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Bottle brush, fallen trees, pathways and nature sprite faces

So here I am, second week back from my lovely writing retreat and I’ve come down with the flu.

Bah! Change of season and all of that, but honestly, what I’ve noticed more than anything since my return to the “normal” world is that this world? It really ain’t so normal.

In the middle of the bush, with all of my basic needs met – sleep, food, yoga, meditation, writing and hiking – I can’t express how INCREDIBLY well I felt. Just… brimming with health and vitality.

Everything I did for myself was appropriate to the day and how I felt. If I needed more sleep, I took it. If I wanted a longer/shorter meditation, so be it. Time wasn’t a feature in most of my activities other than remembering to go down the hill for dinner just before it got dark.

And then.

I returned to Melbourne. A biggish city. Well, big enough anyway. The response in my body was immediate. Sluggishness, exhaustion, headaches and generally feeling disinclined to leave the house unless I have to.

That was last week. Now, I’m sick again. Which isn’t so great in some ways but on the other hand, its served to ring the reality bell around how completely unhealthy our western world lifestyle is. And I’m not just talking about people who eat junk food 24/7.

Word is that one of the biggest triggers for autoimmune disorders is our environment. Yep. Exposure toxic chemicals and heavy metals. In our cities and suburbs, we’re saturated in them.

Coming down from the mountain, it’s all the little things I noticed, that seem to add up: traffic and street lights; cars, buses, trucks and planes; too much concrete; pollution; loud noises; unaware people smacking their bag into your arm on the train; working hard and long hours; not resting when we need to; staying up late. Etcetera.

We get stressed, over-tired and over-stimulated. We run on adrenaline (another autoimmune trigger!) and then when we fall over, we wonder why.

Really though, is it such a surprise that so many of us feel sick all the time? That we drag ourselves through our week days and then to make up for having to do a job we don’t love, overdo the fun and exhaust ourselves even further?

That whole routine? It’s nuts.

We need to overhaul our entire way of living. But how?

Well… from my perspective and experience, the answer is the same for everyone.

No matter the current status of your health, we all need to:


Recently, the lovely Rachel wrote about Slow Yoga – something a few of us yoga teacher types have been talking about on Twitter for a while now – which is our way of describing a philosophy towards both yoga and life.

We’ve ripped the term from the “slow food” movement of course, but the principals are the same. Well sorta. From a yoga perspective, we’re saying no to Bikram and don’t believe you get any more benefit from a fast-paced vinyasa “power flow” than you do from working more slowly and calmly.

We “slow yogis” all teach what we like to call “nanna yoga” – each of us in our own style. Of course, in slow yoga you can still work your ass off if you want. But instead of feeling exhausted afterwards, you’ll ideally feel more energized and awake.

And… Sarah Wilson wrote about the need for silence. Holy Shiva, we need more of this. Each and every one of us. Less headphones plugged in to the iPhone with music blaring (and disturbing others around you), more observing the world. Taking time to see (and perhaps photograph) things that move you.

Things that make you feel connected to the world. Without having to blah blah blah all the time, yeah?

Personally I crave silence, and fortunately for me I have my yoga practice which serves as both alone AND silent time. I also try to get as much silence into my day as possible. No radio or TV in the morning while I get ready for work. No TV at all really, unless I’m watching something specific.

So yeah… we can all basically do with slowing down, calming down and doing less. It doesn’t make us weak, lazy or pathetic. Instead, it can be an opportunity to listen to your body. Find out what you really need in order to be well.

And when you’re not well? Pay attention. Not just to getting over your cold, but to what you might be able to change in your life to reduce the levels of stress you face on a daily basis.

~ Svasti