Catherine Cervasio discovered the power of scent early on: growing up with Italian parents, the strong scents of fresh herbs were a constant presence in the family home. “I’ve always had a strong sense of olfactory ‘emotion’ and memory,” she says. “Using rose petals to make an infusion brings me back to when I was young and loved smelling different varieties to find the most aromatic.”
But it wasn’t until she began developing her own aromatherapy skincare business, Aromababy, that Cervasio discovered the therapeutic benefits of scent.
Aromatherapy - the practice of using plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils to improve physical and psychological wellbeing - isparticularly useful for boosting energy, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Aromatherapy can be administered via aerial diffusers, direct inhalation or topical application, such as massage.
While there’s no real scientific evidence that scent prevents or cures disease, studies show that it can influence the limbic system, the part of the brain that supports emotion, behaviour, motivation and memory. Certain essential oils contain constituents that uplift and revitalise, Cervasio says. “A good example are oils in the citrus family. Clary sage is another oil that promotes clarity, focus and wellbeing, though it’s suitable during pregnancy - it’s often used during labour and postnatally, when hormonal fluctuation is at an all-time high.”
A key advantage of aromatherapy is that it’s portable, meaning a quick energy boost is never far away. “Aromatherapy can be easily implemented into everyday life,” Cervasio says. “The small bottles of pure oils can be taken on holiday, to business meetings, and kept in your desk drawer for a perfect pick-me-up.” There are side effects associated with the use of some essential oils, so seek a qualified and experienced aromatherapy practitioner.
For more information: www.aromababy.com
Complementary health practitioners often discover their therapy of choice when seeking remedies for their own health concerns: that was certainly true for Sydney naturopath Kate Johnston. “I'd been to many medical doctors and specialists, but kept being told, ‘You’re fine.’ It was only when a colleague had great success with a naturopath that I found out what naturopathy was,” she says. According to the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association, naturopathy is a blend of modalities underpinned by key principles, including the healing power of nature, and finding and treating the cause of illness or dysfunction, not just symptoms. Practitioners may use a mix of nutrition and dietary changes, herbal supplements, mindfulness techniques, and functional testing.
Perhaps unsurprisingly in the increasingly frenetic 21st century, fatigue and low energy are among the most common reasons that people seek a naturopath's help.
“Naturopathy can boost energy in many ways,” explains Jonston. “Identifying gaps in people’s nutrition can be a huge factor, or determining specific food intolerances. Herbal medicine works incredibly well to support energy, and you'd be surprised how many people aren’t sleeping enough or integrating down time and relaxation in their busy lives.” She stresses that people shouldn’t expect to feel instantly superhuman after their first consultation. “Commit to making a change and trusting the process, but know that even if it doesn't happen overnight, it will be so worth it in the long run.”
For more information: www.korewellbeing.com.au
Chakradance dynamic meditation
If your mind whirls at a mile-a-minute, sitting quietly can feel like torture - yet the health benefits of regular meditation - reducing stress, and improving concentration, mental clarity and energy - are widely established. For those who prefer a little more movement with their mindfulness, Chakradance is a form of dynamic meditation created for the fidgets among us. It was developed by Natalie Southgate and inspired by her studies of chakras - the seven energy centres in the body through which prana, or life force, flows - in the Ayurvedic tradition. “Discovering the map of the chakras was literally life-changing,” says Southgate. “As I was ‘waking up’ on my chakra journey, I also found that I was drawn back to my childhood passion for dance. When our chakras are blocked, we experience muscular tension, tiredness and lethargy: it can feel like we're living in a fog. Chakradance helps us let go of this fog and release blocked energy, so we reconnect with the more vibrant, radiant part of ourselves.” Classes are held in a candlelit room and are set to music that resonates specifically with each chakra. As classes are held in a darkened room, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or how you move. Even if you're self-conscious, Chakradance classes feel safe.
For more information: www.chakradance.com
Maintaining optimal energy flow through the body is the fundamental principle of many complementary therapies. Practitioners of energetic healing modalities say the body has innate healing energy, but any interruption to or blockage of its flow can cause dysfunction and disease. Kinesiologist Marney Perna saw this firsthand when her husband sought alternative treatment for a bulging disc after exhausting orthodox medical options. “A friend suggested that, before we decided on surgery, we go see this kinesiologist,” she recalls. “The appointment seemed strange to me, but it wasn't long before I realised that the therapist's rather random questions and my husband’s answers were connected to how his muscles were responding.”
Kinesiology uses muscle monitoring to access information about a person’s wellbeing. Muscle monitoring identifies states of ‘lock’ and ‘unlock’ in muscles. The unlocked state is said to be due to insufficient neurological flow between the muscle and the central nervous system, caused by physical, emotional and/or mental stresses. Marney says it is ideal for boosting energy levels. “If you're unwell or run down, the energy that your body has to operate with is reduced. Kinesiology techniques may enhance natural defence mechanisms, lower stress levels, and increase life energy,” she explains. “A kinesiologist doesn't treat or diagnose named diseases,but does facilitate health and harmony by ensuring the body and body systems perform better.”
For more information: www.kinique.com