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.

Stress and Back Pain


Having back pain can cause a great deal of stress for the sufferer, but what about the other way around? Could stress be a primary cause of back pain? Dr John Sarno, Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine believes the answer is yes. He has coined the phrase Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) to describe stress-related back pain.

The pain is not imaginary, rather the result of very real physical problems which are being impacted upon by emotional factors.

How does stress cause back pain?

Dr. Sarno’s theory is that patients who do not deal with their stress and anxiety, unconsciously push them out of their awareness and into their unconscious. This unconscious tension starts a cascade of changes in the body including:

  • Constriction of blood vessels throughout the body;
  • Reduction of blood flow to the muscles and other tissues of the body;
  • Decrease in oxygen in the muscles and tissues of the body;
  • Buildup of biochemical waste in the muscles.

This cascade of events then causes:

  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle spasms
  • Back pain

Back and neck pain

Diagnosing stress-related back pain

A thorough physical examination will rule out any serious spinal disorders or structural causes of pain such as a degenerative disc.

The symptoms of stress-related back pain are similar to fibromyalgia and include:

  • Back pain and/or neck pain
  • Diffuse muscle aches
  • Muscle tender points
  • Sleep disturbance and fatigue

In many stress-related back pain cases, patients complain of experiencing the pain from just “moving around”.

Stress ball

Treatments for stress-related back pain

The two most common ways to treat back pain caused by stress are the psychotherapeutic approach and the multi-disciplinary approach.

Through psychotherapy, the patient is encouraged to process the unconscious negative emotions, e.g. anger, fear etc, and acknowledge to themselves that the back pain is a result of unconscious issues.

Most doctors use the multi-disciplinary approach, which combines therapies and exercise disciplines like Pilates to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and environmental issues the patient is dealing with.

Sand passing through a hand

Information source for this news item: Spine Health