Establishing certain routines and habits have become such an important part of my day-to-day life. Especially since becoming self-employed, where a strong sense of discipline and self-control is even more important than before. Starting my days off with these routines, really creates a sense of balance, stability, and motivation to my days. I actually feel completely lost if I don’t manage to do some of them; which includes making my bed (marking the start of a new day), a cup of hot water and lemon (detoxifies and cleanses), breakfast (the first opportunity to nourish my body with goodness) and working out (gives me more energy). Recently, I´ve added something new to the mix…
Over the course of the past 6-months, I have been introduced to the wondrous world of Chinese medicine and techniques. And it´s been pretty life-changing, let me tell you that. So far, I´ve only experienced a small part of all it has to offer, but it´s already become such a big part of my life; especially when it comes to mental philosophy, and the idea that natural, self-healing is the key to it all. The lady who inspired me to get on track with my body, mind and and health re-discovery, is called Katie Brindle, a Chinese physician, and founder of new wellness brand, HAYO’U. Distilled from the healing and tension relieving techniques of Classical Chinese Medicine, HAYO’U (derived from the Chinese word for wellness) is an accessible self-health programme which has been designed to give you the power of taking control of your health issues with an at-home health and wellbeing regime – by simply performing one-minute rituals, based on the authentic Chinese techniques of Qi Gong and Tui Na. Sound too good to be true? I thought so too. But it works, it really works. Oh, and it´s free (no catch). The philosophy is simple: mastering your own health, and equipping you with a greater understanding of the origins of your stress – showing how you can help yourself to address it, and ideally avoiding any future health problems (before forking out lots of $$$ on countless sessions of massage, acupuncture and medicine).
I feel so honoured to have met Katie, so much so that I felt it my duty to share my personal journey with you – in hope of possibly inspiring your own road to discovery and a healthy lifestyle as well – however way you to choose to achieve it. If you´ve been reading my blog for a while, you´d know that I´ve always been into my wellness. But there´s so much more to an optimal body and mind than that – i.e if you suffer from stress, constantly tired, overworked, low moods, feel sluggish, unhappy… Suffering from a mental (or physical) condition, can, and will no doubt affect your whole life and quality of life. Did you know that stress, and all that factors that can create stress – is the cause of an estimated one in five of doctor´s visits? Yet, no one seems to know what to suggest or prescribe – bar taking a holiday, getting a good nights sleep, or prescribing lots of medicines, which will no doubt create more havoc to your body than do any good.
We´re increasingly putting ourselves under constant stress – fast contributing to an epidemic of fatigue, sleep deprivation, illness, low-level pain and depression… I´ve personally been suffering from spouts of mood wings over the past few years; feeling anxious and being heavily sleep-deprived, caused by over-thinking and stress. I shared my fitness regime story with you guys a while back, where I´ve cut out the things I don´t enjoy, rather focusing on more calming and restorative activities such as Yoga, Pilates and long walks. This has definitely helped me a lot. I´ve slowly been applying this to all aspects of my life, 95% of the time; only doing what I really want to do, and what will ultimately create a positive and calming affect to my life. Removing the things which I dread or will create tension or stress to my day-to-day life. Sound pretty simple? In theory, yes. But making sure this is applied and mastered for the long-term, not just treated as a short-term fix, is the hardest part. And I have Katie to thank for this. As well as offering self-help methods with the 1-minute morning ritual – which you can do from the comfort of your own home (more about this later on in the post); she´s also an incredible Physician, who has helped me see so much more clearly when it comes to my well-being.
It would take much more than one blog post, to relay the huge impact my one-on-one sessions with her has had on my life, and most importantly, my outlook on life. But the best way of describing it was a sort of epiphany – where someone completely impartial, yet knowledgable, has looked at all aspects of my life since a young age, from family, friends, health, relationships, career, expectations, feelings and emotions… All contributing factors which make you into the person you are. In just one sessions, she could already tell me that I had an overworked liver and weak kidneys – due to the symptoms I was explaining to her, and various past life happenings and personality traits (worrier and over-thinker). From this she managed to clarify, simplify and explain all the questions and doubts I´ve had, and most importantly – create a simple, and realistic way of getting myself back on track. Because that´s all it really is. Getting the balance right.
We´re all humans, and we´re all dependent on our 5 elements: heart – stomach – lungs – kidney – liver. Each one of these are the “mother” to each other: the heart is the mother to the stomach (hence why a heartache or any other emotions often go straight to your digestive system), the stomach is the heart of the lunges (a good diet provides a strong immune system for your lungs), and so on and so forth. In an ideal world – we would be in a neutral state with 20% portioned in each of these. But if you´re overworked, suffer from stress, experienced something emotional or traumatic, diet is poor, mood swings are all over place, suffer from bad skin, overweight, get crippling headaches, have IBS (or anything else disturbing to your life) – you will naturally create a state of imbalance in your system… The good news is, you can always get the balance back.
Although we´re all unique individuals, Chinese medicine has identified patterns that all our bodies follow. The advanced stuff is complex (of which I´ve only just got started) – but basic self-care methods apply to us all.
1-MINUTE MORNING RITUAL
So, after rather a rather long intro (!) – I´ve finally reached the 1-minute HAYO’U morning ritual – based on the basic principles of Qi Gong and Tui Na.
Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese health care method that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. ‘Qi’ (the life force or vital-energy that flows through the body) and ‘Gong’ (an accomplishment or skill that is honed through steady practice) together translate as ‘cultivating energy’ providing a system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality. Tui Na is a therapeutic massage technique that offers a wide range of physiological and psychological benefits. Used in hospitals in China today at the front line of healthcare to reduce the onset of chronic illness, Tui Na has become very advanced in its treatment for many diseases. The therapy makes use of rhythmic compression techniques along different energy channels of the body to establish harmonious flow of Qi throughout the body to bring it back to balance.
The 1-minute morning ritual will get you breathing, shaking, tapping and drumming the stress – quite literally – out of your system. I like to do it first thing in the morning, before my shower or bath, however, you can do it throughout the day whenever stress hits. And that´s exactly it – this morning ritual has been cleverly and carefully designed to set you up for the day!
For 20 sec
Shaking invigorates the circulation, wakes up the muscles and clears out any stagnation. Just shake out your whole body, top to bottom, like nobody’s watching. Why shake? Shaking your body from top to bottom dislodges any stagnation, so it’s a great exercise to do in the morning to prepare your body for the stresses of the day. Shaking relaxes and warms up all the muscles, organs, joints and fascia of the body. It can make bone marrow strong, strengthen the spine, and support the kidneys and adrenal glands. Lymph flow is enhanced so that more gunk is cleared out and your immune function is improved. Blood flow increases and hormonal secretions will benefit your skin.
For 20 sec This stimulates the kidneys and awakens the digestive organs and adrenals. Twist at the waist and swing your arms so your hands slap your front and back at kidney level. Why twist? It loosens the spine and shoulders, increases blood flow and Qi flow in the body, improves your digestive function and releases stored tension. When you twist at the waist you compress your digestive organs, which stops the circulation. Then when you release, a rush of fresh blood flows in, bringing oxygen and fresh nutrients to the area.
For 20 sec
For 1 minute
After the 3-steps – I jump in the shower or bath, and finish off with another one-minute of calm breathing. Breathing is the antidote to stress, so this one-minute of time-out to actually just breathe, is something I have started to do throughout the day – whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed – and I need something to calm and centre me. It only takes around a minute – but the benefits are huge! Focusing inwards calms your mind. And using your lungs to full capacity will slow your heart rate and oxygenate the blood properly.
Have a go, and make sure to let me know what you think! Or leave a comment with any other morning rituals you might be doing. As always, I love to hear from you.
Check out all the ritual techniques and benefits here.
Photography by Marcus Hamilton