by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’ve recently returned home from my whirlwind Wellness Tour. I spent three and a half months immersing myself in the field of wellness at Dr. Oksana Sawiak’s Integrative Wellness & Detox Centre in Norval, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, in the middle of a crazy Canadian winter and now am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take my Homespunspa Mobile Spa business to the next level of success. Although I often felt like a fish out of water and completely out of my comfort zone, I know deep down in my heart that this whole experience was well worth the time I spent there.
When I left Victoria, I was feeling stuck, frustrated and burned out. I knew I had to do something different from my regular routine if I wanted things to change and improve. I know most people don’t have the luxury of leaving their life for a few months to explore different options and I’m grateful that I was able to take Dr. Oksana up on her invitation.
I started feeling better soon after I arrived in mid-November. I’m passionate about health and wellness and was learning something new every day. Even though I didn’t know what to expect from my internship, I was open to learning whatever I could and when Dr. Oksana suggested I sign up for a Higher Transformational Healing Workshop with Fred Vokey to learn about healing, I was game. Both Dr. Oksana and I participated in the full-day workshop and the experience for me was inspiring, enlightening and profound.
I’m aware that the topic of energy healing may sound a little “out there” or “woo, woo” to some people — that’s up to everyone to decide for themselves. I personally think it’s pretty cool. There’s a long tradition of healing in history across most, if not all religions and cultures and it’s just a matter of remembering, re-learning and re-activitating that wisdom and knowledge in today’s day and age.
I truly believe that the healing I experienced while I was away had a lot to do with the Higher Transformational Healing workshops I attended and now I’m a certified instructor and can teach you how to turbo charge the healing energy around you so you can heal yourself and others.
I’m super excited to be offering an Energy Healing Workshop (Level 1) in Victoria, BC on Saturday, April 6, 2013 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the 24 Carrot Centre, 714 Discovery Street, 2nd floor, Victoria, BC, V8T 1H2. Tickets are $220 early bird.
More information about Higher Transformational Healing is also available on the “Healing” page of my website, www.homespunspa.com. Please contact me, Maria, by email or phone to sign up for the Energy Healing Workshop and to make payment arrangements. I’m really looking forward to this and I hope you sign up.
Higher Transformational Healing Workshops
Anyone can learn how to heal with energy — including YOU. We are all born with the ability to heal ourselves and others and we just need to refresh our memory.
If you feel attracted to the idea of healing yourself and others, it may be worthwhile to explore Higher Transformational Healing.
During the workshop, you’ll learn how to:
- Awaken the Healer within;
- Channel Life Force Energy;
- Use Breathing Techniques for Channeling;
- Place your hands on or near the body for healing;
- Do Absent Healing;
- Do Self-Healing;
- Do “The Anywhere Healing;”
- Balance the Chakras;
- Move Bones with a Light Touch;
- Align the Body; and
- Connect with the Council of Healing Masters.
The Higher Transformational Energy Healing Level 1 workshop will especially appeal to the caregivers among us who know people who are suffering from an illness like MS or cancer or depression and would like to do what they can to help others feel better sooner.
Please join me for level 1 training on Saturday, April 6, 2013. You’ll get lots of hands on practice and by the end of the workshop, you’ll l become a certified practitioner of Higher Transformational Healing.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could boost someone’s spirits with your healing services?
When: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Price: $220 (pay in advance, in person or online) or $250 (last minute)
Where: 24 Carrot Centre, 714 Discovery Street, 2nd floor, Victoria, BC, V8T 1H2
Presenter & Contact: Maria Koropecky
Websites: www.homespunspa.com or www.highertouch.org
I hope to see you there!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
My Homespunspa Wellness Tour 2012 is starting in just a few days and I’m getting really excited about my trip. But while I’m away, I don’t want to forget about exercising and lose all of the ground I’ve covered in the last several months. And with American Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays coming up, I’m sure many of you will be tempted to let your exercise routine lapse while you’re travelling to different cities to visit family and friends. My advice: Now is not the time to slack off; try to find a way to include regular exercise in your daily routine throughout the festive season and beyond.
And if you need a little extra motivation to get off your butt and move your body, I recently heard the average person consumes 3000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That’s a lot of delicious food! If you workout regularly, you’ll definitely avoid gaining unnecessary weight and you won’t need to make any New Year’s resolutions come January 1.
“So, how do I stay fit while travelling,” you ask? Well, as much as I’d like to bring my yoga mat, 12-pound weights and treadmill on the road with me, that’s not practical. My personal trainer, Jeanette, however, came up with a brilliant solution: Bring an elastic/ resistance tube and use it. That’s the tip to stay fit on your trip.
She suggested I bring my tube with me on my trip because it’s lightweight and fits in nicely in my suitcase and there are countless strength training exercises I can do with it wherever I go.
Jeanette told me I’ve lost almost 24 inches since May and I’m not about to undo all of that hard work by discontinuing my regular workouts. I plan on running, doing abdominal crunches and push ups and using my resistance tube often.
Before launching into the exercises, make sure you’re wearing proper fitness clothes, have a bottle of water handy and you warm up for 5 minutes to get your heart rate up. Also, remember to cool down and stretch when you’ve finished your tube workout.
Obviously, you’ll need a tube for these exercises. Mine is purple (of course) and has medium resistance. It also has a casing over it to protect me if the tube ever wears thin and suddenly snaps during a workout. I think it cost me around $30 at a local fitness supply store but I don’t remember exactly. I definitely recommend adding one to your home gym.
Of course there are dozens of strength training exercises you can do with a tube but I’m just going to highlight seven. I’m sharing these instructions and illustrations with Jeanette’s permission.
1) Elastic Double Overhead Press: Stand on the tube and hold the elastic in both hands with your arms at each side and your elbows bent. Push your arms over your head, keeping your elbows no higher than your ears. Return to the starting position. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Maintain good posture and wrist alignment and exhale while pushing your arms up and inhale while bringing them back down.
2) Elastic Double Lateral Raise: Stand on the tube and hold the handles in both hands with your arms at your sides and palms facing forward. Lift arms to shoulder level, keeping your elbows straight, then lower and repeat. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Exhale while lifting your arms and inhale while lowering them. Maintain good posture, abdominal contraction and wrist alignment.
3) Elastic Bent Over Crossed Row: Stand on the tube with feet hip-width apart. Take the end of the tube that is under your left foot with your right hand and the end that is under your right foot with your left hand making a criss-cross with your wrists. (I have to think about this every time). Bend your knees slightly and tilt forward from the hips. Pull up the elastic and raise your hands toward your waistline then return to start. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Exhale when pulling the tube back and bending the elbow and inhale while straightening the elbow. Keep wrist aligned, abs contracted, and spine neutral.
4) Elastic Single Biceps Curl: Stand on the tube with feet outside hip-width apart. Grab the handle with palm facing forward, keeping your arm extended. Pull up while bending at the elbow and then return to start. Do 12 reps and 2 sets with each arm. Exhale as you pull the elastic and inhale on the return. Maintain good posture and keep the abs engaged and watch your wrist alignment.
5) Lateral Biceps Curl with Elastic (External Rotation): Stand on the tube with feet hip-width apart. Grasp handles. Arms are at each side and palms are facing away from the hips. Bend elbows and pull the tube until the hand reaches the shoulder. Lower the hand and repeat. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Exhale when bending and inhale while extending the elbow. Maintain a space between the elbow and the side of the trunk, keep abs contracted and wrists in neutral position.
6) Elastic Trunk Sidebend: Stand on the tube with your right foot and hold the other end with your right hand. Bend to the left, keeping the elbow straight. Return to start. Repeat 12 times. Switch sides and repeat, bending to the right. (I just figured out I’ve been doing this one without following the instructions and bending the wrong way… oh well). Do 12 reps and 2 sets each side. Exhale when bending the trunk and inhale when straightening the trunk. Maintain good posture and keep abs contracted.
7) Standing Hip Abduction with Tube (Outer Thigh): Stand on tube with both feet together. Place your weight on your left leg. Keep your knee straight and raise your right leg to the side. Return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times. Switch sides and repeat with your left leg. Do 12 more reps and 2 sets each side. Exhale as you abduct your leg and inhale as you lower it. Maintain good posture and keep your ankle aligned in neutral.
I hope you get a chance to try out these tube exercises. I’m sure they’ll keep me busy and fit in the coming weeks. Let me know how things go and I’ll keep you posted on my progress during my Homespunspa Wellness Tour 2012. And thanks Jeanette for your great idea!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Are you planning to celebrate a special occasion soon, like a birthday party, bridal shower, wedding, anniversary or seasonal holiday and would like to do something fun and unique for your bff’s?
How about hosting a spa party?
If a spa party sounds like a great idea to you, here’s a checklist that will help make the job easier:
- Pick a date & time: Choose a date that works for most, if not all of your guests. Spa parties usually last no more than 3 hours, so if you have plans before or after your spa party, (like dinner at a restaurant or a golf game or a night on the town) pick a time that gives you some wiggle room. There’s no point in adding stress to your special spa day by rushing to the next event.
- Pick a venue: Spa parties can be held virtually anywhere like a hotel room or office but oftentimes your home is best. Just make sure you have enough open space to accommodate your party guests and anyone else you may have hired (like caterers, massage therapists, yoga instructors) to help you with your party.
- Decide on a party budget: I know, “budget” and “party” don’t sound good together but it’s a good idea to know what you want to spend ahead of time and stay in that ballpark. Overspending on impulse purchases will dampen your fun in the long run and having a budget will keep you on track.
- Send invitations: Nowadays, you can either send your invitations electronically like through email or you can create an event on Facebook or you can hand deliver your invitations door to door. It’s up to you. On your invitations, make sure you ask your guests which types of spa services they’d prefer and let your guests know to bring things like: flip flops, if they’re getting a pedicure; pj’s; bathrobes; a bathing suit for the hot tub; a potluck item to share or cash, if you want them to pay for their own spa services and tip.
- Get a head count: Now that you have your guest list and everyone has said “Yes, I’ll be there with bells on,” know how many guests will be attending your spa party.
- Hire a local mobile spa company like Homespunspa: Mobile spa companies are popping up all over the place and I’m sure there’s a good one in your city. And if you happen to live in Victoria, BC, then please call or email Homespunspa Mobile Spa. We’d be thrilled to help make your spa party extra special and stress-free.
- Choose spa services to offer at your party: Mobile spas can deliver all kinds of spa services like manicures, pedicures, facials and massages to your guests. At Homespunspa, we have designed a mini menu of 30-minute spa treatments for spa parties which lets guests get pampered and still participate in the party.
- Prepare spa snacks and beverages: Of course, what’s a spa party without food and drinks? I recommend serving crispy kale chips and refreshing cucumber water.
- Create your spa music playlist: I’ve been collecting spa music for over 20 years, long before I became a lover of all things spa and an esthetician, and I love, love, love the Homespunspa playlist. Regardless of whether you want something quiet and relaxing or something more pop and upbeat in the background, having music will add whole nother dimension to your spa party.
- Design your spa space: It’s time to create a spa environment. First move your furniture and make room for the different spa stations. You want to create a space that allows for people to move around freely. You might also like to create some private areas for the quieter spa treatments. And don’t forget to vapourize some essential oils into the air to enhance the spa mood.
- Decorate your space: If you can swing it, try adding some spa-chic elements, like a water feature, a low-burning fire in the fire place, smooth stones with inspiring words painted on them, lit candles of all sizes, throw pillows, plushy white towels folded just so, waffle bathrobes with slippers, and leafy tropical plants with big flowers to your décor.
- What about pets and other family members? I love family pets, especially cats, but sometimes they may not be the ideal guests at your spa party. Figure out what to do with your pets ahead of time so they don’t cause a distraction. And if there are family members or roommates that will not be participating in the spa party, (like husbands during a bridal shower) give them lots of notice so they can make alternate plans.
- Decide if there will be games and/or craft activities during the party: Some people like to play spa games while others like to encourage everyone to do a short craft project during their parties. If you want to do some spa-themed crafts and use essential oils, find some home spa recipes and try making your own perfumes, massage oil blends or bath salts. These activities are completely optional but if people are up for it, they might add some fun to the spa party.
- Collect and package party favours: Once the spa party starts winding down and everyone has received their pampering spa treatments, you might want to send your guests home with some party favours (or a loot bag, as I like to say). You can keep it simple, like a bottle of nail polish, or go all out with travel-sized shampoos, conditioners, lotions, lip balms, eye shadows, soaps, candles, assorted tea bags, packets of chocolate covered almonds, costume jewellery…whatever you want. You can always ask your mobile spa ahead of time if they’d also like to contribute some free product samples or coupons to the party favour bags.
- Clean up: Your spa party was a success and you can rest assured your friends had a good time. Once the mobile spa leaves and takes all of their equipment and supplies with them, clean up will be a snap. You may even like the furniture the way it is and not feel the need to move it back.
I hope this checklist for a successful spa party helps you plan the best spa party ever. And I hope you include Homespunspa in your next spa party. Please leave a comment if you have anything to add and please share this with your friends if you have a spa party in the works right now.
by Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding, Guest Bloggers
Due to everyday stresses, high-pressure responsibilities and busy schedules, we spend most our time in the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). It’s within this system that our “fight or flight” response resides, causing anxiety and over stimulation. In the past, when our fight or flight system was responsible for helping us survive a potential tiger attack, the fight or flight response would be released by either fighting or ‘flighting’ (leaving fast) the situation. The actual fight or flight was a release. However nowadays, our modern life has taken away the need to fight or flight and therefore, we’re in a constant state of stress without release. As a result, the ability to relax and sleep become difficult.
This is where yoga comes in. When we practice yoga, we gently move ourself into the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) — the rest and digest mode. In the same way that our body and mind need food as nourishment, they also need rest in order to digest that nourishment. This type of rest is different from sleep, but can be just as rewarding and can come from a good yoga practice. Restorative yoga is particularly suited for this and will allow us to sink into our body, while calming the mind. It’s at this point that we’re graced with a good night’s sleep.
Restorative yoga is a specially gentle style that addresses the difficulty of finding relaxation and sleep. It’s a style that uses many props such as blocks, straps, and pillows to open the body gently, while allowing the mind to rest in a meditative state, promoting us to move into our PNS. By doing so, we slow down the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and can exist in a calmer state where the ability to sleep is enhanced.
During the first few yoga classes, it’s normal to feel challenged. Moving from a state of high stimulation to stillness can be tough, however, know that things are happening on a deep level. Over time, the more we practice, the more the body and mind learn to calm and appreciate relaxation.
The deep benefits of yoga will not come overnight. Yoga is truly something that needs to be integrated into your life to notice the affects, especially if sleep is challenging. Remember that whatever reason you’ve been called to try yoga, it has been a long time coming. Likewise, it may take awhile for you to make changes. The amount that you put in, will be the amount that you get out.
We’d love to share more with you and teach you how to put yourself expertly to bed. Join us on a retreat in Mexico, November 10-17th, 2012 where each night we’ll offer a restorative class right before bed. Come and feel the difference for yourself. www.yogasherpa.com/SpiritedLife
We’d also like to invite you to download a complimentary copy of our ebook, Spirited-Health-Tips-Sleep-Better-Naturally.
With love for a good night’s sleep, Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding.
Both based in Toronto, Canada. Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding have 20 years of yoga experience, combined. Sharing many teachers along their individuals paths, they’ve trained in Anusara, Hatha, Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga. They are two individuals who strive to share their experience of yoga and holistic healing to their students, empowering each one to lead a more mindful, and authentic lifestyle. You can find them online at www.chrysyoga.com and www.donnawilding.com.
by Marguerite Wright, Guest Blogger
People are asking their herbalist for that special remedy to help them get a good night’s sleep, but getting rid of insomnia may not be as simple as taking an herbal supplement. With natural healing, the goal is to get to the root cause of the issue and deal with that, rather than covering up the symptoms with medications.
More and more people are seeking remedies for sleep disorders because they are suffering from insomnia or they are struggling to remain asleep throughout the night. Unfortunately sleep disorders lead to more health issues such as a suppressed immune system, stressed nerves, over active or under active glands and drained energy reserves.
It’s so important to get the proper amount of sleep in REM (rapid eye movement) — also known as dream sleep — every night. This is how the body rejuvenates itself and does the repair and maintenance it needs. The needed hours of sleep varies from person to person, some needing only 5 or 6 hours while others needing 8 to 10 hours.
Tips for better sleep
- Establish a bedtime routine: In these stressful times we live in, we have to work harder to de-stress ourselves and do things to improve our rest. It’s important that we form a routine where we have a regular sleep pattern, retiring to bed at the same time each night.
- Sleep in a dark room because Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland when it is dark. It directly influences the brain to induce sleep and is further broken down into the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which helps both sleep and mood. This shows why sleeping with the television on can disturb your sleep because it is a light source.
- Depression, anxiety, and worrying are linked to insomnia. Try to clear your mind before bed. Write down your thoughts to ease your mind. Meditation and deep breathing will help you to release all your anxiety and stress.
- Use diet and exercise in your favor. Don’t eat a heavy meal right before retiring, the undigested food can interrupt your rest and is hard on your health. Drink a soothing tea that will help you relax before bedtime. Smoking cigarettes only stimulates the body and can cause sleep problems. Avoid caffeine intake, especially before bedtime and don’t take stimulating herbal supplements. Some medications can disturb your sleep also. Beware of over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine or caffeine-related substances.
- Find ways to relax and unwind. A good way to unwind is to take a walk and/or do some stretching. Yoga is a great way to unwind also. Including exercise in your daily schedule will help you rest better — just keep the heavier exercising for earlier in the day.
Suggestions from your herbalist for a good night’s rest
- Make an appointment with your herbalist: Health issues that cause insomnia can vary from person to person, this is why it’s important to meet with your herbalist to review your personal issues, list of medications and daily routine. Take the free health analysis offered at www.motherknowsbest.net.
- Eat nutritious food because it’s important to nourish the nervous system. Anxiety, tension, depression even high blood pressure can be linked to lack of vitamins needed for the nervous system. Nutrients such as Vitamin C, B-Complex, Calcium and Magnesium will help. Many of my clients love Nutri-calm, which is an antistress vitamin. Other supplements like Kava Kava, adaptogens like Siberian ginseng, and Licorice are good.
- Detoxify your liver and colon. The liver is the organ of emotion and depression can lead to insomnia. Detox the liver with supplements such as Liver Cleanse, Dandelion, and Enviro-Detox. Ask your herbalist about a full detox program like the 90 Day colon cleanse.
- Get a massage. A good massage from a professional massage therapist can help a person de-stress and get better rest.
Article written by Marguerite Wright, Certified Herbalist and Massage Therapist located in the Chicago area. Marguerite Wright is the owner of Mother Knows Best Herbal Solutions, a company she put together to assist people who want to learn more about natural solutions to health. She uses herbal supplements, homeopathic, aromatherapy, cleansing, massage and more. If you want more information on insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks or other health issues, contact your herbalist, Marguerite Wright. For every disease or disorder there is a natural alternative. All the supplements mentioned in this article are available at www.motherknowsbest.net.
by Geraldine O’Keefe, Guest Blogger
Like the 71 million Americans who suffer from various sleep issues like insomnia, hot flashes, nervousness, and anxiety, I have found myself wide awake in the middle of the night on many occasions.
Here are some tips that have worked for me and may help you get a better peaceful and sound night’s sleep.
Try incorporating these tips in to your bedtime routine:
- Pamper yourself and power down at least 30 minutes before bed. When your core temperature rises then falls (as it naturally does at night), it signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Help the process by taking a relaxing soak before bed and add some pure, organic lavender essential oil and/or some Himalayan salts to your bathwater.
- Drink Escape to Sleep tonic, preferably on an empty stomach. It can help your body feel what it’s like to sleep naturally and soundly.
- Try not to eat past 7 p.m. and avoid caffeine.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you wake up and you are achy and sore, consider a new pillow and/or mattress.
- Lower the room temperature at night. Optimal range is 60-68 F.
- Sleep in a pitch-dark room. It will help you get back to your natural rhythm.
- Incorporate Lucid Dreaming: The object of lucid dreaming is to become conscious of being in the dream state. Keep a dream journal; write down what you remember.
Learn Yoga Techniques such as Pranayama (breath control), Yoga Nidra, and Meditation:
These calming techniques can help assure that you get the 8 hours of sleep to function at your best.
- Try Pranayama which is the art of restraining and controlling the breath.
- Also try Yoga Nidra, aka yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra is a highly powerful ancient meditation that originated in the Tantras. It’s a scientific way to eliminate the root causes of all negativities.
- And Practice Meditation. Meditation will train your mind to induce consciousness.
Our minds can be like a ship at sea without a sail. Practicing yoga nidra, and/or pranayama can help you observe and control your mind which will help to bring you into a deep, restorative and healing sleep. If you realize your thoughts are stressing about something in the future or in the past, gently bring them back into the moment. BE HERE NOW and don’t let those racing, “monkey mind” thoughts keep you awake at night. I always remember a monk that said, “when you eat, eat; when you walk, walk; when you talk, talk, and of course, when you sleep, sleep.
Be kind to yourself, yoga takes practice. Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind and a regular practice can help assure your restorative sleep.
There are seven levels of consciousness. Most people are operating in the first three: waking, sleeping and dreaming. As you begin to become more conscious of your thoughts in the three states, you will begin to understand and enjoy life more. Sweet dreams, may they all come true.
Sleep Well, Live Longer!
Geraldine is an herbalist, lifetime yogi, and vegetarian who has had experience with insomnia. She decided to create an herbal sleep-aid and ultimately, her dream product, Escape to Sleep™, was born.
You can find Geraldine online @:
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Have you ever had a job that wasn’t working out and you knew your days were numbered? I’ve been in that situation many, many times and the last time was back in 2009 when I was working for the provincial government. It was a good job in some respects but it was a hostile work environment also. I won’t go into the why’s and the who’s but I’d often come home quite upset and would waste my evenings and weekends rehashing the drama of the week in my mind. It’s one thing to think about work while you’re at work. It’s another thing to bring it home with you and think about it while you’re not working and not getting paid for it. Am I right?
Because of all of the unpleasantness in the office, I was trying to figure out a way to leave my job gracefully. I kept on going online to check out some schools and courses to upgrade my skills to help me launch a new career. It was my way of escaping reality ever so briefly. I knew there was something more for me but I didn’t know what that was. I had my eye on a massage school that I almost applied to many years before and kept on going back to the website on my lunch hours.
Then on one inspired weekend in August, I got an idea. Why not look at the textbooks of the programs I was interested in to see which subjects appealed to me most? Textbooks are notoriously boring — *hello insomniacs — and if you can read one subject with enthusiasm and pour over the pages as if they were the Legend of the Holy Grail, you know you’re on the right track. So I went to the University bookstore just as classes were starting for the year and found my section: HEALTH.
Among the dozen or so titles on the shelves, one book in particular jumped into my hands: Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists by Anne Williams. I loved the green clay masque on the woman’s back on the cover and thought, “I want to know how to do that!” I quickly flipped through the pages and decided to buy the book on the spot even though I wasn’t enrolled in any school. (I still feel a little bit guilty for buying a textbook from another student and I hope there were enough copies for everyone who needed one).
As it turned out, I got layed off from the government job a few short weeks later. But I didn’t end up going to massage school; I went to esthetics school instead. Funny how things work out. But my Spa Bodywork textbook still gets to live on the top shelf and I still give it credit for helping me turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.
Anyway, back to my old job that wasn’t a good fit for me. At that time, I wasn’t in the habit of doing any nurturing or pampering home spa treatments on myself even though I knew a thing or two about the subject. I wish I had been more kind to myself during that stressful time and that’s why I’m writing this post called, “It’s Footbath Friday.”
I’d like to encourage all of the people out there who are working hard at their jobs — especially if they’re not living the dream — to soak their weary feet in a footbath every Friday night. Start tonight. Pour yourself a glass of wine or make yourself a pot of tea and pop some popcorn. Then dip your feet in a lovely, warm and aromatic foot bath and you’ll be well on your way to a better mood. Footbaths are a perfect way to release the negativity from the past week. And then you won’t drag all of that B.S. into your weekend and you’ll be able to start work on the following Monday on a better foot, so to speak. Just relax and pour that tension down the drain and forget about it. Start the weekend fresh.
These days, I’m writing my own ebook and I plan on publishing it in a few months. For my research, I read the chapter on Ayurveda (a subject I became familiar with in esthetics school) in the Spa Bodywork textbook and I found some useful recipes for footbaths that were inspired by the Ayurvedic tradition that I’d like to pass on to you.
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old, traditional medicine system and philosophy from India that offers keys for creating harmony and balance in life. Many Western spas have adopted elements of Ayurveda into their spa treatments because of the focus on positive life choices, relaxation, exercise, detoxification and spirituality. In a nutshell, Ayurveda is based on the belief that everything in the universe is composed of 5 elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Specific combinations of the 5 elements form the 3 doshas which are: vata, pitta and kapha. Each individual is made up of a combination of all 5 elements and all 3 doshas and that formula or recipe, for lack of better words, will show up in their body type, mental and emotional disposition, and personality.
You can find out which dosha you favour the most by answering the questions on my Ayurvedic Questionnaire page on my website or Googling Ayurvedic quiz. I recommend Dr. Deepak Chopra’s website and Dosha Quiz for a quick response. Then you’ll know which footbath recipe below will be the most balancing and beneficial for you. Recognizing when you are out of balance and making choices to correct the imbalances will keep you healthy and will keep stress and disease at bay.
Vata Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 217) (Infinity and Air elements)
“(Using herbs recognizable to Western therapists). Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include ground ginger, sandalwood, eucalyptus leaf, calamus [a.k.a myrtle grass or sweet grass] and basil. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Pitta Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 218) (Fire element)
“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, peppermint and lemongrass. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Kapha Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 220) (Water and Earth elements)
“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include basil, ground ginger, eucalyptus leaf, and common sage leaf. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Thank you Anne Williams for sharing your wisdom in your Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists textbook and for inspiring me to follow my bliss. I hope this blog post inspires people to enjoy a Friday night foot bath and to change their circumstances if they don’t match the dream.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
For my first blog post of 2012, I thought I’d take Homespunspa to the streets, as they say, and see how my friends would respond to this question: “How do you relax and manage stress?”
I was looking for some wholesome ideas that anybody can do on a regular basis and my friends did not disappoint. I think folding these tips into the day will keep the stress at bay.
Here are 17 cheap and cheerful and easy ways to relax and manage stress:
"Help, I'm stressed." Illustration by Lindsey Henderson www.intown-creative.com.
1) Managing stress is a biggie for me as I have Crohn’s Disease, a chronic illness that can be aggravated by stress. The first step was recognizing my reactions to stress: why am I reaching for that cookie/candy/ additional glass of wine or heading out for some “retail therapy”? I’ve become wiser with age and those are no longer how I react. These days when stressed, I get physical by going for a long, brisk walk outside. Walking, plus the sunshine, fresh air and being out in the natural environment, all contribute to de-stressing for me. I hope this helps and Happy New Year! — Leslie
2) “I draw.” — Lindsey Henderson www.intown-creative.com. (Lindsey drew the charming illustration for this blog post and I’m so impressed! Thank you, so much, Lindsey!)
3) “Yoga. And laughter ” — Katie
4) “Playing with my cats after a hard day reduces the stress levels.” — Kelvin
5) “Hey friend, I am a huge bath person, I love to have a lovely smelling bath, sometimes bubbles, candles, music, maybe wine or a book..it is my favourite.” — Rebecca
6) “Put the kids to bed and do the laundry, watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand (hoping the kids don’t get up before I am done).” — Lilia
7) “oooh, tough one! I do like putting my feet up and doing something mindless like knitting and watching a silly movie. I also think a brisk walk outdoors with a walking partner is very cleansing. Going to the gym and doing aqua zumba is great, too. Oh, and I forgot to mention the best destressing strategy…tea with a friend!” — anonymous
“My new year’s resolution is to go through my closets and boxes and discard or organize everything I own. Must say even getting through one drawer lessens my stress.” — anonymous
9) “Putting some seeds in the yellow bird feeder on my back deck. The birds are such a joy! I can just watch them all day!” — Motria
10) “Watering the garden on a summer evening.” — Yaro (posthumously)
11) “When all else fails, I water the house plants. At least I’m doing something positive instead of just stewing in my own juices.” — Alex
12) “My favorite way to relax is reading. I love a good book or any book. I read every night. I manage stress by staying calm and trying not to let my mind control my body. If I stay calm, I can be more objective and see things clearly and find less stressful solutions to situations. I’d rather be a problem solver than be stressed out!” — Liz
13) “My daughter wasn’t much of a talker when she was growing up and one day when she was going through a rough time at school, she came home and started baking bread. There she was in the kitchen, mixing the dough and kneading it and baking it in the oven. I think there was something therapeutic about that for her and after a while, she opened up to me and told me what was going on. From then on, I knew baking bread was her way of dealing with stress and also telling me she needs to talk.” — Elsie
14) “A nice long walk, pet your pet, a hot bath, bang on my drum set, yoga breathing, watch nature and take pictures of it.” — Diana
15) “Am I the only one that watches TV to relax??? I just need something mindless so that’s what I do. I think Jazzercise is a great stress-buster!!” — Debbie
16) “I love to ride my bike, drink a cup of tea, read my Bible, of course, sex. ” — Suzanne
17) “Invite some friends over for a home spa pajama party.” — Maria
So there’s the list of 17 easy ways to relax and manage stress. Kelvin’s is my favourite — because I love cats — and we can learn a thing or two about relaxing from our pets. I think “taking a walk” is probably the most popular stress-busting activity on this list and funnily enough, I found myself taking that advice this afternoon by walking through my neighbourhood while it was sunny. I’m so glad I did because I do feel better.
How about you? Would you like to add your 2 cents? How do you relax and manage stress? Please leave a comment and I’ll make sure it gets added to the list. Thanks especially to Lindsey for drawing such a great illustration for this blog post and thanks to everyone for participating!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
One of the “s’s” in Homespunspa stands for “sports” because I think being fit is a necessary part of living a healthy lifestyle.
I personally enjoy exercising and it’s definitely a big part of my routine. I like to encourage people to add some sort of physical activity into their weekly schedule — whether it’s joining a running club, or stretching in a hot yoga class, or playing an intense game of squash or lifting weights with a personal trainer — because working out often and consistently increases quality of life exponentially.
My exercise of choice happens to be Jazzercise. A couple of weeks ago, my Jazzercise instructor, Donna, reminded me that it’s definitely time for me to buy a new pair of running shoes and to say good-bye to the old ones. Apparently, you’re supposed to get new running shoes after every 100 hours of activity. Well, if that’s the case, than I’m, like, at least three times over due.
I remember when I bought this pair. It was in August, 2009, about 8 weeks before I will have run my first ever 5K Run for the Cure for Breast Cancer. I went to the New Balance store on my lunch hour because I had a coupon. I was annoyed that my foot size was measured at 9 and 1/2 and that one foot was slightly bigger than the other. I needed a cross-trainer type of shoe so I could run forwards and do the quick side to side stepping for Jazzercise. I also needed something for my wide instep and high arches, traits I get from my father. Of course, I liked the purple accent colour on this particular model, too. I think I paid around $110 for them which seemed like a huge investment.
I tested my new shoes indoors during Jazzercise class and decided I liked them enough to commit to my purchase. Donna happened to have the exact same style shoe at the time (although hers had taken on a weathered look) and that’s how she knows how old my shoes are :>.
If these runnin’ shoes could tawk
Right now I’m holding my left shoe in my hand (which makes it harder to type and am reflecting on the times we’ve spent together — no blood — but a lot of sweat and tears. Oh and how can I forget all of the smiles and hugs and laughs as well.
Some memorable moments wearing these running shoes in the past year include: answering trivia questions about who is singing what song during Jazzercise class to get extra points for a summer beach bag promotion — I was jumping up and down like a 1st grader every time I thought I knew the answer; smiling to get my picture taken while running on the UVic campus and having a dog tugging on my tutu from behind; going on a field trip to Donna’s house and doing a class outdoors during a pivotal Vancouver Canucks v. Boston Bruins game in the Stanley Cup playoffs in June; and hearing everyone’s jingle bells, jingling all the way in December.
Of course, I really appreciate the support I got from my Jazzercise classmates during my Mani & Pedi fundraiser for Earthquake Relief in Japan and all of the hugs I got from everyone while my cat, Charlie, was sick. I value our little Jazzercise community immensely for reaching out to me during the tough times.
This week I’ve also reached a few milestones in Jazzercise. I’m happy to report that after Monday’s class, I got a cute and sparkly coin purse for attending 20 classes since November 1st and after Tuesday’s class, I was awarded a black, “Jazzercise, Rock you to the Core” t-shirt for participating in 150 classes in 2011! Add those numbers to my the 13 kilometers I ran for charity this year and 10 more K’s for 2010 and 2009 and all of the running on my treadmill and you can see why I need to get new shoes right away.
Baby needs a new pair of shoes
Based on my numbers (150 hours in Jazzercise in 2011, about 110 hours of Jazzercise in 2010, 40 hours of Jazzercise and personal training since August, 2009, 3-5K charity events and 1-8K charity run at an hour each and the odd walk/run on the treadmill), I figure I’ve clocked at least 330 hours on this particular pair of shoes. Wow, that’s a whole lot of steps to the left, steps to the right, jogs forward, jogs backward, hip lifts, attitude lifts, lunges, Jazz squares, toe taps, chassées and shimmies! In all honesty, it amazes me just thinking about it.
So after all of that, I think it’s time to retire my shoes and instead of putting them in the landfill, I’m going to give my beloved shoes to someone in need who may not have any shoes to wear at all. I sincerely hope these shoes will help someone else change their life for the better also.
It has been a good run and now it’s time to make some memories with some new running shoes!
What do you look for when you buy running shoes? Do you like a particular brand? Do you like certain colours? Do you have any advice on how to keep your running shoes in good condition? Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
My friend at Jazzercise, let’s call her Angelina, has been carrying some serious tension in neck and shoulders lately. She’s trying everything she can think of to relieve the tension, which she thinks is happening as a result of sitting at her desk all day, staring at her computer screen, crunching numbers on her detailed spreadsheets (she’s an accountant) and moving the mouse back and forth, but isn’t having any luck. Raise your hand if you can relate.
She has visited a reputable chiropractor, who is known for getting results, and this chiropractor said to her, “You’re what we call a walking coat hanger.” Unfortunately, after her painful appointments, (it sounds like she has a very high pain tolerance), Angelina is left with terrible bruises on her arms with no significant relief to her muscle tension and everyone, including her family doctor, is telling her that this chiropractor is not doing her a good service. (Disclaimer: I’ve personally never visited a chiropractor and don’t know what’s involved but I know a lot of people swear by them and please don’t think I’m insulting chiropractors at all with these observations. I’m sure chiropractors do a lot of good work for a lot of people).
When my friend talks about her neck and shoulder tension, my ears perk up. I’m all about relaxation and I’ve put my thinking cap on to figure out ways to help my friend feel better and to also help others with similar problems get some relief, too.
First, I asked Angelina if her workstation — she works from home in a lovely, organized and spacious office — is what they call, “ergonomic,” a term coined in 1950 from the Greek word “ergon” which means “work.” Ergonomics is an applied science which is concerned with how well things are designed and arranged for human use to reduce fatigue and discomfort and to maximize productivity, efficiency and safety. She said, “Yes, yes, I had an assessment a couple of years ago and my chair is at the right height and my computer screen is right at eye level, where it’s supposed to be, and everything else.”
Well then, that answers that. With the ergonomic question out of the way, Angelina’s tension must be caused by too much stress and not enough relaxation. Since we’re all in the same boat, here’s a list of ways all of us can do to reduce and manage our stress levels.
5 Ways to Relax Your Neck and Shoulders
1) Get a facial: Facials are really, really relaxing. Not only do you get to listen to some healing and calming spa music for an hour or so — my Homespunspa playlist rocks (you to sleep) if I do say so myself — you also get the relaxing benefits from aromatherapy and of course some age-reversing skin care (stress will certainly take its toll on your complexion in more ways than one). And for the people with neck and shoulder issues, there’s usually a 10 to 20 minute, thoroughly relaxing massage that focuses on your decollete, shoulders, neck and face included with every facial. You’ll love it!
2) Take breaks: Do you come to work and sit down at your desk and not get out of your seat all day until it’s time to go home? And please don’t tell me you skip your lunch, too. If you ask me, I think that’s a counter-productive habit. Our bodies were designed to move and not sit around all day. If you take regular breaks and move your body throughout the day, you’ll actually be more productive and you’ll get more work done in the long run. I recommend setting a gentle alarm to go off once an hour or so to remind you to physically get up out of your chair and take a break. (I have a chi gong chime on my phone which is very unobtrusive but helpful). Go and grab yourself a cup of tea or a glass of water, go to the washroom, take a walk outside, climb up and down the stairs, introduce yourself to the new hire, etc., etc. The breaks will help clear your head and will help you focus better. Speaking of breaks, I have to take one right now.
3) Shoulder rub conga line: Stuck in a meeting all day? Even better. If there’s more than one of you on a break at the same time, do the old shoulder rub conga line thing where you stand in a line or in a circle, one person in front of the other, everybody facing the same direction. Ideally, you’ll rub the shoulders of the person in front of you and at the same time, the person behind you is rubbing your shoulders and then after a couple of minutes, everybody turns around and returns the favour the other way. Expect some giggles.
4) Stretch: Stand up and drop your arms to your side. Slowly roll your shoulders 3 times backwards and 3 times forwards. Then extend your arms out in front of you and slowly bend your elbows and bring your hands up to shoulder level. Then bring your shoulder blades together as close as you can to each other. This move is called “Angel wings.” Release. Roll your shoulders again. Then shake out your arms. How does that feel?
5) Yoga: Sign up for a yoga class. When I was taking a yoga class once a week, I found an improvement in my attitude and a reduction in my stress levels. I also noticed that yoga really complimented and enhanced the work I was doing with my personal trainer and made my workouts that much more effective. It’s definitely something to add to the mix.
That’s it for now. I’ll add an “Are you a walking coat hanger (part 2)” with more tips on neck and shoulder tension in a couple of days. And, as always, if you have any tips to share, by all means, leave a comment and I’ll make sure your words get added to the conversation. Till then, breathe, smile and relax.