The 20 Minute Biohacking Ritual that Got Me Through Lockdown

What’s 20 minutes within a 24 hour day? Nothing and everything.

Starting before lockdown but sticking to it religiously during, I created a wellness ritual that combined two wonderful inventions: Joovv red light therapy and the Shakti mat. I lay on the mat with bare skin, getting the best of its benefits such as increased circulation, detoxification and lymphatic drainage while bathed in red light coming from my Joovv tablet that boosts collagen production in the skin, heals and reverses aches by reducing inflammation, pains and injuries , rebalances the Circadian rhythm (promoting better sleep and a general sense of calm) and listened to inspiring, heart healing, anxiety relieving, focus boosting, mood improving meditations and music or just enjoyed the silence.

Joov is the Word!

If it can help grow plants in outer space, which is what NASA used it for in the 1990s, you can bet red light (and infrared light) therapy has effects on other live species too – especially locked down vegetables. I researched red light therapy for a long time before settling on a Joovv device, which has incredible reviews from reliable sources, such as professional athletes, health fanatic celebs like Dave Asprey and ordinary folks who like me, want to be reassured their inverstment is worth their while. Joovv is the leader in red light therapy!

Fortunately I don’t suffer from any particular health condition, except a stiff neck and shoulders many a massage therapist has shrilly remarked on. Yet as Joovv became an everyday part of my life it also became my home doctor providing me with help in dealing with everything from mild to acute anxiety, and the insomnia it brought on during lockdown, occasional joint pains that often magically disappeared even within one 20-minute session, and an overall sense of serenity. Usually I used it in my bedroom and positioned it in different areas for 10-20 minutes each, including my face and chest, back and neck and sometimes even my feet or the top of my head (it’s also reputed to help boost hair growth and quality).

JOOVV Red Light is delivered at 660nm, is readily absorbed by surface tissues and cells, leading to enhanced skin health and healing.

Near-Infrared Light (NIR) is delivered at 850nm, is invisible to the human eye and penetrates into deeper tissues, leading to enhanced recovery and inflammation support.

Other members of the household: Interestingly, red light therapy is popular with my cat too, who rushges to lie next to me when I turn it on! It is indeed used by veterinarians in animal clinics to help heal injuries and strains that the dog or cat is undergoing after surgery. My son finds the light too strong and doesn’t like it, yet I have used it on his back when he’s been unwell to help soothe and calm him and it has always sent him to sleep!

Check out this video by Thomas DeLauer to find out more!

My beloved home healer, Dr Joovv

Shakti maT ACTION

Upon receiving my light strength and regular strength Shakti Mats, I immediately disrobed, unrolled this modern-day rendition of the ‘bed of nails’ and lay flat on the floor on my back. Ouch! It is not easy to lie on a Shakti mat without experiencing the seriously surprising ache that comes from its 6000 plastic spikes! I shopped mine from Shakti Mat EU, and was inspired not only by the many health benefits these wellness accessories promised to offer but also that they are ethically produced (fair trade) using organic materials, made by hand in India, not by slave labourers or a factory. Shakti says it supports all its Shakti employees in India with a living wage, an emergency medical fund, and investment in the education of their children. Also, each purchase automatically offers a donation to charities for the Shakti Community projects .

The mats are made by hand with fair trade ethical standards and organic materials.

Back to the health benefits – Shakti mats essentially offer a static form of acupressure that occurs as one lies on the spikes. The longer you lie there (the ideal time period is 20 minutes), the more your circulation increases. Indeed, as I grew more and more accustomed to using it, my enjoyment of the warm, relaxed buzz the mat offered me grew deeper. The mat can be used beneath the back to help alleviate aches and pains, under the legs to help boost circulation, under the feet (standing on it) as reflexology and even rolled up and used as a pillow and neck or head therapy. I used it anywhere I felt I needed it, but usually more as a relaxant under my back.

Often, in combination with the Joov red light therapy, the Shakti mat helped me drift into sweet, deep sleep. The Joov tile turns off on its own (it has a timer that can be set from 1 to 20 minutes) anbd the Skakti mat causes no harm if it’s used for longer than 20 minutes.

Shkti mats have 6000 plastic spikes!

Shakti mats have bvecome incredibly popular and have received thousands of raving reviews, clearly because they actually work and are sold at an affirdable price. To make the most of your Shakti mat you can follow the Shakti Mat Tutorial, a three part series.

DOS Cosmetics: A Glowing Example of Cosmetics Innovation

In only two years since they set up DOS Cosmetics, Chrysanthi and Vasiliki put their heads together to create a line of top-quality cosmetic products.

Stylish and hip, modern and minimal, their line has already received several awards and many accolades. They grow their own organic ingredients, mostly indigenous herbs, flowers and plants and combine their expertise. Impressed by the quality, sophistication and branding excellence of their range, I sought to find out more about the dynamic duo and their plans.

How did you join forces and decide to create DOS Cosmetics?

Chrysanthi: As a teenager I had a bad case of acne. My father, who had trained in Houston, Texas at the PPCA in Pharmaceutical Compounding Specialized for Pharmacists, created some products to treat acne, making elixirs with herbs

from Olympus. The combination of various products he created and the order in which I used them managed 

to resolve the problem. I was deeply inspired and wanted to share this level of expertise in cosmetic-creation and the philosophy behind it with the wider public, which is what led me to create DOS Cosmetics!

Vasiliki:  What brought us together was our shared philosophy. The skin is our largest organ and plays a vital role in keeping our immune system balanced and strong. People’s needs are affected by the seasons as well as a way of life. The combination of products used as part of one’s daily self-care routine is unique to everyone, but of equal importance to all!

What was the main inspiration & what were the main challenges – if any – of setting up Dos? 

We love seeing beautiful people with glowing skin that brings them confidence. Our greatest challenge came from getting people to understand our inventive philosophy, which is different from what people are used to. Our philosophy is this: “Choose skin care products based on your personal needs, soothe and balance your skin, combine ingredients basing yourself on your individual requirements during different times of the year, create different combinations, familiarise yourself with the power of nature!”

What exactly is the process that goes into making your products?

We cultivate herbs that we need for creating our elixirs. In the spring and summer months we gather and process the herbs to extract the part of each plant that we use for our formulas. During the production process we create fresh elixirs based on different recipes. The fact that our products are so fresh and have such active ingredients is what makes them so innovative and effective.

Who are your products for?

Our products are created for all kinds of people– from teenagers with acne problems to adults seeking products with moisturisation, protection, firming, anti-ageing and antioxidant action. Personalised skin care is a novel conceptand is vital if you want direct results. We were the first to create a Diagnostic Skin Test that’s based on a data input algorithm and was awarded in 2019 as Best Innovation by the globally known Pure Beauty Global Awards. Consumers can take the test for free and discover the exact products they need for their skin type and needs.

In a short time of being on the market you have already received awards!

We’re thrilled that despite only existing for two years, DOS Cosmetics has already gained a stead local and international fan-base. Last year we were awarded Beauty Stars by Greece’s most important cosmetics panel, Madame Figaro and Dubai’s Pure Beauty Global Awards for our Diagnostic Skin Test. Several of our products have received accolades too, such as our Collagen Face & Eyes Cleanser, our Whitening Night Cream and our Collagen Day Cream, while our Mandelicum Night Solution was awarded two years in a row.

What are your future plans for your range?

In a few months we will be launching a new skincare line designed especially for men! Meanwhile we’re launching a Skincare Premium Line Amenities range for top hotels, including the Four Seasons Astir Hotel Athens which already has our products as travel size, in-room amenities. We’re also very close to presenting our latest two-year project, which is the result of the Diagnostic Skin Test. It’ll come in the form of an app with several tools that will offer consumers personalised advice for their daily skincare routine and more. We want to offer every kind of youth and adult, both male and female, the ideal solutions for their skin and hopefully introduce them to healthier, intelligent self-care habits too.

About DOS’s Creators:

Chrysanthi is a pharmacist and certified acupuncturist who grew up in a family of pharmacists and started experimenting with chemical formulas and herbal properties since an early age. She was always drawn to holistic and natural philosophies and practises, which is what drove her to start creating her own range of products made along those lines, under the guidance of her father Vaios Papadopoulos. Vasiliki, her partner in DOS, is a make-up artist and skin expert who has a long experience working in TV and magazines. She followed a series of workshops in cosmetology by Italian beauty expert Pascal de Firenze and at ‘Paris-Berlin’ in Paris. Having worked with so many kinds of skin throughout her career has offered her a profound understanding of the different needs people have.

Follow DOS on Instagram

Tried & Tested: DOS Cosmetics’ Awarded Night Products

The Products:

After taking DOS’ awarded Personalised Skin Diagnosis (a test one can take in 5 minutes online) I was recommended the Ascorbin Night Serum and the Mandelicum Night Solution, as well as a rose quartz Gua Sha tool for facial massage.

PRODUCT 1: Ascorbin Night Serum DOS

Description: A serum designed with 7 pure active ingredients, offers anti-aging, antioxidant, moisturizing, repairing and antimicrobial action. It soothes skin, maintains moisture at normal levels, discolors pigmentations, cleanses clogged pores and tightens 

them while enhancing natural metabolism of cells. Active ingredients: high concentrated and stabilized form of Vitamin C with a combination of antioxidants (such as plasma of curcumin, sea buckthorn and black rice).

My skin before

I’m in my mid 40s and my combination skin is thankfully not yet too affected by wrinkles, apart from on my forehead when I frown and on the sides of my mouth, but after several months of high stress from work overload and moving home, my skin was definitely in need of brightening, smoothing and toning, which is what these products promised to offer.

Experience

The serum is thick and comes in a sturdy white bottle with a pipette. Two or three drops dispensed in the hands or directly onto the face and massaged well into the skin suffice. Massage can be carried out using the fingers of the gua sha stone, which is said to help boost circulation and help smooth lines.

Results

Never one to skip on my beauty routine, I religiously used the serum every night. I actually looked forward to its lovely smell and thick texture, as well as the deep yet lightweight feeling of hydration it left in my skin. A few close friends and family remarked that my skin looked more glowy. I couldn’t see that as much as that it had become firmer and smoother, with a much better texture. Especially, as I mentioned above. Considering the stressful days and sleepless nights I experienced over the last few months.

PRODUCT 2: Mandelicum Night Solution (Pure Beauty Global Awards Winner 2020)

Description: A refreshing, gently exfoliating and toning lotion that deeply cleanses skin, enhances cellular longevity and protects against oxidative stress. Shields and enhances cell longevity, protecting their DNA on cellular level. Using macromolecular AHAs of Mandelic Acid derived from bitter almonds, we gently exfoliate the skin surface offering 

Dos Cosmetics Review

antimicrobial and antibacterial action to control oil secretions and decongest the skin harmoniously. We thus allow skin pores to shrink to their normal size. With a natural combination of powerful antioxidants, such as plasma serum of curcuma and Greek mountain tea, using the product every other day is the ideal solution for all skin types.

Experience

This exfoliating lotion is to be used every other night, after cleansing and pre-serum. If I felt particularly fatigued, I sometimes used it two nights in a row, but generally tried to stick to the rules. This too has a lovely aroma and refreshing yet soothing texture that I looked forward to feeling on my skin every evening.

Results!

When you’re trying two new products at the same time it’s difficult to differentiate which one is doing exactly what, but in conclusion I feel that this product actually offered me bigger benefits than the serum. Although I loved both, I feel that the Mandelicum lotion made my skin firmer by tightening my pores and always left my skin feeling squeaky clean, without feeling at all dried out. Also, since I’m sometimes prone to adult acne, I noticed a significant reduction in breakouts of any kind.

simplicity: a heart perspective

There are many ways to simplify your life, however if you start from the premise you are very busy and life is a challenge then you will not have the real formula to succeed.

BY ELIZABETH ANN MORRIS

Is your life simple or complex? What would your answer be? Creating simplicity in your life is something you may aspire to, but have yet to achieve.

Intrinsic within the ancient culture of Greece is the virtue of simplicity. Ancient Greek philosophers praised simplicity. This may be why it is still visible in the Greek way of life. Perhaps this is why so many people return again and again to Greece. A panacea for a lifestyle fraught with surviving in a world of stress and conflict.

There are many ways to simplify your life, however if you start from the premise you are very busy and life is a challenge then you will not have the real formula to succeed. You can strip your life back to basics – but if these are built on expectations of what you are trying to achieve rather than the expression of your true soul purpose; simplicity will become mundane and boring instead of being joyous.

Simplicity is not created in the mind. It is created in your heart. The mind can take action, based on what your heart knows is right for you. Your heart is the bridge to your higher self (or soul). Your soul holds the wisdom and truth of who you are and what you are here to achieve in this lifetime. It pulses down light into your heart, gently reminding you that you are a unique being with a special purpose to fulfil in the evolution of our planet.

Yet the ego mind is alluring – it pulls us away from our heart centre into complex materialistic expectations of life and how it should be. It offers us a myriad of choices in everything. This in turn creates conflict. What if we make the wrong decision? Life then becomes stressful.

Recent global events are a divine opportunity for us to take a step back from our current reality and to review what we valued in life. However, for many this was a mind rather than heart exercise which has resulted in high levels of conflict and fear.

Our heart continuously calls us back to simplicity of soul expression. Your soul wants to express its truth, it’s compassion and its wisdom through you. Young children remember this – watch them play and you will see soul expression in action. Nature is another cue to the harmony and beauty of life.

If you are called to simplify your life here is a visualisation that can help.
A notebook and pen will be useful to record your insights.

  • Find a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed. Gently close your eyes, place your hands on your heart centre and focus on your breath for a few moments.
  • Start to quietly hum …………….and sense the vibration in your heart and your body…… repeat this hum 11 times – or longer if it feels right
  • Send this energy down through your feet and imagine you have roots growing down from your feet ….. flowing into the centre of the planet
  • Connecting you to Mother Earth and all the ancient wise beings who walked on this planet before you……
  • Let this connection flow up into your heart …..
  • Then sense the vibration flowing up from your heart through your crown to your soul chakra……uniting you with your divine purpose
  • As you breathe let this light fill your body ……..
  • Call in your angels and guides if this feels right…..
  • Start humming again ………for a few moments …..
  • Now focus on what is precious to you ……..
  • Stay quiet…… and notice what you sense and feel
  • When you are ready deepen your breathing, feel your feet firmly on the floor and open your eyes. Drink some water

Take the time to reflect and record your experience in your notebook. Pay attention to what is precious to you. Everything you do should be in harmony with this. The deeper your understanding of your soul self the easier it is to simplify and let go all that does not serve you.

Take the time to visit your heart centre every day and attune to the truth of who you are. Then you will see the world through the eyes of your soul.

All will be clear all will be simple and all will bring harmony peace and joy. Then when you return to Greece you will taste the nectar of life even more.

Elizabeth Ann Morris is a worldwide spiritual teacher, writer and healer. She has dedicated the last 30 years to exploring and developing workshops seminars and teaching programmes which empower people to find the true meaning and purpose of life.
Her first taste of Greece was in 2010 when she came to dliver workshops and healing sessions.
Book a Session with Elizabeth Ann now on her site Sacred Oracle Teachings

Eye Spy… Beautiful Lashes!

Nowadays there’s nothing more cringesome than a testimonial, and even worse, a testimonial telling you that the original testimonial is true. I’m a copywriter AND journalist by trade, so I should know. My super-sceptic uncle, a seasoned traveller, globally-awarded visionary and professor at Imperial College London once gave me a book titled ‘The Mad Old Ads’ that exhibited the craziest inventions of the 18th and 19th centuries and the most hilariously unbelievable testimonials that accompanied them as their hardest selling points. It sold me on the idea that all testimonials were utter BS. Today we have incredibly sophisticated social media, and photoshop dictums that invole even the most drop-dead stunning models shot 1 million frames a second for 8 hours straight being resmudged to fit some kind of insane ideal. Not to mention countless streams of fake news and sinister agendas for making money by fooling our at-heart-trusting human souls. So how can you believe any product that claims to ‘guarantee‘ results? You just can’t. Yet, as a pragmatic optimist I decided to give a particular product a chance, because it was introduced to me by a trustworthy and brilliant woman representing the DE MOI firm of cosmetics, and it was so great I wanted to write about it here.

Conscious Beauty Entrepreneur Demee Koch Bio Serum

Conscious Beauty DE MOI Entrepreneur Demee Koch

It all came about during a conversation with a dear friend about eyelashes, as some of us women like to have amidst talking of politics, personal aspirations, social issues, metaphysical visions, the economy and crap ex boyfriends. I mentioned that I was considering trying eyelash extensions and she told me there’s a new serum that her PR company represents that guarantees that your eyelashes – even if they are less than existent! – will grow into beautiful, long, shiny things. I told her I certainly wouldn’t mind trying it, and a few weeks later I received a box from DE MOI.

The Switzerland-based company was created by dynamo ‘conscious beauty’ entrepreneur Demee Koch, who has become known not only for her successful cosmetics range but also her influential ethical stance supporting animals (no testing involved in her products) and several humanitarian charity initiatives
. As an advocate of female empowerment, Koch is also the author of the book ‘Breaking Conventions In Heels’, and was awarded GLOBAL FWN100 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL FILIPINA IN THE WORLD. Indeed, DE MOI’s mission statement says: “We aim to be the catalyst in bringing positive change into the world by creating awareness on spending consciously on products that give back to the society while making sure that these products do not harm the animals and the environment.”

Now… However excited I was about trying this amazing-sounding product and seeing my eyelashes (and parts of my brows that I’d obviously plucked with bad lighting at several times of my life) flourish to their bushiest, plushest potential, I suddenly recalled something my mother said to me. Just a week before receiving the DE MOI Bio Serum it just so happened that my dear mother had been complaining about how disgruntled she felt about the state of her eyelashes. She had tried extensions a year earlier and found them bothersome, yet was considering getting them again, although with profound hesitation. So how could I resist? I handed her the serum and instructed her to use it religiously, every night, for six weeks.

And here comes the time for that dreaded, but hand-on-my-heart-true testimonial, because I am a Witness to the Incredible and Beautiful Growth of my mother’s eyelashes, as is my sister, who actually asked her if she was wearing falsies! I really, honestly did not expect to see the results I did, and since I did, as did my mom (read her experience below), I felt it was really worth sharing the news on my blog – that there is real hope for your lashes, and it comes from an exemplary alchemist who’s creating beauty treats for the world.

Turns out, not all the news is bad in 2020!


My mother’s experience of using DE MOI Eyelash & Eye Brow Bio Serum:
“It has always been a top priority for me to purchase excellent products and makeup for my eyelashes and brows (as for my face and skincare generally). It was also recommended to me by my optician, plus I enjoy using eye creams and applying high quality makeup to my eyes. As years passed however, I began to notice a change in my lashes. They were not shiny, they had shortened in length, and there was no fullness any more. I grew desolate, seeing my lashes in such a bad state. I was reccomended extensions, which I tried, to no avail. Layers of mascara wasn’t the answer either, as it gave a heavy, made-up look.

After telling my daughter about my frustration over my short-bristled lashes, I was presented with BIO SERUM ADVANCE FORMULA For Eyelashes and Eeyebrows by Demee Koch for DE MOI Swiss Products. “Use this for six weeks and see if your lashes grow back to size”, she suggested, telling me she hadn’t yet tried it herself but a friend of hers had and was thrilled by the results. Her friend is in her ‘30s though, so I thought it might not work on me at all!

It was a colorless liquid eyeliner to be applied on the roots of the lashes or brows before bedtime. For the first two weeks nothing changed. I began to feel discouraged. But….after the third week, I began to notice a difference. My lashes began to grow, and become fuller. A shining fresh look came into my eyes. After 5 weeks, my lashes have grown so long that they hardly need mascara! I apply BIO SERUM every night. It’s now a key part of my night beauty routine, and I’m so grateful for this “magical” product. Thank you DE MOI!”

My mother is happy, and I love my mother, so I’m happy for her too. And I’m also happy that my cynical heart has been softened and alleviated somewhat to discover that there are actually sophisticated products with big claims that actually do deliver what they promise. Please note, the Bio Serum needs to be used ongoingly for ongoing results, it’s not a once and for all solution, because eyelashes keep falling out naturally and regenerating, but after the first six weeks it can be used every other day or every few days. 

When you live in a locked down world you have many serious concerns that stretch way beyond your eyes and eyelashes, but as a beloved, wise and wonderful friend of mine hilariously yet aptly once said: “We all cry about life, but isn’t it great if when you’re crying and pass a mirror if you can stop and find something to feel good about?” Clearly she meant this about both about the outside and the inside, but it’s relevant both ways.

And with life being very much about masks right now, our eyes are one of our greatest assets for communcating with the world. So we might as well give it our best shot to exhude the light of own heart through our well-curated vision.

Demee Koch Bio Serum
Demee Koch , beauty entrepreneur and inspirational author of the book ‘Breaking Conventions in Heels’

 

 

 

 

4 excellent eco-logical greek stores

Eco-conscious shoppers in Athens now have plenty of top quality option when searching for the perfect accessories, jewellery, clothing, and home decor items. As with vegan-vegetarian restaurants and stores selling Greek and global natural, organic cosmetic products, more and more stores catering to the ethically-minded are sprouting up around the capital. Here we showcase our top choices!

Convert Art (24-26 Pallados, Psyrri)

Used tyres, used inner tubes and electronic materials are skilfully up-cycled to create super-stylish and original convertible bags, wallets, belts, and jewellery. Created in 2012 by designer Marina Griponisioti after she found inspiration from the disposable items she found in a garage, this is Greece’s first upcycling company, with a choice of over 400 designs. You can also check out Convert Art’s online store on Etsy.

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Trash4Flash (9 Voulgaroktonou St, Nea Smirni)

Plastics, metals, rubber and other materials are upcycled to create necklaces, earrings, neck-wear, cufflinks, and bracelets that may not suit every taste but certainly present a singular style.
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Plastikourgeio (Asklipiou 51, Exarcheia)

Both a shop and a mini-factory/lab, this store follows the eco-philosophy of the global Precious Plastics movement and sells alternatives to plastic as well as their own upcycled plastic creations. With a plastic shredder, 3D printer and other machines the owners have created themselves, as well as collaborations with creative Greek designers, they showcase some exciting eco-options in jewellery, home decor, and accessories. Here you’ll also find bamboo dining sets, stainless steel straws, handmade lunch-bags and other trendy utilitarian items that don’t need to be dumped after use.


Living Green (Harilaou Trikoupi 53, Exarcheia)

In this innovative, brightly-lit and thoroughly-stacked store you’ll find everything from home decor items to children’s construction toys and other games, sophisticated gardening equipment like a rollable compost basket and sprouting jars, cosmetics, jewellery, lunch bags, office accessories, and hobby items. The store has a chain in the northern suburb of Kifissia as well as an online store.

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eco-conscious & super-comfy I AmVibes

Luxurious to the touch as well as in quality and appearance, strictly eco-friendly and human-friendly, made by women for women to generate a real sense of individuality, comfort, empowerment, and beauty, is one way to describe the IAmVibes clothing brand, created by Katerina Melemeni.

The Greek designer has lived all around the world over the last 20 years, from New York and Rome to Sri Lanka and Spain, studying at the KLC School of Design in London and eventually specialising in yoga gear.

Describing herself as “an eclectic, artistic and passionate woman,” Melemeni is certainly drawing the world’s attention not only to an ethical and sustainable range of trendy yoga apparel but also to Greece, a country where 20 years ago yoga was little more than a mystery and when most local fashion designers were relatively unacknowledged beyond their borders.

Meanwhile, as a female entrepreneur who overlooks practically all aspects of her business herself – from the actual designs to IAmVibes marketing, social media and more, this dynamic mother of two is also setting an example of the new Greek woman, an example we definitely applaud.

iav1
Now based in Athens, Melemeni has created a very successful business. “I only work with beautiful things that a real and spark emotions in me when I see them, wear them or touch them,” Melemeni says. “And I only work with eco-sustainable materials, because we do not have a Planet B. Currently all our fabrics are made in Italy, with eco-friendly yarns and manufactured in the utmost respect for our environment.”

“I want to create an intimate connection with the woman, so my materials are very soft on the skin, but also high performance, so they become excellent for anything we do throughout the day. My clothes may be designed for yoga, but that’s if they’re comfortable during a headstand, they will be comfortable with you when you are on your feet. They can be worn 24/7. In fact, I sleep in my seamless Astra leggings!” she laughs.

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It’s not by chance that IAmVibes has achieved a glowing global reputation, and that yoga-lovers as well as women who simply enjoy the modern cuts and deep comfort of her designs are very serious about the garments’ high-tech advantages. From the exceptionally soft and delicate BodyVibes fabric to the EcoVibes range made with suede-like ECONYL (regenerated nylon), which is both 100% eco-conscious and breathable on the skin, to the amazing seamless ASTRA range, which warms you when it’s cool and cools you when it’s hot because it’s made with a fabric with thousands of hollow microfibres that regulate body temperature.

Apart from keeping the environment as a top priority in her designs, Melemeti also considers the impact of labour that goes into making clothes and has made sure her business offers humanitarian standards to the women who work to make them. “During my travels, especially when visiting factories in my previous jobs, I saw how many women were employed in the production facilities; and travelling to some developing countries in Asia I witnessed harsh conditions that made me feel so powerless…”

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“I thought that perhaps getting involved in apparel, which is among the industry sectors that employ mostly women, was my way of contributing something valuable to women, by paying them a premium and making certain that their working conditions are ethical. I want to use my business to inspire and implement solutions to empower women around the world. I know I run a small business, but I’d like to think that even a small contribution can help support one woman somewhere in this world, and that can make a difference,” she says.

Her very modern, minimalist designs in shades of grey, black, blue with touches of colours like rust orange or white are neutral enough to combine with other parts of one’s daily wardrobe, and the Logo collection features the upside down Hamsa hand symbol. Very different from her other designs is the new range called Blossoming Lotus, which is a soft pink and is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. Melemeni explains the vision behind this range: “We are trying to raise some funds dedicated to Breast Cancer research, so with this range, we’re providing a 10% discount to our customers and then 15% of the profits will be donated to research to foundations.” 

amazing ways to start the day

In Greece people use the saying “how your day will turn out is shown from the morning”; personally I’m not a fan of this saying because it suggests superstitious thinking and if believed, can essentially determine one’s mood for the entire day if the morning proves particularly unpleasant. I prefer to think that any moment of the day, regardless of what has passed before, is a moment when we can hopefully start afresh and change its course for the better. However, the positive habits and rituals that we dedicate ourselves to in the morning can indeed help boost our state of mind, mood, physical resilience and flexibility and overall outlook so that the day ahead flows in a more upbeat, dynamic and enjoyable way. The tips I will write here come from years of research – books, websites, interviews and of course tried and tested techniques to which I’ve added my own touches and wanted to share with you. As the mom of a preschooler I’m well aware that there is often little time to spend doing some of these morning rituals, but if you can slip in even a few minutes of some of them or one on different days, or do some after you’ve dropped your kid/s off to school, a little later in the morning, that will still make a positive difference.

So as Maria said in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start from the very beginning!” at the exact point that you wake up (either because your child has decided to tap you on the shoulder and offer you a handful of slime that he has “cooked” for your breakfast or because your alarm clock just rang so you can get your ass to work or because, oh you lucky blessed one, you have had a full night’s sleep and have woken up naturally).

Give Thanks

Whether you can lie in bed for half an hour meditating on gratitude or just speedily run through a quick list in your mind of the top things you are grateful for – even that your little one thoughtfully “cooked you some slime for breakfast”, that you are still here, that it’s a new start to your life, that you have a bed to sleep in and clothes to wear, hot water to shower in or food to eat, gratitude is the highest vibration to connect with at any time, and especially at the start of your day. “Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance,” according to Eckhart Tolle. Even if you wake up feeling particularly miserable and disgruntled with life, go deep to findat least one thing that you are thankful for – maybe simply that you are breathing!

Stretch

Whether you do a full yoga session or just a few Winnie The Pooh stretches up and down, or stretch your body out in bed into a star shape and upon sitting up at the edge of your bed let yourself do some backward twists to flex your spine, a little stretching goes a long way to reawakening your body and gently releasing any stiffness from your sleep. After saying good morning to our dog, who in turn taps her tail enthusiastically onto the wooden floor in response, my son and I greet her in a quick downward dog and she gets up to do her own natural stretch to mirror us. This makes stretching fun and easy.

 

Body Brushing


Body brushing, also known as dry brushing, is a fantastic way to exfoliate your skin and open your pores (that’s why it’s best pre-shower) while also activating your lymphatic drainage system and kickstarting your circulation. For vanity’s sake, it has been shown to firm skin and reduces cellulite, while on a more medicinal level it helps release small aches and pains by causing your energy to flow more freely. Starting at the soles of your feet, brush in firm strokes upward along the inside and then all other sides of your legs, then your bottom, then in a circular direction on your belly area, up your back, up your arms and up from above the breasts in the chest area. 

Tongue scraping
While you sleep, a layer of toxins rises and forms on the surface of your tongue. That can indeed make one cringe at the thought of a morning snog (though it may be well worth it and offer other benefits!). Instead of swallowing them all back into your organism again, the ideal thing to do is to use a tongue scraper or even the back, non-cutting side of a knife or a spoon to gently but firmly scrape the sludge off and rinse it away, several times, before even brushing your teeth (because brushing your teeth before doing this will again involve spreading all the stuff from your tongue all over your mouth). I know it’s icky, and several people I’ve recommended this Ayurvedic practise to have told me they tried it once and felt so disgusted they couldn’t do it again. But. Isn’t it better to remove it? I find it far ickier to swallow it all back down! And I can guarantee that it helps – on mornings after a night out when I’ve had a few glasses of wine, for example, as soon as I do the tongue scraping I feel my mind clear (not completely of course, if I’m particularly foggy-headed, but significantly!).

Enjoy your shower

For me, a complete hydrophile, hydroholic and water baby, showering is a wonderful ritual both morning and night. It cleanses us of stale energy, refreshes our mind and, whether you are using soap or not, offers the chance to massage our body. It’s also a great time to repeat your favourite affirmation for the day, or just sing! Make sure to splash a lot of cold water on your face as well, as this activates the vegus nerve, which lifts your mood, clears your mind and strengthens your immune system.

Colon-cleansing drinks
For 10 days at a time every two or three months, I follow one of these rituals, which help cleanse the intestine, which is the basis of our overall health, by reducing the bad bacteria and detoxifying.

  1. Psyllium husk water: In a tall glass of water add a heaped teaspoon of psyllium husk and stir very very well. Drink it all down at once, and then follow that by drinking yet another glass of plain water. The psyllium swells (like linseed or chia) and becomes gelatinous inside the intestines, absorbing toxins, fats, mucus and harmful bacteria which are then released in your stools. This is a good ritual to do for restoring gut health, especially if you are trying to lose weight, as it also creates a sense of fullness. Only do this in the morning, on an empty stomach, and wait around 15 minutes to half an hour before eating.
  2. Apple cider vinegar water: Add 1 tbsp of organic, unpasteurised (fermented) apple cider vinegar to a glass of tepid water and sip slowly. I just take it around with me and take sips as I’m getting ready. This too detoxifies the intestine, balances your pH, decreases blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol and boosts gut health.

Another common morning drink is warm water with a big squeeze of lemon, and some like to add a teaspoon of organic honey, both of which are packed of nutrients (like vitamin C and antioxidants) and help balance and kickstart the gut.

Power smoothie
There are endless recipes to find online for great breakfast smoothies – from green juices to elaborate fruit and vegetable concoctions, but I’m writing my favourite tried and tested rituals here so these two are the best I’ve tried:

1. For a foggy head and tiredness: a shot of juiced ginger with a big squeeze of lemon and a pinch of cayenne. Fortunately, I don’t need this very often, but it’s definitely a zingy way to start the day.

2. Super-tonic milkshake:
I like my chocolate drinks (chocolate-everything!), but this is the adult, supersonic tonic version, with a few alternate renditions. In a blender add almond, hazelnut or other milk of choice, a heaped tablespoon of raw cacao (high in antioxidants), a heaped tablespoon of adaptogenic powder such as ashwagandha (this is an especially great for women, widely used in Ayurveda as the top health tonic, as it helps reduce stress, balance hormones, offer energy and strengthen immunity – at night it’s great in a warm milk with turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and honey) or maca powder (energy booster and even a sexual tonic) or astragalus powder (widely used in China as an immune-system booster), a teaspoon of cinammon (blood cleansing, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, boosts digestive health), a pinch of cayenne pepper (if you like heat) for heart health, a tablespoon of crushed linseeds (packed with Omega 3s) and a shot of espresso (wakey wakey!). Blend all the ingredients with a couple of ice cubes and hey presto! Another version is to exclude the cinnamon and cayenne and instead add a few tablespoons of nut butter – peanut, tahini, hazelnut, whatever you like, for extra protein and other nutty benefits. Yet another option is to add half an avocado and a banana as well, both packed with heart-healthy fats, collagen, B6 and other mood-enhancing vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium). Mixed frozen red berries are also high in antioxidants and vitamin C and mix well with chocolate.

Prepare your medicinal tea

While pottering around the kitchen preparing breakfast and tidying up, I always make time to boil a full kettle and prepare a large jug of herbal tea that I will refrigerate and sip in an ice-packed glass throughout the day (if you’re living in a cold country you can simply skip the ice and sip at room temperature, or add a bit of boiling water to your cp to heat it up before drinking if you want it hot). The key ingredient is the amazing herb that Greeks have used since ancient times because of its high iron content and mightly antioxidant content, Mountain Tea, called Tsai tou Vounou, which recent global studies have proven is also an amazing preventative herbal medicine for Alzheimer’s and dementia. I usually add fresh or dried mint and lemon verbena in summer or chamomile, linden and a stick of cinnamon in winter.

Another jug you can prepare to refrigerate is with vitamin water – just water (ideally filtered) that has chunks of any well-cleaned, ideally bio fruit and herbs chopped into it. The vitamins and minerals from the fruit and herbs will infuse into the water so when you drink a glass of it you’ll get a healthy, refreshing boost.

Walk your walk

I live in a hilly urban landscape and walk my son to school and honestly, that half hour daily up and down walk makes the world of difference to my day. If I were to start the day by just sitting at my computer I know I would feel completely different (as I mentioned in my introduction, everything I write here is tried and tested!). If you are a parent and your kids take the bus to school, try and find a way to add a half hour walk to your morning – if you are commuting to work get off a few stops earlier, if you work from home push yourself to go around the block a few times or let yourself explore different parts of your neighbourhood. If you have plenty of free time, hop on a bus or metro and get out in a place you’ve never visited and just walk around to discover something new.

Meditate or daydream while you do morning chores

I have around 20 plants on my balcony and as I water them with the hose I stop at each one, really trying to observe its individual beauty with my eyes, and speak my favourite affirmation, which I repeat to each plant as I water it (hopefully the plants don’t get together at night and bitch about me! ;)). This way I’m sharing my wishes and affirming to myself at the same time, by offering the plants their sustenance. I also like to talk with myself (it’s apparently more of a sign of genius than madness, haha) or visualize about my dreams, goals and projects while I’m doing mundane things like washing the dishes, chopping vegetables or sweeping. This is all meditational practice – who said you have to sit in the lotus position and chant Om to meditate? Meditating doesn’t need to have a direct spiritual purpose either – you could be letting yourself zen out while feeling the sudsy lather on your hands under the warm running water while you wash the dishes, and in that moment of sensual awareness your state of tranquility may be the perfect time for a great creative or even hardcore practical solution to pop up.

Try Donna Eden’s Daily Energy Routine
This is an excellent energy medicine sequence that kickstars your organism and clears your mind, while balancing the left and right parts of the brain. Even if you feel too rushed to do it all at once (although it only takes around 6-7 minutes), do parts of it at different parts of the morning. I sometimes do some of the thumps while walking along the street (Ok, first I look around to see there’s no one walking right behind me!). When I was presenting live on the radio I used to do the chest thump and the cross march a few minutes before going on the air. The studio technician started off by pretending not to notice, then asked me one day what the heck I was doing. When I told him he started doing it too!:
Watch Here!

 

 

 

queen of herbal teas

PRODUCT REVIEW: ANASSA TEA

I’ve always been a major fan of fresh herbs – used to season foods, give salads the perfect flavour and steeped in hot water to make a heartwarming tea. Whenever I can, I pick my own, or just buy bunches at the local markets and traditional or bio Greek stores. The soothing quality of a cup of hot herbal tea in winter or iced tea in summer is delightful, and knowing that herbs have so many health benefits just adds to the pleasure.

 

Right now I’m crazy about ANASSA tea. To be honest it was their beautiful packaging that first drew me to their fragrant and tasteful blends. Starting with the outside, I liked see modern, sleek and minimal light grey metal boxes with illustrations of Gods; my favourite blend, Happiness, is represented by Pegasus, the divine winged horse, and contains a lovely and uplifting mix of savoury Mountain Tea (shown to have as many antioxidants as green tea), fine Mint, intense Sage and Lemon balm. Then upon opening the box, you’ll get an elevating whiff of aromatic herbs, and inside see something completely unique – a packet of biodegradable tea bags and a bunch of thin wooden sticks you can thread through them to rest on the top of your cup. And talking of cups they have even designed a glass mug with the word “δες” inside, meaning “see”, which reflects beautifully on the sides as you drink.

Anassa’s creators, Aphrodite Florou and Yanna Mattheou

Anassa (pronounced with an accent on the first ‘A’, and meaning queen in ancient Greek, but, cleverly, also meaning ‘breath’ when pronounced with the accent on the second ‘a’) was the brainchild of duo Aphrodite Florou and Yanna Mattheou, whose motto is: “Live Organic, Pick Greek, Enjoy thoroughly!”. Both with a solid background in managerial positions, they have successfully combined their love of nature, passion for medicinal and aromatic local herbs, and an inherent desire to work with 100% organic small producers around the country on fair trade terms with their marketing savvy and top of the range designers.

The herbs are handpicked and the clearing is done manually so as to preserve all valuable ingredients. They are then dehydrated in the most modern conditions in order to retain the aroma and vivid colours as well as precious essential oils. Apart from the multitude of information gathered about Greek herbs since ancient times in herbal bibles such as the Materia Medica, Mattheou  and Florou also worked closely with a scientific team in selecting the herbs they would be using and the blends they were creating. So here’s to a regular cup of their excellent tea!

DID YOU KNOW… Greece is endowed with 6,500 different species and subspecies of plants, 1,600 of them endemic, found now here else the world.

 

 

 


 

lathering up with vilia soap

PRODUCT REVIEW: VILIA SOAPS

The all-natural soaps Vilia Soap Company are made using olive oil from northern Greece and almond oil from the region of Volos, as well as organic coconut oil from abroad. The company combines these skin-friendly oils with essential oils made from Greek herbs and flowers such as lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint. Non-Greek organic ingredients sourced from small producers are also used, such as lemongrass, activated charcoal, Early Grey tea, sandalwood and patchouli.


PRODUCT REVIEW I:
Activated charcoal and tea tree oil

Description:
Created this for those who suffer with acne prone skin.  Activated charcoal is thought to draw out impurities and reduce puffiness, while tea tree fights bacteria. The soap also contains sweet orange oil, which is rich in antioxidants to help heal the skin. The soap is made using Greek olive oil, coconut oil, RSPO palm oil, activated charcoal; tea tree and sweet orange essential oils, and is 100 % Natural and Vegan, Cruelty free.

Tried & tested:

Unfortunately, I’m one of those adult acne sufferers, but fortunately, although the issue is ongoing, I can keep it under control. I’ve tested various commercial and artisan, usually naturally-based products that are low or completely clear of chemicals, and am always keen to experiment (see the post on the amazing cocoa mud mask I created!) with new products.

I used the Activated Charcoal and Tea Tree Oil soap consistently, day and night for a month, and noticed its effects after only the first few days. My combination skin (and, importantly, the acne-prone areas) was drier but still supple, my pores felt and looked tighter. The soap has a graininess that I enjoyed when I created a foam in my hands as it has a sort of massage effect. It smells fresh and clean.


PRODUCT REVIEW II:
Peppermint tea and green clay mini bar soap

Description:
Infused with peppermint tea and green clay to provide a light exfoliation and to help fight acne. The soap was created especially for oily skin types and acne prone skins, but is beneficial for all skin types. Peppermint essential oil helps reduce irritation to the skin while leaving it cool and refreshed, while green clay has a detoxifying effect. Handmade with Greek olive oil, coconut oil, RSPO palm oil, peppermint essential oil, green clay, peppermint tea. 100 % natural and vegan, cruelty free.

Tried & tested:
Summer in Greece means sweltering, sweaty heat from early in the morning to late in the evening. When you have a tendency for oily skin, that can make you feel like a real greaseball. So the minty zing of this soap was especially refreshing, while the clay made my skin feel and look more smooth and taut. I really enjoyed the after-feeling – the combination of using this peppermint-oil based soap and rinsing the foam with ice cold water made my skin look radiant and revived.

THE PERSON & STORY BEHIND VILIA SOAP COMPANY

After getting engaged to her Greek partner, Staci Wagner Hamalis left a jet-setting corporate career and moved to Greece, but instead of wiling away her days lying in the sun, she immediately set up a dynamic business making artisanal soaps.

Discovering more and more about the Greek landscape and artisanal traditions during each visit to the home of her parents-in-law in Kavala, eastern Macedonia, Hamalis eventually tried her hand at making soaps and fell in love with it.

“My father in law made the traditional, old fashioned, wooden soap-making molds for me and taught me age-old techniques,” she says. Her husband too, a website design company owner,

“I love the Greek culture and richness of nature here and wanted to share this with others, which why in my brand you will find inspiration from Greece in the products and in the packaging,” Hamalis says.

convertart: vegan & gorgeous

What happens when an artist roams aimlessly around Votanikos’s auto repair shops? She picks up an old motorcycle tire and, on the spot, turns it into a soft, pretty belt, that’s what.

“In 2012 I took a car to the mechanic, and started messing around with one of the many spare tires that were lying about. As I waited, I asked the mechanic if I could use one and borrow some of their tools; they agreed, and I came up with my first upcycled creation! ” designer Marina Griponisioti says.

Shortly after, when one of the sound speakers she always carried with her on her travels broke down, she opened it up to fix it and ended up making some jewelry instead.

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With a lot of encouragement from friends and positive feedback from clients, her startup upcycling company ConvertArt, was created in Xylokastro, Corinthia, in northern Peloponnese. As of this January, ConvertArt’s entire range can be found in Athens at the new store opened in the Psyrri district

 Deeply inspired by the materials she uses and how they can “ change life”, she has created various collections with names like Urban, Freight, Luxury, Comfort and Cruises, that consist of handmade accessories and utilitarian objects, such as“polymorphic” (adapting to the body by shortening or lengthening the straps) bags and jewelry, wallets, agendas, tobacco cases and coasters.
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Her creations, many of which look like they’re made from black leather or colored rubber with interesting textures and designs, have a stylish, modern edginess but can appeal to all ages and lifestyles.

Exclusively using recycled inner tubes, tires, electrical equipment, wood and aluminum, her products are not only completely unique but also 100% eco-friendly.

“I believe that by now, when everything is mass produced, handmade products are naturally far more prized,” Griponisioti adds.

The items she creates are cleaned in five different stages so that they are completely safe when they come in contact with the skin.

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Marina Griponisioti 
ConvertArt Psyrri Store:
Pallados 24-26 Psyrri Square, inside stoa Pallados

Opened Tuesday – Saturday
Apart from selling online via the website, ConvertArt objects can also be found at around 35 sales points around Greece, and have been presented at fashion industry events like The Athens Trade Show, the Meet Market and The Fashion Room Service.

As first published in Greece Is (www.greece-is.com)
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