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The secret to stress free living

_DSC1967In this blog, our Transformative Life Coach and Therapist Laurence Knott suggests that the secret to living a stress free life comes from tapping into an understanding of how our own thinking is created rather than trying to control or manage our thinking and behaviour.

Techniques, tools and tips for reducing stress are all out there for you to go and learn and apply. A search in the book section of Amazon with the word ‘stress’ yields over 55,000 results, which suggests that there are either a huge number of ways to manage and control the experience of stress OR perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. If we are to understand how better to cope with the experience of stress it is reasonable to want to understand what causes stress. We all have our ways of dealing with stress, which work sometimes, but sometimes they don’t. Have you ever wondered why this is so? Is there maybe another variable that determines whether we experience stress?

Psychologists talk about ‘stressors’, which can commonly be external events and circumstances. But does everyone experience a level of stress because of these stressors? What are the variables that determine whether we experience something as stressful? Why do some people appear to deal with stress with ease, but others become stressed easily? How can something seemingly ‘cause’ our experience of stress one day, but a few days later, in seemingly identical circumstances, be water off a duck’s back? Do you sometimes get up in your head about stuff, then leave it alone, and a few days later, wonder what you were worrying about, as the ‘problem’ has disappeared, or never actually materialized?

As a coach I work with clients to explore what it is they believe is causing them to experience stress. We also explore how stress impacts on their day to day life and general wellbeing. High levels of stress impact on productivity and creativity in the work place, limits our enjoyment of life day to day and can result in physical and psychological ill health. Stress can also have a huge impact on the quality of our relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

As the conversation with my ‘stressed out’ clients develops I begin to introduce the idea that perhaps we have things the wrong away around about how the human mind works. Perhaps we are not at the mercy of our circumstances, perhaps the world ‘out there’ cannot actually directly cause us to feel the experience of stress.

There is a quiet revolution taking place in coaching and therapy based on the principle that ALL psychological experience is created from the Inside-­Out, that is, 100% of your feelings are being generated by thought in the moment and cannot come from anything other than thought in the moment. And if our experience of stress is generated in our own thought-­based perceptual reality, it is not possible for circumstances, events and people to CAUSE us to feel stressed. Yes, we have cause and effect the way round.

But the nature of the beast is that we all get caught out, no one is immune to being tricked by the subtle, and invisible, power of thought to create a perceived reality in our minds that we are at the mercy of circumstances to be able to make us feel a certain way. But there is a moment of opportunity, to ‘catch’ ourselves if you like, before this innocent misunderstanding of where experience comes from escalates into ‘stressful thinking’.

When I learnt the implications of this understanding, I experienced a transformative shift in my experience of stress. I insightfully saw that nothing outside of me had the power to cause me to feel a certain way without my own thinking being involved. And so, when certain habitual ‘triggers’ began to trick me into some stressful thinking, and I saw where my experience was coming from, I quickly and easily fell back into a clearer state of mind.

In the book Invisible Power (Manning, Charbit, Krot), the following examples of stress are identified for when we get tangled up in reaction (thinking) about things that seem out of our control:

  • Events or circumstances don’t work out your way.
  • Deadlines seem impossible.
  • People don’t understand or cooperate.
  • Family or personal issues are more than you can manage.
  • Projects are not progressing and your responsibilities are increased beyond your comfort zone.
  • There is not enough time for everything that needs to get done.

Does this sound familiar?

As soon as my clients have an insightful experience of the Inside-­Out nature of human functioning, and that the source of stress is their own thinking, it immediately loses it power. Over time, clients begin to see that situations, circumstances, or even people that always appeared to cause them stress look very different. In turn, when we begin to see things with greater clarity, a lot of redundant thinking (or what a recent client called ‘stinkin-­thinkin!’) falls away, creating the space for more resourceful thinking and behaviour. Solutions and ideas come more easily, the need to cope drops away. It really is possible to thrive, in any situation, and the secret lies in an understanding, not a strategy, technique or approach.

In my future blogs I will continue to explore the implications of the Inside Out understanding, and how it can have a transformative in all areas of your life.

Before or during your stay Laurence is available for a complimentary 30-­minute coaching consultation to explore with you how a greater understanding of how the mind works can help you deal with any problems, overcome challenges and take control of your life.

Do the answers to our problems lie in rumination or reflection?


In this blog, our Life Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapist Laurence Knott explores how focusing on and thinking about our problems can be counter-productive and points towards a more useful source for solutions and inspiration.

When we think, we go inwards and the thinking that we experience can take many forms. Our state of mind in the moment shapes the form it takes. And if we are caught up in the ‘outside in’ misunderstanding that our experience in any given moment is generated from our circumstances, a lot of thinking can happen.

The stimuli from our circumstances could be something someone says directly to us, as a statement or question, or something we hear in a group or at presentation, or even something we hear on television. Or simply something we read that pricks our interest. Or, if we generally have a lot on our mind, we can be one random thought away from setting off some kind of internal dialogue. And in that moment, we may well go into rumination rather than reflection.

To ruminate is to chew the cud in our mind. Rumination can take the form of a loop of worrying thoughts, coloured by emotion, or something that appears to be in the form of logical reasoning of something that is on your mind. Whatever form it takes, the starting point for rumination is what we already know, what we believe to be true. Many of my clients experience a lot of rumination taking the form of worry, anxiety and fear, and the direction is generally an ever-decreasing circle. Or like trying to navigate through an endless maze, with no idea of how you entered the maze in the first place and whether there is a way out.

Rumination can be neutral, but more often it will take us further away from any kind of resolution, an answer or indeed, the truth.

My first question to you is, where are you when you find yourself ruminating? Do you ever find an answer that you are satisfied with? Do you feel connected or disconnected to your experience of what it is to be alive, living in the present moment?

Reflection is a very different beast. There is no cud to chew, because you are looking in a different direction. Our attention is away from the grass and out to the sky.

When we reflect, there is a lot less going on in our head. There is a lot less noise. When we are being reflective, there is no direction to our thinking, there is no sequence of reasoning. There is no maze.

When we reflect, we are going somewhere deeper, to the place before form. We are not exploring what we think we already know to be true, we are looking into the unknown.  I see reflection as a process of thinking with our entire being. In the place before words, the place from which form comes.

Whatever the source of what blossoms from reflection, we know wisdom when it emerges. Out of the quiet can emerge an insight that can change everything. And whatever shows up in that moment is infinitely nearer the truth, closer to what we need, than could ever arise from rumination.

And out of reflection can emerge life-changing wisdom.

When I see my clients reflect I do one thing – stay quiet. There can be a groundswell of emotion, as if the new thinking that is emerging is filling ever molecule of their being, changing their map of reality. This insight can be small and perfectly formed as an answer to something that has been vexing them; or a game changing insight, something that is transformative. You’ll know it when it happens.

Moments of reflection are infinitely more powerful than (recurring patterns of) rumination.

A deeply connected conversation between two people can help generate the environment for reflection to happen and for deep transformation to take place. Or maybe a random thought, or something you see or hear, will trigger a moment that begins to fill with more thought taking form. In that very moment you might choose to look to the stars rather than enter the maze. The answer is far more likely to lie in the unknown.

What is foam rolling and how can I benefit from it?

Foam rolling (self-myofascial release) is a simple form of self-massage. Using a cylindrical piece of foam and your body weight you are able to apply pressure to your sore muscles to release tension and soreness. In the past, only professional athletes could utilize the benefits of massage with the help of a masseur but now, with the invention of the foam roller, everyone can take advantage!

So what are the benefits of foam rolling? This type of massage is commonly used as a recovery tool after completing tough physical activity. It can correct muscular imbalances, relieve joint stress and improve your range of motion. Several scientific studies have concluded that this type of self-massage can also reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness (or DOMS) and is an effective method in reducing decrements in sprint time, power and dynamic strength/endurance in athletes. Foam rolling has also shown to be an effective method before physical activity by greatly increasing you range of motion by up to 10% when done 2 minutes before exercise.

Foam rolling can be hard work and sometimes quite painful, like stretching, but the benefits you gain are fantastic. However, you should always consult a physician or your trainer before doing foam rolling.

Here are a few simple foam rolling exercises you can do at home or at the gym:


Starting position: Lay face down of the floor and support your weight using your hands or forearms. Place the foam roller under one leg on the quadricep and keep the foot off the ground.

Shift as much weight as possible over your leg and roll over the foam from above the knee to below the hip in long, slow motions to massage the muscle. Repeat on the other side.

roller quad

Lower back

Starting position: in a seated position, place the foam roller under your lower back and cross your arms in front of you.

As you raise your hips, lean back on the foam roller keeping your weight on your lower back. Now lean slightly to one side so that the tension is on the muscles next to the spine not on top. Roll over your lower back in long, slow and controlled movements. Repeat on the other side.

roller back


Starting position: In a seated position, extend your legs and sit over the foam roller while it’s positioned on the back of your upper leg. Place your hands to the side or behind you to support your weight.

Use your hands to lift yourself off the floor and put the weight off your leg onto the foam roller.

Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee in a long, slow and controlled motion. Repeat on the other leg.

roller hamstrings

If the muscle you want to target is in a tricky position (e.g. your neck), you can also use a lacrosse or tennis ball to massage that area!

Do you want incremental change in your life or a transformation in the way you think?

WAVEMAN (350dpi)

In this blog, our Life Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapist Laurence Knott explores how an evolution in the way we think and understand our own psychology can yield deep, long lasting transformation in our well-being and happiness.

I became interested in deepening my own understanding of the difference between transformation and change within the context of my role as a transformational coach. I began to ponder what makes a transformational (or transformative) coach different to a plain old simple ‘coach’. By definition transformation involves a making a marked change in form, nature, or appearance, whereas change is more simply defined as to make or become different. So as I see it, transformation is a kind of change, albeit at a more fundamental level. If something changes form, the way it exists or appears has changed, to the extent that a visible shift has taken place.

On a personal level transformation involves a bigger shift in someone’s understanding, and this transformation, as an outcome of a coaching conversation or relationship, is something that cannot be reversed. Just like when a caterpillar creates a cocoon, its cells break down and a primordial caterpillar soup is created, and through a miracle of nature, a butterfly emerges. This butterfly can never return to being a caterpillar, it has completely changed form, it has transformed in nature and appearance. But people are not caterpillars. Whilst we can change our physical appearance through exercise, diet and the surgeon’s scalpel, this is arguably not transformation at a deep level, albeit the results can sometimes be irreversible.

As a coach I am interested in how I can help my clients to transform their thinking and their experience of life. People want an outcome, a visible result. They want something in their lives to be different, and they want that difference to be sustainable, to possess permanence, and to be a pathway to a world of new possibilities that either were not possible or imaginable within the paradigm of their world-view before we started working together.

And can change not also be permanent? Yes, changes in behavior, ways of thinking and understanding of how something works are all likely results of transformation within a coaching context. But for me, without a change in someone’s understanding, the impact and longevity of any change is not secure.  We can change our physical appearance image, we can play / act  ‘as if’ (as proposed in Positive Psychology), but these changes are not transformative by nature, sustainability is not guaranteed,

One of my primary goals for all people I work with is to achieve some kind of shift in their understanding of how their psychological experience is really working. I believe that if my clients can master their psychology and experience an embodied understanding of what is powering and creating their psychological experience, the implications are potentially transformative.

And so, within my practice, I want to be able to observe some or all of the following qualities that suggest transformation has and is taking place:

  • A return to old ways of thinking and behaving no longer make any sense
  • There is an embodied understanding that the past is just that, gone, and does not define or negatively influence the present, or thoughts about the future
  • There is a universal rise in consciousness and understanding; just as when the sea rises, everything within the sea also rises
  • New possibilities begin to emerge, transformation by its nature is taking place without effort or any conscious act of doing or thinking
  • There is a clarity to the client’s thought processes and ways of talking about their life
  • Living life and dealing with what arises is experienced with greater ease
  • There is a ripple effect through all aspects of the client’s life, a process which can be infinitely iterative
  • Insights and big shifts in understanding can happen spontaneously and unexpectedly, the impact of which can be instant or can gently unfold as life is seen with greater clarity

Finally, the big difference for me is that transformation on a personal level, once it begins, life starts to unfold in new and powerful ways, in a manner that does not need ‘working at’. There is nothing to be maintained, nothing to be learnt, nothing to remember and no practice required at ‘being transformed’. And transformation can happen in an instant, where one insight (a new thought) or leap in understanding can irreversibly change everything.

How sitting can affect your health and performance

Many of us are constantly static for most of the day. We sit at our desk at work, sit in our cars on the way back home then sit down in front the TV. Brief periods of sitting is natural after a tough day of activity but long periods of sitting day in, day out can seriously impact your health and performance.

Our bodies are designed for regular movement and when we are stuck in the same position for hours day after day, we begin to slowly reset our body’s natural posture to accommodate. The disks in our back are meant to expand and contract while you move, allowing them to absorb blood and nutrients. But sitting puts pressure on your spine and compresses the disks, which decreases our flexibility and can lead to an increased risk of back pain and herniated disks. As we sit, especially at a computer, our shoulders roll inwards as our head and neck lean forward, leading to neck strains, sore shoulders and back. Hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings also become weak and tight causing limited range of motion. Sitting for long periods has also been shown to have adverse effects on the heart, pancreas and digestive system and may increase the risk of certain cancers.

When you have good posture, either sitting or standing, you should be as tall as possible. Your ears should be in line with hips, and over the top of your knees and ankles. Your shoulders should be in a neutral position (not rolled forward) and you should feel tall. Try to imagine a string attached to the top of your head and you’re being pulled upwards.

Poor posture can not only affect our health but from an athletic point of view, it can also affect our performance. Positioning in exercise is crucial for maximum force output, energy conservation and safety. A common issue with poor standing posture is a lack of core tension – that means with a relaxed stomach and butt sticking out. In this poor position we don’t have the ability to transfer force effectively, which also makes the spine vulnerable to injury. An athlete in a good position tends to remain injury free as poor posture adds strain to the body in unnatural ways, forcing us to move accordingly.

So what can you do to combat these adverse effects of sitting? Well, increasing the amount of exercise should be the first thing you do. It sounds simple, just get up and move! But the reality can be harder to get used to for some so here are a few tips to increase your physical movement:

  • Use an exercise ball instead of an office chair. This will engage your core muscles and helps improve balance and flexibility
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move about or stretch for at least 10 minutes each hour.
  • Walk or cycle to work or use the stairs instead of elevators/escalators
  • Foam rolling. This is a great way to alleviate those knots that develop while sitting for long periods. More about this type of exercise in the next blog post!


Are You Drinking Enough Water?

waterWater is such a vital component to everyone’s health and fitness. You can go weeks without food but you will only last a few days without water. So what does water exactly do? It has many functions throughout the body and every cell in the human body requires it. Some of the functions include the regulation of body temperature, protection of the body’s internal organs, as well as being a key component in digestion. Almost every system in your body requires water to function properly.

What are the signs you are dehydrated? Well if you find yourself very thirsty you are likely in a mild stage of dehydration. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include dry mouth, thirst, dry skin, headache, and dizziness or being lightheaded. Severe dehydration can be life threatening and medical attention should be an immediate priority. Symptoms of severe dehydration include extreme thirst, confusion, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, and unconsciousness.

How much water should you be drinking? A good rule is to aim for ½ of your bodyweight (lbs.) in ounces. For example if I’m a 200 pound male, my daily intake for the day should be around 100 oz. of water. A positive indicator that you are well hydrated is the color of your urine. When you visit the restroom your urine should be mostly clear and very light yellow. If you notice a more dark yellow color chances are you are slightly dehydrated.

What about exercise? If you are an active person and find yourself doing an abundance of physical activity your water requirements may be more depending on how much you sweat. An easy tool that you can use is an ordinary weight scale to measure your fluid loss. Here’s how. Weigh yourself before you begin exercise and immediately after. For example, if I weigh 200 pounds before I begin my exercise and I weigh 198 pounds immediately afterwards I have lost 2 pounds of fluid that needs to be replaced. I did not lose fat or muscle during this time but water is the reason why my weight has dropped. So if we do a little simple math, there are 16 oz. in one pound, and if I lost 2 pounds that means I will need 32 oz. (16 oz. X 2) of fluid to return back to my normal hydration levels.

Water is an extremely important piece to keeping your body operating at its optimal level. So for those who neglect their daily water intake, let’s grab those bottles and fill them up! You may be surprised with the difference in the way you feel and how your fitness performance may improve.

Intensity – Are You Really Pushing Yourself?


There are few other variables as important as intensity when it comes to your fitness training program. Many people have good intentions by going to the gym or following a specific exercise program, but they lack intensity. The real issue boils down to a sense of productivity. Yes, you may be training for one hour, but what are you getting done in that one hour?

The real magic happens when you step outside of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself to things you didn’t think were possible and then overcoming them. There is no shortage of focus on the actual training aspect of fitness, but what is usually never discussed are the mental challenges you will face. Have you heard that voice in your head? You know, the one that says you can’t do it, or that you should stop when things start to get uncomfortable. That voice can be a great asset or your worst enemy. If you can learn to control that voice and keep going when you think you can’t do anymore, that is when you will truly make progress towards whatever goal you are trying to achieve.

It reminds me of when Muhammad Ali was asked how many situps he did. His response, I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.

Many of you stop when the pain starts to set in and the brain screams for you to stop. But that is the moment where the magic happens. Those reps are the ones that are giving you the most progress.

So only you know if you’re really giving an all-out effort towards your goals. Effort is between you and you. Only you know deep down if you are really giving it all you got. Or are you just pretending you are? Only you can answer that question. So I encourage you for those that are just going through the motions or haven’t stepped outside their comfort zone to do so. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and the sky is the limit for your goals and progress.

Michael Snader, BodyAware Specialist and Nutritionist.

Yoga for a healthy gut

Aging begins in your belly.

Digestive health informs every aspect of our emotional and physical well-being. Many of the breathing and postural practices are directly aimed at the digestive tract.

When an area is opened or stretched out in a yoga pose, new life-giving nutrients are able to circulate into the cells. In this systematic way, yoga poses massage the vital organs associated with the digestive system, stimulate the digestive muscles and increase the wave like movements in the body that are known as Peristalsis. Yogic breathing exercises send oxygen deep into the cells of the body and help it to absorb nutrients and excrete waste products thoroughly. Yoga helps to reduce the stress response, re-balance the autonomic nervous system and create a powerful relaxation response that allows the healing functions of the parasympathetic nervous system to occur.

It is not necessary to wait until stomach ache or irregular bowel patterns have dissipated to begin your practice; start as soon as you can.

Yoga is highly beneficial for people who suffer from these chronic ailments, but if you are recovering from an obstruction or surgery, you should make sure your body is ready to practice.  If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome you will find yoga, no matter what stage of digestive flare up, to be very beneficial.

Some of us may have too much acid in our stomach.  This is affecting our mood, which affects our secretion of hormones, which affects the buildup of new cells in the muscles and skin, which may mean we hold ourselves or move differently, which affects our muscles and our bone structure, which in turn affects our body’s internal understanding of what needs to be produced and expelled, which results in more acid or far too little, which ends in sleep patterns and energy levels, optimism and pessimism, craving and apathy.  The cycles are endless as the cosmos.  This also means you can begin anywhere, anytime.

Yoga postures and breath work massage the internal organs and the nerves associated with hunger and satiation; yoga strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor and deep core; it alternately constricts and invigorates the flow of blood to specific areas of the body, which works to tone the fabric of the various body tissues as it maximizes the absorption of nutrients and facilitates elimination of toxins.

Come let us practice Hara Yoga with our yoga instructor Samantha and have a happy and healthy Gut!

5 Tips to Lose the Holiday Bulge

  • Baby Steps. Avoid burnout at the gym by committing yourself to 3 days a week if you haven’t been exercising. Don’t fall victim to the February burnout where you are sick and tired of working out because you committed to training 7 days a week on January 1st. Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
  • Short and Sweet. Keep your workouts around 30-45 min. Focus on intensity rather than the duration of your training. Sure you can workout for 2 hours if you stop and chat to your buddy or post your set of bicep curls on Facebook, but you can save yourself some time and just go all out for 30 minutes and get better results.
  • Where’s the Beef? Make sure to include a protein source at each meal. Protein helps you feel fuller longer and can help keep hunger at bay. Even if you’re not a meat eater, ensure a plant based protein source at each meal as well as snacks if you can.
  • No Cola and a Smile. Ditch the calorie containing beverages. Sodas, juices, etc. Stick with water and if you need something with flavor add a lemon, lime, or cucumber. You can save yourself a ton of calories with this one simple change.
  • Drop the Excuses. I don’t have time to exercise. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this. The fact is we all have 168 hours in our week. We all have the same amount of time to get things done. Some just manage their time better than others. Get up 30 minutes earlier. Problem solved. At the end of the day losing weight takes effort. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get uncomfortable. There are no quick fixes. Again, it’s about a lifestyle change and understanding that you need to be committed for the long haul.

fitness tips, holiday fitness

Should I Breathe through Nose or Mouth?

People are asking me in my yoga class that which is good for me, either breathing through nose or mouth – what’s important?

Certain individuals, whether children or adults, have a tendency to breathe through the

mouth instead of the nose.

yoga tips, yoga retreat st lucia

In general:  Nasal breathing is healthier than mouth breathing for several reasons. Your lungs take oxygen from the air, and absorption of oxygen happens mostly on exhalation. Exhaling through the nose, which is smaller than the mouth, creates greater air pressure and therefore a slower exhalation. This gives the lungs extra time to extract a greater amount of oxygen.


And if you’re asthmatic,you may want to make a general effort to breathe nasally, as mouth breathing may exacerbate asthma. Chronic mouth breathing can not only affect your quality of life, but your life, period.

Your nose has vital nervous system connections to your lungs and heart. Not breathing well through your nose can alter your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as to increasing your stress response.
Your nose makes about 2 pints of mucous every day. If your nose isn’t working properly and mucous isn’t cleared, the stagnant mucous can lead to infections such as sinusitis or ear infections.

Lastly, not breathing well through your nose can aggravate snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. Nasal congestion alone doesn’t cause obstructive sleep apnea, but it can definitely aggravate it. If your palate and tongue structures are predisposed to falling back easily due to sleeping on your back and muscle relaxation in deep sleep, then having a stuffy nose can aggravate further collapse downstream. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

In Yoga: Whether you are exercising mild includes yoga, sleeping or going about daily life, it is preferable to do nasal breathing rather than mouth breathing. When you breathe through your mouth, your brain is tricked into thinking that carbon dioxide is escaping the body too quickly. This stimulates the production of mucous, as the body attempts to slow the breathing.use obstructive sleep apnea, but it can definitely aggravate it. If your palate and tongue structures are predisposed to falling back easily due to sleeping on your back and muscle relaxation in deep sleep, then having a stuffy nose can aggravate further collapse downstream. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Just breathe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re breathing out of your nose or your mouth while you exercise hard. When you’re working hard, breathe through your mouth helps to take in enough oxygen. If you concentrating on your breathing that keep you calm or mentally focused while training and competing, go ahead. Just don’t force yourself to breathe out of your nose if it isn’t comfortable.

When you do light exercise, you can breathe through the nose where you’re at about two to three times your resting breathing rate. At that point you exceed four to six times your resting breathing rate (exercise hard, sometimes running)—taking in 20 to 35 liters of air per minute – you have to breathe out through mouth, you can’t push 21 liters of air through your nose comfortably.

Learn lot of breathing techniques with Samantha, breathe perfect expand your life.

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