Going on a Retreat (Without Your Kids) : Tips & Insights to Support Soulful, Adventurous Mamas

Zhiish and I have started leading restorative retreats together for women and thought it might be helpful to share some things we did (and do) to support our younger children when we are on weeklong and longer retreats/adventures.

We know the first time a mother takes time can be the hardest partly because she hasn’t experienced the benefits that ripple to her family and kids when she takes time. A week can seem long but really it isn’t at all and our kids are often involved in many things during their days. There is nothing you need to do aside from making sure they are in loving care but since Zhiish and I love delighting our children and connecting with them in different ways and making stuff here is a little list of some of the things we have done over the years.

Maybe one idea speaks to you or sparks something else - less is more and have fun with it!

  1. Leaving them with a visual calendar. Especially nice for young children who don’t have a sense of time yet. It’s grounding to be able to see where they are and that mom’s return is right there just a little ways across the page. Even a wall calendar would work.

    What I made and Zhiish did as well when she was away was like a homemade advent calendar with little surprises or wishes each day. A bag with little numbered items of notes or gifts works too. Simple items like a cool stone or healthy treat they like or money to take their dad/the caregiver to the smoothie shop. You know your fam best and it certainly doesn’t need to cost much and doesn’t need to be a gift everyday. Children just love the surprise don’t they? I alternated between my son and daughter for the gift/treat and then did 1 note for both to enjoy every 3rd day.

    I knew that my kids were ok with me being away when the advent calendar format was so loved that they asked when I was going back to hike more of the Camino! OK I went overboard obviously with that one!!! When I did actually go back to finish the Camino 5 years later my daughter was 12 and I was gone for 10 days. I was soooo touched when this time she made me a ‘open one a day’ calendar package to send me on my way … I found it in my backpack on the plane …. it was so beautiful and sweet.

  2. Something to have with them. Another idea is to have a little something like a string around their wrist and you have the same one to let them know that of course you are always there for them. If they are little story and imagination helps and you can put kisses in their pockets or let them know you will be sending hugs and kisses through the sun rays/moonbeams. Sky is the limit when you start thinking about connecting to a child’s imagination and it doesn’t cost a thing!

  3. Contacting them from the retreat/adventure. Of course this is up to you but I would consider agreeing to not be in talking contact. Part of it is that it might be hard to connect due to location or time zones. There is always a way to contact you in the rare case of an emergency of course.

    And then there’s physically getting away and for moms mentally getting away is where the rubber really hits the road. It can be hard at first but then you’ll get into a groove and a lot of contact can make it hard for you to BE at the retreat fully. There’s something priceless about periodically really unplugging from our roles and plugging into ourselves. Our kids thrive from us trusting this and that they and we’ll be more than ok.

  4. Everyone Benefits.Taking time intentionally to connect with your Self and replenish allows you to bring more of you to your life and your relationships and your parenting (because you’ve nourished the connection with Her) but there are other gifts too.

    For example, it teaches our children gratitude as they see how much we do for them (!) lol and it allows our partners to be the go-to for the week. I find it’s very common for mom to be the go-to for owies and upsets and the organizer and driver and shopper so this can be truly wonderful for the partner to experience this and parent their way building trust in their own parenting and in their unique relationship with the children. All. Good. Things.

  5. Sharing your adventures on your return. Let them know you will take some pictures and share your adventures and possibly they could do the same with a little documenting of their adventures at home and school. Maybe you’ll look for a stone on the beach for them.

    If they really want to tell you something when you are away they can write it down in a special book/place and share with you on your return.

  6. Nourishing yourself nourishes the world. Our children love it when we are our best selves and we are joyful adults - after all they are headed there and want to know it’s something nice and fun and has its perks… adulthood that is! When we do something that we are excited about, stretches us or we prioritize our self-care in other ways that feed us we teach our children to take time for this too. That it is important. Our children will truly feel the goodness of this not by anything we say but by how we feel to them when we are back. That is what will teach them that taking time is a good thing. I believe chances are greater that when we model loving self-care that they will do this for themselves as adults too.

We hope something of this helps.

So excited for your soulventure! xo, Dr. Monika

Safe, Effective Breastfeeding Support for Mom and Babe: Latest Research & Favourite Local Product

Rumina Naturals is a Calgary based company that arose out of the passion of a Calgary Herbalist and Calgary ND to support moms and babes during pregnancy and that first year together out of the womb. They are becoming a favourite of family naturopathic care clinics, lactation centers and midwifery clinics in Alberta and beyond.

Their best seller is Milk-a-Plenty and the ingredient list surprised me and on reflection really impressed me. It is a thoughtful, holistic postpartum formula that takes into account the postpartum period from a bigger perspective with herbs to address not only the nutritive piece and lactation piece but also the mood piece - the anxiety and depression that is commonly part of this time for many mothers.


This great formula comes at a time when we know it is not optimal for mamas to take the pharmaceutical Domperidone to increase milk supply. Health Canada put out a health advisory on the product 4 years ago and it is currently banned is the United States.

Milk a Plenty is a researched, therapeutic dose lactation support formula. Here’s what you’ll find in it …

It has Moringa (nutritive powerhouse), Vervain (anxiey and depression) and Milk thistle (liver protector and powerful galactagogue).

Latest News: Fenugreek is a very common herb you would have seen in breast feeding formulas in the past but you won’t find it in this formula as it has fallen out of favour with medical lactation consultants for several reasons. High amounts of Fenugreek have been linked to issues with gas and pain in babies and a high dose can be unfavourable for pre-existing or postpartum thyroid issues which are not uncommon nowadays and play into postpartum mental wellness for many women.

When will I notice something? Notice of improvement often is seen within a week at the standard 2 dropperfuls 3x/day. Take it based on your health practitioner’s input for 1 month to 6 weeks and wean slowly once you are where you want to be.

To pick up a bottle or address some niggling health concerns/goals call the office at (403) 609-8385.

To your health and happiness mama! xo Dr. Monika

Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally.

Dr. Monika supports thoughtful, smart women shine their light and share their gifts while staying healthy, calm and energized (and bypassing the all to common path to burnout that shows up as low energy, overwhelm, weight gain, headaches, hormonal symptoms, poor sleep or poor digestion). She is passionate about supporting moms and moms to be and their families as well as any woman navigating one of the key 7 year transitions which occur around 35, 42, 49 years or any big life change so she can move forward in her life in the way she truly is called to.

Interested in naturopathic support? (403) 609-8385 to call to book with Jill/Joyce or www.opentowellness.ca to book online.

CALM: Simple, Effective Breathing Techniques For Family Wellness



Start all the heart math practices with doing this or do it on its own. Basically you bring your attention in the center area of your chest – the area of the heart/Heart Chakra.

Just imagine your breath is flowing in and out of this area. You can place your hand on your chest if this helps. Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual finding a breathing pace/rhythm that is relaxing. Inhaling and exhaling to a count of 4 or 5 is a place many people start to find their rhythm. This technique helps calm the stress response decreasing the impact of stress on our body, mind and spirit.

* Use this whenever you think of it in the day to ground & calm – the more you do this during the day the more this becomes a habit for you to do when you are experiencing stress.

PARENTS: try this when you feel triggered with your kids/partner to increase the chance of you saying/doing something you’ll be proud of.


STEP 1 – As always, start with the Basic - Heart-focused Breathing

STEP 2 – Next, with each inhale breathe in a feeling of CALM and with each exhale breathe out a feeling of EASE. *

STEP 3 – Set your intention to anchor the feelings as you continue with your work, challenging experience or interaction.

* You could replace Calm/Ease with Peace/Gratitude
, Compassion/Understanding, Gratitude/Acceptance, Peace/Love, etc.

Note: As you practice you may find certain words feel more powerful/yummy to you, use those. (-:

Use this to create pathways for calm and resiliency in your brain and physiology. Emotions are like rocket fuel for creating change in the brain.

Some specific times to use this include: before an event/situation that feels stressful to you, after a stressful event to reset your nervous system out of fight-flight-freeze mode, whenever you notice you are stressed/anxious about something to get you feeling centered, calm and grounded again.

PARENTS: it is a real gift to you and your fam to do this in the morning before the kids get up or in the car just before you pick up your kids from school. Helps you to be present and sets the tone.


STEP 1 – Start with Basic - Heart-focused breathing for 5 -10 breaths

STEP 2 – Generate a regenerative Heart - feeling. The regenerative feelings include gratitude/appreciation, feeling of well-being, peace and love. To do this bring to mind someone you care deeply about or who cares deeply about you and let yourself really feel the appreciation, compassion, love, care in your heart. Often it is felt as a gentle warmth and a softness in the heart area.

Any special memory will work too as long as you can re-experience the felt emotions. It’s kind of like “going to your happy place”. A memory of a favorite time in nature or of being moved by the beauty of a piece of art or music works well too.

Have fun with this and remember the mind doesn’t know what’s real or imagined so let yourself adjust memories as you like for maximum enjoyment!

Fave Supplement Spotlight: NeuroProtect Px for Optimizing Brain Health As We Age

Neuro-Protect Px - Brain Health
This is SUCH a great product. Restorative Formulations gets an A+ for creating yet another stellar formula to support us aging well physically and mentally and cognitively!

What is it for?

In a word 'brain health'. It supports focus, cognition and memory and balances the neurotransmitters. 


What's in it?
The formula contains the fruiting body of organic Lion's Mane and organic Ashwagandha.

Lion's Mane provides terpenoids which cross the blood brain barrier - this is rare and why it can have such a powerful effect on brain health. It's rich in compounds called polysaccharides as well and.together these compounds provide neuroprotection and support production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). This is a huge deal.

What You Most Need To Know About Choosing a Lion’s Mane Product

So Lion's Mane is rocking the brain health, natural health world and research labs right now. If you want in on the wonderful benefits the research is finding it is key you know that it's all about the mushroom's fruiting bodies and not so much the mycelium.

**** This means that when you buy a Lion's Mane product make sure that you get one that says "fruiting body" on the ingredient listing. Restorative Formulations takes such care in the raw ingredients that go into their products. In this case a recent study showed that this here formula has 5 times the concentration of the good stuff (the neuro-protective terpenoids) compared to 5 other brands.

Ashwagandha is the second ingredient. Working with the root cause of symptoms in my experience involves addressing and transforming stress. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb which adrenal glands love. It is one of my top favourite herbs out of all the thousands of medicinal herbs out there. It offers stress protection to the nervous system and enhances well-being and cognitive function.  

Final thoughts … I sure appreciate Neuro-protect Px for its simplicity, potency and that I am not paying for anything I don't want - like fillers/binders.

With a mother that has Parkinsons disease I do what I can to support my nervous system health and am grateful for products I can trust. Thanks RF!

To try this supplement call the office (403) 609-8385 to put one aside for you. To schedule an appointment to get you on a clearer path to greater health and vitality now and into the future call or book online through this link:


To your health and happiness! xo


CLEAR: Simplicity With Supplements

In the 3 month CLEAR program we focus on laying the foundational groundwork for the wellness principle of FLOW. Creating space, optimizing detoxification & digestive pathways and simplifying whatever we can is how we work to support this principle coming into balance.

For me it’s important that we look at the diet and the supplements with the intention of fine-tuning the supplements to include what’s most beneficial. Clients learn what the best forms of nutrients are for them as well as what the best time to take it is to get the most from it. The why am I taking it? is important as well.

Here’s a form to print out to track your supplements in a simple, easy way - make sure you fill in the why you are taking it and bring it to your one-on-one visit.

CLEAR: Easy, Fun Movement to Optimize Energy, Clarity and Gentle Detox For Moms

Moving in a way that we enjoy and is of course good for our health and so key to our wellness on all levels. If you love it and it’s in a doable routine it will be sustainable and create wellness and support detoxification and flow - one of the 3 foundational wellness principles I work on optimizing with clients.

I love doing activities that engage my body, mind and heart ... my connection to and love of my body and life. Booty dance does this for me, so does hiking, swimming in lakes, running, biking, certain types of yoga and playing sports.

Then there’s the rebounder …

Growing up my dad was always interested in health and I can still remember how excited he was when he came home with a rebounder! When we bought our first home 30 years later you can guess what our house warming gift from him was. Yup. A rebounder! Who knew that he was onto something that is now know to be so good for you.

Rebounding is something that makes me feel like a kid and the health benefits are a-mazing! It is gentler on my body than running and time wise it is a much more efficient workout. Rebounding is great for pelvic floor wellness, joint and bone health, lymphatic health (clearing cellulite and improving immune function!) and the fun factor helps the body destress and the bounce brings a bigger, fuller breath and more energy.

Even 11 minutes/day has great effects and I just learned that there are online workouts (of course there are!) When I’m working at home and energy is waning a 5 minute bounce clears the cobwebs and lifts the energy.

To be clear … of course I still recommend getting outside and participating in outside-the-home group classes if they spark joy for you but I know that during some days/seasons of our life it’s just harder to get exercise in and the simpler the better. You can talk on the phone and bounce or watch “Queer Eye” and bounce or do it with a child or free dance on it, watch the rest of the family do chores around you as you bounce … obviously the possibilities are endless!

So, if you are someone who moves their body less in the winter or just less than you want in general and are looking for a gentle, fun, effective way to support your health well here is a ink of a 11 minute rebounding session to get your party started …


To your health and happiness! xo, Dr. Monika

Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart centered women shine their light and share their gifts with the world while staying healthy, calm and energized and without burning out. She is especially passionate about supporting moms and moms to be and their families. (403) 609-8385 to call to book or www.opentowellness.ca to book online.


Fall Cleanse - Basic Suggestions

If you didn't get to doing a cleanse in the Spring or New Year make it a priority before things get too busy. Toxicity can affect everything from immune health, to sleep quality to energy levels and mood(irritability, not a lot of patience, being reactive)  to weight gain. There are many ways to help your body's organs of detoxification (liver, kidneys, colon, lymphatics) function optimally. The Wild Rose Diet is a great diet to follow but I'm not keen on the supplements that come with it - I've found there are better, gentler ways to cleanse. See the section below for some of my favourite supplements and this section for general suggestions/tips. 

Some general ideas:

  1. Eat clean and simply. Eliminate all processed foods for a week or two and eat only fresh sprouts, fruits, vegetables, legumes and minimal whole grains and lean meats. The Brown Rice Diet or Anti-inflammatory Diet are both de-congesting, healthy diets to be on. See links on this website.

  2. Drink 8-12 (depending on weight and activity level) glasses of pure water each day. Adding freshly squeezed lemon or lemon slices to hot water is a simple way to promote cleansing.

  3. Move and breathe. Enjoy the extra time outdoors that the longer evenings allow. Breathe deep into the bottom of your lungs.

  4. Dry brush your skin from your toes and fingers toward your core and from your chin to your collarbone. Nice for your lymphatics.

  5. On waking and before bed, drink 1-2 tsp of a good quality greens supplement and human strain acidophilus in a glass of vegetable juice or water.

  6. Treat yourself to some bodywork that will not only further stimulate and support your body's internal janitorial system but will also be wonderfully relaxing. Bowen, Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Osteopathy, Yoga, Acupuncture and Lymphatic Drainage are all great for this.

  7. Lastly, homeopathic drainage (Undas) takes cleaning up the body to a deeper level and is worth considering as an adjunct to the basics for those interested in experiencing a higher level of well-being. Book in (403) 609-8385 to have undas selected that are best for you.

  8. Special Note for Menstruating Women: the best time to start a detoxification program is the first day after your period is finished or just after the Full Moon.

Granola Recipe

If you’re ok with grains and are not on a candida diet here’s a granola recipe that is from Robyn (green smoothie girl) that is nice to have at home when you have little ones (or teenagers) and love the convenience of store bought processed cereals but value great health.

Puffed processed grain cereal is just not the way to start the day from a sustainable energy, healthy balanced mood/blood sugar and brain health perspective and is best as a “for fun” exception rather than the rule. Check the ingredients as there are good whole food granolas out there but don’t let “gluten-free” be the only selling point as these can be full of processed corn and sugar and the overprocessed puffed grains.

Here’s one that still has natural sugars in it but with lots of good fiber and whole food to give it a good balance of yummy and healthy!

  • 8 cups whole rolled oats

  • 1 cup wheat germ

  • 1 cup shredded coconut

  • 1/2 cup Organic Sprouted Flax

  • 1 1/2 cup nuts ( pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds)

  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins)

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup raw honey

  • 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Mix rolled oats, raw wheat germ, shredded coconut, GSG Organic Sprouted Flax, nuts, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon together in large bowl

  2. Stir together honey, molasses or maple syrup, water, coconut oil, and flavoring together on stove, heat until barely melted

  3. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until evenly distributed

  4. Bake at 250°F, stirring well every 20 minutes for 45-90 minutes or until dry

  5. Serve granola with nut or rice milk plus 2 tbsp sprouted raw sunflower and alfalfa seeds mixed in to provide live digestive enzymes

  6. Keep in pantry for up to two weeks, or in fridge for up to six weeks

CALM: Restore Hormonal Balance: DUTCH Test - Game Changing Testing for Infertility and PMS

Tests to support the optimizing of fertility hormonally (one piece of a fertility assessment) and determining your current unique hormonal pattern/picture have for years included blood (serum) testing (sex hormones, thyroid panel and Ferritin), and Saliva Hormone testing (for a functional hormone assessment to include adrenal wellness and the impact of stress as well).

In the last decade a new functional medicine testing has become available that is great for women wanting to get a truly comprehensive picture of your hormonal picture. It is called the DUTCH Complete Test and it really is next level “complete”!

DUTCH stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. The testing measures reproductive hormones, HPA/ stress axis and organic acids including something else very useful - downstream metabolites of the hormones - thus giving you a more complete picture of your current unique hormonal health than any other tests currently available.

There are several DUTCH lab options.

DUTCH Complete

The DUTCH Complete is an advanced hormone test, offering an extensive profile of sex and adrenal hormones and melatonin, along with their metabolites, to identify symptoms of hormonal imbalances. The DUTCH complete is for women who would like to optimize their hormonal health and get a thorough one day assessment to understand deficiencies/imbalances that are contributing to their hormonal imbalance so they can be addressed directly.

DUTCH Cycle Mapping with DUTCH Complete

“For some female patients, testing on just one day of the month is not enough. Women with infertility, irregular cycles or no menstrual bleeding due to an ablation or partial hysterectomy can benefit from the DUTCH Cycle Mapping. This profile helps evaluate hormones throughout a full menstrual cycle. Nine targeted estrogen and progesterone measurements provide important details on a patient’s hormone levels in the follicular, ovulatory and luteal phases of the cycle.” www.dutchtest.com

* This test is great for women who would like the most information possible relatively quickly.

The DUTCH complete is a great option to start with. www.dutchtest.com for more information.

Some direct links to DUTCH test:

Dr. Carrie Jones -Why use DUTCH Testing?

Introduction to DUTCH Testing

DUTCH Complete Test -Information Page

DUTCH Cycle Mapping Test -Information Page

For an interview with Dr. Carrie, clinician at DUTCH test labs and the Get Pregnant Naturally Team you can access the podcast at this url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFRmsudljf4


Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart centered women shine their light and share their gifts with the world without burning out through whole life health and a functional medicine approach to wellness. She is especially passionate about supporting moms and moms-to-be and runs yearly Fairy Nature Camps for her clients’ children (and herself!). To book an appointment call (403) 609-8385 or visit our online booking through this link:


“Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her, and those who come after her.” Christiane Northrup

Getting Ready for Starting School - 12 Great Tips to Make the Transition an Easeful Nourishing One for Your Kids and You

Summer is far from over and I hope you’re savouring it and getting chance to nourish yourself as well. Yoga nidra is one great way to replenish energy stores if you find your patience decreasing and your sugar cravings increasing!

One favourite memory last week for me was sitting around the fire at North Beach Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge (amazing campsite by the way!) reading a book I’m loving, smelling the fresh cedar air and listening to my brother Chris (the kids crazy uncle), his boys and my kids laughing and playing cards and chatting together. It was one of those, “wouldn’t change a thing moments'“ …

Dr. Laura Markham is a parenting educator that I like and this is her countdown to gently ease you and your family toward an enjoyable first day of school. Most are more for younger kids but I’ll be using a bunch with my 12 year old who is going to a new school this year.

* Note: I have added some naturopathic tips from my experience.

12. Start moving bedtime a tiny bit earlier every night. It's impossible to impose an early bedtime cold turkey on a child who slept in that morning and has the "school starts tomorrow" jitters.  One way to shift the schedule is to start having kids read in bed for half an hour or more before lights out, which is also good for their reading skills. (For younger kids, read with or to them.) Wake late sleepers a bit earlier each day. If your child is having a hard time falling asleep, be sure they're getting plenty of daily roughhousing that results in laughter, as well as outside physical activity.

*Chamomile tea is one simple child friendly way to help get into an earlier-to-bed rhythm that you could use the week or so before school begins. If your child is older melatonin can be used short term as well. I carry a mint flavoured low dose melatonin spray bottle in our health kit that our family uses as needed for jetlag/resetting sleep rhythms.

11. Tour the school, or at least the playground, with your child. If allowed, let your little one use the school bathroom. If your child will be walking alone, practice the walk several times.

10. Introduce your child to the teacher if at all possible. If you can, take a picture of your child with the teacher, put it on your fridge at your child's eye level, and talk to her like she's part of the family. "I know you'll love having Joseph in your class, Ms. Brown."

9. Set up playdates with a couple of other kids in the class so she feels more connected when she walks in that first day. If possible, arrange to walk with one of them (and their parent) the first morning.

8. Prepare your child emotionally.  Read books about the grade he'll be entering.  Describe to him what that first day will be like, how the drop-off will go, who will pick him up, etc. Listen to his worries. Reassure and brainstorm with him how he could handle those issues. Make up a "goodbye" rhyme or ritual and practice it.  Give him a laminated family photo for his backpack.

7. Decide any changes in family routines such as extracurriculars, chores or no screen time on weekdays, and talk with your child about the new routine.

6. Let your child choose her own school supplieswhether from around your house or from the store, and ready them in her backpack or bag.

5. Organize a place for each child to keep school books, supplies, backpacks, lunchbox etc. Set up a homework spot for your child to work (always in close proximity to the rest of the family rather than off in her own room.)

4. Organize paperwork with a different colored folder for each child to hold school forms and papers to be signed. If you don't have a family calendar that kids can read, set one up on a whiteboard.

3. Have kids pick out their outfits and backpacks the day before school starts, and make lunches for the next day. Don't wait until evening when kids are tired and need your attention to soothe their last-minute jitters.

* I like the Flower Essence Rescue Remedy to put in their water.

2. Have an end of summer family celebration the evening before school starts with an early dinner, and toast the highlights of the summer. Then go around the table and share appreciations:  "I appreciate that Michael helped in the garden this summer" ... "I appreciate that Sara worked so hard to learn to ride a bike."  Finish with "Looking Forwards,"  such as "I'm looking forward to when you come home from your first day of first grade and I get to hear all about it!"

1. Go to bed early yourself  the night before school starts so you'll be up early, rested and ready in the morning to deal patiently with any last-minute jitters or minor crises. Plan to leave the house 15 minutes before you need to -- at the worst, they'll have time to play at the school playground. And don't forget that "first day of school" photo!

* My kids are older now and love looking back at the first day photos where they pose with a piece of paper that says, “ First day of grade . When I grow up I want to be a ________.”

Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart centered women shine their light and share their gifts with the world without burning out through whole life health and a functional medicine approach to wellness. She is especially passionate about supporting moms and moms-to-be and runs yearly Fairy Nature Camps for her clients’ children (and herself!). To book an appointment call (403) 609-8385 or go to www.opentowellness.ca.

Instapot Quickies - Cooking Vegetables and Grains in Less Than 5 Minutes

Spent some days this summer visiting a friend who uses their Instapot several times per day and I gleaned some simple time saving tips for our healthy eating pleasure!

Aside from the normal settings on your Instapot there’s the possibility of using it as a pressure cooker for whatever you’d like to cook just by adjusting the timer. Here’s some times for GRAINS

Oats - 5 minutes on high pressure - 2 cups water/1 cup steel cut oats

Quinoa - 3 minutes on high pressure - 1 cup water to 1 cup quinoa (after you rinse the quinoa)

Bonus: what to cook your beans quickly? just 20 minutes on high pressure after soaking them overnight


With veggies, place steamer/stainer in there and 1 inch of water.

Asparagus, Broccoli - 0 min (in inch of water - place steamer/strainer in there)

Carrots - 2 min

Instapot is so great for families not only for getting a healthy meal on the table in less time but also in being able to walk away from it and not worry about over cooking/burning food any more. 5 ***** (-:

As my friend mantras, “Set it and forget it.” Caroline Vlessides

Brain Health: Theta Healing to Rewire Limiting Beliefs You've Outgrown ... Game changer.

"Out with the old, in with the true." Jeff Brown

The body is designed to be self-healing. It naturally wants to go in the direction of wellness and balance. As an ND part of the way I am trained is to look for what is getting in the way of that natural internal self-healing force. Maybe it’s physically on the food or nutrient level and maybe it’s on the emotional level tied into certain daily stresses that are straining the body’s resources/resiliency. We are made of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects so I look at all these when someone is wanting to get to a better level of health and energy.

Increasingly in science we are getting clearer about the impact of the brain and nervous system and stress on us AND how we can work with the brain to create wellness. This is through consciously rewiring the brain to thoughts (and as a result actions) that are aligned with who we are. We have known about the power of positive affirmations for some time now in creating real physical changes with the brain as the leader.

The thoughts we tell ourselves create a real tangible effect on the chemistry in our body and work for or against us in creating the life and level of health we truly desire. Often thoughts that are getting in the way of us creating the positive changes we desire in our lives are not obvious to the individual. These are like blind spots (we all have them) and not knowing these can create a lot of frustration from unfulfilled goals/lack of forward motion. It can feel powerless and we can feel stuck in a rut.

In Theta healing there is a technique simply called “Digging” that helps a client uncover what subconscious beliefs are at play in getting in the way of the shift the individual is wanting to make. When we know what the beliefs are we can shift them.

I brought Theta healing in my practice because I realized that some changes that clients truly would like to have happen don’t happen because of a limiting belief that is stopping them from moving forward. If you are having a hard time doing the things you know are good for you or would lead you closer to what you want to create for your life come in and let’s explore it on the brain/belief level with Theta Healing to create the shift, health and freedom you desire! To your health and happiness, xo, Dr. Monika


Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, Theta Healer, and basically a mind-body medicine geek(!). She is a mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. Dr. Monika practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart-centered, ambitious women shine their light and share their gifts with the world without burning out through whole life health and a functional medicine approach to wellness. To book an appointment call (403) 609-8385 or go to www.opentowellness.ca.

Low energy? Stressed? Energy dip 2-3 pm?Weight Gain in Your Belly? Low libido? Trouble sleeping? Weak immune system? Read on ...

This constellation of symptoms can be a sign that your adrenal glands (which are part of your body’s system that helps you deal with stress) is maxed out.

Dealing with the factors that are creating stress (practically and with mind-body techniques) is of course key and it is a big part of the work I do with clients in our 3 month CALM naturopathic foundations program through acupuncture, mindset and life coaching. One thing myself and many clients I work with have had to find out the hard way is that stress accumulate. Having ways to release it is really important to prevent overwhelm and burnout - adrenal fatigue. One simple practice that can not only help you release stress from the body but also work to change patterns of stress internally is an ancient practice called Yoga nidra (Yoga sleep).

Yoga nidra couldn’t be simpler. You just lie down on your back, get as comfortable as you can and follow along with the guided meditation that includes breathing exercises and other mindfulness exercises put in a particular order that creates the immensely beneficial effects..

Yoga nidra not only releases stress and helps emotions move through calming the mind and body, but it also promotes adrenal wellness increasing our resilience to stress. The practice has been studied and scientifically has proven to reduce anxiety, enhance healing, increase energy, stimulate creativity and strengthen the immune system.

30 minutes is said to be equivalent to 4 hours of sleep in terms of its restorative effects. I’ve included a yoga nidra for moms at the bottom of this blog. There are many yoga nidras on youtube as well to check out and the best is doing Yoga nidra in a group at a class. The group effect on nidra as in meditation is amazing!

To learn more about when the next yoga nidra retreats/classes are or to host one in your community contact us at retreats@opentowellness.ca or follow us at fb opentowellness canmore or instagram dr_monikaherwig_nd. Here’s two pictures of November’s Mexico Retreat location where we’ll be doing yoga nidra as part of the Restorative Retreat. It was voted in Yoga Journal to be the ‘best place to have a yoga retreat.’

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She Shines 2019 Event is the week of November 23 - 30, 2019. Eat. Play. Love.: Restorative Women’s Mindfulness, Art and Yoga & Nidra Retreat at the gorgeous Xinalani Eco-Yoga Retreat Center in Mexico. We’ll be taking a pause in paradise to relax, replenish, reset and to connect with you … who you are beyond the roles of mother, wife, caretaker, business owner, healer, daughter. It is a gift you give to yourself and everyone in your life. Your happiness serves the world. (-:

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3 Simple Ways to Help Raise Healthy & Happy People Who Want to Come Home for Thanksgiving

#3. Understand their development.

This will inform your interaction and communication with them. It will let you meet them where they are at and allow you to be more compassionate and present with them.

Not many parents know that children under 7 live predominantly in the theta brain wave state and learn by imitation and by doing. They think in pictures and are physical. Modelling what you want them to do speaks louder than explanations. When you do explain pair the words with actions.

Their brain is not developed to include the higher executive functions and abstract thought yet so talking to them about things will not foster the close connection we desire. Storytelling that brings in their picture consciousness does.

#2. Love them the way they want to be loved.

Take time to figure out what their love language is and schedule something regular – even just once/month - where you are especially conscious about honouring that. My 15 year old’s love language is quality time & words of appreciation (and food lol!) so I take him out to dinner once a month – just me and him and in our time I am mindful of letting him know what I appreciate about him.

3. Be well yourself.

Children love to see their parents thriving. If you think about your own parents you’ll notice this might be true even still for you!

As moms we teach by how we are and when a mom is well she teaches wellness.

Self-care and self-love is getting lots of air-time these days! (-: Let it not turn into a ‘have to’ on the to do list. Self-love can take time to develop - just like any relationship. Find little ways in your day to nourish you and be curious as to what truly sparks joy and uplifts you. I have a lift list that helps . A hot cuppa Chaga tea to support my adrenals, a walk in nature, time with girlfriends, Epsom salt bath ... whatever warms your heart or gives you that home/cozy feeling will be your clues to the things that support nurturing a relationship of warmth and kindness with yourself. Our inner dialogue is a potent area where we can bring our kindness to our self as well with great effect.

Our adrenal health affects our mood, weight, energy and all our relationships so it’s worth keeping it healthy. I specialize in adrenal wellness in my practice as this is an area that is out of balance in some degree with 90% of the women I work with.

One of my favourite, yummy ways to support women’s wellness in my office is through the restorative practices of Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy. 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is said to have the restorative equivalent of 4 hours of sleep.

Below is a Yoga Nidra meditation for you. It’s basically a ‘can’t-do-it-wrong’ lying down guided mindfulness meditation that I’ve found so helpful in restoring adrenal wellness and capacity to parent in a loving, peaceful way (i.e losing your %$#@ less and recovering connection faster when you do). (-:

Yoga Therapy is really about releasing tightness and softening, letting stuck emotions of anger, fear or shame move through and out. Flow is essential for wellness and these practices are decluttering us emotional and tension wise. (-:

Out of all the practices I do Yoga Therapy is the one that clients tell me helps them truly feel love for themselves. The first time I heard a client say that I didn’t associate that with Yoga Therapy itself but since then it’s not uncommon for clients to say that at the end of a session. I think any practice that supports someone to hold loving presence for the unmet/tender parts of their self will do this. I love how simple and easy it is and how obvious the shift isWant to next-level-replenish yourself and live more present and centered with your family?

Getting away for a retreat and reconnecting to You (yes that’s a capital Y!) is a powerful gift to give yourself and those you love.

Consider our November 23-30, 2019 retreat where we will be heading south and sunny for a week of truly next-level-replenishment at Xinalani Eco-Yoga Centre. The theme of the retreat is of coming home to ourselves (in love, calm, clarity, confidence, simplicity, beauty and joy). Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy sessions will be part of our time together.

To learn more about She Shines 2019: Eat. Play. Love. Retreat click link below.

To your health and happiness! (-: xo, Dr. Monika


Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart centered women shine their light and share their gifts with the world without burning out. She is especially passionate about supporting moms and runs yearly Fairy Nature Camps for her clients’ children (and herself!). (403) 609-8385 to call to book or www.opentowellness.ca to book online.

CLEAR/CALM: Naturopathic Foundations - Hormonal Balance Castor Oil Basics PDF plus Breast Health Application

Here’s a basic PDF handout for you that goes into the how to of using castor oil for healing, supporting immune health, detoxification, gut health and decreasing inflammation. For the rest of this blog I focus on castor oil packs as a powerful tool for breast health.

Castor Oil Packs for Breast Health? … YES!

When you apply castor oil to your breast tissue it improves the circulation and lymphatic drainage of the breast, improving the elimination of toxins and bringing more nutrition for repair, immune health and maintenance. This equals improved health.

Castor oil is truly such a simple way to improve the health of the breast (and any) tissue whether you are looking to change an existing condition of the breast or for preventative maintenance.

What You Do

You can place the pack (basically a folded piece of flannel with castor oil poured on it) oil side down on your breasts while lying down (and doing a yoga nidra - my recommendation) or you can place the flannel with castor oil in an old bra and wear it around the house as you do normal household activities. The heat of the body is enough to keep the action of the packs going over the breast tissue.

Note: Castor oil is sticky and stains which is why it’s recommended to put a plastic bag/saran wrap or nowadays even a beeswax wrap lol(!) on top of the pack to keep your clothes/bedding from being stained. I usually have an old towel that I lay underneath me that helps keep any mess contained.

Good News

You do not need to remake a new castor oil pack every time! Whew. Yes. simply store all your castor oil things together in a plastic bag/glass container. It’s good for 25 applications with you just topping up the amount of oil on the flannel by a little more before reapplying it.

And extra good news is that castor oil stains can be removed. To do that wash your skin or affected clothing/linen in a solution of 3 tablespoons baking soda to 1 quart of water. (-:

How often do I use my Castor Oil Pack?

This depends. It’s best to ask your Naturopathic Doctor for specific instructions but typically, 1-3 times per week when actively trying to improve a breast condition is a good place to start.  

For health promotion, a castor oil pack can be done once per month.

To your wellness! xo,


8 out of 9 women will have healthy breasts for their lifetime, we’re rooting for 9!” Dr. Monika, founding member of the Pink & Green Ribbon Initiative empowering women to care for themselves including their breasts and to understand the link between women’s health and the health of our environment.


Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart centered women shine their light and share their gifts with the world without burning out. She is especially passionate about supporting moms and runs yearly Fairy Nature Camps for her clients’ children (and herself!).

Forest Etiquette and Foraging Safety Tips for Nature Loving Families

·    My children and I like to leave a gift in exchange for a plant’s medicine – gifts aren’t solely physical in our way of thinking so a song or even a simple heartfelt thank you or compliment counts. We tell the plant what we’ll be using what we’ve gathered for. To children this makes perfect sense.


·    Look for places where what you are harvesting is abundant. Leave two-thirds of the plant material there so it can continue to flourish and there is plenty for the animals.


·    Harvest the different parts of the plant at the best time – i.e. leaves in the Spring, flowers and berries in the Summer, roots in the Fall/Winter.


·    Be aware that pulling a plant’s roots kills it – not a concern with harvesting Dandelion but keep it in mind for other plants.


·    Forage in areas that have had no pesticide use and are a bit in from a main trail. Plants alongside a major roadway has car pollution to deal with and isn’t a healthy choice. We are fortunate in Canmore to have many great places to forage.


·    Safety Tip: Be sure to let your child know that not all wild plants and berries are good for people to eat and to only eat the ones an adult or teacher has said are o.k. If they are unsure they can just ask.


·    Safety Tip: The first time you try a new edible wild plant it is wise to not go overboard – try just a bit. Even though the plants and preparations shared in this book have an excellent safety record, very low allergy potential and have been in use for generations, starting small is a good habit to get into in general in the rare case you or your child have an allergic reaction. Please don’t let the thought of a possible allergy stop you from foraging - mainly I just need to mention it in the writing of a book like this so you are aware of the possibility. You’re building relationships to these plants so enjoy the steps of the process and start slow and mindful.



Looking At The Full Thyroid Lab Picture

Great, easy to understand article from a colleague of mine explaining the various thyroid blood tests and why testing TSH alone doesn’t give the full picture.

The full bloodwork thyroid panel with TSH, free T4, free T3 and TPO is currently available to clients through our clinic in Canmore for under $100. (403) 609-8385.


Dr. Monika Herwig ND has lived and practiced Naturopathic Medicine in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Canmore, Alberta for over 20 years. She supports heart-centered women to share their gifts and shine their light in the world without burning themselves out. Individuals who are interested in long term wellness and living a life of freedom, peace and joy while staying true to themselves and what they hold dear. Dr. Monika uses a holistic, functional medicine East-West approach in addressing (and getting rid of for good) superficial symptoms. Dr. Monika views symptoms as just a sign that one of the three main foundations in the body is out of balance. These 3 foundations are CLEAR , CALM, CREATIVE. Symptoms whether they be constipation, low energy, weight gain abdominally, frequent colds, PMS, anxiety, allergies, headaches, infertility, digestion being off, adult acne, eczema, low thyroid are all a call to action from our beautiful bodies pointing us to what area/s are out of balance so we can take the first next step to get those foundations back in place. Dr. Monika has created Naturopathic Foundations Coaching Programs around these three principles to give you the support that she has found creating change and changing habits needs. (403) 609-8385 to call in to book.

Simple Lemony Lentil Soup

Lemony Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 carrots chopped (or 1 yam)
2 cubes of organic vegetable cubes
1-4 cups of water
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 lemon, zest and juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in butter/ghee/coconut oil or grapeseed oil.
2. Cook everything until soft, then puree.
3. Yummy.

Conscious Communication Support for Families - Links To Needs & Feeling Decks To Print Off

Here are the links to Malinda’s Feeling and Needs Card Decks that you can print off and have at home to support you in taking your communication, peace and joy of connection to the next level.

Thank you Malinda for creating these! (-:

4 Easy Tips to Nurture Nature Connection in Young Children *Say less * Wonder * Keep it simple * Go often*

 *Say less * Wonder * Keep it simple * Go often*

  1. ·      Say less – the younger years is the time for experiencing the whole and loving it rather than understanding abstractly and analyzing. A child’s consciousness is much different from ours - they live in the much slower theta brainwave state that we enter into in sleep. To meet them where they are at, slow down, breathe, engage your senses – join them in the present moment where they so fully live.

  2. ·      “I wonder ….” - for children under 7 years bringing your own attention to the item they are interested in (with a nod, a smile, a bending-down for a closer look) is far more satisfying for children than a lot of talking/explaining. I notice it keeps them in that precious state of wonder longer. If I do say something I have found that often a simple “Hmm, I wonder…” is my go-to and keeps them engaged.

  3. ·      Keep it simple - when you do answer questions keep it simple but true – at a level they can understand. Children think in images. Connection precedes abstract understanding here. Follow their curiosity and your own and try to stay in the actual experience.

  4. ·      Go often – even 10 minutes in the evening is a great gift to one’s wellbeing – bring it into your home life rhythm!

This excerpt is from the e-book Feast and Forage With Your Kids in Canmore! Click here to check it out …