by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I love yogurt. I used to eat a bowl full of plain, no-fat yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon and ground flax seeds along with half a toasted English muffin, slathered with margarine, plus cup of coffee with milk every morning for breakfast.
That was my stand-by for years because it was quick, easy, tasty and filling and I didn’t have to think about it. Life was good. But things change. I have decided — after watching JJ Virgin on Public TV — to see what would happen if I followed her advice and took soy, peanuts, sugar, eggs, corn, dairy and gluten out of my diet for three whole weeks. I was hoping to lose some weight and clear some skin issues. As an esthetician, I know about the relationship between good nutrition, good digestion, and healthy body weight and healthy skin and I knew the food I was eating wasn’t doing me any favours.
I knew it would be challenging to avoid bread for a few weeks. That was a given. Soy has proven to be very challenging because it seems to find its way into everything — especially gluten-free stuff — and it was in my margarine which I wasn’t aware of until I read the label. Eggs, corn and peanuts are probably the easiest, though I do like my popcorn, sunny side up eggs on Sundays, and celery with peanutbutter. I had given up dairy before and I knew what that was all about so I wasn’t too concerned about things like cheese, butter and ice cream. The yogurt, though, was closest to my heart and I was most sorry to see it go.
I didn’t think I could have my dairy and yogurt too but I’m happy to say I was wrong about that.
JJ Virgin suggested replacing dairy yogurt with coconut yogurt. I thought that was too good to be true. And what were the chances of being able to find this stuff in Canada?
Much to my surprise, I found “Cultured Coconut Milk” at a nearby Planet Organic and it was on sale! I was so excited!
Bowl of cultured coconut milk or coconut yogurt with blueberries for breakfast..
When I saw the containers of cultured coconut milk in the refrigerated dairy section of the grocery store, I picked one up and quickly read the label: Dairy free and Certified Gluten Free. Check, check. The ingredients include: coconut milk, water, organic coconut cream, chicory root extract, organic dried cane syrup, rice starch, pectin, tapioca, kelp, magnesium, locust bean gum, live cultures, guar gum, carrageenan and monk fruit extract. A serving of 175 grams has 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, 135 mg’s of sodium, 23 grams of carbs (9 grams of fibre and 7 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein, 0 vitamins A or C, 35% Calcium and 6% Iron.
Sounded good to me.
I couldn’t wait to taste it so I bought the coconut yogurt and tried some as soon as I got home.
Another pleasant surprise! Coconut yogurt tastes really good. Although I’m not a Top Chef Canada judge, I really think So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk is a winner. It’s really thick, rich, creamy and smooth. It’s even thicker than no-fat Greek yogurt. The taste of the coconut is strong but it isn’t overly sweet. And this brand comes in different flavours but I’m happy with the plain. Unfortunately, it’s a bit on the expensive side. When compared to regular yogurt, the coconut yogurt container is smaller and costs as much, if not more. I may not have it everyday but I’ll have it often enough.
So far I’m on week two of the Virgin diet. I can’t say I’ve seen any difference at this point in terms of my weight and my skin but I’m pretty sure I’ll see a slight improvement at the 3-week mark. I’ll keep you posted. Finding the coconut yogurt was definitely the highlight of this entire exercise.
Have you tried to tried coconut yogurt? Did you like it? Please leave a comment.
Have you tried to avoid certain foods to see if you have issues with them? Have you read the Virgin Diet book and are thinking about taking a vacation from soy, peanuts, sugar, eggs, corn, dairy, and gluten? If so, let me know.
Till next time, Maria
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
I’ve had this brown mole on my face all of my life. It has been sitting just below my eye on my right cheek ever since I can remember. I was pretty used to it and the only time it bothered me was when someone else pointed it out or mentioned it or if I looked at it directly, which was very rare. It was just a blurry part of who I saw when I looked in the mirror.
My first official memory of my mole dates back to somewhere around 1978 when I was in elementary school. I went on a sleep over to my friend Janet’s house and she grabbed a chocolate chip out of our munchie bowl, stuck it to her face and said, “there, now I have one, too.”
Fast forward 20 years. I was lying on the couch, watching tv and all of a sudden, all I could see in my peripheral vision was my mole and not the show I was watching. The mole might as well have been the size of Mt. Everest. That’s all I could focus on — this big, fat mole, towering in front of me, casting long and wide shadows, obstructing my view. It just about drove me crazy. I thought to myself, that’s it, I’m getting rid of this mole once and for all.
Somehow, I managed to make an appointment with some doctor and took a noisy, cross-town bus to Scarborough one winter day. The doctor took a look and said, “Well, the mole doesn’t look dangerous at this point, but we could surgically remove it, if you want. Also, it will likely leave a big scar and you probably wouldn’t want that on your face.” On top of that, it would have been considered cosmetic surgery and would not have been covered by my health plan which meant big dollars that I didn’t have.
Removing moles was harder than I thought. I didn’t realize that removing a mole would leave such a big scar until many years later when another doctor took a mole off the back of my neck and he did such a hack job that I’m so glad I didn’t risk that on my face. He even said after he saw the scar, “Did I do that?” Yes, yes, yes you did.
So I kept the mole on my face and went on with my life. I always took notice of other people who have moles on their cheeks as if we’re in some sort of special club. Maybe you’ve noticed a cheek mole on Jim Morrison from the Doors and Marilyn Monroe and the former mole on Jann Arden’s face? Tortured artists? Maybe we have something in common.
Fast forward another 15 years. As you may or may not know, I’m currently doing an internship at the Integrative Wellness Centre with Dr. Oksana Sawiak. Not only am I learning about wellness from an expert, I’m also learning new things about myself and this is turning out to be quite an interesting trip. I feel like I’m reinventing myself and am changing my ways for the better. I was hoping to make some drastic changes and heal some wounds but I wasn’t expecting to do anything that involved my appearance.
Then last Wednesday, Dr. Oksana asked me how I felt about my mole. She strongly suggested I get rid of it because she could see granulomas and she could do it, starting right now, with this special, natural medicine from Ukraine. I had had a couple of glasses of wine in me, so I didn’t protest too much and gave her the green light. So she went to her medicine cabinet and came back with a vile of something affectionately known in Ukrainian pharmacies as “Chyste Tilo” or “Ukrain” in English.
Ukrain is an alternative medicine created by Ukrainian chemist Vasyl Novytskyi in 1978 — coincidentally, the same year as my “chocolate chip” memory. The formulation is based on the herb, chelidonium, and is promoted to treat all cancers, radiation-induced diseases and AIDS. The tincture is named in honor of Ukraine and its common name in Ukrainian is “Chyste Tilo” which means “clean body.”
Dr. Oksana said the first treatment would hurt a lot, the second treatment would hurt even more and the third treatment would be even more painful but after that the mole should be gone and that would be that.
I took another sip of wine and Dr. Oksana opened the vile and dabbed on some Ukrain on my mole. It burned like a disco inferno but only briefly. There was no turning back. I went to bed and the next morning the mole looked a little different. We applied some more tincture the next evening but it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did the night before. By this time the mole had turned black. I couldn’t look at it for more than a split second so I can’t be more descriptive.
The next morning it was the most repulsive thing I had ever seen on my face. Do you remember the line that Kramer says on Seinfeld, “Look away, I’m hideous.” (It’s worth Youtubing). That’s how I felt. And I had to go out in public that day, so I covered it up with a bandaid. I felt like I would scare children otherwise.
After the fourth night, I stopped putting the treatments on and am now playing the waiting game. It’s now Tuesday and the mole is still black. If I touch it, it wobbles like a loose tooth. Gross, I know! It’s just hanging by a thread and is supposed to just fall off at some point. I can still feel the mole and my eye feels a bit funny and I have a feeling the Ukrain is still hard at work. I don’t know how long this stage will last. I hope it’s not weeks and weeks. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. It is what it is.
I will let you know what happens.
In the meantime, for another story about moles, please read my blog post, “Mountains or Molehills” from February, 2011. And leave a comment if you’re a member of the mole on the cheek club. I’d love to hear from you.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
“The Road to Wellness is up the road and around the corner” was the lead in an article I wrote in 1998 when I was a reporter for the Peninsula News Review. My assignment was to interview a Naturopathic Doctor who had just opened a wellness clinic in Saanichton. At that time, I wasn’t as concerned about health and wellness as I am today (aah… “youth is wasted on the young…” as the saying goes) so I didn’t take advantage of what the clinic had to offer. But now, looking back, (I can still remember the long, white, billowing curtains in the treatment room), I think my conversation with the Naturopath and my visit to his clinic may have had more of an influence on me than I realized because within a couple of years of that meeting, I opened Homespunspa Enterprises, and have been on the road to wellness ever since.
Now, 12 years later, after going back to school to become an esthetician and adding a mobile spa to my business, I’ve come to a new stretch of road. Dr. Oksana Sawiak, who is a friend of my mother’s from childhood and also a holistic dentist (retired), has graciously invited me to spend some time with her in her new Integrative Wellness & Detox Centre, youwell.ca, in Norval, Ontario. Dr. Sawiak is a frontrunner in the dentistry field and throughout her 30+ year career, has focused on mercury-free/biological dentistry and is now delivering lectures on holistic dentistry, non-surgical gum treatment, pain control, hypnosis, and detoxification, etc.
I can’t wait to learn everything I can from her and her colleagues so I can transfer my new knowledge about this super-big topic of wellness to my readers and customers. I’ll be calling on my writing skills from my aforementioned journalism days and will be making regular updates on my blog about what I’m learning so everybody benefits.
I’ve already purchased my plane ticket and will be leaving Victoria in mid November. I’ve decided to call my adventure to the Toronto area, the Homespunspa Wellness Tour 2012. If you’d like to help support me while I’m on my wellness tour, (and I’d really appreciate this ) please buy a t-shirt or knick-knack from my special collection in my Café Press store. If you ask me, I think those t-shirts and mugs and blankets are pretty-darn cute.
While I’m in Toronto, I will not be available to accept any mobile spa appointments myself until I return but can facilitate any alternate arrangements with other trusted spa practitioners, if you’d like. Just send me an email and I’ll hook you up.
In the meantime, why not buy or rent a copy of the movie or book by T.C. Boyle, “The Road to Wellville” for a laugh and to catch a glimpse of the early days of how this whole wellness movement started in the first place.
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 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
My friend, neighbour and high school classmate used to joke with me about the smell in my house. She said that if she was blindfolded and taken all over the world on a wild goose chase and then dropped back into my house on Trombone Court in Vienna, Virginia, she’d know exactly where she was just by the smell alone. Of course, I could say the same thing about her house, too.
This observation leads me to think about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You know how Santa says, “Rudolph, with your nose so bright…won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Maybe, Rudolph’s Marachino cherry nose is more than just a light bulb. Maybe, Rudolph’s nose is more like a highly-tuned, GIS, infrared, gizmo that homes in on unique household smells and that’s how he helps Santa get his job done so well each year while everyone else is sleeping.
Either way, at the end of the day, the nose is the star of the show and I’d like to invite you to pay attention to all of the aromas that are surrounding you at this time of year. This is an aromatherapy lover’s dreamtime! When you walk into someone’s house to celebrate the season, take a moment to stop amidst the flurry of activity and close your eyes and breathe deeply. What are you smelling? Turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven? What else? Try to catch a whiff of a single ingredient on the holiday menu. In my house, you’re likely to smell onions caramelizing on the stove top, which is home sweet home for me.
Do you have any favourite Christmas scents? What are they? If you were to smell them right now, would they transport you straight back into your childhood? Which smells tell you that you’re home at last?
Top 7 Christmas-themed Aromas, Tastes & Essential Oils
Here’s a list of the aromas and tastes I associate with the Christmas holidays. Some are cool and refreshing like a snowy, winter’s day and others are warm and cozy like a country cottage.
- Citrus Family: Mandarin, Orange, Pomegranate, Cranberry
- Mint Family: Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen
- Spice Family: Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice, Nutmeg, Cardamon, Ginger, Star Anise
- Sweet Family: Vanilla, Chocolate, Cream, Sugar
- Nut Family: Hazelnut, Walnut, Almond, Macadamia
- Woodsy Family: Pine, Spruce, Cypress, Fir, Juniper Berry, Cedar, Sandalwood
- Biblical Family: Frankincense, Myrrh
Everybody knows that smells awaken deep memories and I hope everyone will create lots of happy moments with their loved ones this Christmas to replay with fondness in future Christmases, year after year.
Wishing you a very aromatic and fragrant Christmas with lots of sugar and spice and everything nice, Maria of Homespunspa.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
When my family was living in Hawaii, we had the luxury of having real bananas growing in our yard right outside the kitchen door. At the time, I didn’t think I liked bananas at all (hard to believe, I know) until my father coaxed me into trying one. I remember how we chose a small, greenish-yellow banana together and then we sat down and peeled it ribbon by ribbon and then I tasted it and it was good. Now I think bananas are really awesome.
Here are 10 excuses to eat more bananas:
- Quick energy boost: the sugar and fiber in bananas will boost your energy for your high-intensity workout.
- Help digestion: the fiber in bananas will help with digestion and constipation and over time will help manage your weight.
- Improve your mood: eating a banana will simultaneously help calm your nerves and lift your spirits.
- Relax: bananas contain tryptophan which your brain converts to serotonin which in turn will help you relax.
- Brighten Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): As we head into the gray, winter months, the tryptophan in bananas will help prevent SAD symptoms from emerging.
- Reduce PMS: The high levels of Vitamin B6 in bananas will help manage your monthly PMS symptoms.
- Reduce restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep better: If you have RLS and involuntary muscle twitching, it could mean that you have a definciency in Vitamin B6. If that’s the case, eat more bananas for their Vitamin B6 and see if your sleep improves.
- Increase your iron intake: Bananas are a good, vegetarian source of iron. Get more iron in your diet to prevent anemia.
- Lower your blood pressure and risk of stroke: Bananas are high in potassium and low in sodium, so they are great to add to your daily diet to manage stress and lower your blood pressure which will reduce your risk of having a stroke.
- Quit smoking cigarettes: If you’re trying to quit smoking, the Vitamins B6, B12 & C, plus the potassium and magnesium in bananas will help your body deal with nicotine withdrawal.
Today, I’ve decided to profile bananas in my blog and offer two home spa recipes. The first recipe is for a banana bread. When I made this recipe for a breakfast starter at the Beacon Inn, one gentleman said, “Your banana bread is outstanding” and another gentleman from Denmark said, “this is excellent and I should know because I bake for a living — when I come back, I hope you’ll give me the recipe.” Well, here it is. It’s from Company’s Coming, Muffins and More, by Jean Paré, published in 1983, page 40.
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (3 medium) mashed, very ripe bananas
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Method: In one mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add mashed bananas (if they’re frozen, defrost them in the microwave first to make things easier). Add vanilla. In a second bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and walnuts, making sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add this dry mix to the banana mixture and stir only to moisten. Transfer the batter to a greased 9×5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about an hour. Test with a toothpick or skewer and if it comes out clean, the banana bread is ready. Let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and place it on a cake rack to cool.
The second recipe is for Peanut butter and Banana Lip Balm. It’s one of my original recipes. Peanut butter and bananas are a classic flavour combination and this lip balm really feels good on the lips.
Peanut Butter and Banana Lip Balm
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa
Try making some peanut butter and banana lip balm today.
- 1/2 banana, chopped in 3-4 chunks — moisturizing for all skin types.
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar — to achieve glowing skin, add sugar crystals to exfoliating scrubs.
- 1/3 cup water — extends recipe volume and provides a base to blend ingredients.
- 1 TB smooth peanut butter — provides a creamy yet solid base for cosmetics and is loaded with skin-loving Vitamin E and other antioxidants.
- 1 TB beeswax — mostly used for its scent and to thicken cosmetics.
- 1 TB almond oil — good for normal, dry and mature skin. Has cleansing, moisturizing and conditioning properties.
- 1/4 tsp honey — antiseptic, cleansing and ideal for treating chapped lips and wrinkles.
- 1 Vitamin E capsule — good for skin and acts as a preservative.
- Wash your containers in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly. If you’d like to buy some containers for lip balm, please go to the containers page on Homespunspa.com.
- To make a simple syrup with sugar, water and bananas, melt equal parts of sugar and water over low heat on a stove top. Add large pieces of banana and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the syrup simmer over low heat to infuse the banana flavour into the syrup.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the smooth peanut butter, beeswax, almond oil (or peanut oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, etc. — almond oil is what I had on hand today) and honey over low heat. Stir until smooth.
- Strain out the bananas from the liquid sugar and set them aside. Add 1 TB of the banana-flavoured syrup into the peanut butter mixture. Turn the heat off but keep the pan on the heated element. Keep stirring. Add the contents of the Vitamin E capsule.
- Pour the mixture into your containers. The lip balm will harden within a few minutes.
Manner: Apply the peanut butter and banana lip balm to your lips as needed.
Storage: Your lip balm should last up to 6 months.
Warning: Do not make or wear this recipe if you or someone you know has peanut allergies. Discard your batch if it starts getting sticky or tasting rancid.
As always, let me know what you think. I would love to post your comments on my blog.
P.S. Pour the left over bananas and sugar syrup over ice cream and use the syrup in cocktails to add another layer of flavour. And I just thought of something else: use the banana flavoured syrup in a lip gloss!