I remember my first ever hot yoga class. I passed out from not breathing, and they had to drag me out, red-faced (literally) like a limp rag doll.
If there were ever a reminder of just how vital the breath is, this would be it. Which to me, is one of the reasons why I connect so deeply with aromatherapy.
We can get disconnect from our bodies and breath, becoming so hyper-aware of what’s going on around us, that we literally forget to take a moment to breathe. To nourish ourselves. To come back to our breath.
Lululemon Feelgood Giving
I’m fresh off the Lululemon retreat and I still can’t put into words how healing, (at times terrifying), and empowering the encounter was.
We learned about the magic of possibility on the first day, and our facilitators, Mohana, Cheryl and Stephanie helped us unlearn or rephrase ‘fixed language’ to overcome negative beliefs that you believe are immutable… ideas like, “I’ll always be broke” or “I don’t have enough time.”
It all begins with identifying what that fixed belief is, and writing down some proactive steps you can take to undo that mindset. So if you are always broke, you could ask your boss for a raise, take on a side hustle etc. You have the power to change, starting with your thoughts.
The Real Journey Inward Begins
The next day, we went into a silent meditation (which broke after breakfast) and allowed the silence to reveal and bring up things we would have otherwise overlooked in the busyness of daily life. We were told to put our phones aside, go inward, and not even make eye contact with anyone — not even our roommates who we were bunking in with. Not for anything, save a fire.
I didn’t realise how much of a gift silence would be to me. As I rose in the morning I found that I didn’t miss the not talking. It was a license to just Be. It was freeing to go about tasks in silence, marinating in your own thoughts instead of checking emails or catching up on social media. Isn’t it funny how we get anxious when we don’t check our phones, but similarly anxious when we do? There’s no happy medium. It was a gift to not even communicate with eye contact. The practice made me realise just how much we perform for the sake of it. How we exchange pleasantries because it’s polite, for face, for ego. How many times do we ask a cursory, “How are you?” and actually mean it? I kept my head down and walked to morning yoga by the pool, led by Stephanie.
During the practice, she talked about each of us having a light and shadow side. I tried hard as I could to keep up with all the incredible yogini, barre, fitness, and spinning experts around me.
We also spent a lot of time discovering our core values and pin-pointing our purpose or gift that we were here to share with the world. The values of freedom, compassion, integrity and legacy are intrinsic to who I am, which as an empath, explains why it pains me to see others suffering, being oppressed or forgotten.
Let Yourself Be Seen
We went deeper on the final day and were asked to project ourselves into the future. We had to imagine ourselves at our 100th birthday, with our loved one giving a toast for us. Even after meditation, it was hard for me to write my own toast – so much of life is unknown and I decided to pick the best case scenario and go for it.
Little did I know we were then to share our journals with each other and someone else would read our toast out loud, resulting in our group dissolving in tears. It was a revelatory experience, coming to terms with our heart’s desires whether we recognised it or not. Beyond fame and wealth, everyone wants to be appreciated, loved, and make a difference.
Was it absolutely embarrassing to have a stranger read your most innermost yearnings? Without a doubt. Did you have to be at your most raw and vulnerable for the exercise to work? Absolutely. But now that it’s out in the universe, you can lean into that.
You have allowed yourself to be seen and potentially judged as you truly are, and now there’s nothing to hide. There’s no downplaying dreams or fears. You are free to be.
Thank you to the truly inspiring team at Lululemon Singapore and its ambassadors for this incredible journey x Alli
“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.”
T-minus two hours till the Lululemon retreat in Sentosa begins. I am so excited (and honoured) to be invited and find a three day yoga-wellness retreat secretly thrilling.
As delighted as I am, I have to admit the idea of a getaway with hardcore fitness experts and yoga enthusiasts fills me with trepidation. If ever imposter syndrome were a real thing, I’m living it right now.
You see, it was only four months ago that I made the conscious decision to do a 180 on my fitness and health. I grew tired of growing tired (imagine walking up a flight of stairs and feeling like you’re going to die – lol). Tired of always falling ill, feeling lethargic, and unable to keep up with everything.
Of course, it was never this way. After a few bouts of walking pneumonia, asthma, misdiagnosed illness and all the steroids and antihistamines that came with it, my metabolism and mental health just ground to a halt. When you feel so terrible about yourself, you tend to want to self-soothe (via black truffle tagliatelle and spa sessions) instead of confronting the root issue.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
It was and is still hard. There are days where the only things motivating me are:
a) cute outfits from Lululemon (I know, I’m shallow but they keep it fresh)
b) the feeling that I need to close the rings on my Apple Watch I have to say, having this super machine on your wrist where you have real data in real time about how active you are is an eye-opener.#facts
Some days I am literally astounded by how many steps I get in, how full of energy I am. Other days, I pull out the yoga mat and get some mountain climbers in just to edge the ring a bit closer to close. Mr Mmerci will tell you I have been spotted on my back, waving my limbs about like an overturned ladybug just to get my Moves in (Again, I know right. Who am I?!)
c) the idea that training costs a bomb and I hate the idea of wasting money. There’s a whole level of accountability when a trainer is thrown into the mix
And every time I get in my tights, put on my watch, I think: you showed up. You’re here. You showed up. Even if this is as fast as you get, as strong as you get for today, you showed up.
Yesterday I managed to walk 3km in 30 minutes, a record for me. If only the me of 6 months ago could see me now. Sia sung, healing is difficult.
So, to the Alli of tomorrow and three days from now: now matter how uncomfortable (or amazing) it gets: show up. This is true self-care.
We’re thrilled to share that for the month of October 2018, you’ll be able to find Mmerci Encore at the following locations in Singapore:
Lululemon – 79 Duxton Road, Level 4
Dancevault – 20 Cecil St, Level 4
Our sensorial delights have popped up at Lululemon and Dancevault, and you’re welcome to visit these spaces to try, sniff and sample our artisanal aromatherapy treats to your heart’s content!
When I started 2018, I made it a personal goal to get healthier, fitter, and importantly, stronger. Strong not skinny has been my mantra in this health journey and it was made all the more better with the arrival of my Applewatch Series 4. It enables me to daily track & hit my exercise and movement goals (aka my rings), has reminders to stand and ‘Breathe’… it also monitors glucose levels, the UV reading at any time of the day (helpful as I actually like walking around my neighbourhood a lot), and alerts emergency services if you have a fall.
Now I’ve caught you up to speed, one of the things I love the most about it (and I never thought I would), is the fact that you can sync your Applewatch to your friends watches and view their fitness updates as well.
The old me would have totally shut down the thought, but in the spirit of being accountable and finding new ways to stay motivated, I added a few super healthy, super fit friends on my watch.
Let’s be clear: you should want to exercise for yourself. This is not about proving yourself to anyone else, or competing with others. For me, it’s a way to train my brain and body to keep showing up for myself. However, there is something really great about having people encourage you when you’ve finished a workout or blitzed your Move (calorie burning) goal for the day.
Image: David Karnezos Photography
A few words to help inspire and get you moving if you’re more inclined to veg out or give up:
- “Tell yourself you are strong.” At the very start of my journey, I’d get horrible migraines and headaches every time I worked out. After every workout, I’d have some mystery sniffles or feel like absolute death. I hopped on YouTube and was stretching to an episode of Yoga with Adriene and I had just about had my limit when she said, “Tell yourself you are strong.” Wow. Why had it, in over 30 years, never occured to me to tell myself I was strong? I had told myself plenty of times that I didn’t have the energy or that I was sick and therefore, excused. But never that I was strong. Something in me shifted in that moment, and I try to replace my doubts with this mantra whenever I feel like I want to throw the towel in. Maybe the reality is that right now, you aren’t strong. Maybe you’re fighting chronic illness, or an exhausted parent, or battling so much at work. I encourage you to do this one crazy thing and think yourself strong. Don’t wait to feel strong to tell this to yourself. Just keep repeating it, even when you aren’t totally convinced yourself. Push and see what happens.
- “Just trust yourself.” My personal trainer said this to me as I balked at the idea of doing something without barfing (believe me, it’s happened before)… I think it was lifting 30kgs or something. Just try, and trust yourself.
- “I’m moving for my mental health.” You have a choice: stay still and glum, or go for a walk and clear your head. At the risk of sounding into a fitness blogger (of which, I am not), countless studies and experts encourage you to get moving in order to balancing your mood, counteracting the effects of anxiety and depression, helping to alleviate stress and boosting self-confidence all round.
- “You don’t have to be beautiful like them, you can be beautiful like you.” I watched Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty on the plane from New York twice. The scene of her SoulCycle Soho surrounded my models is something that resonates with me as a thiccc girl. But as we all know, you’re not going to find more motivation by hating on yourself so be proud you’re there – and showed up for yourself.
- “Move because you love your body, not because you hate it.” You are not here to punish or get revenge on yourself.
- “Honour your pace.” I love this quote so much, I put it on Mmerci Encore inspiration cards and randomly with our clients. Slow is still better than sitting down and scrolling through Instagram for an hour…
And if you need essential oils to help you feel enlivened and motivated pre or post sweat session, opt for:
These oils are great for helping you up and go. Aside from some of them helping to detox and aid in digestion, they also with intention setting and help boost willpower. Diffuse these in your workout space (if working out at home), or sniff them from the bottle when cravings arise and replace that need for junk food with something equally as peppy but guilt-free. Hopefully that pause as you inhale the essential oils helps you reframe and remember your health goals – I’m trying to remember the same too, as I have zero willpower when it comes to sweet treats and tend to indulge more when overwhelmed or stressed. As with everything if you have medical concerns, please see your physician first and don’t ingest essential oils – regardless of how clean and organic they are.
To read some other things that help me feel great about myself, check out what I shared at Her World and read about my wellness and lifestyle tips that have worked for me so far.
“I am inspired by things that have character, personality and strong features. They can be a little odd or strange but at the same time, very beautiful.”
— François Nars
Edgar Allen Poe once wrote that there is no exquisite beauty without strangeness. And sometimes, there’s no better way to celebrate your own unique beauty than giving yourself to colour. Lots of it.
Enter Nars x Erdem’s latest collection, Strange Flowers – an offering of unreservedly bold lipsticks – six to be exact, two blushes, two shadow palettes, lip powder palette & more handpicked by Erdem Moralioglu, of the eponymous label himself.
“I have always been interested in exploring the codes of femininity, and to me flowers represent the wonderful strength of the feminine,” says Moralioglu.
The shades and to-die-for lacquered box evoke Erdem’s -delicate prints and sumptuous silhouettes—though I’m personally struggling to ever use any palettes as they’re simply too pretty… a happy problem, I assure you.
Strange Flowers is part of an ongoing collab between the iconic beauty brand and the hauntingly romantic fashion label who have been creating these signature looks (oft characterised by dewy skin paired with an unexpected eye and daring lip) since 2013.
So now begs the question: what perk-me-up shades are you dying to try?
“Always, over and over, these days and nights will come, the anxiety, the aversion, the doubt. And I will still live, and I will still love life.”
— Hermann Hesse
A few days ago I caught myself hyperventilating mid-conversation. I had to take a big gulp of water and walk away for a bit.
It’s not the first time my incorrect breathing has gotten me in a bind. I once passed out in a hot yoga class simply because I forgot to breathe. Or rather, instead of really embracing that I was a beginner, I was acutely aware of how I was totally sucking at the poses, how I couldn’t move with the fluidity of others… just too in my head. Sipping at air, anticipating what was to come next instead of just being ok with feeling out of my depth. And then I passed out, and the teacher had to drag me out. It was terribly glamorous.
The same thing happened last week at the dentist. It was a routine clean, but it turned out to be a mini pranayama session as the doctor realised I was holding my breath and therefore, not able to open my mouth for him—which is kind of not what you want when you pay $600 for a dental appointment.
It reminded me of the time I walked into Per Van Spall’s office at Como Shambhala.
Notice how when you entered you spoke in a high pitch with a shallow breath, he said at the end of our session. You were not speaking from your diaphragm.
You were speaking from here, he said, and proceeded to point to his throat.
You were speaking from your ego.
Notice how your voice has deepened.
That moment unlocked something in me. When I speak into the moment with honesty and not fear, something just shifts.
The more we attempt to control a situation and get hysterical or speak in measured words instead of getting down to the core of who we are, the more it somehow manifests in the body. (It explains why you can seethe with anger or shake with rage or tremble with fear).
Ever since that encounter, I’ve been really mindful of listening to my body before reacting and it’s been a lot easier to stop and reframe situations just by paying attention to my breath.
But back to a few days ago where I really was hyperventilating. Knowing what I know, I was instantly able to pause, examine my intentions, and start again. It was actually pretty freeing because you don’t have to wait till tomorrow to start again.
Every moment can be made new by taking one deep breath.
If you’re after some immediate relief, the best balancing aromatherapy oils to help encourage patience, self-grace and an honest exchange with others (in my book), include bergamot essential oil and peppermint essential oil. Eucalyptus essential oil is another great one, literally helping to clear the air, while promoting better breathing.
And while you’re at it, if your heart needs a little re-examining, aside from prayer, journalling, meditation, walks in nature, I’ve always found geranium essential oil and ylang-ylang essential oil helpful in terms of bringing you back to center and gently rebalancing moods. There’s truly nothing worse than beating yourself up about something you said, or replaying on loop what can no longer be fixed.
And with that I finally realise why yoga teachers bang on the way that they do about breathing… Hope these suggestions help you.