Guest Blog – Aroma Reflexology by Ula Boyle

Aromatherapy oils are naturally fragrant oils that come from a variety of plants, flowers and fruit and contain many therapeutic properties that have been known for centuries, originating in ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures. Combining essential oils with Reflexology has many health benefits as together they can stimulate and enhance the body’s ability to rebalance itself and heal. When inhaled the aroma of the essential oils is processed by the brain producing strong physiological and psychological effects.

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Reflexology is a natural, gentle healing therapy dating back to ancient Egypt and China. It uses specific techniques and pressures on the feet and hands to clear congested energy pathways within the body, activating the body to heal itself and regain its natural state of wellness and balance. The anatomy of the body is understood to be mapped out in reflex zones on the feet and by stimulating a reflex it can have a positive effect on the corresponding organ or body system. A treatment can therefore benefit the whole body and help to maintain or restore good health.

Essential Oils are massaged into the feet using reflexology techniques increasing heat and circulation and the absorption of the oils (containing specific healing properties) into the skin and blood stream. Different oils are chosen and blended depending on the health and healing needs of a client to create a desired effect such as enhancing mood, relaxation, mental/physical invigoration, pain relief. Incorporating Aromatherapy into reflexology treatments offers a wonderful sensory journey to wellbeing and can be used effectively to treat a wide variety of common complaints including:

Reducing stress related disorders, alleviate anxiety & depression, enhance mood,  Improve sleep and reduce fatigue, Relieve headaches, arthritis, Help to improve respiratory problems such as asthma, sinuses, hay fever, Pain relief, Ease tension & aching muscles, Relief of painful menstruation, symptoms of PMS/menopause, Relief of digestive problems, Strengthening the immune and nervous system.

Ula Boyle works from Ananda Centre.

Telephone her on 086 0872526 to make an appointment.

www.soleserenitythearpy.ie

VTCT Dip Reflexology/Aromatherapy Massage

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3 Easy Random Acts of Kindness

How about committing a random act of kindness for three different people?: 

Someone you don’t know 

Someone you know 

Yourself 

 Someone you don’t know ; This is quite simple and can quickly become a habit. (That’s a good thing!)
Smile. When you’re in a depressingly long queue  at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler’s public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you’re feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life. 

 Someone you know ; Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.
Make it a point to physically reach out to  someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug, whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver! 

 Yourself; People depend on you, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve only got a few minutes, steal away and flip through a great magazine. If you can set aside some more time, go to a Restorative Yoga class, get a massage, go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop and grab a coffee. 

 Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!



Legs Up The Wall pose… says it all really.

Legs up the wall or Viparita Karani has been praised in the past as being the go-to pose for all that ails you. I’m sure there is scientific proof out there somewhere for this bold statement but what I do know is that it a wonderful, relaxing pose with the added benefit of having positive effects on many of the bodies systems.

Essentially an inversion (a pose where the heart is at a higher level than the heart – think headstands, shoulder stands), Viparita is a gentler way to allow blood flow and nourishment to the reproductive, urinary, digestive systems and at the same time the heart gets to rest from pumping the blood from the legs back up. The lymphatic system is involved in this circulatory action too so the immune system is getting a boost. It also:

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

There is a list of more benefits at the end of this article.

It is a great pose for anyone who has neck issues and cannot practice a full head or shoulder stand.

I’m trying to include it in my practice everyday, even for 5 minutes at the end of the day. Last year I had way too many colds and sinus problems so I’ll keep you posted on my progress. It can be practiced anywhere you have a wall…easy! No special props needed.

I recently was asked by a student was there anywhere else that one could practice if space at home was limited and the answer is yes. In fact, you can get quiet inventive. Use a table, chair or the sofa. You can even practice on your bed before sleeping, a good way to unwind even if you feel a bit silly. What would be great is if you have a dedicated space to practice and you never know, you could end up do more postures, some meditation and even breath work! All you need is a clear wall space wide enough for you get in and out of the posture with ease.

So, how do you get in and out of this posture with ease?

  1. Place you blanket or mat with the short end to the wall.
  2. Sit to one side/hip against the wall. Have your bum to the edge of your lengthways part of the mat closest to you.
  3. Then gently swing your legs up the wall, your upper torso on the mat/blanket.
  4. Bring your arms out on the floor, a bit from your waist, palms up or place them resting on your abdomen.
  5. Your legs can be straight with heels resting on the wall or have the knees bent, feet on the wall. Whatever feels right to you.
  6. If you find your chin tilting to much to the ceiling place a support under the head, not too high. Just enough to bring the head level to the chest.
  7. Keep a blanket handy to through over yourself to keep warm as you relax.
  8. Allow the body to melt into the floor and connect with your breath.
  9. Hold for 5-20 minutes

To come out, bend the knees gently into the chest and roll over to one side. Rest for a couple of breaths here then come back to a seated position and let the body settle.

Viparita Karani may help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Headache
  • High and low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine
  • Mild depression
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Urinary disorders
  • Varicose veins
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Menopause

Cautions: Inversions as a rule should not be practiced when you have your period but this one can be if it is not too heavy.  As with any inversion Legs Up The Wall should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only practice this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.

So there you have it – Legs Up The Wall. It is a pose I often include in my Rest & Restore workshops and weekly Restorative classes. If you would be interested in learning more please contact me or check out www.anandacentre.com for more info.

Have fun and remember yoga is for everyone 🙂

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Melt your stress with Rest & Restore

The first Rest & Restore Restorative Yoga workshop of 2015 takes place in Ananda Centre, Slane on Saturday Jan 24th 10am – 12pm.

It is suitable for all levels of yoga ability including beginners.

Restorative yoga works closely with the nervous system in helping the body and mind unwind.

If it sounds like something you would like to try just give a call 085 1502378.

See http://www.anandacentre.com or http://www.restrestoreyoga.com for more info…

Namaste,

Brenda

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5 facts you should know about women’s health

5 facts you should know about women’s health

  1. Women are more prone to certain health conditions than men. Women are more likely to experience depression, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Some conditions, like osteoporosis, are directly related to women’s hormone fluctuations and smaller frames. Others, like fibromyalgia, are much more common in women, but scientists have yet to figure out why.

 

  1. Women do not always experience the same symptoms as men with the same conditions. While men are more likely to experience a heart attack than women, women are more likely to die of the same heart attack. The reasons may be related to the publicized symptoms: while everyone knows about chest pressure and pain down the left arm, these are symptoms typically experienced by men. Women may experience dizziness, light-headedness, or fatigue. Knowing the different ways conditions manifest in men and women can truly be a lifesaver.

 

  1. Women have different risk factors than men. Remember that bit about women being more susceptible to stroke? In addition to the risk factors shared with men, there are also many women-specific risks, including being pregnant, taking hormonal birth control pills, using hormone replacement therapy, and experiencing frequent migraines. Unfortunately, these additional risk factors don’t always show up in educational materials.

 

  1. Women and men sometimes react differently to drugs and other treatments. Women wake up faster from anesthesia. Some drugs, like ibuprofen, seem to be more effective in men than women, while others like erythromycin (an antibiotic) work better in women. And of course there are medications typically prescribed for sex-specific issues that can interfere with each other. As an example, Paracetemol can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control.

 

In spite of all this, women’s and men’s bodies are more similar than they are different. We share 99% of our genetic material with every other person on the planet. We have the same basic structure, suffer from most of the same illnesses, and heal in the same way. A healthy diet, active lifestyle, adequate sleep, and positive attitude are beneficial to men and women alike. There are no studies showing whether massage or yoga therapy is better for any one subset of people than others. Maybe that research will be done in the future.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know whether it works for you, there’s only one way to find out!

Schedule an appointment today on 085 1502378 or see www.anandacentre.com for more details on Yoga Classes and other therapies available at the centre.

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Self care made easy…

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Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/watch TV/exercise/do anything fun.” “I can’t get monthly massages or go to a yoga class I have too much to DO!”

Too much “busy” could be making you tired, sick, and probably cranky.

When do you give yourself time out or relax? RELAX. “Relaxation” is a word we hear lots, but don’t know always know what it means. Here, I’ve compiled some options for you.

re·lax  verb \ri-ˈlaks\

1: the state of being free from tension or anxiety.

2: a way to rest and enjoy yourself

3: recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.

4: the loss of tension in a part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract.

5: something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.

More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?

If you’re not a “hot bath and good book” kind of person, you probably cringe at hotel spa photos of people with stones piled on their backs. But here’s the beauty: You can make your own definition of relaxation.

It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from work or home jobs?

Then, make time for that.

You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favorite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Spend part of the day alone.
  • Spend part of the day with your family, doing ONLY fun stuff.
  • Meditate – see the apps Headspace and Insight Timer if you have a smart phone.
  • Devote time to your hobby.
  • Sleep in. Or get up extra early. Whichever excites you!
  • Get the kids to school and pop back into bed for an hour…oh the loveliness!
  • Schedule a massage or reflexology! Here in Ananda Centre we offer both. See www.anandacentre.com for more details.
  • Come to one of my Rest & Restore Saturday morning workshops. 2 hours of gentle movement and blissed out, supported postures. Next on is Jan 24th 10am. Contact me on 085 1502378 to book your place.
  • If you’ve always wanted a day to “not leave the house” today’s the day! Wake when you wish, eat when you’re hungry, stay in your jammies and read a book.

Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!

Zita West affiliated Acupuncturist

Great news 🙂

Helena Barker ~ Acupuncture & Naturopathy

I am now delighted to announce that I have become a founding member of the recently launched Zita West Network for Reproductive Health, as an Affiliated Acupuncturist.

ZW_Aff_Acu_Logo_Keyline_POS_ProcessBuilt on the ground-breaking work of midwife, author and fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West and her renowned London clinic, the new Irish network aims to share the unique skills and experience of Zita and her team of doctors, midwives and complementary therapists, with experienced independent acupuncturists across Ireland and the UK. Other health specialists (such as nutritionists, counsellors, midwives and doctors) will also be recruited to the network. The Zita West Clinic is the largest integrated (medical and complementary) practice in the UK specialising in all aspects of male and female reproductive health. It also runs occasional clinics in Dublin on a monthly basis.

All acupuncturist members of the network receive training and ongoing support in Zita West’s comprehensive, holistic approach…

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5 tips for a happier Christmas season

Happy Christmas! Happy ‘getting stressed out, trying to do too many things and please everyone’ season. Oh, wait. That’s not what it’s supposed to be like.

Maybe this is the year to mix it up a little and make the Christmas a little easier.

Forget perfection

Sometimes gingerbread men will be missing a limb. The tree may have a bald spot. The pudding may not taste exactly like your granny’s. Do you know? None of it matters. Decide what’s really important to you over the Christmas, and focus on that.

Enlist help

Once you drop the desire for Sergeant Major  levels of perfection, it gets much easier to ask for help and delegate tasks.

Children can sign the names and address Christmas cards. Wrap gifts in plain brown paper and children can stay occupied decorating with crayons and ribbon. I love this idea, very personal too.

Stick to a budget

Much of the Christmas stress people feel can be attributed to money woes. Make a list and check it twice, making sure the gifts you choose are within your budget reach. And when you’re tempted to overspend, remember that things are rarely as meaningful as a kind thought or gesture.

Shop local

Shy away from the average stuff you get at chain stores and Amazon. Visit your local craft shop (Slane Craft Collective in the village is really great), bakery (we have Georges in Slane!) and massage therapy clinic (Hey! That’s me!) to get gifts and gift vouchers that really mean something.

I have a Voucher Special on at the moment to help you out…

Gift Voucher Special…
Massage Therapy –
1 hour €50
2 x 1 hour €90
4 x 1 hour €160

Vouchers available for Yoga Classes and Workshops too.
Give the gift of wellbeing this Christmas.
Contact Brenda 085 1502378 See more

Look for a farmers’ market ( The Honest To Goodness one in Glasnevin is amazing) where you can buy jars of local honey or handmade ornaments. Keep a stash in your car with some gift bags for last-minute “I can’t believe I forgot to get a gift for my child’s teacher” type situations.

Bonus: you’re supporting small business at the same time!

Get massage or join a yoga class

Taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of all the people who depend on you! Self care easy.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas low on stress and filled with fun!

A big thank you for everyone’s support and custom during the year. I look forward to seeing you all in the new year. Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year 2017 ahead.

A little Christmas fun.

A little Christmas fun.

How Yoga can help HIV and AIDS

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December 1 is World AIDS Day. This month, whoever you are, take a little time to learn about what’s been discovered about HIV since you first heard of it all those years ago. We now know about different strains of HIV, and how our bodies react differently to each. We know how to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and how serodiscordant couples (couples in which only one partner is HIV+) can safely conceive children together. And we know that the support of friends, neighbors, family, and loved ones is one of the key factors in the health and wellbeing of people with HIV.

How Can Yoga Help for HIV/AIDS?

Yoga can help boost immune system and many studies have shown:

  • Reduction in anxiety and stress
  • Increased white blood cell counts
  • Decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol
  • Activates natural killer cells

Yoga can also help decrease pain in symptoms specific to HIV/AIDS by relieving:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramps
  • General body tension
  • Oedema
  • Inflammation

Additionally, by increasing blood flow, Yoga assists with increasing oxygen and nutrients to areas with symptoms.

More Yoga Goals for HIV

Various Yoga techniques can be incorporated into a yoga therapy HIV program. These varying techniques used are practised through Pranayama (breathing), Asanas (postures) and Kriyas (cleansing). They help facilitate the removal of excess phlegm to relieve respiratory congestion, increase blood and lymph flow to assist the liver function in toxin removal and to encourage blood cell regeneration. They help prevent or reduce muscular atrophy typical of immobilization/inactivity through improving muscle tone.

If you’re HIV positive, here’s a little of what you can do to keep yourself healthy and suppress the virus:

De-stress yourself. Stress can really affect the immune system, making you more open to illness and infection. A good sleep each night, practices like yoga and regular massage therapy can help combat stress.

Be sure to vaccinate against infections.  Pneumonia and flu can be devastating to someone with HIV. Getting the regular vaccinations against these and any other infections is a good way to stay healthy especially in winter months.

Stay healthy in your choices. No smoking, eating healthy, regular exercise, avoiding alcohol, and of course looking after your mental health too.

 

 

Silver Island and shelf making.

Every now and then it is good to do something out of one’s comfort zone. So with that mantra in mind this year I did just that. My sister had mentioned going to pick olives on Silver Island in Greece. Helena, our Acupuncturist here in Ananda Centre, is good friends with the owners. So it was out of my comfort zone but not totally scarey!

On Silver Island, sisters Lissa and Claire, Lissa’s husband Corne and Ernest the island’s caretaker  facilitate a weekly yoga retreat for 7 months of the year. I must mention it is the world’s only private island yoga retreat centre. Amazing, yes? And not forgetting Lulu the dog. She was a real star, great dancer and an awful distraction with her cuteness!

Off we went, arriving in Athens at a decent time of 7.30pm. Booked into our hotel close to where the airport bus dropped us at Syntagma Square. We stayed that night in the Athens Diamond Plus Hotel. Clean and very reasonable but you have to say it in the accent of that  fancy lady voice on the tv commercials. Everything in the hotel was white gloss, I felt like I was in an 80’s Wham video!

Up early next morning to catch the 8.45am bus to Oreoi on Evia island. 3 hour journey – doable. Got the first Spanakopita (spinach and cheese  pie in filo crust, yum) of the trip in the bakery by the port and waited for our lift to Silver Island. Very quiet in Oreoi as it was November but judging by all the cute restaurants on the waterfront you could imagine that it would get busy in high season.

Coming in to view.

Coming in to view.

Corne kindly met us and our mode of transport to the island was a very cool speedboat, very James Bond or something! The water like glass, the sun shining and the island lighthouse coming into view.

View from Silver Island

View from Silver Island

Intros and the start of what was to be many cups of tea later the guys had lunch and headed back out to work. This gave myself and Vicki a chance to have a quick dip in the sea and a walk to warm up. The sisters thought we were mad to be getting into the water but we assured them being Irish it was a temperature akin to Salthill on Ireland’s best summer’s day.

There's a chicken in me gully! Silver Island boasts home to 23 chickens. Not sure if this guy was of the Jean Claude Van Dame or Gunky lineage?

There’s a chicken in me gully! Silver Island boasts home to 23 chickens. Not sure if this guy was of the Jean Claude Van Dame or Gunky lineage?

Up the next morning at 7.30am – big bowl of porridge and cup of coffee and we were ready for the day. All the olives had been picked the week previous so there now was the job of pruning the olive trees. There is a skill to this so our job was to remove the fallen branches and make into piles to be burned later on. Easy enough you say until you factor in an angle of 45 degrees on the slopes where the trees grow. Ok so I might exaggerate a little but it was hilly! Lets just say the muscles in my legs were getting a great workout. We broke for lunch at 1pm and there is nothing like a hunger built up from a bit of labour. Back out for 2 and then finished at 4.30. I have to admit I got a shock! I like to think I work hard manually with the massage but this was very new. Strangely though there was always a great sense of satisfaction when each day was finished during our stay.

Claire and Vicki getting into their roots.

Claire and Vicki getting into their roots.

Our jobs over the next 10 days included gully clearing, shed clearing, shelf making (thanks to Claire’s guidance we became proficient in scaffold shelf making – hipster up cycling eat your heart out!), bush clearing and I even managed to swop a couple of afternoons off in exchange for giving massages! Ernest reckoned we made a good team the whole lot of us. I also learned how to prune an olive tree.

The Team -Ernest, Corne, Lissa, me, Vicki and of course the wonderful Lulu the dog. Missing is Claire.

The Team -Ernest, Corne, Lissa, me, Vicki and of course the wonderful Lulu the dog. Missing is Claire.

Our evenings were spent deciding whether to go for a cold shower (no running hot water on the island) or have a bucket bath. I had forgotten how I can take things for granted! End result always good though. Clean, warm and hungry. Each night we had an amazing meal prepared by the guys along with a glass of local wine. Yum! It was so good to sit around a table and be social. No internet, no distractions. We discussed so much and discovered we had a lot in common too. There were many belly laughs and tears from both laughing and crying. Amazing when you keep things simple what can happen.

Vicki and I enjoying a fab brunch, cooked by Lissa and Claire, on our day off.

I got to wash my hair in the sea. On the island no products containing nasty chemicals are allowed as the water is recycled. A wonderful organic Greek range called Korres is available to those who visit Silver Island. I felt very wild-woman washing the hair with all natural stuff. Silver Island will have their own range of products soon, made by a friend on the mainland.

Vicki and I were in charge of dishwashing each evening. Which was not a chore for 5 people compared to cooking and washing for 14 during the retreat season. We were in bed each night by 9pm every night, I couldn’t even read my book as I was wiped.

We said our farewells after 10 days, joked about coming back to work on the island though you never know, we could surprise them next year! We stopped off in Edipsos on the way to Athens, they have amazing thermal baths there. Just what the weary bodies needed. 2 days in Athens where the sun shone to provide perfect tourist conditions. I had been to Athens before and was only too happy to see the Acropolis again. I really like Athens, it’s buzzing and understatedly cool.

Even in November the water was beautiful.

Even in November the water was beautiful.

I am not sure how to describe our trip away. A working holiday? A meditation of work? It was interesting to allow the mind to switch off and only have one’s focus on the task at hand. I was very happy with how my body didn’t let me down under the pressure and I came away unscathed but for the mosi bites! I dunno, maybe I would go back to help out but for a shorter length of time. I would, however, really love to go back as a guest someday. Seeing how the island is set up, it’s location and how beautiful it is definitely sells it to me. And not forgetting our wonderful hosts who without them the island would be nothing. They work very hard so that people can come and enjoy what they have enjoyed for years and that is the beauty and magic of Silver Island.

Agora in Athens

Agora in Athens

For more on the island and the retreats check out www.silverislandyoga.com