OK, we all know that if we look after ourselves we feel healthier, happier and have higher self-esteem, but it's hard to keep up with all the trends in nutrition, movement and exercise and sometimes it feels overwhelming. So a good way to give yourself a boost is by trying to make just one new healthy habit, and our lil ol' town has lots of options to help you on your way.
I'm a prime example of a gymphobe - ever since my school days the thought of any type of organised sport has made me develop a nervous twitch! As someone who comes out in a cold sweat at the thought of breaking a sweat, I was pleasantly surprised when I forced myself to attend some family yoga classes with my 10-year-old in a bid to be a better role model for her. The classes, run by the gorgeous Dawn of Stardust Yoga, are fun, gentle, thought-provoking and a fantastic way to have some bonding time with your child. They've been a revolution for me so if you've never seen yourself doing a downward dog, maybe it's time to give it a try.
Luckily Colchester is full to the brim of yoga teachers and classes, so whatever your aim or level of flexibility you'll be sure to find one to suit. Chrissie Joy runs Living Joy Yoga, which started as a small yoga community at the Colchester Buddhist Centre. Her vision is to offer a gentle yet deep style of yoga that suits everyone's needs, encouraging listening to one's body. Chrssie helps her students create more ease in their bodies, to offer a practice that helps reduce levels of stress and anxiety through a series of integrated movements, which will refresh, rejuvenate and bring feelings of calm. Doesn't that sound just a bit wonderful?
Another way to integrate some low-cost movement and mindfulness into your routine is to swap your car commute for a bike ride. If that sounds a bit daunting, then pop along to a special pop-up advice centre being run from the One Colchester shop in Lion Walk between 10am and 1pm every Monday until the end of June. Organised by Cycle Colchester, volunteers from several local cycling groups will be on hand to share their experience of how to get started, the best sort of bike for you, where to get good quality second hand bikes, and how to find other people to ride with.
If you're happy with your activity levels then perhaps you could improve your diet. The aforementioned Dawn is a busy lady. She also runs workshops and courses on everything from gut health to smoothie making. If you don't know your kale from your quinoa then a good introduction is her Healthy Eating Made Easy workshop on May 27th. It's an opportunity to learn how to feed yourself body-loving food as well as ask all those questions about food that you've been needing answered. Dawn will cover food for anxiety, food for sleep, food allergies and why calories don't count! While a glowing example of the results of looking after your nutrition, Dawn is not at all preachy or smug and approaches everything she does with warmth and humour. Highly recommend!
If you're eating well and active but still feel tense or stressed then try an essential oil massage from Indie's Elements. A 30 minute revitalizing scalp massage with coconut oil, for example, helps to strengthen and condition hair, improves blood circulation, promotes sleep, reduces stress and helps to relieve tension headaches. Sounds like bliss!
And finally if, like me, you have an increasing number of vegan friends but you've never tried vegan food yourself, then grab a buddy and head to the new permanent home of Garden of Vegan at No. 9 Queen Street next to the Queen Street Brewhouse. Open from 6 till 10pm, Monday to Saturday, it's reasonably-priced, innovative, tasty, healthy food that adds karma credits to your soul!
Colchester is awash with enlightened souls ready, willing and able to help you make a healthy change that will improve your fitness, nutrition and wellbeing. One healthy step at a time, guys!