My experience with a Reflexology treatment

My series of blog posts in which I meet other people who work in the wellness world continues with… reflexology! You have probably heard about it, but if you never had the chance to give it a go, here you’ll be able to find more information and see if this treatment may suit your needs.

Recently, I had the pleasure to receive a reflexology treatment from Laura Gil at Dublin Wellness Centre. Reflexology is a complementary therapy focused on the feet and aims to support the body on its way to re-balance. I really liked how Laura talks about the treatment as something to “awaken” the body and give it some extra motivation to work at its best. The human body is a wonderfully complex system but there are so many things we need to take into account when we talk about health and well-being. For example, do you ever stop for a minute and think how stress affects you both physically and mentally? There is a study published in 2000 in which the researchers looked at the effect of foot massage sessions on patients in critical care (a stressful environment): they noticed a significant reduction in stress by looking at data for heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Interesting, right?

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Reflexology is based on the idea that our feet mirror the whole body so, by applying pressure to a specific part of the feet, you may not only have a positive effect from a general point of view, but also on the corresponding area of the body.

As a holistic therapist, Laura considers her clients as a whole person and with her treatments gives them the right support to go to the roots of their issues. The reflexology session starts by establishing a connection with the person to create a more relaxed and supportive environment, then Laura does a full feet massage – only later on during the session, she will focus more on specific points: she basically teams up with your feet to understand better which areas need more attention and how much pressure she should apply.

The whole treatment encourages the body not only to relax but also to work at its best, to have a better response to external messages, and to find again its balance. It perfectly fits into these series on blog posts, because with them I want to show you how you can easily support your well-being in several ways – this is a simple treatment that goes straight to the point, and it’s perfect for a quick session even at lunchtime (Laura usually does a 1-hour treatment).

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SOME DETAILS…

My specific needs: the only two issues I was dealing with on the day in which I had my treatment with Laura where basically stress and a recurrent pain due to last year’s breast surgery (another story that you can read here). Laura took some time before the treatment to have a chat with me and tell me something about how reflexology works. The results: right after the treatment I was relaxed and energised at the same time – I guess part of the “extra energy” was due to my feet that were feeling way lighter than before and to a deep sense of self-love towards my body (something like “hey, I’m your body and I want to thank you for taking care of me! Let’s do it again soon!”). The session with Laura definitely moved something because I’ve noticed that extra energy for several days after the treatment, and it also gave me a few things to think about. If you are curious to know what she talked about at the end of the treatment: the complaints I had at the begin of the session were basically confirmed from her by reading my feet: a strong body’s response to stress, plenty of overthinking, water-retention, and emotional blockages.

Laura meets clients with a wide range of issues, including stress, fertility, and pregnancy.

I would definitely recommend having this treatment with Laura if you live in Dublin or nearby – it’s a good value for money (€60) and her gentle, relaxing, and down-to-earth approach will definitely help you to feel comfortable and enjoy the treatment. I also hope that what I’ve written here will be helpful and inspiring for all of you who live somewhere else!

Chiara x


ABOUT LAURA

Coming from a fitness and dance background Laura has always been concerned about the importance of health. Alternative medicine has strongly led her to the belief that we can heal ourselves by listening to what our bodies have to tell us.

Her passion for massage and complementary therapies began at a very young age and have continued to blossom ever since. Laura’s father was also involved in energy work and she has fond childhood memories playing with ‘magic stones’ and being in awe of the power of her dad’s hands when she wasn’t feeling well.

She always had a special interest in Reiki and energy work, having attended many different workshops in her native home of Barcelona. On the other hand, reflexology was always calling her attention. She has always been eager to learn more about helping others, but also herself.

It wasn’t until she travelled to Ireland that she decided to start her journey as a therapist by completing the Reiki Master Teacher and practitioner training and also studying Reflexology in the highly recognized Holistic College Dublin, taught by the inspirational Alison Kavanagh.

During her training, she had the pleasure to attend a post-graduate course with Chris Stormer, entitled ‘Language of the Feet’ and ‘Understanding allergies and intolerances through the feet’. This course really opened her eyes to the messages our feet are telling us about ourselves.

Her dancing career began at a very young age and spanned across several dancing genres, but it is with Belly Dance where her strongest passion lies. She began Belly dance following a doctor’s recommendation and it was here where she found her mind, body and soul awaken through the art of this elegant dance. It also sparked her interest in helping women’s health. She carries this interest with her still today and it is the reason why she specialized in fertility and maternity reflexology through the Obus School of Healing Therapies.

She offers sessions in both Reiki and Reflexology and also offers a special combination of the two if necessary. She applies Reiki to her reflexology treatments to enhance healing and relaxation. It can also have brilliant benefits when attending specific areas on the feet after a Reiki session. Each session is followed by a personal consultation, in which a discussion on how to aid recovery is professionally conducted. By combining self-treatment-techniques with the therapy sessions a positive first step is made in nurturing, not just your body, but also your mind and spirit.

Laura is an ITEC qualified Reflexologist specialized in Fertility and Maternity treatments. She also has developed a special interest in helping stress-related issues.

As a member of the National Register of Reflexologists Ireland, Laura’s reflexology treatments are covered by VHI, Laya, Aviva and Glo Healthcare.

To find more details about her treatments and schedule an appointment with Laura, click HERE

How to start bringing more awareness into your relationship with food

First of all: what does it mean EATING WITH INTENTION? In a few words, it’s related to the idea of being truly aware of the entire process of eating and don’t only mindless getting some fuel for your body.

You have probably noticed that the ideas of mindful eating and eating with intention are named pretty much everywhere lately. I absolutely love this kind of approach, but as soon as they became trends, it also started to be difficult to have a clear idea of how to apply them in the best way in your everyday life.

During the last years, I had the chance to apply the mindfulness-based approach to myself and I have found it pretty useful, both for general life issues and for the food-related ones. But I have tried to get a bigger view of it. When I talk with my clients about this kind of approach, I often refer to it in terms like “eating with intention”, “being present”, “being conscious of your relationship with food” – I use what I have learned during my holistic studies (I hold a diploma as massage therapist, and I have started practicing yoga in 2009), paired with science, to improve their relationship with food and with themselves.

Today, I’d like to drive your attention to the idea of bringing more awareness to the entire process of eating. First, let’s change that eating with nourishing – makes much more sense in relation to what we are talking about! Then, you may want to ask me: what’s included in that process?

  • your relationship with food
  • your relationship with yourself (your health, well-being, mind, and body)
  • what you choose to eat
  • your approach to grocery shopping
  • your approach to cooking
  • how you prepare your food
  • what you choose to put on your table
  • how you eat
  • your approach to the different meals
  • your relationship with dieting or ideal perfection guidelines or detox, etc…
  • your idea of healthy eating
  • how stress or a busy life affect your relationship with food
  • eating well seen as a form of self-respect
  • any food-related issue

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Let’s get practical with an example.

WHY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED YOU COOK AND EAT AN ENTIRE CAKE ALL BY YOURSELF?

Eating well is a form of SELF-RESPECT. But ALSO understand the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself is a form of self-respect. I could stay here every day telling you that eating an entire cake all at once is not healthy, how much sugar there is inside it, what happens in your body, etc… BUT if you don’t start to be more AWARE, things will remain the same.

I have always been the kind of person who puts all her energy and focus on what she does and I truly don’t think that this will ever change. But I have learned how to manage it better and how to take care of myself since I have seen on myself how much is difficult to stop before burning out. Now, I am definitely more aware of my body and its needs. BUT I also accept that sometimes I won’t be 100% connected with my body and that’s fine. I know that I’M TRYING TO DO MY BEST.

Something changes inside you when you decide to RESPECT yourself and your body.

ONE SIMPLE CHANGE that can help you on this pathway: start to bring more AWARENESS into your everyday activities. When we start to be more PRESENT, many things suddenly become much more clear. For example:

  • you stop making everything so hard for you
  • you want to know the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself
  • you want to understand better why you are choosing to eat a specific food over another one

When you cook, eat, pack your lunch for the office, decide what to prepare for dinner, go for grocery shopping… really BE THERE. Connect with your food – really taste, smell, savour and appreciate it.

… remember: to get the best results, keep your mind open and allow changes to happen!


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Mince Pies

(read in Italian)

It’s that time of the year, the festive season is in full swing and I’ve made some mince pies! I have finally decided to make my own version of these cute little tarts and share it with you. I love to create and publish real recipes from my kitchen, so they need to be something we can truly enjoy at home, not just a meal good for sharing a pretty picture. For this one has been the same, it’s a combination of taste, festive feeling and ingredients both me and my better half like. I hope you’ll enjoy these sweets as much as we do: to get the most out of the spiced filling, serve them warm – the ginger, cinnamon and mandarin peel give a perfect festive taste to these mince pies.

If you need to swap a few ingredients, here there are some suggestions I can share because I’ve tried them: you can use orange peel instead of mandarin, or even swap peel+lemon for the juice of 1 orange – you can also use tahini or cashew butter to replace almond butter.

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Mince Pies

Ingredients (makes 12-14 mince pies)

for the filling:

  • 2 medium-sized apples (sweet, preferably cooking apples)
  • 4 tbsp raisins
  • 1 ½ tbsp almond butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 mandarin (peel, organic)

for the dough:

  • 180 g whole grain spelt flour (you can also use whole wheat flour – go for brown rice flour if you need a gluten-free version)
  • 25 g butter (or olive oil, 5 tbsp)
  • 1 level tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • nut or oat drink

on top: coconut flour

To prepare the filling:

mix the grated apples (use apples grated in small pieces, not in a paste, or finely chop them) with the other ingredients and mix well. Among other ingredients listed, there’s the peel of a mandarin: use an organic one, washed and peeled – for the filling you will need the peel finely chopped. Place the mixture in a jar and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours – you can even prepare the filling 1 day in advance.

To prepare the dough:

in a bowl, mix the sugar with the melted cold butter and cinnamon. Start adding the flour and allow it to absorb all the liquid mixture (you will get a sort of crumble). Start adding some nut or oat drink in small portions – mix well with your hands and check the dough, before adding more liquid. You want a final result that doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Cover the dough and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using it.

You can use a muffin tray to make the mince pies if you don’t have one for small tarts. To cut the dough, I have used a 7.5 cm round cookie cutter for the base and a little star-shaped cutter for the top. Prepare the dough more or less thick depending on what are your preferences. Cut the rounded base for each pie and place it in the baking tray, add approx 1 tbsp of mincemeat (filling) and then add the little star on top. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden.

Better served warm – sprinkle on top with some coconut flour. Do you have some leftover filling? Use it on top of your bowl of porridge or yogurt!

Holiday Gift Guide

For your wellness enthusiast friend, for your loved ones, for yourself. My holiday gift guide that will hopefully make everybody happy.

I always need to be connected somehow with the gifts that I’m making, feel that there is a reason why I’m choosing that option, and from a general point of view, I don’t feel that need to buy just because I need to. So, here there’s my brief wellness-inspired list – put on some Christmas songs, prepare a cup of hot chocolate (spiced, like this one) and have a look at some of my favourite gift options! Chiara x

BOOKS

Green Kitchen Travels – packed with interesting recipes from all over the world (vegetarian/vegan)

Green Kitchen At Home – for the everyday healthy cooking (vegetarian/vegan)

Veggie Hotels – for anyone passionate about veggie food and travel

Tartine Book n°3 – a must-have for anyone interested in sourdough bread and baking

The Cultured Club: Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes – recipes and techniques for the fermentation enthusiast or the newbie

Grown & Gathered – learn more about growing, cooking and connecting with the food that you put on your table

 

 

HOME AND SELF-CARE

Manduka yoga mats, towels, props, and clothing – great quality and a particular attention to the environment

SuperBee Wax Wraps – reusable beeswax wraps

Grown & Gathered shop – reusable bags for your grocery shopping and storage bags

Kinvara Skincare – selected ingredients and combinations to nourish your skin

Samaya Ayurveda Skincare – ayurvedic-inspired formulations to take great care of your skin

Brookfield Farm and The Bearded Candle Makers – natural candles

Velona’s Jungle b&b – why don’t give the gift of a stay in the heart of Florence? A b&b with a particular attention to the design of their rooms, the history and nature around the city – but also with an attention to the environment and veggie-friendly.

And last, but not for importance: give the gift of an Ashtanga Yoga course to a newbie or give the gift of a package of classes at their favourite shala to your loved ones who are already practising. For those of you in Dublin, check out: Ashtanga Yoga Ireland and Ashtanga Yoga Dublin.

 

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Velona’s Jungle b&b

 

 

 


 

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Pumpkin Seeds Granola and Thick Mango Lassi

One of my favourite options for a plan-ahead breakfast: you can soak the chia seeds overnight in the fridge, and make the granola in advance. In the morning, you will just have to mix the ingredients in the blender and prepare your bowl. You can even prepare this in the morning, pack everything in a jar, and use it as breakfast to go.

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I definitely have a deep love for granola, and this recipe allowed me to pair it with another thing that I usually enjoy ’till the last drop: a mango lassi. Perfect as snack or breakfast, this bowl is packed with nutrients. If you have never tried to make a mango lassi before, have a look at my basic recipe for it. The one presented here is a thicker version, different in taste, but still delicious.

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Let’s see which are some of the benefits of mango:

1) RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Mangoes contain plenty of antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, and other phenolic compounds. They may help your body in fighting oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

2) GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
Mangoes are rich in folate, a nutrient that has been studied in relation to cardiovascular diseases, showing that has benefits for our heart health. They are also rich in fibre that helps to manage cholesterol levels and overall health.

3) HELPFUL FOR IRON ABSORPTION
The high content of vitamin C makes mangoes a good pair for foods rich in non-heme iron (less easy to be absorbed than heme iron).

4) GOOD FOR YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Due to their high content of vitamin C and carotenoids, mangoes are a good choice to boost your immune system.

5) GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN
Due to their characteristic content of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals (especially vitamin A, C, E, B6, K – folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, iron) mangoes are helpful for keeping a healthy and younger skin.

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Thick Mango Lassi

Ingredients:

(serves 2)
1 ripe mango
4 tbsp unsweetened plain yogurt (regular or plant-based)
½ medium-sized banana
2 tbsp chia seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 green cardamom pods (it’s better to crush the seeds in a mortar before adding them to the blender)
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp of turmeric
a pinch of black pepper

In a cup, mix the chia seeds and the yogurt – leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then combine all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until you get a smooth paste.

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Pumpkin Seeds Granola

Ingredients:

(serves 4-5)
100 g rolled oats (choose the gluten-free option if needed)
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
80 g almonds, chopped
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp coconut oil, melted (measured solid)
approx. 2 tbsp lukewarm water

In a bowl, combine oats, spices, coconut oil and some lukewarm water. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients. It can be useful to use a baking tray with baking paper or reusable baking sheets. Spread the granola on the baking tray making an even layer. Place in the preheated oven at 180°C for approx. 5 min. (mix once).

Take the baking tray out from the oven, add the chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds. Mix well with a spoon. Place in the oven at the same temperature for 5 min. (mix twice).

Allow to cool completely before serving or putting in a container.

Place the lassi in a bowl and top it with some granola. If I’m serving this for breakfast, I like to place a bowl with some extra granola on the table so everyone can add more to their bowl if needed.



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Pumpkin and Almond Cookies

Cookies with a different twist:  pumpkins have a high content of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C, all nutrients that are good for our heart health. They are also a well-known source of beta-carotene, that is a powerful antioxidant.

Continue reading “Pumpkin and Almond Cookies”