s remedies continue to do so. Within weeks, Alexis noticed a marked improvement in her health, making decisions became second nature, when before she was indecisive. Remedies addressed her emotional imbalances, so she started living based on the higher dictates of her soul & spirit, which never fail you, if you take time to pay attention to your intuition & inner voice. Alexis bought Dr. Bach 38 Remedies Kit & started experimenting with it, while training. Within five years from the moment that she first tried Bach flower tinctures, Alexis was treating her own clients one-to-one. Her own practise has been evolving since 2004, with studies from descendants of Dr. Edward Bach, as well as homeopathy in England & Greece, under George Vithoulkas.

Heal Yourself

The regal looking lady stayed in Alexis’s life for five years, mentoring her, helping her interpret things that some of the more complex clients presented with. As the whole process evolved, Alexis came to understand how simple in its essence Dr Bach system was & to this day she refuses to complicate things. ‘Heal yourself’ is a simple principle in itself Alexis told me & in her opinion every family should have a Dr. Bach Flower Remedy Kit of their own at home, with which you can easily change your mood & help your body when it is hyper or tired or is under par, adults & kids included.

The best way to know each remedy & its effect on a person was to try it, as well as get customer feedback. Everyone is individual, so while often there is a common thread with each remedy, in some cases Alexis noted unexpected results. She has a thoughtful & pragmatic disposition, so for her to use something on her clients, she needs to know that it actually works. When she sees her clients her approach is individual at every session, be it in person or via Skype & it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman or a child (she does have more female, than male clients, the latter at times reluctantly, are brought in by their other halves ) – we all have our little quirks, don’t we? At the end of the day, as Alexis thoughtful pointed out ‘we all are trying to be better & are working on ourselves each day’. Some just do it more consciously, while others prefer to ignore the warning signs, before change is forced on them by their own bodies.

A consultation with Alexis takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half & feels a like a warm, non-contact embrace. She talks to you, asking unobtrussive questions like an old friend. How do you feel? Do you sleep well? Why did you choose to consult her? What troubles you? Do you cry easily? Are you easily rattled? More often than not people come to see her spurred by a health or emotional crisis, often brought in by prolonged exposure to stress & a strong feeling that they need some support. With time the sense of emergency subsides & clients come to see Alexis for regular maintenance. As you talk, Alexis looks at you, her mind deep in thought, occasionally taking notes or dropping in another sub-question. She clearly recognises & decodes you, matching you expertly to the remedy. She might also consult a list of remedies, if she isn’t sure that this or that would be a better ‘match’ for you, before she prepares your own tincture.

One remedy is most effective, but in some cases, Alexis mixes up to seven into a navy glass bottle with a black pipette for you to take home with you. If you start with five or seven flower remedies and use it for a year, within 12 months you might come down to needing just one.

Two years ago Alexis took part in Selfridges Christmas showcase & more recently in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop festival, where she exhibited her products. With two online stockists in the UK already, Alexis is looking into expanding the list of her UK stockists in the foreseeable future. However, she is one of those calm people that does what she does with great passion, but she certainly doesn’t rush events or people – quite the opposite to most of us, who get edgy, if they don’t get an instant reply to e-mail or text…

Knowledge

When it comes to the actual tinctures, Alexis creates them according to original instructions from Dr. Bach and uses alcohol as preservative, in her case bio-dynamic brandy, and vegetarian glycerin in tinctures for the children. You should take four drops, four times a day directly under the tongue. When I asked Alexis about that protocol, she replied that ‘the dosage amount and sublingual dosing are all laid out by Dr. Bach, who originated this healing method, so I follow it. I know sublingual dosing bypasses the digestive system and absorbs immediately, as the tissue under the tongue absorbs quickly whatever you administer there, hence the reason they give B12 sublingually, as well as certain drugs. They seem more powerful when taken directly under the tongue, but they are still effective in a water bottle. I just seem to notice it more under the tongue, but it is a personal choice’. I would also like to remind you that four drops is one dose, if you put eight or more drops into a bottle, you might think that you got yourself covered for the day, but in actual fact you haven’t. Four doses four times a day, not one in a huge bottle that you sip during the day’.

Even though Alexis’s business is growing, she does most of the work herself & her dad, a former graphic designer, who lives close by, assists her when the need arrises. Alexis also has an assistant, who helps with orders, dispatches & booking schedule. Alexis also believes in working in an environment that is conductive to her work & makes sure that her products are based not just on theoretical principles, but practical experiences of her clients, past & present. That’s one of the reasons why she occasionally does random trials, like the one she did a few months ago via Facebook, sending people an ‘Empathy tincture’ and then collating the feedback after a month-long trial period. When you take her tinctures – and I am still utterly fascinated, several months after initially using them, you will feel a little different in three days, but you should notice changes on a more profound scale in 21 days. But more on this a little later.

Remedies

Alexis’s work is based on Dr Edward Bach’s original protocols, who noted a long time ago that sadly illness is part of our culture & way of life. He divided people into 12 personality types & originally only had 12 remedies. As he practised, he realised that people are more complex & that led to the understanding that more remedies are needed to address the problems that people presented with. When you have a consultation with Alexis, she prescribes you based on what presents, i.e what she observes & what she feels you need in the moment in time. If you think this is a bit hippy, I suggest you try her remedies first, in order to make up your mind. I had an open mind & no expectations & boy, was I surprised by the effect – I am currently on my third bottle that arrived from the US, as I was editing this post, alongside the ‘First Aid Kit’ that Alexis recommended that I try. I am a continued work in progress .)

When Alexis started describing my personality – and you have to remember, when we met, it was for the first time in person & we don’t have friends in common that know both of us well – she was spot on about many of my traits. She told me that I had a strong personality, am quick thinking & speedy to make decisions, as well as form opinions. When I get angry my anger is reactive & driven by adrenals (it also supposedly explains why I love bread !). I am also enthusiastic, curious (ok, website name could be a giveaway) & passionate, so much so that I will fight peacefully, but with determination for the cause or causes I believe in. I was mesmerised listening to Alexis’s descriptions of myself, but also was deep in thought about points that she raised, some of which I never contemplated or addressed. The remedy that Alexis created for me could have been based on one or two remedies, but instead we started with a ‘tower’ of seven blocks. Impatiens, Verveine (teaches you to just be, instead of doing something all the time), Vine (not often given, helps to be softer & less controlling), White Chestnut (goodbye overactive mind & questioning of ‘what if’), Star of Bleinhem (addresses past grief & brings you back to wholeness), Chestnut Bud (helps to stop acting in pre-set patterns & not learning lessons – this one is a very adult remedy), Willow (helps to be at peace when the world doesn’t seem fair or actions of others feel unjust).It was quite intriguing to see Alexis get her flower remedies kit out and make me two bottles of tincture, while sitting in the upstairs lounge of the Home House. Alexis asked for some spring water & just got on with mixing & writing labels  for me. She also taught me a wonderful lesson of not just practising daily gratitude (which I have been doing for over a year now, focussing on everything that I have, rather the things that I lack or want), but saying ‘thank you’ even before good things happen. For no obvious reason. In retrospect, I think such mindset puts you in a kinder, more receptive frame of mind & leads to a happier sense of self & a more abundant creative flow. No wonder Alexis has such calm air around her, an invisible but palpable aura of assured sense of purpose & contentment. During our chat she said that she came to England feeling open to things & potentially willing to stay for longer, if it felt right, than her initial plan…..

Remedies Experience

When you try your custom-made or general Alexis Smart remedies, remind yourself that change is coming. Alexis warned me that I might feel more tired, yawn, be more emotional or sleepy initially and that’s exactly how I felt during the first 24hrs of taking the remedy. I was much quieter upon my return home & continued to be so for a couple of days, almost weighing the words, before they escaped from my tongue. Your body is a machine and it takes time for it to re-boot, hence it is one of the reasons why Alexis recommends at least a two-hour window between taking the tincture, but if one window is longer and the other is shorter, it is fine too. Ultimately the ‘secret’ to success is to take the the remedy regularly & not sporadically.

As I continued to take the tincture through the summer I felt calmer & more reflective. Less judgemental of myself & less inclined to pass judgement on others. I backed off watching television, so much so my husband at some stage asked me, if I was feeling alright (I was, but all of a sudden I preferred to read the news, rather than watch them on TV). The same applied to the movies & shows I normally watch abundantly – I became even more selective. I caught up on my huge mountain of books (it is still large, but instead of watching TV, I make sure I read more than I have done lately & those books don’t relate to my work). I finally committed to re-designing my website, as I dizzered about it for at least a year. Do I stay with my current team, with whom I have been since my website launch in 2008 or do I look for the new team? Well, the dye has been cast & the newly re-designed website is in active development. I definitely attribute making this decision to the powers of Alexis’s tincture. I became more conscious about what I want to achieve professionally & better at selecting people & brands that I work with. All this & much more in a space of less than three months – I can’t wait to continue with this journey.

Before I round off that post, I also want to say that Alexis has Confidence tinctures, notably her Beauty Formula No.8 & the recently added Gamine one, aimed at teens & young women & men that are having self-esteem issues with their skin & bodies. There are Focus tinctures ( how about a Personal Assistant ?), Heart Tinctures, to deal with, you guessed it, affaires of the heart, as well as Calm ones (the name of Peaceful Worrier makes me giggle every time I see the bottle). She also has multiple tinctures for kids, like Smarty Plants for a boost of confidence or a Dream Boat, when the little one struggles to sleep in his bed & wonders with sheepish determination into yours every night.

I feel like my journey alongside Alexis Smart Flower Remedies has only just began & I hope it inspires you to be more daring with yours. An open mind, positive attitude, atunement with like-minded people, trust in the universe & your own active presence is all that is required. Having one of Alexis’s bottles at the tips of your fingers does help though .)

For more information about Alexis, her flower remedies, consultations & insights, please click here

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As autumn arrived on our doorstep, with cooler temperatures & beautiful foliage strewn across the roads, it also heralds peaceful contemplation of the changes to your skin & body care routines. With showers being quicker & easier, but baths being more indulgent & relaxing, new limited edition Bath & Shower Oil collection from Bodhi and Birch offers you ultimate moments of indulgence not just for your senses, but for your body as well, which is going through seasonal adjustments.

Jumping into shower is second nature to most of us, but an occasional indulgence with a long bath shouldn’t be underestimated. Elijah Choo, founder & creative force behind Bodhi & Birch, contemplated this, as he hand-blended finest essential oils in his lab in order to create antidotes to the stresses of modern life. With my kids firmly in the grip of a new school year & after school activities, I feel that we all need another holiday & as it isn’t forthcoming until Christmas, running a bath & inhaling the new scents that Elijah crafted, allows me to let go of the worries, while doing poetic escapades in the depth of my mind, aided by intriguing notes that my nose & mind try to decipher.

A beautiful box that fits into the palm of your hand, has beautiful art motives in blues & purples, providing a calm vision before your eyes, before you slide the box cover to reveal three pretty bottles nestled inside. The first intriguing aspect is that while each clear bottle with a black screw-on lid looks one colour against the white box background, it change magically, if you hold each against the light. A little meditation in itself – stop, pause, discover. Longer & deeper breaths that make us feel more grounded & calmer. A journey of discovery begins.

Rosa Verde  promises to ‘gently lift your mood, restore the spirit & awaken your soul’. Rose is renowned for its rejuvenating & renewing powers over our senses, while Lime & Geranium help to sooth & uplift the frowns from the forehead & Frankincense grounds & helps to balance the hormones.

The way to use each of the bath & shower oils in this collection is to pour a cupful into a warm bath & enjoy the aromatherapeutic benefits. Alternatively Elijah recommends massaging a few drops onto your torso, breathing in the aroma & making sure you take deeper breaths & then stepping into the shower to wash day’s grime or troubles away.

My eldest is a big fan of Bodhi & Birch bath products & chooses them in the evening before his shower, depending on what kind of a day he has had. Interestingly enough, this one turned out to be his favourite out of the three. Do be aware that those products were developed for adults, not children use, so make your judgement accordingly.

I, on the other hand, found it a little bit too feminine, as the scent developed on my skin after direct application. I thoroughly enjoyed the full renewing benefit though when I poured the oil directly into the the running water, inhaling the scent as the bath filled up. Later, luxuriating in the bath, while reading Maria Sharapova’s biography, I appreciated the olfactory experience provided by this particular oil more fully than in the shower.  Not sure if Maria is a bath fan, but I am a big fan of her talent, as well as Elijah’s !

Jasmin de Lune ‘is a powerful blend for helping relax your body & mind’. Jasmine Absolu reduces stress & promotes quality sleep ( I am truly addicted to Jasmine Falls bath & Shower Therapy, which help me sleep like a princess & look as relaxed as a queen in the morning ), High-Altitude Lavender soothes the senses, while Vetiver acts as a natural sedative, without the side effects or drowsiness. It’s worth noting that high-altitude Lavender is more potent compared to other types of lavender, so expect a deeper sense of relaxation all around.

This is the product I would recommend you reach out for when you feel really tired or had a truly stressful day, when stress seems to linger & holds you in its tight grip. This bath & shower oil is up to the task of breaking the uncomfortable grip for good. I also want to note how soothing this & other two oils in this collection feel on the skin when you apply it directly to it – do make sure to do a patch test though, if you are new to essential oils or have skin sensitivities. My skin felt not only nurtured, but well moisturised after the bath, so when I was testing those bath & shower oils I didn’t feel the need to moisturise my skin after gently towel-drying my skin. Part of the reason was that I don’t use the water that is too hot, as it dehydrates the skin. The other contributing factor is that Elijah fuses the essential oil blends with a carrier Safflower oil, which is a potent hydrator. Safflower Oil is also packed with essential vitamins that keep skin soft & supple. It worth noting that using those bath & shower oils isn’t recommended, if you are expecting.

La Botanica, the most intriguing of the trio for me personally, ‘revitalises the body & revives the senses’. Lemon & Eucalyptus oils energise & boost positivity, Rosemary is an excellent tonic to refresh mental energy & Juniper Berry stimulates & strengthens. When I fill up  the bath & inhaled the scent, within minutes I felt revived, so it is something I would recommend using after a gym session or at the time when your energy levels are dipping. It also boosts the detoxification process in your body, erases sluggishness 7 makes you feel more together, more YOU. I have used it on my skin in the morning, before stepping in the shower & emerged more revitalised. I also experimented with adding Himalayan bath salts & La Botanica to my bath and think they work well in tandem. Having asked Elijah about this combination after my initial experiment, he told me that one of the pleasures of those bath & shower oils, is to let you body choose the one that feels right to you in the moment in time. When we take the time to listen to our bodies & respond to the gentle nudges it gives us, we end up feeling much better than when we rush & ignore the signals, which in time could turn into a full-blown siren.

Whether you are a bath or a shower fan, those oils work perfectly well in your chosen setting & allow you some extra moments of pleasure & calm in the otherwise fast-paced days that fly by at lightening speed. Taking the time to find & create your own little daily rituals for skin, body & mind is akin to finding your footing & balance in the unsteady times. Renew, Relax, Revive.

For more information about Bodhi & Birch, please click on the link here. For the detailed information on the Limited Edition Bath & Shower Oils Collection, priced £30, including the list of ingredients, please click here

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There aren’t many brands whose whole range gets me excited, but Aurelia Probiotic Skincare grabbed my attention from the moment this young British brand stepped into the spotlight. A few years later, with multiple stockists & a legion of fans, the brand expanded into skincare for babies, launching Little Aurelia a few months ago. And my kids, who no longer fit a ‘baby’ or ‘toddler’ category, turned out to be willing tester volunteers.

Designed for babies & young children, Little Aurelia blends together gentle, but effective botanical ingredients with soothing essential oils that help to calm & settle precious cherubs to sleep, allowing mum to enjoy the nurturing aspect & get some well deserved shut-eye as well. The range also aims to support your little one’s wellbeing from the first months of life, thus giving them the best start, when their bodies are at their most vulnerable, having emerged from the safety of mother’s womb into our unpredictable world.

It was very important for Claire Vero, brand’s founder, to create products that help nurture babies & children’s delicate natural barrier. Why? I think the inspiration behind her new brand are her own children, particularly her first-born son called Henry. Motherhood might initially make your brain hazy & body tired, but it gives you a consistent urge to create & do things that will also bond you with a baby through comforting bedtime rituals, including reading.

When my Little Aurelia parcel arrived, it contained three products: ‘Sleep Time Top to Toe Wash’, ‘Sleep Time Bath & Massage Oil’ & ‘Sleep Time Pillow Mist’. Charmingly, it also contained an adorable Little Aurelia book of poetry, ‘Sleep Time Tales’. The book introduced a host of illustrated Woodland Friends, like Little Ruby Rabbit, Ottilie the Bunny, Arthur the Mouse & Cecil the Cat. On the first evening, my daughter asked to read the book – she did a few pages herself, reading the poems to me & then I took over. We decided to extend the pleasure and read the book on two consecutive evenings but even now, a couple of months later, we occasionally grab it off the shelf & re-read it in the cosy & calm comfort of the bedroom. Bonding over a book, when you get to discover the wonderful world of magical characters with your children, is one of life’s pleasures for many of us, as we get to re-live our childhood through our children’s eyes, full of delight & wonder.

Sleep Time Top To Toe Wash ( with Linden Blossom, Angelica, Chamomile & Lavender ), £26, 240ml

This sulphate-free hair & body wash uses creamy Coconut oils that cover your child in a gentle lather, cleansing the skin without stripping it (just make sure the bath water is warm & not hot, as it can make the skin drier) & make hair soft & manageable. When I use it on my daughter or she uses it herself on her sponge, we often forego the moisturiser & hair conditioner, which is a testament to the nurturing aspect of the formula.

Ingredients wise, you have Little Aurelia unique sleep time blend (please see the product masthead), as well as Aloe Vera to hydrate, Oat kernel & Calendula to sooth and Apricot, Avocado & Starflower oils to nourish the skin & the hair, which is much more delicate, if not fragile, compared to us adults. My daughter & I also appreciate the delicate scent that lingers & doesn’t overwhelm the senses, not irritate them or the skin.

I firmly believe that gentle skincare & haircare formulas used from the first days of baby’s life will hopefully set a great foundation for your child’s wellbeing, as well as future choices when it comes to their own hair & skincare product selection. I constantly have discussions about products, rituals & ingredients with both of my children, as I observe & hear what many mothers use on their children, often not giving it a second thought, as we all speed through life. Educate yourself & then guide your children, it will create another bond between you & hopefully will help them make better choices in the future, when they become teenagers and then young adults. We live in the world that isn’t becoming more environmentally friendly fast enough & sadly it has a negative impact on our long-term health & wellbeing.

Sleep Time Bath & Massage Oil (with Camellia, Lavender, Chamomile & Linden Blossom), £32, 50ml 

This snooze inducing oil gently soothes muscles (babies move a lot, as they get to know their own bodies) & nurtures the delicate skin. The lightweight oil formula, that also contains flower essences, sinks in quickly into the skin when you give your little one a massage or add a few drops to the bath water – this of course depends on your child’s skin, so doing a patch test before using a new product is always a good idea.

I tried this oil on my daughter in the summer, when she complained that her legs, calves in particular, felt a bit sore after an action-packed day at the beach. So I massaged it into her legs, both of us inhaling the delicate scent of lavender, linden blossom & chamomile, as we chatted. My hands moved with ease along the skin and the muscles and my daughter gave me directions, where she wanted more pressure. A few minutes in, she said that her legs felt better already and wondered, if she can have a massage with it the next day.

A few days later my eldest pulled a muscle behind the knee and we tried a similar massage technique with the same successful result, which just shows you that this oil can be used not only on babies, but bigger children as well. The scent would probably be more to the liking of a girl than a boy, but of course it all depends on a personal preference. I gave my kids daily massages when they were little & think it is one of the best bonding rituals between mother & child, as well as a chance to improve their muscle tone from early on. I am a big fan of massage & believe that regular massage is very beneficial for your body, irrespective of your age ( unless there are contraindications).

This bath & massage oil contains hydrating Coconut, nourishing Sweet Almond, nurturing Jojoba and as I mentioned earlier, is also infused with flower essences of lavender, chamomile & linden blossom, which help to settle & calm the mind, allowing your child to fall asleep quicker & hopefully have deeper, more relaxed sleep at night.

If you need extra tips on using this product, hop on Aurelia’s website & have a look at their recommendations. I would also like to draw your attention to the exterior packaging, where you not only can find a full list of ingredients, as well as the ingredients promise, but when you open the box there is a little message for the mom & the cutest, tiniest illustrations as well. I am all for less packaging & a more positive environmental impact, but your little girl might actually want to play with the box or keep her little treasures or figurines in them…..

Sleep Time Pillow Mist, £22, 50ml

A delicate infusion of Bitter Orange flower water with Roman chamomile flower, Anjelica root, Ylang ylang, Fragonia branch & leaf, Geranium Bourbon & Lavender Flower Oils, combined with Quartz powder, this mist  is something that you can mist on your baby’s blanket or sleep-suit or just in the air around him or her, helping to create a more tranquil atmosphere before bedtime. It can also be used during car/plane/train journeys when the child becomes grumpy & tired.

I don’t travel without my face mists & introducing this product to my daughter, explaining why I am NOT a fan of perfume for children made for an interesting conversation, but now she doesn’t ask for one when we are browsing the shops. While this is not a product that was a ‘must’ in my baby skincare kit, I certainly used Evian spray regularly on them & this pillow mist takes the idea a little further. Something that is definitely worth a try when you are nursing at night or when you baby or child is restless or is having nightmares.

As Little Aurelia products cost between £22-£34, they are more expensive than other natural ranges for babies & kids on the market, like Weleda Baby or Child’s Farm, but I think quality & long-term effect of ingredients on your child’s skin are worth a consideration. This is a more luxurious range of skincare for the little ones, but I think tired mothers will benefit from using this range as well & that is a gift in itself for those of us who feel guilty about carving ‘me-time’. Turn your child nurturing rituals into family ones, when calm descends & peace reigns.

To find out more about Little Aurelia range of products, please click here

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Having introduced you to the Hayo’u Method & its formidable founder Katie Brindle in the part one of my post, in my second post I want to talk to you about daily rituals and products that are part of the method. I will also talk about the effect they had on me in the last couple of months.

Katie devised four simple rituals – Beauty Restorer for the face, Body Restorer, Reset & Rescue Breath. Each ritual need only take one minute  of your time & will either calm & de-stress or rejuvenate & re-energise your system. A case of simple, but efficient results, when you commit to being a little bit more disciplined & take time to nurture yourself.

As to the products, there are four plus two tools. A jade Beauty Restorer de-Stress Face Tool, a steel Body Restorer, a Treat-Rite de-Stress Face Oil & Body Oils,  Bathe-Rite de-Stress Shower Minerals & Bath-Rite de-Stress Bath Minerals. During our meeting Katie’s honesty gripped my attention. She clearly prides herself on creating well-thoughtout & researched products, but says that if you already have your favourite bath, body or facial products, you don’t have to switch in order to use her face & body tools. Use them alongside the products that work for you and see what transpires. I often hear brand founders say how you should use only their products in your routine, as they have the best synergy, yet here is a woman who wants you to be happy in your skin & body by using what appeals to YOU.

Simple Daily Rituals & Practical Techniques

Hayo’u offers four daily self-treatments using techniques & tools that are most effective in protecting the body from stress: Gua Sha self-massage, Qi Gong & conscious cleansing. With regular use you can expect your skin to have a more natural glow, your body to be more fine-tuned & your sleeping patterns having a more positive dynamic with how you feel upon waking up in the morning. You can do each ritual separately or slot them together. I will share my way of using them below, based on Katie’s personal assessment during my consultaion, but you should try doing each one of them, observe how they make you feel & decide when is the best time to integrate them into YOUR day or evening.

Beauty Restorer Ritual, De-Stress Face Tool & Treat-Rite de-Stress Face Oil

The Beauty Restorer is a facial massage tool, using which makes me feel like my own facialist in the privacy of my own bathroom. Made from Xiuyan Jade, cool on the eyes, cool on the skin, it is ergonomically shaped to glide easily along the contours of your face & neck. Coupled with a simple Chinese self-care technique called Gua Sha on your face, it increases the circulation & brings more oxygen to your skin (particularly good for those of us, who are over 30). Using this tool & technique daily, which makes you skin look temporarily flushed, it helps stimulate collagen production & thus makes wrinkles appear less noticeable.

The technique also stimulates your lymphatic system & helps drain extra fluid, clear away congestion more effectively, as well as speed up the process of toxins illumination. With regular use your skin will not only look more glowy, but will appear plumper, more even and with your natural bone structure better accentuated.  This tool, which is perfect for the face and neck, but ‘too soft’ for the body, also helps rectify skin’s responses and helps nourish the skin from the inside out. It also draws out the tension from your face, which make your face look more gaunt & intense. By activating acupressure points, it will also drain the tension out of your features, making you feel more relaxed as a consequence.

Gua Sha is designed to work with oils, so while you can use it with your favourite face oil, that works for your skin type, Katie also developed her own face oil that acts as a perfect partner for the Beauty Restorer. A concentrated beauty treatment oil, it contains Camellia & Palmarosa, which help to nourish the skin, while stimulating cell regeneration. The oil comes in a glass bottle, with a pipette, making for easy & practical dispensing process. Unscrew the bottle, press on the button on top of the pipette, dispense a few drops of the oil on your hands, warm it up for a few seconds, inhaling the heady scent, which becomes subtler within minutes and makes you feel like you are enveloped in a sensuous & comforting cocoon. Then massage it all over your face & follow up with the Clear, Sweep & Press technique, that is clearly explained in the brochure that accompanies the oil. 

I was lucky to have Katie demonstrate the Gua Sha facial technique in person, but I also watched Katie’s video & practised a few times, in order to become confidently familiar with the technique. Remember, practise makes perfect. You will also become more familiar with your own face & will hopefully become better equipped in deciding upon your daily skincare needs.  A freckle, a wrinkle, a spot, some pigmentation – examine your face regularly & adjust your skincare accordingly. You & your skin will become happier with each other, no matter your age or skin type. Katie recommends doing this ritual after bathing & in that case you don’t have to warm up the oil in the palm of your hand – just apply it directly to your skin & flow.

Body Restorer Ritual

The best way to handle stress is to clear it every day. Removing stress regularly means it can’t build, making you ill in the process. The Body Restorer is a pretty impressive tool for drawing stress out of the body, using Gua Sha. Using this tool & ritual you will override the stress response by engaging physically, together with your conscious mind, of shoeing it out and away.

Hayou’u is almost like a call to action in order to master your health – ‘hey you, be here now. Be present. Be You!

I was lucky to observe Katie & have her teach me all the rituals & this one, when done correctly, will wake you right up! It will also make your skin look red in places for a short period of time – don’t worry, that’s how it should be! I do recommend watching Katie’s tutorials a couple of times to start with and repeating the movements alongside her, so you do them correctly. I do this ritual with particular vigour on my abs & done regularly it actually helps to shift fatty deposits, if you have them, combined with a sensible diet & regular exercise. More effective than fat freezing, might I add, based on personal experience! It’s not the most delicate ritual, but somehow doing it makes you feel powerful and in control of your body. It also gets you in touch with your body, as you will become more attuned to the signals it sends you before a small niggle might turn into a bigger issue. It truly is a tool like no other that I now use regularly and with great pleasure.

As I said earlier, you can use the body restorer tool with your favourite body oil, but Katie also developed one as part of the Hayo’u Method range. It is a concentrated massage oil, which was formulated with the vibrantly orange Sea Buckthorn berry & infused with Lotus Flower, Lemongrass & Frankincense, which will lift your spirit, while calming your shen. While this oil isn’t organic, it doesn’t contain paragons, SLS, SLES, petrolatum or mineral oil.

Warm some of the pale yellow de-stress body oil in the palm of your hand and then massage it into your body, using deliberate strokes and paying attention to areas that feel sore, tense or painful. In order to engage body’s own micro-circulation, use a firm pressure & sweep the Body restorer across the body above your chest area, on your upper arms & shoulders, as well as the back. As I said earlier, I also use it on my abdominal area. Both the body restorer & the massage oil have accompanying booklets, which will guide you in your movements ( Katie recommends repeating each stroke eight times, but if it feels too much to start with, do as many as you are comfortable with & then build up up to eight).

If I have a small criticism, it relates to the packaging of the body oil. I like the glass bottle, in which it comes, but it’s wide neck allows the oil to escape into the palm of my hand a little too generously – I would have preferred a pipette, like with the facial oil, or a stopper at the top with a hole, so you can control the flow of the oil a little more. But as soon as I smell the scent of this oil, my mind becomes more sedate & criticism doesn’t roll as easily off the tongue.

You can do the treatment ritual daily, but doing it two to three times a week has its benefits too. In essence, it is the commitment to the practise and paying attention to how this or that ritual makes you feel & taking mental notes, as this or that ritual becomes part of your daily wellbeing ritual or ‘me-time’. Take the time to take deeper breaths, both inhales, as well as exhales, and try to decipher the oil’s notes, as it starts developing on your skin, aided by the increased circulation from the massage with Body Restorer. Yin & Yang at the tips of your fingers.

Rescue Breath Ritual

Deep abdominal breathing is the most immediate defence against stress. Chinese medicine takes this to a whole new level & teaches you how the ‘smile’ deep in the energetic centre of the body is drawn out by a rescue breath. In just one-minute, the Rescue Breath Ritual disperses the negative emotional impact of stress & can create a deeply restorative meditative state.

This is one ritual that initially made me raise my eye-brows when Katie demonstrated it. While I could understand the theory behind it, it came across as a little hippy. Then I started practising it – the hard exhale in the morning, after brushing my teeth & the smile breath anywhere I feel like doing it during the day – while writing at my desk, on the tube or while driving. When my kids saw me doing the trio of hard exhales in front of my bathroom mirror, getting rid of the carbon dioxide accumulated in my system, they collapsed giggling and said that I looked like a combination of hissing snake & roaring lioness. I, in turn, explained to them that conscious breathing helps to transform the anger or negativity one might might feel, decrease the heart rate & increase oxygen intake – all this by simple engagement with your parasimptomatic nervous response & getting rid of the bad by taking in the good.

In time I came to understand the preciousness & efficacy of it, as well as the quickly calming effect it imparts on the mind, whether it is a grey or a tense day that I am facing. This ritual is not about re-inventing the wheel, but about the way the stress response affects our body, both energetically & emotionally. You know the words ‘smile and the word smiles with you?’ Well, this ritual is exactly how it makes me feel. It calms & centres, making me want to smile at people, which I do – walking outside, during school runs, on the way to work or in meetings. And the magic of it is that people smile back, even the most grim faced ones, which cheers me up even more & makes me feel a little like Sam Baker’s character in the now defunct show ‘The Mentalist’. Make what you make of it .)

Reset Ritual ( or Shake, Twist & Drum )

When someone is stressed, blood flow is diverted from the gut & skin to the skeletal muscles, in preparation for “fight or flight”. This automatic reaction disrupts the flow of circulation around the body making one feel first anxious & then tired & lethargic. Based on the healing benefits of Qi Gong, a Chinese martial art, the Reset Ritual invigorates circulation, releases stored tension, loosens the spine and stimulates your digestive function & kidneys.

I often do this ritual in the late morning, but it fits equally well into the afternoon, when you feel a bit tired or need a natural boost, before doing say a school run or having another round of meetings. First, you simply shake for fifteen seconds – imagine yourself dancing to your heart’s content, like there is no tomorrow? Well, shake in the same way. Then make two fists and drum your chest, then outside of your arms, then inside, switching to abs (quite effective for helping shift some stubborn fat deposits), outside & inside of your legs & then switching to the back, paying particular attention to the area where kidneys are located. Once you did all that, take a moment to see how you feel. Then, just twist for a minute of two – for more detailed description just watch Katie’s video & you are ready to go.

Sometimes I would even do a shorter version of it, with focus on my chest, as I sit at my desk & find myself procrastinating, instead of writing or editing. Simple, effective & naturally energising, it acts as a tonic for your body, without a trip to the gym or a walk outside. If you chose to walk outside shortly after it, the effect can be in enhanced, at least that’s how I feel, when I need to sprint between various meetings.

Conscious Cleansing

Wherever possible, use your daily shower or bath as a chance to extend the Rescue Breath Ritual & deepen the benefit for your body, a two-in-one of sorts. The de-Stress Bath & Shower Minerals contain a concentrated formula of Himalayan pink salt, magnesium and maris sal to help draw out deeply held tension. Relaxing the muscles immediately engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which switches our bodies and brains into a ‘rest’ phase.

Looking like caramel encased in a bottle, Shower Minerals can be rubbed all over your body in the shower or dispersed on the sponge or glove that you use – ultimately it is about your own preference. Take deeper inhales to enhance the efficacy of the product and enjoy the sensual pleasure of this product on your skin, with the warmth of the water magnifying it. As you shower, take five deep abdominal breaths and see if integrating a Smiling Ritual feels natural. Sometimes I just shower, at others I do smiling breaths – there is no rigidity to the method, it really is about doing it in such a way it makes YOU feel good.

As the weather is starting to turn, some of us will become more eager to have baths, especially as autumn will give way to the cold & dark winter. During my consultation with Katie, I did something that is very unlike me – I ended up putting my nose into her De-Stress Bath Minerals and kept on doing it, as our conversation flowed. There is something mesmerising in the way HM bath minerals smell & I can’t still figure exactly what draws me to them more – its smell or the calmness that they impart, as I consciously slow down my breath, focussing on deeper exhales.

It is a given that a product needs to deliver what it promises on its packaging – there are more & more brands that make unrealistic or controversial claims – so what I like about the Hayo’u Method is that the products have simple names & don’t make any unsubstantiated claims. All the more the reason for consumers to have a look at the packaging, smell the products, as it is an important part of whether you will enjoy using the product or not, plus read the list of ingredients, before deciding, if the product will benefit them. There are lots of fancy gadgets being launched, many of them quite expensive, yet after purchasing them, many end up being redundant within weeks, if not days of use. I don’t know if ‘mindfulness’ is the correct term to use when it comes to shopping, but I urge you to start paying attention to why you purchase this or that thing & if you get extended joy from using them, beyond the initial excitement of the purchase.

But back to the pleasure of mindful beauty. You need to dissolve two handfuls of minerals into warm water & immerse yourself in it for at least 20 minutes. The comfort of the warm water, bath minerals helping remineralise your body and the bliss of peacefulness, when it is just you & your thoughts. Having just come back from a wonderful summer holiday, only a week into a new school year, I already feel like the holiday is a distant memory. So I am particularly looking forward to a dark, cold night, when I can sink my frayed nerves & hectic body into the bath, a good book or magazine article in hand & let the water, infused with the minerals take the troubles away, with my conscious participation. Until then I stick to showering & using the time to not just cleanse my skin & hair, but to get rid of the deeper layers of stress & negativity accumulated daily.

One last thought I want to leave you with, hopefully to reflect upon. We live in the society which is intent on increased consumption & increased self-doubt, yet when you go away on a holiday you come back with renewed realisation how little you actually need to look & feel good. Hayo’u method is exactly about that – little steps that make a YOU look & feel better, all you need to do is just show up daily at the alter of worshipping your own wellbeing.  An investment in yourself that isn’t pricey but is timely. One that will positively impact your wellbeing.

For more information about Hayo’u Method, rituals videos, products details, please click here

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We all reach a point in life where we either learn to trust the universe or continue surging ahead thoughtlessly, like a bull towards the matador. It probably takes certain frame of mind to become comfortable with trusting life in general and in my case, this year some work opportunities lead to unexpected gifts in the sense that my body or mind ( or both ) get the unexpected gift of exactly what they need in the moment in time. Meeting Katie Brindle, a former opera diva and a founder of The Hayo’u Method in June turned out to be one of such gifts.

A dear friend of mine told me about Katie a little elusively during one of our lunches in spring, saying that she was testing something and that the person that she saw was incredible, with more information to follow in due course. I nodded and put the conversation to the back of my mind. A few weeks later, my friend sent me the press release and made the introductions. Knowing that I was planning to travel in July and August, as if by magic, she managed to make my appointment happen, balancing it between my kids being on a summer holiday and Katie’s busy work & personal schedules. I was intrigued.

Arriving a little early for the appointment, I found myself walking through a council estate just off Notting Hill’s Westbourne Grove, wondering if I got the address right. In my slight confusion I called Katie to double check and within a few minutes a blonde woman with the most unusual, beautifully husky voice beckoned me in. Tall, blonde and with piercing eyes, her looks commanded my immediate attention, yet I felt surprisingly comfortable in her presence.

Katie led me into the living room, telling me this apartment was bought by her many moons ago and now worked as her occasional London base for work, while she lives in the country with her family. We set down at a table, Katie poured me some hot chrysanthemum tea, which managed to cool me down on a hot summer day and we started talking. Two hours flew by and our conversation took me on an intriguing journey, an impact from which I feel to this day.

Hayo’u Method is distilled from the ancient wisdom of Chinese Medicine. It combines easy techniques & luxurious products to transform your health and beauty.

Inspired by the remarkable and largely underestimated benefits of Chinese self-care rituals, Hayo’u Method was created by Katie, who, as an experienced Chinese Practitioner, wants to empower people by teaching them to master their own health.

Katie, a striking woman both visually, as well as personally, was on a path of being an opera diva, when a car crash put an end to her singing ambition. Health issues from the crash lead to a career crisis, so Katie tried working in marketing, as she liked communication with people by the means available to her. She also worked for the BBC, helping to launch something that didn’t exist before – their website. Having observed Katie from the sidelines, I think she is clearly a person who gets things done and is someone who doesn’t rest on her laurels, nor is afraid of challenges life throws her way.

Clearly not satisfied with her achievements, Katie studied various forms of massage, reflexology, acupuncture, which led her to visiting China, a country whose wealth of knowledge, culture and experience we Westerners often struggle to understand. So Katie continued to expand her knowledge, while asking herself one important question: ‘How can I simplify all that knowledge and let the Western consumer benefit from the ocean of experience?’

Over the past decade as a consultant, Katie noticed that patients who adopted her self-care techniques, improved much faster than those who didn’t. By structuring this knowledge into a simple explanation, particularly when it comes to stress, which is the underlying cause of many modern diagnosable ailments, Katie created daily practices, followed by the products for everyone to benefit from & the Hayo’u Method was born.

“My first goal with Hayo’u is to distil Chinese medicine and evangelise about its absolute brilliance and relevance. My method is all about offering one-minute solutions, clearly explained, that are a pleasure to do, but nonetheless incredibly powerful. Very quickly people understand that this is as easy and effective as brushing your teeth.”

Katie is a strong advocate of Western and Chinese Medicine working symbiotically for optimum health. However, few people in the West appreciate this focus on self-treatment, which is wonderfully accessible to anyone, no matter their state of health. More widely, Chinese medicine is still often misunderstood, mistrusted and un-contextualised, which Hayo’u has set out to change.

Self-care is known as the first pillar of Chinese medicine. So for Katie, the main focus as practitioner is on her patient’s quality of life, particularly as we are in the grip of a health epidemic, that concerns our eating habits, our state of mind and the way that we often ignore small symptoms that can later lead to significant issues that affect our overall wellbeing. So, when you come for a consultation with Katie or do one via Skype, Katie aims to read you like a book – you have to have an open frame of mind, that goes without saying, following which Katie gives you the tools that you will need to integrate into your daily routine.

The Hayo’u Method rituals are:

  • the Rescue Breath Ritual with which to start or to end the day with.
  • the Reset Ritual, for when you feel energetically depleted.
  • the Body Restorer Ritual, which is done with the Gua Sha steel body tool that helps to get rid of stress & toxins from your body & last, but not least,
  • the Beauty Restorer Ritual that helps rejuvenate your face & your complexion with the facial, jade Gua Sha.

Each ritual can take as little as one minute ( five at most ), so the argument ‘I am so busy, I have no time’ can’t be used as an excuse not to. What appealed to me as consumer, is the fact that Katie gives you the tools, but YOU have to do the work. There is no magic pill, nor the result that she will promise you without you putting time and effort into your own future wellbeing. We live in times of incredibly fast speeds and often empty promises, so Katie’s method, which rests on ancient traditions and modern experience, is something that genuinely resonates. Your body has symptoms and you need to understand what your body is telling you, in order to address the problem, before a small niggle becomes a huge burden to deal with.

It took Katie about five years to perfect her method, achieving a balance between the solution that makes sense to the consumer, while not being scary or overwhelming in its magnitude. And while Katie does offer 1-to-1 consultation, she also offers regular free virtual case classes via Facebook, where she covers a variety of topics, from diet & weightless to acne & eczema. She is here to help & to be a knowledgable soundboard, but regular appointments is not what Katie’s method is about. She is here to share what she knows and to help you understand what you need to do and why – the rest is up to you, my dear reader.

Each one of us is unique and over the course of a lifetime each one of us will develop unique patterns and symptoms, that experienced practitioners like Katie are able to decipher. Do the method and see the improvement, because when you understand WHY you are actually doing something, you realise that you CAN change things. Katie gave me an apt comparison of a brushing our teeth in the morning – it is a habit most of us have, because we all want healthy and beautiful teeth. Well, Hayo’u method can be easily compared to the toothbrush and the effect is achieves for our bodies & minds.

Strip things down & deal with them. Most people don’t become ill all of a sudden – it takes time!

World Health Association calls ‘stress’ an epidemic of the 21st century. It really rings true, especially when you notice how often instead of saying ‘hi’ to each other, like we used to, we are more inclined to say how tired or stressed we are. And stress can lead to a lot of illnesses, most of which we don’t want to develop. What Katie does is get down to the root of the problem, looking at the symptoms that you will describe to her and then she shares the knowledge that relates directly to you in the moment in time, giving you the opportunity to put a potential wrong right.

When it comes to the actual consultation, without you initially realising, Katie digs deep. She asks you questions about how you feel, your aches or pains, your diet, your fitness habits. As I talked, Katie asked some more questions, some of which caught me off guard, clearly demonstrating that she drew more from my answers that I deemed possible. For example, how could she know that I am drawn to sweet foods – after all, I didn’t ask for sugar in my tea?!

Katie also reminded me again & again in the course of our conversation that from 1930s Chinese traditional medicine was officially banned in China, as Chinese grew ashamed of their almost shamanic traditions & intentionally or unintentionally went backwards. Luckily, years later the wealth of knowledge and strength of traditions won the battle, but what we often see in the West isn’t a true representation of the genuine Chinese practises, so please be careful when you choose a practitioner of Chinese medicine, whose clinic you might see on many high streets nowadays.

During the consultation Katie looks at the five elements that are part of your energetic & emotional profile, which weave in & out of your body, making you who you are. Each element – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water & Wood should each represent about 20% of you, to be evenly balanced, but in actual life that is rarely achieved and one element often ‘compensates’ for the other. In my case, for example, one of the five elements was way above the ‘ideal’ 20%, so the other four, as a consequence, were lower than 20%, as a result.

When our Yin & Yang are balanced we feel good, balanced, powerful, happy, in tune with who we are. We are kinder to ourselves & to others, with no need for conflict or raised voices or tempers. When we are out of whack we become irritated, lose our sense of direction & easily prickle, when someone criticises us. When you are in balance you aren’t easy to rock & feel the righteous sense of legacy that flows through your veins, knowing what your mission on Planet Earth is. This is something that I genuinely want to achieve in my life, on a personal, as well as professional level & I know many of you can relate to that sentiment, irrespective of where you live or what you do.

Interestingly, after my consultation, Katie told me that Chinese medicine is female energy all the way in the sense that it is discreet & quiet, yet very powerful. It is something that I thought over, while drinking a cup of tea one afternoon, after doing a Reset Ritual, considering the effect another of Chinese practises, acupuncture, that I have on a regular basis. Without giving too much away yet, I would say only that I like the way both acupuncture and Katie’s rituals make me feel – grounded, a better version of my often frazzled self, with the effect of either lasting not a day, but much longer, like a slow releasing natural medicine.

What Katie told me about my constitution made sense & armed me with the personalised knowledge, including my birth star chart, based on my date & time of birth, something that Katie doesn’t routinely do, but felt I could handle it. I started implementing her advice later that week & will tell you about it in more detail in part two of the post dedicated to Hayo’u Method. However, I will precipitate things and say that many of my ‘traits’, which used to puzzle me, now made sense. For example, why I feel like falling asleep around 3pm, when in actual fact I need to run & feel capable to deal with the tasks at hand. Why I become irritable & not when I am hungry. When I need to rest my body. How I should set the table in order to eat properly. I understood my body’s needs & went home deep in thought, grateful to the lessons learnt. Katie gave me the answers to my body’s needs, which seemed both pleasurable and achievable. In the post to follow, I will share whether I did succeed in implementing the practises into my daily routine, why Katie’s products enhance the rituals (but you can use your favourites with equal success) & why each ritual is unlike any other I have tried before.

To find out more about the Hayo’u method, please click here or follow Katie via Facebook or Instagram (@thehayoumethod)

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Wunder Workshop is the turmeric brand, sourcing this fragrant organic spice from Sri Lanka and creating products that benefit your health & wellbeing. Recently the brand added two adaptogens to its product family, one that helps you counteract the negative effect of stress, the other to enhance your skin’s natural glow & I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts about them with you.

One of the signs of our times, with a wider reaching tentacles of the world-wide web is that many people prefer to self-diagnose themselves or go to the doctor at the first sign of a cold, asking for antibiotics. On my recent trip to Moscow I was horrified to see the bombardment of the nation with medication ads on TV, followed by my eldest bewildered question: ‘ Mum, why are there so many pharmacies in Moscow, are people here very sick?’ There is a time and the place to consult the doctor, but a lot can and should be said about the benefits of lifestyle and holistic practises that we can all benefit from in the long-term.

As human lifespan become longer & we all will be expected to work for an extended period of time before retiring, compared to previous generations, good health becomes paramount. After all, we only have one health and while many take it for granted while it is good, it helps to shift the focus from superficial good looks to looking after our long-term health & wellbeing, both of which, make us not only feel better, but looking better too.

Adaptogens are widely used in Chinese medicinal practises because they help increase our resilience to environmental, mental, biological, emotional and physical stresses that we all experience daily. Certain herbs and plants help to normalise functions within our bodies and make us feel better in our skin, as well as in our bodies. A long time ago I remember listening to an interview with a well-known Russian doctor, who said that happiness and health for her is when she wakes up feeling energised and with no aches or pains. Ask yourself, how often do you experience that?

Zoe Lindt Van’t Hof, co-founder of Wunder Workshop, has been a long-term follower & advocate of holistic lifestyle, in a non-restrictive way. When you see her, with the sparkling eyes, glowing skin and contagiously grounding vibes, you instantly understand that she is the best advertisement for her brand and efficacy of the products she creates, as well as holistic lifestyle that she leads. Zoe is inspiring as a person, and as professional, yet she remains calmly focussed and generous with sharing her knowledge & tips.

Latest Wunder Workshop additions, launched earlier this summer, are brand’s first adaptogenic blends. Zoe & Tom, her right-hand partner,  have picked the ingredients based on their single functionalities, but also factored in the synergies between the ingredients. Unlike centuries ago, now spices seem to be widely available from retailers, but for me the choice often correlates to the quality of the spices & when it comes to turmeric, I can honestly say that Wunder Workshop is my favourite turmeric brand. Why? Well, simply put it is because Zoe & her team are dedicated to sourcing the best ingredients, factoring manufacturing practises in cultivation, quality of the soil, climate & harvesting times into their products.

Golden Balance is a blend (organically certified) of turmeric with Ashwagandha, Licorice, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper. This unique blend of organic Ayurvedic herbs and spices is designed to combat a stressful modern lifestyle, managing cortisol levels and improving hormone balance. Ashwagandha is rich in iron, improving alertness, as well as strengthening the body’s response to stress and anxiety by reducing adrenal fatigue and stabilising thyroid hormones. Turmeric, liquorice and ginger have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, whilst cayenne pepper stimulates metabolism and circulation, revitalising and rejuvenating the body.

‘In our society’s hectic lifestyle where our bodies and hormones are constantly put to the test, Golden Balance helps to maintain your balance day in day out. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day in juices, smoothies, lattes as a nutritional supplement’

I have started my trial of those two adaptogenic blends with this one and has made it daily, generally in the evenings, either with full-fat organic milk or Rude Health Brown Rice Drink, which vanilla undertones compliment the taste of the blend. However, when I met Zoe & Tom during their customer presentation at Content, they mixed it up for me with oat milk and I have to say that it really does compliment the malty taste of the blend perfectly. It also works well in banana smoothies, as well as green smoothies or juices, but of course, this always comes down to personal taste.

The second blend, called Golden Glow is a blend of turmeric* with Maca*, Rice Bran, Brahmi*, black pepper* (organically certified ingredients). Zoe believes that glowing skin starts from the inside & this is full of beneficial antioxidants and vitamins. Rice bran is a rich source of vitamin E, which protects skin from premature ageing and environmental pollution. It also contains tocotrienols (“tocos”), which may have anti-cancer, neuroprotective and cholesterol lowering properties. Maca, a natural hormone balancer, can enhance the body’s ability to combat anxiety and depression which may negatively affect skin appearance. Furthermore, the antioxidants in brahmi, turmeric and rice bran help to relieve stress and expel toxins from the body and the upper epithelial layers of the skin, stimulating skin cell regeneration. Brahmi is a potent Ayurvedic nootropic herb that has been known to naturally boost cognitive ability, helping you to feel focused and alive.

To “glow” is more than just having wonderful skin, it is about having a radiance that transcends appearance and that is often affected by our mood and alertness.

Golden Glow is a versatile blend that can be enjoyed at any time of the day in juices, smoothies, lattes as a nutritional supplement. All you have to do is add 1/2 tsp to your morning smoothie or to warm milk/mylk. I also add it to my protein shake, which I drink half an hour before working out or instead of lunch, on a hectic day.

Who knows the brand better than its founder? With this thought in mind, I asked Zoe a few questions, in order for you to be armed with knowledge and information, giving you food for thought and fuel for your brain.

Are your adaptogenic blends meant to be taken daily, alongside each other at different times or interchangeably?

Zoe: ‘We recommend that people take them over a certain period of time and then take a break from them, with ayurvedic herbs (and most potent herbs in general) more isn’t always better. It is best to take small doses spread over the day, for example one half teaspoon in the morning with your smoothie and then half a teaspoon for an afternoon latte. They can be taken alongside each other, but they have different purposes. So, if one is really looking to balance their hormones and stress levels, Golden Balance is the one. Golden Glow’s main focus is for enhancing brain cognition and nurturing the skin from the inside out.

Do you recommend them for women of different ages who lead hectic, stressful lives & what effect can they expect when taking those supplements regularly?

Zoe: ‘We recommend them for both adult men and women who lead stressful lives, as adaptogens have the unique ability to restore the balance of endocrine hormones and immune system. Dr Nikolai Lazarev (fellow Russian 🙂  defined adaptogens in 1947 as ‘an agent that allows the body to counter adverse physical, chemical and biological stressors by raising non-specific resistance to such stress, thus allowing the organism to adapt to the stressful circumstances’.

Are there are contraindications to taking those adaptogenic blends, like under or overactive thyroid?

Zoe: ‘We always recommend to speak to a specialist when taking any food supplements, if one suffers from certain diseases or conditions. However, we do know that Ashwaghanda should be avoided, if you have hyperthyroidism, as it is one of the few herbs that has direct effect on thyroid function, making it useful for hypothyroidism.
For those of you you, who are interested to learn more about adaptogens, there is a lot of interesting research on the specific herbs we are using and on adaptogens in general.

When you say use adaptogen for a certain period of time & then take a break, can you expand on that recommendation a little, in terms of the time frame for taking/abstaining?

Zoe: ‘There is no fixed guideline on this, but from what we have learned, one would suggest that if you are using them for say six weeks, do take a full week off. These ‘breaks’ are suggested to let the adaptogenics take effect in your system’.

Each adaptogenic blend comes in a dark amber coloured glass jar, with a screw on lid. You can store it in the kitchen, away from direct heat. Make sure it is stored in a dry & cool place. The jar is practical for travel. Each blend is very finely milled, making it very easy to blend with any liquid – I tend to use a hand whisk when making a cup of milk in the afternoon & it leaves no tiny particles behind. Easy to use, delicious to drink.

As to the effect of taking those adaptogenic blends, after taking each of the blends for a month, one after another, here is what I have noticed:  as I am genetically blessed with my skin, I can’t say that the Golden Glow blend has transformed my skin, however, my skin looks more radiant. Yes, summer always makes us look better, but with the heatwave, skin can become unbalanced and mine coped really well, so I can attribute it to the positive effect of the blend. As to the Golden Balance, it has become a much-needed & trusted ‘assistant’ and I am sure it will continue being one when the warmth of summer gives way to the gloominess of autumn and dampness of winter. It does help the mind cope better with multiple tasks at hand. With the children on the summer holidays, when you have to combine work and entertainment, tempers might flair, even when it’s warm and sunny, but you are pulled in different directions. Taking a supplement to help balance your body and hormones is a good idea, as long as there are no counter indications, nor a big pile of supplements you are taking already. I did my testing of those two blends, one after another, with no additional supplements in my diet, apart from protein powders that I favour. I like the taste, I like the science & research that Zoe diligently did, before launching those products and I do feel better in myself, when it comes to daily life, full to the brim with professional & personal tasks.

For more information about Wunder Workshop and their range of supplements, including adaptogenic blends, priced £17.50 per 40g jar, please click here

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As the discussion on the positives vs negatives of coffee on our bodies rages on, I unequivocally fall into the category of coffee lovers. My acupuncturist has been trying to gently convince me to give it up, but I tell him time and time again that I would rather give up watching the news, that aren’t good for hearts or minds, than give up my daily cups of coffee. A few weeks ago I started a dialogue with an Australian brand called Frank Green, across which I came on Instagram, and they very kindly sent me one of their Smart Cups for testing. My coffee might be iced at times, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time to test SmartCup, as summer means more time spent outside and more travel adventures!

I have gone through my fair share of coffee cups in the last couple of years and without sounding preachy, I believe that a reliable & portable coffee (or tea, as I love tea too !) cup is a worthy friend, who helps with recycling and makes our planet more environmentally friendly. Think of all the cups that are thrown away daily vs one that you carry with you or travel with? Just one reusable SmartCup can offer a saving of 10-25p for the cafe you get your hot drinks from for every disposable cup avoided – this can lead to a saving of about £50 per customer per year.

Frank = Honest        Green = Environment

Until recently my relationship with portable coffee cups has been fractionate. Bodum one leaked mercilessly, even though it had a reliably looking screw-on lid. Another one from a brand which name I sadly can’t recollect had the same problem after six months of use, when the silicone closure started leaking too. I recently bought a lovely one from eCoffeeCup, as it was made from recycled bamboo and recommended by the lovely Nath, founder of resourceful Beautycalypse blog. The cup really appealed to my inner panda, yet I clumsily dropped it a few days after buying it & a big chunk of it broke off. But I wasn’t giving up in my search for a trusted coffee side-kick & then SmartCup came along….

Frank Green is an Australian brand, which is now sold around the world. The philosophy behind the design is simple – create innovative products that are stylish, functional & good for the environment. Sustainability is becoming a more pressing issue and even my kids are on the subject regularly, chiming in with their ideas. I tell them off for using plastic straws, they carry their Swell drinking bottles with them everywhere. Little steps lead to a big progress!

Having a cool reusable product isn’t just a slogan for Frank Green and since I started carrying my SmartCup around, it has become a starter point of many conversations.

  • This cup supports local industry and is designed, engineered and made in Australia.
  • It comes in two sizes regular (230ml/8oz) or large (340ml/12oz).
  • It is made from stain and odour resistant materials – so you can keep any hot beverage – coffee, tea, miso soup, hot chocolate in it and provided you wash it well between uses, there is no residue, nor aftertaste with regular use.
  • You can wash it into dishwasher, but I prefer to do it with my own hands!

It also feels great in the hand when you carry it around and its non-slip grip is perfect for those of us who are rushed or clumsy! Its shape fits perfectly into cup holders in the car, so no adjustment is required! Another handy feature is its smart double-walled thermo plastic outer layer that helps keep hot drinks warmer for longer than your average reusable cup – it certainly towers, not just wins, compared to the steel Bodum cup! The SmartCup also has a clever push button to keep the spill-resistant lid open or closed, so if you are rushed in the morning, you won’t pore it over people or yourself on the public transport.

Another great feature of this cup is that you can choose from plenty of colour options when you order your cup. My funky personalised one has coral/orange body, green lid and a yellow push button and I revel in the sunny brightness it brings, as soon as it catches my eye. You don’t have to go all Austin Powers like I did though – there are some subdued, more classic colours to choose from !

When I first received the cup, I washed it in warm, soapy water with some Dr. Bronner lavender soap and then let it dry. Make sure not to use abrasive cleaners, in order not to damage the cup! Another good tip is to make sure you don’t overfill the cup – there is a ‘max fill’ line on the exterior of the inner cup, which is easy to see – and screw the lid on fully and securely, but without any force.

 

When I received the SmartCup that was sent to me, a couple of weeks into testing it I realised that it leaked sometimes – ‘oh no’, I said to myself and got in touch with Frank Green customer service team, explaining my predicament. I was helpfully reminded to a) make sure I don’t go beyond the ‘max’ fill line. If you notice a ‘leak’ between base and the lid, it relates to liquid filling beyond the ‘max’ line, and b) make sure I assemble the cup correctly. I was also assured that cups are tested for leaking before the dispatch and with that assurance, within a few days I received a prepaid return envelope, as well as a replacement cup in the colours I asked for.

My ‘replacement’ cup has now become an extension of my arm and no sign of any problem after three or so weeks of regular, at time daily use. The ‘original’ cup I was told is now also on good form, after the top seal had been replaced. Why am I telling you this? Well, first and foremost, I believe in honest disclosure and secondly, what’s the point of reviewing something, if I don’t share my full experience with you? We often moan about bad customer service, yet forget to praise good one, so in part, this is my ‘thank you’ to Frank Green & to Rod, who has kindly assisted me and answered the barrage of my questions – always quickly and politely, but no less importantly, very helpfully & insightfully.

While I am at it, let me address another issue that might be of interest to some of you. Plastic. I did ask about it and here is a reply that I received:’ We understand that some people have an issue with plastic, however it is the material of choice to deliver a superior reusable & highly transportable cup. Glass & ceramic smash & ours doesn’t leech the taste of plastic into coffee’. I should also add that materials used in the manufacturing of SmartCup are BPA-free.

As the cup is doubly insulated, sip your drink carefully, if it was pored quite hot, so not to burn your tongue or your mouth. When the ‘push’ button is in the closed position, hot liquid will naturally cause the steam to build up the pressure inside your cup, so either open the lid or the ‘push’ button to let the steam escape and be sure to do it away from your face – that’s the word of caution on the cup’s instructions, but I never had an issues in that department.

After you use the cup, make sure you disassemble it correctly and wash the parts properly – it is easy to do, once you read the instructions carefully (please see the image above) and it will help make sure that the Smart Cup will serve you for a long time. I will also admit to a bout of recent clumsiness & dropping my cup recently – no scratch, no damage, no spill – just a slightly raised heart rate on my part, as the memory of the eCoffee cup flashed through my mind. So practicality, drop & spill tests passed with flying colours, some, it has to be said, unintentionally, as I have no desire to drop my cup full of coffee & make it shaken, like Bond’s martini.

Last, but not least, for the tech bunnies among you – you can download the CafePay app, register your details & pair it with your FG SmartCup or smartphone. Then you can make orders with cashless payments & be rewarded for your loyalty with free coffees. However, it will take a few more months for the App to be rolled out and be more widely available.

For more information about Frank Green and its coffee & water Smart Cups, please click here

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As any modern woman knows, we seem to be sadly attached at the hip not to our loved ones, but our computers and mobile phones. While our other halves, friends and children bring joy to our lives, computers, iPads and mobile phones have not just a practical effect, but negative one as well, in the form of blue light & zapping our energy with prolonged use, as well as contributing to a sedately lifestyle, the effect of which, among other facts, won’t be known for many years. As I am one of those people whop spends a fair amount of time in front of her laptop daily, I was intrigued to test the latest launch from the British brand Amly, whose Radiance Boost Silver Rich Facial Mist has become my regular daily and travel companion since its launch last year. Now I welcome Digital Detox into my facial mist family fold.

Beneath an organic wildflower meadow in East Sussex, comes a source of naturally silver-rich water. This unique self-replenishing supply filters through layers of ancient mineral-rich rock, making it a pure source of natural trace elements and minerals, all of which help to sooth, revitalise and purify not just your complexion, but your senses as well.

When I think of the word mist, I imagine clear & refreshing rain droplets on my face, hydrating & refreshing the skin, while washing the negativity away, as you loose yourself in the precious moment of just being.

It took Amly founders Kerry Moore (a specialist in Biodynamic craniosacral therapy and homeopathy background) & Lisa Smallpiece (an artist & resident of the organic farm attached to Amly), two years to refine & research the perfect combination of ingredients that jointly offer anti-pollution & stress-combating treatment to the skin, protecting it against the damaging effect of modern urban living, office work & constant digital presence that sadly seems to be on the rise, as we all try to keep up with the pace.

But its not just the artificial light that our computers & mobile gadgets, as well as TV screens emit, its also the electromagnetic radiation. If your skin is already dry or irritated, those problems, compounded by the negative effect of daily environmental aggressors, become worse and more noticeable to you when you examine your skin in the mirror. Lisa & Kerry don’t believe in launching products just because this is expected from them as a brand – after all, they launched not with a plethora, but with just one products to start with. Creating products that help your skin look and feel better, as well as have a positive effect on your body via your senses is what truly matters. Digital Detox builds on nature’s ability to refresh and replenish, by utilising hydrating marine actives, purifying magnesium salts and energising oils that together have a powerful effect on you, as you inhale the vibrant floral scent, close your eyes and allow your features to relax into a contented smile. At times I simply continue misting my face and decollate gently humming ‘OM’, be it with my feet firmly planted on the floor under my desk or sitting on my yoga mat in the evening. It is one of those easily accessible tools that become second nature and make you feel better in your skin – be it at home, on the tube or plane, or while toiling away in the office.

When you use Digital Detox mist for the first time, shake the bottle gently but firmly, close your eyes and spray liberally, while taking deeper breaths and allowing the aromatic oils to stimulate your senses and giving your mind a temporary respite from whatever you have been focussing on. Try to focus on deciphering the scent and notice energy-cleansing Frankincense, Yarrow and Niaouli; Refreshing yet calming, this clarifying spritz blends together Juniper, Cedarwood and Ginseng which aid concentration, while Rose Quartz, Orange Blossom and Ylang Ylang are valued for their harmonising and anti-stress properties. Life is hectic, we all say this out loud, instead of greeting each other nowadays, so use this to ground, energise and calm yourself before you get on with the tasks at hand.

I spray it on my face sometimes in the morning, instead of the tonic, but most often it stays by my side, like a cacti, next to my laptop and when I feel that my mind wants to wonder to the social media or web pages away from work, I take a few moments to mist my face and centre myself, before continuing with the task that needs attention or completion. This mist is very fine and the particles seem to sink into your skin almost as soon as they land on it, which gives a lovely, calming sensation to the skin.

I also have another trick up my sleeve when it comes to using this mist – there are times when I feel angry or hyper and instead of raising my voice, I mist my face and it seems to silence the roaring giant that wants to escape from the back of my throat. While it doesn’t necessarily prevented a conflict from erupting – after all, I can’t say to a client or a person with whom I might have an unpleasant conversation – ‘wait a moment, let me ground myself before we continue this conversation’, it has stopped me in the tracks on a few occasions when kids tested my patience.  On occasion this action on my part made them stop their tantrum mid-way and focus on examining my ‘I don’t care right now, I am trying to be zen’ face.

Each batch of the product takes about eight weeks to be prepared, as it undergoes the resting phase & infusion after the wash phase, with Kerry & Lisa renewing the process every four weeks, so a new batch is ready every month. It just shows that in the ever-increasing pace of life some things require not just effort, but time to be ready, without compromise on the quality or the results you might expect from the product.

Now, last but not least, a few words on the natural actives and ingredients, that make this mist such a luxuriously indulgent pleasure of daily life.

Salicornia extract: a hardy coastal plant, known for its extraordinary ability to defend itself from dehydration. The extract is scientifically proven to strengthen skin’s lipid barrier & boost moisture levels

Marine Algae: a phytonutrient-rich plant known for its ability to protect itself from environmental aggressors, including UV light & radiation

Niaouli helps to clarify skin & mind, while possessing anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties

Natural Bioavailable Silver Salts are known as nature’s antibiotic, silver aids tissue repair & wound healing with its anti-microbial properties

Magnesium Salt & Himalayan Pink Salt both gently purify & remineralise the skin, while imparting protection against damaging electromagnetic radiation

Gotu Kola, Juniper, Cedarwood & Ginseng aid concentration

Neroli & Ylang Ylang help to bring harmony & calm

Rose Quartz has been used since ancient times to uplift the senses 7 balance the emotional state, while also offering a protective frequency to the product which has been infused with it.

Full list of Ingredients: Aqua, Glucose, Rapeseed Acid, Sodium Chloride (Himalayan Pink Salt), Magnesium Sulfate, Aloe Barbadensis (***Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, *Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Gum Oil, *Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil, *Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine Absolute) Flower Oil, *Melaleuca Quinquenervia (Niaouli) Leaf/Twig Oil, *Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, *Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Oil, *Tilia Cordata (Linden) Flower Oil, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, *Pelargonium Roseum (Rose Geranium) Leaf Oil, *Juniperus Virginiana (Cedarwood) Wood Oil, *Juniperus Communis (Juniper) Fruit Oil, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract, Quartz Powder, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Salicornia Herbacea (Glasswort) Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beetroot) Root Extract, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Silver Citrate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Hydroxyacetophenone, Tocopherol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Citric Acid, **Limonene, **Linalool, **Geraniol, **Citral, **Citronellol, **Benzyl Benzoate, **Benzyl Alcohol, **Eugenol, **Farnesol, **Benzyl Salicylate

*Natural Pure Essential Oils **Potential Allergens ***Certified Organic Ingredients

I think that modern lifestyle depletes our bodies, minds and skin, so a product that can revitalise you, remineralise & detox, as well as hydrate the skin, calm & clarify the mind and make you feel more awake is something that deserves a place on your bathroom shelf or being your travel companion. I think you colleagues or fellow companions will agree too, when the effect of your misting your face and space around you with Amly Digital Detox reaches their nostrils. I call it Amly unity .)

For more information about Amly please click here

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A lot of things related to our diets & nutrition are becoming contested, as nutritionists & dieticians are battling in their war of words with influencers & food bloggers, the latter often with much bigger followings than people who are actually qualified to give us advice relating to our eating habits. As I have regular conversations with brand founders of supplements brands, as well as nutritionists, I choose the supplements that I use carefully, never waylaid by marketing hype. Lately protein has been a subject of a documentary on BBC & that made my trial of That Protein new launch, Nutty Nutty Peanut Butter Super Protein, particularly interesting & timely.

That Protein was founder by the lovely Irish woman Darlene McCormick. Darlene has been voted Northern Ireland’s Top Businesswoman, but before starting TP, she owned one of Ireland’s top PR firms, which she sold, in order to follow her passion for plant based nutrition. By creating her own company & brand she puts her products into the limelight, while she works tirelessly in the background, replying to my messages & customer enquiries herself. She also loves spending time in her kitchen, developing new recipes that she shares regularly on her social media pages, as well as trying the ones that her customers send her. Some of you would be interested to hear that she is vegan & so are the That Protein powders. She also makes sure that her products are dairy free, non GMO, are high in fibre & Vitamins like B1, B2 & B6 & don’t contain refined sugars or sweeteners.

Now, to proteins & the role they play in our bodies. Our bodies require different types of food, with the three building blocks being carbohydrates, proteins & fat. On top of that we need to add vitamins & minerals, which stimulate enzymes & chemical reactions in our bodies. Another important element is of course water! As a rule of thumb we need about 60% carbs, 10-15% proteins, which depend on your activity levels & 25% of fats, minerals, vitamins & fluids. Like with everything in life, we all need to achieve balance, which depends on many factors & our individual traits, bodies & DNA.

Proteins are our body’s building blocks. As well as helping to build muscles, they support repairs within our bodies, help digestion & assist our immunity system. We mostly get proteins from meat, fish, milk products, eggs, nuts and from some vegetables. Then there are the complete & incomplete, as well as high- and low-quality proteins, which refer to the amino acids they supply. Few foods are purely one element and most of our sources of protein also supply us with either carbs (vegetable proteins) or fats (animal proteins). Meat & fish eaters probably get enough of proteins, but need to be conscious of the amount of fat they consume. Equally, vegetarians need to make sure they don’t miss on the vital nutrition block and get enough amino acids essential for building protein (muscles). When we lack protein in our diet, it can lead to anaemia, tiredness and potentially weakened immune system. Interestingly enough our brain, with its main source of nutrition being glucose, would make a very bad dietician, as it doesn’t take into account whether glucose that we consume comes from protein, vegetables or fat.

The BBC1 documentary I mentioned earlier was focussed on the popularity of protein supplements and the high-protein diet favoured by athletes and body builders. The latter often consume excessive amounts of protein daily, which can lead to unpleasant side effects and potentially serious illness, if this goes on for a prolonged period of time.

As a meat eater, I do get enough protein through my diet, but there are days when things get hectic and that’s where supplements like That Protein come to play the leading role. Mix three heaped table spoons with your preferred milk or add into your smoothie and that allows you to fuel the body in the right way. As protein contributes to growth and maintenance of muscle mass, I often take it after my workout and that gives my body exactly what it needs to recover after an intensive exercise session.

This limited edition Peanut Butter Protein powder contains the following ingredients: partially defatted peanut powder & pea protein powder (81%), Chia Powder (10%) & Palmyra Nectar (9%). Palmyra Nectar,which comes from the Palmyra Tree in India, is an ingredient fairly new to me. It was chosen or this formula because of the raw nutrition it provides, according to Darlene and because it is high in B vitamins, is a low GI sweetner & has a slightly malty taste.

Now, how best to consume this ? Ultimately you need to try different combinations & see which ones gives you the biggest pleasure. According to That Protein, it is designed to be added to mylk, so I have tried it with organic diary milk, which I like, as well as Oat Milk (ok, but a bit too bland) and Rude Health’s Brown Rice drink with a hint of vanilla, which is my favourite option. Darlene recommended using 300 ml of cashew milk, three heaped table spoons of the protein powder and a little of Pip & Nut butter of your choice – for my own decadent treat, particularly when I crave something sweet, I add a generous spoon of Pip & Nut Chocolate & Hazelnut Butter to my protein cocktails. I also tend to add a small banana or a handful of blueberries, as well as The Beauty Chef Cleanse Powder or some Maca for energy and some Baobab, if I feel like a need a bit more of Vitamin C. Darlene also gave me an option of adding this powder to yogurt (it works well with natural or vanilla Coyo) and I sometimes add it to my morning granola, where grated pear compliments the overall flavour. This protein powder also works well as one of the porridge ingredients, which you add to the porridge when it is ready. Or mix it into the buckwheat pancake batter, which adds a little bit of maltiness to the flavour.

When I noticed that the Peanut Butter was partially defatted on the ingredient list, I asked Darlene about it and she replied saying that if a full-fat peanut butter was used, it would have been too ‘oily’ for the powder and also very high in fat. This process doesn’t affect nutrition & demonstrates that That Protein does look at the multiple angles when developing their protein powders, which is reassuring to me, as consumer. I also appreciate an open dialogue with the brand, allowing me to not only get answers to my questions, but actually expand my own knowledge going forward.

For more information about That Protein & its products, please click here

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