A brand new you! Transform your mind and soul using your own breath

You may have seen the hashtag #breathwork dotted around Instagram if you follow wellness accounts as it is fast becoming one of the most popular alternative therapies.

As the name suggests, breathwork simply involves conscious breathing to influence your mental, emotional and spiritual state and is believed to have a therapeutic effect.

One crusader who is helping people discover the power of breathwork, is Ava Johanna.

[Credit: Ava Johanna / Instagram]

Ava is ripping up the rule book that the road to healing has to follow a wholesome image, instead using divine femininity and sexuality to inspire women to become their true selves.

Through her organisation The Academy of Breath, she helps enlighten people to the wonders of breathwork with an online course that delves into the booming practice.

The training blends neuroscience, spirituality and mindfulness to guide participants towards their own healing as well as how to become leaders in the wellness industry and teach others.

[Credit: Ava Johanna / Instagram]

The eight-week course promises to equip people with the tools to thrive in all areas of life, from relationships to intuition to career, and of course, the self.

Speaking about her outlook, Ava believes that her skills as a creator, storyteller and meditation enthusiast pave the way for others to experience wellness in an accessible way.

Ava explained: “I mentor women to help them share their gifts, and curate mindfulness experiences that inspire connection.

“My mission in life is to guide and teach honestly and authentically. To bridge the gap for individuals craving more love, health, and confidence in every area of life.”

[Credit: Ava Johanna / Instagram]

Ava continued: “I am living proof that we can redirect our path and purpose. It only takes a willingness and hunger for something more.

“My goal with my work is to ignite that hunger and flame within others so you can live an unprecedented life.”

As well as her breathwork, Ava also hosts a podcast named The Alchemized Life where she leaves no stone unturned as she explores ways to spark mind and soul transformations through episodes such as ‘Tapping Into Your Multidimensional Soul’ and ‘Put A Megaphone Up To Your Inner Voice’.

Think it might be time to have a listen!

To enrich your soul, click here: The Alchemized Life.

[Credit: Ava Johanna / Instagram]

Shout-out to the kids! How young people will rebuild a better society

People are often quick to point the finger at problems instead of solutions, yet this way of thinking poses a major threat on our future generations.

Instead, we should be guiding them with positivity and possibility, as this will pave the way for them to tap into their superpowers.

One man who knows first-hand the importance of shining a light on resilience is Neil Renton, headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School in North Yorkshire.

[Credit: Harrogate Grammar School]

Mr Renton, aka The Don of Positivity, believes that adults have a moral obligation to help children see the good in life and any other alternative outlook is a disservice to them.

“I am optimistic for this generation who have experienced the remarkable. ”

Neil Renton, Harrogate Grammar School headteacher

Speaking about his goals, he explained we need a narrative that recognises this generation has gone through something truly remarkable and they should be applauded for that.

Renton said: “This generation will rebuild, and they will create a more open and better society. This generation will be more resilient, they will value and seize what they have lost.

“In 20 years of working in schools, I have seen how high expectations and positivity win every time and undoubtedly unlock potential.”

[Credit: Sam Balye / Unsplash]

Renton continued: “It saddens me to think negative talk of a lost ‘Covid Generation’ serves only to perpetuate negativity and a self-fulfilling prophecy of no hope and failure. We must change this.”

Drawing parallels with a story he was told by a close friend, of their parents during World War II playing games in air raid shelters as kids and adapting to their surroundings, Renton believes children of today can also learn to survive in extraordinary times.

Writing in his piece for Positive News, Renton said: “Brain science shows us time and time again that negativity impinges on our brain performance.

“Emotionally charged negative thoughts divert energy from the pre-frontal cortex, used for cognitive function, to the limbic system (freeze, fight or flight), so you can’t think as clearly.

“Negativity triggers stress hormones, making neuron activity less efficient. We must not label a generation negatively if we want them to think clearly for all our futures.”

[Credit: Simon Maage / Unsplash]

Renton, who has also published a book on A-level teaching, stressed that using negative language and labelling this generation as “one that has fallen behind” is shaming, and instead of sympathising, it actually closes the door of hope and opportunity.

He concluded: “I am optimistic for this generation and I want to dedicate our collective efforts as educators to helping these children who have experienced the remarkable, become remarkable. ”

Bring on The Remarkables!

Meet the animal whisperer who can cure sick and injured wildlife

As the world opens its eyes to holistic medicine for people, it seems animals can benefit from healing practices too.

So much so, that one woman uses energy, crystals and emotions to help them.

Sonya Barbir, aka the animal whisperer, uses her spiritual gifts to cure wildlife from injuries and sickness with her physical, emotional, spiritual and mental healing.

The psychic medium believes that by nurturing animals back to health she also helps people, as society has so much to learn from the beauty and power of different species.

[Credit: Sonya Barbir]

Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Sonya spoke about her abilities and the work that she does across animal rescue organisations, shelters, sanctuaries, vet hospitals, and zoos.

Sonya said: “I grew up around animals, both wild and domestic. Animals were drawn to me.

“There would be animals on my property who had been injured or they would simply stop by and I would have the chance to get up close and personal to do healing for them.

“As I got older, my abilities got stronger. I didn’t know what to do with them, but I knew I had a purpose for these animals on earth.”

[Credit: Sonya Barbir]

It was during a hike in the woods near her home that Sonya experienced her breakthrough moment, as she began to sense a strong odour and taste blood on her lips.

She explained: “I thought maybe I had accidently bitten myself and didn’t realise. I was confused, but there were no signs of blood on me.

“The voice in my mind said to walk and I was seeing random map coordinates to the direction I needed to go. I felt that I was being my own compass.”

As Sonya followed her intuition, she came across a wolf that had been left to die by a hunter, even though in her area it was against the law to hunt for wolves as they’re an endangered species.

[Credit: Sonya Barbir]

Heartbroken by what she saw, Sonya decided to make a burial and send energy for love and light to the spirit of the wolf.

Galvanised by this experience, along with her innate connection to wildlife, Sonya knew her calling in life was to become an animal rescuer.

At the tender age of 14, she created her own business and began healing work on animals with practices such as reiki, colour and crystal therapy, and emotion code (a powerful method of finding and releasing trapped negative emotions that have been stored in the body).

She later added a search and rescue branch to the company, as well as teaching animal first aid.

Fast-forward 20 years, Sonya continues to provide energy healing for animals as she believes they are sacred, sentimental beings that can take on the emotions and issues of their owners.

[Credit: Sonya Barbir]

Sonya said: “Every healing I have done, people have a look of surprise on their face . The amount of transformation these animals go through with the healing I provide for them is incredible.

“It brings me joy to see the look on peoples’ faces, knowing I took such great care of their pet. Their pet is part of their loving family and I treat animals as if they’re part of my family.”

She concluded: “I will continue to help animals for the rest of my life. There is no doubt in my mind that I would ever stop, I’m so thankful for the gifts I have. Animals deserve to live on this planet. We have more to learn from them than they have to learn from us.”

Animals are known to not only improve the mental health of humans by reducing stress, anxiety and depression, they are also said to have benefits on physical and cardiovascular health too.

In the United States, emotional support animals are recognised by mental health professionals and, providing people have certification, owners are allowed to travel with their support pets on planes, to hotels, the workplace, or even take them into restaurants.

For more info on Sonya, click here: Spiritual Animal Healing

‘Turn your pain into purpose,’ explains youngest female self-made billionaire

We’ve had the Spice Girls, the newly-appointed first ever female Vice President, and Whitney Wolfe Herd is making it a hat-trick for girl power.

You might never have heard of her before now, though Whitney just so happens to be the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire.

Not bad for someone aged 31.

[Credit: Whitney Wolfe Herd / Instagram]

Mish-mashing philanthropy work with pop culture, Whitney’s first venture dates back to 2009, when at the tender age of 20 she started a business selling bamboo tote bags to benefit areas affected by the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The initiative, named Help Us Project, went on to receive national press after celebrities such as Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie were photographed with the bags.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Whitney gravitated towards cyberspace to launch Bumble.

In a world saturated by dating apps, Bumble stands out from its rivals due to the unique rule whereby only female users are allowed to make the first contact with male users in heterosexual matches (for same-sex matches, either person can send a message first).

[Credit: Sincerely Media / Unsplash]

The app proved not only a success for hook-ups, but as time went on it evolved into a networking platform where people can discover career opportunities, expand their social circles, find meaningful friendships, or even become a mentor to someone.

Thanks to these triumphs, Whitney now rivals the Kardashian sisters with her bank balance.  

But that’s not to say it’s been easy. She’s had setbacks, including a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Prior to Bumble, Whitney co-founded infamous dating app Tinder, however, she left and filed a lawsuit which cited “atrocious sexual harassment and sex discrimination” as well as ongoing “threatening and abusive” behaviour from her ex-boyfriend and former boss Justin Mateen.

The case was later settled out of court, with Tinder denying any wrongdoing.

[Credit: Whitney Wolfe Herd / Instagram]

Reflecting on her rollercoaster life, Whitney took to Instagram to celebrate where she is now and encourage other people to pursue their ambitions despite any hurdles.

Writing to her 200k admirers, Whitney wrote: “To anyone going through a setback, low point, or rough patch. To anyone who feels disempowered in their relationships – or who’s had the courage to make the first move into healthier ones. Today is for you.

“This is the outcome of starting over again when it feels like the end. It’s a testament to new beginnings, new paradigms, and new norms. Today has shown that barriers can be broken when we believe in a better way.”

She continued: “Bumble is the outcome of a fiercely dedicated team who’ve worked tremendously hard to show that women can, should, and will make the first move. When relationships are better for women, they’re better for everyone.”

Whitney added: “To all the first movers, whether on our platforms, in business, or in life: you’re what today is about. Never take no for an answer, believe in yourselves, and turn your pain into purpose. Most importantly, treat people with kindness and dream big.”

‘Stop waiting for a hero to come along’ Take control of life with self-help bible

You can read all the self-help textbooks from psychologists in the world, though unless the advice comes from someone who has lived through it, it doesn’t always resonate.

That’s why Laura Whitmore’s new book is exactly what you need to re-boot confidence.

Sharing intimate experiences, the Love Island host dares to bare as she opens her heart with personal anecdotes that aim to help others increase their self-worth.

[Credit: Laura Whitmore / Instagram]

Her book – titled No One Can Change Your Life Except You, and complete with illustrations from Jakki Jones (wife of Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones) – is set to hit shelves on March 4.

“We don’t have to wait for Prince Charming to rescue us… We can be our own heroes.”

Laura Whitmore

It promises to take readers on a journey of self-discovery by delving into body image, heartbreak, and insecurity as Laura shines a light on her own struggles to help you through yours.

In particular, she reveals the three secrets that she believes will bring you more joy than anyone else can ever give you: optimism, self-belief and acceptance.

Chatting about her venture, Laura said she wants to show others that the moment they stop waiting for a hero to come along is the moment they can take back control and be their own hero.

[Credit: Laura Whitmore / Instagram]

Laura, 35, said: “When I was a kid, the first album I owned was by Wilson Phillips. I remember the lyric from the song Hold On; ‘No one can change your life except for you’.

“It’s how I’ve chosen to live my life. There is a freedom when you take back control. Stop waiting for someone to save you and do it yourself.”

She continued: “I recognise everyone has different levels of struggle, but no one just hands you a chance. We don’t have to wait for Prince Charming to rescue us or wait for the opportunity to come to us. We can be our own heroes. We can create our own dreams.”

The book has already earned Laura a host of celebrity fans, with comedian Sara Pascoe describing it as “funny, positive and life-affirming” while TV favourite Katherine Ryan said reading it is “like having a glass of wine with your smart, funny friend”.

[Credit: Jakki Jones / Instagram]

Speaking about her inspiration, Laura revealed she simply wrote about what she knows and hopes that her insight can motivate others to see their power within.

While she said she is sceptical of calling the book a self-help title, Laura is adamant people have to help themselves “because who else is going to?”

In the interview with Her, she added: “There’s a lot of anger in the world. You can’t control what other people do, but you can control what you put out into the world. You can take back control of little things in life, and there is a lot of strength in that.”

To take back control, just click here: No One Can Change Your Life Except You.

Prison reform that works: Inmates learn skills to prevent reoffending

While locking people up and throwing away the key might sound like a good way to treat criminals, it doesn’t undo crimes or bring people we love back.

Instead, rehabilitation does create change; not only giving offenders a second shot at life but also helping society with reduced crime rates and safer citizens.

Yet even though this outcome is proven to be a better model, prisons still struggle to implement it.

[Credit: Safe Ground]

However, one organisation is powering forward to help transform lives and prove that rehabilitation can deliver greater success than punishment.

Safe Ground is a small team with big ambitions to change the narrative for those behind bars by showing that they are people too, and capable of reform with the right education.

They also strive to challenge offenders into exploring relationships and ‘do’ them differently.

[Credit: Safe Ground]

Talking about how they aspire to this, the team explained: “We say ‘do’ relationships because we believe relationships to be active, alive and participatory.

“We are ‘doing’ them all the time. Our work is about the consciousness and awareness we all bring to our relationships – with ourselves, with others and with systems.

“We use a range of arts, therapeutic and group work methods to reflect, analyse and really consider how we are in the world and how we each carry the world in us.”

The Safe Guard crew – founded by Antonia Rubinstein and Polly Freeman in 1993 – also use drama, dialogue and debate on their mission to support inmates into developing self-awareness.

[Credit: Safe Ground]

They do this by visiting prisons across the UK and delivering art and theatre programmes to prisoners as well as supporting family members on the outside and living in communities.

Back in the 90s, the work was rooted in theatre, with their first ever venture being a production of The Tempest at HMP Young Offenders Institute Huntercombe.

Following several productions, Safe Guard were invited by the Home Office to design a family relationships programme to use across the English and Welsh male prison estate.

Speaking about the partnership, the founders said their work has become an enormous field of research into how to cope with the difficulties and costs of having someone in prison.

[Credit: Safe Ground]

They said: “People in prison face significant barriers to continuing, sustaining and improving family relationships and so we deliver work to help both those inside and those at home.

“Our arts work and our events have been a big part of our development, as has our continued interest in research and evidence.

“We are proud of our partnerships and the ways in which we have been able to respond to and pre-empt policy, practice and social changes over the years.”

We only have to look at other countries to assess the efficacy of their models; notably Norway, who focus on rehabilitation over punishment, has one of the lowest crime rates worldwide, while America, who put punishment before rehabilitation, has extremely high crime rates.

For more info, click here: Safe Ground.

Why mistakes are actually magical: The perfect tool for anxious kids

The fear of doing something wrong can often hold us back from trying anything new in the first place ­– especially if we’re worried about what other people will think of us too.

Yet one empowering book is revolutionising the way we view mistakes, by actively encouraging us to make them!

If you don’t already have it on your child’s bookshelf, then take a peek at Magic Mistakes.

The glorious story not only chips away at the taboo that mistakes are something to fear, but that they can actually be magical and help us grow too.

[Credit: Magic Mistakes]

The story follows Frankie Lane, who seems perfect… providing she sticks with what she knows.

However, as Frankie ventures into the unknown and begins exploring life outside her comfort zone, she soon discovers the wonder and beauty that mistakes can bring.

On the journey, readers will encounter Oopsy Loh, the Patron Saint of Mistakes, and see how Frankie’s fantastically spontaneous alter ego, Tallulah Flare, embraces trial and error. 

As your little ones travel along with Frankie​ to the brink of her fears, they will recognise the opportunities they bring and reevaluate what exactly mistakes mean.

[Credit: Magic Mistakes]

Penned by child and adolescent psychologist Belinda Blecher, the book promises to offer young people the language they need to face everyday and ordinary worries.

It is hoped the book will become an emotional literacy tool for parents and caregivers who are often overwhelmed by how to encourage anxious children to be more resilient.

[Credit: Magic Mistakes]

By following Frankie’s odyssey from a place of feeling petrified towards a space where she is excited to try new things, the goal is that this can translate into real lives.

This means, young readers are encouraged to try new things after finishing the book, even if they may fail at it – such as making new food, diving into a pool, or riding a bike.

The book has had glowing praise from fellow experts, with one describing it as “an optimal foundation for children to bloom into psychologically flexible young adults”, and another stating how “the magic of companionship” can help to confront fears together.

To grab a copy, click here: Magic Mistakes.

[Credit: Magic Mistakes]

The secret to axing negativity from your life once and for all

While you may have tried mindfulness, yoga, sleep, or even watching comedy to wipe out negativity from your life, you might be wondering why it still lingers?!

The answer is because you need to go on a diet. Only this time, it’s a healthy one.

Instead of fasting from food, you will actually be fasting from negativity.

That’s right, a negativity fast is the new buzz term from the mental health peeps over at Happiful magazine who say that it will help clear your mind for a more positive existence.

[Credit: Katrina Wright / Unsplash]

Writer Katie Hoare says that a negativity fast is the practise of “actively tuning out of the negativity around you and reframing your mindset to a more automatic positive approach”.

So far, so good. But isn’t it easier said than done?

Well, the good news is you don’t have to sign up for an expensive course, you simply need to acknowledge when you’re spiralling into a cycle of unkind thoughts and retrain your mind.

In the article, there are four top tips to guide you on the mission which involve understanding just how much negativity you consume and stopping it in its tracks.

[Credit: Mark Adriane / Unsplash]

First up, is to acknowledge negativity.

This means, being conscious of when you’re struggling with negative thoughts rather than just allowing them to seep into your unconscious and bury themselves there.

It is believed that this puts negative thinking under the microscope and by becoming aware, your thought processes become clearer and consequently you can take action to say adios to negative situations such as time on social media or challenging relationships.

Speaking about this approach, counsellor Joanne Greaves said: “Constantly focusing on the negative things in life has an effect on the brain and switches up our overall anxiety levels, telling us we’re in danger and that we need to be on high alert.

“Our mind starts to come up with ways to keep us safe, in the form of negative scenarios of things that could happen, to try to pre-empt the perceived danger.”

[Credit: Olegillarionov / Unsplash]

Secondly, you need to set an intention.

By setting goals, we avoid making snap decisions that could do more harm than good (and make us wish we could rewind the clocks on certain behaviours).

It is also said that creating a new habit such as daily mindfulness or practicing affirmations can take 66 days to form, meaning trying new positive ways of thinking will need to be done repetitively over this time in order to break the cycle of the negativity.

Writing your intentions in a journal can be a helpful way to implement the new habits as it allows you to revisit them and ask yourself if you’ve applied them. You can even give yourself gold stars!

[Credit: Kal Visuals / Unsplash]

Number three, is managing negative influences.

Yet while deleting accounts that leave you feeling neggy is one thing, what about real-life friends and family who have a knack for sapping the energy from you?

When cutting people out isn’t always an option, then practising meditation or mindfulness can help you to observe the thoughts of frustration and see the situation objectively.

Joanne explained: “With regular practise, you learn to observe and give space to thoughts and accept that they are just thoughts and let them pass in their own time.

“This can be very difficult if your anxiety is high but setting a small amount of time every day to practise gets the mind in the habit of letting thoughts pass.”

[Credit: Stan B / Unsplash]

Last but not least on the negativity fast, you have to reframe your mindset.

Essentially, this means recognising your triggers then managing them so that you don’t begin to spiral into a negative thought loop.

To help spot things that make you tick, you can start to keep a tracker of when you feel anxious or explore talking therapy with a counsellor or support group.

Gratitude is also the Holy Grail when it comes to reframing the mind as it silences negativity by focusing on good fortune. And it’s damn tricky to be negative and thankful at the same time!  

Good luck on your fasting and wishing you success on your mind travels.

Sea turtles frozen into ‘cold coma’ after freak weather thaw back to life

People wanting to live forever hope that being cryogenically frozen after death means they can later be thawed with a possible resurrection in the future.

Now, it seems turtles have well and truly mastered that art long before us humans!

Thousands of turtles were affected by the freak weather that swooped into Texas this month, a place that usually experiences desert temperatures suddenly plunged into -18°C.

[Credit: Sea Turtle Inc]

The dramatic winter chill sent the sea creatures into ‘cold stun’ status, whereby they remain awake but lose the ability to move which can often result in death by injury or drowning.

The cold stun, an event that occurs whenever the water drops below 10°C, is essentially turtles experiencing hypothermia and being paralysed from it.

Fortunately, despite the big freeze, the hearts of local Texans remained warm and volunteers rushed out to help the reptiles – rescuing nearly 5,000 of them.

The local community, on South Padre Island in the Gulf, transported the turtles to a nearby convention centre to help them out their comas by heating them in warm water and under lamps.

Meanwhile, wildlife officers were also on hand to use patrol boats and fish out hundreds more turtles that had lost the ability to move their flippers in the ocean.

Speaking about the team effort, executive director of Sea Turtle Inc, Wendy Knight, said she was thrilled to see everyone join forces to help the struggling guys and gals.

Chatting to a US radio station, Wendy said: “The love and support of people who just want to help things that can’t help themselves is overwhelming.”

[Credit: Sea Turtle Inc]

She also expressed gratitude for the local space station that delivered a huge commercial generator to power the heating of their enormous tanks and equipment in their hospital.

Wendy added: “They came to us in our darkest hour of need and got us a generator that was complex to find, and even more complex to wire into our system.”

While the Sea Turtle Inc team have to replace damaged equipment that was destroyed by the storm, the good news is that the turtles are on the road to survival.

Wendy said that without the volunteers, the turtles’ future would have been “Armageddon” yet now all is “calm and quiet”. What resilient little troopers!

Miracle breakthrough for migraine sufferers as non-drug cure discovered

If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you’ll know what an utter wipe-out they can be.

However, a new breakthrough trial has discovered a way to treat them, and better yet, it does not involve using medication.

It seems the secret power lies with something much more holistic, by tapping into what is known as mindfulness-based stress reduction instead.

That might sound like a bit of a mouthful, but the technique, known as MBSR for short, is proving to not only decrease migraine intensity but also improve quality of life.

[Credit: Anthony Tran / Unsplash]

While migraines are likened to ‘bad headaches’, they are usually much more severe as sufferers experience throbbing pain that can induce feelings of sickness or sensitivity to light and sound.

The mindfulness-based stress reduction promises to eliminate the pain by lowering anxiety and depression levels which has a physiological knock-on effect to the body.

This new approach looks set to be a major breakthrough for migraine sufferers around the world who currently rely on traditional medicine and use powerful painkillers or even opioids that often lose their value over time as people build up a tolerance.

The latest study split participants into two groups, those who used MBSR and those who used generic headache education, to explore whether mindfulness-based stress education could not only improve migraine outcomes but also change pain perception and emotional wellbeing.

Delivered across eight weeks, the MBSR group followed a curriculum of mindfulness meditation and yoga as well as audio files for home practice up to 30 minutes a day.

[Credit: Fabian Moller]

Meanwhile, the headache education group received instruction on pathophysiology [the study of physiological processes associated with disease or injury], triggers, stress, and treatment.

While participants in both groups reported fewer days with migraines, it was only those in the MBSR group who recorded improved quality of life and lower depression scores.

Speaking about the findings, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, USA, Rebecca Erwin Wells, said that mindfulness can teach new ways to respond to stress – a commonly reported migraine trigger.

Professor Wells explained: “Mindfulness may treat the total burden of migraine and could potentially decrease the impact of this debilitating condition.”

[Credit: Jared Rice / Unsplash]

While MBSR has roots in spiritual teachings, such as Buddhism, it is a secular programme.

It was developed back in the 1970s, using a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, yoga, and exploration of patterns of behaviour, thinking, feeling and action.  

The power of MBSR is not only helping those with migraines, it is also booming in other areas and is used to treat people with eating disorders and substance abuse problems.

It is believed that the approach helps to increase self-compassion, which in turn greatly reduces stress and increases self-awareness which serves as an effective treatment.

Let’s hope GPs start offering MBSR courses instead of just pills.