Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

We begin Maori Language Week by honouring Maori philosophy, values and traditions as the foundations for holistic health and wellbeing in Aotearoa. From the beginning of time life was created with the word, the breath of life, the vital essence that we all share in common. That essence is Mauri. We live it, breathe it, create it and share it with every word. Such is the power of language… Tihei Mauriora!



‘Indeed, if human language arises from the perceptual interplay between the body and the world, then this language “belongs” to the animate landscape as much as it “belongs” to ourselves.’

David Abram ~ The Spell of the Sensuous



There was a time, not so long ago, that the Maori language was not only not taught in schools but was prohibited from begin spoken at all. When your means of communication, expression and connection are taken away from you how can you make sense of your world? How can you navigate in a world that does not belong to you, nor you belong to it? How can you remember where you came from and know who you are becoming? If we are to honour Aotearoa and inherit all of her beauty, abundance and majesty then we need to tread lightly on this land. And yet, not tread lightly on the sacred customs. We need to take the time to listen to the sacred spirit of Te Reo Maori that is woven throughout the song of the tui, the crash of the waves and the howl of the wind. Simply claiming to be a bi-lingual nation in theory is not enough. Simply knowing a few nouns is not enough to understand the complexity of meaning behind a whole language. We take it for granted the power of language, we may have lost the art of speech, the sacredness of the word, the healing quality of the voice, but te reo Maori has kept this magic alive. Words are used wisely and with respect because words have great power. Words are used to remember the sacredness of life. Words are used with purpose, to fill a space and create a timelessness. Words are used to connect. By reuniting with the language of this land we can remember that the space between us is not empty but is a conduit for the very real vibration of our voices to flow to and from each other. And with this remembrance, our language, our vocabulary, connects us irrevocably.


The purpose of sharing even a little of our understanding and experience of Tikanga Maori is “to enlighten people so that they do not tread lightly the sacred customs of our people… nor remain in ignorance of our cultural heritage… and above all the sacred value and purpose of the individual person in the scheme of life.”

Pā Henare Tate ~ Tikanga Whakaaro by Cleve Barlow



Rongoā mo te Iwi

Plant medicine for the people



Strong relationships are built from shared experiences and a sense of belonging



Nurture, respect and be generous to one another



Advocate and support the voice of those who are not heard



Everyone brings knowledge, you are both a learner and an educator


Tohunga Mahi Toi

Practice and aspire to be masters of our craft




Meihana is the Maori translation of the name Mason, it is also the occupational name of someone who prepares stone in order to build with it. The Te Whare Tapa Wha foundation of Maori health first constructed by Mason Durie in 1984. This concept of Maori health includes the first four foundations of Wairua, Tinana, Hinengaro and Whanau. The Meihana model has been developed further where the last two of the six following principles was added. Taiao and Iwi Katoa were added so that the understanding of Maori health was not isolated within the Maori worldview but acknowledged the influence of the physical environment and the impact of the wider social structures. Meihana is a model of the interconnected dimensions influencing wellbeing, acknowledges all aspects of life. It is a truly holistic model that we could all learn from and allow it to guide the way we navigate the choices we make for our own health and wellbeing. Beyond our individuality, we understand how everyone and everything impacts our health and wellbeing. And therefore, if we are to take interest in our own health then we must also consider the health of everyone and everything else.



Social wellbeing and support networks



Spiritual values, beliefs and connections



Physical wellbeing of individual and whanau



Mental and emotional wellbeing congruent with cultural context



Physical environment is conducive to healing and wellbeing


Iwi Katoa

Social structures are conducive to healing and wellbeing



“it is a toanga (treasure), it is immersed in tapu (sacredness) because it is the key to mauri, the gift of life” – Rob McGowan.

Rongoa, Maori medicine, is grounded in the knowledge that the wairua and the physical body are joined by the mauri. MAURI is the life-essence, the power that gives everything a unique and sacred quality. Therefore, when we acknowledge the mauri of a person, we are affirming the uniqueness and sacredness of their spirit and body. And this is an essential step on the path to healing. Rongoa treatment involves balancing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing with the use of native herbal remedies (infusions, essences, poultices or baths), mirimiri and romiromi (body alignment and deep tissue massage) and karakia (prayers and incantations). According to Rob McGowan, one of the foremost authorities on rongoa Maori, the key aspect to restoring health is by reconnecting with ones ancestors, genealogy and whakapapa, through stories… Restoring mana and a sense of self-worth. He affirms that health is “the whole of you and how you relate to the world around you.”



Plant medicine is utilised in the healing of the physical body, the plants of Aotearoa naturally have very strong anti-microbial, antiseptic and healing qualities and constituents. However, it must also be known that plants are not simply used as a physical substance to heal the body, they are also known as allies that help to store the whole wellbeing of a person, a family or community. Engaging in healing and harmonizing all aspects of physical and non-physical reality. The following are some of our revered Aotearoa medicinal plants:


KAWAKAWA is a pungent peppery plant that is used to cleanse the blood and stimulate the circulation. Its essence is to encourage a leap of faith, to accept the next adventure and move on with courage.


MANUKA is an antimicrobial bittersweet plant that is used to enhance the digestive system and heal skin conditions. In its essence it purifies the mind and body of intense negative emotions or inflammation and encourages self-regeneration.


KANUKA is a softer, mild cousin of Manuka, however that has more anti-viral properties for the body. For the mind it restores inner vitality and encourages spontaneous self-expression.


HOHERIA is a sweet, soothing and calming demulcent plant that eases digestive pain and discomfort. Its essence is calming and consolidating, easing overwhelm, and instead allowing an openness and fearlessness.


TOTARA is a brilliant red and brilliantly bitter plant that strengthens the digestive system and particularly restores the health of gums. Its essence is to restore inner power, whether the bully or the victim, both stem from a power imbalance. Totara restores the strength of will and encourages a positive self-image.


For more information on the holistic healing qualities of plants talk to one of our herbalists at Wellington Apothecary or find out more about the concepts in this article from the references below.



“AIO Wairua, ka nui te aroha mo koutou nga Atua Kotahi ke,
te arahi i ahau ki roto i aku hikoitanga.
Ko te Kuranui! Tihei mauriora!”

Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Arikirangi Rose Pere ~

Guardian of the First Light Flower Essences of New Zealand

Author of Te Wheke Maori Health Model

Tohuna Tipua Sower of the Sacred Seeds of Knowledge

A Great Grandmother and Revered Elder

An upholder of Peace, Love, Joy, Truth and Oneness




Cleve Barlow, Tikanga Whakaaro

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

First Light:


Meihana Model:


Te Wheke:




Becoming the Sage

The Sage is the wise one within us. The Sage is the quiet, subtle and patient part of us that sits and waits to be seen. We are both the Seer (the see-er) and the Sage.  We seek to understand the world around us and we find our insight and wisdom from the world within.


Sage is a medicinal herb of many names and many faces, many qualities and many medicinal properties. Sage can be the most common plant in our garden, or it can be the most mysterious esoteric herb that takes a lifetime to know. Sage is one of those herbs that is valuable to most people, for most ailments, and it would be wise to have Sage in your apothecary if nothing else.


Salvia, the botanical name of Sage, stems from the meaning of salvation, to save or be saved. Its name suggests its potency and value as a medicinal herb, Salvia officinalis is a strong antimicrobial with a particular affinity for the throat, mouth and gums. It is a key medicinal herb for an inflamed sore throat and tonsils, mouth ulcers or bleeding gums. And because it is so strong it is best blended with a soothing demulcent herb such as marshmallow root or licorice root.

Along with its cousin Thyme, it makes an essential winter tonic for the colder months when we are exposed to viruses and do not get enough fresh dry air into the lungs. Sage strengthens the respiratory system with its warming, stimulating and antimicrobial properties.

Sage also strengthens and stimulates the digestive system, again with its warming, stimulating and anti-microbial properties. Its aromatic flavour and antioxidant properties make it a powerful herbaceous seasoning that will enliven cooked food and protect the body from any damaged nutrients that occurs in the process of frying.

Excessive perspiration can occur due to ones natural rate of metabolism, or it can be an acute occurrence due to a fever, or it can be caused by the dis-regulation of temperature in the body due to hormonal fluctuations, such as in menopause. Sage is the most well known herb to alleviate such fluctuations in temperature.

An emmenagogue is the action of a herb that brings about menstruation in those women where menstruation is slow or scanty, and therefore is a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Light periods may not be a problem, however when menstruation is frequently late in the cycle, as well as being very light, it can often be accompanied with low energy, low mood and a tendency to be cold. These symptoms can be associated with insufficient adrenal function (caused by excessive stress), nutrient deficiencies (caused by a poor diet or poor digestive function), or low thyroid function (caused by both of the above).

Sage strengthens and protects the entire body, giving us overall resilience in both our physical immunity and our emotional stamina.


There are many, many Salvia species, too many to mention here, however here are three that are worth knowing and growing for yourself…

Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans, is a delightful fruity sage that brightens our spirits midwinter with almost fluorescent cerise coloured flowers. As its common name suggests, it smells and tastes of pineapple, and so makes a sweet and fragrant infusion for tea, or even better in a syrup. I like to add the flowers into the ice cube trays so that I get to experience their delight throughout summer too. As its botanical name suggests, Salvia elegans is a plant of elegance. The late philosopher Alan Watts describes the Japanese Zen term Fūryū as elegance in simplicity. Elegance, even a state of poverty. Meaning that one can withdraw from life’s burdens, free from false perceptions of permanence and stability, living with the simplest of needs and still radiate elegance. Even in midwinter, when most other plants are in hibernation mode, the Pineapple Sage requires no attention or tender loving care, and still it blooms. Fūryū is the modest yet elegant nature of Salvia elegans.


Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea, is a little more textured and a little more mysterious. The leaves of Clary Sage are larger and plumper, with toothed edges, a wrinkled surface and velvety hairs. The flowers range from pale blue, to violet, to white. The volatile oils of Clary Sage are extracted and used in aromatherapy for its deeply relaxing effect on the muscular and nervous systems, working as an anti-spasmodic to ease muscle cramps and a sedative to ease nervous tension. Clary Sage is earthy, herbaceous, musky and sweet. It has been used in the brewing of beer for its deep relaxing qualities, similar to hops, and has also been used to flavour tobacco. Within skincare Clary Sage is used to regulate sebum production for combination skin, also for scalp health where hair is greasy and yet the scalp is flaky. For the deeper levels of the mind, Clary Sage is balancing, strengthening for those who are fatigued and relaxing for those who are tense. More than this, Clary Sage is so tranquilizing that it allows the body and mind to relax to the point of opening up to deeper states of pleasure, creativity and clarity.


White Sage Salvia apiana is otherwise known as Sacred Sage, it has been used ritually within native American traditions for the purpose of clearing the air, cleansing a space or a persons energy from negativity, or creating boundaries between the sacred and the profane at the beginning and end of rituals. White Sage is still used for the same purposes today by anyone who wishes to cleanse a new home, bedroom or office before moving in, or for clearing ones own energy after having experienced a negative situation or ending an unhealthy relationship. You can find White Sage in the form of a smudge stick where it is bound up with string to form a wand shape, once it is lit of fire it gently smoulders away creating a fragrant herbaceous smoke. Along with all Salvia species, White Sage strengthen, preserves and conserves our energy. By the act of acknowledging endings and celebrating new beginnings, White Sage allows us to let go and move on, preventing our energy from dragging behind us as excess baggage.


As we can see, Sage cultivates the wise one within, from the depths to the surface, from the gross to the subtle, from the body to the spirit. Sage gives us insights into our innate resilience, elegance, clarity and sanctity. Allowing us to become the Sage that we were meant to be.




As Above, So Below

As an ode to the nourishment and beauty of nature we are focusing on an issue that is jeopardizing this paradise that we call home… Plastic-free July is an important reminder of our daily plastic consumption and a time to gain further awareness around what we can do to support the regeneration of our earth.

‘As Above, So Below’ is an ancient alchemic saying from the mouth of the original alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, who is thought to be the living embodiment of the ancient Egyptian God Thoth. These words, ‘as above, so below’, are related to the philosophy of holism. What we commonly perceive as dualistic in nature, such as the sun and moon, masculine and feminine, heaven and hell, are not separate things but together create a whole. Sun and moon create one whole cycle of a day. Masculine and feminine create one whole spectrum of mental and emotional qualities. Heaven and hell create one whole experience of the vicissitudes of life. With this in mind we not only come to perceive the body in its wholeness, rather than separate mechanical parts, but we also come to perceive that our external environment influences our internal environment. To further our understanding of As Above, So Below, we could say, As Outside, So Inside.

Our external environment is a reflection of our internal environment. In fact, every moment of our lives we are perceiving the external environment unconsciously via the hypothalamus in the center of the brain. From this perception and evaluation the master endocrine glands, pituitary and pineal, communicate with the rest of body in order to respond to and synchronise with the external environment. Our skin separates us from the external environment, creating a boundary between ourselves and everything else. However, this boundary is permeable. We all know that we absorb whatever we put on our skin but we also absorb whatever pollutants are in the atmosphere. More obviously, we absorb whatever we eat as the natural process of digestion, but we also absorb whatever pollutants are in our food. It is worth considering how much our consumption of plastic in our daily lives – from plastic bags, coffee cup lids, bottled coconut water or plastic wrapped super-foods, skincare bottles and jars – literally leads to the consumption of plastic through the air we breathe and the foods we eat.

Plastic is a crucial issue for our internal health and the health of our external environment. Here are three simple facts to remind us of why we need to have a vigilant  focus on this issue such as with Plastic-Free July:

40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.

Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.

Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.

Sea creatures are consuming plastic as a source of food, such as the whale that died on the shores of Thailand in June this year because it had consumed 80 plastic bags! This is a crude example and a rude awakening but what about all of the micro particles of plastic in the ocean that we cannot see? Plastic has become an unavoidable food source for every sea dwelling creature, and if we consume sea creatures then it is an unavoidable food source for us too. Even if we do not consume creatures of the sea we certainly consume foods that are heavily packaged in plastic, and we know that plastic particles leach into the food or liquid that it is in contact with. We drink water that is contaminated with micro-plastic fragments, there are also micro-plastic particles in the air we breath.

As above, so below…

What is plastic doing to us physiologically? There is a lot of research going into this matter, and although there is a lot more to investigate, there are insights into how particular constituents in plastic effect the endocrine and immune systems. This is commonly associated with female and male hormonal imbalances, obesity, allergies, and inflammatory conditions. The most commonly studied chemical constituent of plastic is BPA (bispherol-A), and so now we have access to BPA-free products such as drinking bottles. This has been a good way of bringing plastic toxicity awareness to the public, however, lets not be fooled by another product that claims to be better for our health, when in fact these products are still plastic! Where do you think these new BPA-products will end up in 5 years time? Most likely in the ocean with all the other plastics that take hundreds of years to decompose.

Now that we are gaining a clearer perspective of how our world full of plastic is effecting our internal and external environments, what can we do about it? Who is responsible? Companies who produce plastic? Yes, however it is not within a companies interest to stop producing a product that is the main source of its income. Who is a company anyway? A company is not a person, not a human being with thoughts, emotions and morals. Although perhaps it should be, because after all a company is not an entity in itself but a production run by human beings. We cannot rely on companies to change the way we consume, only we can change the way we consume. The responsibility is with us, the people. You, and I, and us.

The more we learn about the destructive realities in the world the more we tend to become numb or dis-empowered, because after all, how much of a difference can I make on my own? Well, I am one voice that is in unison with hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of others who share the attitude of hope. Hundreds of thousands of us are reclaiming our power to change the world by the choices that we make. And it is not about being a raging activist. You do not need to go picketing outside your parliament doors to make effective changes in the world (although you absolutely can). It is also not about persecuting others for not knowing what they do, we all consume plastic in varying degrees whether we choose to admit it or not. We are all in this together. Reclaiming our power to create meaningful change in the world first requires that we bring our attention to our own daily choices, habits and even attitudes.

Choice. It can be as simple as using your purchasing power to support local companies and businesses that are actively seeking to adopt more sustainable practises that are not reliant on plastic.

Habit. It can be as easy as using a glass or ceramic up for your takeaway coffee, or taking a cotton bag with you to collect your groceries. More than this, it can be as easy as buying bulk nuts, grains, cereals, seeds, beans, peas and dried fruit in brown paper bags to avoid all the small and excessive plastic packaging.

Attitude. It can be as humble as acknowledging that perhaps we do not need all of the things and stuff that mainstream social media and advertising train us to believe. If we each purchased one less plastic thing a month I wonder what impact this would have on the landfill and the ocean?

Becoming a witness to the destruction we see in the world does not need to be paralysing, it can be an opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. It can be an opportunity to claim your right to be a powerful co-creator in the future of our world. It can be an opportunity to make effective changes to the health of the external environment. And in doing so it becomes an opportunity to realise that you can make effective changes to the health of your internal environment. You can transcend the all to common doom and gloom that we witness in the world by remembering that we live in a world that is becoming more and more connected. The gap in social and environmental relations that led to the destruction we see today is becoming smaller and smaller. We live in a very exciting time where we are beginning to remember our interdependence with the natural world. And I, for one, am hopeful.



Here are a few reference sites for your perusal…













Vetiver Days

Vetiver days and velvet nights

Layers of wool and glowing lights

Candle gazing and spicy mulled wine

Orange blossom, lemon myrtle and thyme

These winter rituals restore our flesh and bones

Sustain our spirits and guide us back home

Vetiver essential oil comes from the fibrous roots of a tall, tufted grass native to India. It is a rich viscous oil with an earthy, woody, and smoky yet sweet scent. Vetiver is known for its deeply grounding and restorative effects on the nervous and endocrine systems. We have always adored this scent and have created a few gems with it over the years, one is our Vetiver Perfume Oil, blended with the uplifting citrus essential oils of neroli (orange blossom) and bergamot.  Another is our newest creations Vetiver Face Cream, we have been working on perfecting this recipe for over a year! Here is the link… http://www.wellingtonapothecary.co.nz/store/p369/Vetiver_Regenerating_Face_Cream_50mL.html

A time of restoration. The human body is a part of nature, not separate from it, therefore you function optimally when you are aligned with natural seasonal cycles. Your moods, hormone production and energy levels are directly influenced by the external environment. For example, the changes of light perceived by the eyes, whether by sunlight or artificial light, will influence how well you sleep. The body thrives best when allowed the space and time to rest. On a daily basis this means aligning ourselves with the the rise and fall of the sun so that we will enough melatonin to sleep. When we look further into natural cycles we could align ourselves with the the rise and fall of the moon, allowing one week a month to let go of normal routine. Take the pressure off and give ourselves a break from the persistent list of things to do. On a yearly cycle we could align ourselves with the seasons, planning our time so that we are able to use the natural energy of the sun in the warmer seasons to start new projects. And respectively plan our time so that we are able to slow down the pace of work, or the type of work we do, and take a more introspective indoors approach to life in the colder seasons.

Winter, the coldest and the darkest season, gives us a good reason to internalise.

A time to go inside. Find a retreat within yourself, within your body and mind, and take rest here. Once you have given yourself permission to take rest, then you might look around and discover that your internal world needs a bit of a spring clean, perhaps you have been hoarding old concepts and beliefs since you were a child, and even though they were relevant at that time they are now just blocking the sunlight shining in through the windows of your mind. Then once you have let those go you might decide to clean the windows, light the fire and take a seat. And then, once you have taken the time to simply sit in this space within your internal world you might find that what you thought was empty space is now a place of infinite wisdom. Your internal world can be a place where you can come to find the answers to your questions, or a place where you can come to find peace at not knowing all of the answers. Journalling can become a valuable practise to enhance this internalising process, having the thoughts on the page and out of the head creates wonderful clarity. And you may even discover the talented, quirky and highly perceptive parts of yourself that have been burdened by daily doses of junk and drama.


Trataka is a yogic meditation technique that is to gaze at a single point to train the body and mind into focused attention. The most common is Candle Gazing, staring into the core of the flame of a candle within a dark room will not only enhance your ability to focus but also help to strengthen your eyesight. The purpose of this practise is to train the mind to focus on a single point so that you are more capable of sitting in stillness, meditating without the mind hopping from thought to thought. However, naturally, the mind will hop from thought to thought, but it is the spaces in between the thoughts that Trakaka aims to enhance. It is in these spaces that one can experience a level of consciousness that is beyond the chit chatter of the mind. It is a simple practise, all you need is a candle and 10-30 minutes of time. In the night time or pre-dawn hours of the morning, find a comfortable seated position, one where you will not be distracted. Close the curtains, light the candle and turn off the lights. Gaze at the candle for 2-3 minutes, with a steady and relaxed gaze try not to blink, if your eyes start to sting then go ahead and blink, the main thing is not to strain. After 2-3 minutes close the eyes and you will see that the image of the candle has been impressed upon your mind, focus on this image with your eyes closed. If the image starts to shift away from the center of your focus then bring it back to the center of your internal gaze.  When the image starts to disappear then open the eyes and gaze at the candle flame for another few minutes. Continue candle gazing for a minimum of ten minutes, once you have finished then simply spent a few moments focusing your awareness on your breath before setting a heartfelt intention for your sleep, or the day ahead.

Lemon Myrtle, Backhousia citriodora, is a member of the Myrtaceae family along with eucaplyptus, teatree, manuka, kanuka, clove, pohutukawa and feijoa. It has an intensely invigorating lemony herbaceous flavour and is an excellent tonic for the digestive system. We already know how potent the members of the Myrtle family are for their anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-septic qualities, Lemon Myrtle also acts as a decongestant which makes it excellent for respiratory congestion such as with coughs and colds. Another lesser known quality of Lemon Myrtle is that it is deeply restorative for the nervous system, it both calms and invigorates the mind, making it an excellent strengthening winter elixir. At Wellington Apothecary we have created a blend of Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Balm & Manuka as a loose leaf herbal tea for the purpose of calming and strengthening digestion and the mind at the same time. We call it ‘Rest and Digest’ because we know how important it is to take the time to slow down, switch out of the sympathetic nervous system (the ‘fight or flight’ mode) and into the para-sympathetic nervous system (the ‘rest and digest’ mode) in order to be calm and digest food well. When we live in the mode of ‘rest and digest’ we allow the innate intelligence of the body a period of restoration, which in turn sustains our spirits. And opens a gateway for us to reconnect with this infinitely forgiving organism…

This body that we call home.



Many years ago I was recommended by my yoga teacher to go to Ashram Yoga Retreat to have my own teacher training experience. At the time I was flattered to think that anyone could see the potential in me to become a yoga teacher, even though it seemed like something I would love to do. I brushed it off as unrealistic, and carried on my merry journey… Which lead me to the co-creation of Wellington Apothecary.


With a whole lot of new adventures to be had and lessons to be learned I had virtually forgotten about the yoga retreat, but I could still feel that the little seed that had been planted many years ago had grown into a delicate yet vital seedling. And this year I decided it was about time that I took notice of this seedling and started nurturing it. After all, I had been practicing yoga myself for a long time and felt ready to take my experience further and deeper into the rabbit hole.


I had spent many childhood holidays in and around the Coromandel region but I had never been to Opoutere before. On the way to Whangamata but not quite, the turn off takes you to a long gravel road, and further down the road is a long gravel driveway, the driveway to Ashram Yoga Retreat. A deeply traditional and also refreshingly unconventional place of experiential learning, where the rubbish bins at the end of the driveway are painted with naked ladies so that the rubbish men will stop throwing them around and instead stack them neatly with respect. How is that for ingenious psychological persuasion.


There is nothing that the people living at the ashram do not know about the psyche. The mind can be our dearest friend or our worst enemy, and it is through the practice of yoga that we can learn to use the mind in order to evolve, move through perceptual limitations and experience stillness amidst chaos.


Contrary to popular notions, yoga postures, or asanas as they are known in Sanskrit, are only preliminary practices. Within a traditional yoga practice asanas are the way to condition the body to be free of aches and pains in order to be able to sit in stillness, and therefore engage in a meditation practice. And what happens when you are able to sustain a regular meditation practice? You have the opportunity to observe your thoughts, and once you are able to observe your thoughts you are able to stop identifying with them, which means you can stop reacting to every little thing that is going on around you, and instead create some space in your mind for stillness… Perhaps even peace.


Of course, I am not saying that meditation is the be all and end all of our yoga practice, but it is needs to be acknowledged as an integral part of yoga. Yoga postures themselves affect the mind tremendously, because we know that the body and mind are intrinsically linked, perhaps even one and the same thing. You only need to simply ask yourself, how do you feel in your mind at the end of a yoga class?


My experience at the ashram not only blew my mind wide open about what yoga is and isn’t (this is a trick – yoga is everything), but it has also blown my mind open about how to best live a human life. Yoga practices can positively influence everything we do, and the way we perceive everything, if we choose to let it. What do I mean by this? Can we be satisfied with that feeling of peace for only the hour or so a day, or a week that we go to a yoga class? What happens when we go back home or back to work only to be faced with the same challenges that trigger the mind to go on chattering away with the same old stories?


We have all heard about mindfulness and how good it is for us, but how do we practice it? With AWARENESS. Being aware of what we are thinking while we are doing, and by knowing how to come back to this state of awareness when we realise we have drifted off on autopilot. And how do we become aware? The simplest and most powerful tool is free and is with us every moment of our lives, the breath. Remembering to come back to the breath.


The breath connects the mind to the body and the body to the mind, and has the power to transform old, stale, worn-out thought patterns into new benevolent thought patterns… Or no thought patterns at all! You know that feeling we come to every now and then when we find ourselves in the zone, totally at one with whatever it is we are doing, well we can come to this place even when doing the most mundane chores like doing the dishes.


Within the yogic realm breathing exercises are called pranayama and there are many to choose from should you want to alter your mind or your mood. The simplest is the ‘Yogic Breath’, which is inhaling deep in the belly and then the chest, expanding the diaphragm, and then exhaling completely, contracting the diaphragm. Once you do this a few times and you feel the influx of oxygen into your body, you may even like to try pausing, just for a moment at the top of the inhale and at the end of the exhale. It is in these pauses that you may find stillness while the body fully absorbs oxygen and fully releases carbon dioxide. It is a deeply restorative and rejuvenating practice.

Pranayama is just one of the many tools that I learnt at the ashram, although possibly the most essential. There are many other valuable practices to be experimented with such as neti pot, lagoo, kirtan, Sanskrit chanting, karma yoga, nidra vidya, candle gazing and not to mention the many amazing postures themselves… Of which Khandarasana (aka bridge pose) was a general favourite. I recommend doing your own research and experimenting for yourself, there is so much to learn!!


All in all my experience at the ashram was both deeply challenging and deeply rewarding. And what is not to be loved about delicious vegetarian food, philosophical chats, beautiful east coast beach walks, sunny skinny dips, daily guided relaxation sessions, bottomless herbal tea, full moon fire pits, waking at 5am to a starry sky, and the guidance of incredibly talented and inspiring teachers? I feel immense gratitude for the support that enabled me to have this experience and for having access to these incredibly valuable life tools… I look forward to sharing what I have learnt with all of you!

Artemisia absinthium


Silvery feather-like fingers

Soft, inviting and feminine

Steadfast, resolute and masculine

And essentially sacrosanct

Offering purification and strength

Both subtle and powerful

An enigma.



Carol Fisher describes the historical purgatory relationship with Wormwood as a herb that counteracts … “the effects of poisons including hemlock and toadstools.” As far as poisons go, our atmosphere, soil and food are all subject to being contaminated with poisons. Even if you eat organic foods and live in the countryside, we are all effected by the biosphere of this earth we live on, where nothing exists in isolation. And although not acute or immediately life threatening these poisons are slowly and insidiously burdening our bodies and preventing us from being as vital as we could be. Therefore, Wormwood is an excellent ally in opening up our elimination channels in order to have a good cleanse from time to time.

As a purifying tonic, Wormwood has the following actions within human physiology:

Anthelmintic… Expelling pathogenic parasites, fungi and bacteria

Bitter… Strengthens digestion by increasing secretions of gastic acids, pancreatic enzymes and liver bile. Regulates bowel motions and aids in general removal of toxins through the bowel

Tonic… Calming and uplifting to the nervous system. Activates vagus nerve – the parasympathetic nervous system – in order to fully rest and digest

Anti-inflammatory… Reduces arthritic pain

Caution: Wormwood is powerful and contains constituents that are toxic in high doses, or when taken long term. Wormwood should only be taken for limited period of time – 3 to 6 weeks – at a safe therapeutic dose. Contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Talk to your local Herbalist for tailored advice.


Absinthe & Vincent Van Gogh 

Wormwood essential oil was used in the liquor absinthe, which had a narcotic and hallucinogenic effect on those who consumed it, including Vincent Van Gogh. This effect was attributed to the content of thujone, which is relaxing and restorative to the nervous system in small doses, however at high doses (or as an isolated constituent) is neurotoxic. It has been thought that Vincent Van Gogh’s psychosis was a result of over-use of absinthe. Although this may be due to thujone toxicity, it is also very likely that the combination of thujone and high strength alcohol (as well as whatever other colours and flavours were added to the recipe) were enough to damage the central nervous system.



Ironically Intoxicating

Wormwood is soft to touch and if you rub it gently in your fingers to will be left with an intoxicating, silky resinous scent. It smells like perfume and it smells like medicine. Wormwood is balsamic, sweet, woody and sharp, soothing, uplifting and invigorating. It may be used as an insect repellent. And may also be used to purify the air, or living space, by smouldering it as you would with White Sage, it even smells similar.



Powerful and humble

A brutally honest friend

Growing strong out in the wild

Blends in with a crowd

And yet shines uniquely at the same time

Embracing and embodying contradiction


An enigma.


Holy Basil

Holy Basil | Ocimum tenuiflorum

Sacred Basil | Ocimum sanctum

Tulsi | The Incomparable One


Holy Basil is a highly revered Ayurvedic herb, traditionally planted around Indian temples to purify the air and create a sacred space within. It is used within herbal medicine for a similar effect. Holy Basil has a seemingly endless list of medicinal qualities, however to put it simply, it purifies, oxygenates, and invigorates the body and mind.


In more detail this means that Holy Basil supports the following:


Detoxification and protection of the liver, enhancing elimination of toxins


Circulation and oxygenation of the blood and tissues, enhancing cellular energy and reducing free-radical/radiation damage


Immunity regulation, resilience to colds and flus, and reduction in inflammatory processes


Decongestion of the mucous membranes including the lungs, sinuses and bowel, assisting chronic sluggish digestion or chronic respiratory congestion


Mental clarity by enhancing blood circulation to and from the brain, Holy Basil enhances the capacity to learn new pathways with ease and let go of old limiting ways of thinking. For this quality Holy Basil may be used to assist those who feel stagnant or stuck, heavy or held back, and need assistance in transitioning from one phase in life to the next.


Herbs that enhance adaptability in times of transition are called Adaptogens, this means that it supports the myriad of processes that the body performs consistently throughout the day and night in order for you to maintain equilibrium in your internal environment especially when your external environment is in constant flux.

Adaptogen herbs are invaluable for the state of flux that can occur during stressful transitions such as change in career, end of a relationship, moving house, loss of a loved one. However, in everyday life we may find that we are in constant flux and reacting with a stress response accordingly.

Therefore, adaptogen herbs such as Holy Basil can enhance our ability to function to our best ability from day to day, and may also allow us the clarity of mind to notice what areas in our lives are not working for us any longer, giving us the energy to change it for the better.