Time to Experience a Pilates Retreat

Let’s talk retreats, in particular Pilates retreats and why you need to experience at least one in your life.

Let’s talk retreats, in particular Pilates retreats and why you need to experience at least one in your life.

Firstly, a Pilates retreat is not just about the Pilates (What! I know, stay with me). Cramming in as many workouts as you can each day is not constructive to your practice and will most likely lead to fatigue from tiredness and overtraining. Instead, Pilates retreats are about experiencing a reconnection with your mind and body together with indulging in that special balance between practice, downtime and nourishment.

The balance sounds simple enough, but as we know incorporating it into the chaos of our daily lives is a different story. It’s only when you physically (and emotionally) separate yourself from your usual routine that everyday distractions begin to fall off your radar and your focus can shift to YOU. That’s right. You. This shift happens quickly and by day 2 you will find that you have already started to re-prioritise, your mind now filled with beneficial thoughts about your health and wellbeing. You will be more attuned to your body and your breath (Yep…that’s mindfulness).

As Day 3 comes around you start to realise that your Pilates retreat is not like any other holiday you have been on before. Time has started to slow right down; your mind and body let go of old habits. You gradually fall into a new rhythm that focuses purely on you, your body, your mind.

Living in the moment becomes second nature: how am I feeling right now? Do I feel strong? What food will fuel the next stage of my day? What challenge do I want to try next? What do I need?

How often do we get to ask such naturally self-focused questions without feeling guilty? Almost never.

Now it’s time to consider the important and somewhat overwhelming task; acting on the new-found sense of clarity that you have created. It’s a precious state of being and presents the perfect time to be honest and to set your intentions.

Having an experienced life coach on hand is a valuable asset for your retreat. They have a brilliant toolkit to share and help unpack distractions that might be holding you back.

Day 4 you begin to notice that your Pilates practice has evolved significantly. Your mind is clear and your body connection is responsive and strong. Once on the mat your body is ready to respond and without even trying, your intent is there; you are present. You start to experience workouts on a completely different level.

A Pilates retreat is the perfect opportunity to kick-start your Pilates journey or further challenge devotees. Practitioners also benefit immensely as the opportunity will deepen your own practice and enrich your teaching.

Whether it’s an exotic 7-night escape or a 3-night mini break, make the time and you will be rewarded by feeling stronger, lighter and with a far greater focus than any amount of practice can achieve at home.

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A 5-Minute Guide to Achieving Mindfulness

In our busy, fast-paced lives it is easy to become overwhelmed with work, social and family commitments, especially in the lead up to the holidays…

In our busy, fast-paced lives it is easy to become overwhelmed with work, social and family commitments, especially in the lead up to the holidays. All of this combined with our reliance on technology and social media means we often find it hard to switch off. This is why it is so important to take time out for ourselves. We looked at simple methods to achieve mindfulness and a healthy headspace in your day-to-day life. In the practice of mindfulness, ‘the journey is the destination’ so try incorporating some of these techniques into your daily routine in the lead up to Christmas and see what works for you.

Move your body

Join the gym, try a new class or team sport and even just go for a walk. Moving helps us centre our thoughts and increases the flow of endorphins and oxygen through our body. If you live in the city, being outside in nature for a bushwalk or beach trip is a relaxing way to escape and take a breath. Studies have shown that exercise helps improve focus, promotes restful sleep and has a positive effect on mental health, along with many other benefits.

Listen to relaxation music

When we listen to music, this can act as a distraction from aspects of our lives through the immersive state of ‘flow’, which in turn can provide health benefits. As music is engaging, we are involved in different levels of processing which can produce positive neurological effects in the brain.

We have created a calming mindful playlist below for you to try:

Breathe or try a body scan

Breathing mindfully is a wonderful anchor and can really help you to get in touch with your mind and body. You can also try a body scan meditation, where you bring moment-by-moment awareness into your body. Focus on the breath and moving your thoughts slowly from one part to the next. A body scan can help bring your full attention to notice any observations, vibrations or tenseness and really focus on why you might be feeling these sensations. Body Scanning paired with breathing exercises can help us get in tune with our bodies and bring a heightened sense of awareness, which we often forget to do. This can help with releasing stress, as we can learn to spot our stress signals early and respond to it before it causes us any longer term issues, like high blood pressure, heart disease, depression or anxiety.

Mindful eating

We are used to eating on the go or eating lunch at our desks. To eat mindfully, sit at a table with your food (your desk doesn’t count) away from distractions such as your phone, and television etc and really think about and enjoy the process of eating. You may want to try the following:

  • Look at the colours, textures and aroma of the food you are eating
  • Think about where your food came from
  • How hungry did you feel before and after eating
  • Try eating with your non dominant hand
  • Take small bites and chew well
  • Run a timer for 20 minutes and aim to eat your food through this period of time
Switch off from technology 

Try and switch off from technology for at least an hour of your day. In this information age, our worlds are built around planning, analysing, striving, creating and working – we are so connected to computers and phones that it is important to switch off and enjoy the moment instead of scrolling through endless newsfeeds.

Do something kind for yourself

It is important to treat yourself kindly and remember to do things purely because you enjoy them. Whether it is a long bath, a quiet 10 minutes out with a herbal tea or a pedicure with a friend, these little things mean you have taken time out from the busyness of life to just be. Taking care of you is just as important as taking care of others.

We hope this guide will help you achieve a healthy headspace for the rest of the year and beyond. Remember, there are many useful tools online to help us achieve mindfulness, including forums to discuss and explore the process of mindfulness (from experienced practitioners to beginners) and guides to achieving a healthy mind. There are also several free apps available which feature guided meditation to talk you through the process such as 1 Giant Mind, Headspace and Smiling Mind.

 

Pilates for Pregnancy and Beyond

Expecting Mums have special needs during pregnancy and exercises targeting special areas are vital to support your health, and the health of your growing new arrival…

Expecting Mums have special needs during pregnancy and exercises targeting special areas are vital to support your health, and the health of your growing new arrival. Prenatal Pilates is supervised by Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists, and can help mothers with safe, effective exercise. We chatted with Majella Nolan from Body Smart about the top 3 Reasons to do Prenatal Pilates and how Pilates in general can benefit a Mum before and after pregnancy.

Top 3 Reasons to do Prenatal Pilates

1. Pre-natal Pilates teaches optimal pelvic floor function (the key muscles involved during delivery of your baby) and helps ensure a full recovery during the post-natal period.

2. This specialised type of Pilates strengthens your core muscles, preventing back pain and helps you carry the extra weight during pregnancy, easing pregnancy-related injuries such as backache and pelvic pain. Providing all is going well, you can do Pre-natal Pilates right through till the big day.

3. This regular exercise enables you to control excess weight gain during pregnancy and achieve a faster recovery following the birth of your child. Pre-natal Pilates prepares you not only for the big event of giving birth but the extremely physical job of having a newborn baby to lift, bath, feed, push and carry.

Never done Pilates before?

Not to worry! Whether you were previously a runner, dancer or you are just entering the fitness world, the benefit of joining a Pregnancy Pilates class is that your exercise program is tailored to your individual needs. Exercising in small groups under the supervision of an Exercise Physiologist means your program can be modified as your body changes throughout each trimester.

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Postnatal Pilates

Ready to get moving again after having a baby?

All Pilates sessions are supervised by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Studios such as Body Smart in Paddington, Brisbane offers new mum’s the chance to return to regular exercise safely while targeting the muscles most affected during pregnancy and child birth. With sleepless nights, breastfeeding, bathing and focusing so much time on your little one, the thought of getting back into exercise after having a new baby can be very daunting!
Many women feel a lot of pressure to get back into shape quickly, but in the early stages after giving birth, whether you have had a caesarean-section or vaginal birth, the most important thing to remember is to be kind to your body and allow it time to recover. After 6 weeks you are usually ready to get moving again. Postnatal Pilates is an excellent next step to strengthen and tone the deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, and start to regain your fitness and pre-pregnancy body!

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Top 3 Benefits of Postnatal Pilates at Body Smart

1. Can help you with Pelvic Floor Retraining after your little one is here. Pelvic floor complications are very common post-natal with 1 in 3 women suffering some kind of incontinence after giving birth. Core Muscle Retaining: This includes the deep abdominal and gluteal muscles, to help improve any back or pelvic pain as well as prepare your body for more vigorous exercise.

2. Specific Pilates-based exercises help to reduce rectus diastasis (abdominal separation).

3. Looking after your body gives you more energy, strength and movement to cope with all the new challenges of being a mum!

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FAQ About Pregnancy, Pilates and Exercise

Pregnancy is a journey, a physical journey. It’s like training for a marathon for nine months and the labor is like running the marathon. Not only does working out ensure you are strong and healthy (keeping weight gain to a minimum) it also has a very positive impact on your baby’s mental and physical well-being.

Working out during your pregnancy also reduces your chances of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia and can ease a lot of the niggling side effects of pregnancy like constipation, swollen ankles, varicose veins, lower back soreness, sacroiliac joint pain and trouble sleeping. But most importantly it prepares the body for birth and life as a new mum, which is physically very taxing on the body.

Pilates is designed to realign and re-balance the body and with so much change going on in your body during your pregnancy you need to be working out to support this change not challenge it. That’s why Pilates is a really safe and effective way to exercise during your entire pregnancy. It’s even safe enough for clients to continue with their Pilates until the week their baby arrives.

Pilates is able to isolate all the important areas in a low-impact way to ensure everything is still working but the baby and mum are safe. Pilates continues to work the abdominal’s and pelvic floor without the need to do sit-ups or crunches. It also strengthens the areas needed post-baby to ensure there is reduced strain on the lower and upper back.

Once you fall pregnant, what is happening to your stomach muscles?
In the beginning nothing really happens to your tummy muscles, instead we begin to feel a little more bloated and different, this is mainly due to the hormones our body is excreting, but there is no real impact on your stomach muscles at this stage.

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