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Smart girls guide to oral

photo 2Some women aren’t into oral. 

It’s a bit tricky for me to put myself in their position because I love it. Some would say I’m a natural. When I do it, I feel powerful and enjoy knowing that what I’m doing with my mouth whole being is affecting someone in a profound way. I know I can bring them into a special place.

The women I’ve spoken to who aren’t into it, have told me that:

  • They feel awkward and stiff.
  • They get very little or no enjoyment out of it.
  • They fumble and things just don’t flow.
  • There’s other stuff they’re skilled at which they’d rather do.
  • They feel a degree of performance anxiety.
  • They don’t have a clue what they’re doing (or so they tell themselves).

 

I’m about to make life easier for you.

Whether you’re a woman who feels at home delivering oral *presentations*, or you’re totally freaked out at the thought of meeting a new client for the first time, let alone speaking in public, this nugget of info will help you to perform at your best.

photo 1Day 12 is where it’s at.

Hormonally, a woman’s oral performance is likely to peak on day twelve of her menstrual cycle. Now, obviously this depends on the length of each woman’s cycle, and where in her cycle she feels most at home. Some women will feel more at home during menstruation, but me, I’m an Ovulation Queen. I experience a natural expansive high around days 9 – 14: I’m social, and interested in connecting emotionally – intellectually – physically, so it’s easy for me to take advantage of the peak of Oestrogen on day 12, and use it to nail a workshop or client meeting.

Our hormones are trying to get us laid.

Why does this happen around day 12? Well, it’s often also the peak of a woman’s sexual desire, so given that ovulation occurs around day 14, it makes sense for us to be chatty and horny around day 12, as it takes sperm a few days to travel and find the egg. So very cleverly, mother nature has us out there feeling confident, horny and talkative, all so we have sex at the right time to stand a chance of conceiving.

Track your cycle.

I’m all about tracking menstrual cycles. If, every day, you jot down what day you’re on and a bit about how you’re feeling, you can start to track your own patterns. Women are actually far more predictable than the media would have us believe, and once you start harnessing the power of each phase of the menstrual cycle, you can get the most out life (more about this next week).

Plan your diary accordingly.

If you feel amazing around ovulation, try to schedule meetings where you need to perform in some way around this time; basically, anything that involves speaking. My guess is that if you feel good around this time (again, not all women do), then you’re more likely to do well. That might look like being more confident at a public speaking event, convincingly asking for a raise, or eloquently debating your point (whether you’re at work or home).

Work with me.

I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to explore the power of your own menstrual cycle. Maybe you find it a battle or go a bit nuts every month, or perhaps you want to raise your game at work and are realising this menstrual awareness stuff isn’t just a load of woo-woo.

I’m getting ready to launch a three-month coaching package at an introductory rate. I’m limiting it to six spots as I want to focus my energy on a small number of clients, so keep your beautiful eyes peeled for the details.

My big news

No, there’s no bun in my oven (sorry, doula sisters, you’re gonna have to keep waiting).

But, I do have some exciting news (don’t worry, not enough to challenge your pelvic floor): I’ve got a women’s health workshop coming up in May.

Read on, if:

  • You think that your period is the same as your cycle (it’s not, but don’t worry, it’s a very common mistake to make and everything will become clear on day one).
  • You’d like practical tools which allow you to create a life which is in tune with your body’s rhythms.
  • You want to know how to adjust your yoga practice according to your menstrual cycle (or moon cycle for the post-menopausal ladies).
  • You want to feel connected to your heart and womb so that you can hear and develop your own wisdom.
  • You want to reframe how you view your reproductive system (maybe you have menstrual symptoms / fertility issues / have experienced trauma, and have trouble loving this part of you).

“Why-didn’t-anyone-tell-me-this-when-I-was-fourteen?!”

I’m going to be busting out the need-to-know, can’t-be-skipped women’s health essentials. I’ll be giving you the low-down on some basic biology (there’s no test at the end, though if there was, I’m confident you’d nail it after this), and getting into the juicy business of how women change as we move through the different phases of our monthly cycle.

Life-changing, like my first time with Mimi.

There’ll be a super-insightful guided visualisation, complete with journalling / drawing (whichever floats your boat), so that you can journey into yourself and discover what messages are waiting to be heard, and that, ladies, is where the work gets BIG … I don’t want to spoil it, but you’re going to be learning how you can use your cycle to get the most out of your life. This work is often deeply emotional and spiritual, but with a very practical basis for living in the modern world.

After you’ve had a delicious lunch in our café – hello, millet burgers and raw chocolate cake – (other eateries are available), we’re going to be getting into a nourishing and insightful yoga practice, which will allow you to explore how you can adapt your practice to suit your needs as you flow through each phase of your cycle. Our afternoon practice, led by Mollie Morris and myself, will build on the wisdom of our morning session.

Broga.

Many traditional yoga forms were designed for men, with linear, movements and a focus on repetition and regularity and sometimes a military discipline. In some yoga traditions, we are taught to make our body fit the practice, or to skip the practice altogether. As women, our bodies have different rhythms and needs at different moments in our cycles.

Using seasonal traits to effectively manage our energy levels, we can also practice and embody different qualities based on our cyclic rhythms. This supports our bodies’ transitions through our cycles and stages of life. Expect to move and feel, but also to leave with inspirations for aligning your practice to your body (and not the other way around).

Sound good? Here are the details:

Saturday 10th May

10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm (each session is £30)

Sadhaka Yoga Centre, Camden, London, NW1

Ready to book?

Then head over here to book your spot for the morning, and here for the afternoon practice.

See you ladies there! 

Big love, Maisie.

P.S.

If you sign up for the whole weekend (Sunday features a Sister Yoga Circle and Belly Dancing), it’s only £100. Bargain.

Detoxing this month?

img_3455So this is the time of year where lots of  “my year in review” blog posts have appeared, and although I’m sure you’re all desperate to hear about how 2013 was the year I realised I actually like egg mayo sandwiches, I’m not going to harp on about it.

It’s also the time of year where people start telling me about what they’re going to give up for their new years resolution. Maybe you’re determined to stop smoking come Jan 1st, or maybe you’re planning on detoxing somehow (unless of course you end up on a *really* fun night out, in which case, hello tequila).

Want to know my top tip for detoxing in January?

Don’t bother. Seriously.

This is a naff time of year to undertake massive change, we’re just trying to get through winter. Your body is trying to stay warm and nourished, so don’t go all hardcore on yourself, particularly you ladies who are trying to get knocked up. That means no juice detoxes. Yup, you heard me. Our bodies are in hibernation mode and juicing is too extreme for this time of year, save it for the energy of spring. Right now we want to be focussed on staying nourished.

Think of it like this.

My friends have just bought a house and it needs a bit of work done to it. They’re desperate to get cracking, gut the kitchen and rip down an external wall to build a larger room. Are they gonna do all that in January? Hell no. Doing that in the middle of the winter would mean exposing their lovely home to wind, cold and damp. Their home is just like your body, in other words, doing that kind of work would be a disaster which would cause long-term damage to their home, and your body. Instead, they’ve opted to install some loft insulation so that they keep their home nice and warm. They’re saving the bigger work for a more appropriate time of year.

Your body is your home, protect it.

  • Warming and strengthening foods are going to be more helpful than juices, which tend to cool our internal world down. Think root vegetables, whole grains, soups and broths, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, a bit of red meat.
  • Invest in a Haramaki, it’ll keep your core warm and you’ll never suffer from a builder’s bum.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not go outside in ballerina slippers, or in my case, converse. Cold readily enters the body through the feet, so go buy some thermal socks from M&S (I’ll be going into more detail about this next week).

Shameless plug:

Caught between wanting to go out and drink tequila, and making your own chicken stock? I’ve got another option for January: My Arvigo therapy offer will run till the end of Jan and I have 20 12 10 8 spots left. It’s great for reproductive health, fertility, digestion and emotional stuff (perfect after the holiday season). You can read more about it here.

One treatment: £90 (£35 off)

Three treatment bonus offer: £250 (£125 off)

This offer is short-term, the price will increase to £125 per session as of Feb 1st 2014, you’ll need to book and receive your treatment by the end of January. For the smart cookies wanting to book a course of three treatments, your first session must be before Feb 1st 2014, the other two treatments can roll over. If you’re ready to jump in, holla at me and let me know a few options with regards to times you can do in the coming weeks. Once we figure out a time, I’ll email you a pre-treatment form for you to fill in and return to me by email.

Part of the Ice Festival in Harbin, China, where I spent three months studying acupuncture in a large hospital. It was -32 degrees celsius.
Part of the Ice Festival in Harbin, China, where I spent three months studying acupuncture in a large hospital. It was -32 degrees celsius.

 

When it’s ok to not be ok

photoI know it’s happened to you. You’re having a rough patch in life, like grieving for the baby you can’t conceive / the end of a relationship / miscarriage / death of a loved one / life just isn’t measuring up to your high expectations.

You see a friend, share a bit, and they say, “you’ve got plenty of time to have kids / it wasn’t meant to be / at least you know you can get pregnant / it’s going to be okay.”

And right about then is when you want to punch them. Grief sucks and we are taught in this society not to do it. Lost relationship? Chin up, pull through it….

But how do you get to self-care when you are smack in the middle of grief? When your heart is hurting it can be really fucking hard to take care of yourself, in fact you’re probably not even thinking about it. You’re consumed by what’s going on in your heart, and you’re falling to pieces.

When my world changed.

Several years ago, I realised that I could no longer be with the man I was with. No matter how much love I felt for him, my love wasn’t enough to fix him … and yeah, I know, how arrogant to think that my love could do that. He had issues (hey, I did do too), and when I found out the extent of them, the behaviours associated with them, I had to put my big girl pants on and get the hell out of there. So after five years of living together and a couple of years of fighting hard to make it work, I left. And it fucking sucked.

Then came the rapid weight loss.

When I’m stressed my stomach goes into lockdown; it feels like there’s a vice in my solar plexus. You know what I mean, when it feels like there’s a hand twisting your insides so you can’t breathe properly let alone eat. Unless of course you’re someone who binges to push through the tension, bugger all wrong with that, I just tend towards the no eating side of things.

How did I handle it?

I discovered Japanese rice crackers; delicious air, perfect for someone with a non-existent appetite. I coaxed my way back into eating by letting them dissolve in my mouth, a packet at a time. I also started training for the Caledonian Challenge. Twice a month I would do a 16-24 mile walk, and when it comes to stimulating the appetite, I’m not sure there’s anything better than exercise (other than smoking weed). In pretty much every picture of me walking, you’ll see a peanut butter sandwich in my hand (crunchy, never smooth), and bit by bit I regained the weight I’d lost.

A couple of years later, I realised that there were a few places deep inside where I was still holding onto this hurt, and it was seeing an Arvigo therapist which helped me to unlock and begin the process of letting go. Now I massage my belly every day as part of my daily self-care routine, it’s how I stop my stomach going into lockdown mode.

When you’re hurting, practice self-love above all else.

Give yourself some space to not be ok.

  1. Phone a friend. Let someone else in, tell one person what’s going on, let them hold your space. Text five friends and say, “hey, I’m having a shit time at the moment, I’d love it if you could check in with me once in a while or if we could hang out soon”. Be proactive in asking for help; I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve kept quiet till everything has been resolved, only to be reprimanded by friends months down the line for not allowing them to help.
  2. Get raw. Stick on the music which makes you feel all the hurt and loss. Don’t block it, feel it. Get lost in the emotion. I know it feels like it’s never going to end, but it will change, at least.
  3. Get your arse outside. Trees, rocks, soil; they’ve all been around a hell of a lot longer than we have, they can hold the energy we can’t (yes, I’m a hippy at heart). Let it go. Let your face be battered by wind and drizzle. Sob till your nose runs and then sob some more.
  4. Express yourself. Grab a notepad and write, if that feels uncomfortable, just write over your own words again and again so that nothing is readable, that way you get it out of you but there’s no way to revisit what’s come out, unless you want to of course. Buy some crayons and draw. Why crayons? We associate them with childhood, not grown up “proper” art, which helps to keep things playful and about expression, as oppose to producing something.
  5. Move. I have this theory that moving forwards physically moves you forwards mentally. So get walking, running or cycling. It needn’t be as extreme as a 54 mile hike, but if you get stuck on the sofa (been there), you’ll stay stuck in your head. Dance; surrender to the music, free that shit up and get it out of your system.

Need a kickstart?

Then come and get some love in the form of a treatment. It’s the first thing I do when shit hits the fan. Letting friends in etc is all well and good, but going for a treatment works on a different level. For a start, I don’t think any of my friends would be up for massaging me for longer than two minutes, if that. Mainly though, there’s something incredibly nurturing about doing something which is all about you.

Right now I have an offer on which will run till the end of January, and there are 20 13 8 spots left. It’s for a 90 minute Arvigo session, during which you’ll receive a nurturing belly and back massage, then I’ll teach you how to perform it on yourself, so that you can treat yourself every day. You can read about it in full over here, but here are the basics:

One treatment: £90 (£35 off)

Three treatment bonus offer: £250 (£125 off)

This offer is short-term, the price will increase to £125 per session as of Feb 1st 2014, and I’m only offering twenty spots at this amount. You must book and receive your first treatment by the end of January.

Next step?

If you’re ready to jump in, holla at me and let me know a few options with regards to times you can do in the coming weeks. Once we figure out a time, I’ll email you a pre-treatment form for you to fill in and return to me by email.

What are you putting up with?

AutumnAutumn has arrived and I have mixed feelings about this new season; I love seeing the leaves change, I get so much pleasure out of picking up conkers, and nothings beats snuggling up under a blanket. But I really don’t enjoy layering up so much, and cycling in the rain ain’t much fun either (and yes, I still haven’t purchased a mudguard).

I feel blessed that mother nature is giving us such a strong message; the lean winter months are coming, it’s time to take stock and prepare. This is the perfect time of year to let go of things which no longer serve you, including the past. It is a time to look forward, what do you want to carry with you through the quieter, darker months? As we move into autumn and winter, our bodies adjust to the new seasons with a natural desire to rest more. The heat and burst of energy of the summer is behind us, now is the time for rest, sleep and renewal.

With that in mind, what do you want to use your energy on or for?

Last year I made a list, it was a long list. It was a list of everything I was putting up with. I went through all the spheres of my life, work, pleasure, relationships, unfinished projects, health issues, living space etc. I wrote down everything I wasn’t happy about and I didn’t hold back. I wrote about the “big” stuff, the relationships that weren’t fulfilling me, the flat I didn’t like, not owning a gorgeous handbag (oh come on, of course that’s important). I also got down to the minutiae of life, the trousers that weren’t hemmed, owning a bike which sat unhappily in the corner of the room with a puncture, not having enough socks …

When I was done, and it did take a while, I went through the list and checked off everything I was prepared to put up with. For instance, I was (and still am) prepared to travel across London to go to an amazing yoga class, I’m happy to travel outside of London to see an amazing therapist, I’m willing to continue to invest in relationships when the other person is too.

All the other stuff? I made changes. Some were instant and easy (buying socks), some took a while and involved tears (ending my marriage). And I’ll be honest, I haven’t made it through the whole list yet, so I’m going to write a new one. As we go into hibernation mode this is what I’m asking myself:

  • What’s missing from my life?
  • Where would I like more clarity?
  • Where can I create space?
  • What and whom do I want to invest my energy / time / love / money in?
  • What’s taking up my time that I don’t enjoy and could in all honesty, stop being involved in?
  • What can I wrap up now whilst my energy is high so that I’m not carrying the weight of unfinished things into the winter?
  • What three things do I want to focus on to ensure they happen?

Your turn: 

What’s on your list? Think big, think small. Connect with what’s important.

Give yourself permission to trim the fat out of your life.

But I thought you were a health freak?

Last night I went to my weekly yoga class in Clapham (it’s worth travelling for), and before the class started some of us were talking about Pancake Day; my contribution to the conversation was the revelation that I once ate 23 pancakes in one sitting.

Yes you read correctly; 23.

I can also put an entire pancake in my mouth at once but I didn’t bother sharing this tidbit as someone had already exclaimed, “but I thought you were a health freak!”

Practitioners of the healthy lifestyle variety tend to be viewed as holier-than-thou. Can I let you in on a secret? We’re not. Everyone of us has a vice and mine is cake: A wedge of victoria sponge, my friend Sandee’s carrot cake which is super moist because she uses pineapple juice in it, butterscotch brownies, honey and parsnip cake with pistachio frosting… the list goes on. I love cake so much that my nickname in secondary school was “Fat Lisa”, not because I was overweight but because I was regularly spotted eating two slices of cake for lunch (my given name is Lisa-Mae, so that accounts for why I wasn’t Fat Maisie).

I’m hoping that in reading this you’re feeling a sense of relief, we are all human, we are all programmed to crave and seek food with a high fat content. Back when food was scarce, eating foods which were highly calorific was essential for survival, and when we consumed them we were rewarded with a surge of feel-good hormones to ensure that we continued to seek out these reliable food sources. However, these days most of us live in a culture of abundance, but when we eat high fat foods we still get that feel-good kick.

Recently I bumped into an acupuncture client at a local café and as we were chatting she glanced at what was in front of me; a coffee with one sugar and a chunky slice of ginger and molasses cake. She went on to tell me, “I love that my acupuncturist drinks coffee with sugar in it and eats cake”. She felt relieved that her acupuncturist is “normal”. I felt relieved that she accepted me for being Fat Maisie. Ultimately our connection deepened and I think (hope) that as a result of our interaction, she feels more able to share her vices with me.

I’m not saying that we should continuously indulge our cravings, it’s about figuring out what’s appropriate for you. If I was running around Hackney guzzling coffee and sweet treats all day, I wouldn’t be treating myself kindly or treating my patients responsibly. In fact it’s nigh on impossible for me to hear what someone’s pulse is telling me when all I can hear is my own heart racing after a coffee! Instead, I stick to having one or two coffee and cake sessions a week, and when I say sessions I don’t mean 23 pancakes. The rest of the time I happily stick to herbal teas, savoury snacks or squares of dark chocolate (it’s full of magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and other minerals, honest guv’).

As a practitioner it’s important that my clients feel able to be honest about their lifestyles with me, I like them to know that they won’t be yelled at. I’m not going to roll my eyes, shake my head or laugh at you. It takes a lot for some people to come for a treatment, so I’d rather congratulate you for showing up and being honest about your life. It’s far nicer when we feel acknowledged and accepted, right?

Let’s get real about what’s going on in our lives and remove the fear that if we dare to share what we struggle with, we’re going to be made to feel like we’re crap. Nobody needs that when they’re reaching out for support.