What is Brain Gym?

What are Brain Gym exercises-

During Inner Rainbow Mindfulness 7 week Course the participants will have the chance to learn and practice Brain Gym or Movement Therapy Exercises each week. These are a great way to improve focus, switch on the brain, practice physical coordination and reconnect the body and mind. You’ll be able to continue using them at home using the videos found in the exclusive online content that goes with the course!

 

So what is Brain Gym? Learn more here.

 

Brain Gym, Educational Kinesiology or Movement Therapy is a series of movements, done with intention and designed to ‘wake-up’ the brain or to stimulate brain function. Its focus is improved learning and mental organisation. The idea is that these are simple exercises that anyone can do at home or at work or at school and they are often used with children who have special needs or need to improve their learning ability. They are designed to strengthen the relationship between body and mind and so are particularly interesting in this time when so many of our activities are cerebral.

The Brain Gym programme was developed by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison and grew out of Educational Kinesiology. It is a set of 26 exercises or activites. Brain Gym or Movement Therapy is often used by therapists or in school classrooms with a reported increase in concentration and reading and listening skills.

 

Brain gym images

Brain Gym exercises are used to improve focus; children (or adults) repeat the exercises regularly and slowly. In children using these exercises there is often a noticeable improvement in memory, concentration, relationships and communication, and physical coordination. Though it is not 100% clear how and why this happens the thinking is that it exercises areas of the brain and strengthens neurological pathways that may not be well used otherwise. It allows participants to practice and strengthen physical coordination pathways and used to support children having developmental issues in this area. The therapy also requires them to be focused and present (i.e. mindful) during the exercises, supporting a habit of focus and single-mindedness. The exercises stimulate particular areas of the brain to improve its function, improve the integration between brain parts and links between the two hemispheres.

Children (and adults) often habitually rely more heavily on one hemisphere of the brain and under use the other, particularly in times of stress. This then means the other side of the brain is under utilised and therefore the person may not be functioning optimally. A lot of Brain gym exercises are designed to cross over from one side to the other – for example making sideways figure eights or putting an elbow to the opposite knee. The aim is to strengthen the connections between left and right brain activity, strengthen neural pathways and improve coordination. When our brains work better our whole body works better and we have an increased sense of well being.

During one-on-one and class sessions, the client is observed to see which exercises will best help them – consideration is given to how their body is when they stand and sit, what behavioral traits they display, their hand-eye coordination, what head or body movements they use, if they can move both sides of the body simultaneously, whether hips and shoulders can be moved at the same time etc. After using the specific exercises people should notice their mental processes are better organised and they are able to focus. But the exercises can be used by everyone and are not limited to those with learning difficulties or coordination problems. They are a great accompaniment to life and learning.

For a great explanation and more indepth discussion about it I like this article which focuses on one of the exercises; http://heartsatplay.com/the-cross-crawl-a-remarkable-movement/

For an old but interesting research project focused on improving reading in classrooms http://www.movementbasedlearning.com/articles/articles/readingproject.html

Or if you are interested in Educational Kinesiology and Brain Gym http://www.braingym.org.uk/about-edu-k/

Kate Baldwin is a qualified Kinesiologist and can be found at http://thebalancesession.com

Journal Writing, Why and How!

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There are so many reasons to journal your personal life. To be able to look back and see how far you have come over the year is paramount to human health and emotional well-being. Maybe you are in the same place, saying the same things over and over,  reading it all back may stimulate the passion and motivation to finally move forward.

Journaling is only for you.

As a practitioner I am always encouraging people (of all ages) to write a diary or journal as a method of showing them how far they have come, to help recognise patterns of thought or behaviour.

Our physical body is intrinsically connected to our emotional self and writing it all down can be the catalyst to seeing this connection in black and white!

1. Keeping a journal helps us to take responsibility. The importance of committing our goals, strategy, thoughts, dreams, mistakes and achievements to paper is a great way of accepting and highlighting what we may take for granted. It also gets them out of our head. Writing out our goals provides the opportunity to articulate them clearly, makes their achievement appear easier and gives us responsibility to work towards them. I realised early in my school life that I could recollect information with greater effect and clarity if I had physically written it down. To this day I still use pen and paper to help me work through things, organise myself and get motivated.

2. A journal serves as a permanent record. Success can be quickly forgotten, mistakes happen over and over. When I hand write notes in my sessions, write my books and all my articles researching first with a pen and paper I am creating a permanent record I can refer back too. Looking back over them when I am feeling blocked or if I am missing something helps to reorganise my direction. Clarity and focus comes from accepting and acknowledging our progress (sometimes lack of). Even my ‘to do lists’ are in my journals, seeing what is constantly not completed helps me to recognise areas to work on or things which are clearly just not that important! 

3. Writing helps us to think through and adjust strategy.  Committing thoughts to paper or simply being creative by writing from inspiration helps us to evaluate and work through our process on a deeper level. Often when I am cross or frustrated, writing it down gives me a release and also helps me to feel empathy to see through my reactions and anger. I am a huge pro’s and con’s list writer. As an eternal optimist, I love to always see the brighter side of any situation, writing it down helps me get through the negative to the other side. By acknowledging negative emotions and thoughts you can quickly dissipate their control over you. Knowing you have a safe space to 100% be yourself is very important. In the world of increasing digital hacking and disclosure, it is nice to keep something private. You can always destroy paper, ripping paper is hugely therapeutic as is burning it (safely of course!). 

4. A journal helps us to think big. Sometimes we feel foolish verbalising our deepest dreams and desires. So many of us think that our lot in life is to keep small and we are not worthy of wishing for greatness. To be honest, it’s even hard to admit, even to ourselves, our greatest desires. By writing down everything, however likely or not we think it is in our lifetime, writing it down gets us one step closer to finding out our true purpose and desires. The little voice in our head which blocks us can be silenced as we strategise, manifest and be truthful about. As we write the big things it may change our focus and remember to have gratitude for what we do have. There is always something to be grateful for. In our safe space we dare to dream and hope for our future. Prayers, hopes and wishes can be written down with pure intension and belief. A life pictured without limits holds so much positive value and drives us forward.

5. Journaling is so simple, stress relieving and good for your health: I am a kinaesthetic and visual person, so I work better with pen and paper. However I have notes on my phone, computer and I have notebooks everywhere! My blog is even a journal (find out how to start your own blog here). You can journal in words, pictures or even as a vision board of cut outs from newspapers and magazines. As long as it is charting your thoughts and actions the world is your oyster! By releasing stressful thoughts and emotions onto paper and building a strategy. Following that with positive affirmations and goal setting and you are helping the body to enter into rest and recovery mode, therefore calming the nervous system for every part of your body to begin to heal and restore!

journal writing tips loula natural

Here’s how I journal:

1. Don’t worry about how many times, time of day, what to write, JUST WRITE. Forget spelling grammar, colour of pen or how you format it. That can all be sorted later.

2. Simply follow your train of thought, you can begin with “i have no idea what to write or how i feel” things will come. Journaling is only to help you track where you are and brings you to the present so JUST BE, ALLOW FLOW. I have some of my best ideas and to do lists when I am exercising. Having notebooks helps me as I sit straight down and write when I get back! I also do it on my phone for reference and transcribe into my paper notebook later in the day. It is amazing sometimes where these thoughts take you!


3. Find a list of journal prompts (pinterest is good for this) or inspiring quotes (here on insta) for great starting points. This can help to guide you. Try to ban negative tirades- instead do pro and con lists about situations to find the positives in your life. Gratitude lists are also great starting points. Simply WRITE 5 THINGS you are thankful for, things you have or things that have happened for you.


4. Goal setting is a part of journaling. Start with the obvious and see where the thread takes you. REACH FOR THE SKY, your journal is a safe space.


5. If you cant write, DRAW, doodle, sketch what is right infront of you. Journaling can be song writing, poetry, pictures, scrap books, photos and so much more than just writing. Use it to help you find the beauty in the world. You can keep track of anything in your journal, food, exercise, dreams, accounts, things your kids/partner say, dream jobs, goals, movie/book reviews and anything else in your life. 

Here are some great journals to write in and organise yourself.

(all you really need is a notebook!)

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Here are some great journal apps;

Penzu (Android and IOS)

Journey 

Check out Pinterest for some vision boards

 

 

Fermented Garlic

Fermented garlic is super simple. Great to use in so many recipes you probably already make, or as a side dish on its own.Fermented garlic can be used in any recipe that calls for raw garlic. It has a softer taste and is milder than raw garlic. Some describe the flavour as tangy and refreshing.  I always thinks it adds more vibrancy to our foods.

Sometimes whilst fermenting, your garlic may appear green, blue or even red. This is completely natural and occurs when the acidic environments and the sulphur or amino acids in the garlic react together. It is safe to eat. As with all fermented foods, the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients, rendering fermented garlic even more nutritious and beneficial than the original starting point. So that means more immune boosting, digestive healing, bacteria balancing, liver supporting and Vampire repelling for us all!

Avoid using fermented garlic in foods you need to fry, boil or heat as it may destroy the bacterial balance and other nutrients. Add to soups, vegetables and salad dressings before serving.

When it comes to using your garlic the only limitations are what you have available!

You can add it to anything, plus you can also play with the flavour of the garlic itself. Try with adding spices or herbs to your ferment like turmeric, cumin seeds, bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds etc.

I like to add it to my salad dressings, hummus, mayonnaise, ketchup, dips, ghee to toss steamed vegetables in, soups before serving, salsa. I also add it to my raw pet food and eat them whole when I need an immune boost. You can also dehydrate it to make garlic salt.

 

Fermented Garlic
A super simple way to get fermented food into every meal.
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Ingredients
  1. 4-5 Garlic Bulbs (peeled and separated)
  2. Approx. 2 tbsp Sea Salt (1-2%)
  3. Water
  4. Equipment;
  5. Weighing Scales
  6. Mason Jar (or glass fido jar)
Instructions
  1. 1. Weigh the peeled garlic to work out the salt weight (1-2%)
  2. 2. Weigh and add the salt to the garlic in the jar.
  3. 3. Fill the jar with water to cover the garlic cloves
  4. 4. Leave for 1-2 weeks on the counter and taste, depending on the temperature and humidity levels of your fermenting spot- leave for up to 28 days.
Notes
  1. Ferment to taste so continue to taste and then refrigerate when you like it!
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/

Here is a handy printable pdf of the recipe for you: Fermented Garlic PDF

 fermented-garlic-2

 

 

fermented-garlic
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How to Ferment; Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean ferment. There are hundreds of variations using cabbage, radish, scallion or cucumber as the main ingredient. The paste can contain a variety of ingredients. There may be more than 187 different varieties, all from different regions of Korea. Traditional ingredients will may use garlic, ginger, red pepper, some also add sugar, vinegar, fish sauce or paste to add to their recipe. Families will pass on their different seasonal varieties and they are traditionally buried in the ground to ferment.

Traditionally made by brining the vegetables and then mixing in a paste before packing it into a fermentation vessel to become full of probiotic bacteria and flavour.Kimchi Loula Natural

Fermented cabbage has a long history of providing benefits for many different health conditions (see my sauerkraut here and a flavoured version here). The fermentation process produces the living probiotic microorganisms that are beneficial to the digestive and immune system, plus making nutrients in the foods being fermented come to life and are more accessible.

The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering Kimchi even more nutritious than the original starting points.Brining Kimchi Loula Natural

Salt is one of the most amazing natural products. Hugely beneficial to the body when consumed in the right way. I am often asked which salt to use- these are my salts of choice:

Sea salt – originates from drying the sea water in the sun, salt lakes or other methods. This is what I prefer and generally prefer those from Wales, France or Scotland. Sea salt nutrients can vary and may contain up to 80 or more minerals than table salt (which is refined down to one or two) it will hugely depend on where the sea salt was obtained.  In addition to sodium and chlorine, you are likely to find potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur. Trace minerals in sea salt can include iron, iodine, manganese, zinc, bromine, boron, copper. 

Pink Himalayan salt – this salt is traditionally harvested in the Pakistan  side of the Himalayan mountain range and the pink colour may be due to the salt containing iron oxide. Harvested from caves of ocean salt settled into geological pockets. It is an unrefined, unprocessed raw mineral, mainly mined by hand. The salt can be up to 250 million years old, which is pretty cool! Its nutrient content is similar to sea salt (since they both originated from the sea). 

I use these two salts in fermenting, in cooking, in the bath, as a scrub, as salt lamps and also on the carpets to help deep clean them. 

Kimchi
This is a basic Kimchi recipe. There are around 187 different variations of Kimchi, this one uses Chinese cabbage, daikon radish and carrot. I have made this one sugar free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians as it is also seafood free.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 head of Chinese cabbage thinly sliced
  2. 1 daikon radish thinly sliced
  3. 2 carrots thinly sliced
  4. 1.5% weight sea salt/ pink Himalayan salt
  5. 10 garlic cloves
  6. 1 ½ inches fresh ginger
  7. 1 ½ tbsp. Korean red pepper
  8. 1tsp coconut sugar (optional)
  9. 1tsp Fish sauce or water
  10. 1tsp fish paste (you can also use seaweed)
Instructions
  1. Weigh cabbage, radish and carrot to work out how much salt is needed.
  2. Try and retain one of the out side leaves for later. Add the thinly sliced cabbage to a non reactive bowl (plastic or ceramic)..
  3. Weigh and add the salt to the vegetable in water. Mix into the cabbage with your hands to massage and work in the salt. Leave for 1-8 hours.
  4. Make the paste by adding the remaining ingredients to a mini chopper and pulsing until a paste.
  5. Drain the vegetables from the brine, taste to determine saltiness. (note the saltiness will mellow). Rinse if necessary.
  6. Wearing gloves, mix in the paste, massaging the vegetables.
  7. Add to your fido jar pushing the vegetables down with a wooden spoon, potato masher or fingers. You will notice the brine being created and rising up to the top of the cabbage.
  8. When all the vegetables are in the jar then you place the retained cabbage leaf on the top- this will ensure all the stray bits remain under the brine. You may weigh down the cabbage with either ceramic baking beads, marbles, rocks or a shot glass. This step is not compulsory but does help the first few days of fermenting as it makes it easy to continue to push the kraut down to keep the cabbage in the brine.
  9. Leave for 1-2 weeks on the counter and taste, depending on the temperature and humidity levels of your fermenting spot- leave for up to 28 days. Ferment to taste so continue to taste and then refrigerate when you like it!
Notes
  1. It is optional to use 1tsp fish paste, you can also use seaweed in the paste.
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
 Mixing in paste Loula Natural

Here is my video on how to make the paste to add to your vegetables:

When it comes to flavoring your Kimchi the only limitations are what you have available!

You can add anything. Play with other root vegetables, using vinegar, fish sauce and other spices in your paste (like turmeric, cumin or coriander).

Kimchi is added to most foods, soups, noodles, stews, pancakes and so on. It is really nice mixed in to sauces like BBQ, mayo and ketchup. Kimchi is also delicious with cheese and also eggs…

Kimchi Cheese on toast Loula Natural

How To Make Kombucha

 

How to make kombucha loulanatural

How To; Make Kombucha

I have been making Kombucha for years now. I love it so much. I even wrote a book about it so you could learn all about it and have it in your own life. Read here for my 5 Reasons to Brew Kombucha to find out why it is so great!

Kombucha is a fermented Tea. It is described as a ‘delicious sour tonic beverage’ slightly sparking and a little like apple cider. The drink is made with a SCOBY( symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Also known as “The Mother” just like with Apple Cider Vinegar. It is a bit like a disc which floats on the surface as it ferments.

Magic Kombucha

Kombucha is an aerobic process so it has to float as its where the oxygen is- if it is not floating after a few days or generate a new film- sadly it may have died. Although sometimes it will sink then rise. It is best to use a wide glass vessel (no metal) that is partially filled. Your SCOBY will generate a film that is the same size and shape as your vessel. As you make more the SCOBY will get thicker and generally grow in layers that you can peel off and use to generate other batches and to share (babies!) As they have no added benefit by being thicker you can share or why not puree it into a paste and use it for a facial?!

This is how you can make it at home

Each SCOBY and brew will be different, much like Kefir. Some will be more robust than others and some may be able to brew herbal teas and adapt to other sugars. Some people have even used fruit juice. It is best to start with a more fail safe ‘tea leaf’ brew; black, green or white tea.  Then play with the herbal teas in the second fermentation.

All you need is Tea, sugar and an acidic environment. The amount of sugar is dependent on your taste. It is possible to brew a strong tea as a concentrate and then water down (also to cool it). The tea can be sweetened while still hot (as it is easier to get the sugar to dissolve) but can also be done when cold

What you will need:

Wide glass jar (I use 1.6 litre Jar)
1 litre Cooled, strong brewed tea (blackgreen or white tea
1⁄2 cup sugar (I use coconut)
Acid (either 100mls brewed Kombucha saved from last batch or 2 tbs of any vinegar) Plastic tongs (to transport the mother)
Piece of cotton or muslin/rubber band to secure)
Plastic Funnel and Glass bottle to store for drinking
Glass Jar to keep mother in (with some reserved tea)

Directions

The tea needs to be at body temperature (no hotter) mix in the sugar.
Then add 100mls Kombucha about (5-10 percent so for a litre about 50-100mls)or  2 tbs of vinegar (any kind) if you have no matured Kombucha.

Add the Mother (SCOBY)

Always cover the vessel with a light porous cloth that allows air circulation but protects from bugs and dust. Kitchen towel works well too.

Leave Vessel in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.
The length of fermentation will depend on how warm it is and how acidic you want your drink to be. Taste it every few days to see if you like it, but on average it is between 7-14 days (can be months-  when it’s really cold)

When it is to taste, take the mother out and place in a bowl to separate the layers or the ‘babies’

Reserve in some of the tea to store in the fridge (cool temp stop fermentation). Have another batch of tea ready to start again and drink tea (bottle as is either in tight sealed bottle or open bottle and store in the fridge) or bottle with fruit for the second fermentation. 

culture your life kefir:kombucha

How to make Kombucha loulanatural pin 

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