Category: A Conversation with…

Meet Katie Brindle, the guru behind Qigong

Are you looking for a new act of self care in 2021? If you have an interest in Chinese medicine and or alternative therapies then Qigong may be just the tonic. As an advocate of the practice, SILKS co-Director, Amanda Cooper, couldn’t wait to interview Katie Brindle and showcase this phenomenon to our clients.

Can you start by telling us a little about your background and Qigong?

When lockdown started, I decided to share my daily Qigong practice on Instagram. I’m a practitioner of Chinese medicine by profession, and my expertise is in Yang Sheng, the self-care part of Chinese medicine. 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. Life force is the very thing that makes you feel alive and energised and healthy – and the minute you start to practice you’ll feel the difference.

If you think you’ve tried every type of workout to get the results you want, I promise you haven’t. Because if you are tired, lacking in energy, out of shape or simply not feeling great, trust me Qigong is for you. Since lockdown, we’ve had hundreds join our revolution and the results have been staggering. Qigong exercise leaves you feeling relaxed yet energised, rather than exhausted yet restless. It worked for me, it has worked for them – and it will work for you.

I had been dreaming of launching online Qigong classes for a long time. And as a result of the interest, Hayo’uFit was born. People have described it to me as ‘energising’, ‘transforming’ and as ‘the only thing that’s ever worked’  – all of which is amazing, and totally unsurprising to me! Qigong is not about calories in versus calories out. This is a practice designed to replenish rather than deplete your energy levels. Discover an entirely new approach – from one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world.

Tell us more – how does Qigong work?

Qigong is a fundamental pillar of Chinese medicine. It is classed as a form of internal exercise. Internal exercise is 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. By learning to manipulate qi around the body, you rejuvenate and energise, lower the heart rate and blood pressure and support the immune system.

Qigong tapper

Many people exercise to improve the way they look or perhaps improving the health of your 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 (energy).

What are the main benefits of Qigong?

Qigong has been shown in research studies to offer the following benefits:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces cortisol and stress hormones
  • Reduces systemic inflammation
  • Improves immune function
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Improves mood
  • Positive effects on bone health
  • Pain reduction for Arthritis, neck pain and Fibromyalgia
  • Improves cognitive function

Who is Qigong best suited to?

In a word, 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, 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 is Laughter Qigong?

As part of the class, we always do some Laughter qigong. This is one of my favourite mind/body exercises. Lots of our morning qigong class have reported that they start crying when they do laughter qigong. This is totally natural and actually quite common, as they are both emotional releases. This is the body clearing suppressed emotions. In Chinese medicine, everything needs to flow and if there is anything stuck, it inhibits your Qi flow around the body, which eventually will cause health issues. It all needs to come out…

Katie Brindle

How often should you do Qigong?

The beauty of this is that it can take as much or as little time as you like! So, all of our Hayo’u rituals, such as body tapping with our amazing Body Tapper Bamboo, can be effective in as little as one-minute a day. It was important to me to make these techniques as simple as brushing your teeth, in order to give people half a chance of actually making them a habit. But when we have more time, as many of us do during lockdown, they are there to enjoy for longer at a deeper level. Which also goes for qigong! If you are looking for the perfect exercise to do from home, we have now launched subscriptions, which means that you can practice every single day for £8 a week!

See for products, for Qigong and to learn more about how Yang Sheng can help you.

If you would like any support in any aspect of your lifestyle, please contact SILKS for more info.




A Conversation with Jorge Baumhauer da Silva

Jorge Baumhauer da Silva is a private chef that SILKS placed with a UHNW family in 2020. We caught up with Jorge to discuss his background and inspiration throughout his career.

When did you realise that you wanted to be a chef?

The realisation of wanting to be part of the hospitality industry came when I was a teenager. I loved to help my sisters place the table and decorate the dishes after attending church on a Sunday. It was also during this time that I realised I needed to understand cooking as the menus were very repetitive and at times boring.

Did you have formal training?

I did indeed, I attended catering school back in the 80’s in my home country, Brazil, and in the 2000’s when I moved the UK. It was a way to have a European certification, but to also learn new trends.

How did your professional career as a chef begin?

I spent three years in the army back home, and during my second year I was sent to the kitchen to help the chefs with basic tasks around a very busy kitchen. I guess I wasn’t very good in the infantry, but little they did I know that my passion for food had just begun.

Once I left the army, I went to catering college to get a qualification whilst working as a commis chef in the only five-star hotel in town. From there I continued to learn my craft.

What’s the difference between a private chef and a restaurant chef?

That’s a very interesting question! I have been working for years as a restaurant chef, as part of a team, head chef, offering restaurant consultant, and now as a private chef for a young and dynamic family, so I can also share some insights.

At a restaurant, a chef will normally execute someone’s menu (the menus are usually created by the sous chefs or head chefs) with little or none impute, it is a routine of food production for the amount of people booked for each service or for the hours that the restaurant remains open.

So, once the “mis-en-place” for the menu is ready the work is repetitive and the only variants to the food will be in order to accommodate client’s dietaries needs.

A private chef on the other hand cooks for the same “clients” three times a day, the chef needs to cover any corner of the “kitchen” from pastry, baking, bread and pasta making etc. The menus have to cover an array of cuisines, ranging from simple soups to a four course fine dinner, canape parties or tea party with all the trimmings.

A private chef has to be flexible and adaptable with drastically last minutes “changes of plans”, being able to take decision and prioritise tasks. This can often mean shift patterns of fourteen hours or more.

How would you describe your culinary style?

That is a difficult question to put a label on! At present I can only say that my style is that I am “tune” with the now, real food, with a good hint of traditional base but with an eye wide open to the new! I offer a cuisine without boarders or nationality.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Cooking for members of the English Royal family. It has also been a highlight to visit and live in many countries I whist working within the profession I love.

What is your favourite dish to cook? And to eat?

As a chef, I can never possibly narrow my favourite to one dish! I have several favourites ranging from many cuisines, but it all depended on who you are with and the setting!

Do you eat out often, and what are your favourite restaurants that you would recommend?

I love eating as much as I love cooking, so the answers is YES. Here are some of my favourites to name a few:

London: PalomarChotto Matte, St Clair, The Ledbury, Cornerstone, Dozo

South Africa: Chefs warehouse Beau Constantia, Babel Restaurant 

Peru: Nanka

Is the trend to engage a private chef rising because of Covid-19?

Mostly definitely it did, since lots of chef lost their jobs as restaurants have to close their doors.

Who is your favourite chef? And which countries influence your style of cooking the most?

I have few favourite chefs that I admire their work and the food they create, among many are:

My father, for been the most admirable amateur cook I ever knew, for his fantastic curiosity to try new dishes, respect for natural grown produces.

Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, Jeremy Lee, Asma Khan, Yotam Ottolengui, Gary Rhodes, Rick Stein, Thomasina Miers and Raymond Blanc.

As for which countries influence my cooking, I would say would the whole world is an influence to me…I am a private chef, I have to be able to be cook any cuisine!

To view the work of Jorge Baumhauer da Silva work, please click here.

Or if you would like to discuss hiring a private chef, please contact us – | 01372 469378.




A Conversation with Thomas Coombes

We caught up with Thomas Coombes, the founder and creative director of Thomas Coombes Interior Design. We wanted to find out a little bit more about the man behind the brand.

Where did your interest in interior design begin?

I started working for the family business which originally began as a painter’s and decorator’s merchant before becoming a Farrow & Ball paint specialist. Using the skills I gained on the job – as well as what I learnt while studying textile design in America – I decided to start my own interior design business in 2009.

Do you have a signature style and where do you find your inspiration?

Interior design magazines such as Elle Decoration are constant sources of inspiration, as are look books and trade shows. Instagram is also a great resource for discovering new and upcoming brands.

How does the process begin in deciding the “look” and how important are mood boards and client collaboration?

My team and I work extremely hard to ensure that each project is unique and perfectly suited to the client’s wants and needs. Everything from budget to how they wish to use the space and what they do and don’t like is considered. We then draw up a proposal, present it to them and once approved we start working on the project. The whole process is extremely collaborative.

What other design services can you offer your clients?  For example could you source art to compliment the concept?

Alongside the interior design side of our business we also offer a maintenance service and work closely with a network of experts to ensure that a client’s house is kept to a consistently high standard. A lot of people like one-off pieces so it is very common for us to commission bespoke furniture and artwork and we manage and oversee that whole process.

Wallpaper Or Paint? Colour or neutral?

Wallpaper! Nothing is quite as luxurious as a room that has been fully wallpapered. It also adds depth to a space and gives a more consistent finish than paint. As for colour, it’s dependent on the look and feel of the whole project but I generally prefer layering neutrals with hints of bolder shades.

Which interior designer do you admire and why?

Kelly Hoppen because her designs are simple but make an impact and stand the test of time.

Can you give us an example of the challenges faced as an interior designer?

Planning spaces with CAD illustrations can be tricky. If there are any errors regarding furniture dimensions – even tiny ones – they can have a big impact on the planning.

What do you love most about your career?

I love the fact that every day is different. One day I can be picking fabric for curtains and the next day be overseeing the installation of a swimming pool.

If you weren’t in interior designer what career path would you have taken?

I would probably be working in fashion or textile design.

Where can you be found when you’re not working?

On the golf course or renovating my new house.