Katie Brindle, Chinese medicine Practitioner, Author and Founder of the Hayo’u Method discusses the benefits of traditional Chinese techniques to our health and wellbeing.
In a world where technology and science so often lead the way, it is easy to forget that traditional methods can often be just as effective if not more than modern FADs and gadgets. This is something Katie Brindle discovered after years of suffering after a serious car accident. When modern medicine didn’t help her pain, Brindle turned to traditional Chinese medicine and was overwhelmed by the results. So much so that she began to study in the field and consequently make it a career.
After practising in the field for almost 20 years Bridle founded the Hayo’u method; a selection of one-minute rituals that can help to combat many modern ailments from poor sin, to fatigue, to bad digestion to anxiety. Using crystals to perform unique rituals the Hayo’u method consists of powerful self-treatment techniques that counter-balance the impact of modern living and bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern living. Brindle was recently a key speaker as part of Net-A-Porter’s online event “The Beauty of You” which is encouraging women to open up and discuss beauty and wellness, especially at a time where many of us are feeling anxious and stressed. Brindle’s key message was that these methods will help to relieve all the negative feelings many of us have at the current time. Her range of products which are available at Net-A-Porter are both sustainable and natural, allowing for an all-round positive experience. Here we discuss the effects of Chinese medicine and why it can help us all.
What first interested you to become involved in the practice of Chinese medicine?
I was actually training to be an opera singer when I had a car accident and sustained severe whiplash. My injuries ended those dreams. Western medicine was unable to help me, and I spent years searching for a solution which ended up being a Chinese doctor in a humble TCM clinic in London. Having reached that pinch point, finding the solution after years of agony, I fell in love with Chinese medicine with a passion. I immediately embarked on a course and re-trained. Alongside practising massage and reflexology, I studied Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and qualified as a Five Elements Chinese medical practitioner, graduating from the UK’s Integrated College of Chinese Medicine.
What is something everyone can do every day to help improve our health?
Body Tapping! Tapping with bamboo is an ancient Chinese therapy called Pai Sha that works wonders for your general wellbeing. It’s a simple, pleasurable, yet hugely effective way to support and maintain your health, no matter your age or physical state.
How does it work? Well, according to Chinese medicine an absolute fundamental of health is a good circulation of qi and blood around the body. This flow can be disrupted or stagnate for any number of reasons, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, emotional upset or injuries. In as little as one minute a day, an all-over body tap can clear areas of stagnation, support lymphatic drainage, release tension and encourage a smooth flow of blood and qi around the body. Tapping will instantly energise you in the morning and deeply relax you in the evening. This exercise gives your circulation a serious wake-up call, so it’s a great antidote to feeling tired or sluggish. The technique should take anywhere between 1 and 5 minutes to practice – and daily is great, but whenever you feel like it!
What are some of the most common requests you receive from clients?
Here are my top 3: “How do I do a natural facelift?” “How do I lose weight?” And “how can I effectively treat cellulite?”
For the first one, the answer is without a doubt facial gua sha. It’s often referred to as the ‘Eastern Face Lift’ (see below for more information)
How do I lose weight? The answer is with Qigong! Many people push themselves through super-hard workouts and wonder why they aren’t losing weight when they are working so hard. The truth is that this type of workout raises cortisol levels, and when the body is stressed, it holds on to fat. Qigong, on the other hand, works the muscles and nourishes all of the organs – but, crucially, doesn’t strain them. It boosts your oxygen uptake and circulation, but while your body is relaxed. This builds your capacity to store and generate your reserves of Qi (energy) as well as balancing your body. Achieving your natural optimum weight is a happy side effect.
And for cellulite: My go-to tool for this would be the jade comb. Body combing is an ancient Chinese self-healing treatment, it’s pleasurable, simple and hugely beneficial. Body combing works similarly to body brushing. It boosts lymphatic drainage, making it particularly effective for heavy legs, water retention and the dreaded cellulite. Cellulite occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath the skin. In Chinese medicine, cellulite is connected to water metabolism. When our Qi (energy) is stagnant, proper fluid management is impeded, which causes cellulite. We all have energy channels, called meridians, that flow through our body. All of these meridians have either direct or indirect connections with the head and scalp. Combing gently stimulates the meridian channels and clears stagnation – ensuring the free-flow of Qi, blood and fluid around the body. It’s remarkably effective, and indeed our Beauty Restorer Comb is an award-winning anti-cellulite tool!
We recently saw you participating in the Net-A-Porter Beauty Festival – why do you think it’s important for women to talk about beauty and wellness today?
Well, beauty is a bit of a no-brainer, not least because everyone is having such a hard time at the moment, that to indulge in your beauty regime is a way to care for yourself, to feel better and also just to have a little control. Also, we have more time at the moment!
However, wellness is what I’m really excited about because wellness is just another word for preventative health. And that is what I am passionate about as a practitioner of Chinese medicine. In Chinese wisdom, we approach beauty from the inside out. Essentially, you are never going to look your best if you don’t feel well. We see beauty as the exterior manifestation of interior health. This is why body gua sha is going to be the next big thing.
Body gua sha is such an unsung hero. It’s a simple self-massage technique using a round-edged tool, that has been used for thousands of years to treat inflammation, muscular tension, coughs and fever and boost immunity. Body gua sha offers us the fully-fledged integration of health and beauty and absolutely where the beauty industry is going. Try our Hayo’u Body Restorer if you’d like to give it a try, there are lots of tutorials on the website and Instagram.
Tell us a little about how your journey evolved to develop Hay’ou and why do you think it’s relevant for today’s modern woman?
After I found the cure for my health issues came from Chinese medicine, I was inspired. Alongside practising massage and reflexology, I studied Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and qualified as a Five Elements Chinese medical practitioner, graduating from the UK’s Integrated College of Chinese Medicine. There are a few reasons I started my own business: I could see that the Eastern philosophy that I had trained in had an answer to the Western illness epidemic. As a consumer, I believed that companies need to offer responsible, long-term solutions to the products they were selling and offset any environmental damage along the way and as a practitioner, I could see that people wanted to be empowered about their health but didn’t know where to start. And finally, as a mother, I wanted to do my part to safeguard the planet for my children, contributing to a better world, not a lesser one.
During my time as a Chinese medicine practitioner, I quickly realised that the prevention and self-treatment of illness was the secret of longevity in ancient China. When my patients practised the self-care techniques I suggested in between treatments, they would get better so much more quickly. There is a great Chinese proverb – ‘Dig the well before you are thirsty’, the Taoist philosophy is wholly based on the principle that prevention is better than cure – it is far better to stop yourself from getting sick than waiting to get sick and then fixing it. And Yang Sheng, the self-care part of Chinese medicine in which I specialize, is full of simple techniques to help you achieve precisely that.
And so I created Hayo’u. Hayo’u is a gua sha tools and wellness brand, combining the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine with innovative tools that achieve long-lasting results in just one minute of daily use. Hayo’uFit is the UK’s first dedicated online Qigong platform, offering both courses and flow classes. I think it is relevant to the modern woman because she is time-poor. Our strapline is one-minute to self-care. Everyone needs to look after themselves, and these are enjoyable, simple techniques using quality tools and precious crystals.
How can crystals help our wellbeing?
Chinese medicine has a rich tradition of using crystals as medicine. The philosophy is that gemstones can support our Jing Qi (life essence), blood (circulation) and fluids (lymphatic drainage). I chose jade because this was traditionally used by the empresses of China. Jade is the empirical beauty crystal. It’s been used for thousands of years because it is the ultimate balance of yin and yang. It has remarkable cooling properties, is great for reducing inflammation and puffiness – and it’s gentle, so suitable for everyone.
Research studies show that, when heated, certified jade radiates healing far-infrared rays. It also produces negative ions. Negative ions are commonly seen in nature, being abundant in a waterfall and on the beach. When you get positive vibes while out in the great outdoors that is because of negative ions. Jade has a high output of negative ions, and this help to regenerate cells. Our Beauty Restorer is made from 100% Xiuyan jade. It is a type of serpentine jade that comes from a region of China renowned for the best quality jade in the world. 100% jade is much rarer than composite. You can tell it’s real because it is really smooth, it will differ slightly in colour as its natural, it is cold to touch and doesn’t break easily.
How can we bring them into our skincare routine and what benefits can women have from using this method?
Facial gua sha! This is a simple massage technique using a round-edged tool. It’s been widely practised in China for thousands of years. ‘Gua’ means to press-stroke, whilst ‘sha’ describes the temporary red flush that results. Facial gua sha stimulates the dermis to support collagen and elastin production and releases tension to relax your facial muscles. I believe it’s the single most effective technique for transforming your skin. Facial gua sha is a game-changer and many of my clients tell me how much they love the way it has transformed their skin. It has been shown in studies to exponentially increase circulation and aid lymphatic flow, release congestion and soothe sore eyes and skin, to brighten your complexion and leave you with a radiant glow.
How do we know which crystal to choose – can you give us a little detail on each crystal and what they should be used for?
Jade has always been a crystal of choice for the ancient technique of facial gua sha, revered for its restorative and cooling properties. Jade helps to balance the yin and yang in the body, so it’s a great all-rounder and the perfect starter crystal. Rose quartz is especially good to use in the morning or if you have sensitive, delicate or inflamed skin. And clear quartz is known as the ‘master healer’, it is great for clearing mental energy, so really good as an evening crystal.
How can we use the products to help us when we are working from home or staring at a computer screen all day?
There are two, in particular, I’d recommend here. The Body Tapper Bamboo and the Body Restorer. Get up every hour and tap yourself all over with the tapper for a minute, it’s instantly energizing. And the Body Restorer you can use over clothes to release muscular tension. It’s a metal gua sha tool and works so well at clearing qi stagnation due to lack of movement.
How important is it to you to use sustainable materials in your products?
So important! And we are striving to improve our CSR constantly. I think all businesses should. Our major contribution to sustainability is that we offer the ability to consume less. Our crystals are intended as one-time purchases. Buy one and it will last you a lifetime, replacing the need for disposable items that ultimately end up in landfill and in our oceans. We are continually driving change in terms of our packaging. We have moved to using recycled card and away from single-use plastic. We have no offices. And I’m committed to my ongoing work with charities that protect the environment.
We know that looking at Hi-tech vs traditional when it comes to beauty is something important to you – how do you think traditional methods such as Gua Sha can still be relevant today when there are many technical tools available?
Because it really works! The beauty industry is open-minded, yet discerning. If it works, it will last. Gua sha is the missing link in our skincare routine – it hits the zeitgeist. People want quick, easy solutions. The discerning customer is making conscious choices. It’s time-tested. These techniques have served over 1000s of years. And for the modern-day customer, time is more precious than money. And this is a simple technique. We crave simplicity in our lives. This is something that makes sense.
What is your top wellness tip?
Qigong! Qigong, which translates as ‘life, force, practice’, is quite simply the most incredible exercise. By strengthening your life force on the inside, you will see the results on the outside. Lifeforce is the very thing that makes you feel alive, energised and healthy – and the minute you start to practice you’ll feel the difference. If you are tired, lacking in energy, out of shape or simply not feeling great, trust me Qigong is for you. Qigong is a fundamental pillar of Chinese medicine. It is classed as a form of internal exercise. (any combination of slow, considered movements with breath and mental engagement, another example would be yoga. Qigong is, quite simply, the ultimate self-healing technique.
Many people exercise to improve the way they look or perhaps improve the health of their heart and lungs, but Chinese medicine says that while aerobic exercise does work those organs, it simultaneously taxes them. Qigong, on the other hand, works the muscles and nourishes all of the organs – but, crucially, doesn’t strain them. It boosts your oxygen uptake and circulation, but while your body is relaxed. This builds your capacity to store and generate your reserves of qi.
One of the things I love the most is that Qigong is suitable for everyone! According to Chinese medicine, your organs control the entire health of your body. This includes, amongst other things, your muscles, fascia, bones, body fat and any tendency towards weight imbalance. Look after your organs and you’ll see a knock-on positive effect on all of your health. Qigong will give you stamina without stress, and it will tone without pain. As you do the exercises, you’re balancing the whole body and, because they’re so gentle, they also suit older people, those recovering from illness and anyone else with physical or energetic limitations. Just because it’s gentle, don’t underestimate its power and efficacy.
What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
We are planning to launch in America this year, which is hugely exciting – and we’ve also got some pioneering new products in the pipeline. So, growing the business, and also making progress with our sustainability goals. And setting up a charitable foundation, which is the first thing I’m planning on implementing once the business is solidly established.
In this issue we talk about International Women’s Day – what advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
I always say that I’m not a businesswoman, I’m a woman in business. I’d like to think that my story illustrates how anyone can do it. I had no training, just a good idea and I got on with it and stuck with it. I have gumption, tenacity, passion and integrity. Those qualities in modern business are just as important as understanding how to read a spreadsheet!
What is the biggest challenge you face with spreading your message to others?
I would say probably just getting people to take a chance on something which sounds a bit “woo woo” on the face of it! Once people try it, they are amazed and they love it. It’s getting over that first hurdle. Five years ago, nobody wanted anything to do with facial gua sha, now it’s a global beauty trend.
What is the motto you live by?
Prevention is better than cure!
Hayo’u is avaiable to shop at Net-A-Porter.com