Muddy Stilettos’ Awards 2017

The Wellbeing Studio – Embody Pilates’ home in Clevedon –  is looking for nominations in the Best Yoga/Pilates Studio category of the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2017 – Somerset.

Muddy Stilettos is the UK’s leading regional lifestyle blog, with over 100,000 readers and a social following of 50,000 across 18 English counties. The blog is the ‘urban guide to the countryside’ for intelligent, fun-loving people who live outside the metropolis, but who want to be in the know for cool, quirky and unmissable things to do where they live.

If you’d like to support us and nominate The Wellbeing Studio for Best Yoga/Pilates Studio in Somerset, please follow this link.  Nominations close this Wednesday 24th May.

The five finalists (i.e. those receiving the most nominations) for Best Yoga/Pilates Studio will be announced on the Muddy Stilettos Awards site on Wednesday 7th June, when voting will reopen for another week.  The winner will be announced after voting closes again at 12pm on Wednesday 14th June.

To close, here’s Amy Winehouse with my favourite dirty footwear song…



The Oldest Yogi and Gymnast in the World

Tao Porchon-Lynch, oldest yoga teacher in the world

Be inspired by these two remarkable women.  First, Tao Porchon-Lynch born August 1918, who at 97 years old is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest yoga instructor in the world.  Here is a short video of her in action…


“I don’t believe in age, I believe in energy.  Don’t let age dictate what you can and cannot do.” Tao Porchon-Lynch

Johanna Quaas

Johanna Quaas, born November 1925 is recognised as the world’s oldest gymnast by the Guinness Book of Records.  Here is a short video made to coincide with her 90th birthday at the end of last year…

And here is her amazing floor routine performed in 2012 when she was 86 years old at one of the most important international events in the gymnastics calendar, the Tournament of Champions, which takes place annually in Cottbus…


Pilates Meets Yoga

Batman and Robin discuss Pilates

Batman is right, Pilates and yoga are two very distinct disciplines. Piloga though is another matter, a unique fusion class which explores the similarities and differences between the two.

Using the Pilates approach to breathing and the pelvic floor engagement at the heart of Joseph Pilates’ method (Note – if you’re attending a Pilates class and the teacher doesn’t use either of these things then you’re not really doing Pilates and are missing out on the main benefits), Piloga brings together the best of both disciplines to create a full-body workout focussed on core stability and controlled flowing movements. The aim of Piloga is to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the body by taking it through a healthy range of bending, stretching and turning.

Melissa runs two Piloga classes a week at Strode Leisure Centre in Clevedon:

  • Thursday mornings, 10.30 to 12.00
  • Saturday mornings, 11.30 to 13.00

Catwoman balancing on bottles

The age of those attending is diverse, from mid-twenties to over sixty. Most people are beginner or intermediate level and attend regularly because they find the class helps them avoid feeling achy and stiff, or helps them manage a condition they suffer from like sciatica or arthritis. Others come as a way of recovering from injury, or to improve their performance in another sporting activity, e.g. running or cycling.

The classes are open to all, free to members of Strode Leisure Centre, or £7.40 per 90-minute session for non-members.

The Diaphragm – The Hidden Hero

Some muscles are more appreciated than others. Toned abs are proudly displayed in celebrity selfies and on Men’s Health front covers. Bodybuilders show off their pecs and swollen biceps. But deep inside us all, a sheet of muscle quietly gets on with its heroic work. That muscle is the diaphragm, one we are completely dependent on, but take for granted every moment we’re breathing.

In order to inhale, the diaphragm contracts and flattens as the lungs fill up with air.  To exhale, it relaxes and moves back up into its original domed, parachute shape as the air leaves the lungs. The diaphragm delivers oxygen to us a dozen times or more each minute. That’s half a billion times during an 80-year life.

Animation of the diaphragm contracting and relaxing

All mammals, from platypuses to elephants, have a diaphragm. But no other animal has one.  Mammals have a very different solution for breathing than reptiles and birds. Before the evolution of a diaphragm, our reptile-like ancestors probably breathed the way many reptiles do today – they used a jacket of muscles to squeeze the rib cage.

Once the diaphragm evolved, breathing changed drastically. Mammals gained a more powerful, efficient way of drawing in a steady supply of oxygen. The evolution of a diaphragm probably made it possible for mammals to evolve a warm-blooded metabolism. Without a diaphragm, humans might not have been able to evolve giant but oxygen-hungry brains.

To experience the diaphragm, try this. Place both hands either side of your rib cage and take a Pilates inhale through your nose laterally into your palms. Can you feel a stretching out to the sides just underneath your ribcage? That’s the diaphragm flattening. Then as you do a Pilates exhale through your mouth and suck your tummy in, you will notice the diaphragm relaxing back into its original domed shape.

Downward facing dog

Now try this…ease yourself into the downward facing dog pose and hold the position while doing the Pilates breathing. You may find it a little more challenging to take a full inhale when the body is inverted, but a sense of the diaphragm flattening and returning to its dome-shape is arguably even more apparent when holding this pose.

Tips for performing the perfect downward facing dog:

  • spread your fingers wide so your weight is distributed evenly on your palms.
  • place your head in-between your arms. Don’t let it hang down below them. Your eye-line should be straight down at the mat rather than looking back at your legs.
  • actively press your shoulders down and back, squeezing them together.
  • here’s the key bit, try to make a straight line with your spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head.
  • push your tailbone up and back.
  • your knees should ideally be straight, but keep them bent if you have a back issue or are a beginner.


New Sweaty Betty SS15 Piloga Clothing Range

Sweaty Betty Yoga Retreat clothing range March 2015

Sweaty Betty has just launched a new range of work-out gear for Spring Summer 2015, aimed at those who enjoy yoga and Pilates.  The Yoga Retreat collection consists of vests, jumpsuits/all-in-ones, capris and harem pants, swimwear, shorts, hoodies and sweat tops in a black, white and coral pink colour palette.  It’s a nice addition to their Yoga Looks range, which is also worth checking out.

You can purchase online for delivery at home, or they have a shop in Bristol if you want to see the range in the flesh before you buy, or use their free click and collect service.

Sweaty Betty Yoga Pro range SS15