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Yoga, Nutrition & Meditation.

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Welcome to Amber's wellbeing blog. Unearthing new health and beauty finds, discussing yoga and mindfulness, great healthy recipes and much more!

Filtering by Category: stress busters

Natural Facial Oils - 3 of the Best

Amber Macintosh

For thousands of years indigenous people have used natural oils on their hair and skin from the seeds and nuts found in their local habitats, with beautiful results. Even so, growing up with a greasy skin made the idea of using facial oil slightly terrifying. Thankfully this changed when I was sent to review a Darphin facial whilst in my first job as an intern at Elle Magazine, twenty years ago. Many botanic oils were layered on my skin and each one sank in, which is when I realised my skin was dehydrated, not oily - the results had me hooked and I have loved facial oils ever since.



As I am a judge on this years Beauty Shortlist awards a total of twelve facial oils have been sent to me for testing. Three of my favourites so far come from Oilixia, whose products celebrate rare botanicals from around the world, Inlight organic skincare from Dr Spezia and newcomer By Sarah London. It's the latter, launched today, that I want to focus on.

Most facial oils contain essentials oils, which carry their own individual benefits and vibrant fragrances, but which can also sensitise the skin. In addition, to make a product smell great most facial oils include variations of lemon and geranium oils (listed at the bottom of the ingredient list) which can be an irritant for certain skin types. If the body is under pressure from external assault, pregnancy and the ongoing use of strong medication being the most noticeable, then essentials oils may be unsuitable to use. By Sarah has instead used delicate, all natural, organic plant based oils. You might even say this oil is simplistic, it doesn't contain a nut oil from a far flung exotic tree but instead goes back to basics with almond, pumpkin and apricot kernel oils. These are hand crafted and feel absolutely wonderful on the skin, sinking in fast and nurturing the skin very gently. Each oil is carefully labelled on the front of each By Sarah bottle; what you see is what you get, I love this back to basics approach.

I would highly recommend this oil, putting emphasis on the merit of using it on temporarily 'stressed out' and/or sensitive skin. By Sarah Organic Facial Oil launched today, it is £16.50 for 10ml and £38 for 30ml. 

Beautiful Aurelia Bodycare

Amber Macintosh

If you've been to a yoga course with me you will know I encourage body brushing; it increases circulation and improves natural lymph drainage. Finding a beautiful body wash and moisturiser to complete the routine isn't easy so I was excited to try Aurelia's New Restorative Cream Body Cleanser and their Firm & Replenish Body Serum. 

The sulphate free wash is creamy and even in hard water leaves skin feeling hydrated. The serum appears as a cream straight from the pump but becomes lightweight, melting as it touches the skin. It envelopes you in a silky freshly scented layer that instantly absorbs, so throwing on your clothes straight away is not a problem. 

Aurelia, renown for creating the first probiotic skincare range, combine ethical, sustainably sourced bio organic ingredients. In this body collection Aurelia use steam distilled essential oils, suitable for use during pregnancy. They also combine the unique moisturising benefits of their signature African botanicals, Boabab and Kigelia, which deliver Omega 3,6 and 9. I recommend you give this new botanical bodycare a try, it lives up to it's promises and truly nurtures body and mind. 

Chill Out!

Amber Macintosh

Are you monitoring stress in your life? I have noticed that people compete over stress levels and if you are super busy and don't moan about it people think you are a multitasking superstar. It's very important to put things into perspective and if you are under a lot of pressure, be that kids driving you crazy or heavy negotiations in the boardroom, take stock, and think about meditating, yes meditating!  

I have practised yoga for over 10 years and during that time have tried them all - Iyengar (the bendy one), Hatha (the classic one), Sivananda (the culty one), Power (the celeb one), Bikram (the hot one!) and Kundalini (the meditative one). The last remains my favourite because it focuses on the importance of the breath and involves a lot of meditation. Learning to use your breath to it's full potential is incredibly powerful and healing, it can work miracles on even the most stressed out people.  In the past I have tended to bore friends about it and they usually say they would not have the patience to sit down and 'relax'.

I used to laugh this off but have come to the realisation that it is important for everyone to at least experience the sense of true inner calm that can be achieved after meditating. Far from relaxing meditation takes all the powers of concentration to accomplish correctly. It improves mental concentration, sharpens awareness and gives a greater sense of self.  You can find Kundalini yoga teachers near to you through Kundalini Yoga and teachers of all other yoga disciplines from the British Wheel of Yoga. If you are one of those couples that argues about whether a day looking after the kids is more stressful than a day in the city you might indulge yourself in a one on one couples meditation?!

Me Time

Amber Macintosh

Are you getting enough me time? or are you laughing at the very idea. Over the weekend many of the newspapers were reporting about the new wave of alternative health therapies, yoga retreats and detox diet clinics, popping up all over the world. I was reading these articles whilst sipping my camomile tea, myself on a spa break with my husband.

Finding 'me time' seems to have become a talking point in every circle I meet, whether it's investment bankers taking up Tai Chi or super mums heading for pilates, we all need our little something, a stress buster, to help us wind down and find a zone in which we can relax. In our frantic time-pressured lives we are bombarded by information and even in gyms the endless feed of outside news, screens playing Bloomberg and news captured from around the world only serve to increase this frustration.

As the media report on the rise of anxiety sufferers, cited as the new depression, it is the holistic lifestyles that are taking centre stage. Age old rituals that require a better understanding between mind, body and spirit are increasingly interesting to those that may previously not have thought twice about the benefits. I appreciate that yoga and the martial arts are far from being new but the sea change is the types of people that are accepting these practices. In terms of yoga we are seeing a return to the true and ancient forms of this technology, no longer do people run off to the latest yogalates class in search of the body seen on their favourite actress. A yoga class which teaches in equal measure the importance of postures, breathing and meditation is now favoured before the body punishing modern adaptations. Ten years ago my yoga practice was tolerated with indifference but now people openly ask what is involved and how they might benefit. Where I once skipped off to classes but kept yoga very seperate from the rest of my life, my practice is now very much a part of our family lifestyle. I have many yoga sets that the children enjoy doing with me and my husband benefits from my meditation as the music lulls him into a relaxing Sunday afternoon snooze.

We are all living in a time of information overload and while we benefit from the webs ability to bring us up to the minute news, we are thankfully understanding that we need to step away so that we can catch up with ourselves. I am alarmed by the number of mothers I meet who are on their knees getting their kids to and from activities, but not using even an hour in the week for themselves. I believe it is estimated that a mother with three children gets approximately 26 minutes of free time a day, I seriously doubt this! But if this is the case don't waste it folding more washing! Almost all mothers I ask in this situation would say that it is impossible for them to do nothing with 26 minutes. It should not be laughed off; it concerns me that the ability to tell the body, and more importantly the mind, to be still is lost. I would also suggest that the importance of finding an hour a week to do something for yourself, whatever that may be, is just as, if not more important, than taking Jake to Rugby club.  Being able to do this does not mean you are doing less for your family but that you are taking control of your life!