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 Pexels.com

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

staying active in autumn

Why you should honour your personal values

If we want to live a life that is truly satisfying, it is so important to live in alignment with our personal values. These are the things that we prioritise when we make decisions and take action. Your values give your life meaning and direction and without them life can sometimes feel confusing and overwhelming. Living out of alignment with your values can feel uncomfortable and stressful and definitely does not support your wellbeing.

Being clear on your personal values helps you to respond better to challenging situations and feel like you are living life with purpose. By understanding our values we get a clearer image of who we are and what we came here to do. This supports our wellbeing by allowing us to create the life that leaves us feeling satisfied and connected to our truest self. We spend our time and energy on the things that bring us joy and fulfillment rather than letting the demands of society take first place.

Examples of personal values

The beauty of personal values is that there is no right or wrong – they are completely unique to you! Of course, your values will be influenced by the family and society you grew up in, your life experiences and philosophies and traditions you encounter along the way. But at the end of the day it is you who decides what your values are and what is important to you in your life.

There are infinite number of personal values you could choose from. Here is an example list of values I have adapted from Better Up:

  • Altruism
  • Relationships
  • Friendship
  • Learning
  • Career
  • Self-respect
  • Open mindedness
  • Flexibility
  • Spirituality
  • Community
  • Inner peace
  • Adaptability

These are umbrella terms which can incorporate many other values within them. For example, the personal value of health could include physical fitness and mental health. The personal value of leisure might mean adventure, fun or excitement for you. Valuing community can incorporate kindness, justice and humility. You can be as general or as specific as you like.

How to use your personal values

Once you have identified your personal values, what do you do with them? You can use your values to set goals and to give direction to the actions you take each day. Check in with yourself regularly and ask if the life you are living is in line with your values. If not, what needs to change? If you value health, are you prioritising eating well, reducing stress and moving your body? If you value connection, are you taking the time to nurture your relationships and spend time with your loved ones?

Sometimes we don’t realise that we are acting out of alignment with our personal values. I heard on a podcast with Brene Brown the other day the concept of drifting. This is when we are unclear on our values and so we take the path that is set out for us by society or our environment. We act on auto-pilot rather than with purpose. Not to say that we take the easy path, often it feels very challenging as we are unconsciously acting out of alignment with our values. At some point we become aware and it is time for some big changes.

My personal values

My personal values have certainly changed over the years. In the past I valued achievement and career above all and had a strong spirit of adventure. These days I still love to explore and travel but I value family, relationships and my health more than success and achievement.

Sometimes I forget and I find myself working more than I’d like but to I soon realise that it is not what brings me fulfillment. Rather I am committed to building community and supporting women to improve their health and wellbeing and that’s why I show up here and to teach yoga.

*I am now qualified but I love the image!

You might also find your values change as you grow. When we are younger we might value adventure and excitement over security. Once we have children we could start to value family and spirituality more. Perhaps a stressful period triggers a shift in your values to health and leisure rather than career. It is therefore important to review your values every once in a while so that you are acting with intention rather than out of habit.

Today’s challenge: Identify your personal values

If the idea of values is interesting to you, today’s wellness challenge is to make a list of your top 5 personal values. You can use the list above as a starting point or come up with your own ideas. If you are part of the Moon Life Well Women Facebook group I will be sharing a worksheet to support you in identifying your values.

Once you have your list, take a moment to reflect on your current goals and lifestyle. Ask yourself – am I living in alignment with my values? If not, what small changes can you make to start to prioritise those things that are most important to you?

The next post in the final week of the Women’s Wellness Challenge will be about finding and living your purpose in life so make your you are subscribed to be notified!

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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ayurveda healing

Nourish your spirit with Ayurveda healing

To end week 1, we will focus on nourishing your spirit through Ayurveda healing. This is an ancient Indian holistic health practice and system of medicine. At it’s heart, Ayurveda has the principle of understanding your individual constitution. There are then many practices to maintain balance through appropriate diet, exercise and lifestyle choices as well as herbal medicine.

It takes many years of study to become an Ayurveda healing practitioner, however there are some simple principles that I have learnt through yoga teacher training which I will share with you today!

Ayurveda healing and the spirit

I love that Well College Global include an introduction to Ayurveda healing as part of their personal wellness course. Even for those who are not interested in yoga or Eastern philosophy, there is so much to be learned about the world and yourself through the lens of Ayurveda. It helps us to understand that we are part of something greater and that we are all unique expressions of nature. Instead of judging and critisising ourselves, we can learn to self-reflect with curiosity and live in a way that brings out our best self.

Understanding your Ayurveda healing constitution

There are three main life forces or doshas according to the Ayurveda healing system: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All of us as individuals are made up of a combination of these forces which relate to the five basic elements and their qualities.

a) Vata consists of the elements air and ether

b)Pitta is made up of fire and water

c) Kapha is governed by the elements earth and water.

These combinations give rise to qualities such as cold, hot, dry, oily, quick, slow, sharp, dense and light which are expressed in all of nature, including us as human beings. Typically we have one or two doshas whose qualities clearly dominate our physical, mental and emotional tendencies.

I explained the doshas in more detail as well as how to identify your own constitution in the post What is your Ayurveda body type?. Learning about your true nature helps you to accept who you are and know that you are part of the beautiful tapestry of life! It eliminates comparison with others and helps you to appreciate your own strengths and make the most of them.

Adapting your lifestyle for Ayurveda healing

Once you understand your constitution, you can adapt your lifestyle to restore or maintain balance. This is empowering information as no longer will you listen to external sources telling you exactly what you need. Instead you will be able to tune into your own inner knowing. This is Ayurveda healing at it’s core!

There is simply no one true way to live that supports everyone. People can thrive on many different diets, exercise routines, work styles, family life etc. We all have different needs, personalities, preferences and once we understand these we can work with them rather than against them to increase our energy and vitality.

Understanding your constitution also helps you to observe imbalances as the difference between your natural and your current state. If there are imbalances present, this is the first step on the path to disease. Ayurveda teaches to identify imbalances and remedy through lifestyle changes to avoid more serious illness and to create a state of wellness.

Ayurveda healing practices can be used to:

  1. Maintain a healthy balance of the doshas, as per your natural constitution
  2. Correct any imbalances which could later lead to disease

To understand this, we focus on the idea that like creates like. For example, adopting a lifestyle with vata-like qualities will increase vata dosha in your system. If you naturally experience high vata, you want to make lifestyle choices which balance out this dosha by increasing the qualities of the other doshas. We always want to avoid extremes and maintain a sense of balance.

Lifestyle to support Vata dosha

Vata dominant individuals are spontaneous and creative but tend to experience cold and dryness in their body as well as a chaotic mental state. Therefore, it is best to make lifestyle choices that are warming, grounding and calming.

DIET: Consume warming and easily digestible foods including dairy, oils, salt and sugar and avoid excess raw vegetables

MOVEMENT: Keep a consistent movement routine including calming, grounding practices such as yoga, tai chi and gentle walking

ENVIRONMENT: Avoid excessively cold and dry or windy environments

MINDSET: Practice grounding meditations and body scan techniques to get out of your head and into your body

SLEEP: Focus on a relaxing evening routine to calm an erratic or anxious mind before sleep

Lifestyle to support Pitta dosha

Pitta dominant individuals are energetic and ambitious but can be quick to over heat and anger as well as experience excessive acidity in the body. Therefore, they want to make lifestyle choices which are cooling, calming and promote moderation.

DIET: Choose foods which have a bitter or (natural) sweet tastes and avoid excess spicy, oily or salty foods. Stay hydrated and avoid excess coffee.

MOVEMENT: Get plenty of movement, especially in the morning hours to burn excess energy. Strength training is great for pitta types

ENVIRONMENT: Avoid excessive hot sun or humidity and try to keep the body cool

MINDSET: Practice calming breathing techniques and avoid heated conflict or unnecessary anger

SLEEP: May need less sleep than other doshas but avoid working in the evening hours and minimise stress which can impact sleep

Lifestyle to support Kapha dosha

Kapha dominant individuals are calm, steady and reliable but can fall into the trap of laziness or stagnation. Lifestyle choices which support dynamic energy flow and a feeling of lightness are supportive

DIET: Opt for lighter foods including lot’s of vegetables and raw greens and avoid over-doing it with heavy foods and sweets as these increase kapha qualities

MOVEMENT: Move in a way that increases the flow of energy and reduces stagnation in the body e.g. cardio outdoors in the fresh air

ENVIRONMENT: Keep warm and dry, avoid overly chilly and damp environments

MINDSET: Focus on gratitude, trying new things and challenging your thoughts to avoid getting stuck in a rut

SLEEP: Try to keep a consistent sleep routine and avoid over sleeping or daily napping

Following a lifestyle adapted to your dosha as well as to the changing seasons and environment will support you in connecting your spirit and to nature.

Thank you to Well College Global, My Vinyasa Practice and the Ayurvedic Institute for inspiring this post!

Today’s challenge: Understand with your dosha and Ayurveda healing lifestyle

If you found this concept interesting, you can put it into practice by identifying your constitution. You can then make some simple changes to your lifestyle if you desire to support your being with Ayurveda healing and bring yourself into balance. I recommend taking the dosha quiz by Chopra as a starting point. Books by Vasant Lad and Sahara Rose are also great places to learn more!

If you’re interested in learning more about your constitution and which foods can support your health, I am a training Ayurvedic Nutritionist. I offer online and in person Ayurveda inspired nutrition consultations where you receive a detailed Ayurvedic assessment to identify your natural constitution and any imbalances. I then prepare a tailored program of diet, yoga and lifestyle practices to improve your 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.

  • Please like this post and share to support my business
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ayurveda body type

What is your ayurveda body type?

For the last five years I have been deepening my yoga practice and learning more through my teacher training courses. Alongside this, I began to study and practice Ayurveda, in particular Ayurvedic Nutrition. This is an ancient Indian system of medicine which runs parallel to yoga. Ayurveda body type analysis is used to characterise individuals according to body type and personality traits. Ayurvedic nutrition involves eating to maintain balance for your particular constitution.

Your Ayurveda body type is described in terms of three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha relates to a combination of the elements of air, water, fire, earth and ether. As a result, each dosha has specific qualities. This leads to recognizable characteristics in body and mind. Take a look at the image below for a visual representation of the three doshas.

ayurveda body type

Ayurveda body types in detail

Vata dosha dominant

Qualities: light, dry, erratic, cold, spacey

Physical characteristics: petite frame, struggles to gain weight, drier skin and hair, pointed features, crooked teeth, runs cold and rarely sweats

Mental/emotional characteristics: nervous energy, creative, spontaneous, flighty, distracted

Common imbalances: anxiety, constipation, asthma, restlessness, poor circulation, joint issues

Pitta dosha dominant

Qualities: hot, oily, fiery, sharp, quick, pungent

Physical characteristics: medium frame, muscular, runs hot, strong digestion and metabolism, oily skin and hair, freckles and moles, sweats a lot

Mental/emotional characteristics: ambitious, driven, intelligent, passionate

Common imbalance symptoms: acne, rashes, heartburn, inflammation, excess heat, irritability

Kapha dosha dominant

Qualities: cold, damp, slow, earthy, dense

Physical characteristics: larger frame, gain weight easily, soft skin, thick hair, large eyes, straight teeth

Mental/emotional characteristics: steady, reliable, loyal, caring, compassionate

Common imbalance symptoms: lethargy, depression, loneliness, weight gain, excess mucus, sluggish digestion, emotional eating

We are all made up of all three doshas in different combinations but it is typical to have one or two dominant doshas. Does one particularly stand out for you and describe you to the T? Maybe you relate to one in your physical body and a different one in your mental and emotional bodies? Or perhaps you feel that you have a balance between all three doshas. This is known in Ayurveda is tri-doshic and although it is less common it does sometimes occur.

Note that this is a very simplified description of the three Ayurveda body types. If you are interested, you can take an Ayurveda body type quiz to help you identify which doshas are dominant in your physical and mental characteristics. I also recommend this book as a good introduction to Ayurveda with some practical lifestyle tips and Ayurvedic remedies.

Ayurveda body type imbalances

Ayurveda describes all disease as a state of imbalance between the body, mind, spirit and the natural environment. Living out of sync with your Ayurveda body type can lead to dysfunction or disease. We are born with a particular balance of the doshas which is known as our Prakruti. The lifestyle that we choose and the changing external environment can disrupt this natural balance. The combination of the doshas in your current state is known as your Vikruti. Ideally, you want your current state to match your natural balance.

There are two ways you might fall out balance with your natural state:

1. Imbalance in primary dosha

The first is by following a lifestyle or living in an environment that aggravates your dominant dosha. For example, assume your Ayurveda body type is vata dominant. If the climate you live in is also high in vata qualities (cold, dry, light, erratic) then you might start to experience vata-related symptoms such as anxiety, chills, dry skin and hair.

If your Ayurveda body type is already pitta dominant and you consume a diet high in pitta qualities (hot, oily, fiery), you might suffer from pitta-related conditions such as heartburn or excessive anger. You can avoid this by adopting a lifestyle which pacifies your dominant dosha to maintain balance.

2. Imbalance in non-dominant doshas

The second is if your lifestyle causes an imbalance in any of your non-dominant doshas. For example, my Ayurveda body type at birth was a dominant pitta dosha. I am naturally quite athletic with a medium build, I gain muscle easily and have a strong digestion and metabolism. Typically I am driven, enthusiastic and a logical thinker.

However, at different times in my life, I have experienced imbalances in both vata and kapha doshas due to diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors. In both case I needed to follow a pitta promoting lifestyle to regain my natural balance. Again, this can be avoiding by understanding your natural Ayurveda body type and adopting a lifestyle which supports this balance of the doshas.

Ayurvedic nutrition

Ayurvedic nutrition involves eating a specific diet to regain or maintain a healthy balance. All foods have qualities which relate to the three doshas. Vata foods are those which are cold, rough, dry or light. Pitta foods are hot, oily, spicy or pungent. Kapha foods are dense, heavy cool or moist. The imbalance symptoms described earlier occur when you eat a diet that is out of line with your Ayurveda body type and the environment that you live in.

Instinctively, we already know this. As the seasons change, if we are listening to our bodies we feel inclined to also change our diets accordingly. In the summer we crave light and cooling foods to balance the hot, pitta energy. As the autumn arrives bringing chilly temperatures and vata energy in the form of wind, we crave hearty soups and stews to keep us warm and hydrated. In the late winter and spring, we might notice that too many kapha qualities foods such as dairy or sweets increase mucus and we turn towards pitta stimulating spices to ease congestion.

As part of my nutrition consultations I always consider your Ayurvedic body type and current constitution when creating your personalised nutrition plan. I do not believe in one-size fits all nutrition! I believe in connecting to your intuition, becoming mindful of how the foods you eat impact your body and making conscious food choices to maintain balance. There is something extremely empowering about learning what, when and how to eat to suit your unique constitution.

Awareness and understanding bring power. Ayurveda helps us to realise our connection to the natural world around us and see that we too are made up of the five elements of earth, water, fire, earth and ether. It acknowledges (as in yoga) that we are not just physical beings in a material body but that we also have energetic, mental and spiritual bodies that make up our overall sense of being.

You don’t need to be “spiritual” per se to practice and experience the benefits of Ayurvedic lifestyle and nutrition practices. But in my opinion is does give a much more interesting way to look at food than as an equation of calories and macros.

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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Why is understanding the menstrual cycle phases important?

Getting to know your menstrual cycle and understanding the menstrual cycle phases is not just for women who are trying to get pregnant, it is an amazing way for any woman to connect with her feminine body and develop on a psychological and soul level. Our menstrual cycle is the rhythm of our life, like an under current which is always present whether we are aware of it or not. Each month we shift through four menstrual cycle phases, each with subtle but distinct effects on our energy levels, mood, desires and abilities. Learning about these menstrual cycle phases and starting to track your own menstrual cycle is the first step along a path of becoming a truly healthy and connected woman.

When I first started my periods as a young teenager, I had no clue about my menstrual cycle and how to work with it. I saw it as a monthly inconvenience that either took me by surprise, risking embarrassment at school every time I stood up from my chair, or warned me of it’s arrival through horrible mood swings and painful cramps. When my menstrual cycle stopped due to undereating and over exercising, part of me was glad because I didn’t have to deal with the mess of my periods and the fear of getting pregnant. But after a while, I started to feel kind of lost and unfeminine without it and when I finally got my period back after 8 years of having no natural cycle I was overjoyed and found I had a whole new desire to understand and connect with my menstrual cycle.

Whilst trying to recover my period I read a lot from inspiring female leaders in the field of menstruality and cycle synching including Alexandra Pope, Sjanie Wurlizter, Miranda Gray and Alissa Vitti. They opened my eyes to the magic of my hormones and helped me to understand the menstrual cycle phases. I could finally see how my hormones were impacting me on a day to day basis and it gave me a framework to understand some of the seemingly random physical symptoms and mood changes I was going through each month. I’d always known about the dreaded PMS and “shark week” when I could be moody and snappy as hell. But what I didn’t know that these were also times where I was primed to see through the BS to view things as they really are, stand up for myself and others and be more open to spiritual connection. Women have been trained to see the abilities of these times as negative and disruptive when in reality there are hidden gems there too.

Same goes for the start of a new menstrual cycle. I always had some awareness of the relief I felt after my period was over and I could get back to “normal” but I didn’t know how to move slowly and gradually build up my momentum to avoid burning out and reaching ovulation feeling depleted and unmotivated. In fact I didn’t even know what ovulation meant, outside of the biology textbook definition that is! I didn’t know that the ovulatory phase brings with it it’s own powers of sensuality, magnetism and the ability to make things happen in the world. I wasn’t ware that that ovulation is a phase of the menstrual cycle where we are primed to connect with others and build strong relationships both in our personal and work life, or that this isn’t a state we should expect ourselves to be in continuously but that we should appreciate it and enjoy it while it lasts each month.

I used to wonder why I could feel fine about my life for three weeks of the month and then when the pre-menstrual phase came around I would start to doubt and question everything. I felt like the menstrual cycle gremlin was invading my mind each month and disguising my true thoughts and feelings under this veil of negativity. I would get so emotional, triggered into an hour of screaming frustration or soggy tears and wonder where the hell it came from. But after learning about the menstrual cycle phases and becoming more aware of my hormonal changes throughout the month I started to understand that during the follicular and ovulatory phases we are more outward facing and we can more easily tune out our inner world and deep emotions. However as we cross over into the pre-menstrual phase, those inner lights become brighter and we can’t help but look at them and sometimes be blinded by it.

4 phases of the menstrual cycle infographic

Understanding the menstrual cycle phases can help us to accept and appreciate the many different parts of ourselves, both the ones that our praised by society and the ones that give women a bad name. I think it’s a shame that we weren’t taught how to connect with our menstrual cycle from a young age and I think teaching girls this now will help to raise a generation of strong, powerful women. In my health coaching practice and yoga classes, I hope to share some of this wisdom with other girls and women, to encourage them to embrace their feminine nature and live with this mindful awareness of their inner rhythms.

Unfortunately, so many women are experiencing hormonal imbalances and infertility these days and I think a big part of this is that we are living so out of tune with our menstrual cycles. This is not to say that we have to go back to the old days and lose all of the progress we have made in empowering women and opening up new opportunities. Rather, we can now take the next step and be modern women doing all of the things that we desire in society whilst maintaining a respect for our feminine bodies and an understanding of how to take care of ourselves and meet our needs.

I hope you enjoyed this post on the importance of understanding the stages of the menstrual cycle. For a summary of the four menstrual cycle phases, check out this post and my other posts on menstrual cycle awareness and cyclic living!

Over to you…

Let me know in the comments below how you feel about your menstrual cycle, do you feel connected to it or is it something that you wish you could forget? Like and share this post to support my business and follow my blog for more on menstrual cycle awareness, yoga and holistic health.

If you are interested in learning how to connect with your cycle, you can enroll in my health coaching program Prepare for Pregnancy where I will teach you how to nourish your body using nutrition, intuitive movement, stress management and menstrual cycle awareness. I would love to work with you to help you connect with your feminine rhythms and restore your natural health and vitality!

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How to practice fluid feminine energy yoga

Yoga means something different to everyone. There are so many lineages, teaching styles and practices to choose from. One person can have a completely different experience to the next. There is a debate about “modern yoga” and whether it fully reflects the depths of the ancient yoga teachings. But this isn’t what I want to talk about today. I want to open up a conversation about masculine vs. feminine energy yoga.

Thank you to Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, author of Yoni Shakti, for sparking my thinking about this topic!

History of masculine vs. feminine energy yoga

The history of yoga in the East began in a very masculine way. Only priests known as Brahmans were allowed to teach yoga. This role was limited to males from higher caste families. It was only later that the Upanishads enabled lower classes and women to access the teachings of yoga.

Masculine approach to yoga

Nowadays, at least in Western yoga, it is a completely different story with the majority of yoga teachers and practitioners being women. I know from my own experience, the classes I have attended have been 90% female and the two yoga teacher trainings I have been a part of have been all women expect 1 token male in each (shout out to Mark and Phil if you’re reading).

Why does yoga mostly attract us women? In my opinion yoga is the perfect antedote to the very masculine world we live in today. Often we have to “man up” and push ourselves to make it in the male dominated society that we live in. Most women work these days in jobs where we are expected to show up and perform at our best each and every day. This is totally against our cyclical nature as feminine energy beings!

A yoga practice can be that space in our lives where we can totally let go of the pressures of life and be ourselves. Practicing yoga regularly is great for our physical health and vitality. It also helps to meet our mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Yoga classes can also provide that feeling of community and support that is so important to our wellbeing.

Yoga and masculine energy

But even with this new wave of women in yoga there are still masculine undertones in certain types of practice. Traditionally, yoga schools are hierarchical in structure with gurus acquiring followings of students. Yogis dedicate themselves to moving along a liner yogic path. Examples that are common today in the West are Iyengar, Bikram and Ashtanga yoga. These are both highly demanding physical practices although in different ways. 

Why is this a masculine approach? Often these practices are very rigid. They teach a specific practice and often other forms of yoga are disregarded as “not real yoga”. The practice is goal orientated. We try to achieve a specific posture or state of mind and keep pushing till we make it. Ashtanga and Bikram yoga in particular also follow a fixed sequence of postures making the practice more repetitive and less intuitive.

In terms of yogasana there are “perfect postures”. The thought being that every body can get there in the end with enough dedication and persistence. This can be seen in the meticulous way that Iyengar teaches alignment in poses with props. Similarly Ashtanga yoga is a very strict practice. The same sequence of poses is practiced each time, working towards more advanced postures.

I am not criticising either of these yoga practices. They have huge benefits, enabling the practitioner to open up physically, emotionally, energetically, mentally and spiritually. However, the strict nature of these practices leaves little room for individuality and listening to the body. The practices are designed by men, for men and therefore do not take into account the cyclical nature of the female body.

Feminine energy yoga practice

So what  does a feminine energy yoga practice look like? There are many types of yoga available today which specifically incorporate the softer, graceful, intuitive aspects of feminine energy. This includes practices such as Yin, Prenatal, Womb and Shakti yoga. The key point is encouraging students to use their practice to become aware of the rhythm and cycles of their bodies.

Instead of forcing the same practice, allowing some space for the body to speak about what it needs. This could look like adapting the practice based on where she is in her menstrual cycle and seasons of the year. Or perhaps in the cycle of life, whether it be motherhood, pregnancy or menopause. The practice can still be based on traditional teachings but also incorporate less conventional practices specifically for women.

An example is changing the way you practice yoga inversions to support your natural cycle.

When it comes to asana practice, feminine energy yoga also opens up to enable variations on the “traditional” postures which better suit the body. This includes bringing softer, more graceful energy into the poses rather than an angular, straight lines. Also modifying poses to allow for our curvier female bodies that have bellies and breasts to consider.

Pranayama and meditation practice can also be adapted to match the different energetic and emotional states women experience with the tides of hormones in their bodies. Particularly around menstruation, women can access levels of spiritual connection almost effortlessly when practicing menstrual cycle awareness throughout their cycle. The book Wild Power explains these phases and energetic states in more detail.

Feminine energy yoga teachers

The majority of the yoga teachers I have learnt from have been women. The vast majority of yoga teachers in the West are female, however I have had a couple of male teachers too. I respect and admire both but there was definitely a different energy about the practice. I love to feel that nurturing, motherly energy when I am in a yoga class. It helps me to feel safe to fully let go and feel deeply during the practice.

The classes I have been to with male teachers have felt more structured and linear compared to the more flowing feminine energy yoga classes. Of course that’s not to say all male yogis teach this way, it’s just been my experience so far. I try to take aspects from each and change up my practice throughout the month, to suit where I am at in my cycle.

Some of my favourite well-known feminine energy yoga teachers include Uma Dinsmore Tuli, Ana Davies, yoga with Kassandra and The Bare Female on Youtube.

Feminine energy yoga class

I really want to start a teaching a yoga class where I can incorporate this cyclical aspect to the practice. My dream and dharma is to help women connect with their bodies and cycles through their yoga practice. Developing this idea is my intention for this month. I’m not sure yet how it will look but I’m planting the seed that will hopefully grow into a beautiful creation I can share with other women over the next weeks. Its the new moon today and I am also embarking on a new chapter of life, moving to a new country so it’s the perfect time.

Edit – It’s now June 2022 and I am happy to share that I have a regular in person Yoga for Women’s Health class in Holargos Athens!

If you live in Athens and want to join me for feminine energy yoga, you can check the schedule and book your space HERE.

Until next time, 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.

  • Please like this post and share to support my business
  • If you liked this post, follow my blog or subscribe by email to receive updates on new content
  • Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates and inspiration

Masculine vs. feminine approach to yoga

Yoga means something different to everyone. There are so many lineages, teaching styles and practices to choose from that one person can have a completely different experience to the next. Now there is the debate about “modern yoga” and whether it fully reflects the depths of the ancient yoga teachings but this isn’t what I want to talk about today. I want to open up a conversation about masculine and feminine approaches to yoga. Credit to Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, author of Yoni Shakti, for sparking my thinking about this topic.

The history of yoga in the East began in a very masculine way. Only priests known as Brahmans were allowed to teach yoga and this was only to males from higher caste families. It was only later that the Upanishads enabled lower classes and women to access the teachings of yoga. Nowadays, at least in Western yoga, it is a completely different story with the majority of yoga teachers and practitioners being women. I know from my own experience, the classes I have attended have been 90% female and the two yoga teacher trainings I have been a part of have been all women expect 1 token male in each (shout out to Mark and Phil if you’re reading).

Masculine approach to yoga

Why does yoga mostly attract us women? In my opinion yoga is the perfect antedote to the very masculine world we live in today. Often we have to “man up” and push ourselves to make it in the male dominated society that we live in. Most women work these days and the typical jobs where we are expected to show up and perform at our best each and every day is totally against the cyclical nature of our beings. But a yoga practice can be that space in our lives where we can totally let go of the pressures of life and be ourselves. Practicing yoga regularly is great for our physical health and vitality but also helps to meet our mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Yoga classes can also provide that feeling of community and support that is so important to our wellbeing.

But even with this new wave of women in yoga there are still masculine undertones in certain types of practice. Traditionally, yoga schools are hierarchical in structure with gurus acquiring followings of students who dedicated themselves to moving along the yogic path. Examples that are common today in the West are Iyengar, Bikram and Ashtanga yoga, both highly demanding physical practices although in different ways. Why is this a masculine approach? Well often these practices are very rigid. They teach a specific practice and often other forms of yoga are disregarded as “not real yoga”. The practice is goal orientated, trying to achieve a specific posture or state of mind. Ashtanga and Bikram yoga in particular also follow a fixed sequence of postures making the practice more repetitive and less intuitive.

In terms of yogasana there are “perfect postures” with the thought being that every body can get there in the end with enough dedication and persistence. This can be seen in the meticulous way that Iyengar teaches alignment in poses with props and similarly Ashtanga yoga is a very strict practice where the same sequence of poses is practiced each time, working towards more advanced postures. Now I am not criticising either of these yoga practices. They have huge benefits, enabling the practitioner to open up physically, emotionally, energetically, mentally and spiritually. However, the strict nature of these practices leaves little room for individuality and listening to the body. The practices are designed by men, for men and therefore do not take into account the cyclical nature of the female body.

So what  does a feminine approach to yoga look like? There are many types of yoga available today which specifically incorporate the softer, graceful, intuitive aspects of feminine energy including Yin yoga and Shakti yoga. But the key point is encouraging students to use their practice to become aware of the rhythm and cycles of their bodies. Instead of forcing the same practice, allowing some space for the body to speak about what it needs. This could look like adapting the practice based on where she is in her menstrual cycle or in the cycle of life, whether it be motherhood, pregnancy or menopause. This could still include yoga practice based on traditional teachings but also incorporating less conventional practice to compliment this.

When it comes to asana practice, feminine yoga also opens up to enable variations on the “traditional” postures which better suit the body. Whether this is bringing softer, more graceful energy into the poses rather than an angular, straight lines or modifying poses to allow for our curvier female bodies that have bellies and breasts to consider. Pranayama and meditation practice can also be adapted to match the different energetic and emotional states women experience with the tides of hormones in their bodies. Particularly around menstruation, women can access levels of spiritual connection almost effortlessly when practicing menstrual cycle awareness throughout their cycle.

The majority of the yoga teachers I have learnt from have been women, and conversely to India it is true that the vast majority of yoga teachers in the West are female, however I have had a couple of male teachers too. I respect and admire both but there was definitely a different energy about the practice. I love to feel that nurturing, motherly energy when I am in a yoga class so that I feel safe to fully let go and feel deeply during the practice. The classes I have been to with male teachers have felt more structured and masculine energy compared to the more flowing feminine energy. Of course that’s not to say all male yogis teach this way, it’s just been my experience so far.

Right now I try to take aspects from each and change up my practice throughout the month, both in classes and at home, to suit where I am at in my cycle. I really want to start a teaching a yoga class where I can incorporate this cyclical aspect to the practice and help women connect with their bodies and cycles through their yoga practice. Developing this idea is my intention for this month, I’m not sure yet how it will look but I’m planting the seed that will hopefully grow into a beautiful creation I can share with other women over the next weeks. Its the new moon today and I am also embarking on a new chapter of life, moving to a new country so it’s the perfect time.

If you’re interested in this you can follow my blog here or find me on Facebook @moonlifeyoga where I’ll post once I set up the yoga sessions (online only for now).