My Menopause Story

My Menopause Story

At 34, I had a rough birth with my twin boys.  That’s me in the photo.  It’s taken just after putting up the Christmas tree so I know I had another 3 weeks and a kidney infection before I gave birth to them on January 5th 2003.  They weighed 6.7 and 6.3 lbs – that’s a lot of baby for a 5-foot woman to carry.  So when they were delivered via emergency C-section at 40 weeks after 2 days labour, I had nothing else to give.

My body didn’t even have the energy to contract my uterus so I haemorrhaged and almost died. Yes I saw the white light and someone had a chat with me.  It was an amazing experience and being so knackered I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back.

But back I came to look after my twin boys and run the environmental empowerment organisation I owned,  The company worked with the regeneration of Ballymun, well known for its high levels of unemployment, drug usage and high-rise tower blocks. It could be a dangerous and stressful area of Dublin to work in. I over identified with the success of the projects and worked way too much. I had qualified as a shiatsu practitioner in 2002 but this job was where the money was.

When the twins were 2, I found out my partner was having an affair within the company. I was just too exhausted to carry on. I turned the business into a community development. I left him and my business.

That’s when my Peri-Menopause symptoms started. I would get so dizzy I thought I was going to black out.  The first one happened on a busy motor way which triggered panic attacks leaving me feeling anxious all the time. My sleep pattern was disrupted and I was so exhausted I would forget my children’s names. I felt so isolated and alone, I often thought I wasn’t going to make it. My whole body hurt. I was only 5ft tall and weighed 14 stone because I comfort ate all the wrong food.

Luckily I had my background of Chinese Medicine and Shiatsu to guide me.  I started to improve my diet following Traditional Chinese Medicine Guidelines.  I began to practice a Chi Gong and receive regular shiatsu. I started with baby steps, little by little. I’m 55 now with no panic attacks, and no anxiety. I sleep well, and can remember what I walked into a room for. My skin is glowing and I have no grey hairs. Keeping the weight off can be tricky but I know what to do when the pounds start climbing on and if I have the odd bad nights sleep I know which points to press, which foods to eat and which Chi Gong exercises to do to ensure that things come back to balance naturally. My life is good, I have a sense of purpose, I wake up feeling rested, and I am happy.

The problem for me is that I was suffering Adrenal exhaustion. My kidneys, had nothing left in the tank to balance my hormones naturally, which meant I was either on overdrive with my heart bouncing out of my chest or too exhausted to move of the sofa.  For you it might be your liver making you feel bloated or gaining weight around your middle or your spleen out of balance, craving sweet food to give you energy but with a brain fog to see nothing clearly.

There are no two people the same / there are no two menopause is the same / there are not two solutions the same.

Which is why I created Chi Flow with Jo Intermittent fasting 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
  • Join me LIVE in my kitchen for easy simple healthy recipes including Castor oil pack to clear a fatty liver
  • Closed Facebook group for sharing and support

We are often told we need to endure or just wait for the menopause to pass, but that can take years.

Don’t regret getting older – this is your time to shine.


So if you are

  • The queen of stripping: taking off layer after layer, with skill and speed when a hot flush hits?
  • Too exhausted to do anything, but when your head hits the pillow, you find it impossible to sleep?
  • A supplement junkie, trying everything to thicken hair, reduce hot flushes, help you sleep, stop your joint pain but nothing works long term?
  • Too nervous to go out because anxiety and heart palpitations appear out of nowhere?
  • Slowly gaining weight around your middle but your arms and legs are staying skinny?

It’s never too early and it’s never too late to make changes so you can be more confident, less anxious, get fitter and stronger, find your purpose, say goodbye to self limiting beliefs and negative emotions.

YOU CAN DO IT ! 

Your best life experiences are still to come

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”

Lao Tzu – Chinese Medicine Philosopher.

At the end of the month I will be giving a FREE fasting and the menopause Qi Gong class – to receive the live link and the recording sent to your email – simply CLICK HERE or enter your email into the form below.

Fancy a FREE Qi Gong class at the end of the month?

 

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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 

Bone building exercises

Bone building exercises

In my last post about improving bone health and slowing the effects of ageing, I shared what to eat following the 5 element diet in Chinese Medicine.
In this blog post I will share what we can do to strengthen the whole skeleton and prevent bone thinning,

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone. This affects men and women, but women who are just past menopause, are at highest risk.

Studies show that the right type of activity and movement is critical to maintain bone density and strength. What works best is load bearing exercises such as squats, leg presses and lifting weights. These are standard practices in gym’s, where people use equipment to build body mass, muscle and bone strength. However as a 53 year old menopausal woman, that wouldn’t be my kind of thing at all. I don’t want the fuss and bother of going to gym, working out how to use special equipment and perhaps even injuring myself in the process. So I use my own body weight and gravity as resistance training to improve muscle and bone strength. This can be as effective as training in a gym with weights or weight machine.

Why not try it?

Every morning in Chi Flow with Jo, over 400 of us practice simple, effective exercises, just like the one in the video, to build healthy bones, muscle mass and core strength. All that is required is concentration on coordinated movements and breathing. No special equipment, no special expertise and no previous experience. (sign up for free class at the end of this post)

YouTube player

Tiger what tiger?

The deeply focused and relaxed states we attain in Chi Flow with Jo also help regulate the nervous system. When the body is under stress or fearful situations such as running away from tigers, the body flushes out calcium and magnesium because these chemicals are not needed in the flight of fight response. 

Every so often, this is no problem, as how many tigers do we generally encounter! but if the body is responding to every day events such as project deadlines or dinner on the table as if it were being chased by a tiger, then this is a serious problem.


As I discussed in my last blog about food for strong bones, calcium and magnesium are the two minerals essential for bone strength.
5% of calcium and magnesium is transported around the body in the blood, the rest is stored in the bones. If the flight or fight response is constantly being triggered, and the calcium and magnesium being flushed from our system, eventually the body will have to go looking to the bones for the calcium and magnesium to restore the body to balance.  This is just one of the bone weakening effects stress can have on our body.

To prevent this mineral loss and bone thinning, we must maintain our emotional, mental and physical balance, learn how to self soothe and return to calm after stressful anxious times. Chi Flow with Jo with breath and movement coordination, activates the naturally occurring emotional and physical mechanisms of self-repair and health recovery.

In postmenopausal women, studies show moderate exercise helps preserve bone mass in the spine and prevents fractures, plus it shows increasing physical activity can improve your mood and stop the loss of minerals at times of stress.

Add to this that women who are not physically active are more likely to have heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Sedentary women may also have chronic back pain, insomnia, poor circulation, weak muscles, and depression.


Happy hormones

Endorphins which are morphine-like substances found naturally within the body, account for moods of well-being or euphoria such as we experience after enjoyable workouts or even eating chocolate.  These happy hormones, are released in the brain and this improved mood can last for several hours which in turn helps the body fight stress.  Qi Gong and Chi Flow with Jo will boost these happy hormones to improve your mood and your mental strength. Research conducted by Harvard Medical School indicates that regular Qi/Chi gong practice is a safe and effective way to maintain bone density, relieve pain, improve balance and the ability to do daily activities.

Here’s what some members of Chi Flow had to say

“I can’t recommend this highly enough, a great way to support your body and just in half an hour – go on you deserve it. Best thing I’ve signed up for in years!” Solway Shiatsu

“Totally recommend Chi Flow with Jo. I started the practice last October and my body feels well and flexible.” Maighread

“I do them 3+ times a week and it makes a HUGE difference to my energy levels and general health & coping skills.
Give it a go for a month and see the difference.”  Helen

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Bone Strengthening Foods

Bone Strengthening Foods

As we grow older there’s no escaping the changes that happen to our body, however we can do things to slow this ageing process and the worries we have about it.

Thinning, weakening and brittle bones are one of the dreaded markers of ageing. More than half of all caucasian women age 50 and older are estimated to have low bone mass, which means their bones are getting weaker but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.  If not addressed, everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, opening jars, walking, reaching for high shelves can become difficult and filled with fear for people whose bones have developed osteoporosis.


 

Chinese medicine with it’s 5 element food medicine, Qi Gong and Acupressure can help you manage the physical, mental and emotional transitions of ageing. For the month of December we will be practicing Qi Gong and Acupressure to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.

Im 54 and I have been using Chinese Medicine for over 25 years and I share here how this system of holistic health keeps my bones strong.

From about age 25 to age 50, bone density tends to stay stable with equal amounts of bone formation and bone breakdown. After age 50, bone breakdown outpaces bone formation and bone loss often accelerates, particularly at the time of menopause. The risk increases at menopause, when levels of bone-bolstering oestrogen fall. Men are also at risk as even though they don’t usually experience dramatic hormonal change, because life expectancy continues to rise, men over the age of 70 can experience slow, progressive bone loss.

 

In Chinese Medicine, the body and it’s organs are divided into five energetic systems or elements; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of these elements have a time of day, a season, a flavour, a sensory organ and a body part. The water element is linked to the Kidney and Bladder which in turn govern the spine, the bones, brain, reproductive organs, hormonal and nervous system.

Therefore Osteoporosis, in Chinese Medicine would essentially be treated by supporting the Water element and the Kidney System, the flavour for which is salty.

What can we eat?
Let’s look at foods that have a salty flavour and would support the energetic Kidney system and most importantly, the bones.
Obviously salt has the saltiest of flavours so making sure we have enough good natural sea salt in our diet is essential. Because sea salt is minimally processed it contains minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and most importantly for bones, calcium. It also helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body.

However too much of a good thing can tip the yin yang balance so don’t over do the salt by eating foods packed with refined table salt such as crisps (chips) popcorn, pre-packaged ready meals, processed, smoked or canned meat, such as bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, and sausage as this can have the reverse effect and increase blood pressure and weaken bones.

Foods with a salty flavour usually have a high mineral content so eating these foods rather than relying on salt alone will mean your bones stay strong. Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health. However, there are other minerals such as copper, magnesium, boron, iron, potassium and zinc that play an important role as well. The good news is that a balanced diet that include salty tasting foods such as

  • miso
  • bone broth
  • oats
  • barley
  • oysters
  • broccoli & green leafy veg
  • daikon radish
  • dandelion root
  • chicory root
  • adzuki beans
  • celery
  • wheatgrass, barley grass
  • sesame seeds
  • eggs
  • spiriulina
  • and my favourite, seaweed

should meet your daily magnesium and calcium requirements.

Studies show “Magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis directly by acting on crystal formation and on bone cells and indirectly by impacting on the secretion and the activity of parathyroid hormone and by promoting low grade inflammation.”*
All edible seaweeds contains high amounts of magnesium and calcium in a format that’s super easily absorbed by the body. This mineral rich, salty flavoured food will really nourish the kidneys and the whole skeletal system.

You can find lots of seaweed plus salty food recipes and full list of kidney supporting in my 5 element cook books that cover the colours, the foods, emotions, seasons, acupressure points, and energy exercises for each specific organ and system.

I eat seaweed every day, whether sprinkled on eggs or avocado or larger flakes added to stews and rice as they cook.

For the whole month of December we will be practicing Bone Marrow Qi Gong, learning acupressure points and sharing food medicine to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.

Exercise is an important aspect of bone strength you can read more in my next blog or even sign up for a special bone building Qi Gong class at the end of November.

Qigong, combines gentle movements, controlled breathing, and focused meditation. It is designed to cultivate and balance the body’s life force energy, promoting overall well-being. 

Every journey starts with a single step, let a simple daily Qi Gong practice guide you on a transformative path towards renewed vitality, fortified bones, and a joyful heart connected life.

Free Class Sign Up

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SEA SWIMMING

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SEA SWIMMING

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SEA SWIMMING

There’s no doubt how popular Sea swimming, including the open water of lakes and rivers, has become.  A 2020 survey in Outdoor Swimmer magazine revealed

– 87% swimmers are aged over 40 and

– 65% of swimmers are women [1].

Why is this?

Gyms and swimming pools can be intimidating places for us peri, mid and post menopausal women. They’re often filled with much younger people, complicated equipment and lots of mirrors. But swimming outdoors brings us back to nature, with a gratitude for our bodies, and a camaraderie with other swimmers.

In the water, all bodies become equal

Here I will show you how can you optimise the health benefits of Outdoor swimming using:

  • – Food medicine
  • – Qi Gong breathing and exercise
  • – Acupressure point

We can all agree, because sea swimming is never recommended to do alone, that we benefit from the social aspect of sea swimming, but physically how is it good for you?

In many schools of thought in Chinese medicine, cold and the ‘blood stagnation’ that it can cause, can be considered a very detrimental factor in our health.

A simple way of understanding this is to compare the blood circulation of a newly born baby with that of a 90-year-old. It is very rare to see a bruise on a baby.  Even though they are always falling over and knocking themselves, their blood circulation is so good that they heal incredibly quickly.

But if you look at the hands and feet of a 90-year-old they can look blue and bruised, often due to poor circulation.

What happens as we age?

As we age the body can stiffen up, not only in the joints but also in the elasticity of your blood vessels.

Especially during peri, mid or post menopause, low estrogen levels can cause your heart and blood vessels to become stiffer and less elastic.

In response to the cold water your blood vessels constrict but instead of this having a detrimental effect this actually improves the oxygenation of the body, reducing pain and swelling plus improving lymphatic drainage.

In terms of Chinese Medicine this is a great example of the interconnectedness of Yin and Yang.

When something is extremely Yang it becomes Yin and vice versa.

For example, cold is Yin, but when our body experiences extreme cold it begins to shiver and our metabolic rate increases forcing the body to burn more calories and the blood to flow through arteries, keeping things warm. This is Yang.

When, either Yin or Yang, reaches its maximum strength, it transforms into the other.

An extreme example would be war which is Yang, active, noisy, hot, and full of movement, but at its extreme completion, you are left with death, silence and Yin.  The cycle of life will keep turning, Yin and Yang will keep intertwining, supporting and transforming into each other, it is the nature of the Dao.

So be aware of the changes in your body as you enter the water. There is a tipping point where coldness transforms to heat. Feel the exhilarating bounce back as the cold Yin water triggers the bodies Yang response and flushes warmth throughout the whole body.

But don’t get too cold.  Leave the water when you can still move your fingers and toes.  You want to come out of the water looking pink, with a healthy flushed glow of Yang not deathly white, waxy Yin.

From a Chinese Medicine standpoint, too much cold will lead to stagnation which can be the cause of many illnesses.   

Many of the metabolic processes of the body such as digestion, immunity and reproduction are seen as coming from types of fire deep inside the body.

Make sure that you have the physical inner strength to activate the body’s internal fires.  If you are feeling physically weak or sick, you are more likely to shock the body, to get sick or, in the extreme, hypothermia.

Use the energy of food to work with your body and heat it from the inside out.

What to eat and what not to eat to keep warm

In Chinese Medicine food and drink have various thermal natures and dynamic actions on the body so making sure you have a warming, energizing drink when leaving the water to help stoke the internal fires.

Some helpful ingredients would be cinnamon, ginger, cacao and, of course, Chai with spices such as cardamon, clove, coriander and black pepper.

Things to avoid would be mint, cucumber, lettuce and sub tropical foods such as bananas.

 

FREE RECIPES FOR WARMING TEAS

Make these teas and bring them in a flask to drink after you have had your swim and after you have got dry and dressed.

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Make sure not to stand around shivering after leaving the water

The Qi Gong exercises and we will practice in November specifically strengthen body balance, which can be difficult if you are standing on one leg, on pebbly, uneven ground, shivering, and trying to get your clothes on.

The first thing to do is dry your feet and put warm socks and shoes and boots on.  Don’t wait until the rest of you is dry before thinking of your feet.

Your feet and ankles are the place to start because in Chinese Medicine there are some major points on the feet that influence the whole body energy, starting with Kidney 1 and Kidney 3.

The Kidney energetic system governs the core energy of the body – both Yin and Yang.  It governs our reproductive energy.  This energy isn’t just about making babies, it’s about regenerating our bodies at a cellular level; hair cells, skin cells, bone cells, blood cells.  in Western Medicine we could liken it to our DNA

Every part of our body is constantly regenerating, the rate at which it regenerates slows as we age so it is essential to conserve this Kidney energy.

The Kidney energy governs our skeleton, our hormones, our brain, our very bone marrow.

Kidney Yin is in charge of nurturing the functions of the body.  It is the rest and restore aspect of the nervous system, moisturizing and lubricating. 

When out of balance we can suffer:

  • – hormonal imbalance and extreme menopausal symptoms
  • – dizziness or vertigo.
  • – night sweats.
  • – thirst and dry mouth, especially at night.
  • – constipation.
  • – ringing in the ears/tinnitus.
  • – poor memory.
  • – hearing loss.
  • – sore back
  • – Internal dryness.

Kidney Yang lights the fires of the body, digestive, protective and reproductive.

Poor Kidney Yang means

  • – Chronic illness
  • – Premature ageing
  • – Impotence, low libido
  • – Cold lower back and limbs
  • – Excessive urination

Use the following points to improve both Kidney Yin and Yang

KIDNEY 1 – BUBBLING SPRING

Descends the Chi, brings the energy down.

Found on the sole of the foot between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. Flex the toes upward and find the depression for the thumb to press.

The bubbling spring point is our grounding point.  We draw energy up from the earth through this point so if it becomes solid cold and blocked so too does our energy.  Kidney 1’s downward energy invites calm, grounded being which is what we need if we want to get the most from our outdoor swimming.

    KIDNEY 3 – GREAT RAVINE

    Invigorates Kidney Yin and Yang, regulating hormones, menstruation and mood swings. 

    Relieves fatigue.

    Find the point on the inside of the foot between the ankle bone and Achille’s Tendon.

    These points are so important that I would recommend wearing booties to swim in especially in the winter.

    Think of what happens to water when it gets too cold.  It becomes ice, which doesn’t flow and doesn’t move. It creaks and cracks.  This can happen to our energy.

    How we enter the cold water is essential 

    Just like the Wim Hoff method, Qi Gong uses breathing exercises, focus training and controlled easy movements to improve our range of movement plus management of pain and stress.  The release of endorphins during the breathing practice combined with the entry into the cold water can help with all manner of depression, anxiety and trauma.

    Another crucial benefit this activity offers is for our emotional and mental well being.

    Using Qi Gong breathing techniques, you can master breath control which can help you remain in the water for longer.  The controlled breathing can also be used to stoke the internal fires, keeping the core of the body warm and circulation flowing.

    The movement meditation of the Qi Gong practice will help you remain more focused in the water.  You can get in the “zone” mastering your mind and body so that the two become one and you return to your true nature and feel at one with the water, the air and the people around you.

    Use the Qi Gong Food Medicine and Acupressure to support your sea swimming, maintaining those feelings of post swim high right through the day and into the night.

    Remember Chi Flow with Jo is a great community filled with women just like you

    There’s discussion and camaraderie because we are live every morning, so just like a sea swim you can begin your day right, pointing your mind and body in the direction of health, wealth, community and happiness.

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    Cold water swimming does not suit everybody. If someone has been diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases, it will not be suitable for him or her to start cold water swimming. This is because sudden cold stimulation will raise blood pressure, and can increase the chance of heart attack and brain stroke. Sometimes it can even cause sudden death. For patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain might get worse after cold water stimulation. For ladies who have period pain, winter swimming is also not advisable. For epilepsy patients, any kind of swimming is contraindicated.

     

    Foods For an Overheated Menopause

    Foods For an Overheated Menopause

    Yin deficiency means that the body is lacking in the moistening fluids that relax the body.

    In times of extreme stress the body can generate severe amounts of heat which burn off yin fluids. Plus, stress and fear produce adrenaline and cortisol which contract the kidneys meaning further depletion of yin fluids.

    Blood is one of the manifestations of yin within the body therefore any severe blood loss caused by accidents, operations or heavy menstruation, especially during menopause, will lead to a yin deficiency.

    So choose food that nourishes the kidneys, fluids and mineral balance within our body such as Seaweeds, Spiriulina and Chlorella. Wheatgrass and other Chlorophyll rich foods will build healthy blood and therefore boost Yin.  For a full list see my books where you will each organ broken down into flavour, function, emotion and season in Chinese medicine.

    Avoid stimulants such as fizzy drinks and coffee and look at how you are cooking. Are you using cooking methods such as baking and steaming which support Yin or are you deep frying and microwaving? The latter two will weaken the Yin, blood and body.

    Whilst it is great to have foods that promote Yin cooling fluids to counteract the Yang heat and dryness, it is important to have a practice that promotes Yin in the body such as Qi Gong or Yin Yoga. At an emotional level it is good to know how to switch off and let the universe be in control for a while.

    Quite often, as women we run a busy house or have a busy job and we are used to being in control and multi tasking.  If this is you it could mean that by the time you get to menopause, peri-menopause and beyond there is no Yin left in the tank to cool the body and support the natural process of ageing. Every Yang action needs to originate from the still Yin point within us. So take time to let go of control and receive the magic that is possible if we practice the art of allowing.

    Find a practice or a time in your day to connect with that deep part of ourselves that can be nourished by rest and breath – this is Yin.

    For the whole month of March we will be focusing on breath and movement for Menopause and beyond.  Why not receive the free mini ebook with a recipe, acupoint and recipe or join me for the free class at the end of February.

    From a Western Medicine point of view, oats are high in magnesium and help to calm the body and build sexual energy. They contain a nervine alkaloid called Avinine which, on a long-term basis, works to restore the nervous system.

    Oats are a popular breakfast food and this recipe is perfect for a weekend brunch. It’s rich and sweet yet still full of soluble fibres to help remove cholesterol from the large intestine. In addition, oats are a great source of manganese, selenium, vitamin B1 and magnesium. They regulate hormones and the spontaneous sweating associated with fluctuating hormones.

    Mixing the oats with pecans, which are full of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), further increases the usage of amino acids found in plant protein available
    in oats. In terms of Chinese Medicine this means pecans transform nutritional essence, which feed the kidneys, into usable energy. In this way, they reduce nervous tension and overproduction of hormones; balancing the Yin & Yang

     

    Baked Porridge

    • 200g rolled oats
    • 60g walnut or pecan pieces
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
    • 475ml almond milk/goats milk or any plant based milk of choice
    • 1 large egg
    • 60g unsalted melted butter
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 60ml maple syrup
    • 2 or 3 ripe bananas
    • 200g mixed berries

    Method:Butter a 20cm square (or anything similar) baking dish, chop the banana into medallions and line the base, cover with half of the berries. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and the wet ingredients in a jug. Cover the fruits in the baking dish with the oat mixture and the remaining fruits sprinkle on top. Pour the milk mixture slowly over the oats and fruits and pop it in the preheated oven at 190 degrees for 45 minutes. It is both breakfast and dessert.

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    Shout to let it all out

    Shout to let it all out

    This month in Ireland, a young teacher, Aishling Murphy was murdered as she took an afternoon run along the canal. There was an outpouring of grief and anger as people found their voice to express their feelings of fury, outrage and sadness. Raising the awareness and calling for a stop to violent crime against women.

    As I am parenting 3 young men, 19, 19 and 16 I thought it would be a good idea to have a conversation about being aware of violent crime against women by men. They became very angry, understanding my discussion as a personal attack towards them, as men.

     

    What do we do with all this anger? It’s scary stuff. Bourne from fear, anger is a powerful response used to protect ourselves. We can use it to make others wrong, whilst we are right. But dividing and separating, making one gender/food/action/religion right and another wrong, leads to hatred and more fear. As the Buddha wisely said “in this world, hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate.”

    It can be hard to love when we feel fear, scared that we, like Aishling, might be randomly attacked.
    But questioning fears and judgements with “What is causing my fear? Is it real or imagined? means more likely that we live in love and act from compassion.
    This doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you or allowing atrocities or violent crime, but it means your actions are from love not from fear, and that always has a different outcome.

    In theory that sounds great, but how do we do this in practice?…… By working with the Liver. In Chinese Medicine this organ is associated with anger. It’s powerful; the only organ in the body that can regrow.

    By understanding the Liver using the 5 elements of Chinese medicine, we can work with the powerful strength of this energy. When the fear wound is triggered, anger rushes to protect. But if our Liver energy is balanced, we can retain perspective and vision in the fear, so hope and positive action can come, from where the hurt lies.

    The Liver governs the sinews and tendons, managing flexibility and flow. It is essential that the liver energy can express itself either by drawing, painting, dancing, choosing what to wear, what to eat or how to style your hair. The energy of life wants to express itself with your unique voice. If self expression is curtailed the energy can turn inward and lead to depression or bubble under the surface, only to explode like a volcano.

    So use your voice, shake your body and shout out loud. If you feel like you want to scream and shout – do it !! not at someone but get a pillow and punch it.

    Bang your fists on the bed, get it out, let it out.  Use your voice, cry, laugh, shout, sing let it all out, get it all out, because “the part of you that is suffering, is the part that calls in change and you don’t have to feel ashamed, there is nothing to forgive. The part of you that is crying out is the part that wants to live”  *Hope comes – The Bensons

    Accessing and expressing your rage is an opportunity for hope and action that can change the world. By accessing the emotion we are more likely to transform it to love and compassionate action rather than transfer it through fear and blame.

    Working with this organ and meridian system with acupressure, food and mindfulness we can prevent the hot headed rage that clouds our vision and impairs our heart.

     

    The Liver loves sour foods to clear the organ especially Umeboshi plum.  Legend has it that the Samurai warrior carried this amazing ingredient in a pouch as a field ration, and after battle they would take a taste to “take the war out of the man” and harmonise the system.

    The simplest way is to take this amazing ingredient is 1/2 tsp of the umeboshi plum paste added to a mug of hot water. Dissolve and drink down.
    Find plenty of recipes using this fantastic ingredient in my books
    On the flip side avoid fatty, rich foods such as ice-cream, red meat, sugary drinks, cheese and alcohol as these congest the liver. You may find you are quick to hot headed, uncontrolled outbursts if your diet is full of these foods.

    The Liver’s sensory organ is the eye so be aware of what you are focusing on. Let your focus linger on things that make you feel good.
    If you are overthinking a problem, take a break, shift your focus for a minute or two, look at something that gives you pleasure – the clouds, flowers, photo’s of amazing people or places. Put a song on that makes you happy.
    This isn’t the same as putting your head in the sand and ignoring a problem but it’s giving perspective and a wider view – this will help the body loosen and the energy flow.
    Take your perspective wide, become aware of the miracle that you are, stuck by gravity, to a planet spinning at 1000miles per hour in one of two trillion galaxies as part of an ever expanding universe.

    Why not sign up for a FREE Qi Gong session on the last weekday of each month covering energy exercises, acupressure points and 5 element food tips to shift your energy and feel balanced

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