From ZUMBA to Yoga – Selfcare

My ups and downs with excercise

ashtanga yoga ericeira yoga studio
Ashtanga Yoga (visual)

It has been a while since I last wrote a personal entry. It looks like that I have been neglecting my body, mind and soul for a while. Not writing anything about my life here in Portugal makes me think that I must be moving to fast and hard to get my business off the ground.

We are already in November and almost a whole year passed with a minimal amount of exercise. A few weak attempts of running along the coast in Ericeira or going to my fancy Virgin Active gym in Lisbon has not only left me without energy BUT what is most disturbing to my eyes is my drooping belly and my upper arms becoming more wobbly at the age of 41! Yikes.

It is not really my fault though! Moving countries, building business, learning portuguese and having children makes it not very easy to find the spirit to go out for a run. Well, okay. Maybe it is my fault.

When I left California I was in ZUMBA fever and visited regularly my favorite place in Santa Cruz the Santa Cruz Dance Company. The teachers there are excellent which let me to do a ZUMBA teacher training with Joy Smith (she owns the Santa Cruz Dance Company). I’m not teaching ZUMBA nor was that my goal but I did want to know the choreography and teacher mind behind the thing I really enjoyed the most when it came to exercise. So I took a teacher training. Such fun times.

When we moved to Lisbon, I tried desperately to find a new ZUMBA class in and around Lisbon. No class I took fulfilled my love for dancing. Classes do exist and people seem to enjoy ZUMBA here very much but it doomed on me that I was missing the teachers back in Santa Cruz. I could not carry on doing ZUMBA in Lisbon, if really what mattered, were the teachers who gave the ZUMBA classes. Little did I know what a stranger could do to me. What an effect a single teacher could have on me. There is a person I don’t know, they move their hips in a perfect way, I start admiring them because their combination of dance and teaching makes me feel great, I want more of them, then I move and everything falls apart.  Wow.

Anyway, I’m back into exercise business. Through a friend and name friend of mine, Stefanie Birkholz who runs her own Ashtanga Yoga business “Room for myself” in Estoril and Cascais area, I got to know the Ericeira Yoga Studio. Maybe Stefanie will teach one day in Ericeira 🙂

Fortunately she has a good friend, Joana Cadete, who owns the Ericeira Yoga Studio (here is her Facebook site).

This one single referral from Stefanie, was my doorway to fall in love with yoga. It only took me a few years as I was trying to get into Yoga many times before.

I have been visiting classes with Joana with my husband, but last night Joana knocked it out of the ball park for me with her Ashtanga Yoga class. I have never felt so connected and peaceful with my mind and body. Two hours of pure happiness, joy and love. Love and appreciation for my body and gratitude towards friends and people who have the ability to influence my life in such a beautiful way.

Maybe it was the referral of a friend, maybe it was the class itself, maybe it was me being in the right space to receive and recognize this gift. I don’t know for sure but it shows me that one needs to be open to try new things, to engage with the world, to appreciate one another and to really take care of yourself first in order to return a smile and some beauty back to others.

After this class I was so centered & calm that I was able to really love my life, husband and children even more. So Thank you Stefanie and Joana! I will come back next week!

~ Cheers Katrin

Monoterpene-rich Essential Oils

Essential Oil Science & Chemistry Corner

Some of us are really curious about the chemistry of Essential Oils. I have so many questions in my head at times as my Aromatherapy Certification doesn’t leave any details out. The reason I personally think it is important to understand the chemistry of our oils, is beyond the aroma only. I can’t tell you how empowering it is, being able to help somebody by understanding my oils and to mix the right oils together for a therapeutic effect.

With the growth of Essential Oils in our regular lives, many of us start out with Essential Oils and might feel lost after a while. The options of mixing truly working blends is an art and it is chemistry.

Essential Oils are fascinating to me and for my own good I created the “Essential Oil Science & Chemistry Corner”. For the real nerdy ones. It will be my reference guide and maybe you will find some use in it too. Let me know if you have anything to add or discuss. I’m happy to chat.

Let’s get started with the first write-up of a total of 10 Chemical Families total.

It is also the right season to have those little oils handy. May I present the Chemical Family of:


  • Black Pepper – Piper nigrum
  • Bergamot – Citrus bergamia
  • Cypress – Cupressus sempervirens
  • Frankincense – Boswellia carterii
  • Grapefruit – Citrus paradisi
  • Juniper Berry – Juniperus communis
  • Laurel Leaf – Laurus nobilis
  • Lemon – Citrus limon
  • Neroli – Citrus aurantium var. amara 
  • Nutmeg – Myristica fragrans
  • Opopanax – Commiphora guidotti
  • Orange – Citrus sinensis
  • Ravintsara – Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole
  • Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis ct. camphor/1,8 cineole
  • Siberian Fir – Abies sibirica
  • Sweet Marjoram – Origanum majorana
  • Tea Tree – Melaleuca alternifolia
  • Thyme ct. linalool – Thymus vulgaris ct. linalol

Although there are many more oils available with monoterpenes, those mentioned above present a higher amount of monoterpenes than others.

Properties of monoterpene-rich oils:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Decongesting (some of them)
  • Penetrate fast due to smaller molecules (absorb quickly into the skin)
  • Great airborne deodorizer
  • Uplifting and energizing (Orange Lemon, Grapefruit – all mood enhancers)


  • Monoterpene-rich oils oxidize quickly as they are highly volatile and can become a skin irritant. Please consider patch tests before using it liberally. Especially after the oil was open for a long time or exposed to sunlight and such.
  • Some of them are “Hot oils” (Black Pepper & Nutmeg etc). Extra caution is required.
  • Phototoxicity plays a big role in Citrus Oils (Especially Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange and Lemon). Distilled Lime is fine.

No matter where you get your oils from. If you would like to mix for therapeutic effects you will need to know and familiarize yourself with the suppliers GC/MS reports. They must provide you with the reports and preferable BEFORE you buy your oils. There is so many fake oils on the market and suppliers can label them as they’d like due to missing label guidelines.

For me it is very simple, if my supplier doesn’t supply me with the GC/MS report, I will not buy from them. You do want to know what you spend your money on. Especially when they are supposed to be “therapeutic, pure, organic oils”.

My inhaler recipe for you for this winter season:

1 Inhaler (here they offer them in many colors)

5 Drops Ravintsara – Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole

5 Drops Siberian Fir – Abies sibirica

5 Drops Opopanax – Commiphora guidotti

Mix all oils. Soak the white cotton piece in the oils. Put the soaked cotton piece into the inhaler (maybe with a glove or tweezers). Screw the top on tight.  Inhale into each nostril as needed! It does wonders!

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As always, Thank you for reading!

~ Katrin