5 Benefits of Stretching Everyday

“I should stretch more” 
“I need to do more yoga”
“It’s time to book a massage…”

Sound familiar?
Then read on…

Stretching is the new hot topic in the health and wellness sphere.
But WHY?
Because it is a life-long habit that provides endless benefits. From better digestion to full-body flexibility, say goodbye to lower back pain and repetitive stress injuries.
The best part is that now there are places like Stretch Studio in Sydney’s Double Bay, where you can have a professional stretcher called a Flexologist assist you with a full body stretch! They are specially trained in the art of assisted stretching (um, cool?), and taught how to match the resistance of each client, knowing how far to stretch them and when to stop (which I highly regard).

It honestly is the best way to achieve a deeper, more controlled stretch that just feels so damn great!

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  1. Flexibility

Sounds obvious, but there is more to flexibility than simply lifting your leg behind your head! Flexibility can help to reduce constant muscle pain, and decrease your risk of injury. Tara Romeo, CSCS, assistant director of the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York says “believe it or not, back pain may come from tight hamstrings”. Tight hamstring muscles can affect the status of your lower back and spine health, causing repetitive pain and discomfort.

On the other hand, flexibility can help to reduce your risk of injury. Whether it be through playing sport, a gym class, Pilates or a run on the beach, the more flexible you are, the softer and more supple your muscles are. Whereas tight muscles mean less room to move, increasing the chance of tearing when overused or overstressed.

  1. Posture

We all want to age gracefully on the inside AND the outside. So many of us spend lots of dollars on skin products, hair and nail treatments, all the effort to keep our outside looking fresh and clean! However, so often we forget the importance of posture and how much it impacts our ageing process – physically AND mentally.

Posture is more than simply sitting up tall with your shoulders rolled down your back – it is about correctly aligning your spin to allow the free flow of oxygen, proper functioning of your vital organs and muscle activation. Bad posture is the result of tight muscles, which is ultimately the result of muscle weakness.

  1. Increased Energy levels

There is a reason why people attend health and yoga retreats – the days are full of relaxation, moving meditation, stretch sessions – leaving you feeling energised and reawakened. Stretching, whether it be assisted or on your own, helps to soften the muscles, allowing for extra blood flow and oxygen to travel around the body. The oxygen and blood can move more freely around the muscles and internal pathways, getting rid of any unnecessary dust that might make you feel drowsy, tight and overworked.
Stretching first thing in the morning also helps to wake up the nervous system, gently shocking the body after being reclined and still for a solid 8-9 hours. Our body naturally slows down over night as it concentrates on the important internal tasks such as digestion, recovery and cell rejuvenation. However, this means that it needs an extra bit of “oomph” in the morning to get going, hence why a morning stretch as you first wake up feels so damn good! It is also why practicing a stretch session such as yoga on an empty stomach when you wake, is the best time also!

  1. Better Digestion

Sooooo many of our digestive issues can stem from a tight and unhappy muscular system. Tight hamstrings can lead to belly issues, a sore back can aggravate your gut and tense shoulders will cause you to hunch over, which may also disrupt digestion.

Forward folds with a gentle bend to your knees can help to relieve trapped flatulence (glamorous word for gas), that essentially causes sharp pain, hard bellies and unwanted bloating. Laying supine (on your back), hugging your knees into your chest either simultaneously or one after the other, can also help to stretch our the lower back, relax the belly and relieve the muscles that surround the digestive tract.
3 years ago, I found the practice of Yoga – originally, it was for 2 reasons: to help clear the mind, and to help stimulate my digestive system after multiple years of issues, pain and irritation. Yoga has seriously changed my life, especially when it comes to my digestive health. If I ever feel my belly becoming aggravated, bloated or gassy (sorry not sorry), I perform a few sun salutations that involve a stretch of the entire system, specifically in my front and back side body.

  1. Decreased Water Retention

Have you ever noticed your face and fingers puff up whenever you are stressed, overworked and tired? That may be your body holding onto the water within your system, rather than circulating it around.
Stretching, like it does for oxygen and blood, helps to soften the muscles and surrounding tissues, allowing for an easier movement of water around the body. Water retention in the body can make us feel uncomfortable in the skin we are in, causing you to feel puffy, heavy and sluggish – no thank you!

Assisted or individual stretching helps to alleviate any blocked pathways that inhibit a smooth flow of water around your internal system – which may also help to circulate the nutrients and vitamins that we consume, ensuring they get to the necessary places!

 

 

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Beautiful Billabong Health Retreat

And I didn’t even need to buy a plane ticket…

Billabong Retreat…

Only an hour out of Sydney.
Amidst the nature Australia is known for – beautiful bushland, clean air, green trees and peaceful surroundings.



All these years of me taking 3-4 weeks off work to venture off overseas, when this piece of magic was available at Sydney’s doorsteps!

If you were to ask me about a month ago, I would have told you that there is no way I would find relaxation in anywhere but an Island; a tropical sunny holiday with beach, sand and sun. However, after staying at Billabong Retreat, I managed to find a point of mental clarity and stillness within the space of 3 days.

I made my way to Billabong Retreat via train, which departed from Central Station in the early afternoon. Arriving just in time for the welcome session and arvo Yoga Class. I was greeted with a smile by the friendly Taxi Driver who services the guests, transporting them from the train station at Vineyard to the retreat HQ!

Upon my arrival, I was taken to my room. I must admit, I was upgraded (life goals!), to the groovy Treehouse at Number 4. Not only did this room have 2 beds, but it also had 2 baths – one in the bathroom and one on the balcony. Ah, heaven! The room was fully equipped with tea of all sorts, a kettle, hot water bottles, a heater, EcoDownUnder towels and linen, Epsom Salts, a sound system, a fruit bowl… it was divine. I was also happy to see that Billabong is completely Eco-friendly, everything is recyclable and/or reusable, organic and nature-loving!

“2 baths… one in the bathroom and one on the balcony…

In terms of the structure of the days? The true beauty lay in the fact that there was structure, but it was not forced upon you. Yes there were distinct meal times, sunrise yoga, afternoon tea, wellness session, but there was also no one knocking at your door demanding your attendance! If you felt up to it, then it was waiting for you with open arms. If you preferred to take a fresh air stroll or an afternoon snooze, then this was also encouraged. Choice – absolutely necessarily for someone like myself.

The food. Now this is where my head, heart, mind, body AND soul were completely sold. The food was organic, fresh and entirely plant based. They also catered for all food and dietary requirements, offering a variety of options to cater for varying tastebuds. My favourite was the Polenta slice and green veggie salad.. OH, and the delicious buckwheat and banana pancakes with vegan creamy sauce. YUM!

“They also catered for all food and dietary requirements… my favourite was the delicious buckwheat and banana pancakes with vegan creamy sauce… YUM”


The yoga. Ahhh, my favourite! A combination of gentle Yinyasa to wake the body of a morning, and a relaxing Yin practice to balance the Yang. Funnily enough, I only did 2 of the yoga classes. Why? Well, being a frequent yogie myself, I quite enjoyed the time “off” away from the mat… it also meant I enjoyed a sleep in for the first time in AGES. But for anyone new to Yoga, or for those who are constantly saying “I must do more yoga” – then Billabong Retreat is calling your name.

In addition, the workshops were mind-blowing. From learning how to ferment your own veggies and create your own kombucha, to adopting new knowledge about gut health and the gut brain relationship. For anyone that knows me well, you are aware of how much I LOVE talking about the significance of a healthy belly – hence, the Health Fundamentals package totally aligned with my values and beliefs.

“The yoga… combination of gentle Vinyasa to wake the body of a morning, and a relaxing Yin practice to balance the Yang…”

I can safely say I slept the entire train trip home – waking up upon my arrival at Central station feeling energised, relaxed and eager to conquer life!
xx Georgie

Saucha Sundays

A touch of purity and an element of clearness… awaken your inner mind through bringing ‘Saucha’ into your life.

But hold up…  “what even is Saucha?”
Put simply, Saucha is one of the five Niyamas, stemming from Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It often translates as ‘cleanliness’, however not only physical cleanness (like a tidy room), but also an awakening of your inner mind.

Saucha is much more than just #YogaTalk… Incorporating Saucha into our everday life allows us to arrive on our mats with focus, but also aids us towards being healthier, happier and more aware.

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HOW TO bring some Saucha into your life this Sunday…

Fresh & Clean Food

  1. Clean out the pantry of any processed, sugar-overloaded, expired CR@P!
    • Your body is your body, and we were only given one, so treat it well. Toxins and chemicals in our food can severely impact the way we feel physically, but also the way we think (for example, certain additives in food can create imbalances with our hormones, causing unnecessary mood swings).
  2. Clean out the fridge, and stock it with FRESH produce;
    • Like I suggested with the Pantry, clean out the fridge of any sauces, take away meals, high sodium foods that you know deep down your body will not enjoy in the long run.
    • Before you restock it, give it a good wipe down! All you need is a warm sponge, some white vinegar, eucalyptus oil or natural soap. Kill that bacteria – your body has enough of it growing inside you already.
    • Load it with fresh produce (organic where possible) from your local market, rinsing and storing it in such a way that keeps it preserved and fresh/alive for as long as possible.
  3. Cook once, eat twice;
    • Prep for the next day(s), depending on your weekly schedule.
    • The best way to preserve your perishable goodies is by ‘partially cooking’ them, and storing them in the freezer in freeze bags or glass containers. This means baking or steaming things like sweet potato, beetroot, pumpkin etc so they’re about 70-80% cooked. Allow to cool before storing in the freezer for later. This also makes it super easy and quick to whip up a delicious dinner dish when you come home from work (and cooking is the last thing on your mind…)
    • Making a salad, vegetable curry, soup or even loaded a quiche with lots of vegetables is another perfect way to utilise your goods. But don’t simply cook for one nights meal, make enough to last 1-3 days maximum (as leftovers are not only the easiest, but also the tastiest ‘next-day’ lunch option!)

A clean SPACE

  1. And by space, I emphasise your Bedroom;
    • It’s a place where you not only sleep, but hopes and dreams are also made and created. Lets start by OPENING up your windows, your balcony door, your bedroom door… allow fresh, clean and pure air to enter your room.
  2. See all those clothes on the floor, or on that chair?
    • Are they even clean, or are they dirty? How about all those tea cups or snack plates from the apple you ate earlier this morn… Yep, lets get rid of it all! Toss the dirty clothes in the wash and fold the clean ones up and pop in your wardrobe. Take the dirty dishes to the kitchen to be washed by hand (or a dishwasher if you’re lucky). Whilst you’re at it, grab the vacuum, broom, dust pan and/or duster, and give the entire place an old classic wipe down! With more space to work with now that all your junk is gone, you can thoroughly rid yourself of that excess dust gathering on the books sitting on your bedside-table.
  3. Change your sheets;
    • Even if you washed them a few days ago, lets be extra ‘Saucha’ today and pop them in the wash alongside your clothes. A dirty pillowcase is a strong contributor to troubled skin, especially if you’re someone who is prone to breakouts and has oily skin. I recommend changing your pillow case every 3-4 days, and sheets at least 1 or 2 times a week.
  4. Candles, incense, essential oils, flowers;
    • These are all great options to bring beautiful smells and clean air into your room naturally, without the nasty chemicals. They not only smell fantastic, but they really jazz up the interior of your room too!

A clean BODY & a clean MAT

  1. Take a shower before yoga, and wash your hair;
    • It may sound silly, especially for anyone practices in a heated room or just gets super sweaty, but trust me, it feels amazing. Clean sweat is much nicer than dirty sweat, especially when you’re wearing clean yoga clothes! Rocking up to yoga with freshly clean, wet hair has an incredibly cooling and purifying effect on you whilst you practice… it’s also better for your hair follicles to dry naturally than applying heat from a blowdryer, so it’s technically a win-win situation.
  2. Clean your mat;
    • We often wipe down our mats before and after practice, but the sponges we use are often communal, and therefore your mat is not necessarily getting the proper clean that it needs. Today, let’s give your mat a proper scrub before you leave home to practice – natural disinfectants like eucalyptus oil diluted in warm water works like a charm.
    • If your mat is at the studio, be sure to give it a sponge with the communal tools on offer, but after class today, let’s take your mat home. Take time this week before you next practice to give it a thorough clean, and clear away any built up muck and not-so-nice smells.

A clean MIND

  1. End your day with some self-love;
    • Whether that be a solo evening walk listening to relaxing tunes, or a bubble bath with essential oils and soothing fragrances, be sure to take the time to rest and unwind.
  2.  Meditation;
    • Bring your focus on affirmations such as “I am healthy” or “I am happy”, as these can really help to cement this new Saucha aspect into your daily life. Focusing the mind through Pranayama (breath work) is also another way to reach inner clarity.
  3. An early nights sleep;
    • Sleeping is where the magic happens – where our body soaks in all the goodness of the day, and makes way for new great opportunities to enter. So give your body all the time it needs in order to recharge for the week ahead.

 

Happy Saucha Sunday xx