Living yoga and travel in the gorgeous Evia Greece

Sometimes when I’m away from home in the middle of nowhere and haven’t stepped on my yoga mat for a while, a thought pops into my head that “I need to get back to my yoga practice”. Then I smile and laugh because I am more in my yoga practice than ever in these moments! It doesn’t matter if there are no yoga poses, complicated breathwork practice or meditation cushion involved. For me yoga and travel naturally go together.

Being in tune with the seasons and cycles of nature and my body and connecting deeply with loved ones feels just as “yogic” as the formal practice. Actually it’s kind of a short cut to that relaxed, blissed out state. That’s not to say that the traditional elements of the yoga path aren’t important. They help us to stay grounded and connected to our spirit in the middle of otherwise chaotic lives. But neither do we have to limit ourselves to one strict path.

Even the yoga sutras offer many suggestions and leave it open to us to find out own path to enlightenment. For me nature plays a big role in my spiritual health. yoga and travel, spending time in nature is when I feel most grounded and connected to my true self. I try to travel as much as I can to experience the healing powers of nature!

Incredible nature in Evia Greece

This weekend we visited one of my favourite places in the whole of Greece. The island of Evia which is just to the East of the mainland and connected by a bridge. It’s a stunning place with huge mountains, forests and gorgeous turquoise waters. Compared with other Greek islands, it has a less touristic and a much more local feel. Whenever I arrive there I take a big releasing exhale and feel my body, mind and spirit relax.

The beach at Limnionas is a combination of dark sand and pebbles with mountains and trees to provide much needed shade. Actually it is known for it’s burning sand which is impossible to step on in the middle of the day! The sea is perfect for swimming and gazing out at the seemingly endless horizon. I love just floating in the water letting my whole body relax and release tension. The sea has this magical capacity to cleanse and purify my whole being…

The area around the beach is calm and quiet with just a few cafes and taverns where you can find amazing local food. On the first evening we ate in Μανταλενας Ταβέρνα (Madalenas Taverna) which is a lovely outside terrace right at the beach. We tried all the locally grown salads and home cooked Greek specialities. Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, after the meal they brought us the juiciest, sweetest watermelon I’ve ever tasted!

The second night we drove up into the nearby village Μύλοι (Mili) to eat at a tavern recommended to us, Η Μαρδίτσα (E Marthitsa). The food was fantastic again and we even got a tour of the vegetable plot with heirloom tomatoes which had been in the family since the Ottoman Empire over 100 years ago. As we left the tavern, we saw a beautiful wild deer watching us from the trees. There was a moment of stillness were we watched each other before he galloped away into the forest. Such a magical moment!

At night we sat and enjoyed a beer on the terrace at the Lithoktiston Guest House where we stayed. It was still quite quiet as it’s early in the summer season but it was perfect. So peaceful with views across the whole bay and the mountains and the owners were so sweet. The temperature actually dropped quite a lot at night so we could sleep well without air conditioning. It definitely made a nice change for me as someone who will never get used to Greek summer weather…

Yoga and travel in Evia Greece

Usually when I go to Evia I fit in at least one yoga flow on the beach during the sunrise or the sunset. This time I felt like my body was asking for a complete rest. Instead I took some gentle walks on the beach and enjoyed lots of time reading and resting. Less formal practice but plenty of conscious deep breathing and a continuous mindfulness practice For me this is part of yoga, living in tune with the inner and outer seasons and becoming fully immersed in the present moment.

Saying that, I would love to organise a yoga and travel weekend in Limnionas as it really has the perfect atmosphere to drop in and go deep with the practice. If you would be interested in something like that, do let me know! There is something special and healing about this place and I’d love to share it with you. I hope you enjoyed this short insight into my yoga and travel adventures in Greece. For now, namaste.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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The simple path towards better health in all areas

When you start out on the journey to better heath it can be difficult to know where to start. Should you focus on eating a more nutritious diet or try moving your body? Maybe start a meditation practice or develop your personal relationships? These are all great ways to improve your health which can lead to more energy, happier outlook and greater life satisfaction. But what if I told you that there is one thing which can lead you to better health in all areas?

In my experience the practice of self-study or Svadhyaya (svad-ee-ya-ya) is the foundational practice which can help you to make positive changes and “level up” your life experience.

What is Svadhyaya?

Svadhyaya is one of the niyamas intoduced in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They are the duties or observances described in the eight-limbed path of ashtanga yoga. Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study or self-reflection, sometimes with the help of spiritual books. Practicing self-study means to observe yourself from an outside, non-judgmental seat. You start to witness your habitual thoughts, feelings and behaviours. With consistent, dedicated practice you eventually start to understand the true nature of your being.

How can self-study lead to better health?

Through self-study you start to see the stories you tell yourself on a daily basis. We all have our stories that have arrived as a result of past experiences and our emotional reactions to them. These stories can loop around our minds and affect our choices and actions. They create energy blockages in our body-mind system where our attention is partially distracted at all times.

When energy is tied up in these blockages, it is not available to direct towards other areas of your life. This can lead to unsatisfying relationships, work, hobbies and self-image. You don’t feel good about yourself and you are not fully present to make the most of your experiences.

Energy blockages can also prevent you from taking action to improve your health. You have a limited amount of energy available to use and some of it is leaking away by keeping these stories alive. This leaves less energy for healthy lifestyle habits such as preparing healthy food, moving your body and nurturing your interests and relationships.

In many cases our stories can keep us stuck in habits that are not serving us. No matter what are intentions are, our habits are what shape the actions we take and the outcomes we see. Witnessing our stories and releasing ourselves from their ties can liberate us to make choices that are aligned with our goals and values.

Release your stories to find better health

Identifying the stories which are holding you back can help you to make lasting changes and better health in all areas by changing the way you think, feel and show up in the world every day. Some examples of stories which can prevent you from finding better health:

You hold the story that you are boring and unlikeable. In your interactions with others you will be partially distracted worrying about what they think of you. Instead of being yourself and interacting authentically there will seem to be a barrier between yourself and others.

You hold the story that you’re not physically attractive. When you present yourself you will be constantly distracted by worrying about how you look. This will be reflected in your posture and the energy you give out and will dim your natural beauty and attractiveness.

You hold the story that exercise must be intense and no pain no gain. When you exercise you will be tense and stressed and end up pushing yourself too hard. You will be unable to enjoy the process and reap the benefits for your mental wellbeing. Eventually you will burn out and give up altogether.

You hold the story that thin = healthy. You will make choices that focus on losing weight believing this is what it takes to be healthy. In doing so you might neglect other areas of your health such as skipping workouts when your body needs to rest and enjoying tasty but less healthy food with loved ones.

These are just a few simple examples. Take time to reflect on the stories YOU tell yourself and feel free to share with the community in the comments below.

My experience

Personally, the practice of self-study is the one thing that finally helped me to move into a place of true wellbeing. In the past I thought that restrictive dieting, intense exercise and pushing myself to succeed was the way to better health. On the outside I might have looked fit and healthy but inside I experienced intense fear around food, chronic insomnia and anxiety, zero energy, poor digestion, failing relationships because I focused on my obsessive healthy lifestyle over socialising with friends.

I held multiple stories that all led down the same path – that I wasn’t good enough as I was. That I had to try harder, be better, do more. In the end none of this ever led to true health. The situation got worse and worse until I eventually hit the breaking point. And this was when yoga arrived in my life to save the day! Since then, regular practice of self-study, along with the other elements of the yogic path, I’ve found a deeper acceptance of myself and better health in all areas of my life. I never expected that by letting go, freeing myself of these stories and allowing myself to go with the flow would have such an impact but it did!

So what are the stories that you are telling yourself every day and what habits are they leading to? Are there stories that are keeping you from true acceptance and love for yourself? Are there stories which are preventing you from taking action that could lead you to better health? Taking the time to reflect on this will help to you realise what you truly need and how to get there.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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low cortisol causes

Low cortisol causes and how to feel better

High cortisol gets all the limelight because of its reputation as a stress hormone. But when our cortisol levels fall too low or when they are low at the wrong times of day (i.e. in the morning when we need it to wake up) then it can be just as debilitating. Low cortisol causes us to feel tired, weak and unmotivated.

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blood sugar irregularity
  • Low mood and irritability
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Often sick

Basically we can feel in a zombie state because our body needs a certain amount of cortisol to get up and go.

Low cortisol causes

How can we end up with low cortisol? It can happen due to organic problems with organs such as the adrenal glands which produce cortisol or the pituitary gland which sends the signal to stimulate cortisol production. In this case there are dectectable inflammation or damage to the tissues which can be measured with medical tests. Low cortisol causes can also be functional conditions where there is no visible problem with the tissue but it is not functioning as it should be.

There are several causes of low cortisol including:

  • Addison’s disease (adrenal)
  • Congenital hyperplasia (adrenal)
  • Pituitary gland failure e.g. brain injury or tumour
  • Chronic stress

The first three low cortisol causes are conditions you need to work with a medical professional. Today I will focus on the final one – stress. Low cortisol can occur after a long period of stress (high cortisol) when we reach what is commonly known as the burnout state.

low cortisol causes

In this case, cortisol levels will be unlikely to fall to levels that your doctor would consider a “medical emergency” but still low enough to affect the way you feel and function in your life.

The mechanism of low cortisol in the burnout state is not fully understood even within functional medicine. One theory is that either the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and other hormones can’t keep up and eventually fail to produce enough. This is known as adrenal fatigue in the alternative health world.

The other theory is that you continue to produce cortisol but after a while our cells become resistant to its effects. You might be left with that “tired but wired” feeling or feel like every minor stressor sends you into a meltdown. Without adequate cortisol to give us that warrior mentality we become much less resilient and more sensitive to stress.

What to do if you have low cortisol

Whatever the cause of low cortisol, it’s not a fun state to be in! If you think you might have low cortisol, you can consider a saliva based test. Forth offer these as postal tests for any of you living in the UK, I like the phrase “test don’t guess” and it can be helpful to have a baseline measurement before implementing any changes. That way you can more easily see what is working and what isn’t.

However there are some helpful lifestyle changes you can make to help raise cortisol naturally. These are generally low risk so you can try them even if you aren’t sure if you have low cortisol. The most important thing to do if you are experiencing low cortisol (besides speaking to your doctor) is to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. You can also support your body with good nutrition and nourishing practices such as restorative yoga and yoga nidra.

For nutrition I recommend the same protocol as for high cortisol to restore the nutrients lost through stress – check out this post for more info. Eating regularly to support blood sugar balance is also especially important when dealing with low cortisol. By this I mean balanced meals and snacks every 3 hours, making sure to combine carbs with fat or protein (or both) every time you eat. Making sure to incorporate adequate electrolytes too and by that I mean don’t be afraid to salt your food!

Some other lifestyle tips for boosting low cortisol:

  • Dance or zumba to raise energy levels and cortisol
  • Get enough sunlight especially in the morning hours
  • Relaxation and gentle yoga before bed to improve sleep
  • Breathwork practices focusing on the inhale to boost energy

Supplements for low cortisol causes

My favourite 2 supplements for adrenal health are Ashwaganda and Shilajit. Ashwaganda or Indian ginseng is an adapagenic herb which is used in Ayurveda to support the body during times of stress. It may help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and balance cortisol levels. Shilajit is an amazing natural supplement for remineralising after periods of stress. It contains the full spectrum of natural elements plus fulvic acid which supports delivery of nutrients to the cell.

I really don’t recommend taking a lot of supplements as it can overburden the liver. It’s much better to take one or 2 high quality supplements targeted to your needs. I found a great supplement from a UK company called Nature Provides which includes both Ashwanganda and Shilajit and it’s now my go to. The recommended serving is 2 capsules but 1 gives 500mg of Shilajit which is already enough and means this bottle lasts 3 months.

Another great supplement for low blood pressure related to low cortisol is licorice. This can be taken as licorice tea or in tablet form if you don’t like the taste. These could be very useful for any of you dealing with stress, adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue but make sure to do your research and check with your doctor before adding any new supplements into your routine. Especially licorice it’s important to make sure you don’t have high blood pressure already before taking this supplement.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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How to lower levels of cortisol to elevate your health

Today’s post is a summary of my recent social media posts on how to lower levels of cortisol through nutrition and yoga. In my nutrition and wellness coaching practice, I help women who are struggling with hormonal imbalances expressing as missing periods, unexplained infertility, PCOS, PMS or hypothyroid symptoms. These are all caused by levels of hormones which are either higher or lower than they should normally be.

As all hormones interact within the body, when one is off this can cause a cascade effect throughout the whole system. One of the main root causes of all of the hormonal conditions above is an imbalance in cortisol. In particular, high cortisol can impact levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid hormones through the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. This hormonal system has impacts on our metabolic, reproductive and immune systems just to name a few!

What is the problem with cortisol?

Cortisol is well known as the stress hormone but it actually does an important job keeping us alive. It helps us to manage the stresses of daily life by raising blood sugar and blood pressure to get energy and oxygen to our cells and by modulating inflammation. We are designed to experience a peak of cortisol to wake us up in the morning as well as surges whenever we need to respond to an emergency. Towards the end of the day or once the stressor has passed, cortisol levels should drop allowing us to relax and sleep well.

The problem is when we experience high levels of physical or mental stress over a long period of time, our cortisol levels can remain chronically high. Our body remains in an alarm state and is hyper-vigilant, ready to respond to any attack or urgent situation. We feel agitated and anxious, we can’t sleep and our mood, energy, digestion, libido and fertility can all suffer as a result. We can also experience blood sugar instability, high blood pressure and accelerated aging – eek!

Signs of high cortisol

So how do we know when we might want to focus on ways to lower cortisol levels? Some of the most common signs of high cortisol levels are a rapid pulse, racing thoughts or a sense of restlessness and urgency. However, high cortisol can manifest a huge variety of physical, energetic and psychological symptoms including disturbances to your digestion, mood and sleep.

lower levels of cortisol signs

You can test your cortisol levels through a saliva test. But if you experience 5 or more of the signs above then it wouldn’t do any harm to focus on ways to reduce stress and lower levels of cortisol, regardless of whether you test or not.

Causes of high cortisol

As I mentioned earlier, cortisol is a stress hormone. It is released by our adrenal glands when they receive the signal that there is an emergency and we need to be on high alert. We usually relate stress to psychological factors such as work pressure, family issues, moving house or other worries. But stress can also be caused by other lifestyle factors, especially how we move, eat, think and breathe. Some of the top “sneaky stressors” that I see in my clients are:

  1. Eating inadequate energy (calories) to support their activities
  2. Restrictive dieting e.g. cutting out food groups, low fat, low carb, vegan
  3. Not eating regularly e.g. intermittent fasting or having long gaps between meals
  4. Excessive exercise especially cardio e.g. running, cycling
  5. Shallow or mouth breathing
  6. An overly active inner critic

Sometimes simple changes can really make a difference to our bodies’ experience of stress and help to reduce cortisol levels. Especially making sure we are eating enough nutritious food and OFTEN as well as moving, thinking and breathing in a way that keeps us out of fight or flight stress mode as much as possible.

Diet to lower levels of cortisol

When it comes to eating to support lower levels of cortisol, it is important to focus on lowering physical stress by nourishing your body as best as you can. This means letting go of strict diet rules, eating enough calories and making sure to support your body with the macro and micro-nutrients it needs to thrive. When we are under a lot of stress, our bodies burn though energy and specific nutrients faster than usual so it is important to make sure we are fueling and replenishing regularly.

Some of the key nutritional strategies I recommend to my clients for reducing stress are:

  • Consuming plenty of carbohydrates from natural sources e.g. fruits and roots
  • Making sure to eat magnesium rich foods or supplement with epsom salt baths or transdermal magnesium
  • Eating foods rich in B vitamins, particularly B5 and B6
  • Consuming oily fish such as sardines or salmon or adding in a high quality fish oil supplement

If you are following a low carb diet – forget it! Including plenty of natural carbohydrates and especially sugars from fruits, roots and honey will support your higher energy requirements during a stressful period and help to reduce physiological stress on your body from lack of energy. Giving your body the calories and carbohydrates it needs will help to lower cortisol levels and will also help to reduce cravings and over eating due to stress. Your body is smart and it sends those signals for a reason!

Adding in foods containing magnesium and B vitamins is also helpful as we burn through these important nutrients much faster when under stress. Foods containing magnesium include dark chocolate, sesame seeds and dark leafy greens. B vitamins can be found in dairy, legumes, meat and wholegrains. Cod liver oil is a good all round supplement that can reduce stress related inflammation and support mental health.

Yoga to lower levels of cortisol

Yoga and meditation are amazing ways to lower cortisol levels naturally. Moving and breathing in a way that reduces activity in the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and activates the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system will lower stress in your body and mind. Below is a simple 20 minute sequence you can use daily in the evening after a stressful day or before bed to wind down and get a healing night’s sleep.

From left to right:

  1. Extended child’s pose – hold for 3 mins with forehead resting on the mat or a block or pillow

2/3 Cow pose/Cat pose – flow between these 2 poses for 1 min syncing with the breath

4. Legs up the wall – 5 mins with legs resting against the wall if possible

5. Reclining twist – 3 mins per side option to place a pillow under the knee for support

6. Savasana – 5 mins focusing on deep belly breathing

Practice this simple sequence regularly, focusing on slowing down and being present, to reduce cortisol levels naturally.

Lifestyle to lower cortisol

Implementing the simple strategies in this post is an amazing first step if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of high cortisol above. Other supportive activities for lowering cortisol include gentle walks in nature, listening to music, journaling, creative work or any other way you like to slow down, let go of busyness and be present.

It’s so easy in today’s world to get swept up in work, tasks, social media and to be constantly doing, learning and taking in more and more information. But our bodies were designed for a much slower pace of life and we have to honour that from time to time. This doesn’t mean that we have to abandon everything and go and live in the mountains far away from civilisation. It just means that we need to become aware of our bodies’ signals of stress and find small ways to ground ourselves and connect within daily.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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What I did to stop feeling tired and dizzy

I dealt with chronic insomnia and fatigue for several years in my mid-twenties. Just when I should have been at my peak health I felt like everything started to fall apart. I would struggle to sleep through the night (sometimes not at all – eek!). Then I would spend the day in a haze of brain fog and physical exhaustion feeling tired and dizzy. Thankfully I discovered a healing lifestyle and I am now fully recovered!

Healing is never linear and I still feel like my body is still sensitive at times. But overall, I am very happy with my health right now and how dramatically I have been able to increase my energy over the last three years. I no longer am feeling tired and dizzy on a daily basis. I rarely experience sleep issues and I have the energy to follow my passions, work, move my body and have an active social life too.

How a low metabolism can leave you feeling tired and dizzy

Now you’re probably wondering what I did to get here and I have to say it was quite a journey. There wasn’t one simple change that fixed everything but rather a complete lifestyle overhaul. But the element at the centre of all of the changes I made was focusing on energy and metabolic health. Most importantly, I learned that feeling tired and dizzy can be a result of a low metabolic rate.

Like many women who grew up in the 90s, I spent my teenage years dieting and working out trying to stay skinny. On top of that, I was a high achiever. I threw myself wholeheartedly at getting top marks at school and university. The combination of coffee fueled library and gym sessions followed by late nights of with friends drinking eventually led to my body to crash and burn big time.

Even after I left university and settled into a calmer work life, my health didn’t improve. I was still feeling tired and dizzy on a regular basis, although I continued to act like everything was normal. During this time I switched to a high carb vegan diet. I thought that it would help me to heal my body but actually the opposite occurred. Without realising, I continued to spiral down into a metabolic hole.

Eventually I discovered the basic fact: our bodies need A LOT of energy and nutrients to function and thrive. The attitude of deprivation that is so prevalent amongst women (i.e. the idea that we should constantly be fighting our natural appetites and cravings) coupled with the “do it all” mentality is exactly what is causing us to feel fatigued, irritable and miserable. We are asking too much of our bodies and not giving enough in return!

How I stopped feeling tired and dizzy: phase 1

Once I discovered that my body was seriously in need of support, I took the first steps towards restoring my energy balance by:

  1. Eating more and good quality food (I was still mostly vegan at this time)
  2. Quitting intense exercise
  3. Daily walks outside and gentle yoga
  4. Implementing a supportive morning routine
  5. Practicing yoga nidra or guided mediation daily
  6. Taking a break from caffeine
  7. Releasing emotional stress through journaling and TRE
  8. Tracking and syncing with my menstrual cycle

These steps worked synergistically to increase my energy input (through food and constructive rest) and decrease my energy output (from physical, emotional and mental stresses). This really helped take some of the load off my body. It got me to a point where I was more stable with my energy levels and moods. I stopped feeling tired and dizzy so often and having a total meltdown every month before my period. Best of all, I was able to get enough sleep to make it through the day.

However, I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be long term. Firstly I had a vision for my health which included being active on a regular basis and spending quality time with friends. I love hiking, dancing and of course yoga. But at this time I was quite limited as to what I could do and without feeling wiped out afterwards. I never stopped these things throughout my healing journey but I wanted to fully enjoy them without feeling limited by my energy levels.

I also felt like my health issues were showing in my physical appearance too and I really hoped that healing would improve this. My skin was dry and I often got minor acne breakouts. My hair had become noticeably thinner and broke more easily. I would get upset when I looked in the mirror because I saw the the fatigue was aging me rapidly, especially around my eyes. Call me vain but I didn’t like it – the eyes are the window to the soul and I felt like mine looked dead!

How I stopped feeling tired and dizzy: phase 2

So once we moved to Greece in October 2020, I decided to take my healing journey to the next step. By this time I had discovered Morley Robbins and the Root Cause Protocol as well as the work of Ray Peat and Broda Barnes on the importance of optimal thyroid function and good metabolic health. They were all speaking about minimising the stress load on the body as well as increasing mineral availability through diet which really made sense to me.

I started to implement some of the supportive practices that were recommended, particularly:

  1. Reintroducing high quality organic dairy
  2. Drinking daily adrenal cocktails (orange juice with salt and potassium)
  3. Adding back coffee but in a supportive way
  4. Eating liver and seafood on a weekly/monthly basis
  5. Reducing refined vegetable oils and processed food
  6. Eliminating all unnecessary supplements
  7. Adding in magnesium supplements (transdermal then oral form)
  8. Focusing on specific breathwork practice to increase CO2

It’s important for me to say here that I wasn’t obsessive about these things. I knew that being too strict would only lead to further stresses so I did my best each day and focused my attention on enjoying life. During the never ending lockdowns I threw myself into hobbies including gardening, learning to play guitar and sewing projects as well as my work supporting women through teaching yoga and nutrition and wellness coaching.

It has been a gradual, continual improvement over the last year and a half. I would say that it was after about 6 months of implementing these things that I really started to feel like my body had healed. Eventually I stopped waking up in the night completely and now get 7-9 hours of sleep per night (unless life gets in the way). Rarely am I feeling tired and dizzy as I was before.

I feel passionate about my work and hobbies plus have energy left over for my friends and family. Finally life looks bright again and I am excited for the future!

Over to you…

If you have any questions or if you would like to work with me to overcome fatigue and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach and we work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs. You can read more about my training and qualifications here.

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Signs of spiritual awakening and personal growth

We have finally reached the final post of the Women’s Wellness Challenge 2022! So far we have covered nourishment of the layers of your being, connection to yourself, others and the world around you and cultivating compassion and wisdom. Today’s final post in the series is about signs of spiritual awakening, personal growth and self-actualisation.

What is self-actualisation?

Self-actualisation is defined as reaching your full potential as a human. I understand it to mean realising your purpose in life and then walking that path with confidence and humility. Once we have taken care of ourselves via all of the other steps I have shared in this challenge, we will feel nourished, energised, connected, compassionate and wise – ready to be of service to the world and reach our full potential.

One of the signs of spiritual awakening is realising our true self, connection with the divine and reaching our full potential. Self actualisation is at the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is the final stage of development we can reach after we have satisfied our needs to:

  1. Physical wellbeing i.e. food, water, sleep and warmth
  2. Feel safe and secure
  3. Feel connected and that we belong
  4. Experience self-esteem, status and achievement

I love this simple diagram from Simply Psychology which shows the different needs. I consider each layer as steps toward spiritual growth.

When can we see signs of spiritual awakening?

We can start to see signs of spiritual awakening at any of the layers. But is is harder to focus on “higher” aspects of life when we are struggling to meet our basic needs. If we are stuck in striving patterns because we don’t have enough food, money or security to feel safe, we are going to see the effects in our relationships and other endevours. I know I have certainly experienced this myself!

Self-actualisation is not something that is easily obtained but it is for sure something we can all aspire to. It’s so easy to become trapped by poor physical health, anxieties and fears that hold us back or stress-filled life situations which don’t leave time or energy for exploring our potential. Sometimes the best we can do is to try to create a nourishing life for ourselves and to make the most of each day.

Of course it’s important to acknowledge that many people in the world simply cannot meet even their basic needs. When we are living in a crisis (and it seems like there is one after the other across the world these days), we are simply in survival and reaction mode. But imagine how the world would be if everyone had access to good food, shelter, security and connection and could reach their highest potential!

What it means to grow spiritually

Depending who you speak to, growing spiritually can mean different things. To me, the first signs of spiritual awakening are starting to become aware and attuned to our inner world and our connection to the world around us. Spiritual growth also looks like moving beyond the mundane, ordinary aspects of life and starting to see the magic and beauty around us. Living spiritually means living with purpose rather than on auto pilot and finding meaning in the things that we do.

As we say in yoga, spiritual awakening or enlightenment is realising that “we are the awareness in which everything is arising”. This means we are not our bodies, our thoughts, feelings or our life circumstances but we are the witness to all of that as we experience in deep meditation when we move beyond the ego mind. Those who have chosen a particular religious path might see signs of spiritual awakening as becoming close to God, Christ or another religious figure.

Everything that I have shared in this series so far is a step along the way to becoming more awakened and growing spiritually. I think this is a path we are all walking in life whether we realise it or not. Some might walk faster and others prefer to take their time. There are some slight detours we might choose to take that lead us along slightly different routes but at the end of the day, the destination is the same: realising who we are deep inside and becoming stronger, more content and of service to the world in the process.

Signs of spiritual awakening

In their personal wellness course which inspired this challenge, Well College Global shared some signs that you may be awakening or growing spiritually.

  • Experiencing a shift or deepening into your values
  • Feel like you are living your life with intention and purpose
  • The desire to support others in some way
  • Stronger connection to nature or a higher power
  • Noticing synchronicities and symbols
  • Listening and trusting your intuition
  • Being drawn towards nourishing practices and lifestyles
  • Expressing gratitude and curiosity
  • Dreaming more vividly
  • Cultivating nourishing healthy relationships

Remember though, these are just ideas. Spiritual growth can of course look different and depends entirely on your beliefs and the path you choose to take.

Final note

So that is the end of the Women’s Wellness Challenge 2022! What I had originally intended to be a 5 week challenge has ended up as 2 months but I am glad that I gave it the extra time it needed. I hope you have enjoyed following along with this journey. If you did please like and share your favourite posts with friends and family who might benefit from them.

If you got something out of this series and you are interested in going deeper, I would love to support you! I offer nutrition consultations and health coaching services, both online and face to face here in Athens, Greece. My passion is to guide women like you to nourish your body and take care of your self to find true health, abundant energy and balanced hormones which I believe is the root of feeling well in our female bodies.

I use a combination of western nutrition, coaching psychology, Ayurveda and yoga to support you in connecting to your self and becoming the best version of you. These are the tools I used to heal myself from chronic anxiety, digestive issues and missing periods and I believe whole heartedly in the power of a healthy lifestyle. You can also read testimonials from my lovely clients.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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what intuition means

What intuition means and how to tune in

One of the most important things I say to all of my coaching clients is that I am not here to give you the answers, simply to guide you to find the answers within. The same goes when I am teaching yoga. I am there to signpost my students but at the end of the day they intuitively know their experience better than I ever could. In this post we will talk about what intuition means and how to tune into it’s messages.

What intuition means – the definition of intuition

A huge part of improving your wellbeing is developing the connection and trust in your intuition. The definition of intuition is:

“The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

When I talk about what intuition means for your wellbeing, I am talking about those subtle messages that you receive which guide you to make the right choices for yourself. By this I don’t mean when you figure things out logically but rather the answers which come up when you find stillness and peace within. Of course there is a place for logical thinking too but when it comes to your own wellbeing, there are decisions which cannot be figured out in such a rational way.

Your intuition can be thought of as your hearts’ desires, your gut feelings or your animal instincts. These are the messages that arise from the deeper layers of your brain via your nervous system and are felt as energy and emotion rater than as verbalisations. There is no weighing up the pros and cons of actions or following of a particular rule. Instead there is a deep presence and consciousness which guides you.

what intuition means
Photo by Luca Nardone on

Intuition and the subconscious mind

This doesn’t mean that you are just acting on a whim though, your intuition is guided by:

  • Past experiences and memories
  • Deeply held knowledge from your lifetime and previous generations
  • Sensory awareness of the situation

It is just that rather than using your brain’s frontal cortex to calculate the potential outcomes in the moment, you let the subconscious mind find the solution for you just below the surface. It can feel like the answer arises from nowhere but in fact there is work going on behind the scenes just below not in your conscious awareness. this means you are more centered and less influenced by external factors.

What intuition means for your wellbeing

There are so many opinions in the world today that it can be easy to get caught up in the shoulds and shouldn’ts and forget that you have the power to make your own decisions. Whether this is in the area of relationships, work, family or even lifestyle choices like your diet and movement routine, there is always someone who will tell you that what you are doing is wrong and that their way is better.

We are all unique individuals with our own life story, personality and physical make up. There is no one in the world who can tell you what is right for you. Have you ever made a choice for yourself which seemed like the right thing to do based on logical thought and other people’s advice but to you it just felt wrong? What was the outcome of the situation? Maybe you thought afterwards “I knew I shouldn’t have done that” or “Why did I think that was a good idea?”.

How to develop your intuition

Without a strong connection and trust in your intuition, you can easily be swept along with whatever the trend of the day is, whether it works for you or not. Instead I encourage you to start to foster this relationship with your intuitive knowing. There are several ways you can develop connection with your intuition:

  • Regular meditation practice
  • Journaling using stream of consciousness technique
  • Exploring art, music or any creative outlet
  • Spending time alone
  • Practicing yoga to release and open the pelvis and heart (increasing the prana or energy flow to these areas)
  • Looking for symbols and synchronicities in your environment
  • Being in the natural world

Intuition is a power that grows the more you use it. As you make choices that feel in alignment with your inner knowing and things work out, you will start to gain more trust in these messages.

Today’s challenge: Digital detox to tune into your intuition

One thing that constantly distracts us from our inner knowing is technology. It’s so easy to turn to Google whenever we have a question or to head straight to Instagram when we need inspiration or YouTube for advice. But what if these things didn’t exist? How did humans find answers before technology arrived? Probably they sat with their puzzle for some time and let the answers come to them!

Our minds are amazing, creative, inspired, inventive tools that we don’t make the most of. It’s so easy to rely on external answers rather than listening to our intuition. So your challenge for today (or any day this week) is to try a digital detox from all devices. Observe how you feel and any urges to use technology that arise. If you have a question or problem to solve, sit with it and see what comes up.

See you in a few days for the last post of the Women’s Wellness Challenge series which is about energy and self actualisation!

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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how do you find your purpose


How to use gratitude practice for ultimate wellbeing

Welcome back to the Women’s Wellness Challenge! I took a week break due to some personal challenges so we didn’t quite finish in January. But now we are back and ready to take on the fifth and final week of the challenge. Today’s post is about the importance of cultivating the a gratitude practice to experience transcendence to higher state of wellbeing.

It might sound a bit woo woo but transcendence is simply the quality of being able to go beyond normal limits or boundaries. When it comes to your wellbeing, I see transcendence as going beyond what is considered “normal” in society. It is the power of positive psychology which focuses on taking yourself from surviving to thriving rather than just aiming to relieve suffering. Gratitude practice is an important tool which can support you on this path without you having to make major changes in your life.

What does gratitude practice mean?

Gratitude is a positive feeling that we can experience ourselves or express to others. It is the state of feeling thankful for something or someone in your life or even for life itself! When we feel grateful, we focus on something good that we have and we allow those positive feelings to grow. Sometimes gratitude can be a powerful and overwhelming emotion which can even bring us to tears.

We can start a gratitude practice by priming ourselves to see and acknowledge the good things in our lives rather than only noticing the things we want to change. This can be easier said than done because as humans we naturally want to look for problems and find solutions! But there are some simple habits we can build which can help us to experience feelings of gratitude more often in our lives.

For example:

  • Being in the present moment during our daily tasks e.g. enjoying a cup of tea or the process of getting ready in the morning
  • Going out of our way to thank others in person or writing thank you notes when they do something for us (or just for being them!)
  • Visiting beautiful places in nature or in the area we live and truly soaking in the view
  • Taking a moment to connect with the food that we eat at every meal and appreciating how nature created it to sustain us
  • Showing gratitude for our physical bodies through self care routines, healthy eating and appropriate movement
  • Leaving positive reviews to support a company after a good experience with purchase or service
  • Writing a daily gratitude journal of the things we are thankful for
  • Practicing a gratitude meditation such as the one in today’s challenge

These are all small things we can start to build into our lives to help us to start to feel more grateful and appreciative of the good things we have. Shifting your attitude towards one of gratitude can create momentum and become an upward spiral of positive emotions. On the other hand, forgetting to be grateful can lead to feelings of lack, disappointment and dissatisfaction.

My recent experience with cultivating a gratitude practice

Recently I lost my way (as we all do from time to time) and found myself overly focusing on a couple of particular negative situations. Instead of appreciating the things I did have, I became overly attached to fixing what I thought was wrong with my life. I started to blame specific things for my negative mood and I felt like unless they changed, I could not feel well. I found myself justifying my feelings and indulging in my own pity party when in reality I needed some tough love!

My feelings of lack resulted in a decision which led me down a misaligned path. Only when it descended into chaos did I finally come full circle and realise how good things were to begin with. Nothing had changed except my perception. My experiences had changed my perspective and in the process I found a new sense of gratitude for my life situation. I didn’t even need to write a gratitude journal or gratitude practice mediation. Sometimes it is simply life that gives you the medicine you need.

Gratitude practice and positive emotions

Once I experienced this feeling of appreciation and gratitude, it was like a light came on inside of me. Where it had felt heavy and shadowy before was filed with a sense of lightness and ease. My physical and mental energy increased immediately, despite not having a good nights sleep, eating well or having time for my yoga practice over the last week. It really demonstrated to me the power of the emotional and mental bodies.

Research has showed gratitude is associated with improved mood, reduced stress, healthier relationships, more resilience, better sleep and lower inflammation – just to name a few! Cultivating feelings of gratitude for the beautiful things in our lives is therefore a natural medicine we can use to support our health and wellbeing at any time we choose. Sometimes it can feel difficult when our lives are not going the way that we wish they would. However, there is always something to hold on to and be grateful, no matter how small.

This little guy always gives me something to be happy about on challenging days!

Today’s challenge: Practice a gratitude meditation

Today’s simple task to immediately improve your wellbeing is to take 5-15 minutes to experience a gratitude practice meditation. Find a comfortable place to sit and listen to the guided meditation below. Observe your feelings before and after the practice then take a few moments to reflect and write down anything that came up for you. Listen to this guided mediation daily whenever you feel stuck in a rut and I guarantee you will at least feel a tiny bit better!

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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Could curiosity be the key to better wellbeing?

As a Women’s Wellness Coach, one of the key tools I learnt in my training was developing my curiosity. This means truly listening to my clients, encouraging them to go beyond the surface and encouraging them to ask the questions of themselves that will give them the solutions they are looking for to resolve their health challenges. As coaches (or therapists, counselors, etc.) we are not there to have all of the answers but rather to support and guide people as they walk along a path to healing and self-discovery.

In today’s post, I want to share about the importance of developing your own curiosity when it comes to your health and wellbeing journey.

The importance of curiosity on your wellbeing journey

We live in an age of information where we can find facts or others’ opinions at the click of the button. It is easier than ever to turn outside of ourselves for answers, whether that is through books, research, or listening to others’ social media stories of healing. We no longer trust ourselves and have forgotten how to tune into the wisdom of our own bodies.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek external information to support us. But it does become a problem if we blindly follow advice without taking a moment to check in with ourselves and ask “Does this feel right for me?” or “Is this really working?”. Without this simple act of curiosity, we can end up taking actions to support our health that actually hurt us in the long run.

For example:

  • Following a diet that doesn’t work for our constitution
  • Exercising in a way that leads to exhaustion or injury
  • Spending money on supplements that are harmful or at least a waste of money
  • Chasing goals that aren’t aligned with our true values

All of these things can be harmful to our wellbeing as we are acting out of alignment with what our body and spirit really needs. If your healthy lifestyle feels like a chore or a stress, it is time to get curious!

Ways to exercise your curiosity

Curiosity is a state of mind rather than a skill to be learned. We are all born as naturally curious beings. As babies and children we face the world with wonder and awe and we want to know what it is all about. We use our bodies and our senses to explore and experiment as we build our understanding of the way things work. We enjoy learning new things in school, are interesting in meeting new people and are fascinated by the natural world.

As we get older, our ideas about the world start to become more solid and fixed. We stop questioning so much and tend to believe that we know exactly how things are and what is possible. We can become stuck in a rut with daily routines that don’t always support us but have become easy and habitual. Until our health reaches a crisis, we might not notice that our lifestyle is having a negative impact on our health – because we don’t ask.

Becoming more curious can be as simple as asking questions like:

  1. What do I need right now to support the 5 layers of my being?
  2. How do I really feel about this life situation?
  3. How does my body-mind respond to this diet/exercise/routine?
  4. What truly interests me that I would like to learn more about
  5. Where/what can I explore that is new to me?

Curiosity can also support healthy relationships as we take the time to listen to our loved ones and learn about their feelings and experiences. It can be the antidote to judgement if we meet someone new. Without curiosity, we might write someone off before we get chance to really know them and miss out on a great friend or teacher. Everyone that we meet has an interesting story to tell, if we take the time to listen.

Checking in with your body

I meet so many women who have developed health issues, in particular hormonal imbalance because they didn’t listen to their body. If you have read my story, you will know this was the case for me too. Subtle signs such as tiredness, cravings, injuries, mood swings are our bodies’ way of telling us that something isn’t working. If we learn to notice these messages early on and course correct, we can support our bodies’ to stay in balance.

So as you make changes to support your health in the future, stay curious. Always check in and listen to your bodies’ response and take note of your:

  • Energy levels
  • Mood and emotional stability
  • Sleep quality
  • Digestive function
  • Libido
  • Strength and stamina
  • Skin and hair quality

When your lifestyle is balanced and in alignment for you, you will experience balance in all of these areas. If something feels off, ask yourself what needs to change? You might think you don’t have all of the answers but if you find quiet and stillness within, your intuition will guide you.

Today’s challenge: Get curious

Now we are in week 4 of the Women’s Wellness Challenge, it’s time to get curious and ask yourself what is working and what isn’t. Reflect back on everything you have learned and any changes you have made and truly ask yourself if you are on the right path. If you would like to do an-depth assessment of your wellbeing, check out the downloadable Wellbeing Questionnaire  to see how you are doing on the 6 areas of holistic health.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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Grow your wisdom to support your wellbeing

We have arrived at week 4 of the Women’s Wellness Challenge which is all about growing your wisdom. I hope you are enjoying the challenge so far, whether you are following along with me in January 2022 or you have found this post at some point in the future. This weeks’ topic of wisdom is an interesting one and I am so glad that Well College Global included it in their Personal Wellness course which inspired this challenge!

What does it mean to be wise?

The Cambridge English dictionary defines wisdom as:

The ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments”

In general, wise people are not simply those who have amassed large amounts of factual knowledge but they are those with real life experience, empathy and grace. Some famous wise people include:

  • Mother Theresa
  • Gandhi
  • Socrates
  • Winston Churchill
  • Lao Tzu

All of these people show wisdom in their own way, whether it is intellectual pursuits, philosophy, leadership or charity work. What they all have in common is the ability to read a situation and know what to do. They are usually action takers, change makers and creative thinkers.

Many religious or political leaders, scientists and activists could be called wise, but equally others in the same life role can be lacking in wisdom. Similarly, there are plenty of normal people who have developed wisdom during their life. This is one reason why it is so sad that we spend less time with the elderly nowadays. Older people have a huge amount of life experience and often have a lot of wisdom we can learn from – they have seen it all!

Why is wisdom important for your wellbeing?

When it comes to your wellbeing, having wisdom allows you to make decisions for your health which work for your individual body and your unique life circumstances. It means you will be less likely to get caught up in the next new health trend and end up harming your body.

Speaking personally, when I was younger I got caught up in many fad diets and unsustainable lifestyle habits in the name of “health”. It took me many years to develop the wisdom to be able to make truly healthy choices and to intuitively know when something is not right. This meant going against the grain, giving up diet culture and learning to listen within for guidance.

Wisdom helps you to find meaning an purpose in your life and to create strong, supportive communities. When we become wise, we realise what is truly important in life and can let go of anything that is not aligned, whether this is the belief that more money, less kilos or the perfect marriage will bring us fulfillment. We learn to be fascinated by the twists and turns of life and less caught up in perfecting the details.

Wisdom allows us to relax more into the flow of life. When we have the wisdom to know what we cannot change and accept it, our stress levels are hugely reduced. One of my favourite quotes is:

How can we grow our wisdom?

Research by Cop MacDonald shows two key ways to grow our wisdom:

  1. Via the influence of other wise beings.

    This includes the books that you read, the podcasts that you listen to, the art that you see as well as real life teachers, mentors and guides. In the peak of social media, this is more important than ever. Anyone can call themselves an “influencer” without having real wisdom or life experience. It’s up to you to use your intelligence, intuition and perceptive capacities to know what is good for you and what isn’t.

    I regularly carry out a social media clean up to make sure that the energy I am allowing in through these channels is in line with what I want and who I want to be. Some of the wise teachers I currently follow include Uma Dinsmore Tuli, Alexandra Pope, Dr Ray Peat, BKS Iyengar and Marianne Williamson. This doesn’t mean you should follow them too, but rather find your own teacher that can inspire and guide you on your path.

  2. Through wisdom building practices

    As well as learning from others, we can develop our own wisdom from within. One of the main ways to do this is simply through mindful living. By that I mean living with intention, purpose and with an awareness of your life experiences and how you can learn from them. In addition to daily mindfulness practice, formal practices of meditation, journaling and menstrual cycle awareness can help you to tune into your inner wisdom.

    Self-reflection is an important tool in yoga to tune into the physical sensations, energies, emotions and thoughts that arise in your experience during a practice. The same goes during any life event – pay close attention and it will always have something to teach you. It is so easy to live life in auto-pilot but only when we are truly present can we fully experience life and learn its’ lessons.

Today’s challenge: Who are your wise teachers?

I hope you enjoyed the first post of this week about wisdom and your wellbeing. Your mini task for today is to make a list of all of the teachers in your life that you consider wise. This can be people that you know in real life or those that you learn from through books or other media. Any one that you look up to and learn from can be considered your teacher.

Once you have your list, you can review it and see if there is anything missing to support the area of your wellbeing you wish to develop. If you get stuck, go back to the 5 areas of whole being nourishment to learn about the different layers of your human experience.

The rest of this week we will be focusing on specific ways to grow your wisdom including meditation, curiosity and having a light heart. If you’re interested, make sure to subscribe by email to be updated on the next post!

Over to you…

  • Comment: Who do you consider your wise teachers? I’d love to hear from you!
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