Pop-up Pilates Tutorial 3 – Meditative Breathing

As voted by you, the third online pop-up PILATES X MELISSA tutorial is on meditative breathing to calm the body and encourage sleep.  It will take place on Thursday 1 October at 1900.

This practical 30-minute session will guide you through a number of tension release and mindful breathing exercises, which you can take away and use to help manage stressful situations, reduce anxiety and encourage sleep.

Who the tutorial is suitable for

The session is suitable for everyone except those based in the US and Canada who for insurance reasons I’m unable to teach.  Apologies.

How will you benefit

The tension release and meditative breathing exercises when performed regularly can help:

  • improve lung function;
  • lower heart rate and blood pressure;
  • release tightness/holding patterns in the face, scalp, jaw and neck;
  • encourage greater movement of the diaphragm;
  • increase respiratory efficiency;
  • ensure the lungs and the cardio-vascular system are working together coherently;
  • improve your ability to focus.

How to get the most from this pop-up Pilates tutorial

Whilst the tension release and mindful breathing techniques can be done anywhere and anytime, it would be useful for this online session if you could:

  • attend from a quiet part of your home with low lighting.  Candlelight can be very calming;
  • wear comfortable clothes you can relax in, e.g. pyjamas;
  • have a duvet or blanket to hand to avoid getting cold;
  • minimise the chance of distractions, e.g. turn off your phone;
  • choose a comfortable chair or bed or have your Pilates mat ready on the floor.  The exercises can be done seated or lying down, whichever feels right for you on the day.

To attend this pop-up Pilates tutorial, please register here with Zoom. Once you have done so you will automatically receive a confirmation email from Zoom.  Please check your spam folder if it doesn’t arrive straight away in your inbox.  If you don’t receive this email you probably mistyped your email address so please re-register.  This Zoom confirmation email contains a link that only you can use to attend this tutorial. On the day of the session, 5-10 minutes before the start time just click on this link to join the tutorial.  The passcode for the session is embedded in the link but if for some reason you are asked to enter a passcode this is provided in the Zoom email.

Before the tutorial, if you’re using a tablet or mobile to take part you will need to download the Zoom App from the App store, which is free. If you’re using a laptop and want quick and smooth access to the session on the day, download Zoom Client for Meetings in advance and for free from their website. You don’t need any kind of Zoom account to attend my online classes and pop-up tutorials.

Please help me to help others by sharing details of this pop-up tutorial with any friends, family members and work colleagues you think might be interested in registering to attend.

The pop-up PILATES X MELISSA tutorials are free.  There is an option after the session to pay what the tutorial was worth to you or what you can afford.  I was very grateful to all those who contributed something after the last pop-up tutorial on the neck. How to make such a contribution, for those interested in doing so is explained in the confirmation email you will receive from Zoom after registering.

National Stress Awareness Month

April is National Stress Awareness Month.  It has been running since 1992 and is a national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress and how to prevent it.

Most of us will be familiar with the feelings associated with confronting a stressful situation, but when does occasional stress turn into a debilitating problem?

Common symptoms of stress:

  • rapid pulse and sometimes heart palpitations
  • dry mouth and sweaty palms
  • headaches
  • generalised anxiety
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite for food and sex
  • digestive problems
  • muscle tension
  • skin disorders
  • depressed immune system making us more prone to illness

Stress is often disregarded as merely a part of everyday life, a by-product of problems with relationships, work and money that is largely unavoidable.  Work-related stress is a growing problem in the UK with 488,000 cases – including anxiety and depression – recorded by the Health and Safety Executive in 2015/16.  It is clear from this that many people are becoming stressed to the extent it is adversely affecting how they think, feel and behave.

Pilates has an important role to play in managing our stress levels.  Attending a class can provide a place for the body to relax, rejuvenate and release tension. It also provides a space for the mind to focus on the present moment. The Pilates method of breathing oxygenates the blood, which triggers a calming effect on the brain. The breath timed with the movement, creates a physiological response in the body that naturally decreases our stress and anxiety levels.

If you’ve never tried Pilates, or haven’t been for a while, and think you might be suffering from stress, why not make April the month to come to Pilates at The Wellbeing Studio.  There are lots of classes during the week and at weekends, and at different times of the day to suit all types of lifestyle.  To arrange to attend, please contact me either by phone or email if you’re an existing client, or via the contact form if you’ve never been to class before.

To close, a chill-out track and video from Rhye…you might want to give the cigar a miss though…



How to Manage Your Worries

Worried cat

Do you ever find yourself worrying more than you’d like to?  If so, you’re not alone. Anxiety is very common.  According to the charity, Anxiety UK, almost one in five people feel anxious a lot or all the time, while nearly half feel more anxious than they used to.

Want to learn how to manage your worries better?  This new video from Radio 4’s psychology, neuroscience and mental health programme, All in the Mind, might be helpful. It’s a short animation, just over three minutes long, with evidence-based advice from clinical psychologist, Professor Kirchhoff from the Netherlands.  Based on trials, Professor Kirchhoff has devised a useful technique to help people worry less.  Take a look…

Attending a Pilates class can also help with anxiety.  An hour spent concentrating hard to execute a series of flowing exercises with precision and control, using a distinct method of breathing, provides a valuable space from any nagging worries that may be going round and round in your head.

Meditation on the beach

How Pilates Can Help With Depression

One of the most beneficial forms of exercise to stave off depression and anxiety is Pilates. Here are some key points from an interesting article on the subject, which explains how…

‘While other forms of exercise can help clear the mind, Pilates helps to ease the mind. Moira Merrithew, co-founder of Stott Pilates, says, “Pilates exercises perform moves that can almost massage the muscles. While you’re gaining muscular strength, you’ll also be relieving yourself of muscular tension, helping you become a more relaxed person. While performing Pilates, you’re also relaxing your mind.”

Suzanne Farrell

‘Many people enter into depression because they feel like they are losing control of their lives. With Pilates, you are required to mentally and physically control every aspect of the workout, giving you good mental practice to help you better control your life. Pilates requires a lot of focus. Suzanne Farrell, a ballerina from the 20th century, loved using Pilates. She once said about it, “nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.”

‘Speaking more about how Pilates can help those affected by depression, Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates in New York City and author of a book on Pilates, said, “Pilates can be a mental and emotional respite for those suffering from depression, anxiety or everyday stress. Pilates forces you to focus inward for the duration of the workout by concentrating on the detail, form and execution of each exercise. Pilates can rejuvenate the mind and restore the spirit. I sometimes think the benefits are almost in line with those of meditation…we work with individuals who have had bouts of depression and anxiety. These clients walk in with a look of tension, sometimes even despair. They respond in an enormously positive way. Anxiety and depression can be overwhelming. But when you see your own body performing healthy, active and elegant moves, it restores your faith and belief in what you can achieve. A healthy self-image is incredibly positive and enormously empowering.’

Don Draper reading Frank O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency

‘Pilates serves as a physical exercise, but also a mental nap. The ability to control your body, become more flexible and get in better shape puts you at the helm of something that you didn’t have control over before: your mind and body.’

To read the article in full, click here.

If you’d like to try Pilates to help ease any anxious or depressive thoughts you might currently be experiencing, why not come along to one of the six classes Embody Pilates’ runs at The Wellbeing Studio in Clevedon each week. Alternatively, perhaps a private Pilates session, either at the studio or in your own home might suit you better.

Don Draper meditating