Pilates

Jospeh Pilates developed his concept in England whilst interred during the First World War, basing his principles on yoga and Tai Chi.

Whilst working at a hospital he began devising equipment to rehabilitate his patients, taking springs from beds and rigging them to create resistance.

Pilates is mainly taught on a mat, sometimes using specialist equipment that has changed little from the original hospital bedsprings.

Practiced faithfully Pilates yields numerous benefits, including increased lung capacity, strength, flexibility, posture and balance.
women in the gym doing yoga exercise for fitness

The balance and control taught in Pilates helps in all areas of ones life. His methods are so successful that all types of people now use them from ballet dancers to rugby players.

Top Pilates products pilates

Read the bestseller – Pilates for Life by Darcy Bussell

A good night’s sleep at last – how one reader found a novel cure for insomnia

One in three of us will suffer from some degree of insomnia in their lifetime. And it can cause a myriad of health issues including overweight and depression. In the UK our working day is longer that most of the rest of Europe and some employers even believing we should work through the night pinging us emails and texts!

Here reader Nicole Ettinger takes us through her journey to find a cure for her insomnia:

“As a little girl I shine a torch under my duvet and read while the house silently sleeps. At the time I thought it was exciting being the only one awake, but as the years passed it soon grew tedious.

“As an adult I found myself with the need to be constantly connected to the world through one of my Apple devices. The iPad, MacBook, and iPhone all come to bed with me and I check my emails, Facebook and Twitter throughout the night.

“Every now and again I search the internet for cures for insomnia but I am met with conflicting advice; some are adamant that you don’t get out of bed, but stay put until you fall back to sleep. This school of thought leads to me staring into the darkness, twitching with many ideas, watching the light gradually seep through the blinds until my alarm clock goes off. The others advise you to get up and do something else until you feel tired.

Even my dog now has insomnia

“I walk the dog (who now seems to have developed insomnia herself as she has come to think of “walkies” as a middle of the night activity), work , watch Seinfeld, or play along to Countdown (I marvel at how amazingly alert the brain can be at unearthly hours, as I get the conundrum). One activity leads to another and tiredness does not come but the day does.

Sheep, pills and herbal potions

“My Grandma says, “count sheep jumping over a fence,” but my sheep never quite make it to that fence, and run fast the other way! I try sleeping pills and although they work, they leave me like a zombie throughout the day. I try every conceivable herbal remedy but they have no impact.

“Vogue magazine promises that a £70 silk lavender mask is the answer – I wait for it to arrive in the post, with great eagerness, convinced this will do it – the reality is my eyes swell up from the scent! A new product emerges called “Deep Sleep” by “This Works” – does it?! I douse myself in their oils, my pillow in a spray and virtually suffocate my partner, but nothing happens. I buy a new pillow every few months – a soft one, hard one, goose feather, memory foam but I cannot find peace in any of them.

Resigned to a life of sleepless I join a yoga class

“Just as I have resigned myself to a lifetime of no, or very little, sleep I hear about “Yoga for Better Sleep” and head to Islington’s Life Centre to join an all female group, who all look as if they have not slept for a very long time. It seems that insomnia does not discriminate but our ages range from twenties to fifties. We are united by a quest to find sleep and this is the one place where yawning is welcomed.

“The instructor, Lisa Sanfilippo, did not sleep properly for many years until she started practicing Yoga. She is small and toned, wide eyed, looking youthful and radiant with sleep. This is how we hope to be after the four-week course. Lisa gives us insight into how yoga helps to remove the day’s layers of tension that keep us activated and unable to fall asleep, training both brain and body into calmer, more sleep-ready states. She will teach us a combination of slow long held poses and breath work.

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Yoga teacher Lisa Sanfilippo

Declutter the bedroom and use it only for sleeping or lovemaking

“We are told that the bedroom should be our sanctity, used for nothing other than sleeping or lovemaking. I think of my cluttered room; clothes spilling out the wardrobes, drawers so full with photos and scraps of paper that they will not close, books I will never read under the bed, and all the digital devices waiting to entertain me through my sleeplessness. Later when I get home, I declutter it, leaving nothing in sight but my bed and bedside tables.

“Sleep deprived I cannot follow the simplest of instructions, but Lisa is calm and patient, gently untangling me from my own mal-coordinated version of a pose, easing me into the correct yogic postures. I learn how to breath slowly and deeply and feel my heart rate decrease – count to three on inhale and to four on exhalation. At first it is a chore, as my breathing feels hopelessly restricted, but after a while in the candle lit studio, stretched out in pigeon pose, I feel my breath starting to soften to a wonderfully calming effect on my wired body and mind. Thoughts are slowing down and I start to feel lighter.

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Nicole learns to relax and find her inner peace

“We are taught a few more poses, and as I lay in child’s pose over a bolster, I start to feel a stillness unfamiliar to my sense of being, and I share momentary peace with fellow insomniacs. I take this practice home with me and I am gradually eased into sleep. At first I still wake every few hours, but instead of further stimulating myself with the bright glare of a screen, I practice other yoga poses until I am tired enough to sleep more. After four weeks, I am in a routine of yoga before bed and if I stay in the poses long enough to quiet my body and mind I can achieve a full nights sleep.

How can I overcome my addiction to digital technology?
“However, as life gets very busy, the ideas are springing fast and the need to hop on my iPad at all hours overrides this newfound discipline. I find myself up once more, tapping away at my keyboard into the early hours of the morning. At the suggestion of a friend I try hypnosis to get me off the technology.

A man named Howard Cooper comes recommended to me and so I head to his Harley Street clinic. His consultation room is spacious and light, we sit on comfortable armchairs opposite one another. He has a calm way about him and when I tell him that it will be very hard for him to hypnotise me, he just nods and says, “I know” as if to say that is what you all think and I feel a little silly. Right from the start Howard speaks in soft tones that makes me want to slow down.

Howard Cooper Headshots

Howard Cooper took Nicole on a journey outside of her conscious state

“Howard explains that he is going to give me back control over my own neurology and the control to close my eyes and drift off, or back, to sleep at will. He puts headphones on me and speaks to me through a microphone with soft music in the background. He soothingly asks me to stare at a spot on the ceiling and become aware of the “rising and falling” of my breath. My eyes fall shut at his instruction and from there I only remember odd phrases such as “sleepy….slow down…stop your fast ideas… just relax.”

“He tells me that I am “doing well,” and I feel myself sink further into the armchair, drifting away somewhere I have never been before, nor could I explain where it is. There is a moment when I hear him tell me to move the middle finger of my left hand and a part of my brain tells me to resist but it twitches involuntarily – it is then that I realise I have fallen under his spell.

“When I open my eyes at Howard’s command, he asks me how long I think the hypnosis lasted for, and I reply, “around five or six minutes”, he looks satisfied and tells me it was for “twenty-six minutes”. I feel wonderfully sleepy and have an unfamiliar desire to retire to my bed, but it is the middle of the afternoon. I ask if this relaxed sensation will last until nighttime, and he assures me to carry on as usual and that I can anticipate a good nights sleep.

Sleep at last!

That night I fall into sleep faster than I can ever remember, and a few hours later when I wake up full of “ideas” that I think must be typed into my laptop at that precise moment, I can hear Howard’s voice telling me very slowly to “slow my thoughts down” and that “all good ideas will still be there in the morning.” I do not head to my iPad but I practice some yoga stretches in bed until both body and mind feel soothed and I sleep until morning.
Out of all the things I have tried over the years, I am now sleeping, almost uninterrupted, combining yoga and hypnosis. I do not know how long this blessing of finally being able to switch off will last for, but for now I am grateful to of found some kind of solace, and will catch sleep while I can.”

For more information on Howard Cooper www.creatingmore.co.uk
or for Lisa Sanfilippo www.lisayogalondon.com

FREE tickets for The Vitality Show at London’s Earls Court

The Vitality Show, in association with Activia, is the UK‘s largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women and is guaranteed to make you feel revitalised, beautiful, fit and healthy. And this year it is bigger and better before and kicks off on Thursday 22nd March at London’s Earls Court 2.
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Elixir has 4 pairs of free weekend tickets (entry on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March) for the show, worth £40 for two,  to give away. 
If you would like to receive a pair of tickets please send your name and email address to us at readeroffer@elixirnews.com – your name will be put into a draw. Winners will be informed on Wednesday 21 March and will be emailed their tickets. Please note that no money equivalent is being offered and the Editor’s decision is final.
The Vitality Show, is the UK’s largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women. With hundreds of top brands and unique products not found on the high street, 100 inspirational speakers, 60 free fitness and yoga classes, free cooking demos, health advice and dozens of ways to get in shape, Vitality Show is guaranteed to make you feel revitalised, beautiful, fit and healthy.

There’s everything you could possibly want to look good and feel great: take part in a free fitness or dance class, pick up secret beauty tips from the experts in the know, pamper yourself from top to toe, find a new way of working out with a yoga class, taste the latest healthy foods, get advice on changing your career, marvel at the top chefs at work in the kitchen, plan an exciting travel adventure, or simply sit back, relax and let our marvellous therapists work their pamper magic. 
Go on, treat yourself…you deserve to look good and feel great!
 
VIP makeover, hair and massage experiences available from just £45
– Free cooking demos, health advice and dozens of ways to get in shape
– Over 200 free fitness classes and seminars to experience
 
The Vitality Show runs from Thursday until Sunday 25 March.  For more information and opening times look at the show’s website at www.vitalitylive.co.uk
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Poor core muscle strength linked to premature death

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People who struggle with simple physical acts such as balancing on one leg are at risk of an early death, according to a new study.

It has long been thought that good balance and core muscle strength indicates a healthy body, and this recent research appears to confirm this.

People who are better at simple physical acts such as gripping, walking, rising from a chair and balancing on one leg are more likely to live longer.

Measures of physical capability, such as grip strength, walking speed, chair rising time and standing balance ability, can predict mortality in older people living in the community, UK researchers found.

These measures are related to a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. There is growing interest in using such measures as simple screening tools to identify people who might benefit from targeted interventions such as strength training.

Researchers, including Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing reviewed 57 studies and found 28 that looked at physical capabilities in people of any age and recorded subsequent mortality. They excluded studies of people in institutions such as hospitals and care homes. The results from 5 other studies were eventually included. Within those studies considered, 14 looked at grip strength, 5 with walking speed and 5 with chair rising.

The team found that, although there was some variation between studies, there was consistent evidence of associations between all four measures of physical capability and mortality – people who performed less well in these tests had a consistently higher risk of death.

Most of the studies were carried out amongst older people, but the association of grip strength with mortality was also found in younger populations.

The authors say that this review has highlighted the lack of studies in this field in younger populations, and they also call for more research to examine the associations between changes in capability with age and mortality, as a steep decline in physical capability may be a better predictor of mortality than is the absolute level at a single point in time.

Many low impact exercises such as those included in Pilates and Yoga sessions can help with improving your core muscle strength. Improving your core muscle strength in turn improves your balance. Making sure you exercise using both the left and right sides of your body equally assists in keeping your body balanced while walking and even standing still.

Get the complete story at www.bmj.com

Can Yoga stop you ageing? by Patricia Ezechie

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London: In a society obsessed with looking young and where youth and beauty are prized above all other attributes, it is not surprising to learn that more than 22% of women in Europe use anti-ageing skin creams every week, spending billions of pounds every year on treatments and preparations in the hope that any signs of ageing can at the very least be halted if not reversed.

With more and more people also viewing cosmetic surgery and non surgical interventions like botox, fillers, peels and plumpers as essential tools in the battle against the ravages of time, could a practice as simple (and inexpensive) as yoga be the answer? Can yoga halt and maybe even reverse the ageing process?

Before you start reaching for the phone to cancel that botox appointment while simultaneously hurling your eye wateringly expensive skin preparation into the bin lets agree on what constitutes ageing. Is ageing the fact that your breasts and bottom are not quite as pert as they used to be, or is it that when you smile you have laughter lines? Is it the fact that your waist is not quite as waif like as it once was, or that when you look in the mirror these days it’s seems to be your mother looking back at you?

I would agree that all of the above are physical manifestations of the ageing process, but only part of the picture with the focus being purely on the external. Is it these physical changes or the number of years you have been around that should define how ‘old’ you are or feel?

The Eastern view of age is very different. In Yoga it is the age of the spine, not the number of years (or pertness, or evidence of wrinkles) that determines an individual’s age. It is the elasticity and flexibility of the spine, the tone of the tissues, ligaments joints and nerves and the relative smooth functioning and health of the bodies systems that determines age.

Before you groan and switch off please note that an added benefit of increased mobility and flexibility is increased tone (pertness), increased blood supply to all of the bodies organs (including the skin which is one of the largest organs in the body leading to plumpness and firmness) and improved posture (strengthened and toned abdominals and back). Yes, the regular practice of yoga does provide all these benefits.

Spinal health is key in the battle against age. The spine, made up of 33 irregularly shaped bones (or vertebrae), intervertebral discs, facet joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, cord and canal act as a strong yet flexible column and support for the whole body, providing and enabling the power of movement and bearing the weight of all the organs and appendages attached. When practicing yoga, the joints of the body are moved through their full range of motion, encouraging mobility and easing pressure.

The gentle stretching during asana practice (this is the physical element of yoga), releases muscle tension, stretches the joints causing the secretion of synovial fluid into the joints keeping them healthy and supple resulting in reduced stiffness preventing conditions such as arthritis and helping to improve the condition if it already exists (by very gentle practice with a qualified and experienced teacher).

Regular and continued practice of asana encourages strength and endurance, leading to increased tone in all the muscles of the body, improved blood circulation with the added benefit of the focusing on the breath helping to soothe and calm the nervous system.

The beauty of the practice of yoga is the more continued and sustained the practice the more cumulative the effects, with the long term benefits including reduced stress and anxiety levels and increased feelings of health and well being. As the nerves of the brain and spine go to every tissue in the body and therefore every tissue in the body depending upon the health of the brain and spine, the importance of the spine in the fight against age becomes apparent.

Healthy and flexible spine, healthy, flexible and youthful body! When we also factor in that during the practice of yoga the skin is continually being stretched causing stimulation of the skin cells and endocrine system resulting in firmer, healthier skin, I think the assertion that yoga can slow and possibly stop the ageing process is no idle boast.

The miracle of yoga is that it is suitable and can be of benefit to everyone, irrespective of age, size, sex, or ability. It is never too late to begin, does not require loads of costly equipment and the benefits can be felt almost immediately. The practice encourages and engenders balance in all things and an awareness of the mind and body that will enable all those who participate to begin to make positive and healthful changes to their lives.

In a society so highly focused on the external it is perhaps a timely reminder that the most sustained and maintainable changes and improvements to the ‘visible’ body are as a result of the correct and efficient working of the internal elements of the body. Get the inside working efficiently and the outside will reflect these changes with lustre and youth.

Getting older is inevitable and no amount of lotions, potions or interventions (surgical or otherwise) can hide the results of age indefinitely. We should be aspiring to embrace the wisdom and freedom that comes with increasing age while maintaining our physical and mental health, fitness and mobility, by practices like Yoga that both nurture and nourish the body and mind.

Can yoga stop you ageing? If youthfulness is defined as energy and vitality, mobility and strength, suppleness and stamina then yes yoga can!

Patricia Ezechie, is a BWY, Sivananda and Birthlight trained yoga teacher. She has been practicing yoga for 13 years and is the owner of www.yogastickmen.com where full details of all her classes and workshops can be found.

Yogastickmen.com have launched a new range of T-shirts, for autumn/winter 09. Perfect for wearing in yoga class or out for a jog in the park, the T-shirts come in an array of brooding autumn colours. To look at the range of colours visit www.yogastickmen.com

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Join the mile-high yoga club with Qatar Airways

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Doha: Lifestyle guru and author Deepak Chopra has devised a yoga fitness programme for flying exclusively for Qatar Airways aimed at rejuvenating passengers on long-haul flights.

The new four-page “Fly Healthy, Fly Fit” guide has been prepared with “The Chopra Center for Wellbeing” and its world-renowned co-founder Deepak Chopra.

The guide contains a simple and effective range of relaxation techniques, which have been specially created by Deepak Chopra for the airline’s passengers.

Deepak Chopra’s holistic approach fuses modern medical knowledge with the ancient science of Ayurveda and the art of yoga. It provides passengers with easy exercise routines, enabling them to feel more balanced and relaxed during long flights.

Gentle stretches to encourage blood circulation, with soothing self-massages of the neck, arms and hands, as well as step-by-step yoga postures to relieve tension can all be done from the comfort of their seat even with the seat belt fastened. The guide, printed in English and Arabic, allows passengers to easily navigate their way through a variety of techniques with clear illustrations of the exercises.

In an attempt to make the in-flight experience more enriching and less a means to pass time, the guide contains meditation practices to reduce stress, so travellers reach their destination relaxed and rejuvenated. In particular, being aware of one’s breathing – the conscious in- and exhale process – is a powerful tool to fight anxiety and jet lag.

While Qatar Airways’ “Fly Healthy, Fly Fit” guide has been tailored to enhance the quality of the in-flight experience, all of the techniques shown can be used pre- and post-flight for a more healthy and balanced life.

With the new wellbeing in-flight programme, Qatar Airways emphasises its most important goal of enhancing the customer experience onboard.

Speaking about the new programme, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways is delighted to have teamed up with the world renowned Deepak Chopra and his Chopra Center for Wellbeing to offer our passengers the ultimate relaxation techniques during their flights.

“We recognise the importance of air travel for today’s travellers, particularly frequent fliers, and how essential it is for them to remain healthy during long journeys. The new programme administered in association with Deepak Chopra will help ensure passengers have a positive, stress-free and fully refreshing flying experience.”

The Indian-American medical doctor Deepak Chopra is regarded as one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind-body medicine. He has written numerous best-selling books, is a popular keynote speaker at prestigious events and has lectured at renowned universities such as Harvard Medical School. Alongside Deepak Chopra’s travelling tips, the guide also provides passengers with useful health advice on motion sickness and travelling with medical conditions.

For more information on Deepak’s workshops and healing center, visit www.chopra.com

The Riding Company – exclusive riding. yoga, spa, skiing holidays

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10% discount on holidays (not flights as these must be booked seperately) – offer lasts until June 2008

Wonderful holidays to refresh the body, mind and soul in awe-inspiring locations. For beginners and experienced riders, and even those who don’t want to ride! You can chose to ride by the sea, in the mountains and combine this experience with other activities such as spas (including Auyverdic treatments), yoga, skiing, golf, paragliding and rafting – just to name but a few of the activities!

Why not experience the Spanish Riding School in Vienna or riding on a beach in Adalucia? Experience Bulgaria or ride beautiful white Lipizzanas or stay in a Medieval Castle…

Look on the web site and you won’t be able to resist one of these holidays:
Web: www.theridingcompany.com

UK Office
The Riding Company
La Rocque View
La Mont de Gouray
Jersey
JE3 6ET

T: + 44 (0) 207 846 0033
Mobile: 07808 864747

Fax:01534 857519

Ayurvedic treats on beautiful Sri Lanka

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London: Holiday on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and sample the fantastic spas and Indian Ayurvedic medicicine.

The Barberyn Ayurveda resorts on the Island are family run and feature classical treatments such as synchronised full body massage, herbal baths and steams, rejuvenating scrubs and individually freshly prepared remdies.

The food is wholesome and delicious, the rooms spacious and beautifully furnished.

Overlooking stunning, secluded beaches the resort at Weligama, 140km south of the airport, nestles among palm trees and two verdant valleys, giving each balcony a view of lush greenery or the sea. It is ideally situated for exploring the sites of the South and the turtle sanctuary.

The Barberyn is open all year round but February is perhaps the best month to visit. Doubles are from $1,749 (£895,€1,375) per week including Ayurveda treatments. For the best sunsets and sea views request a room on the top floor.

The Barberyn Reef Ayurveda Resort is located on Sri Lanka’s south-west coast, right by the beach at Beruwala. The resort is sheltered by a long coral reef running the length of the resort, which forms a natural swimming lagoon. Sand stretches for miles on either side. This resort is 85km south of Colombo airport.

To book or obtain more details tel (from the UK) 0870 444 2704 or go to www.barberyn.com and more lovely holidays at www.nealsyardagency.com

Ayurvedic medicine

Ayurveda means the science of life and subscribes to the belief that the body stays in good health through a balance of energies. The energies known as vata, pitta and kapha, are influenced by diet and emotion. The treatment involves detoxing, herbal medicines, medication, aromatherphy and yoga. It claims to be able to treat a range of conditions from stress, high blood pressure to skins conditions.

Available through the Ayurvedic Medical Association which has a number of physicians in the UK. Qualified actitioners
undergo six years full time training in a university and one year in a hospital in India or Sri Lanka

Informaion from:
Ayurvedic Medical Association UK
59 Dulverton Road
Selsdon
South Croydon
Surrey CR2 8PJ. UK.
Tel: +44(0)208 657 6147
Fax: +44(0)208 333 7904
also at the Hale Clinic,
7 Park Crescent, London W1N 3HE. UK
Tel: +44(0)207 631 0156

Udai vilas, Udaipur, Rajasthan

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T:+91 294 243 3300; www.oberoihotels.com

The resort has two large swimming pools which are heated in winter, a gymnasium, boutique and a library with a selection of music and DVDs. Private excursions and cruises on the lake can be organised by the hotel. The spa, managed by Banyan Tree, offers holistic treatments and therapies to pamper and revitalise mind and body using holistic therapies and massages combining the best of East and West. Massages, facials and body beautification methods use ancient Ayurveda and aromatherapy as well as Thai and western techniques designed to relieve stress as well as create a sense of wellbeing. The spa has a private pool and individual therapy suites with views of Lake Pichola, the Aravali mountains and City Palace. Each of the eight suites has its own steam sauna and Victorian style bathtub. The gym and hair salon are located around a central domed foyer with a marble fountain.