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Self-Care

WHY THE SHAKTI MAT IS GOOD FOR YOU

Claire Chitham

I was first introduced to this magical, highly effective self-care tool - known as the Shakti Mat - by my yoga teacher Suzi. Following a conversation about good ways to relax before bedtime, she arrived in class the next day and handed me a bright-orange, spongy mat with little white circular points all over it. 

“This is a Shakti Mat,” she said, presenting it to me with that knowing look she often gives. “Borrow mine and see how you go.” She recommended my hubby and I try lying on the Shakti Mat each evening (with a bolster under our legs).  

Originally created in Sweden by Yogi Om Mokshananda, the mat has 6,000 acupressure points and uses the same principles as a bed of nails. The points work to apply consistent pressure to the muscles and skin. This helps the body and mind descend into a deep state of relaxation. 

It is also a highly effective tool for athletes to help muscles recover from injury and, internally, for improving blood circulation and oxygen and nutrient delivery. 

That night, my hubby and I couldn’t wait to give it a whirl. After brushing our teeth (our night-time routine that helps us signal, “we’re ready for bed”), we unrolled the yoga mat and put down the Shakti. 

I’ll never forget the feeling of unfurling my spine along that mat for the first time. Like you imagine lying on a bed of nails would be, for the first minute it pinched and felt uncomfortable. Three minutes in and I began to experience unfamiliar sensations.

By five minutes, I could feel the acupressure points descending me into serious relaxation - the kind I’d only ever experienced after a 90-minute yoga class.

I let out an audible sigh, my breathing had slowed to a gentle undulating rhythm, my neck and back felt alive, as though millions of tiny fingers were running up, down and around my spine, all knowing exactly where to push. At 10 minutes, I was so relaxed, I was basically asleep. Five minutes later, I was. 

For my husband, it took a bit of time to be able to stay on the mat comfortably. At first, when you’re not used to it, the process can feel a little painful. But he persisted.

By night three, he was laying on the mat for 5-10 minutes and the following morning waking up noticeably refreshed. He also reported how quickly it improved the circulation in his legs (an issue he’s forever struggled with). After a week, he came home one day and said, “I feel very different and the only thing I can put it down to is lying on the Shakti Mat.”

The shakti experience has been so good for us that, within a week, we’d purchased our own and now it’s a delicious, regular part of our night-time routine that we both look forward to. For my husband, it’s given him a level of rest and relaxation he’s never experienced before. For me, it’s as effective as having a float or intense body work/massage.

As a yogi, I love to use it at the end of my practice where I lie on it in Savāsana or sit on it when I want to descend quickly into deep meditation.

As a writer, I love the origin of the word Shakti, which in Sanskrit is a feminine principle that symbolises empowerment, abundance and change.

We’re so thankful this #goodthing was brought to New Zealand by a couple of young enterprising Kiwi blokes, who had a chance meeting with the Swedish inventor and decided to bring this effective, ethical self-care tool to us. The product is made from 100% organic cotton, plant-based dyes and non-toxic ABS Plastic.

They are a #goodbusiness too with their workshop in Varanasi, India run by skilled women, who are looked after properly, paid well with holidays and free healthcare. In 2018, Team Shakti gave scholarships to nine girls from the families of their workers.

Now we want to help them spread the word ‘cause we know from experience that Shakti Mats are really good for you. 

Yours In Health and Happiness, KB x

We bought our Shakti Mat from Yoga Arts NZ. To find out more about the people behind Team Shakti, head here.

HOW TO USE A SHAKTI MAT

  • Lie on it on your back for 20 minutes. Good Tip: This is a really lovely thing to do in bed before you sleep!

  • Place it under sore, tired legs for 10 minutes, elevated on a cushion. I used this when I had a groin injury and it was highly effective for getting the blood flowing into the area, especially when the injury was in its acute phase.

  • For deep acupressure action, stand on it with your feet. They recommend five minutes, I usually can only last a few!

  • Roll it up and turn it into a pillow. Lay on it for a few minutes.


SELF DEFENCE IS FEMALE EMPOWERMENT

Claire Chitham

  It's fun to learn with your friends, but there's a serious need for these skills... Check our vid below!

It's fun to learn with your friends, but there's a serious need for these skills... Check our vid below!

Whether you ever have to use the tools or not, learning techniques around self defence fill you with a sense of power, confidence and hopefully the strength of mind to walk taller in the world. 

Recently Reebok NZ held a free Self-Defence class to over 150 women in central Auckland. Our GFU crew member and friend Zoë Bell was an inspiring hostess with the most-ess who opened the session and helped demonstrate all the techniques taught during the class.  After a twenty minute warm up from the legendary Les Mills Body Combat trainer Rachel who got us all psyched and energised - we then embarked on a forty minute lesson taught by master trainer Charlie Riley from SAFE. He travels the length of New Zealand teaching self defence techniques to women, men, in schools - to whoever will listen! He was a fast and effective teacher, focusing on three particular techniques for our class since we had such a short time span to learn them in. 

We put them into practice - safely - on each other, and got used to employing the most important principles Charlie asked us to focus on. The main aim is not to engage in the fight should there be one. The main aim is to get away as fast as possible from the danger. RUN. If that is difficult because someone has a physical hold on you  - then grab, maul, scratch, kick, elbow, slap, punch, gouge as MUCH as you can in order to DISABLE them - you only need the smallest moment -  then RUN. 

So Hurt them to Disable them, then get the hell out of danger. 

Women will often be the physically weaker or smaller one in a fight, thats what bully's do right? But learning techniques like this and having a stronger mental attitude towards the idea of being attacked or in physical danger - such as 'I can get myself out of here' instead of a victim mentality is an empowering thing to carry around with you. 

We highly recommend Charlie as a teacher - get him to your workplace, school, group of friends. Spending an hour learning something you hope you'll never have to use, but know is a powerful thing to have in your personal toolbox is VERY VERY GOOD FOR YOU :) WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH ZOË BELOW !! 

5 EASY SELF-CARE RITUALS THAT WORK

Claire Chitham

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One of the best ways to create balance in life is to live more mindfully. It's something we strive hard for at Good For You. But life ain't always a bed of roses, sometimes things get rocky, right?. These are the five easy and effective self-care rituals we use when we need to heal:

1) Meditate for 10 minutes morning, night (or both!)

Meditation is an amazing tool to get focused, clear your head and ditch any resentments. Buy noise-cancelling headphones, roll out a mat or towel, lie down and find a quiet spot. You can recite a mantra to stay on track (we love 'SA TA NA MA'), try mala beads (which you count as you meditate) or listen to a guided meditation or soothing music. The more you practice, the easier meditation gets and it's also scientifically proven to boost your brain power. 

2) Write it down

Journalling is an excellent way to work through stuff by handwriting out your biggest fears and greatest desires. Find a journal that inspires you, put aside five minutes each day or half an hour each week and get writing. You'll be surprised at how quickly the process will help crystallise your thoughts and get in touch with your emotions.

3) Be your own cheerleader

It may sound a little too simplistic but speak to yourself as you would to others. Be accommodating and kind. Big ups yourself when you do a good job and be more lenient on yourself if things don't go your way. Turn the self-talk in your head into a positive conversation by literally giving yourself a BREAK!

4) Move for 30 minutes

You don't have to step into a gym or run lots of kilometres to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of exercise. Instead, just thinking of MOVING. And  aim to do that for 30 minutes a day. It doesn't matter whether you surf, swim, cycle, do yoga or pilates or just get outside for a walk, get those endorphins pumping by moving in a way you love every day. 

5) Tune in, drop out

We're all so connected in this 24/7 world that sometimes the best thing you can do for your self-care is to "drop out". Turn off your phone or wi-fi, ditch the screens and read a book or do some colouring in or get out into nature. Often the vastness of nature helps us re-connect with what matters and makes us perceive whatever problems we're facing with a truckload more clarity.

HOW TO RELIEVE STRESS FAST

Claire Chitham

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Good For You expert Susie Cleland is head trainer and co-owner of Suna Pilates. Susie's also a qualified holistic nutritional coach, Paul Chek and qualified TBM (Total Body Modification) practitioner. Luckily for all of us, she'll regularly be sharing lots of good-for-you tips and tricks about how to live your best life. The cool thing is the ideas are so easy 'n' quick you can EVEN do them in the car. Check out  on how to get your breathing under control when life seems a little overwhelming.