Five Amazing Wellness Tips We Can All Learn From My Trip to Hayman Island

I’m still relishing in the goodness of my recent trip to Hayman Island. It was gloriously decadent without being brash and over-the-top, and focussed on the things that mean the most to me – health, wellbeing and finding serenity in the craziness of modern life. Sounds amazing, right?

Well here’s how it works. Hayman Island, the 5-star luxury resort in the Whitsunday Islands, has just launched their very own Spa & Wellness Program, led by their resident wellness expert, Ryko Kalinko. Think of this as an opportunity to reconnect with yourself, learn new life skills, relax and indulge in some seriously tasty (yet superbly healthy) fare over 4 blissful days.

Here’s what I learned…

1. Make The Morning Your Most Precious Time of Day

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I’m not a ‘bed springer’. I slowly open my eyes, resist the early morning light and usually roll straight back over for an extra half hour of sleepy bliss. On the flip side of that, I never sleep in past about 8:30am, but for those lucky bed springers this seems like a late start.

But here’s what I learned; those sacred few hours between around 5-7am are the most precious of the day. The world is awakening, the tide is turning and your spirit is ready to be embodied. Sleep through all that and you’ve missed out on a really beautiful, grounding time of day.

And so I’m changing. Instead of going back to sleep I’m making an effort to wake up when I first open my eyes, embracing the morning with a little meditation and morning exercise to lube up my limbs and get me ready for the day ahead. Be it chi gung, tai chi, movement meditation or yoga (all of which you learn at the retreat), I’m trying it. So stay tuned for the instalments on my Weekly Wellness Rituals, as they’re bound to pop up soon.

2. Be Open To Receiving and Sharing Information

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I never used to be very good at opening up. I preferred to pretend things were always great, when in reality I may have wanted to scream. Or cry. Or do both at the same time. Over the past few years, as I’ve worked hard at delving into the depths of myself, I’ve learned to open up, express myself and share information with other people. It’s a gloriously liberating experience feeling open to receiving, because when we spend our lives giving, it leaves us with nothing in the tank. Of course, you need to still give, but giving and taking in equal measures is what creates balance and harmony.

Ryko is a true wealth of information and knowledge. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that he is the most spiritually advanced person I’ve ever met. His ability to listen and heal and teach is truly what sets this program apart from many other wellness programs out there, so by being open – rather than resistant – to any changes or experiences that come up, allows you to really get the most out of your stay. That same can be said in life, too.

3. Let Go of Inhibitions

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One of the mornings we were there was spent doing a series of morning exercises, one of which included interpretive dance. At first we were all a little apprehensive as we bounced around on the grass, our arms flailing and my baby bump gently shuffling from side to side. From a distance we must have looked ridiculous, but as we kept going and let go of those inhibitions, the experience was hilariously fun. I felt free, alive, filled with energy and happy. So, so happy.

The lesson? So much of life is dictated by rules and worries of what other people think. It’s confining, uncomfortable and totally unnecessary. Even if you still live within those confines (and let’s be honest, most of us do), make time to break free of these shackles with a little free movement in the park, or in the privacy of your own home. I’m already planning on making morning dance a daily ritual with my son as soon as he’s old enough to stand up, and I already swan around the house making my husband break into fits of hysterical laughter. It’s great to feel uninhibited, so strip off and let loose, would you!

4. Slowing Down Ironically Speeds You Right Up

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Know someone who’s like a bee in a bottle? You know, manically busy, stressed and so highly strung it’s almost hard to be around them. We all have one of those in our life, and while the fear of slowing down might make them feel their ‘to-do’ list is getting done, the reality is the busyness in their head is causing them to move around in circles. Oh, the irony.

Here’s the truth. No matter how busy you are, if you make just a little time to stop! And breathe, even 2 minutes, you will instantly reset your brain and have more clarity, focus and concentration than you did just 2 minutes ago. By slowing down, even for a few breaths, you are actually speeding right up, but in a much healthier, more manageable way. There’s nothing good about stress, rushing around, manically switching from task-to-task, so make it a priority to switch off EVERYDAY and learn to push reset. Your mind (and body) will thank you for it.

Tell me Happies…
What do you think of these lessons?
Do you want to do the Hayman Spa & Wellness Retreat?

Stay Happy,

Yaz x

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A Weekend Away with Meditation Guru, Michael Hallock

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

A Cherokee Legend

Welcome to the world of Michael Hallock; a meditation retreat leader, spa enthusiast and all ’round general healer. A man who breeds serenity and oozes calm as he weaves stories like this into his mindful meditation workshops.

But where to begin? There’s so much to share, Happies.

I met Michael when the amazing staff up at The Golden Door Elysia alerted me of his impending arrival. He visits there often, fusing his knowledge of meditation into their already transformative health retreat a few times a year. Think of it as an add on, a series of classes that you can tack onto your stay if you want to learn about meditation, breath awareness and living in the present.

So up I went, with Alex eagerly by my side, to experience what it is that Michael had to offer. As an avid fan of meditation I’m forever interested in improving my skills, learning new ways to sit quietly and clear the mind, and most importantly, tricks to keep me going back more regularly. Because hey, it’s hard to make time for it everyday.

Here I am with Michael, sans makeup feeling alive and revived!

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Michael’s belief involves bringing that sense of awareness that you get through classical meditation (i.e sitting in silence) into your everyday life, thoughts, activities, memories and emotions as it’s the key to becoming more at ease with both yourself and the world around you. It gives you a choice to act a certain way, rather than spending your life reacting to external factors. Sounds good, right?

The weekend was made up of a number of sessions that Michael interweaved into The Golden Door’s already vast retreat. We woke up at 6am for Tai Chi, followed by a 5km walk around the golf course, came back for breakfast and then leisurely strolled to meditation class, which involved either learning about breathing and classical meditation, or mindfulness practices. We did diaphragmatic breathing, Yoga Nidra, mindful eating, mindful walking and even a session in the famed Watsu pool in the spa at The Golden Door. Basically, we covered a lot in just two days.

So what can you take home from all this, Happies? Well, for me, it was the mindfulness practices that were new, different and completely practical. Of course, the meditation is an important aspect, but Michael’s approach to take this one step further is what set his retreat apart from others I’d been to in the past.

According to Michael, “Mindfulness practice incorporates what we cultivate in stillness: the ability to be a relaxed witness to our experience…The point of mindful practice is not necessarily to ‘think good thoughts’ or be comfortable, it is to reveal whatever is in our experience in that moment. Like it or not!”

Aha! It’s about LIVING IN THE MOMENT!

So how can you get a little bit of this goodness at home? Well, try one of these two activities we did at the retreat.

1. Mindful Eating: This was so much fun. Grab a piece of fruit. We used raspberries, passionfruit, orange… anything goes. Now, grab the fruit, twirl it around in your fingers, look at it, focus on it, admire it. Then, bring it your lips, smell it, then pop it in your mouth. DON’T BITE YET. Swirl it around your mouth, feel it on your tongue. OK, now bite into it. Taste it, relish it, enjoy it. I promise you this will be the best piece of fruit you’ve ever eaten. It might also make you realise how mindlessly you eat your food now. As I was enjoying this exercise I realised that I was always too busy in my head to truly enjoy the flavour of food. Now, I try to eat mindfully all the time. It’s tough, but the intention is there.

2. Mindful Walking: This exercise is about exploring the outside world with the curiosity of a child. Imagine there’s no such thing as time, and pick a route that you take regularly. If I was at home, it would be Centennial Park, but for you it might be around the block, from home to the bus stop, even on the bus in the morning…again, the value is in the process, not the where or why. Now, take a deep breath in and take a step. Repeat this process, focussing on your breath as you step, breathing and stepping in sync. Go slowly! Then, stop controlling your breath, just let it inhale and exhale the way it wants to, as you continue to focus on your breath as well as the environment around you. Look at the trees, the ground, feel the grass below your feet. EXPLORE! It’s amazing what you see when you’re really looking. Try it.

As I mentioned, the weekend also covered lots of practical advice on breathing, meditation, living in the present moment and bringing this sense of awareness (or being a witness to your thoughts) into your everyday life. The good news is that Michael will be back at The Golden Door again this year, and I highly recommend making it there to experience a retreat with him. You won’t regret it.

Tell me Happies…

Have you ever done a meditation retreat?

How are you at bringing mindfulness into your everyday life?

Like the sound of this?

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx

The Bali Hit List!

And… I’m back.

Yep, just like that I’m back online and happily diving back into the swing of things. But that’s not to say that I’ve lost my post-holiday calm just yet, Happies.

The past three weeks has been a divine experience shared with friends, loved ones, new acquaintances and, well, myself. There were brief moments of solitude when Alex snuck off to the gym or enjoyed yet another massage that I really cherished, allowing me to think and breathe and just enjoy being away. It was pure bliss!

But now I’m back and ready to share the love, kicking things off with my Bali Hit List of places to stay, see and explore. Feel free to contribute and add to the list below so that this becomes a wonderful little resource for fellow Bali travellers.

1. Eat in Seminyak!
While I stayed in Uluwatu (if you stay around there head to Blue Point to watch the surfers) for the first week of my trip it was exploring Seminyak that really got me excited. This is the busy part of town. It’s hectic, polluted and full to the brim with tourist and shops and wonderful little eateries. We ended up coming into Seminyak almost everyday while staying in Uluwatu, making the 1.5 hour pilgrimage just because we could. Sure, it’s quite touristy and fairly hectic, but it’s well worth a visit.

I loved:
Zulu Vegetarian for amazing, healthy vegetarian fare.
Sea Circus for their quinoa salads and juices.
Motel Mexicola for a funky Bondi vibe and yummy tacos.
Sarong for something super fancy.

2. Explore Ubud!
We stayed in the loveliest villas in Ubud called Kajane Mua (highly recommend it here) and spent our days exploring town, riding our bikes through the rice fields and hitting up The Yoga Barn. If there’s only one thing you do in Ubud, make it a visit to The Yoga Barn. They have the most glorious studios and about nine classes a day, offering everything from Yin to Shadow Yoga for something completely different. They also have an organic café on the premises, or the owner also has a café down the road with similar healthy, raw food. YUM!

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Here’s bump and I enjoy our plunge pool at Kajane Mua

This is the side of Bali that is slightly less hectic, and a place to go and relax, repair and reflect on life back home. I loved Ubud.

3. Stay at Karma Jimbaran Bay!
Jimbaran Bay is a fishing village not far from the airport and is a gorgeous place to stay if you want to be slightly out of the hustle and bustle. We stayed at the stunning Karma Jimbaran Bay Resort and had the luxury of our own four bedroom villa and plunge pool. It was truly amazing!

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And a glimpse at the stunning Karma Jimbaran

The restaurant and spa at the resort were both first class, but if you walk across the road to the beach there are plenty of restaurants offering fresh fish of the day served grilled, steamed or fried with a selection of tasty greens, rice and sides. Your table is on the shoreline and the beach is littered with candles and fairy lights for a romantic setting that you’ll never forget.

Karma offers smaller villas as well, but if you plan on travelling in a group (which we weren’t but we were spoiled anyway) then this resort definitely ticks all the boxes. They can also arrange day tours to cultural sites or adventure activities depending on what you’re into, but we ended up spending the majority of our time enjoying our villa. How could you leave something so nice, right?

Just around the corner from the resort is the Jimbaran Corner Shopping Centre that houses the Bamboo Spa by L’Occitane. While there are plenty of cheaper options (hello, Bodyworks) this spa and the one at Karma offer world-class massages and treatments in a gorgeous environment. While you’re at the centre you can also pop into the Grocer and Grind for a chai and tasty breakfast.

Tell me Happies…
Have you been to Bali?
What places can you share?

Feeling Tired This Week? Blame The Man in the Moon

Phew, I’m pooped! Not just a little tired, but toothpicks holding up my eyelids tired. Slow. Almost, dare I say it… lazy. This has nothing to do with pregnancy mind you, I’ve been asking my girlfriends the same question this week and we’re all in sync; for some strange reason, our energy levels are suddenly at an all time low.

So, after a little digging and the wisdom of my yoga teacher, I’ve found an answer. Turns out it’s a NEW MOON, and this, Happies, has much to do with our lethargy.

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As our biology teachers made us recite, humans are made up mostly of water. Around 70%, I think. Because of our watery nature, we are linked to the phases of the moon far more than we realise. I mean, if the tides are affected, why wouldn’t we be? The new moon occurs when the sun and moon are working in conjunction with one another, unlike a full moon where the two are opposing. While full moons are more commonly associated with a little madness (it’s actually a more energetic, uplifting energy that rattles our groundedness), the new moon is the exact opposite – a grounded, heavy energy that can make us more tired and lethargic than normal. Makes sense, right?

While the new moon is slowly transitioning as of tonight, if you’re also feeling exhausted, it’s time to nurture your body and listen to Mother Nature. Here are some ways to honour yourself…

1. Don’t do anything! This is often one of the hardest things for people to do. Simply sit and be OK with not having anything to do. Or, having lots of things to do but realising that, perhaps, they’re not that urgent and can wait a day or two. I have about 10 things on my to-do list today, but they’re not urgent, so guess what? They can wait. I’m not going to bust my boobies ticking everything off my list. My body doesn’t want to, and neither do I.

2. Breathe! Pranayama exercises are an amazing way to bring balance into your body. Depending on what you’re doing, they help cultivate energy, develop grounding and even detoxify the system. While I can’t currently practice pranayama (not recommended for pregnant ladies), I think it’s a great way for you to take some time for yourself. If you don’t know what pranayama is, or aren’t really interested in learning, just do what I’m currently doing and focus on creating a long, even inhale and exhale. It feels amazingly relaxing.

3. Hit the bush track! Now that the weekend is upon us it might be a wonderful time to go for a gentle stroll in nature. Nothing too exhausting, just a calming walk on a bush or beach-front track to reconnect with nature and harness some much needed energy. A gentle bike ride could also be a winner. In fact, I think I might pack a picnic and do just that tomorrow. It’s just what I need.

So tell me…

Are you feeling tired too?
What do you do to honour yourself?

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx

It’s Back: Oprah & Deepak’s FREE 21-Day Meditation

Sometimes it’s as though Oprah is in my head. I mean, the lady is clearly a self-help genius and when paired with her mate, Deepak, the two sure know what the masses want. Yes, Happies, just when I was feeling all vexed about my recent lack of commitment to my meditation practice, along comes this peaceful pair to promote their latest 21-Day Meditation Challenge – Perfect Health. Hooray!

Their last venture together was all about creating abundance in your life. It was glorious and helpful and incredibly insightful. Each morning I would perch on my cushion and eagerly tune into the soothing sounds of Deepak as he trained my brain to open, invite and welcome abundance into all areas of my life. Gosh it was good!

Now, it’s all about Perfect Health, which clearly is right up my rue. The connection between mind, body and spirit and how when these three elements are in perfect harmony, wellness is the only state your body could possibly be in. Of course, I’m learning all about this now in my Health Coach training, but having a daily meditation around this exact topic is just the icing on the flourless fruit cake.

Hey, if Rufus here can do it so can we, right?

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And so it begins. Well, on the 11th of March it begins but you can register now and I encourage anyone wanting to invite a little more wellness into their lives to go ahead and leap right in. It’s FREE, so why not? In fact, during the 21-Day period I invite you all to skip on over to The Happiness Cocktail so we can share our experiences and encourage each other to take part in the meditations each day. A Deepak/Oprah ‘Love In’ so to speak.

Stay Happy (and let me know if you’re going to sign up),

Yaz xx