This is what happened at Conscious Connect wellness weekend

This is what happened at Conscious Connect wellness weekend

I missed the Conscious Kenya Launch weekend. Not because I wanted to. I was eager to experience Qi Gong & Yoga Nidra for the first time that Saturday, 8th August 2020. Join Green Juice, Hibiscus Tea & Chilli Jam on Sunday, and maybe listen in on the Conscious Kenya Q&A for practitioners & vendors on Monday. But I got preoccupied with other things.

That’s why I couldn’t miss the first Conscious Connect wellness weekend.

I’ve been a fan of Conscious Kenya ever since I came across it this year. One place to find Kenyan yoga teachers, alternative therapists, energy healers, and holistic wellness practitioners. You can shop for eco-friendly, sustainable, and organic products on the website. And even chat with like-minded seekers through discussion forums, groups and online events. 

Conscious Kenya brought the wellness community in Kenya together at a time when we cannot meet up at yoga or meditation classes – thanks to Covid19. 

Conscious Connect also came at the perfect time. Happening on 19th and 20th September, it was a holistic wellness weekend to nourish your mind, body and soul – all from the comfort of your home. Conscious Kenya was hosting 20 live sessions by 20 health practitioners in our favourite wellness topics: energy healing, breathwork, permaculture, meditation, yoga, tai chi, organic food and many more. 

Some events were streamed live from Organic Farmers Market in Karen and Kanga Studio in Loresho on Saturday. And you could attend them in person if you were in the area, some for a fee. But for most of us, we attended online for free. 

Saturday didn’t start out so great. I missed the 9 am Power Yoga with Noni the yogini, who’s a personal friend. I also missed the Organic Lifestyle talk with Dennis Andaye, also streamed from the Organic Farmers Market. I was curious about organic farming and where to get organic food in Kenya. 

In the afternoon, I wanted to join the Look Good Feel Good talk with Shivani Einola & Rose Waweru. The two ladies from Healthy U, a natural health brand in Kenya, held a discussion on natural beauty products, nutrition and supplements. 

I was also looking forward to Sound Healing with Child of the Earth. I have experienced Narissa’s sound healing sessions during her Spirituality beyond Religion events at The Nairobi Arboretum. You simply lie down on the grass and allow your body and mind to be soothed into a deep meditation as she plays the Tibetan singing bowls, Indian bamboo flute and Vietnamese dragon gong. Talk about vibrational medicine.

I later learnt that the website was down for the whole evening because of all the love coming from the conscious community in Kenya and around the world.

But all was not lost. I woke up that Saturday at noon to the Energy Medicine BodyTalk with Marie-José Dolleman & Nicki Farquharson. Their alternative healing therapy combines the knowledge of Western medicine (without the drugs), the energy dynamics of acupuncture (without the needles) and the latest discoveries in Mathematics and Physics. According to their website, the BodyTalk system activates your innate healing abilities, and they gave examples of how it has helped people with poisonous snake bites and even skin burns recover fast. 

The two ladies taught us The Cortices Technique, which is part of their Access Fast Aid course. By tapping the head, heart and gut, we learnt how to balance communication between the two halves of the brain. I do it every morning to feel calm and focused before work. 

Since I had missed the early morning yoga, I caught up with Kanga Yoga byPaska at 3 pm. It was streaming live from Kanga Studio Nairobi, Loresho. The sound was not too clear and I had to refer to the video severally to know if I was doing the right pose. But you could clearly hear the yogis in the room huffing and puffing. 

In the one-hour class, the Kenyan yoga teacher guided us through vinyasa flows and made us hold asana poses for longer than we imagined we could. Afterwards, my whole body felt buzzed and energized. I could still feel my stretched ligaments the next day.

On Sunday, I set my morning alarm – I had learnt my lesson. Sleepy me missed the breathing and meditation class by Heather Gordon, who is the only Wim Hof Breathwork instructor in Kenya.

My first session of the day was Emotional Healing with Liz Watters at 10.15 am. In a soothing and motherly voice, she showed us how to heal trauma every day. Instead of overthinking about past hurt, move your attention from the mind to the body. Feel the resulting emotions in the body in order to let them go. And then surrender.

I was curious about Tai Chi and Primal Movements with Linda Yeo & Neeraj Kamdar at 11:30 am. Linda started with a standing Tai Chi meditation practice which reminded me of its Chinese cousin Qi Gong. 

Primal movement is where it was at. The first lesson we learnt is that squatting is the default position. What a challenge it was at first especially when we’re used to sitting on chairs.

Neeraj explained that our bodies need to play, but they barely do because of our sedentary lifestyle. Whereas gyming focuses on only one muscle group, primal movement works out the whole body in a fun and natural way. 

He demonstrated how our ancestors used to move while in the jungle. He mimicked crawling like animals – from lions to lizards to springy chameleons to crabs, alternating hands and legs. And we copied the moves we could do.

While most of us were indoors, he showed us in his friend’s garden how to balance barefoot on logs (even blindfolded). He gave us fun moves and games we can play with children, even in the parking lot. And they’re for everybody, even his 60-year-old friend could do them.

With practice, they assured us, we can strengthen our whole body through these natural movements. No equipment necessary, just getting back in touch with your body and nature. I cannot wait to join them once they return to Karura forest in Nairobi.

I have been interested in permaculture ever since I learnt about the permaculture design certification course in Kilifi. After the primal movements session, Zahra Didarali gave a brief talk about Using Permaculture for a Regenerative Life. 

A brief introduction: Permanent agriculture, or permaculture, is a sustainable system for designing agricultural landscapes which work with nature by regenerating biodiversity and lost fertility. It involves three aspects: People care, nature care and fair share. 

What I found interesting is how Zahra related permaculture principles with everyday life. From the 12 guiding principles, we can Observe before Interacting with our environment; Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback in work and relationships; Use Small and Slow Solutions because they are easier to manage; and Use and Value Diversity to ensure longevity. Including diversifying your income.

And for those who wanted to learn more about practising permaculture, she guided us to Harvesting For Good East Africa

After a lunch break, Khilan Shah facilitated Atma Kriya Yoga: My Journey. Meditation and Talk. He reminded us yoga isn’t just about physical exercise. Yoga means union with Divine, Atma means soul while Kriya is action. So Atma Kriya is a comprehensive yogic system to return the soul to its true essence: unconditional love.

The Atma Kriya yoga teacher guided us in a brief meditation where we moved our consciousness from our head to heart, simply by using our breath and hands. One thing that stood out to me was a question he asked. When a guest visits you at home, you serve them in the best cutlery and take time to prepare their meal. Why don’t you do that for yourself?

At 5 pm, Oriane Torode of Healthy By O came with a not-too-talked-about topic – Thyroid Health: Why Everyone Should Care and Be Aware. She informed us that most physical health problems start with the thyroid. Sluggish thyroid, sluggish everything!

For many of us, we got to feel the gland at the bottom front of the neck for the first time.

The thyroid makes two main hormones – (T3) and (T4) – which are responsible for metabolism, mood, and body temperatureWhen things are moving too slow also known as hypothyroidism, you experience fatigue, weight gain, depression, dry skin, PMS, infertility and low sex drive. The opposite is hyperthyroidism where too much thyroid hormone is produced. Though less common, this results in weight and hair loss, anxiety and hyperactivity.

The functional health coach shared the best foods for a well-functioning thyroid: proteins from lentils, iodine from seaweed, vitamin A from egg yolk and orange vegetables, zinc from pumpkin seeds, iron from spirulina and organ meat, and selenium from brazil nuts. As well as medical tests to do and which minerals, vitamins and hormones to look out for. 

The next evening session was specifically for the ladies. Paula Arranz had prepared a recorded presentation about the Healing Wisdom of the Menstrual Cycle. She took us through the four phases of our monthly cycle: preovulatory, ovulatory, premenstrual and menstrual. It was interesting to know each was connected to a moon phase, from the crescent moon to full moon to waning moon to new moon. And that we adopted different archetypes throughout the menstrual cycle, from being energetic, loving, seclusive, to restful respectively. 

The certified life coach also showed us how to use a menstrual diagram and diary to record our feelings every day, from day 1 of menstruation. That way we could understand our dynamic bodies and feminine energy better. 

My favourite part was when she invited us to listen to our bodies as she played tribal world music. We closed our eyes and moved to the rhythms while no one was watching. By the end of the 10 minutes, almost everyone commented how wonderful that impromptu dance session had been.

The final session of the day was a music performance. At 8 pm, Ambasa Mandela went live on Zoom and Instagram. The conscious Afrofusion musician from Kenya was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, his second home.

If you know him, you know Mandela preaches as much as he sings, and this jam session was no different. Acoustic guitar in hand, he used his powerful voice to spread love and consciousness. He performed songs from his Sarabi Band days such as Love will Rescue Us and the revolutionary Sheria. He also played his original songs including the fan-favourite Fantastic Love and an unreleased Luo song honouring his friends and supporters. With hearts fired up by his uplifting music, it was the perfect ending to the conscious weekend. 

And with that, two days of healing were over. Conscious Connect weekend not only took care of our mental and physical but also spiritual health. It connected holistic health practitioners and conscious humans streaming from all over the world, from China to Australia, South Africa to Spain. Thank you to Narissa and Eddy for making this happen.

I was happy to discover some of the recorded sessions were uploaded on Conscious Kenya website. Meaning you can watch or listen to the sessions you missed in the relevant community groups, from Natural and Energy Healing to Meditation to Breathing to Movement and Yoga.

So, how was your experience at Conscious Connect weekend? Which sessions did you attend? And what did you take away from them?

Images courtesy of Conscious Kenya Instagram

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