Have you ever wondered what all the fuss is about when it comes to eating well… and what it means to do self-care? Well, Jo-Ann Brine, owner of Willow Yoga & Health Centre has a lot to say about the mind/body/spirit connection.
It is said that the best teachers are those that share the experiences that resonate with their students. Jo-Ann is a classic example of a woman in a busy, high-stress job, who wasn’t living the life she wanted. “I had a degree in psychology, but I needed a job after graduating. I found good, well-paying work in the pharmaceutical industry, doing continuing education for physicians and selling biologic meds for diseases like crohn’s and colitis, which I personally have,” says Jo-Ann. But, not ironically, the constant travelling, long hours, and being away from her son, made her own condition worsen, despite the medications she was taking.
“I believe mainstream meds are important, but I also believe you can help yourself to heal by nutrition, mindful eating, exercise, and meditation.” After taking another job closer to home with less travel, but not enjoying it, Jo-Ann reached the turning point and knew it was time to take charge of her life. The former fitness instructor started practicing yoga, and it made her stronger mentally and physically than in her gym days. She knew that her new practices were aligned with who she wanted to be, and so she took courses and became a yoga instructor.
a yoga life
In September 2012, Jo-Ann opened Willow Yoga & Health studio in Lower Coverdale, as short drive from even my home in Dieppe. The studio is beautiful, with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. It feels as though you are practicing yoga in nature, and when the sun warms you, it is a little bit of heaven. I’ve taken classes at the studio and love the gentle mindfulness that sets me up for the day.
Perhaps because of her psychology background, her own issues with crohn’s disease, and her ability to keep it in check through diet, yoga, and meditation, her interest developed into health coaching. She is finalizing her credentials at the Institute of Transformational Nutrition (in California) and has added nutritional coaching to her repertoire of services. In June she launched her 12-Day Detox program to help people to rid themselves of toxins so they feel healthier, look brighter, sleep better, have more energy, and better mental clarity.
“12 days is a taste of how their body could feel by eating healthfully. And I believe in eating while you’re detoxing. So in addition to a morning smoothie, salads, soups, and lots of veggies are recommended,” says Jo-Ann.
The program isn’t regimented. Over 12 days (and one weekend) participants can eat whatever they want, but for their bodies to detox, they commit to giving up caffeine, dairy, processed foods, gluten, and meats. If you’re a serious carnivore, don’t worry; you can include chicken and fish from Day 3 on if you must have it. There are also daily meditations, exercises, and a facebook group to commune with that help you along the way.
my detox experience
Now, I like to try before I write things, so I did one of the first 12-Day detoxes in June. I was seriously sugar-addicted, so my first few days were kind of brutal, I will admit, but there was no way I was giving up. I can do anything for 12-days, especially since I knew I would feel better soon. And sure enough, by Day 3 the headache was gone, I had no more sugar cravings, and by Day 4 I felt a spring in my step that had been missing for a long time. And it just kept getting better from there. The one thing I truly missed was my morning coffee, and if there was ever a day when I really, really wanted one was on dreary, rainy Day 9 — when the topic was about avoiding caffeine! But I managed just fine with herbal teas and warm lemon water.
I kept up with my new healthy lifestyle until holidays and dining out got in the way. I’m a firm believer in detoxing with the seasons, so when Jo-Ann offered a free refresher for people who had taken the program before, I jumped on it. I’m on day 4 today and once again the headache is passed and I feel more energized and clear in my brain. It’s a sunny day and I can’t wait to go outside and walk in the fresh air, so I think the energy part is kicking in too.
riding the yo-yo: the chronic dieter
Jo-Ann’s biggest passion is helping people one-to-one. She offers nutritional counselling and she loves working with chronic dieters. “I was a yo-yo dieter in my past, and I think that until you get to the root cause of why you eat — whether it be to avoid your feelings, deal with stress, or other reasons — I don’t think any diet will work in the long-term because once you get outside into the real world and have a meal in a restaurant, or have a bad day, you want to ‘cheat’. I go deep with my clients, and cleansing is a beautiful way to start. It also shows you that you can eat whatever you want, learn to listen to your body when it is hungry, and when it is full, and still lose weight naturally.”
Jo-Ann is a big proponent of self-care, having learned in her own life the illnesses that can happen when you run your tank on empty. Looking after ourselves is the best thing we can do for anyone. As she says, “Food is food; it’s not bad or good. I want to help people to make peace with food and to feel at home in their own body. When I see that I’ve been able to help women be empowered to look after themselves, then I know what I do means something.”
Nutritional coaching to heal your body, meditation to quiet your mind, and yoga to strengthen your body and get in touch with the essence of your spirit. Willow Yoga & Health — and Jo-Ann Brine — bring it all together under one roof.
If you've are a yo-yo dieter and want to get of the hamster wheel, Jo-Ann has a new program especially for you:
Start with your mindset and learn to shift your relationship with food.