Category Archives: Self Care

The best six books exploring how exercise helps the mind.

We all know that exercise is good for us both mentally and physically and has numerous health benefits. That said, there are still days where we really don’t feel like getting out of bed and heading into the cold for a run (hello Melbourne Winter’s we’re talking about you). Thankfully, there are a growing  number of indoor options for those days we can’ face the cold but want still to get moving. For those that need a little more convincing, we have found six great books that not only explain what we can do, but why we need to. 

Brace yourself, you’ll be lacing up your runners at the end of this blog and reaching for your drink bottle as we know these are going to inspire you to get moving. 

Eat Like a Pig, Run Like a Horse by Anastacia Marx de Salcedo

There is no pill. There is no diet. Could it be that our underlying assumption, that what we’re eating is making us fat and sick, is just plain wrong? To address the nation’s bulging waistline and the disease states associated with it, scientists have conducted a whopping 500,000 studies of diet and 300,000 of obesity. Journalists have written 223,000,000 and 15,600,000 news articles respectively about the topics. Yet nothing seems to halt the epidemic. It’s clear a new approach is needed. Anastacia Marx de Salcedo’s Eat Like a Pig, Run Like a Horse, looks not just to data-driven science, but to animals and the natural world around us. What she finds will transform the national debate about the root causes of our most pervasive diseases and offer hope of dramatically reducing the number who suffer from these, no matter what we eat. She starts by chronicling her own medical miracle. She has multiple sclerosis, but discovered that daily exercise keeps it from progressing. And now, new research backs up her own experience. This revelation prompted her to ask what would happen if people with lifestyle illness put physical activity front and centre in their daily lives instead of diet? In a fascinating journey divided between personal profiles of patients, mad(ish) scientists, and beguiling animal stories (bats, who fly hundreds of miles weekly, are incredibly disease resistant, much like how aerobic exercise boosts our own immune system), Anastacia shows we need to move beyond our current diet-focused model to a new, dynamic concept of metabolism as regulated by exercise. Suddenly the answer to global good health is embarrassingly simple. Don’t worry about what you eat. Worry about how much you move.

Sweat: A History of Exercise by Bill Hayes

Exercise is our modern obsession, and we have the fancy workout gear and fads to prove it. Exercise, a form of physical activity distinct from sports, play, or athletics, was an ancient obsession, too, but as a chapter in human history, it’s been largely overlooked. In Sweat, Bill Hayes runs, jogs, swims, spins, walks, bikes, boxes, lifts, sweats, and downward-dogs his way through the origins of different forms of exercise, chronicling how they have evolved over time, and dissecting the dynamics of human movement. Hippocrates, Plato, Galen, Susan B. Anthony, Jack LaLanne, and Jane Fonda, among many others, make appearances in Sweat, but chief among the historical figures is Girolamo Mercuriale, a Renaissance-era Italian physician who aimed singlehandedly to revive the ancient Greek “art of exercising” through his 1569 book De arte gymnastica. In the pages of Sweat, Mercuriale and his illustrated treatise are vividly brought back to life. As Hayes ties his own personal experience to the cultural and scientific history of exercise, from ancient times to the present day, he gives us a new way to understand its place in our lives in the 21st century.

Yoga Happy: Simple Tools and Practices for Everyday Calm & Strength by Hannah Barrett

Yoga Happy is an essential companion to help you through life, whether you’re a complete yoga beginner or wanting to deepen your home practice. In this beautiful, full-colour book you will find everything you need to build your inner strength and resilience, enhance your yoga practice, and help you find calm, happiness and the resilience to navigate the modern world. Written by yoga and meditation teacher Hannah Barrett, who has helped hundreds of thousands of people both online and through her workshops and classes, Yoga Happy encourages you to incorporate key disciplines, thoughts and actions into your everyday life. No matter how little time or space you have, Hannah shows how you can find your energy, reduce stress at home or at work, get a good night’s sleep and learn to cope better with whatever life throws at you. This inspiring handbook will also guide you through short, illustrated yoga sequences adapted for all abilities, plus give you breathing techniques, meditations and other proven mindful practices that will help to nourish and support your mind and body.

The Truth of Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Yoga’s History, Texts, Philosophy, and Practices by Daniel Simpson

A succinct, approachable guide to the origins, development, key texts, concepts, and practices of yoga. Yoga is practiced by many millions of people worldwide and is celebrated for its mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. And yet, as Daniel Simpson reveals in The Truth of Yoga , much of what is said about yoga is misleading. For example, the word “yoga” does not always mean union. In fact, in perhaps the discipline’s most famous text, the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, its aim is described as separation: isolating consciousness from everything else. And yoga is not five thousand years old, as is commonly claimed; the earliest evidence of practice dates back about twenty-five hundred years. (Yoga may well be older, but no one can prove it.) The Truth of Yoga is a clear, concise, and accessible handbook for the lay reader that draws upon abundant recent scholarship. It outlines these new findings with practitioners in mind, highlighting ways to keep traditions alive in the twenty-first century.

Caged Lion: Joseph Pilates and His Legacy by John Howard Steel

Caged Kion is the surprising story of Pilates, the man and the method.

Part biography, part history, and part memoir, Caged Lion untangles for the first time Joseph Pilates’s opaque life story and the perilous journey of his exercise program known the world over as Pilates.

This is the story of Joseph Pilates, a gifted man who immigrated to the United States at forty-three with no assets or credentials. He not only invented an exercise regimen which today is practiced by more than ten million people, but in the process, reinvented himself.

John Howard Steel brings Joseph Pilates and his eponymous exercise regime to life from his unique perspective as a student, friend, and confidant. Joe’s influence profoundly changed Steel’s life; in turn, Steel was crucial for the survival of the Pilates Method and Joe’s legacy. Steel’s vivid account traces the expansion of Pilates from a small cadre of dedicated adherents, through two periods of near extinction, to the global sensation it is today. Steel describes Joseph Pilates’s years as a prisoner during World War I, Joe’s motivation to discover his system of exercises, his inspirational teaching technique, and the unique attraction of the Pilates Method. It’s quite a story.

Just Breathe by Dan Brule

Hailed by Tony Robbins as the “definitive breathwork handbook,” Just Breathe will teach you how to harness your breath to reduce stress, increase productivity, balance your health, and find the path to spiritual awakening. Big meeting jitters? Anxiety over a test or taxes? Hard time focusing? What if you could control your outcomes and change results simply by regulating your breath? In this simple and revolutionary guide, world-renowned pioneer of breathwork Dan Brul shares the Breath Mastery technique that has helped people in more than fifty countries reduce anxiety, improve their health, and tap infinite stores of energy. Just Breathe reveals the truth that elite athletes, champion martial artists, Navy SEAL warriors, first responders, and spiritual yogis have always known; when you regulate your breathing, you can moderate your state of well-being. So if you want to clear and calm your mind and spark peak performance, the secret is just a breath away. Breathwork gives you the tools to achieve benefits in a wide range of issues including: managing acute/chronic pain; helping with insomnia, weight loss, attention deficit, anxiety, depression, trauma, and grief; improving intuition, creativity, mindfulness, self-esteem, and leadership; and much more. Just Breathe will help you utilise your breath to benefit your body, mind, and spirit.

Enjoy!

Ted Talk: The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise

What’s the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! says neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki. Get inspired to go to the gym as Suzuki discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory and protects your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Top six books for those who want to learn to meditate

Meditation is known and followed by many who delight in the calm and clarity it brings them when they need it most, though others can find it lacking in science and complete woo-woo. In these crazy times we are living in with a climate crisis, global pandemics, spring inflation and even a war, Team Booko has found six amazing books that want to help ease your mind and may even change the mind of the strongest sceptic. Whether you are looking for quick suggestions to relax during the day or answers to deeper questions about the direction of your life, these books each aim to work towards a positive impact on your life while drawing on science and practice. 

Finding Peace: Meditation and Wisdom for Modern Times by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche

Finding Peace is a practical guide to the life-changing benefits of meditation from leading Buddhist master Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche. Rinpoche is the leading Buddhist monk in the UK, who shares his collected wisdom on how we can all overcome negative thoughts and calm our minds with simple meditation practices. His teachings have transformed the lives of people all over the world and, in our modern chaotic world, have never been more pertinent.

He teaches us that our minds are infinite like the sky, which can easily become clouded with stress and emotions, but with meditation we are able to clear away these clouds. By freeing our minds of those obstacles we can find peace in every moment and live a truly fulfilled life. With practical steps on breathing, posture, forgiveness, relationships and routine, this is the definitive guide for beginners and experienced meditators alike to learn from the wisdom of a globally revered meditation master.

Breathe Like a Badass by Hannah Jane Thompson

Breathe Like a Badass is a practical handbook that shows you how to harness the power of meditation, covering everything from comparison and office politics to body image and relationships. This practical handbook teaches you how to start and stick to a non-woo-woo, scientifically based, zero-BS meditation habit that you can turn to again and again when life and work gets tough. Qualified meditation teacher and certified life coach Hannah Jane Thompson has been practising meditation for over 11 years, after discovering the difference it made to her own life. As an ambitious but chronically anxious journalist, Hannah suppressed all feelings of not being ‘good enough’ until one day she was hit with chronic depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. At her absolute lowest point, she discovered meditation, and it quite literally saved her life. Breath by breath, meditation taught her to stop, breathe, accept who she was, and question those negative thoughts and transform them into something a little more kind, positive, and mindfully productive. Drawing on her own story, her teaching practice and experiences of her clients, Hannah shows you how to harness the power of meditation. Breathe Like a Badass is your no-BS guide to creating a life-changing, burnout-busting emotional toolbox of your own.

Total Meditation: Stress Free Living Starts Here by Deepak Chopra

Times are hard. Meditation doesn’t have to be. Meditation leads to transformation. It affects every aspect of your wellbeing and can bring about positive change in your body, affect your mental outlook, increase your decision-making ability and eliminate worry and anxiety. The master of modern meditation Deepak Chopra draws on his 30 years of practice and reveals how to achieve blissful awareness by waking up to who you really are. Perfect for beginners, sceptics or those looking for a new approach to stillness, his simple 7-day programme offers a life-changing path to a quiet mind.

The No-Nonsense Meditation Book by Steven Laureys

Rigorously researched and deeply illuminating, world-leading neurologist Dr Steven Laureys works with celebrated meditators to scientifically prove the positive impact meditation has on our brains.

Dr Steven Laureys has conducted ground-breaking research into human consciousness for more than 20 years. For this bestselling book, he explores the effect of meditation on the brain. He uses hard science to explain the benefits of a practice that was once thought of as purely spiritual. The result is a highly accessible, scientifically questioning guide to meditation, designed to open the practice to a broader audience. A mix of fascinating science, inspiring anecdote and practical exercises, this accessible book offers scientific evidence that meditation can have a positive impact on all our lives.

Strong, Calm and Free: A modern guide to yoga, meditation and mindful living by Nicola Jane Hobbs

Heartfelt and deeply practical, Strong, Calm and Free brings alive the possibility of a life of inner peace, compassion and joy. Grounded in both modern science and ancient wisdom, this beautiful and inspiring book demystifies the philosophy and psychology of yoga, making the 4000-year old practice accessible for modern life. Whether you’ve never stepped foot on a yoga mat before or want to deepen your home practice, this beautifully-illustrated book is suitable for all abilities, gently guiding you through a ten-week journey of yoga sequences, meditations and mindful living practices that will build strength, bring insight and offer a path to healing and freedom. Written by holistic counsellor and international yoga and meditation teacher Nicola Jane Hobbs, Strong, Calm and Free shares the tools to help you navigate the peaks and valleys of modern life, to dispel the “I’m not good enough” myth that holds so many of us back and to experience the miracle of being yourself. By sharing her gentle wisdom alongside simple, practical exercises, Nicola invites you on a path of inner transformation. A mindful adventure of self-discovery. A journey towards health, happiness and wholeness. Towards strength, peace and freedom. Towards becoming fully and fearlessly who you are.

A Monk’s Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st century by Gelong Thubten

We’re all on a search for happiness, but we’re looking in the wrong places. Everyone looks externally to find contentment, we think material possessions will unlock our happiness. A Monk’s Guide to Happiness  explains how and why we need to look within, and connect to our true essence, in order to find peace. Everyone has the potential to be happy, after all, we’re all ‘hardwired’ for happiness. But how do we get there? By meditating. Not just in the morning, but throughout the day by introducing micro moments so we never drop the mindfulness ball, even when we’re busy. Meditation is more than just a stress-reduction tool or a relaxation therapy, it is the key to finding long-lasting happiness. Gelong Thubten, a Buddhist monk who has worked with everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to Ruby Wax and Benedict Cumberbatch, explores the theme of happiness in his debut book and explains how to bring meditation into our busy 21st century lives with simple exercises.

Enjoy!