Is me-time a selfish luxury or a genuine requirement? I find myself being pulled from pillar to post most days! And from my time spent at the school gate, I know I’m not alone with this work-life juggling malarkey!

Whether we are parents, carers, pet owners or working a 50+ hour week; we tend to be very good at putting other people’s needs or demands before our own. I often find that a lot of my clients contact me about Pilates or Yoga because their bodies have basically said ‘STOP’! They have stopped working functionally, either through injury or sometimes it can be through stress. Our bodies respond to our environment and the stresses and strains we put upon them both physically and emotionally.

I notice the difference in my clients from when they walk into the studio for their class and when they walk out. Quite often they walk in carrying tension which can be seen in the tiniest things from a furrowed brow, tense shoulders or from fidgeting on the mat at the start of the class. At the end of the class there is suddenly no urgency to leave their mat, their faces are softer, they stretch and pause for a moment before putting their shoes on to leave.nOften the text messages we get from class members are things along the lines of ‘I needed that today, thank you!’, ‘I slept so well after last night’s class’, ‘I so NEED todays Restorative yoga class.’

Obviously, I can’t stress the benefits of Pilates and Yoga enough – I am after all an owner of a Pilates & Yoga studio! Pilates & Yoga re-introduces you to your own body; and the better you understand your body and how it works, the easier it will be for you to release tension, relax and tackle the stresses and strains that modern life puts upon our being. Our Restorative Yoga class has seen its numbers increase term on term – proof that people are considering their mental health as well as their physical health. Restorative Yoga can help you rest, reflect and refresh. With supportive poses using bolsters and straps, poses are held for up to 5 minutes which helps to release tension, relieve joint aches and transition the mind and body quickly from stress to calm. In addition to its calming effect it has also been known to improve powers of attention and concentration.  Add on 30 minutes of yoga Nidra, often referred to as Yoga sleep, or guided meditation at the end of the class and you leave feeling totally zen!

But in addition to Pilates & Yoga, I find walking outdoors the best therapy. It allows me time to think things through and I can calmly and clearly approach all the tabs open in my mind and slow down the nervous energy that builds up by consciously breathing long, slow, steady breaths.

It was with the pressures of today’s lifestyle and our studio members needs in mind that we planned a Pilates & Yoga retreat in France.

We advertised the long weekend as a break from the treadmill of life!  Some time for yourself, to relax and recharge. Four days in the South France, daily Pilates and Yoga along with the choice to join in with other activities like Kayaking, hiking and cycling or just stay by the Pool reading that book you’ve had on your bedside table for 6 months. The fact that this retreat booked up within 12 hours spoke volumes about not only the physical but mental needs our clients had to look after themselves.

Of course not everyone can drop everything and jet off to the South of France for a long weekend, but finding time out doesn’t have to mean a long weekend away and cost much! It can be 5 minutes sat on your bed with a guided meditation download; it can be 10 minutes reading before bed to help calm your mind, or a coffee in your favourite beauty spot without dare I say it, your phone!

As the saying goes ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’

About the author:

Rhian is the owner of Essence Studio, a Pilates & Yoga Studio in Chobham, Surrey. Rhian started practicing Pilates in 2008 following the birth of her first child.  Having lived with Scoliosis all her life and struggling with debilitating back pain on and off since her surgery at 14 years of age she wanted a more permanent and practical approach to managing her spinal condition and back pain. Initially starting with 1 Pilates class a week and progressing to 2 classes a week Rhian noticed not only a vast improvement in her day to day back pain but she also noticed that her posture had improved. It has only been in recent years that she has found Yoga as beneficial to her wellbeing as Pilates has been. By adding a regular Yoga class to her personal practice Rhian has noticed that after Yoga she feels calmer and clear headed and also sleeps better. With sleep being essential to completing the job of full recovery of the nervous system, she sees this benefit of practicing yoga as enough of a reason to include it as a necessary addition for her general wellbeing. Rhian is passionate about the benefits of Pilates & Yoga and their place in our exercise regime in today’s busy and demanding world.