Fresh From The Garden

In the southern hemisphere it’s an exciting time of year for food production in the gardens.  As spring gives way to summer, the soils warm, new leaves & blossoms appear & everywhere we look, the earth is showing vibrant signs of life.

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The production team has been busy mulching our berry areas, the orchard, preparing our vegetable growing areas, composting & making eco-sourced seaweed fertilizers. Our greenhouses are flourishing, full of lush green, red & purple foliage & floral colour.  We have also begun the seed sowing program for our contribution to the upcoming summer & autumn Aro Hā menu.  This season we will be providing our largest range yet of microgreens, herbs, vegetables, fruits & edible & medicinal flowers.

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We are poised with enthusiasm & excitement, as our busiest growing time of the year evolves.

The tree huggers had it right?

It seems that our biology didn’t come with a terribly strong mechanism for prioritizing many habits that make us healthy.  It’s as though survival was the dominant driving force, and now that survival has been greatly simplified we face the potential of being overly indulgent, sedentary, and lulled by the digital glow of the screen.

While most of us experience a noticeable sense of well-being when we frolic in nature, known as the biophilia hypothesis, it seems that temptations of modern living are stronger than that of nature.  This is illustrated by the trend of urbanization.  It’s not really surprising that our human family continues to choose the comfort of domestication, but at what cost and can we go too far?

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If you imagine for a moment, a chimpanzee living a modern life;  flat-whites, smartphones, fastfood, knowledge work, social media, and treadmills.  The result of urbanisation is what most of us know as home.  In Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods he describes a hypothesis he calls Nature Deficit Disorder.  His research shows we are spending less time in nature, resulting in a wide array of behavioural problems.

We are seeing an epidemic rise in depression and anxiety disorders.  Currently, 6.6% of US residents will experience a “severe depressive” event in any given year, and 18.1% will experience an anxiety disorder. While medication is often needed when the condition becomes severe, we don’t seem to be looking at the underlying causes, and to me, our distance from nature is one of the major causes.  I can certainly feel the difference in my body when I choose to spend a day with my computer, compared to a day hiking in the forest.

Did you know in Japanese they have a term that translates to “forest bathing”?!  Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, was first suggested in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan.  Research has shown forest bathers experience lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, and greater parasympathetic nerve activity compared to city bathers.  In addition, breathing the naturally occurring essential oils from trees, called phytoncides appears to support our immune system.  Phytoncides are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds from trees, such as a-pinene and limonene, and they serve as part of the tree’s immune system.  

You might be thinking, “Hanging out in a forest sounds great, but I’ve got work to do!”  All that work isn’t doing us much good.  People are reporting increased stress and less free time.  I’m sure you can imagine the negative repercussions, they include the increased risk of anxiety, depression, heart disease, weight gain, and cognitive decline.  What to do?  Question what’s most important in our lives.  Prioritize the things that truly bring you joy.  Create habits that support your wellbeing, like forest bathing, and consciously notice what activities cause stress.  Did you know that the reported benefits of forest bathing mimic those of mindfulness and meditation?  Go hug a tree and you can expect reduced stress, blood pressure, even faster recovery from injury, along with improved immune function, mood, sleep, focus, and energy.  Go nature!

No forest?  Here are some suggestions:

If you find yourself far from a forest, remember it’s nature we’re after, and she’s never far away.  Try the following:

  • Get outside anywhere.  Just pause, look up at the sky, relax and watch the clouds.  Slowing down is the answer to many of our problems.
  • Prioritise natureConsider how you can get more Vitamin-N.  Local parks, houseplants, balcony garden, or a nature vacation, remember it’s your wellbeing at stake. 

I’m ready to get outside!

With hugs,

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Blackcurrant KaPow

Need a little more punch in your step?  This is whole foods living goodness.   Unless you’ve spent some time with us at Aro Ha, chances are you’ve never tasted something so delicious and power packed as our KaPow Smoothie.

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Ingredients

100g of any frozen berries (blackberries preferably)

½ Cup Kombucha

20g Raw Cacao Powder

15g Almond Butter

½ tsp Maca Powder

1 Medjool Dates

½ tsp Spirilina

4 Ice Cubes

 

Directions

Put all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend for 3 minutes on high.  Done!

Visiting Talent

As a place of transformation Aro Hā bubbles with the latest research, teachings, and techniques. We hand pick select educators to augment our signature programs.  Have a look at this summer’s hot list, and join us for a Signature retreat, or one of these upcoming co-hosted retreats.

SimonSimon Park joins us for a retreat February 16th, during his australasian tour. Simon was chosen by Yoga Journal as “one of the most influential and gifted, next generation of Yoga Teachers”. Since 2002, Simon has led workshops, teachers trainings and retreats at many of the worlds top Yoga studios and destinations in Europe, Asia, and the U.S.  His style is fluid, intuitive and encourages freedom through self-exploration.  In addition to Shiva Rea, other strong influences are Richard Freeman, Maty Ezraty, Joan White and Dharma Mittra.  Dubbed “The Flying Nomad”, he draws inspiration from road legends such as Jimi Hendrix, who said “The Earth is my home”. 

Kate-KendallKate Kendall is Co-Founder & Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic in Sydney’s Paddington. She join us March 5th for a special Adventure in Wellbeing.  Passionate about teaching the art of slowing down; her approach to yoga is down to earth, fun and light-hearted. ‘Yoga Guru’ for Body & Soul Magazine, Kate writes, presents and creates video content providing people with the opportunity to experience yoga progressively and in a way that’s adaptable to a contemporary lifestyle. 

 

CharlotteSmlerCharlotte Thaarup-Owen leads Mindfulness workshops, retreats and corporate trainings globally and has over 20 years experience in facilitating change. She has been the mindfulness expert for Danish Magazine Femina, produced mindfulness training CDs and numerous Mindfulness programs.  Join us May 3rd, this Adventure in Wellbeing features mindfulness classes with Charlotte, who will shed new light on our inner landscape. Whether you’re completely new to mindfulness, or an experienced practitioner, this retreat will help us all to live a more connected and fulfilling life.

Guest educators add flavour to our award winning programs, without over-powering the experience. Regardless of the program you choose, expect a life affirming experience that leads you back to your highest self.

In health,

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Peace Through Play

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We’re celebrating Peace Day 2015 with one of our favourite classes Peace Sticks.  Created by the Rilling brothers, Evan & Shine, this game combines meditative movement, Native American practice, and childlike playfulness.

Remember how fun it was to throw a ball, a frisbee, or to try and juggle?  When was the last time you truly played? Not to win, not to develop a skill, but just for fun?

What you’ll love about Peace Sticks

  • Instantaneous smile, and laughter.
  • Effortless presence.
  • A chance to play.
  • Joyful connection with friends.
  • Brain training!

Learn more HERE

Peace,

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Karmic Hug

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We’re thrilled to be nominated in 9 categories for Spafinder Wellness 365 Travel Awards 2015!  

This will take less than 5 minutes, and big karmic hugs will be delivered to those who take a moment to VOTE HERE. By voting you will also have the chance to win a $1000 Spafinder Gift Card.

We’re nominated in:

  • Best for Fitness
  • Best for Healthy Cuisine
  • Best for Couples
  • Best overall healthy living program
  • Best for Outdoor adventure and activities
  • Best New Spa and Wellness property
  • Best for Mind and spirit
  • Best for Men
  • Best Eco-friendly and sustainable property
  • Best for the WOW factor

Each vote makes a massive difference, and your votes helped us win last year!  

With gratitude, thank you…

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Ditch The Daily Coffee

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world.  More than 90 percent of adults use caffeine regularly, and on average consume about 200 mg per day.

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With minimal life threatening side effects, the habitual use of caffeine means we can spend a lifetime under its influence.  Coffee does have its perks (wink), like antioxidants, increased energy, and even decreased risk of dementia, but at what cost?

Anything you do every day should be deeply considered. 

The latest research from Johns Hopkins Medical School reveals that although previous studies showed caffeine was providing multiple benefits including improved cognitive function, what was actually being observed was the elevation from a depressed state to a normal state.  In other words if we drink caffeine daily, we’re always either “high” or “hungover”, with “high” being close to what should be normal.  So we deceive ourselves into thinking coffee will help us wake up and perform better. 

The use of caffeine creates both physical and behavioural changes.  Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that caffeine increases the secretion of epinephrin (the fight or flight hormone), raises blood pressure, stimulates the heart, and produces rapid shallow breathing, which deprives the brain of the oxygen needed to keep your thinking calm and rational.

With a half life of 8 hours your morning caffeine fix still reduces the quality and length of your sleep, even 14 hours after consumption.  After a night of mediocre sleep you wake groggy, needing a coffee, which all leaves you feeling tired in the afternoon, so you need more caffeine, which leaves even more of it in your bloodstream at bedtime.  I’m sure you can see (and have likely felt) this vicious cycle.

You’ll only miss the habit while the addiction fades.  

Most habits take between 21-31 days to kick.  This is the time to be vigilant.  Making any change requires letting go of something.  Don’t leave an empty hole where your coffee habit lived, replace it with one or more of these healthy habits.

My Favourite Coffee Replacements

  1.  First Thing, Hydrate 
    • We wake dehydrated. Hydration is key to good energy.
    • 1/4 lemon squeezed or teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a tall glass of water.
    • Hydration is proven to be more effective at creating sustained alertness than coffee.
  2. Take Breaks 
    • Sitting is the new smoking.  We’re not meant to sit all day.
    • Walk, jog, or stretch for a few minutes every hour.
  3. Replace It
    • Replace with Tea; Rooibos, Pu’erh, Teeccino, or…
    • Try Damian’s Morning Mix (serves 1):
      • 1 cup – Almond milk
      • 2 pitted dates
      • 1/2 tsp – Raw Cacao Powder
      • 1 tsp – coconut oil
      • Dash of cinnamon and/or cardamom
      • Blend, heat, and serve…
  4. Nap Time
    • Your body naturally wants to rest around 1pm.  Why fight the feeling?  Sounds silly, but many of us can find 20 minutes to rest if we want to.
    • My favourite is to take your legs up the wall, close your eyes, be still, and rest for 15-20 minutes. This simple posture clears the mind, improves immune function, and is equal to a 1.5 hour nap. 

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You don’t have to commit to living without coffee forever, just for long enough to let the addiction subside… Try it for 30 days, and observe your energy closely.

I want to hear from you…  Successes?  Pitfalls?

Be well,

Damian Chaparro

Power and Effort

Styles of Practice

In this 4:27m interview, Peter explains the paradox between power and effort, and the difference between many of the popular styles of yoga today, and what he practices and teaches, particularly with the use of non-muscular effort and the subtle elemental energies commonly found in eastern martial arts.

Watch Video 

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Peter Sterios is coming to New Zealand and if you won’t be lucky enough to attend one of the his sold-out classes across the country, you might be interested in joining him for a more in-depth wellness experience at the award winning Aro Hā.

Join him HERE