Top 5 Summer Wellbeing Escapes

August 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Travel

One of the keys to longevity is learning to relax, and if your idea of a holiday is getting away from it all to recharge your batteries then Michaela Olexova from Baoli has put together a list that might tempt you to start packing.

From yoga breaks, fitness retreats to wellbeing escapes, there are hundreds of operators that promise to take you to new destinations across sun lit Europe and recommend inspirational programs to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. To help you with your search of a wellbeing holiday that best suits your nature and fitness level, we have found five wellbeing escapes that deliver it all – gorgeous locations, excellent teachers, delicious healthy food, time to relax and recharge, not to mention a personal service and attention.

If yoga or meditation is your thing then Hazur Vadisi on Turkey’s ‘Turquoise Coast’ might be just want you are looking for. Famous for its warm hospitality, delicious vegetarian food and beautiful natural location Hazur Vadisi runs retreats throughout the year. To forget everyday worries and relax, you should find your way to the popular Czech resort of St. Katerina where you will be spoilt for choice with a variety of wellbeing packages and therapies for both body and mind.

The world class health experts from in:spa’s promise that you will come home fitter, lighter and tighter after a week luxury detox holiday set at the boutique hotel in Andalusia.

And if you would like to extend summer till September then pick one of the following two mountains escapes: fitscape’s personal fitness and training sessions will boost your energy in the Italian Dolomites, while KiYoga run by the popular yoga teacher Kirsty Norton ensures a heightened sense of your wellbeing at a luxury chalet in the French Alps.

More information on these, and more, at

Pain Reduced by Meditation

June 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


I am a great advocate of meditation for many things: stress management, pain relief from arthritis, relaxation and general sense of increased peace and happiness. Now it seems that people who meditate regularly find pain less unpleasant because their brains anticipate the pain less – no one so far has yet done a study on meditation relating to childbirth pain, but I would be interested to hear from any readers experience of it. Currently In the UK 40% of people who suffer from chronic pain report inadequate management of their pain problem so any relief is welcomed.

You do need to keep practicing to get this pain relief benefit though as scientists from the University of Manchester found that only the more advanced meditators had a different anticipation and experience of pain when compared to non-meditators.

It didn’t seem to matter what kind of meditation as long it included ‘mindfulness meditation’ practices, such as those that form the basis of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), recommended for recurrent depression by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2004.

Dr Christopher Brown, who conducted the research, said that “meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis and recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50% of people with chronic pain. However, scientists have only just started to look into how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain.”

The study found that particular areas of the brain were less active as meditators anticipated pain and that people who meditate also showed unusual activity during anticipation of pain in part of the prefrontal cortex. This is the region of the brain known to be involved in controlling attention and thought processes when potential threats are perceived. . Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and therefore to spend less time anticipating future negative events. This may be why meditation is effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse.

Study co-author Professor Anthony Jones said: “One might argue that if a therapy works, then why should we care how it works? But it may be surprising to learn that the mechanisms of action of many current therapies are largely unknown, a fact that hinders the development of new treatments. Understanding how meditation works would help improve this method of treatment and help in the development of new therapies.

If I was feeling cynical I might say that scientists have always been distinctly wary of anything ‘emotional’ that can’t be proved, so I do celebrate this as a giant step forward. If you want to conduct your own ‘research’ there are many classes available on meditation and plenty of self-help CD’s if you can’t get to a class. If you want to have a look at the meditation CD I produced to help you relax and reduce stress then please visit this link and scroll down the page

Meditation shows dramatic results for incontinence

May 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Healthy Ageing

It is no laughing matter, but ironically a laugh can be a real embarrassment if you suffer from incontinence. Sneezing and coughing can also cause leakage of urine and it’s something that affects around 5 million people in the UK. It’s not just your bladder that is affected either; regular incontinence can have other effects such as skin infections, sores and rashes. If you are getting up frequently in the night, then your sleep is affected and that can depress your immune system. In more severe cases sufferers feel ‘unclean’ and it affects their self esteem, sometimes leading to depression, and cause them to withdraw from social life and sexual activity.

Causes include infections and tumours, but the most common cause for women is the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles after childbirth, or as they get older.

There are many solutions available from the radical ones of surgery or drugs, but these do carry potential side effects. For example, the generic drug oxybutynin can affect the memory, make swallowing difficult, and been linked to blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness and confusion. The new generation of drugs are anticholinergics, generic name often prescribed is darifenacin and this has been linked to dry mouth, constipation, indigestion, blurred vision, decreased sweating leading to severe heat prostration, and abdominal pain. Natural methods have included commercially sold pelvic floor exercisers and simple home exercise plans to tighten the muscles. A new solution has just come from a Loyola University Health System (LUHS) study in the States which has found that meditation can be just as effective as drugs or surgery.

Meditation is usually associated with spiritual practice, or as a stress reduction technique, but whatever its purpose the effect is to use the brain to control the body. Meditation is known to be able to reduce blood pressure, but now it seems it can also control our bladders. One distressing feature of incontinence is the almost irresistible urge to urinate far more frequently than normal, and meditating helps control this impulse. This seems to be more effective for women than men, but certainly worth experimenting with for both sexes before taking drugs or resorting to surgery.

The study incorporated some cognitive therapy with meditation and visualisation focused on using deep breathing to relax the body. The average age of the study subjects was 62 and all had been diagnosed with ‘urge incontinence’ resulting from an overactive bladder. They practiced meditation by listening to a recording twice a day that took them through visualisation and relaxation exercises. Having done this twice a day for a fortnight, they also logged how many times they accidentally passed urine daily before and after participating in the study.

The researcher’s conclusion was that for the majority a dramatic improvement was seen. A sharp drop in the number of ‘accident’s was seen down from 40 to 12 which is very impressive, particularly when some subjects reported being able to leave home more often as they achieved a 98 percent leak-free day.

I don’t know what meditation they used, but if you want to try my meditation CD I would recommend you use the Blue Sky track and focus on visualising yourself going through a day being dry, comfortable and active. If you want to know more please visit

Another simple technique is the ‘elevator exercise’ where you tighten and hold the pelvic muscles as you imagine them pulling upwards as if in an elevator. You ‘pause’ the elevator at each floor and hold and relax the muscles, then continue on up to the next floor. Doing this exercise of contracting, holding and releasing frequently during the day is also a good way of keeping the muscles toned and avoiding future episodes of incontinence.