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Secrets to Self-Care from an Inner West Village that’s all heart

Self-care Secrets from Dulwich Hill Village

Sydney’s best kept local secret


It’s no secret that mums rarely have enough time for themselves. If we’re not on our way to a school drop-off or pick-up – the bookends of most working mums’ lives – we’re taking the kids to sport, collecting groceries, running errands, or ploughing through a busy workday. So when we caught up with two Dulwich Hill Village women and business owners to learn about their self-care secrets, we couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.

Whilst Dully, as Dulwich Hill Village is called by those in the know, is renowned for its local artisans, specialty food providores and unique retailers, did you know it’s a village that’s big on self-care too? Read on to learn about Dully’s self-care secrets from two local businesswomen who know how to instil a bit of calm into their everyday.

Head stand (image courtesy of The Yoga Nook)


Linda Apps of the Yoga Nook, an experienced and respected Iyengar yoga teacher of 33 years and Dully local since 2002, says even 10 minutes of self-care a day can help reduce anxiety levels and boost our energy and attitude. Linda shares a 10-minute meditation routine that even the busiest of mums can (hopefully) squeeze into their day.


🧡 Find a quiet space for your self-care routine

Grab two pillows and find a quiet spot where you can lie down. We get that it can be tough finding a moment for yourself especially if you have little ones you’re caring for but if you can, find 10 minutes when they’re asleep or playing. Once you’ve found your quiet place, lie down with one pillow along your spine and another to support your head. Set a timer for 10 minutes – but use a kitchen timer or something similar, so you’re not distracted by your phone.


🧡  Clear your mind and relax your body

Ok easier said than done when you’re thinking about preparing dinner and organising play dates but now’s the time to give it a go. Did you know your mind is more alert and attentive when you’re sitting up vs lying down? So physically lying down should help you ease into a more relaxed state. Relax your body, mind, arms and legs. Let go of any tension you’re holding in your limbs – if you’re having difficulty relaxing, tense your muscles (for example clenching your fist or flexing your toes and ankles) and then relax them to feel the difference in your body state.

Uttansana pose (image courtesy of The Yoga Nook)

🧡  Use your breathing to help you deepen your relaxation

Breathe out until you feel completely empty. Soften your body, let go of your breath and focus on your exhalation. Let the inhalation take care of itself. Don’t force the breath, just ride it like a wave – and continue to breathe in and out, focussing on the exhalation and lengthening the time you spend breathing out.

When the timer goes off, don’t rush to stand. Roll over to your right side and slowly sit up. If you can, do this first thing in the morning (before the kids or hubby are awake) or when you need 10 minutes of meditative calm throughout the day.


🧡 Bonus tip: Pop your legs on the wall to boost your relaxation

Did you know lying on your back and placing your legs against the wall activates the parasympathetic nervous system – a network of nerves that relaxes your body after periods of stress or danger? So if you’ve had a hectic day at work or with the kids, or just need a moment of calm, follow these steps from Linda.

Pop a towel or blanket under you and lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs propped against a wall. Your tailbone should be sitting on top of the towel while your “sitting bones,” or your buttocks, should be a few inches from the wall. Your legs should be gently touching the wall with your knees relaxed and you should feel a light stretch. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes so you don’t have to think about anything until it goes off.

If your back feels unstable, keep it flat on the floor, otherwise you can also place a pillow or bolster under your hips and prop your legs against the wall. Pop a cosy blanket over you to keep you warm, and something soft over your eyes. Relax and enjoy the moment!


Ruby Raisin exterior (image courtesy of Ruby Raisin)


Next we popped into Ruby Raisin, a slow fashion brand that set up shop in Dulwich Hill a year ago, where we spoke with owner Mia Penn. According to Mia, self-care can come in many forms – from dressing well and feeling our best to choosing sustainable and ethical fashion that supports the health of the planet.

At Ruby Raisin, all designs are handmade locally and ethically, using a mix of vintage and sustainable fabric. Using vintage fabric means the brand can respect existing resources by giving them a new life, as well as offering the creative challenge of upcycling what’s around.

Mia shares these tips for busy mums who want to practice a bit of ‘fashionable’ self-care.

Ruby Raisin interior (image courtesy of Ruby Raisin)

🧡 Pick clothes that you love so you’re wearing them, not the clothes wearing you

Busy mums know how important it is to feel comfortable and confident in their clothes, which often have to take them from the school drop-off to work meetings and back again. Mia’s designs achieve that effortless look as she typically designs something she wants to wear herself in everyday life, things she finds useful and practical.

Mia wants her designs to be enjoyed every day, not just saved for special occasions. She favours unfussy, wearable shapes that are versatile across multiple seasons and let fun prints and colours shine. If your wardrobe is full of classic pieces or staples, you can inject colour with a bright accessory like a one-off vintage bag or scarf.

Ruby Raisin dress (image courtesy of Ruby Raisin)

🧡 Dressing up is a form of self-care – if you look your best, you feel your best

You don’t need a degree in psychology to know that if you look amazing, chances are you’ll feel fabulous too. Ruby Raisin dresses are known for their take on vintage ideas like a classic fit and flare style, but less cinched and with more modern construction and detailing. This means a Ruby Raisin dress never feels like a fancy dress or a reproduction – but an outfit that’s stylish yet practical for daily life.

Although designed for everyday wear, Mia is particularly grateful when women tell her they chose one of her dresses for a job interview or a special presentation. According to Mia, the highest praise she’s received is being told her clothes make women feel so safe and comfortable that they were selected for a challenging occasion, like a funeral. It’s in those difficult moments that dressing to feel good in yourself is key.

Ruby Raisin interior (image courtesy of Ruby Raisin)

🧡 Purchase with purpose

Choosing sustainable and ethical clothing, handmade locally, means your fashion choices are making a bigger impact. Take pride that when you support a local business, it has a trickle-on effect to everyone else in the supply chain. At Ruby Raisin, the designing, sewing, garment production and ironing all take place in Dulwich Hill or nearby. Which means these jobs, skills, incomes and relationships are nurtured and sustained in the Inner West.

Mia chose to open her first store in Dulwich Hill because of the welcoming, vibrant nature of the Village and the strong sense of community. If you want to experience that special ‘Dully’ care for yourself, pop by and visit Mia and Linda or any of the other dedicated business owners located in Dulwich Hill Village. With easy access by bus or light rail and plenty of parking, Dulwich Hill is ready to reveal itself as Sydney’s best secret.


If you’ve loved this article and want more insider ‘secrets’, read our piece on Secrets for Hosting an Enjoyable Dinner Party with time-saving tips and styling advice from the folk at Dulwich Hill Village.


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