Jo Brown is the type of person who could have inspired that famous movie line "I want what she's having". With her sparkling blue eyes, gorgeous smile and infectious giggle (or should that be rip-snorting laugh), you can't help but be drawn to her. Brown is an internationally respected mentor and motivator who helps people - especially women - get their lives back on track. Or, as she laughs slightly wickedly, "I'll help you move your mojo".
Born and raised in a small town in New South Wales, her upbringing was typical but, she says, she always knew she had a sensitivity to the more complex experiences of being a human. Despite this, Brown ignored this part of herself, and followed the expected path into a career in the corporate world. Working in Australia for a leading international cosmetics brand as a national marketer and strategist, her life was, she admits, glamorous. Brown travelled to Paris, met amazing people. But slowly she started to question the story behind the dreams that were being sold, particularly to women.
"I was a bit daunted by it and started to question the marketing campaigns and the blind consumer driven nature of that kind of business. I felt there was something missing for me and didn't feel as though I was completely on the right track."
Profound thoughts for a 23-year-old. But it was the sudden death of her sister, who died of a brain haemorrhage five days before she was due to get married, that really shook Brown's world.
"The whole family was devastated. I was extremely close to her. Fortunately, my director at the time saw how I was affected and sent me to a health retreat."
It was a move that was to change Brown's life.
"I recognised that sensitivity I possessed but which I had shut down and suppressed because I was too busy focusing on all the other 'stuff' that I thought was important. I came to realise that it was really important to stay in my physical body. That was probably the biggest impression for me."
So her new journey began. Brown quit the corporate world and has spent the past two decades helping others get their lives back on track. She is trained in science, anatomy and physiology, and uses breath work and yogic principles in her approach.
Brown has held clinics throughout Australia and around the world, worked with Neals Yard in Britain and Australia's The Golden Door Health Retreat, Camp Eden and The Cape Retreat. She has run a business in Sydney and the Gold Coast, holds sessions at Australia's Gwinganna Retreat, and continues to work closely and hold workshops here in New Zealand with respected holistic nutritionist Dr Libby Weaver. She is currently setting up her Wild Wise Women and Couple retreats in Byron Bay and Bali.
Brown has two ways of working. Firstly with groups. "This is about learning new tools to help you relax, regroup and refocus and creating joy through moving your mojo," she laughs with glee. "A big part of the group workshops is about not taking yourself - or life - too seriously. It's important to have some fun. So we do this through movement. Once people realise there's no judgment and take their 'critic hat' off, they have an absolute ball.
"A lot of women, rediscover the feminine again. So many of us focus on getting our jobs done, meeting deadlines, all our responsibilities, fighting to adapt in a man's world. A lot of women need to find balance and reconnect with their intuitive self. This allows you to guide yourself more deeply and connect with your own authenticity or wellness."
As someone who has experienced a Jo Brown class, I can vouch for the joy she creates. Though initially the group of women I joined - ranging in age from teens to 70s - were a little shy and reticent, each in their own way slowly let go, and through movement and breath techniques, relaxed into the process and pleasure. Each women glowed with a sense of what I would describe as freedom. "It's their real self," explains Brown, "And there's a lot of joy to be found in that."
"It's not rocket science," says Brown. " It doesn't matter how much money you have, where you travel to, what car you drive ... It's about the experience of love. I call it coming home."
Brown also works one-on-one. "This is about helping people to realign mentally. Drawing on my intuition, we look at where you need to go, where you are trying to go, what the blocks are and what you need to move through so you feel in alignment with your essence. I don't offer to fix anyone. I'm not a psychologist. I don't go into deep processing with people, that's not my training. I create a space to help people get back on track.
"I tend to attract men and women who are in transition - going through divorce, wanting to change careers, children have left home and they want to embark on a new chapter in their life, dealing with infidelity, someone's passed away and they're working with grief and need to be inspired by life. It's so rewarding - I love it."
Move Your Mojo hot tips
1 Don't take yourself too seriously - life is about the quality of richness in your day to day experiences - so remember to have a good giggle at your own self-importance.
2 Move Your Mojo at home and at work with a body bounce break - when it's too frantic, close the office or bedroom door and boogie to some great music. If you are time poor then jump up and down for 10 jumps. It's a great circuit-breaker for mental and physical tension. (Also great for your lymphatics and to avoid depressive mindsets).
3 Be courageous. Be honest and real with yourself about your life direction and the choices you have made - be your own best friend and stay accountable.
4 Be vulnerable. Sometimes we just need to be seen, heard or held to know we are loved. Being vulnerable - speak honestly about others and speak from a place of authenticity. If you need support, call a trusted friend.
5 Be receptive - say yes and thank you to assistance when you genuinely need it. You are not alone.
* Join Jo Brown for "Move Your Mojo", a women's wellness afternoon on Saturday 28 or Sunday 29 July. 12-4pm, The Matakana Country Park. $98. To book, go to jobrown.com.au/retreat