3 moves to make you… STRONG

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As Pilates teachers, its important for us to keep up our self practice. In a bid to get a little stronger, I’ve recently been trying out lots of different classes at studios near to where I live. And it got me thinking about how much variation there is out there. Not only the type of Pilates (there are loads!) but the style in which they are taught, the individual style of the teacher that day, the class plan, the equipment used, etc etc. Personally, I think its a good thing to keep mixing things up in terms of exercise. Not only trying out new things that will keep you fit, healthy (and interested)  but when it comes to say a Pilates class, not to stick with the same exercises all the time, and in my classes I like to throw in different variations, combinations and keep things fresh. It not only challenges a different part of the body (that maybe hasn’t been woken up for a while!) but also focuses the brain and therefore allows some time to switch off from your normal thought patterns. BUT sometimes Pilates can get a little over complicated. I experienced this recently at a class, when being told to ‘hold this piece of equipment, whilst doing a squat on 1 leg and twist around to the side.’ WOW! What am I actually getting from this apart from twisted up like a bad pretzel. Which brings us on to today’s post. Don’t forget the basics. These exercises are classics because they just work and do a good job. That’s why teachers go back to them time and time again. Like me.

So some advice for anyone trying to stay fit and healthy. Keep it simple, Get sweaty a few times a week, and add the below exercises into your routine to build strength. They just work!

PS. Thanks to East of Eden studio for allowing us to do some filming. I can be found  teaching there Tuesday nights and Thursday mornings. Check out their online timetable for more classes.

Remember to take your time (the video are sped up!), and connect with your core and breath throughout. People working with an injury/condition should visit your local teacher first before trying these out.

The Hundreds. Kick start your breath and lungs, make your core hot and stretch your spine. WIN WIN. Keep looking down, keep curling in and up and lengthen your tail bone towards the ground.

Leg Kicks. (variation) Keep moving your hips to the ground during the kicks and don’t lift the head too high. Think of length throughout. This ones going to make your back and bum strong! Plus stretching your hips and torso.

Side Lift. Working the obliques (waist) as well as lengthening and stretching the other side. You’ll get strong arms and a tight waist. Remember to keep moving the front ribs to the hips.

 

 

 

 

How To Tune Out…..last thing at night

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Morning all…feeling ‘fresh as a daisy’ this morning? No? Did you sleep well last night? Did you get your 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, deep, nourishing kip? If the answer is no then don’t worry, you’re not alone.

We’re always reading and being told that getting enough sleep is really important for good health and general well being. We know we always feel better after a good nights rest, but for a lot of us, getting to sleep and staying asleep can be a frustrating and exhausting process.

Being a new(ish) mum I’m pretty obsessed with sleeping. Not only for my daughter but also for myself! I used to be a great sleeper, but then half way through my pregnancy it all started to go down hill, and I’ve never quite regained that lovely perfect nights sleep. And although I realise perfect sleeping might be a thing of the past  for me, there’s a ton of external factors that have a huge impact on how many zzzz’s we’re clocking up at night.  So if you’re in the same boat then this could help you too. Below are some tips. You don’t have to do them all (that would take ages), but perhaps making a few subtle changes might help you out. Good luck.

So lets talk about diet and exercise first. They both play a huge part in how well we sleep. We already know that what we put into our bodies directly affects how we feel. Sugar makes us hyper, alcohol makes us tipsy, bread can make us bloated etc etc and if you think of it that way then of course what you eat in your day is going to influence your night’s sleep. So here are a few things to remember.

  • Eat well. Whatever your diet/nutritional choices are. Eat natural, wholesome food. Eat slowly, chew your food properly, and be mindful whilst you eat
  • Don’t eat late at night. Your body needs time to digest and break down what you’ve eaten and therefore will be trying to do it whilst you sleep!
  • Be mindful of your caffeine intake
  • Be sensible with alcohol, sure it might help to get us to sleep, but the sleep you get won’t be great and you’re more than likely to wake up during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep

Then onto exercise. Its a very simple one. I see it all the time with my 2 year old. We go out playing all morning, running around the park, climbing, jumping and she then sleeps like a log afterwards. Its the same for us, but you have to find what type of exercise YOUR body needs and also what you enjoy doing.

The other things you can try at night are…

  • Meditation. You could try meditating when you go to bed, but if you’re new to it you’re more than likely going to fall asleep and not reap the benefits. If you’ve followed us for a while then you’ll know we love the Headspace app. Bonus – they also have a whole section on SLEEP. Meditating for just 10 minutes a day would make a massive difference
  • Have a ritual. Similar to sleep training a baby, us adults also thrive on routine, and we form habits. So select what works for you from this list and then try to repeat your ritual every night in the same order. That way by the time you get to the last one your body knows the next thing to happen will be zzzzzz
  • Keep a set bedtime and wake up time
  • Take a bath or a shower. Throw some Epsom salts in there, a couple of drops of lavender oil and/or your favourite bubble bath
  • Stretch. Doesn’t have to be anything crazy or long. A simple side reach, a roll down or a neck roll.
  • Take a few deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth
  • Get some good PJs. Hey we’re throwing this one in, not entirely that important but everyone loves a set of silk pajamas!
  • Open a window and let the air flow, even in the winter, if you’re cold pop an extra cover on
  • Keep your reading light low and invest in some decent curtains/blinds that block out the light. Or just wear an eye mask
  • Look after your mattress, maybe its time to buy a new one or just turn it over and round to balance out the springs and support your body better
  • Add a few drops of lavender to your pillow. They’ll help to relax you
  • TURN OFF YOUR TECHNOLOGY!! One of the most important points on this list! Laptops, tablets, smartphones – whatever it is you use. Its stimulating and therefore NOT relaxing and if you’re on it in bed and you can’t sleep. Voila!
  • Get a great book…I tend to go for something pretty chilled and read until I can’t quite keep my eyes open…..

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Sleep well tonight xxx