What is your word for 2013?

Frangipanis in my garden, summer 2013

Frangipanis in my garden, summer 2013

I was speaking to a client this week and she has a yearly practice which she, and many of her friends, have adopted.  Instead of sitting down at the beginning of a New Year to make a list of Resolutions, she chooses one word which she would like to have to describe her year ahead. 

This word could be “Truth”   “Engage”   “Strength”   “Perspective”   “Silence” – anything, really, that you choose.

This one word may describe something you may wish to address regularly.  It could be something you find challenging, or elusive.  In yoga, we call this a sankalpa (in sanskrit), We regularly choose one word at the beginning of each yoga practice, a word to return to in all circumstances. We may choose to keep this to ourselves.  Or not.  It is a precise declaration of good intention, that motivates you and aligns with your core.

My word this year is “Action“.  I have chosen to meditate on this, for various reasons.  My husband, James, has chosen “Opportunity“. 🙂

If you share your word with you friends and family, this will also make you accountable.  They will remind you of your word, when they notice your patterns (that you have consciously chosen to address) emerging.  Text your word as a New Year greeting!  Don’t you love this idea?

What is your word for 2013?  I’d love to share my practice with you.


What a Ride!


I’ve had an awesome journey teaching / traveling in Italy and Canada in the last six weeks.  I met wonderful people, had extraordinary experiences, and loved just about every minute of it.  A yoga retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii was how I grounded myself down after 5 weeks of travel.  It worked.  I’ll be blogging about my experiences over the next little while.

This is how I see our world – alive, unbounded, elemental, interconnected, and interdependent.

Thank you to all of my new and future ‘ohana (Hawaiian for extended family) for sharing my journey with me. 

A hui hou! (until next time)


P.S. Spa & Wellness Magazine have combined and published two of my blogs in their July edition – you can subscribe to this free online mazine here and read my writings here



Hot Springs, Italy & Balneotherapy

You may have enjoyed my last blog about the Italian hot spring Thermal Park Garda that I experienced recently with friends.  There is a little more I’d love to share with you.

As we entered, the Rules of Conduct were prominently displayed:

No Smoking
No Food and Drink
No Loud Noises
No “Outpouring of Love

So, no lovemaking or funny business in the hot springs!  Once I entered the park, I understood.  Natural forests, relaxing heated pools,  hot-tubs, water fountains, hydro-massage – it is a veritable feast for the senses. 

And ultimate relaxation.

There is even a unique grotto, hidden behind a waterfall, with carved seating, night mood lighting, and a variety of warm underwater jets…positioned perfectly to massage the back, neck, shoulders, and feet.

Being in these pools is like a re-birthing, an unveiling, a lifting away… I felt immediately at ease.  I am a water baby, after all.

Actually, each hot spring is unique and has different therapeutic properties, depending on the mineral composition.  Parco Thermal‘s water is high in bicarbonate, magnesium, calcium, lithium and silica, so this particular destination spa is renowned to improve your skin.  They have even designed a range of cosmetics prepared using the water from the Thermal Park.

Balneotherapy refers to the treatment of dis-ease using water therapies.  Hot springs are perfect – by immersing ourselves in mineral rich waters, our skin absorbs restorative minerals and expels harmful toxins.  The combination of minerals and warm temperatures provide many heath benefits – boosting the immune system, increasing blood circulation, relaxing muscles, aiding metabolism and digestion, etc.  For the skin, according to Talk Spas, balneotherapy in hot spring baths has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on psoriasis, dermatitis, and fungal infections.

The same journal lists more serious illnesses that use balneotherapy to relieve symptoms.  These include cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, insomnia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Spas of course also incorporate other organic elements such as essential oils, mud, clay, seaweed, saltwater and herbs to enhance the effects of mineral properties in the water. 

You can see how healing the waters are just by looking at the expressions on our faces…

This is Cristina with her husband Roberto after he has given her a beautiful Watsu treatment in the hot springs at Thermal Park Garda.

I’ll be exploring Canada’s first water spa for women, Body Blitz in Toronto, in a couple of weeks time…

Until then, Ciao

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!



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

A little more nature appreciation

Noosa National Park - an ethereal boardwalk through the wallum

Aloha to you, beautiful people. This is a picture of the path I will be taking tomorrow morning, I am going for a bush walk in Noosa National Park, starting from Sunshine Beach and winding my way around to the Main Beach for a swim. What a great start to the day!

Having had the best of intentions to LEAP into 2012, I am finding that pacing myself is the better way to go.

And I can’t think of a better way to keep perspective than spending time in the company of trees. And the ocean. And my loved ones.

Wishing you a beautiful day,


Gratitude, Conscious Creation, & having a holiday from my holiday…

Well, Christmas is over. For me, this year, Christmas came a long second to my wedding on December 11th. After organizing a wedding in four weeks, Christmas would have to be a cinch.

And, it was, really. On Christmas Eve we held a dinner party for friends visiting from Singapore, and on the 25th, we filled our beautiful round wooden table on our outdoor deck with family, and had a plethora of delicious food and drink to share. Family from London stayed on a few days, and it wasn’t very hard being tourists in our own town – perfect weather does help!

Coupled with catchups with more friends from out of town, a veritable social whirlwind ensued.

After visitors, some city hopping and exploring, it has been such a relief to come home to our beautiful home, and really, just breathe, and appreciate what I have and can experience every day. A beautiful home, beach close by, generous neighbours with whom we exchange keys and swimming pools and share space, and my own beautiful garden and quiet space. A place I can welcome clients and embrace silence, when needed.

Now, time to write down all that I am grateful for, acknowledge what I have accomplished and experienced this year, and write how 2012 will be the most awesome year for myself, my family and extended family (‘ohana in Hawaiian).

This is not just about what I have and can create for myself, but what I can create and wish for others. I hope you will join me in the conscious creation of 2012. 🙂