Find your Fun & Reduce Anxiety

Find your Fun & Reduce Anxiety

Have you found yourself feeling anxious and foggy-headed this past Winter?

Just in time for Spring, we will delve deep into the energy boosting ancient Toaist form of Qi Gong ; the 5 Animal Frolics. This flow celebrates the energy of animals by mimicking their movements, while bringing our mind and body ease.

Qi Gong is said to originate from the dances of early Wu Shaman in China. In their dances, shamans used animal movements to induce trance states for communicating with the spirit world.

Many of the movements such as “Parting the Clouds”, “Shaking the Wild Horse’s Mane” and “Wise Owl turns Head to eliminate fatigue” specifically reference animals and elements of nature.

In one exercise such as the “Crane spreads Wings”, you move like a tall elegant bird, finding your balance, feeling its spreading wings and the lightness in your body.

Attuning to the rhythms of nature will amplify our Qi Gong for April.

Even though the exercises can be playful and light, Qi Gong offers some seriously powerful health benefits that are accessible to everyone.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Qi Gong is a gentle movement meditation that is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Some of Qi Gong’s physical benefits include boosting metabolism, balancing hormones, improving flexibility and fitness, aiding digestion and increasing your overall energy levels.

Mentally, Qi Gong will help calm your mind and reduce anxiety.

The 5 Animal Frolics allow us to cultivate the animals’ energetic gifts, bringing harmony within all of the body’s energy systems. Using the 5 Element Theory, each of these animals is linked to a season, a time of day, an organ pair, a sense, a flavour, an emotion and much more.

WHAT ARE THE 5 ANIMALS?

Let’s break down the animals, their corresponding organs and some ways your health can benefit from this month’s energy update.

THE TIGER

 

First, we will draw power, flexibility and flow from the tiger. The tiger is associated with the wood element, which is also linked to the liver and gallbladder. When you practice tiger, you give yourself a healthy and natural way to release anger, becoming confident, powerful and assertive. If you are stuck sitting at a desk all day, and/or looking to prevent arthritis, practicing the tiger will greatly benefit you.

Chi Flow with Jo will give you the tools to use the tiger’s claw to release tension in the shoulders and chest, strengthen tendons and joints in the hand and increase gripping strength by generating a powerful surge of Qi energy in the hands and fingers.

THE BEAR

Next, the Bear. Chi Flow with Jo will teach you how to channel the bear coming out of hibernation by reconnecting with the present moment and releasing anxiety and worry.

The bear’s movements will benefit your spleen and stomach, helping to receive the benefits of the earth’s bounty and easing digestion.

The bear is heavy and grounded to the earth, so its movements will help to balance the earth element. Finding this balance will enable you to start your Spring off by rediscovering your nurturing, relaxed and social self.

THE MONKEY

Next, the monkey movements will benefit the heart and small intestine with the playful joy and exuberance of the fire element. Mimicking the light and spirited movements of the monkey promotes healthy blood circulation in the vessels and the meridians, while also encouraging your inner child to express itself.

If you are finding yourself weary with the world, Chi Flow with Jo will show you how to return to a state of wonder, optimism, enthusiasm and joy by practising the monkey and improving your heart’s health.

THE CRANE

Next, the lungs are responsible for self protection and self-preservation. The crane’s movements, with its long legs and outstretched wings, benefit the lungs and large intestine, helping expansive openness and deep breathing.

Mirroring the crane opens the lungs, releasing grief and sadness, and enabling you to expand your capacity of breath.

Chi Flow with Jo will teach you to foster the crane’s spirit, so you can strengthen your dignity, integrity and ability to connect with others.

THE DEER

Finally, the deer’s movements benefit the kidney and bladder, as well as bringing quiet and stillness. The deer is a prey animal, always aware of its surroundings yet never overwhelmed; it is calm and curious. The emotion associated with the deer is fear, so practising the deer will allow you to release that fear and become more clear minded. 

Chi Flow with Jo will teach you to practice the deer’s movements to calm your nervous system and return to deep awareness, while also helping with bone density and hormonal balance.

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HOW CAN QI GONG HELP REVITALISE YOUR LIFE?

If you’re eager to revitalise your daily routine and prioritise self-care for both your mind and body, consider exploring Qi Gong as a transformative practice.

Qi Gong is all about being well and loving yourself with gentle exercise, and the best part is that everyone can benefit from it.

Hope to see you in the Chi Flow.

Increase Energy, Reduce Fatigue

Increase Energy, Reduce Fatigue

Spring is here in Ireland.  St Brigid’s Day which has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc takes place on the 1st February.  It is the festival of new life and fertility. A time to look forward to brighter days, warmer weather, new growth on the land and the new birth of animals.

But maybe your spring has not sprung? 

Perhaps your energy is still hibernating, or you are feeling weary no matter how much sleep you get?  

Perhaps your joints are sore, painful or inflamed?

In this blog we will show how using Qi Gong, Self Acupressure and Food Medicine can help you bounce back after a winter and viruses that may have left you feeling wiped out.

Studies show that following C*vid, the invading viruses can remain in the fascia and endothelium of the body, causing inflammation.  Any flu virus infection can trigger an inflammatory response in the body.  If we can’t expel the viral fragments from the body the constant inflammation response can be exhausting, creating symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, joint and muscle pain, chronic fatigue and other symptoms common to Fibromyalgia.  

The treatment of Fibromyalgia, Long Covid and Chronic Fatigue can be tricky, with such wide ranging symptoms that often wander around the body such as anxiety, insomnia, light sensitivity, headaches, muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and depression can be tricky to diagnose and treat.  Here I share Qi Gong, Acupressure and Food medicine that I use to Increase Energy and Reduce Pain.

First, begin with the Fascia.

Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place.  Endothelium is a single layer of cells, which line all your blood and lymphatic vessels. It provides a space for your blood and tissues to interact so is vital to the functioning of all your organs and tissues.  Together the fascia and endothelium create a structural continuity that gives form and function to every tissue and organ.

Non classical monocytes patrol the endothelium and create inflammation in response to an infection.

If viral remnants become lodged in the fascia the monocytes will keep creating inflammation in order to try to rid the virus from your body.

For some people, long after a person is infectious, the immune response persists as the markers of non classical monocytes remain elevated.  This constant autoimmune response is exhausting plus it creates tension and stiffness in the fascia.  

So how can we use the complementary therapies of Qi Gong, Acupressure and 5 element foods to push the virus out of the fascia, stopping the auto immune inflammatory response?
Qi Gong practiced in Chi Flow with Jo gently opens and releases the fascia.

Using repetitive spirialing motions, in exercises such as Spiral Palms, or Quan Yin Draws Rainbow, Qi gong opens, hydrates and lubricates the joints, ligaments, and fascia, allowing release of the viral fragments.  (scroll down for the free class offer)

Our body, including connective tissues, exhibit spiral patterns. The swirling shape of our heart that pumps the blood in a vortex motion as it travels around our body, our DNA and even our bones are constructed with spirals.  You can stretch and contract the spiral but it will always return to the original state.

By gently coiling and uncoiling the fascia, veins, arteries, nerve tissues, and other connective tissues, viral remnants are released from the body, thereby reducing pain, inflammation, stiffness and increasing energy levels.

Whenever there is an outward growth, expansion of energy, or a radial force combined with a rotation you will create a spiral, a natural shape, found in the spider’s web, the structure of a hurricane, moths flying to the moon and all kinds of plants such as pine cones, sunflowers, cauliflowers, pineapples and succulents

In Taoism and Chinese Medicine our life force energy is made manifest in this particular body. We are no different to a tree or a blade of grass.  Same life force energy, just different collection of cells and therefore manifestation.  So to promote flow and expansion of energy we can use this natural movement when working with the body

The twisting and rotating of the joints and spine also promotes the elimination of excess dampness in the body. The movements act as if wringing out a towel, expelling toxins and excess water.

Internal dampness often seems a strange term, perhaps because it is outside of western medicine understanding. But think of a damp room, the more water content in the air, the harder it is to heat.  To increase flow and movement of energy, we have to clear the heavy and dense atmosphere. 

And so it’s the same in the body. The Chi, the Life force energy needs to be able to flow, unobstructed and with ease, expanding and contracting, spiralling energy and fluids around the body.  Dampness slows the flow, creating pain, foggy thinking and low energy levels.

Cold affects the Kidney creating contraction, obstructions and slow movement of Chi causing cramps and sharp pain. 

Wind affects the Liver often working with the other internal climates to invade the body, moving energy, pathogens and symptoms erratically causing tremors, spasms and twitching. 

Heat affects the Heart causing erratic movement of Chi and often associated with inflammation, redness of skin, irritability and inability for the Shen/Spirit to settle. 

Dampness affects the Spleen causing heavy and foggy energy, generating sticky secretions and protracted, dense pain especially in the middle and lower burner, inability to transform and transport food into energy. 

Dryness affects the Lung causing dehydration and scant body fluids especially in the mucous membranes of the body including lungs, nasal cavities, digestive tract, skin, hair and nails.

We need some dampness and mucus in the body to moisten the digestive tract and mucous membranes. But excess collection of moisture causes heavy and foggy energy, generating sticky secretions and protracted, dense pain especially in the middle and lower burner/belly, heavy limbs, poor digestion, loose stools, candida, brain fog and chronic inflammation. 

Consuming excess sugars, refined foods or lots of carbohydrates, weakens the Spleen/pancreas is one of the ways dampness accumulates in the body.

Where there is dampness, Qi cannot flow and stagnation occurs, trapping the viral fragments in the fascia. 

To drain the dampness and clear the heat I would recommend avoiding the spleen weakening foods and increasing dark leafy greens into the diet such as: 

kale, watercress, spinach, chard, celery 

Bitter foods such as:

  • Daikon radish, Regular radish, Turnip, Adzuki Beans (blog on the website), Vinegars, Lemons/Limes, Bitter herbs such as milk thistle, valerian, Agnus Castus.

To reduce pain, inflammation and to improve energy levels, moving stagnant energy is imperative. 

Liver 3 – Great Rushing is a great for flowing Yin blood and Yang energy around the body . 

It is the source point for the whole Liver meridian, meaning that the strength of this point can open energy into the whole meridian, increasing the power and ease of flow.

“Like a spring that is unclogged, it lets the Ki rise to the surface and then flow into the meridian.” 

Here see the idea of spirals used within the source point.  As the spring unclogs, deeper layers of water move more slowly to the left or right, depending on the hemisphere, to create a spiral. Use this image when treating the point to clear any congestion along the whole Liver Channel.

The Liver keeps body cells supplied with energy. However if the Liver is congested through over-eating, medications, alcohol or sugar, it is not able to metabolise stored energy.  In Western medicine terms this is similar to Non Alcoholic Liver Fatty Disease NALFD, causing exhaustion, sore joints, disturbed sleep, even our nails and hair begin to thin.

Use this point regularly to improve flow and clear dampness from the body which causes swelling, stagnation, lethargy and low energy. 

Find the point in the hollow between the first and second toe just above the knuckle of the big toe. 

Traditionally we use the thumb to massage the acupoint with deep and steady pressure. Try massaging the point in a circular motion without removing the thumb from the skin. You can also hold and gently press, imagining energy travelling from the core of your body, out of your thumb and into the point you are connecting with.  Use the visualisation of the spiral to focus and direct the energy into the point for dispersal of stagnant energy or to gather and flow energy to an empty point, which feels cold, waxy and flacid.

Massage the point anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes until you feel a change in the energy.  Remember this might be an all over body sensation not just felt in the localised area or point.  Consistency is key so I encourage daily massage of this point to clients who suffer stagnation, pain, lethargy, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia together with daily Qi gong to release the fascia. 

To connect with the rising energy of spring and shake of fatigue of a foggy, clogged Liver try this coiling and uncoiling of your body. 

Connect with the life force, Yin Yang, energy pattern; expanding and contracting, tightening and softening, firm yet elastic, intrinsic to all living things, from tiny atomic particles to vast expanding galaxies, and let your life force flow.

Within this (w)holistic system, there are also emotional and spiritual aspects to increasing energy, reducing pain and releasing viruses.  You can find out about these either by joining us in Chi Flow with Jo or by buying my books.  If you have a specific question, remember you can always Ask Me Anything

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Do you feel sluggish, physically lethargic and mentally foggy?

Do you have slow metabolism and easily gain weight?

Do you find yourself getting puffy easily, have swollen limbs or get bloated often?

Do you have oily skin, weeping lesions or acne?

Do you have loose stools or a lot of discharge?

Are your energy levels on the floor?

Is that you? Then we are on the same page and this Chi Flow with Jo programme is perfect for you.

Chi Flow is a way to start your day with positivity and connection with other people just like you.

Welcome to something different that is heart-centred, simple, easy and fun!

  • 30 min Daily Qi Gong exercises working on the Spleen and Liver (recordings also sent daily)
  • Daily Live Check in – for Q&A and support
  • Daily nutrition advice and recipes
  • Free access to Live Evening Talks
  • Library with 100’s for videos for whatever you feel like
  • Closed Facebook group for sharing and support

Chi Flow doors open to join the last week of the month closing on the first day of the month to begin the new Qi Gong moves, Acupressure and Food Medicine

Have a look at what others say about the practice

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Self-administered acupressure or Chinese Medicine is not a substitute for visits to qualified healthcare practitioners.

Knowing how to treat yourself and your loved ones with complimentary therapies like acupressure can be greatly beneficial and convenient. However, for serious and chronic conditions, you’ll want to visit an Shiatsu therapist / Acupuncturist or other qualified healthcare practitioner who can develop a treatment plan based on your unique medical history and combination of symptoms.  The information provided should not be considered medical advice.

Fasting for women over 40 – Chinese Medicine Style

Fasting for women over 40 – Chinese Medicine Style

I have been intermittent fasting for quite a few years now and it is my saving grace. At only 5 ft small, I have to watch my weight and especially since as I age (I’m 55), extra wobbles and curves can creep up and stay on.  I use Intermittent fasting together with the Qi Gong exercises in Chi Flow with Jo to get fit and healthy not necessarily to get skinny, and it works

At the beginning of every year everybody in Chi Flow with Jo practices intermittent fasting/digestive resting for 6 weeks. (Chi Flow doors open on January 2nd in preparation for fasting the night of Sunday 7th January // Doors will close Monday 8th of January to begin the 6 week Programme)

It’s super easy and supper effective – I use my knowledge of Chinese medicine to do it safely and easily so that following the fasting period I don’t rebound back, end up craving the sweet stuff and piling on more of the pounds I lost.  I am also careful not to stress the body by excessive dietary changes or intensive cardio training.  This combination can often exacerbate symptoms or sore joints, brain fog and hot flushes.

Our main goal in Chinese Medicine and Chi Flow with Jo is to move, often stagnant, Liver energy (akin to Non Alcoholic Liver Fatty Disease) and support the Spleen meridian system by clearing dampness from the body. Which if left unchecked can be the cause of many conditions such as joint pain, inflammation, hot flushes, brain fog, anger, irritation, sugar addiction, heavy limbs and a slow metabolism

I have found my weight has been stable and within my healthy range, my energy levels are clear and consistent throughout every day, I don’t suffer any dietary issues or inflammation and I have not experienced prolonged brain fog associated with menopause and age bracket. I enjoy consistently high mental energy and clarity. 

One menopause symptom I have to watch is Insomnia and after overindulgence at Christmas I can find my sleep patterns all over the place.  Intermittent fasting helps get my circadian rhythm and sleep cycles back to normal.

I am not alone: This method of watching when you eat rather than what you eat has become very popular. In 2019, it was the most Googled diet on the planet.  But Traditional Chinese Medical wisdom has long recommended eating during daylight and resting the digestive organs at night.  This is part of living in harmony with the circadian cycles and following the energy of nature.

The Liver is the organ in charge of metabolism.  After a meal, the fat is stored by the liver around the belly. Between meals, stored fat is slowly released, keeping body cells supplied with energy. However if the liver is congested through over-eating, eating at the wrong time, or toxic overload from medication, excess hormones, alcohol and fats, the liver is not able to metabolise the energy already stored so we can’t shift the belly weight, feel exhausted, suffer sore joints, disturbed sleep, even our nails and hair begin to thin.

Traditional Chinese Medicine always recognised the early meal as the most beneficial to health. If you eat during earlier hours it gives your body more time to incorporate food and repair itself.

According to the TCM meridian clock (a chronological map of the strength of the organs at different times of the day), the digestive organs of the Spleen and Stomach are most active in the morning (Stomach time being 7-9am and Spleen time 9-11am). So it makes sense to load up your calories earlier in the day, when the digestive fires are strongest.

Ensuring there is no food intake in the evening and night allows the Liver to rest and detoxify the body.

 

“I know what I should be doing to lose weight, but I need a way to do it that fits into MY life.”

“I have been thinking about weight loss for a while, but life is so busy I find myself putting convenience first.”

Is that you? Then we are on the same page and this Chi Flow with Jo intermittent fasting programme is perfect for you. When a diet lays down the law, it can be frustrating. Everything ends up being harder than it should be. Welcome to something different. this is so easy. You feel in control of your eating, you feel light and free, pain reduces and sleep becomes easier.

PLUS – You are not alone, there are almost 400 of us, all ready to begin in January.  This is the game changer … acting independently but still being part of a group and therefore accountable

Once you experience this Chinese Medicine method of fasting, you will will be able to use it. This is not a “one-diet-fits-all” plan. You will gain control over your food and you will notice the difference.  Having the support and the accountability of the group is essential to help you stay on track and to help you when you go off track.

This method with Chi Flow with Jo is not about Yo-Yo dieting – it’s about creating new habits and that doesn’t happen overnight which is why it’s a 6 week programme

  • A fasting schedule that increases gently and slowly – not eating from 8pm to 8am – could you do that?
  • 30 min Daily Qi Gong exercises working on the Spleen and Liver (recordings also sent daily)
  • Daily Live Check in – for Q&A and support
  • Daily nutrition advice and recipes
  • Free access to Live Boost metabolism Talk and join me LIVE in my kitchen for easy simple healthy recipes
  • Closed facebook group for sharing and support

Chi Flow doors open to join on the January 2nd in preparation for fasting to begin on the night of Sunday 7th January

Doors will close Monday 8th of January to begin the 6 week Intermittent Fasting programme

Have a look at what others say about the practice:

A recent review article in the “New England Journal of Medicine”, titled “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Ageing and Disease”1 reviews the scientific research currently available on intermittent fasting, and comes to some very positive conclusions about the practice. It states that, ‘preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting has broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders.”

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There are some people that this fasting practice does not suit so I would ask that if you are diabetic/adolescent/pregnant/have chronic illness/kidney issues/recently recovered from illness or surgery/hospital it is best that you do not intermittent fast. 

Also, if you have a food disorder or have had one in the past it is best that you chat with me before taking part. If anyone is unsure about joining in, please contact me and we can have a chat – or ask me anything at my free Qi Gong class at the end of December 

Danger, Danger – sugar for the over 40’s

Danger, Danger – sugar for the over 40’s

In women, the risk of heart disease increases after age 55. In men, the risk increases after age 45. People who have diabetes, the risk increases after age 40. * US Department of Health and Human Services

This shows the more refined sugar we eat over the age of 40 the more likely we are to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and a greater risk of stroke.  So how do we keep the sugars in check and still enjoy all the wonderful food that life has to offer?  For thousands of years Chinese Medicine has had solutions. Here I share a few tips.

In Chinese Medicine, each of the organs links to an element, a season, a time of day, an emotion, a flavour and much more.  The 5 element system is a great way to understand the body as a whole, to address symptoms and stop sweet cravings.

The flavour for a healthy Stomach/Spleen in Traditional Chinese Medicine is sweet, BUT too much of a good thing can weaken these organs.

The matches Western Medicine as it is the spleen (pancreas) that is responsible for insulin production which enables the absorption of glucose (sugars) into the cells of the body.

Too much sugar means either the spleen cannot produce enough insulin or insulin that works (diabetes type 1) or the body becomes insulin resistant (diabetes type 2) Glucose that is unprocessed by insulin remains in the bloodstream damaging arteries causing high blood pressure and heart disease.

High glucose levels also inhibit the digestion of fats and triglyceride levels within the blood rise. Triglycerides don’t dissolve in the blood they move around the arteries where they can cause hardening, increasing the risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

Refined carbohydrates such as cakes, biscuits, white bread and pasta give quick sugar hits but they are missing the fiber and minerals of whole-grains, which slow down the breakdown of foods into sugars.  Eating low fiber carbohydrates will cause blood sugars to spike, flooding the body with insulin and beginning an addictive cycle of sugar highs and lows.

So what can you do?

In Chinese Medicine to keep the Stomach/Spleen and Sugar levels healthy we would use whole grains such as brown rice, millet and quinoa and starchy vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnips. Perhaps you think these foods are boring, that they won’t meet the needs of your sweet tooth? but healthy food doesn’t mean boring food – with my recipes it means the opposite – it means delicious, sexy scrumptiousness – if you consciously love your food, you love yourself.

Tip 1. from Chinese Medicine is to CHEW CHEW CHEW your food. By chewing the sugars are released into the mouth, broken down by the teeth and saliva, sending signals to the brain that this is sweet, tasty food.  I will be sharing liquorice sticks with you, at my retreat in September, which are fantastic for chewing on, whilst at the same time, triggering hormones from the stomach to say “we are eating and we are full.”

Tip 2. If there is too much insulin in the blood stream it will be more difficult for Vitamin C to enter cells and help with repair. This will also impair the immune system and make us more vulnerable to viruses.
If you comfort eat or find it hard to feel satisfied try including more orange brown foods in your diet like carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, turmeric, brown rice, millet and quinoa.  Orange foods tend to be packed with Vitamin C thereby helping the body repair and repel incoming virus’s.
In Chinese Medicine these orange foods supports the Spleen and help regulate blood sugars in the 5element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Tip 3.  Emotionally the Spleen and Stomach respond to touch.  Make sure to massage and touch your own body.  Use oil when you come out of the shower, give yourself a foot massage.  Learn an acupressure routine to soothe the body and mind reducing your cravings for the sweet stuff.
Tip 4. Practice Qigong; Exercise is essential to keep the spleen healthy which in turn helps clear anxiety, nervousness and general stress. When both your spleen and stomach are balanced, the calmer your heart, mind and spirit. Qi Gong is a fantastic, gentle, effective exercise to maintain muscle mass, transforming sugar cravings and bad moods.  Free class sign up below or find lots of routines on my YouTube channel.

If you want more ways to lower your sugars, your risk of diabetes and your blood pressure, come and learn with me at my in-person retreat and watch me prepare delicious dishes full of healthy ingredients that help to tone and heal the Spleen, balancing blood sugars and stopping the addictive cravings that refined sugars bring.  We will learn an acupressure routine full of nourishing, soothing, energising acupressure points plus Qi Gong movements to move and flow a body that might feel stuck and painful.

Here’s some of the dishes I will be teaching.  The rest of the food will be prepared by the super talented Chef Claire from the Happy Pear and Cornucopia (Dublins leading Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants) Full Schedule

  • Red Date and Cinnamon Tea (building blood and energy levels)
  • Sugar free millet muffins ( a sweet no sugar treat)
  • Roasted Chickpeas (relieving swelling and pain)
  • Sweet orange and tarragon dressing (adding sweetness to your bitter green veg)
  • Raw Chocolate, date and seed bombs (guilt free sweet treat)

By finding healthy alternatives, to refined sweet foods such as pasta, bread and chocolate, that taste REALLY GOOD we are more likely to make a change to a nourishing, wholesome, healthy life.

As we progress through life and our bodies repair system takes a little longer it is especially important to make sure we are helping ourselves and receiving nourishing support, physically and emotionally.  So join me on this fabulous, unique retreat to be sugar smart, keep your blood sugars healthy, blood pressure down and your heart pumping strongly, loving life.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE RETREAT HERE: I keep numbers small so I can give individual connection and guidance

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sign up for the free class at the end of the month

 

Chi Flow with Jo Waitlist