Why Your Brain Needs a Stimulation Detox

Have you even found yourself reaching for your phone 2 minutes after you sat down to meditate?

You remembered to make a note in your to-do list, and since the phone is in your hands anyway, you thought you'd quickly have a sneak peek to see the message you just got on whatsapp. Exciting. Oh, and since you're on it, might as well quickly check instagram and facebook.

5 or 30 minutes later, you caught up on the news, responded to that whatsapp message, checked how many likes you got on your last post, and then closed your eyes to finally do your meditation practice. But your brain is already wondering: "Have I got a response to my whatapp message yet? Should I just quickly check? Arghhhh....my attention span is shorter than the one of a goldfish!".

Why are you/we doing this?


Meet Dopamine.


Dopamine is an interesting character. I bet you actually met already. Dopamine says hi to your brain on a pretty regular basis, and if you haven't been formally introduced to each other, let me do a quick introduction on dopamine's behalf.

Dopamine's a chemical produced in various parts of your brain.

It functions both as a neurotransmitter and a hormone. In the brain, dopamine is a chemical released by neurons to send signals throughout the entire nervous system. It controls moods, your motivation and sense of reward.

For dopamine the anticipation is greater than the reward. The urge to check that whatsapp message is greater than the satisfaction we feel once we’ve read it.

Part of what makes the text messages and social media so irresistibly attractive to your dopamine systems is that it’s unpredictable. Dopamine is stimulated by this unpredictability. So, when you get an alert on our phone, you don't know exactly what it's about, and you HAVE to check it, preferably right away. It could be anything and we have no idea what it's about until we check it. Dopamine absolutely loves that, and you get a tiny burst of it in your brain. After its effect has subsided, you're ready for the next shot. And that's part of the reason why scrolling, social media, and compulsive texting are so addictive.

Triggering extra dopamine bursts too often creates a vicious cycle in our brains, and we crave MORE. It feels like we need some stimulation to stop being restless. A tiny spike in dopamine in the brain, and we feel alright. For a little while. And then we need it again.


Don't want to be in that loop?

What can you do about it?


The answer is simple. I call it Stimulation Detox. What it means is essentially a period where you are mindful of your default actions during the day and allow those dopamine receptors to calm down.


How do you do it?


Find a day next week when you don't have to be in front of the screen. Go offline (this is where magic happens..) and leave your devices in a drawer for a day.


That same day:


  1. Drop coffee and stimulants (the more addicted you are to coffee, black tea, matcha, chocolate, sweets etc, the more annoying you'll find this point. But hey, maybe you can survive 1 day? And maybe it's a good reality check?)
  2. Drop shopping and online shopping (get the groceries and essentials the day before.
  3. Drop TV and Netflix
  4. Drop anything that you think might qualify as being a dopamine burst activator for you


What CAN you do all day then??


1. Find a quiet solace. Do yoga, movement and meditation (without looking at a screen).

If you MUST have guidance for your meditation practice, here is a technique you can use. Come to sit with a straight back, roll your shoulders back and down, and close your eyes. Try to relax your shoulders, neck and face. Start taking deeper breaths without forcing, and try to keep your attention on your breath. Whenever the mind begins to wander, softly bring your attention back to your breath. Continue for 5-15 minutes.

2. Go for a mindful nature walk or a hike.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking about work, planning or going back into the past, bring yourself back to this moment.

3. Eat nourishing foods.

Think whole and unprocessed foods close to the natural state. Not dried, not frozen, just lots of fresh plant based ingredients for a day. Don't overcook and don't over-spice. And saviour the colours and the natural flavour of real food.

4. Practice self care

All points above are self care, but if there's anything else that helps you take care of yourself and doesn't include screen time or any excessive dopamine stimulation, do it and enjoy it to the max. My personal recommendation is getting a delicious full body massage with a great therapist that day.


If you're a restless type, expect to occasionally feel restless. Expect to want to grab a coffee or matcha latte or your phone. Expect to feel helpless without your devices at hand. Expect to feel weird, and to keep asking yourself why you're doing it at all!

It's ok, it's completely normal. Stick with it for a day, and your brain, your body and your dopamine receptors will thank you for it.


After you've tried it a few times, you might fall in love with Stimulation Detox. I typically do it at least one day a week, and it works wonders as a reset practice.

Stimulation Detox made me mindful about how much stimulation I used to crave on a daily basis and how restless I'd be if I didn't get it. It's changed now, and it's a lot easier to find joy and fun in simple things, and meditation is a completely different experience. I honestly can't recommend it enough.


Try it. Once you did, send me a little note and let me know how it went.


Much love,




Ready to learn more about healthy living?





I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.

Anne Frank

Your Daily Emotional Cleanse

In this post I'd like to share with you a practice that will help you start the day with clarity. This simple technique will also support the daily practice of emotional release as you let your mind sort out and clear out its emotional residue.


With the powerful tool I'm about to share with you you'll learn to playfully dig through the roots of your emotional reactions and find out what's triggering you, what's causing you to feel a particular way and what are the reasons you are sometimes short-tempered, edgy or impatient with yourself and others.


This is how it works.


The best time of day for this practice is morning, shortly after you wake up and before coffee or breakfast. You'll need comfy clothes, a yoga block or a folded blanket to sit on and a notebook with a pen.


Step 1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and focus on your breath for a few minutes. Don't censor or curate your thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations. Just breathe, witness your breath and listen.


If you feel numb, it's ok. If you feel fear, anxiety, stress, tension, pain, discomfort, anger, sadness, it's ok. If you feel a strange mix of emotions, it's ok. Let all the things you are feeling and experiencing be ok.


Step 2. Grab your notebook and let it all out. Drop the need to write clearly or beautifully, and let the stream of thoughts pour out on a piece of paper.


It's ok if your thoughts or feelings don't make sense. It's also ok if they seem raw, messy, inappropriate, immature, stupid, unstructured, angry, needy or anything else your mind might try to call them while you are writing. It's ok if your handwriting becomes so bad that you can't read it afterwards. It's just about letting everything out. Liberating the thoughts and feelings from the cage of "forbidden", "shameful", dropping the labels of "disgusting" and "inappropriate".


Give everything that comes out a right to exist in this real, honest, unedited form.


When you're done, take a moment to re-centre your attention on your breath, and feel a sense of deep relief.


This is a practice that is often recommended by therapists as a form of daily emotional cleanse.


Practiced on a regular basis, it will help you build a stronger connection to yourself and your emotional world which is essential if you want to navigate life and life's challenges with clarity. You'll get to know your patterns, meet your monsters and also discover the most beautiful parts of your personality. The more courage you have to face and acknowledge your darkness, the more your brilliance will grow and evolve too.


And last but not least: people who are in touch with themselves and their emotions are a lot more pleasant to be around. So with this practice not only are you investing into your own mental clarity and emotional mastery, but also improving your relationships with those around you.


Try it out for a few days and let me know how it's been working out for you!






Ready to learn more about healthy living?





How to turn self-isolation into a home retreat?


It's not a good idea to travel during the coronavirus outbreak. Staying at home and self-isolating is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and others. But it's not a reason to stop practicing. In fact here, at home, you have so many "ingredients" of a perfect yoga retreat available, so why not use them?


I have prepared this resource for inspire you to dedicate a few days (or weeks) to seriously focus on your practice and your self-care. The ideas below are divided into morning practices, afternoon programme and evening routines, all of them designed to keep you healthy, strong and sane during these special times.













  • 18.00 oxygen boost: light run or walk
  • 19.00 juice or smoothie or light dinner - warm veggie soup or salad
  • 20.00 bath with epsom salts (epsom salt is amazing: not only does its high content of magnesium help you relax and release muscular tensions, it also stimulates the detoxification processes in the body)
  • 20.30 optional calming pre-sleep yoga - click here for guidance
  • 21.00 fresh herbal tea (ginger, lemon verbena, camomile, peppermint, Alpine herbs) with your favourite book
  • 21.30 meditation - try a non-verbal meditation with music. Click here for meditation music I have created, or if you love it, click here to download the whole album.
  • 22.00-ish - sleep


And a few final notes


If you are living with another person, involve him or her too. It's more fun to "home retreat" together.

Remember to stay hydrated and drink 8 glasses of water daily.

As it can be difficult to get to the physio or chiropractor during the quarantine time, remember to practice myofascial release technique. It will help you keep your body in check and is a great addition to your yoga practice. Find a few ideas here, and if you haven't got your myofascial release balls, I've got you covered - head over here to order your pair.



Enjoy your home retreat to the fullest, and share your insights and experiences with me.




How to choose the right yoga retreat?

If you are a yogi or yogini, you may already know that yoga retreats are a great way to travel. If you could combine a travel experience or exploring a new destination with diving deeper into your practice, and as a bonus, make a bunch of yoga friends and have tons of fun together, what would you say? I say yes, a big yes to that! But how to choose the right yoga retreat?

As a yoga retreat teacher with 15 years of experience and close to a 100 retreats under my belt, I decided to create this post to help you choose the right retreat for YOU among so many tempting offerings, making sure your expectations are aligned with what you are signing up for, and that you opt for just the right yoga retreat experience you’ll cherish for years to come.




But first things first. I’ve prepared for you a few important questions that you should ask yourself before you even start your search.


  • Am I looking for a yoga retreat that offers a yoga immersion, or do I just want a yoga flavoured holiday by the pool, with an option of casually dropping in to a few yoga/pilates/fitness classes?
  • Is it important to me who will be leading the classes?
  • What are the destinations I want to visit? Or is the destination unimportant as long as it’s my favourite teacher teaching, and the timing fits my schedule? Do I want to stay local or explore a more exotic destination?
  • How long should an ideal yoga retreat be for me? A long weekend/full week/multiple weeks?


Bear with me, there are a few more...


  • What accommodation standard am I after? Shared room with a shared bathroom and generally a more basic place, or comfortable/cosy/boutique/luxury/(fill the blank) accommodation with a private ensuite bathroom and a high standard of amenities?
  • Am I interested in a retreat that combines yoga with spa experience, body treatments or a cleanse, or rather, a retreat that combines yoga programme with active outdoor adventures?
  • Do I have dietary restrictions or preferences like a vegan diet for example, that should be catered for? 
  • Am I looking for a “festival style” retreat with a famous teacher (and typically a really large group of 60+ students) that will offer little individual attention, or I would prefer to be in a smaller group of 10-20 and get the teacher's eyes on my practice that can help me grow and evolve?
  • What is my budget?


Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you are ready to continue reading.

Here are a few important points to consider when you are looking for just the right retreat for your needs.


yoga retreat teacher


1. Yoga teacher


I always recommend starting with the teacher. 

Do you already know the teacher who will be leading the yoga retreat? Or are they a new face for you? Does the retreat company even announce who will be leading the yoga retreat you are considering, or is the yoga teacher a  “surprise appearance”?

Often when the retreat company wants to lower its risks, the name of the teacher will not be mentioned in the retreat description. This means that it can literally be anyone leading the yoga programme, for example, a recent graduate of a foundational teacher training with very little real life teaching experience. Experienced yoga teachers plan their retreat schedules far in advance and will usually resist being on standby like this. So chances of getting a pleasant surprise are slim.

My advice is: if the yoga component in a yoga retreat is important for you (and why would you want to go on a retreat if it wasn’t?), choose a retreat where the yoga teacher is clearly announced from the start and you can look them up. Check their YouTube videos, their meditations on SoundCloud etc to see if there is a potential energetic match.

You want to make sure that your teacher is experienced, educated, well-informed and capable of leading a safe practice. Oh, and you want to make sure that you like the way they communicate and the sound of their voice. You’re stuck with them for the duration of the retreat, so if you find the voice of the yoga teacher annoying, it will be that one thing that makes you want to skip the yoga sessions or cringe if you force yourself to attend. Is it how you want to spend your retreat?


What to ask the retreat organiser:


Who is the teacher (if he/she is not announced in retreat description)?

What is the training the teacher has completed? Is it 200H training, 500H or 1000H? 200H is an entry-level training, and I would recommend a teacher with a completed 500H training programme or higher.

What is the educational or professional training or background of the teacher besides yoga?

How many retreats have they already led?

Will there be one teacher or more?

What is the max group size?



advanced yoga retreat

2. Your yoga experience vs who retreat is for


Are you a beginner practitioner or a more seasoned one? Depending on your level of experience, you might want to pick the retreat that offers a programme that is the right fit for your needs. If you don’t, there is a risk of frustration if the programme is too easy or too challenging. 

Having said that, taking an all-level retreat with a very experienced teacher can still be a very rewarding experience as many of them are brilliant at offering solid guidance that serves every level of practitioners in the room using a method called vinyasa krama that provides step-by-step instructions, taking the yogi through stages of poses from basic to complex. That way the teacher can adapt to every student in the room, making sure you receive exactly what you need from the session. 


What to ask retreat organiser:


What styles of yoga will be offered?

How many classes a day can I expect and how long are the classes?

What is the level of the practitioners who have signed up so far? (this will give you an indication of which experience level the teacher will be catering for in reality, and how full the retreat is).




yoga meditation yoga nidra

3. Yoga vs meditation


Ask yourself: are you actually interested in deepening your yoga or your meditation practice (or both)? Don’t expect a yoga retreat to include much meditation and a meditation retreat - much asana practice, so you have to be clear about what you’re after.

A few years ago, I started offering yoga + meditation retreats in the Swiss Alps where the primary focus is asana, but the programme does include a significant portion of meditation: guided and self-guided. That way I can meet the demand of those students who want to take care of their physical body and learn to meditate. But not all retreats are like that, so check with the organiser first to align your programme expectations with what is actually planned.




yoga style in a retreat

4. Style of yoga


There are a myriad of yoga styles these days, and depending on what you’re signing up for, you might be thinking “that’s exactly what my body needed!” or “what kind of yoga is THIS?”.

Remember that there is a big difference between ashtanga and kundalini yoga retreat. So make sure you understand what you can expect from the programme. I can't begin to explain how important it is. 

Ask about the style or tradition of yoga that will be featured. Find out how physically demanding and dynamic it is and how much experience a practitioner should have to benefit from this experience. If the organiser is not super clear about it and just claims that their retreat offers general “yoga”, you are signing up for a very undefined experience. The more clearly and understandably the organiser or teacher can explain what to expect from the yoga programme, the better you can make an informed decision and choose the right retreat.


What to ask retreat organiser:


What styles of yoga will be offered?

Is it suitable for my needs (experience level, preference, existing or past injuries)?

Will the teacher be offering hands on assists or not? Depending on what you prefer, it can be a very important fact to be aware of.



5. Accommodation standard


High accommodation standard in yoga retreats is a must for me - and on this photo you can get a glimpse of what to expect from a yoga retreat that I'm offering in Greece.

Sadly, time and time again I hear from my returning guests that in the past they’ve been to a retreat where accommodation was a complete disaster. In most cases, they state that retreats seemed like a bargain, and the one photo of the hotel looked nice on the ad, so they signed up. In reality, they arrived at a place that was dirty, run down and filled with flies. So, please, please, please do your research beforehand, and don’t just hunt a bargain. Even if you are on a lookout for a budget retreat, you want the retreat hotel or centre to be clean and well-maintained, and you want to know exactly what you are getting before you sign up.


What to ask retreat organiser:


What is the standard of accommodation?

Are the rooms shared, and if so, are beds twin or double?

Is there a private toilet AND bathroom in the room?

What are the amenities available?

Is there a dedicated yoga space at the hotel or retreat centre? If not, where will you be practicing?


yoga retreat travel tickets

6. Cancellations


There are a lot of “young” yoga retreat companies in the world that are not very well established yet, and therefore have a higher risk of having to cancel a yoga retreat if the group is smaller than their minimum number of participants. 

Imagine: you've booked your flight, you've taken your holiday at work, planned your life around this trip, only to discover last minute that it is not going ahead because the group is too small for the organiser to run this programme!


So to be absolutely certain that this will not happen, ask the organiser the following questions:


How many students do you already have signed up, and what is your minimum group size to run this programme?

What are the terms of service?


(As an important little side note, I would recommend that you always have a comprehensive travel insurance because it might be that you have a health- or family emergency and are unable to travel - in this case most retreat organisers will not refund the deposit or full amount you have paid, and you will have to rely on your travel insurance to do it for you. Check the fine print of your insurance T&C before taking it out!).


yoga retreat destination weather

7. Weather at the retreat destination


It’s important to check typical weather at the destination before you travel. 

Do your research well before you sign up.

Find out when is the monsoon season in Sri Lanka or Thailand - or you might be feeling miserable because of daily showers if you are not a rain lover!

Investigate when the hurricane and tsunami season is in Japan.

Research when you can expect strong storms in Norway or Iceland, or months of scorching heat in Morocco.

It’s important. Do your homework. Don’t skip this step. If your retreat organiser is not experienced, they might not even do it prior to planning a retreat. But it’s your yoga retreat experience, so you want to be sure you know what you’re getting.



Now you're all set, and know exactly how to choose the right yoga retreat.

The process of finding the right yoga retreat involves quite a bit of work to start with, but being prepared and having your expectations aligned with reality are always a good idea if you want to have a great retreat experience. Have fun, and happy retreating!



Yoga poses to naturally detox your body

Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are a great time to gather with family, friends and loved ones - enjoying tasty treats in good company is soul food in many ways.

However during this time, we usually consume lots of heavy, sugary foods. While enjoying this special time of the year is very important for us, it might make us feel lethargic, slow and fatigued afterwards.

In this post I am sharing my favorite yoga postures to naturally boost your body’s digestive fire. Although the human body is extremely adaptable to changes in nutrition and "detoxifies" itself efficiently, I like to give it some support this time of year.

The following yoga asanas are a chance to boost your digestion and metabolism. They support the natural detoxification processes of the body and help you transition into the new decade feeling great!


1. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)





This is a very accessible, twisted yoga pose that helps to stimulate your digestive fire very effectively. It is known to relieve even fatigue and discomfort after a heavy meal (just remember not to practice right after eating, and give your body 2-3 hours to digest the previous meal first).

How to:

  1. Start in staff pose, seated on your mat, with your legs extended in front of you and the arms resting on your sides.
  2. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet flat onto the floor. Then, place your left knee to the floor. Slide your left foot under your right leg, bringing it alongside your right outer hip.
  3. On your next inhale, raise your left arm overhead and on your exhale, twist the torso to the right.
  4. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee, keeping your forearm raised and point your fingertips towards the ceiling.
  5. To go deeper into the pose, lower the left forearm and hold onto the left knee. You can reach behind your body with your right hand and bring to the floor behind you.
  6. Keep your right foot engaged and lengthen your torso. Keep your spine long. Your head can follow the direction of the twist by gazing towards the right if your neck enjoys it. Otherwise, keep looking forward and keep your neck neutral.
  7. On every inhale, lift your sternum and your abdominal area a bit, engage moolabandha and uddiyana bandha, and go deeper into the twist with every exhale.
  8. Stay here and breathe deeply for around half a minute to a minute. Then return to the neutral seated position and repeat on the other side.


2. Parivrtta Ardha Utkatasana (Revolved Half Chair Pose)




Parivrtta ardha utkatasana is a twisted variation of half chair pose, that is great to improve leg strength, balance and flexibility in addition to its detoxifying benefits. On an energetic level, this asana is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Keeping your stress level at bay is another crucial factor to helping your body's digestion, immune system and metabolism run smoothly. As other revolved postures, it is also thought to open the manipura (solar plexus) chakra, boosting your confidence, self-esteem and to activate transformative energy.

How to: 

  1. Start in Utkatasana, chair pose, with your knees and your weight back in your heels.
  2. Bring your hands into prayer position in front of your chest in namaste.
  3. On an inhale lengthen your spine, on the exhale start to bend forward, hooking your left elbow outside your right thigh.
  4. To create more space in your collarbones and chest, press your palms together and breath deeply. Try to keep your knees together and lower your hips a little deeper into the pose.
  5. Try to hold this pose for 3-5 breaths, then release into a forward fold.
  6. Return to Utkatasana and repeat on the other side.



3. Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)




This pose has amazing benefits not only for the digestive system, but also improves spine flexibility, increases strength while opening the chest and front body. Chakrasana stimulates the nervous and endocrine systems due to an activation of the thyroid and pituitary glands. This helps you feel more energized and less stressed.

How to:

  1. Start by lying on your back. Then bend your knees. Place your hands next to your head on the mat, with your fingers facing toward your shoulders.
  2. Press down all four corners of the feet and palms to have a stable foundation. On your next inhale, lift your hips, reaching your pelvis towards the ceiling. Try to distribute the weight evenly among your hands and feet and stay strong in your shoulders to prevent them from sagging.
  3. Straighten your arms as much as you can, without any strain. Keep your pelvis and buttocks engaged and avoid letting your legs collapse out to the sides.
  4. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then slowly release back down to the mat, vertebra by vertebra while keeping you chin tucked into your chest.
  5. Do a counter pose like happy baby or just lie on the mat with your lower back pressed against the mat.


To help your body's digestive & natural detoxification processes working at their best, maintaining a steady daily rhythm is considered to be very important in Ayurveda. Read more about Dinacharya here.

I hope you find these poses a useful tool to boost your body's health and overall well-being - I am looking forward to hearing how these are working out for you.



Keeping our inner clock on track with Dinacharya - Ayurveda Winter Guide IV

During Winter season, when Vata and Kapha influences are strong, maintaining a daily routine is considered to be one of the most effective ways to keep our bodies and minds aligned with the rhythm of nature. 

Creating a steady daily rhythm will offer you a sense of stability and balance. It will also help to stabilize the mood and promote mental clarity throughout a season characterized by a lot of weather instabilities. 

In Ayurveda, the concept of a steady daily rhythm is called dinacharya. It is one of the single most powerful Ayurvedic tools for improving overall health and well-being.

Dinacharya looks at the cycles of nature and aims to set daily activities and routines around these cycles:  think waking and sleeping time, meal times, exercise, meditation, study/work, relaxation etc. Understanding those daily cycles is super useful for promoting health.

In fact, there is emerging scientific evidence that suggests that the modern, fast-paced, high-tech society isn’t doing our inner clock any good, and that is has become increasingly challenging to stay aligned with the rhythm of nature. The human body needs sunlight or at least daylight to align its inner clock, however as we live in a world where thanks to electricity, light has become available at any time, we are less and less aligned with when nature wants us to be active and when to take rest. This in turn causes a disturbed and irregular inner rhythm, leading to insomnia, irritability and mood swings. 

As the body gets used to a daily routine that includes adequate rest, appropriate exercise, and a nourishing spiritual practice, the nervous system can finally ease into this rhythm and, as a result, relax.

Adopting a daily rhythm and routine is also an act of self-care and self-love. Each day, we have an opportunity to prioritize our own wellbeing as well as physical and mental health.

The effect of truly caring for ourselves using dinacharya is really powerful. I promise, committing to a daily routine will yield results in a very short time.

Applied correctly, dinacharya is one of the most transformative things you can do for your health, however to be comprehensive, "prescription" would have to be custom made for each person's current state and birth constitution.

So, in this post, I'm going to give you a few general suggestions that are suitable for all constitutions. By following these simple guidelines of dinacharya, you will get back on track and find more joy and stability during Winter. 

Let's look into how it's done.

Another influence to consider is Kapha - it's an Ayurvedic constitution as well. Kapha combines the elements of water and earth, and the qualities of Kapha are heavy, cold, moist, dense, oily, slow, static.

When Winter sets in and the snow comes, we are more prone to experience the effects of Kapha. When there is too much Kapha quality in the environment around us, we are more likely to experience the symptoms of Kapha imbalance: slow metabolism, putting on extra weight, sluggish digestion, low motivation and drive, a feeling of heaviness in both body and mind.

We can balance Kapha by offering the body and mind all that helps us keep it in check: regular movement (including vinyasa flow yoga and brisk walks + outdoor activities/sports), warm light foods with Ayurvedic spices, sauna, an early and active start to the day.


But how do you take BOTH Vata and Kapha into account in your self care this Winter?


Let's find out!




Wake up early. In Ayurvedic terms, it means 1-1.5 hours before sunrise. This also means that healthy waking time will change throughout the year, unless you live right at the equator!

Use the bathroom. It sounds pretty self-explanatory, so why would I even mention it? Ayurveda states that we should never force elimination, and never resist the urge to eliminate either. So if you like most humans and animals feel like using the bathroom first thing in the morning, that's generally a sign of digestive health. If not, drink half a glass of warm water on an empty stomach and maybe even do a few rounds of nauli - abdominal churning practice. These two things in combination will speed things up.

Practice oil pulling. Right after, brush your teeth and scrape your tongue. 

Hydrate with a cup of herbal tea or warm water. 

If you have time, enjoy a warm oil massage

Clean your ears and nasal passages, and hydrate + lubricate them with a bit of almond or sesame oil. It is particularly important in Winter, especially if you live in a flat with central heating.

Bathe or shower, preferably with warm water. Start with a comfortable temperature and then turn the temperature down a little, finishing on a cooler note. Colder water is a mood and energy booster.

Move/exercise. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of regular movement/physical exercise like yoga, walking, tai chi, swimming, dancing or whatever you enjoy. Avoid overly strenuous exercise as it aggravates Vata and Pitta. In the morning, gentle exercise is best. It helps you get over morning stiffness, strengthening the digestive fire, and gives you a mood-boost as new energy is activated with prana. 

Personal note: have you heard of shinrin-yoku? It's a trendy Japanese word for something timeless and beautiful: forest "bathing" or in non-japanese terms, forest walks. My absolute fave to start the day with. So, if you are lucky enough to live close to a forest (a park will do too, though), go ahead and add this ritual at the start of the day. A simple luxury that will warm up the body and help you start the day just right (and stress-free).

Meditation practice.

Enjoy a warm and nourishing breakfast. 


Late morning and afternoon

Work or study. Stay hydrated with warm water or herbal tea. If hungry, have a light and simple veggie snack - how about some carrot or cucumber sticks?

Ayurvedically speaking, the best time for lunch is between 10am-2pm depending on when hunger strikes. These are Pitta hours when your digestive fire is the strongest, so have your main meal of the day in that interval. Use balanced, whole foods according to your constitution.

Rest briefly, for around 15 minutes after lunch. Easy walk or a power nap are always a good idea. When I have time, I opt for both 🙂

Go back to work or study. Stay hydrated. If you get hungry again, have a wholesome healthy snack, for .ex. fresh veggie sticks (celery, beetroot, carrot, cucumber).


The hours before dinner are a great time to exercise. You can choose a more vigorous workout or yoga practice this time.

When you're done and feeling hungry, enjoy a balanced dinner - ideally, a lighter meal than lunch: think warm hearty veggie soup, light warming curry or stir fry. The latest dinner time should be about 2-2.5 hours before you go to sleep. 

After dinner, let go of the screens and devices to relax, read, and to spend time with your love, family or friends.

I know that the next suggestion will sound crazy to many, but I want you to try going to bed super early: between 21:30-22:00. It probably won't be realistic every single evening because life happens, but try to stick to this suggestion when you can. Not only will you discover that it is much easier to fall asleep before 10pm but you will wake up more rested than ever. Ayurveda claims that if you fall asleep before 10pm, your body will be able to take care of natural detoxification processes a lot more efficiently than if you skip the precious hours before midnight. 

In my experience, going to bed before 10pm is a complete game changer. When I do, I wake up around 6am without or before the alarm, and I feel like I just came back from a vacation! My appetite is healthy and moderate, my skin is refreshed, and both my digestion and my mood are great throughout the day. 

I also notice that going to bed extra early gives me a boost of positivity for the whole day ahead, and I'm a nicer person to be around. 

Try this, and let me know about your experiences.

And one more thing: a wonderful, relaxing practice to do before bed is to massage the soles of your feet with a calming oil (for example, lavender or roman chamomile oil blended with a carrier oil like sweet almond or jojoba). This will promote relaxation and restoration, you'll sleep better and as a bonus, your feet will be soft and smooth when you wake up!

Let me know how you do - I can't wait to hear about your experiences with dinacharya.


Radiant Skin and Nourished Body: Ayurveda Winter Guide III

Feeling balanced in Winter can be a tricky task.

Ayurveda states that we are susceptible to two major influences in Winter: Vata and Kapha.

Both Vata and Kapha are Ayurvedic constitutions that combine two elements each.


Vata combines in itself the elements of air and space. The primary qualities that Vata offers are dry, cold, light, rough, mobile, subtle.

Late Autumn (and change of seasons in general) as well as early Winter can aggravate Vata, making us more prone to experiencing the symptoms of imbalance: dry and rough skin, restlessness of mind, constipation, cough.

We can balance Vata by offering the body and mind the qualities, activities and self care practices that complement or balance out the Vata: warm liquid foods (think soups), stable routine (waking up and going to bed are of particular importance), oiling of the skin, meditation, warming yoga practice.


Another influence to consider is Kapha - it's an Ayurvedic constitution as well. Kapha combines the elements of water and earth, and the qualities of Kapha are heavy, cold, moist, dense, oily, slow, static.

When Winter sets in and the snow comes, we are more prone to experience the effects of Kapha. When there is too much Kapha quality in the environment around us, we are more likely to experience the symptoms of Kapha imbalance: slow metabolism, putting on extra weight, sluggish digestion, low motivation and drive, a feeling of heaviness in both body and mind.

We can balance Kapha by offering the body and mind all that helps us keep it in check: regular movement (including vinyasa flow yoga and brisk walks + outdoor activities/sports), warm light foods with Ayurvedic spices, sauna, an early and active start to the day.


But how do you take BOTH Vata and Kapha into account in your self care this Winter?


Let's find out!



1. Healthy scalp and luscious hair

Dry, itching scalp and lifeless hair is a common thing in Winter. It's not surprising actually as we spend lots of time indoors, and the air inside houses and apartments is usually super dry due to central heating.

Ayurveda recommends oiling the scalp and letting the oils soak in before you wash your hair. The best oils for balancing hair and scalp are sesame, sweet almond and bhringaraj. These oils are excellent for soothing your scalp and making hair lush, rich and beautiful.

Using a small amount of pre-warmed oil in your fingertips, rub your head and scalp all over while applying some gentle pressure. Try working your way from the ears to the middle of your head. Repeat on both sides and on the back of the head. This improves oxygen supply to your skin and also has a calming and relaxing effect on the nervous system.

If you'd like to nourish your hair as well, spread some warm oil through the hair, and keep the oils on for anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours. To wash it off, don't use water at first, otherwise you hair will remain greasy. Shampoo your hair without water, then with a little bit of water, and finally rinse everything off. Shampoo once more, this time with water. You won't be needing your conditioner this time!

Last but not least: always make sure to cover your head and ears while outside, as the ears are one of the sites where Vata influences are most predominant.


2. DIY Warm oil massage


Warm oil massages are the perfect Winter treat for your body and soul.

However, if booking an appointment with a professional is too expensive or too time consuming, you can definitely do it yourself.

Detailed guide to abhyanga - Ayurvedic warm oil massage - is here. Enjoy!

3. Happy feet

Your feet can definitely use a bit of extra care this Winter. Foot massages are actually some of the most grounding and relaxing practices for balancing Vata according to Ayurveda.

Start by soaking your feet in warm water with a few drops rosemary, eucalyptus and/or lavender oil. After 10 minutes, gently rub them dry and apply a bit of almond or castor oil to your feet, and massage the oil in. Put a pair of socks on for the night to let the oil soak in and soften the skin of your feet.

It's a great goodnight ritual for kids, too.

4. Radiant Winter skin

The biggest skin challenge in Winter for most of us is dryness.

As with many other things, Ayurveda prescribes oils - and sweating!

My recommendation would be making your skin routine minimalistic but effective, with a strong emphasis on hydration.

Use very gentle skin cleansers in the evening and moisturise with argan and rose hip oil.

During the day, moisturise with a cream of your choice, or, if your skin enjoys it, with pure almond oil. Minimise makeup if you use it.

Remember to give your skin an opportunity to regenerate itself and to clear the pores - sweating. Sweating is important for your skin's health, and I mean both sweating when you exercise or do your yoga practice and when you warm yourself up in a sauna.

An important note on saunas: Ayurveda is positive about saunas. Just remember to not overheat your head by wrapping a towel around it. Or even better, opt for milder steam bath instead of dry Finnish sauna, and apply a bit of sesame or almond oil on your skin before your sauna rituals!






I hope these Winter tips have been helpful - drop me a line and let me know how these tips are working out for you!






Ayurveda Winter Guide Part II - 5 Yoga Poses to Keep You Warm

This post is a continuation of what we've started a few weeks ago - taking you step-by-step through yogic and Ayurvedic strategies of thriving this Winter.

As Winter season sets in, Vata and Kapha influences are dominating the outside weather.

Vata is a combination of Air and Space elements that in excess can make you feel unsteady in your moods and the way you feel. The main qualities of Vata are cold and dry, so to pacify it you want to introduce the poses that make you warm and maybe even induce light sweat. Another way to calm Vata down is to slow down - take the time to rest and meditate, or even take a warm bath.

Kapha is a combination of Water and Earth elements that in excess can make you feel heavy, sluggish and unmotivated.  A strategy to pacify excessive Kapha would be to add warming, active poses into your yoga arsenal this Winter, especially when the weather is foggy or it snows or rains (this usually exacerbates Kapha).

So the combination of amazing yoga poses I've prepared for you below will help you deal with both Kapha and Vata, staying warm, healthy, strong and energised this Winter season.



1. Utkatasana - Chair Pose





This amazing pose will definitely ignite your inner fire! Did you know that this pose actually has nothing to do with a chair? „Utkata“  means „fierce“ or „intense". Add this warming yoga pose to your daily routine and you will not only feel the warming effects in your body, but at the same time you'll be strengthening your thighs, hip flexors and back muscles.

Utkatasana stimulates your heart, abdominal organs and diaphragm, thus making it a great choice of asana to keep your agni going strong.

How to

  1. Start in Tadasana, mountain pose. On an in inhale, raise your arms towards the ceiling. 
  2. On your exhale, bend your knees, try to bring your thighs parallel to the floor, or as close to parallel as you can. Your knees will come out a bit over your feet, however you should still be able to see the tips of your toes. Keep your inner thighs engaged and parallel to each other.
  3. Keep your shoulders blades relaxed and down your back. Tuck your tailbone down and keep your back long.
  4. You can stay here for a couple of cycles of breath. To come out, straighten your knees on an inhale, and exhale to release your arms back down into Tadasana.

2. Lolasana - Pendant Pose





Lolasana is as much about your core as it is about your arms and shoulders. As you engage your abdominal muscles to keep you in the pose, your digestive organs are stimulated. The post boosts energy levels and is known to increase focus and concentration. Energetically, lolasana is thought to activate the muladhara chakra (root) and manipura chakra (solar plexus). Activating these energy centers will help feel more confident and ready to get through even the coldest Winter days!

Are you new to Lolasana practice? Don’t give in and use blocks for support. And remember the Bhagavad Gita saying that is applicable to every practice: „On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed“

How to

1. Start in seated position and cross your ankles to sit on your heels, placing your hands next to your tibia on the floor. First, start by pressing into your hands to lift up the pelvis and leaving your feet on the ground. Just give it a try to get a feeling for it. Then change the crossings of your ankles and try again. 

2. Then, start lifting your pelvis and try to lift one foot at a time. Repeat on both sides. 

3. To lift both feet at the same time, you want to focus on keeping your abdominal muscles engaged and your bandhas active. This will help you eventually lift off the floor. Before lifting off both feet at the same time, imagine curling into a ball with your torso and your bent legs (keep your ankles crossed), then imagine you are lifting this ball up from the floor with the help of your arms and hands. If you can lift both feet, you will be swinging in between your arms! 

4. Repeat with you ankles crossed the other way. 


3. Parivrtta Utkata Konasana - Revolved Goddess Pose





This asana combines the benefits of goddess pose (grounding, stabilizing and energizing) with the benefits of a twist. Twists are a great way to help your digestive system work at its best as you give your digestive organs a gentle „massage“ while being in the pose. Energetically, this asana harmonizes water and earth elements within our body. Revolved goddess pose balances out the Sacral Chakra (Swadisthana Chakra), boosting creativity and a sense of feeling „at home“ in your body. On a physical level, twisted goddess pose works your upper back muscles, opens your hips and strengthens your psoas muscles.

How to

1. From standing, point your toes out at 45°, bend your knees and squat down, until your knees come out over your toes. 

2. To come deeper into the squat, rotate your inner thighs outwards.

3. Place the hands on your knees and keep your spine long, draw your tailbone down. On an exhale, twist the torso to the right, bringing the right shoulder back and left shoulder forward. Keep your gaze over the shoulder. Stay here for 2-3 deep breaths. 

4. To exit, bring your ganz back to center, followed by your shoulders. Then twist to the left, and repeat on the left side. 

5. Repeat 3 times on each side for maximum benefits of the pose.


4. Parivrtta Adho Mukha Svanasana - Twisted Down-Dog





This variation of the well-known downward-facing dog calms the brain, relieves stress and energizes the body. It is a great way to stretch shoulders, neck, hamstrings and calves. The twists supports natural detoxification as it stimulates the digestive organs and is also known to help with sinusitis. On an energetic level, this asana balances out Vata influences. Adho Mukha Svanasana opens the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara), Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) and Heart Chakra (Anahata).  

How to 

1. Start in downward-facing dog. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly into the mat with your palms and finger to distribute your weight evenly. Reach your pelvis towards the ceiling, draw your sits bones towards the back wall and gently straighten your legs, without locking your knees. 

2. On an inhale, lift your left hand and reach underneath your torso and around to your right thigh or ankle, your waist and torso follow the twist to the right. 

3. You can turn your head to ganze underneath your right arm. If this is uncomfortable to you, you can turn your ganz up to the ceiling. 

4. Stay in this twisted position for about 5-10 breaths. To release, un-twist and replace your left hand to the mat, coming back into to downward-facing dog. 

5. Repeat on the other side.

5. Eka Pada Phalakasana - One Legged Plank Pose





This variation of plank pose is great to switch things up in your daily routine, adding a challenge to your core, quads and arms. Practicing this asana, will help you feel warm from the inside, as you fire up your core. One legged plank is a powerful way to open your solar plexus chakra and is a great mood & confidence booster, perfect to brighten up any grey and foggy day. 

How to 

1. Start in high plank and align your shoulders over your wrists while keeping your core engaged, to avoid slouching the back. 

2. Push the ground away from you, slightly protract your arms and shoulders, keeping your gaze just in front of you. 

3. Lift the right leg to about hip height and keep holding your plank strong as you breath deeply. 

4. Make sure to keep your neck long and your spine straight. 

5. Release, and switch sides.  


Complete this calming practice with 15-30 minutes on practicing yoga nidra - one of the most effective meditations to help you de-stress, calm down, slow down your mental chatter and prepare for sleep.




4 powerful ways to practice aparigraha

Wait a sec, but what is aparigraha??

Aparigraha is one of the fundamental principles of yoga meaning non-grasping, non-greed, non-possessiveness. It’s an ability we can cultivate by being mindful of how much we take VS how much we actually need. It's a balance of the material gains VS non-material values. It's a balance of taking/receiving and letting go.

There are several ways to practice aparigraha, and you can do it on the mat, off the mat, and in everything that you do.

Here's how:

1. Let go

Create a ritual where you regularly "audit" your life, your work and your home. What is serving you well? What is no longer serving you and is ready to be released? Is there too much clutter in your house? Is there a toxic friendship that is weighing you down or sabotaging your self-worth? Be honest and kind, and practise releasing what doesn't belong in your life any more. If you find yourself holding on/having difficulty releasing, look inside and ask yourself why.

2. Zoom in on your home and fiercely de-clutter

Remember Marie Kondo's signature statement: "Only keep what sparks joy". Our homes are a great example of our mind space. The more organised your home, the more organised your mind and your life. Clear the space around you, and you'll feel more clear and less distracted inside your head, too. Plus, giving away what you don't need or are not using might really help someone in need.

3. Nourish yourself with the right food, in the right amount

Here there are two main approaches: if you are 100% satisfied with your body (shape + health), your current lifestyle and diet are probably working out just fine, and you're doing something right! If however, you live in a state of dissatisfaction with your body or diet, don't wait for a miracle and get some help. There are some amazing nutritionists out there who can help you find out what can be improved in terms of the quality and quantity of what you eat to contribute to better health and self esteem for years to come. There are even nutritionists who can analyse your vitamin and mineral deficiencies and your DNA and tell you what's the right diet specifically for you (I'm just about to try it!). Working with a nutritionist might be one of the best decisions you've ever made for yourself, and it changed my life when I started years ago. Don't postpone it, it won't get any easier the longer you wait.

And whatever you do, don't overindulge when you know you ate enough. Teach yourself to listen to your body when it tells you it's full. That's aparigraha in action.

4. Practice gratitude

Remind yourself that you are deserving of all the wonderful things in life. Aparigraha is not there to limit you or to make you miserable, it's actually there to help you live a happier life without a feeling of lack or a need to collect or hoard stuff.


Attachment and hoarding come from a place of lack. Luckily, yoga and meditation remind us that we are already whole and complete, and having more than we need won't necessarily make us happier. Taking the time to practice mindfulness and gratitude (how about a gratitude journal?) will remind you of how much you already have and how precious people, experiences and the non-material things in your life really are.


Happy un-grasping and un-hoarding - looking forward to hearing about your experience!

Ayurveda Winter Guide Part I : Nutrition and recipes for cold days


For most of us Winter is probably the most difficult season to fall in love with or to embrace wholeheartedly. Because who enjoys the cold and short days with very little sunshine that make you want to stay in bed all day, feeling sluggish or craving unhealthy foods? Let’s take a look at the Ayurvedic approach to Winter, which might help you live your best Winter yet - balanced, grounded and in tune with yourself and your body, by giving it exactly what it needs. Today we start our new weekly Ayurveda for Winter Guide series with one of the most important aspects of our everyday life: nutrition and food!


A key principle of Ayurveda is the digestive fire, called AGNI. Maintaining agni is crucial for getting through Winter time in a healthy way, as the cold weather outside challenges the digestion. Igniting our digestive fire with a variety of spices and warm meals is one of the most simple, yet effective ways to prevent us from being sluggish or catching a cold or flu. As a consequence of our bodies requiring more energy to keep us warm, we naturally crave more substantial food in Winter.


Supporting your body with the fuel it needs without overloading it, is the goal of any supportive Ayurvedic diet. It is all about balancing out strong Vata influences that prevail outside (related to cold, windy and dry weather). This is best achieved by eating cooked, warm foods that are well-spiced to balance the six tastes of Ayurveda (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent) as all of them affect the body energetically.


Avoid drinking cold drinks and consider preparing a healing and warming tea with fresh ginger, cinnamon and cloves to keep you hydrated.


Check out these easy-to-follow Ayurvedic recipes, a great addition to your Winter recipe collection!


Tri-doshic pumpkin porridge with millet and apples

for 1 serving:

  • 50g cooked millet
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 2-3 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1.5 cups of hemp, cashew or almond milk
  • pinch of natural vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • pinch of clove, ground
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1 tbsp date syrup
  • toppings: hemp seeds, hempseed butter, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds,.. get creative!

how to:

Start by grating the apple. In a pan, bring the milk and 1 small glass of water to a boil and stir in millet, grated apple, pumpkin puree, vanilla & all other spices. Let the porridge simmer over medium heat until the mixture has soaked up the liquids and it has a creamy consistency. Sweeten with date syrup. To serve, you can add a dollop of a yoghurt of your choice and get creative with toppings!


miso-roasted brussel sprouts with crispy pumpkin seeds

for 2 servings:

  • 300g brussel sprouts
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • black pepper, ground
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • himalayan salt ground
  • two handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

how to:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Wash and trim brussel sprouts, discarding any brown patches. Chop them in half and transfer them onto a lined baking tray. In a small bowl, combine sesame oil, salt, pepper, miso paste, vinegar and minced garlic. Stir until well combined. If it is too thick, add a splash of water. Drizzle the brussel sprouts with marinade and make sure, everything is covered evenly. Roast brussel sprouts in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and slightly crispy. Flip them over halfway through the roasting time. for Just before they are ready, toast pumpkin seeds and cumin seeds in a pan over high heat for 1 minute to help them release their full flavor. Serve brussel sprouts with pumpkin seed topping. Goes well with a side of rice, daal, soba noodles or just on their own!


Do you want to get a free Ayurvedic Winter guide with more recipes and a handy list of recommended veggies, fruits, grains and more? Sign up for Sparkling Yoga’s newsletter and check your inbox regularly!

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