Brush away merrily and heartily!

Brush away merrily and heartily!

I’ve come across dry body brushing quite frequently recently on the internet. I have done it religiously over a few months and absolutely love the effect it has on my skin. Plus, it really wakes you up and makes you feel refreshed.

When I read one of the many articles on body brushing on the internet, I suddenly remembered that I have read about it already some years ago. And yes, I was right – Joseph Pilates mentions it in his book ‘Return to Life through Contrology’.

He writes a whole section about “Bodily House-Cleaning with Blood Circulation’.

Joe Pilates is known for interrupting his client’s shower after the workout to instruct him on proper cleanliness as he believes “… only a small minority really achieve thorough cleanliness”.

Apart from thorough cleanliness, what I really like about dry body brushing

  • it gives you softer skin – exfoliates and cleans pores
  • stimulates the lymphatic system to help the body to detoxify itself naturally
  • stimulates circulation
  • increases energy due to increased blood flow

Now, what kind of brush should you use?

Here again, Joe Pilates is very specific

“… use only a good stiff brush (no handle) since this type of brush forces us to twist, squirm and contort ourselves in every conceivable way in our attempts to reach every portion of our body which is otherwise comparatively easy to reach with a handle brush.”

Makes sense, but I have to admit, I have a brush with a handle…

Here is my brushing routine. Generally, brush towards the heart and use about 7-10 strokes for each area. Start with the sole of the foot, then with long soft strokes up the leg and butt cheek. Change to other side.

Repeat the same on the arms. Start with your palm and then long strokes up the arm.

Move on to the abdomen and lower back, skip the boobs, and do a few very gentle strokes from the neck down to your shoulders and down the back. Try it and let me know how you get on!

The life-changing Magic of Tidying

The life-changing Magic of Tidying

Have you heard about the Japanese Queen of tidying? Marie Kondo?

About a year ago I read Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever’. I was curious; it sounded appealing and definitely something I needed.

And I was hooked immediately. Only about half-way through the book, I started sorting through my wardrobe and adopted Marie Kondo’s way of folding clothes. It just made a lot of sense to me. It kept me busy for quite a few weeks as I completely rearranged not only my clothes but also my husband’s and the wardrobes of my two daughters.

Space is always tight, you just can’t have enough drawers, shelves and wardrobes, but since the great sort-out à la KonMari, as Marie Kondo is also known, it’s not an issue any more. Every piece of clothing has found its place.

It is still an ongoing project as her method can be applied throughout the entire home. She recommends a certain order to get started and she also explains her thoughts behind it.

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellaneous items
  5. Things with sentimental value

The latest book ‘Spark Joy’ by Marie Kondo is a very pretty book, with a bright green elastic band around it and with some pretty little drawings in each chapter. It repeats the basics of her first book, but then goes a bit deeper into each area.

I enjoyed reading both books of hers, even though some things were repeated over and over. Also, you need to keep in mind that she comes from a different culture and I found it difficult sometimes to relate to her advice or attitude.

Still a good read and I thoroughly recommend her books and videos on youtube. Who knows, it might change your life!

Mindful Pilates

Mindful Pilates

Mindful Pilates is a unique combination of Hanna Somatic movement technique with Pilates exercises.

Turn your awareness inside and experience your body from within. This class helps you to connect with your body even more than during a regular Pilates class.

In the first part of the class you will learn simple yet effective movements that can help manage chronic pain, improve flexibility and reduce muscular tension and stress. For the second half of the class we will transition into the Pilates repertoire.

If you suffer from chronic neck, shoulder and lower back pain have chronically tight muscles that cause pain and make you feel achy and tired after waking up in the morning or if you feel older than you actually are then you may be interested in exploring how your brain has ‘forgotten’ how to relax chronically tight muscles. Because the brain controls the muscles, it must also be involved in teaching them to relax, release and remember how to move easily and efficiently again.

The combination of Hanna Somatic movement education and Pilates exercises gives you a full body workout and helps to clear your mind. You’ll leave the class refreshed and more aware of your postural behaviours.

Give it try and book the class!

You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

During a Pilates session we work with the Pilates principles and concentration is one of them (the others are control, precision, flow, breathing and centring). While focussing on the execution of a certain exercise, working through mind & body, our face can turn into a somewhat hard expression. Lips pressed together, jaws clenched, eyebrows slightly frowned.

As a Pilates teacher I see this expression often, for example during ‘The Hundred’. But as soon as I remind the group to smile during a tough exercise I notice that the facial tensions release and turn into smiles or even little giggles. It’s one of my favourite moments during class!

Remember, it takes 42 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile! (Scientifically not proven though).

The right weigh to go

The right weigh to go

Can Pilates help to lose weight?

This question has come up a few times over the last few weeks as people get ready for the Summer. T-shirts, Summer dresses, breezy tops, shorts and skirts are all waiting to be worn, hopefully very soon.

If you’re just looking to lose weight – Pilates on its own is probably not the most efficient method.

Pilates is famous for creating lean and fit bodies without necessarily affecting your weight significantly. If you seriously want to lose weight the best advice is to combine Pilates with some cardio exercise and watch your diet, of course.

But Pilates supports weight loss in many ways:

  • The best ways to look and feel thinner is to have a beautiful posture!
  • Pilates tones and shapes the body.
  • Pilates creates lean muscle mass which increases your calorie burning potential.
  • Pilates promotes deep and efficient breathing which is great for tissue regeneration and also helps with burning calories.
  • Pilates is an energising workout that can help sustain energy levels throughout the day.
  • Therefore, the best advice is to combine Pilates with aerobic/cardio exercise in order to maximise weight loss.

Some good choices for aerobic cross-training with Pilates include: interval training, swimming, walking, cycling, running.

In summary, it is definitely a good choice to incorporate Pilates into a weight loss regime, but you have to keep in mind the other things you have to do to slim down.

Don’t fall for quick fix diets. You achieve better and longer lasting results only by making healthy choices and changing bad eating habits.

But your body needs more than cardio training and a healthy diet. Your body also needs balance, stability and rest. A mindful workout like Pilates helps you to let go of stress. Stress can hinder weight loss or even cause weight gain.

During your weight loss regime make sure you include some quiet time for mind & body to relax and rejuvenate.

Somatics – simple, quick and effective pain relief

Somatics – simple, quick and effective pain relief

I have now completed my training as a Hanna Somatics teacher with Tanya Fitzpatrick from AlignSomatics.

All the training, discussing, analysing and absorbing new information with a group of Pilates teachers, yoga instructors and massage therapists was very educational and highly enjoyable.

But, what is somatics? And how can it help YOU?

The beauty of somatics is that it suits everyone, no matter your age or fitness level.

Pain-free movement is like oxygen.

If you’re leading a stressful life resulting in lower back pain, tension headaches, shoulder ache etc. somatics can help you. A somatics session can do wonders and you will feel the benefits immediately. The brain can re-learn how to relax and move tight muscles again freely.

Somatics means ‘from within’. Taking your awareness inside you and sensing how your body is moving is crucial for this technique to be successful.

A series of easy, simple and natural movements done on a mat help you to release muscular tension that can cause pain. You work very slowly with a strong mind-body connection in order to change habitual movement patterns that have caused tension in your body e.g. back pain, soreness in shoulder area etc.

Poor posture, repetitive movements and stress can create chronic muscular tension or even pain in your body. For example, sitting at a desk all day can make you feel tight in your body. By learning how to release those tight muscles voluntarily your brain has regained control over your muscles. And the best part is, your brain will be able remember how to do that!

You can achieve amazing results with daily practice and by moving slowly, giving your brain time to absorb the information.

Interested? Want to know more and give it a try?

Please get in touch if you would like to know more about somatics and if you’d be interested in a private session or group class.

At the moment I’m combining Hanna Somatics with Pilates in the Mindful Pilates class on Tuesday mornings at St Andrew’s Church Hall.

Feel free to come along and find out how somatics can make a difference in your life!

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