Watsu in an Italian Hot Spring – Absolute Bliss

I’d heard that Italy has fabulous hot springs.  As well as delicious food, and wonderfully hospitable people.  On my visit to Italy this month, I discovered for myself – it’s all true.  And  then some.

In the middle of my week teaching Hawaiian Lomi Lomi in Verona, my hosts announced they were taking me to the “Thermale” – thermal hot springs.  We arrived at 8.00 pm, and during the summer months it’s daylight until 10pm so we had some time to appreciate the scenery walking into Parco Termale del Garda.  The park and lakes are lit and open until 1am in summer.

The entrance is a long walk down a stony lane into a huge green park, with manicured lawns, bordered by cypress pines. I was expecting a small water park – but this was a masterpiece of design on a large scale.  There is a small lake and large lake (5,000m2) for swimming, with white deck chairs and tidy picnic tables appropriately placed.  There is a magnificent glass-domed dining hall, and outdoor change rooms opening onto the large lake with a stunning crystal chandelier that I could see doubling as a wedding reception area.  In actual fact, these wood and glass gazebos are heated in winter so that you can enter the lake without exposing your body to freezing temperatures.

Footpaths meander through wooded forests, with cypress, yew, ancient sequoia and beech trees.  In the summer you can spend all day here, with a picnic lunch, wine, friends, family.  Socializing in fine European style.  I’m told these natural hot springs are absolutely amazing in winter, when it’s below zero outside and the water retains it’s heat. There are even accommodation villas in the park dating back to 14th century. Read the history here.

I went with 6 of my students, and as soon as we got changed, stepping into the hot springs after three days of massage was delightful.  The water temperature hovers around 33 degrees C, and there are two hot tubs within the main pool, which you step up into using wooden stairs. One is 37 and the other is 39 degrees.  Complete bliss.  There are strong jets within these hot tubs, I climbed in and directed them onto my lower back and was in heaven. A maximum of  ten minutes is suggested, then back to the main pool.  All along the sides there are water fountains, like this one, which provides a strong, warm hydromassage on your neck and head.

 But the best was yet to come.  

As we entered the water, the six people I was with broke into pairs and started giving each other Watsu (Water Shiatsu) in the pool. 

Each recipient was held languidly in the arms of their partners, being moved around in slow circles.  Their legs beneath the water were being lifted and stretched, passive dancing in the warm haven.  Having never seen this before, it was quite beautiful to witness.  Especially in triplicate. 
Later I realized this wasn’t “normal” for people to do in the hot springs.  These were all experienced therapists, and of course, it was normal for them.

Annalisa offered for me to experience her Watsu.  She held me in her arms, my right arm draped around her shoulders, and lifted and danced me slowly in wide aqua circles. My ears were below the water. All I could hear were the tiny pebbles on the floor of the lake as she walked upon them, muted children’s laughter in a faraway background, and the roar of water fountains.  The sky was beginning to darken and my body became one with the elements as she spun me around. Occasionally I would hear a sound of contentment escape from my throat, utterly unexpected. The entire experience was divine.  This was my first Watsu.

Aloha, Kimberlee

The road less travelled… to take or not to take?

On my second day in the Cinque Terre, I decided to hike a trail the hotel receptionist (a local) recommended.  “It’s very beautiful” she assured me.  And it was.  However, later on, talking to fellow Aussies at dinner, I showed them on the map the path I took – and was met with “Are you crazy?” Perhaps a second opinion would have been wise before embarking on what became a 5.5 hour hike through wild boar country…

This trail is not part of the regular tourist track.  Which is of course what attracted me. I caught a train to Riomaggiore, the last of the “Five Lands” and then hiked directly up through the town towards Telegrafo.  Very steep steps at the beginning, through a beautiful green valley terraced with vineyards. All fine.  I met some other walkers early who warned me of a boar that was “becoming one with the earth” along part of the track ahead.  OK.  Got past that. 

An hour’s hike to Telegrafo, and my legs, tired from the day before, began seriously complaining.  A small rest and sugar fix (homemade walnut slice) at a very small rest stop which is Telegrafo, and I was assured the next portion of the trail was easy.  Oh, to have a few more language skills.

I hiked an hour or so through a National Park pine forest following the trails to Campiglia, a small, pretty town.  Thankfully there was plenty of shade as it was about 32 degrees C.   The ocean and rock cliffs were on my right. Forest on the left. A series of outdoor exercise options were built along the path – Stairs were the first option and I had to laugh!! 

At Campiglia I would recommend getting a bus or taxi down to Portovenere, which means Little Port.  I walked. For 3 hours. Many switchbacks later, a rocky trail which was well marked at the beginning with signature red and white stripes became less and less easy to define.  I noted a sign which warned hunting for wild boar takes place through the months of November to January and regretted the decision to hike alone. 

Following my nose and intuition, and with help from locals when I reached the town, I finally found my way to port, where I bought a ferry ticket back to Monterosso for 13 euro.  This boat stops in all the pretty seaside Five Towns along the way back, giving you an  ocean perspective of the villages.  Gorgeous. Waiting for the ferry, or “little ship” as a described by one local, I rewarded myself with a glass of local wine and a Margeurita Pizza.  Delicious.  Ahh. Sitting in the shade, by the sea, listening to banter in 3-4 different languages, I was happy.

Exploring the Five Lands (Cinque Terre)


Ok, so here I am – it was a gorgeous day today, overcast to begin with, perfect for taking pictures. My  iPhone is my friend on this journey.

Today I hiked south from Monterosso to Vernazza, and then to Corniglia. The first leg was a decent 90 minute, mostly uphill hike, with many, many, stairs on a kind of goat track along the coast. Bring good walking shoes, a hat, sunnies & sunscreen if you do this one. 

Vernazza is still in the process of being rebuilt after massive flooding and mudslides that occurred and decimated the town on October 25th, 2011.  Vernazza was completely cut off, by road, rail and air, for 3 days during  inclement weather.  Many people died.  Even now, 9 months later, shops are being reconstructed. I was definitely thinking about all of this when walking this area.  

The track between Vernazza and Corniglia was only just re-opened this week, there was only one section where it was still obvious it had been clearly washed away and I was climbing across sand bags, so I was happy I was able to walk this one.  Corniglia to Manarola is still impassable.  The last leg of this famous walk, from Manarola to Riomaggiore, is fully paved and quite relaxing.  

All the towns are accessible by train, so you can train one way and walk back, if you wish.  Or just hop off at each stop and look around each unique town.  There is a sea ferry as well, if you want to view the coastline from the ocean. Stunning.

Here’s Riomaggiore, the marina here is gorgeous and there are plenty of enticing local dishes to enjoy.  So many delicacies here!

Till soon,



Notes from a Traveller in the Cinque Terre

Monterosso, Cinque Terre
I first heard about the Cinque Terre in Italy from a fellow traveller in Thailand.  Claudia was from Spain, had a shaved head which I greatly admired, and we were studying Thai Massage at the same school in Chiang Mai, around 2001.  After full days of yoga and thai massage training, we were free to explore the city. 

Claudia had been to many places.  I remember sharing a drink with her after class and I asked her what her Top 5 were.  Cinque Terre topped the list.  I heard this again and again from other travellers, so resolved to visit the five towns that are famous for their stunning views along the Italian Riviera.

So, here I am! In Monterosso, the most northern of the 5 towns.  A chance to teach in Italy has provided me an opportunity to jump on a train and explore Cinque Terre.  Tomorrow I’ll tell you about hiking the trails!



Beauty in Small Things


I’m on my way.  6 weeks global roaming overseas.

Whenever I step onto a plane, I feel like I am stepping off in time.

I am free, fully present, there is no past, and no future.

Just now.

I took this picture recently on Peregian Beach.  One of my favourite places. 

Wherever I go, I want to leave a reminder of my presence , whether it be in the hearts or minds of the people I have met, or a simple collection of stone and natural objects left behind.

First Nations people used this kind of stone configuration to show where they had journeyed, to direct others, to mark the way to water, food & shelter.

I am committed to looking for, and seeing the beauty in small things.  Every day of my journey.

Nourishing my soul and feeding my spirit.

Tell me, how do you do this for yourself? 




Aloha, Teaching, & A Winter’s Tale

Aloha beautiful ones,

It has been a while since I’ve written a blog, so thanks go out to all my new subscribers and new clients.

It’s been a time of change and new perspectives, that’s for sure.  In March I did some Hawaiian Wisdom Training with Ho’okahi, wife of the late Kahu Abraham.  It was certainly an eye-opener. Ho’okahi has a clever way of re-framing words, dreams and experiences into different perspectives and more useful understandings, and using metaphor throughout her daily interaction.  That said, she does not mince words and speaks her mind and her observations without apology. I found the training extremely challenging, and I fell down in a heap after I came back.  Which is kind of what I expected. Perhaps what I needed.

I’ve come home and re-designed my house and my relationship.  And, this last month has been a complete detox from sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy and alcohol.  I’m not one for diets, but this one has been necessary.  I’ve joined in on Selfish for 27 Days, an online event focused on self care, self enquiry and self expression.  I’m focusing on my yoga, my body, my mind and especially my perspective.  It’s been a dive into a deeper articulation of what is important to me.  More to be said on that in another blog.  I’m feeling fantastic, and just as well, I have a big trip ahead of me in July and August.

In 5 weeks time I’ll be in Italy, teaching Lomi Lomi in Verona, and then to Canada, where I will be teaching in Victoria B.C. and Toronto, Ontario.  What an absolute pleasure!  I’ve found fantastic yoga teachers to complement each training. There is an opportunity available for one more student in Verona, and in Toronto.  On the way home to Oz, I will be checking out the big island of Hawaii to host one of my Lomi retreats in 2013.  And then relaxing doing a yoga retreat there for myself :).  Sounds like a lot of “retreating” but it’s really more about coming home to self.  I’ll be back in Australia on the16th August.

Well, that’s my blog for today.  Here’s a fantastic recipe to warm you up as our weather cools in the southern hemisphere.  Absolutely delicious.

Margaret Fulton’s Pea & Ham Soup


Pea & Ham Soup

Winter Warmer - Pea & Ham Soup

2 onions, sliced
300g green split peas
2.5 litres (10 cups) water (for 800g of ham)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 smoked ham hock, around 800g
2 carrots, diced
1 cup sliced celery
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
cracked black pepper to serve

My Easy Slow Cooker Method

1. Put split peas at the bottom of the Slow Cooker.

2. Add all other ingredients and cover with water.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hrs or on high for 4-6 hours, or until meat falls off the bone easily.

4. Remove bone, discard fat & skin. Chop meat up finely, return to soup.

Margaret’s StoveTop Method

1. Put the onions, peas, water, pepper, thyme and bay leaf into a large saucepan.

2. Add the ham bone, bring slowly to the boil, reduce heat and simmer half-covered for an hour.

3. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another hour.

4. Remove thyme and bay leaf and discard.

5. Take out ham bone, cut all meat from bone removing excess fat and skin, shred and return all but half a cup of meat to the soup.  Add the salt (if required) and lemon juice just before serving.  Serve the soup topped with the remaining meat and garnish with cracked black pepper and a few thyme leaves.

Note: Add spicy smoked sausage to turn into a hearty main meal.  Serve with crusty bread, if you wish. This recipe freezes well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Serves 4-6.

Hummingbird Cake

Ok, the secret is out, I am laying low, taking a week off “work” and staying close to home.  Reading, writing, cooking, a little yoga, and being a homebody – regenerating.  Here is a delicious decadent cake I baked tonight.  For special occasions only. 

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird cake

Hummingbird Cake

Cake Ingredients

2/3 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (you can substitute walnuts or pecans if you wish)
3 cups self raising flour, gluten free
1 cup castor sugar, gluten free
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup desiccated coconut, plus extra for frosting
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, peeled
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup light vegetable oil
1 x 440g crushed pineapple in natural juice, lightly drained
2 tsp vanilla extract

250g cream cheese, softened
150g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups soft icing sugar, gluten free
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Cake Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (140 °C fan)
Grease and line base and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin.
2. Place nuts on baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Attach flat beater to stand mixer.  Place flour, sugars, coconut and cinnamon in mixing bowl.  Mix for on very low speed for 1 minute. Remove from bowl and set aside.
4. Place bananas in bowl.  Beat, at speed 6 for 1 minute.  Turn off mixer.  Add eggs, oil, pineapple, vanilla and nuts.  Mix for 1 minute on speed 4.  Add flour mixture and beat a further 2 minutes.
5. Pour into bake tin.  Bake for at least 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean (last time I made this it took 1 ½ hrs to cook).  Cool completely.

Place all frosting ingredients in a bowl and beat on speed 4 until smooth.  Spread over completely cooled cake and sprinkle with coconut.  Voilà!
Serves 10-12.


Koru unfurling…

Well, new horizons beckon, both physically and geographically.

This Sunday 25th March I begin yoga teacher training in Brisbane with My Health Yoga.  Why yoga?  Why now?  Because my heart yearns for it.  And why not?  Yoga and Lomi Lomi work together beautifully.

After this, I am doing a week of Hawaiian wisdom and Lomi training with Ho’okahi.  I’m looking to stoke the burning ember of my inspiration into a flame once more.

Returning to Peregian, I’ll be available for appointments from 2nd April – 14th April.

Then, I am off to New Zealand to visit Gisborne, stay at Morere Hot Springs, soak in thermal pools, rejuvenate at a beautiful virgin forest scenic reserve,  and meet new friends. I’ll be connecting with Nancy Kahalewai, author of “Lomi Lomi – Big Island Massage” and learning Hot Stone Massage, ‘opu huli on the abdomen, and some deep tissue Lomi techniques.  Ahhhhhh. 

I’m back on deck again on the 24th April.  I am loving following my heart and creating space for learning and new growth.

Tell me, how do you allow your koru to unfurl?

Aloha, Kimberlee

Weaving Huna, Yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism and Lomi

According to the Dalai Lama “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”

I read this recently on Mind Body Green and breathed a sigh of relief. I practice and teach Hawaiian Bodywork. I have been taught there is a philosophy that underlies this bodywork – a philosophy of self empowerment and personal accountability – based on The 7 Principles of Huna. These principles are, as articulated by Serge King:

1. The world is what you think it is
2. There are no limits, everything is possible
3. Energy flows where attention goes
4. Now is the moment of power
5. To love is to be happy with
6. All power comes from within
7. Effectiveness is the measure of truth

Now, these principles mean that the world we live in is one that we create. We create our own reality, experiences, and choose to manage our lives accordingly. This is a powerful framework for a system of philosophy. And not one that I disbelieve.

However, there are those that argue that Huna is not Hawaiian, and bears no resemblance to Hawaiian worldview or spiritual practice, but is instead part of the “New Age spiritual industry”.

Continue reading

Summer Aloha and Banana Smoothies


Well, it’s mid February already, welcome to another fast moving year!

I had the pleasure of hosting a beautiful Lomi Lomi retreat, at the aptly named Retreat Beach Houses, in Peregian Beach in January with six gorgeous women from all around Australia. We explored Hawaiian bodywork and Huna philosophy by the beach, surrounded by coastal vegetation and some very persistent rain. Seems like water is a recurring theme for this year!

I would like to thank each of you for fully participating in this retreat – our best one yet. Thank you also to Natasha Patten of Tash Yoga, leading us in our stretches, heart and hip-opening asanas and beautifully guided meditations. Tash’s fluid yoga practice was the perfect accompaniment to our flowing bodywork.

There are soooo many similarities between yoga and Lomi Lomi, a topic I will explore in greater depth another time.

My next retreat in Peregian will be held in December, as I’ll be teaching internationally mid-year.

Here’s one of smoothies from our retreat I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

Lush Banana Smoothie  (my current favourite)


2 frozen bananas, ripe and unpeeled when frozen
1/2 litre soy, rice or almond milk
1-2 tbsp L.S.A. (ground linseed, sunflower, almond)
handful of almonds, soaked
6-8 dates, pitted
dash of honey
1 egg
sprinkle of cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg
6 ice cubes

Blend, and serve. Fantastic in Thermomix. Enjoy!