My Yoga Pledge: Part Three!

I took up yoga six months ago as part of a pledge to ‘Change for the Better’; Special K’s campaign to inspire the public to make a positive alteration in their lives. It needn’t be a huge pledge (not “I will end world poverty”), but rather one that will make a person’s personal life that little bit brighter.

Yoga has definitely changed my life for the better. For one, I am the most flexible I’ve been in a long time and I’ve noticed an improvement in my posture; no more neck strains or back pains during my mostly-sedentary job. I mentioned in my last post that I have noticed more definition in my shoulders and legs; now, amazingly, it has spread to my abs, triceps and lower back.

I feel fantastic both outside and in.

My lung capacity has improved which is great because I am an avid runner, as has my overall fitness and strength. I’m more mindful and have increased focus on both my working life and personal life. As such, practicing yoga has inspired me to take up meditation as a way of zoning out from external distractions and allowed me hone in on priorities. It goes to show that one small pledge can act as such a catalyst to various other aspects of life.

I’m incredibly pleased that I made my pledge six months ago, and am even more excited at the prospect of beginning to practice pre-natal yoga; that’s right, I’m pregnant!

Farewell handstand hopes (still no progress there yet), hello yogi baby mama!

Image: Cecelia wears HPE Crop Leggings

 


Fit and Thrifty in the City

Here at Hip & Healthy, we’re big believers that keeping fit in the city shouldn’t- and needn’t be- a financial strain. Whilst fancy urban gyms may offer the very latest in sporting technology with a nice price to suit, there’s a lot to be gained from trying out free fitness classes in your local area or from following online tutorials at home, at a time that slots easily into your daily routine.

Expensive membership fees and minimum contract periods often put us off the idea of signing up for something new which is probably why many of us, at one stage or another, have fallen into the trap of routinely sticking to the same old running routes. Unsurprisingly, our fitness reaches a plateau and, quite simply, we get bored. Guilty as charged. Yet, with a little research, you’ll soon discover that there’s a fantastic selection of free classes thanks to a whole host of new and exciting fitness trends emerging in the city – you just need to find them!

So, if you’re looking to turn your hand to something new or want to find some fitness friends to work out with, the following list is a smart girl’s guide to being a thrifty city fitty (yes, that’s quite a mouthful). My first piece of advice is this; keep your eyes and ears open, ask around and, most importantly, save those pounds for a well-earned super juice.

1. Sweaty Betty. With shops all over London, Sweaty Betty runs a variety of in-store (and outdoor) fitness classes ranging from ballet boot camps to running clubs. Head over to the community section on sweatybetty.com to find the one nearest to you. Be warned; places book up fast. That said; don’t be discouraged, if you inquire now you’re sure to find something for the near future.

2. Park Run. Wherever you are in the UK, if you love running and want to take it to the next level, find your local run at www.parkrun.org.uk. Most Saturdays throughout the year, eager runners across the country meet at 9AM (eek, it’s early, but it’s definitely worth it) and run a set 5K course. A unique barcode logs your time so you can easily track your progress. A great community of runners and a great way to start the weekend! No booking, just sign up to receive your barcode.

3. Lululemon. Want to work on your vinyasa flow? Lululemon athletica holds free yoga sessions every Sunday at various showrooms across London. Each session is taken by a different yoga teacher offering a different style of practise ranging from the traditional to the more experimental (urban fitness yoga anyone?). It’s great if you’re easily bored and like a challenge. No booking required, just turn up in plenty of time in order to reserve your space.

4. Yoga Glo. If there isn’t a Lulumelon near you, yogaglo.com offers a free 15 day trial and plenty of online material at your fingertips. You can filter by style, level and duration so there really is something to suit every yoga bunny in town. Try ten minutes of yoga in the morning and you might just be surprised at how it mentally and physically prepares you for the day ahead. No booking required, just sign up online.

5. Okay, I admit, it’s a little sneaky but all of the following gyms offer free day passes or taster sessions to allow you to experience their facilities: Fitness First, Harpers Fitness, Curves, LA Fitness, Nuffield Health, Total Fitness and British Military Fitness. The idea is that you’ll try it, love it and want to sign up for more but be shrewd, politely say you’re exploring your options when they ask. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.

On the 20th March Lululemon has organised  CHEEKY YOGA – a whole day of free yoga in loads of participating studios across London! Get involved!! For more information visit: http://info.lululemon.co.uk/cheeky-yoga/

Your new mantra; fitness should be fun and free. So go forth fellow city fitties and do us proud!

words by Alexandra Salisbury
image by Sweaty Betty


If you only do one thing this week… Break the Diet Cycle!

What does the word “diet” mean to you? Does it send off deprivation alarm bells? Or does it signify one last pizza and a milkshake before the carb-cut-down begins? Whatever it is, all diets have one thing in common…they end! I think the longest diet I’ve ever done lasted 2 weeks. I cut out practically every carb on the planet and by the last few days, my energy levels were non-existent and I was one moody cow to be around! I came to realise that dieting changed the way I thought about food. Suddenly it became the enemy and meal times brought on feelings of anxiety and stress. Not fun! I may have ended up a few pounds lighter but as soon as I came off the diet, those pounds came straight back! I now understand that a healthy, gorgeous body won’t come from restrictions and feelings of deprivation, you’ll be forever yo-yo dieting and your body will not be a happy one. We’ve compiled our top tips on how to stop dieting and start looking at food in a positive and healthy way!

Stop counting calories and start looking at ingredients
Calorie counting can be bad news as it can divert your mind off the most important thing, the ingredients. Of course, calories are to be considered. If you aren’t using up as much energy as you’re putting in then it will cause problems, but your body is a very good judge at how much energy you need and if you are feeding it healthy and wholesome foods as well as exercising, it will let you know when enough is enough.

Put the emphasis on “health” rather than “weight”
This tip really helps me when I think about why I choose to eat a nutritious and balanced diet. It’s easy to get caught up with the desire to loose weight, but try and switch the mentality of “I’m eating these blueberries because they will help me lose weight” to “I’m eating these blueberries because they have so many antioxidants and they are going to benefit my health”. You will start to see food in a more positive way that doesn’t always revert back to whether it will make you “thinner” or “fatter”.

Find a Hip & Healthy substitute
This is a tip that you can add in to your lifestyle immediately. Earlier on, I talked about the hassle and stress of restricting foods. The reason why you feel deprived when you do this is usually because you have nothing to replace it with. Where’s the pasta gone? Where’s the bread gone? You notice a gap in your diet and that makes you unhappy. Well we have a solution, (a very easy one!) Find a healthier substitute! For example, swap refined white bread for rye or spelt bread. Or if you’re feeling like a weekend baking sesh, give our Gluten Free Quinoa and Chia bread a go! http://www.hipandhealthy.co.uk/gluten-free-seeded-quinoa-chia-bread/

Have a blowout meal once a week
This is a tip I learnt from my time working as a personal trainer at Bodyism. We would encourage our clients to allow a “cheat meal” into their diets once a week, and we suggested this for a few reasons. Firstly it’s good for your mind as it takes away the feeling of deprivation. It’s something to look forward to and it can really help keep you on track during the week. Secondly it can help you lose weight! (it’s true!) Bodyism founder, James Duigan says “when you’re following a good, healthy diet all the time, your metabolism stays steady. However, when you eat more than usual, your metabolism goes into shock and starts working overtime to burn off the extra food”. We like the sound of that!

words by Molly Jennings


Healthy ‘Reese’s’ Chocolate-Nut Butter Cups Recipe

recipe by Saskia Gregson-Williams

When I was growing up Reese’s Pieces was one of my favourite chocolate treats; a rich chocolate shell filled with a smooth peanut butter filling, it was to die for. When I made the transition into a much more healthier way of eating these were one of the first of my former indulgences that I decided to make a healthy recipe version of so that I could continue to devour their chocolately goodness guilt-free!

Instead of sugar loaded chocolate, I make mine with three simple ingredients: raw cacao powder, Chi coconut oil and agave/pure maple syrup. I then fill it with almond or peanut butter depending on what I fancy, (when you buy peanut butter, make sure its free of any additives). Not only are these chocolates ‘not bad for you’ they are actually so incredibly good for you! Raw cacao, is a raw un-processed cocoa powder, meaning you can harness all of its incredible superfood properties. It’s one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the world, protecting your body against disease and free radicals entering the body. It also increases your serotonin levels (the happy hormone) so you can eat as many chocolates as you want knowing its going to make you happier and healthier!

These chocolate-nut butter cups are honestly so delicious, and amazingly health-enhancing too. There really is nothing not to love!

Recipe: 

120ml melted ‘Chi’ coconut oil

3 tbsp agave/maple syrup

60g raw cacao powder

1 tsp of nut-butter of choice, per ‘Reese’ cup.

Method:

Add the melted coconut oil, agave and cacao powder to a bowl and mix until completely smooth. Line a cupcake tray with mini cupcake moulds/ cases. Divide the mixture in half. With one half start by pouring 1 tbsp of the chocolate mix into the bottom of the cupcake moulds. Put in the fridge for 10 minutes to set. Remove from fridge, and put one tsp of nut-butter spread in the middle of the chocolate, top with another tablespoon of chocolate/enough to cover. Put back in the fridge and leave to set for another 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy with a glass of hot almond milk!

Chocolate cups


Fitspiration of the Month – Russell Bateman

H&H are excited to introduce to you, our Fitspiration of March….Meet Russell Bateman, the brains and genius behind Skinny Bitch Collective, the IT training regime for woman! From Victoria’s Secret models to yummy mummies, he’s trained them all and we think he’s awesome. H&H finds out what it takes to be a SBC girl

When did your love of health and fitness begin?
Ive Always been an active guy. I had a major football addiction as a youngster and would play dawn to dusk. Fitness and health was always around me and my parents would feed me amazing food and push me to play sport at every opportunity.

What is Skinny Bitch Collective?
SBC is quite simply the most talked about training and wellness project for women right now. Preaching sex, sleep and squatting and fusing newwave strength and metabolic conditioning with signature SBC Primal movements. The crop of british supermodels are training alongside the next generation of female icons.These are women training the RIGHT way and supplementing their training regimes with the RIGHT nutrition

Did you always have a passion to start your own company?
As I became more experienced and developed my methodology and skill set I realised I had a message I could send to women. I knew I had the skills to change perceptions and reeducate women on how to eat move and live. SBC’s growth is very organic but I’m careful as to which level I take it to. I realise I have a big responsibility now people are looking toward me for advice and inspiration.

What can we expect from a typical SBC session?
One of, if not the most intense sessions of your life. You’ll hear some great music and some reeducation from me.

You specialise in training woman, what do you focus on when training you clients?
It depends on the goals. Priorities dictate the choices i can make in sessions. my foremost imperative is that the client takes away something from every session. It must always illicit positivity, empowerment and self improvement. The right Exercise selection and nutrition are key in to get the best results.

How important is diet when you want to achieve a toned and strong physique?
The two are completely interlinked and compliment each other entirely. If one element is out of sync with the other you can’t expect to reach your maximum body potential. If your training hard in the gym, put the same effort into eating the right foods and cutting out bad habits. Choreograph your training and nutrition so they would win a ballroom dancing competition

Do you have a favourite breakfast?
Salmon, eggs, avocado and/or a cold pressed green juice!

What’s you favourite SBC exercise?
Sex…. And then sleep. Squatting is close behind.

What should woman eat after a workout and why?
High protein and fibrous carbs to replenish glycogen and help lean muscle gains. It’s critical for mood and stress levels, too. I’d have that kind of food choice an hour to 90 minutes after. Protein and berries STRAIGHT after is a fave of ours. I send girls to Roots and Bulbs where they can order a special SBC shake. It’s awesome!

Do you have any advice for a SBC newbie?
Embrace your body. It’s amazing. Give it all you’ve got and push your boundaries in every session. Your going to move like you were designed to move. realise I will look deeper than what’s on your surface. I’ll ask you about your relationships, wether you like your job, what mindset you’re in, and then I’ll try to make you commit to eliminating any of the things that aren’t improving the quality of your life.

You have to invite 3 people do dinner, who would you invite?
3 is not enough! My girlfriend would be there to cook, she’s amazing (check out her blog Model Mangetout) And I think Russell brand would be fascinating to chat to. I’d have Paul Chek there, too.  He’s an inspirational Health warrior.

What would you cook for them?
We’d all have a sashimi starter followed by grass fed beef with quinoacado (quinoa and avocado mashed) and a coconut ice cream dessert from coyo.

Do you have a favourite quote or mantra?
Education is our medication.

Do you have any weaknesses?
I love cats and Louis Theroux a bit too much.

Book your SBC class here!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 09.56.08

 


The Best Beauty Apps

Get ‘appy with Hip & Healthy’s edit of the best beauty apps

words by Mea Perkins

From the moment we wake up, to setting our alarm before we sleep, it’s fair to say that the smart phone really is a busy girl’s best friend. Whilst at Hip & Healthy we know the value of a little time away from our high-tech partner in crime, when we do use our phone, there’s an app for just about everything. In the world of beauty, today’s apps offer it all, from virtual makeovers to expert advice and product reviews. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite beauty apps to help you look and feel the best version of you.

GoodGuide INSIDE APP (1)

GoodGuide (Free) – Making choices that are socially responsible is important, but with ingredients lists that require a PHD to decipher, it can be hard to tell what you’re actually buying. This genius app instantly reveals whether products are healthy, green and safe, so you know exactly what you are putting onto your skin. Although currently covering products available in the US, the list of one’s sold in the UK is extensive. Scan the barcode of a product before you buy it to learn how it ranks in each category, and personalise your account to measure the criteria you deem important, e.g. ‘not tested on animals’ or ‘fragrance-free’.

UV INSIDE APP (1)

Ultraviolet ~ UV Index (Free) – Continued exposure to the sun can cause damage to the skin, so it’s important to protect it from harmful UV rays. Beautifully simple, this free app shows you the current UV index for your location, or anywhere else in the world. Advising on the right level of protection for your area, you can be safe in the knowledge that your skin isn’t being neglected.

OPI INSIDE APP (1)

OPI (Free) – A timesaver tool if you spend the first 10 minutes at the salon deciding what colour nail varnish to pick, or need inspiration when buying a new shade – this cute app lets you ‘try on’ the huge range of OPI colours available. With adjustable skin tone and nail length for accuracy, virtually see how the hottest looks appear on your own nails.

Sleep Cycle INSIDE APP

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (£0.69) – If you’re looking to boost your beauty sleep, this intelligent alarm clock promises you no more sleepless nights. Analysing your sleep pattern and monitoring movement, it then determines the best time to wake you up within a specific time period. With motion sensors and integrated heart rate monitor (only available on iOS 6.0 or later) it makes waking up easy, leaving you refreshed and revitalised.

Beauty Geek INSIDE APP

Beauty Geek (Free) – For on-the-go purchasing, Beauty Geek scans the web for the beauty products you want, comparing hundreds in seconds. From sites such as Beauty Bay and Feel Unique, the app lets you discover deals and uncover new launches.

Waterlogged INSIDE APP

Waterlogged (Free) – If like us, you’ll sometimes get to the end of the day and find that cup of tea your colleague made you this morning and the Diet Coke you had for lunch is all you’ve drank, this is the app for you. Keeping hydrated is not only important for alertness and controlling appetite; it keeps dry skin and wrinkles at bay too. Drinking the recommended amount (between 1.6 – 2 litres a day) can be difficult to keep track of which is why we love Waterlogged. Track your consumption and set reminders to improve your daily intake, and see if you notice the difference in your skin.

 YSL Color Mirror INSIDE APP

YSL Color Mirror (Free) – Test out new looks without having to reach for the cleanser. Simply upload a photo of your face and play around with styles, colours and make-up, and learn professional tips from the Creative Director of Make-up at Yves Saint Laurent, Lloyd Simmonds.

Face Fitness INSIDE APP

Facial Fitness for Women (Lite version free; Full programme £2.49) – There are 57 muscles in your face, and according to the experts, these need to be exercised just like the other muscles in your body. As the facial muscles become stronger, fine lines and wrinkles appear reduced as the skin attached to the muscles is taught and firm. Massage exercises also increase circulation and release toxins to help improve skin tone, reducing any puffiness and dark circles. Use the Facial Fitness app to focus on a particular problem area of the face, and create a personalised programme of 30 second exercises.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.15.37

L’Oreal Paris Colour Genius app (Free) – Finding the correct shade to match (or clash) with your outfit, this app combines practicality with fun. Upload a photo of your dress when heading on a night out, and you’ll be shown the perfect colour accompaniment for on trend lips, eyes and nails.

Mirror INSIDE APP (1)

Mirror (Free) – Gone are the days of rummaging through your bag, desperately trying to find a mirror at that crucial moment the ‘one day’ you left your make-up bag at home. Whether it’s to check there’s nothing lodged in your teeth, or see if eye makeup is still intact, this handy app lets you check your reflection and zoom in for a closer inspection. Unlike the front camera on your phone, the app displays a much brighter image and has exposure controls and a freeze setting for accuracy.


Top Three Eco Wellness Retreats You Should Know About

 Looking for a healthy holiday that will also be kind to the Planet? Check out these top three eco retreats

france

Be Enviro-Chic in France
La Clairière in France makes every effort to ensure that their escape is ecologically sound. From the organic wool mattress you sleep on at night, right down to the eco friendly cleaning products and biodegradable composting. 100% of their electricity supply is from renewable energy sources and their food is prepared using fresh organic ingredients, locally sourced where possible. This is one retreat you can be sure that respects the environment as much as their guests!
Wow Factor:  The lush green Alsace forest setting will set your spirits soaring, plus the immune boosting food is to live for.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 08.57.46

Eco-Room with a View in Italy
Possibly the world’s most glamorous eco spa and winner of  the the Good Green Design Award in 2013, the Lefay Resort in Italy is a place that takes its eco credentials as seriously as it does its style. Everything from the food to the spa products is organic and natural, even the roofs are covered with lush green vegetation to help them blend into the hillside!
Wow Factor:  High-tech eco-elegance with stunning panoramic views of Lake Garda.

india yoga

Find Your Om in India
SwaSwara in India holds environmental care very close to its OM-shaped heart. Fresh water is a scarce resource at the property so they harvest the rainwater in order to make them self-sufficient – a practice they’ve also extended out to the local school. Any waste water is recycled and used for their organic vegetable gardens and flower beds. This holistic retreat strongly believes in giving back to the land that they feel they have gained so much from.
Wow Factor: a truly restorative oasis of serenity, tranquillity and calm – Ayurvedic treatments so good you’ll be in a constant state of bliss!

To book visit www.wellbeingescapes.com


Berry Detox Smoothie

recipe by Saskia Gregson-Williams

January, for many, is all about cleansing and regaining a healthy lifestyle to start the new year in the best possible way. This recipe I’m sharing for my favourite berry detox smoothie, is not only delicious but a great healthy option in replacement of your normal breakfast or snacks.  It is full of nutrients so will keep you nourished and satisfied for far longer than a simple piece of toast would!

Berries are one of the richest sources of immune boosting antioxidants which are shown to prevent free radicals in the body, and reduce inflammation, thus protecting against disease such as cancer. Pomegranate is another superfood which is known for its incredible immunity enhancing effects. I also add in a handful of goji berries, which have similar health enhancing effects, also being a popular superfood. Berries and pomegranate are both very Low GI fruit, making them ideal for detoxing. The banana acts as a great base for this smoothie, It contains a wonderful amount of potassium which has been shown to lower blood pressure, preventing against heart disease and strokes. Banana’s are also rich in Pectin which helps the digestion process, this is fantastic after a heavy christmas period. To make this smoothie really amazing I add in Aduna’s Baobab, this magical super fruit powder is one of the most amazing additions to your diet. Just a few teaspoons can amp up the taste of the smoothie as well as the health benefits. It contains an abundance of vitamin C and malic acid, which has powerful energising properties, as well as helping to boost your immune system. Baobab  also helps to promote a healthy nerve and digestive system and optimises Iron intake. This is incredibly effective in the cleansing process, making you feel healthier, far more energetic and all together much happier!

Berry Detox Smoothie:

Serves 1-2

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup blueberries

Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate

1 Tbsp goji berries

1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds

1/4-1/3 cup almond/oat/brown rice milk

2 tsp Aduna’s baobab

Method: Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Adding enough milk to your preferred thickness!

 


Psyched about Psycle! London’s hottest new Spin Studio!

Turn the lights down and the music up, H&H are announcing the launch of Psycle, London’s brand new, urban-chic spinning studio right behind the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 14.24.48

So what is Psycle? Psycle is a place you can go to forget about your worries and enjoy pushing your body out of its comfort zone. This 45 minute, high intensity, low impact workout is specifically designed to strengthen your core, give you toned, sexy limbs and melt fat… Yes please! Psycle aim to make their classes total-body workouts by using light weights to tone the upper body whilst moving on and off the saddle to really challenge your lower body. From ballerinas and pilates teachers, to athletes and nutritionists, each Psycle instructor has their own personal style of spinning so you can be sure to find a class that tickles your fancy. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with being perched on a bike, there isn’t a single ounce of competitiveness amongst the group and you won’t be called out for not following orders to the letter. Psycle are passionate about bringing everyone in the room together to create an energy that will inspire each rider to workout to the best of their ability. If that didn’t convince you, Psycle are also the first UK store stockists of Lorna Jane, Australia’s queen of activewear! At Psycle, you’ll never be far from a body-busting workout and a rail of stylish gym gear! See you on the bike!

Book your first class here ! 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 


If you only do one thing this week…Keep Calm and Eat These Foods!

Whether it’s running a lavender-scented bubble bath, picking up a favourite book or even exercising, we all have different ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. Another popular “stress-buster” that we turn to is food. How many of you have come home from a stressful day at work, only to find yourself nose deep in a tub of ice cream or hulk-size portion of spaghetti? (Yes, I’m guilty!) Do you ever wonder the reasoning behind all of it? Meet cortisol (aka the stressed hormone). Our cortisol levels increase when we become stressed and tense, which then causes us to crave sugary, carby foods. This would be ok if we were about to run away from a hungry looking grisly bear because we would burn it off, but we’re not. All that excess energy from the sugars isn’t going to be used up so our bodies store it as fat. Maybe that momentary pleasure we feel when we eat junk food isn’t worth it after all!

Having said all this, food can help in times of stress, but it’s choosing the right ones that’s crucial. Here’s our top soothing snacks for when stress come knocking!

Peaches – When it comes to superfoods, the poor little peach often gets overlooked! They are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and they act as a great natural diuretic for when you’re feeling a little bit “bunged up” down below! Not only this, they are also known to have calming and sedative-like effects. Many advise giving restless children a peach before bed to reduce their hyperactivity!

Turkey – Turkey is well known for its calming properties, and it’s all to do with L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan has a very relaxing effect and it’s actually the precursor to serotonin (our feel-good hormone).

Bananas – Bananas are awesome for relaxing our bodies. They are a fantastic source of potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants, and many people, including myself, eat bananas to help soothe period pains. Instead of slumping under your duvet with a bar of chocolate, rustle up some of our super easy Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Muffins!
http://www.hipandhealthy.co.uk/vegan-gluten-free-banana-muffins/

Swiss Chard – Like bananas, Swiss chard is packed with the anti-stress mineral, magnesium. Add Swiss chard to your favourite salad for dinner to relieve tired muscles and nerves.

Beans – Beans are definitely foods that help you snooze and beans like chickpeas and black beans are a triple threat! They are high in B vitamins, magnesium AND tryptophan! We knew hummus was delicious for a reason!

words by Molly Jennings

 

 

 

 


Retreat to the Heat: A weekend break at Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort

 More Than Meets the Eye: Terre Blanche in Provence is a haven of health and wellbeing. And with a world-class golf course, there really is something for everyone says Sadie MacLeod

I knew three things about Terre Blanche before I booked; It is where the French Golf Team practice (my husband was impressed by this); It is the place to play golf and improve your swing (the golf tuition they have there really is second to none); And the acres of land that the golf course now occupies where once owned by none other than Sean Connery – an avid golfer.

Le Riou Low res 2

I am not a golf fan. But I am a fan of the South of France (and a fan of Sean’s), I love the idea of a spa hotel, and I adore a mini-break. Who doesn’t. After a bit more research I soon found out that the hotel also offered two delicious looking pools (both with spectacular provincial views), an illustrious spa & fitness menu and even a hair salon. I was sold.

I had been rushed off my feet at work, and socialising late into the evenings. I had forgotten what life felt like when you weren’t burning the candle at both ends. I decided this was the break I needed. Plus, it was 23 degrees in Provence. It felt like minus that here.

It seems there isn’t a bad month to visit the South of France. It’s beautifully hot all summer, Spring and Autumn are full of delightfully warm days with slightly crisper mornings and evenings. And as for Winter – it’s still warm enough to wear a T-shirt in the sun. And we were lucky enough to experience a few clear blue sky days. Perfect.

A short hop over the channel and we soon arrived at our destination. I was immediately shown to a light, fresh yet sumptuously cosy room that had a beautiful view of the hills beyond each with their own distinctly french villages perched atop. The hotel is situated in Tourrettes, a small village around 14km from the coast, and I was delighted to find that it offers these “soak-em-up” views at every turn.

The room itself was kitted out with all the mod cons and I immediately popped on my iPod carefully selecting the “Chilled” playlist. The bathroom too was spacious and offered the ultimate luxury a separate bath and shower. I opted for the bath, which I could have quite easily spent the rest of the day sitting in.

After managing to tear myself away from the villa, I discovered that there was indeed, as promised, a world of hip and healthy fun to be had. I spent some time in the gym, went to a fitness class where it was just me and one other person. The class was a stretching class – and I can almost guarantee that it did more good than all the gym sessions I endured over the weekend altogether. Then for a completely decadent yet totally deserved spa treatment.

spa_terre_blanche_20

I opted for a massage which lasted 60 heavenly minutes. The therapist worked with my energy and paid special attention to my shoulders and back as that was where I was tightest. After the treatment I was so relaxed that I could barely walk to the changing rooms let alone my villa so I decided to spend some time horizontal in the sauna.

It turns out that all that relaxing can actually cause quite the appetite! But I needn’t have worried as the hotel a collection of fantastic restaurants – each of which catered to my dairy-free diet! Which in France is certainly no mean feat.

The rest of my weekend continued with much of the same wonderfulness and I can honestly say that I felt truly restored afterwards, returning home a much calmer, happier version of myself.

For more information or to book visit http://en.terre-blanche.com

terreblanche-PISCINE-047 Med Res

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The ‘How To’ of Meditating Made Easy

You’ve decided you want to start meditating – you’ve read all about the blissful benefits and you’re sitting at home ready to start. Now what? Like many others, it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of meditation, but another thing to actually practice it. If you consider yourself a left-brain, idea-loving gal, it’s hard to re-train yourself to use that all too precious free-time, to quieten your mind and not engage it.

But it needn’t be a chore; the most exciting realisation of meditation is the knowledge that there is a style out there that is perfect for you and your lifestyle… it’s just a case of finding the one that suits you best. Once you begin exploring meditation and trying different techniques, you’ll find yourself navigating through to your preferred style. But for now, we’ve given you an overview of five of the most popular practices to make it easier to get started.

  • Mindfulness meditation: A method that’s used as a basis for many different techniques, mindfulness is the most common form of meditation in the UK and what you’ll feel at home with if you’re a regular yoga bunny. By observing the breath, you ‘become present’ and slowly learn to quieten your frantic mind. Contrary to popular belief, the aim here is not to empty your mind, but the opposite – accept whatever thoughts come into your head without judgement. Don’t struggle to get away from your thought, but instead detach yourself from it, dismiss it and then let it move on. One useful technique is to count the breaths in your inhalation and exhalation; this is called vipassanna. So you’re not distracted by how long you’ve been meditating for, set an alarm on your phone for 20 minutes, or longer if you have time. Mindfulness is easy to pick up and great for beginners, but equally experienced meditators use this technique to expand their practice and create a deep state of stillness.
  • Movement or active meditation: What it says on the tin. Simply, any kind of meditation where you are moving. Any movement can be performed as a meditation, if we apply mindfulness and a slow pace. This technique is great for those who find it difficult sitting for too long as it allows you to learn how to work with your body, not against it. Try tai chi or Qigong as they teach us to be aware of all parts of our body and are a great way to start practising meditation in a moving state. Repetitive activities such as walking are often underestimated but equally just as valuable in achieving mindfulness; by doing the same movement or keeping to the same rhythm, your body will start to learn and go through the motions allowing your mind to start finding places of stillness and calm.
  • Mantra meditation: A celebrity favourite, and what you may think of when you imagine meditation, it’s usually practised for 20 minutes twice a day either silently or audibly repeating a particular sound or phrase. The vibrations act as your anchor to allow for a clear mind to take place. A specific form of mantra meditation, Transcendental meditation (or TM), has been growing in popularity since it’s conception in the mid 50’s. Traditionally, you can only receive a TM mantra from a teacher, as you’ll be given one that’s unique to you. Not all mantras need to be your stereotypical ‘ohm’ though and many people find short phrases or positive affirmations work better for them. Don’t feel intimidated – you really can have anything as your mantra. It’s a personal technique and incredibly important to just use whatever feels comfortable to get the best benefits.
  • Body scan meditation: Body scan meditation is particularly popular for its simplicity and direct applicability to experience. It encourages you to move through your body slowly from top to bottom, becoming curious of every millimetre your mind touches on, observing any sensations that you become aware of. As well as being one of the best forms of meditation to relieve tension and stress, in cases of pain from illness or injury, science has shown that accepting sensations in this form is more effective than trying to control them. This form can be practiced as a guided meditation led by an advanced meditation practitioner, or performed solo once you get the hang of it.
  • Guided imagery: A growing form of meditation that’s gaining popularity and a cult following, as many people get the benefits of meditation without the challenge of having to still their chattering mind. Incredibly simple to use, guided imagery (or visualisation as it’s sometimes called) is practised by listening to a guide, who leads you through a series of relaxing visualisations. For those who suffer from anxiety, insomnia or other stress-related illnesses, guided imagery urges you to visualise positive changes, healing or states of wellbeing.

words by Amelia Perkins