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

Yoga Show Highlights

November 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


I went to the annual Yoga Show at Earls Court last week and apart from feeling that too long has passed since I could ‘salute the sun’ there were some interesting things on display that might be of interest to those you who already do, or are about to take up, this very healthful practice.

The first thing to note is that there so many varieties of yoga on offer that you really need to spend some time researching the possibilities. If you want to sweat your way to fitness then Bikram or Hot Yoga is for you, and you might be interested in some yoga mats on the market that have a towelling cover so you don’t slide off in a mist of your own perspiration. I always thought yoga mats came in plastic and rubber, but there are also jute and bamboo for the adventurous.

Yoga for health problems

Many people do turn to yoga to help with things like having greater flexibility of stretching tight muscles, but an organisation of yoga teachers has taken it one step further. Yoga therapy for health practitioners have two years of specialist training in anatomy, physiology and pathology so they can tailor a practice to your specific health problem. They work with people who suffer from back pain, weight issues, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, asthma, chronic fatigue, diabetes, anxiety and depression.

They specialise in lower back pain and have developed a system for computer assisted low back assessment (CALBA) which allows them to see if your back pain involves a herniated disk. If it does then they can offer advice on therapeutic exercises tailored to the stage of progression of the disk.

Yoga information at and CALBA at

Yoga for the Mind

If you live in, or have access to, London then this form of yoga is aimed specifically at emotional healing for depression, anxiety and stress. They unite yoga therapy, mindfulness and psychotherapeutic holding with the latest research in neuroscience and the psychobiology of stress. It is a long way from the lotus pose and saying OM, but these courses could be a different way of tackling a long standing problem. Further details at

Yoga For Children With Special Needs

Again, this one is London based and works with children, their parents and carers offering yoga, support groups and massage.

It was started in Brazil in the 1970’s and been running in the USA since the 19990’s. It is a charity and came to the UK in 2001 to offer one to one yoga, group classes and in schools together with training for special needs teachers, occupational therapists and parent and family members. They support children with a wide range of conditions including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, Willi Praeder, autism, epilepsy, ADD as well as other physical and developmental difficulties.

Their website is at

QiYoga for Seniors

If you are looking for something that combines Hatha yoga and Qi Gong then QiYoga might be for you. Available as a DVD to work with at home, this method was developed in Australia and has three different routines to help you gain strength and flexibility, improve your circulation and relax you. More information at the website

Music for Meditation

Finally, if all that yoga has worn you out, the traditional ened to a session is a short relaxation or meditation. Music can be helpful to set this mood and the master of this is Tim Wheater who has been providing mellow sounds for many years. If you are new to his music you can listen to a sample on his website, and at the show his personal recommendation for my readers was his In Unity album.

Mindfulness and weight loss

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Lifestyle


Still on the weight loss front, it is probably the sight of myself in a bikini in the holiday snaps that has made this so much in the forefront of my mind, but here’s another good reason to take up yoga. A study done at a cancer centre has shown that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, and people who eat mindfully are less likely to be overweight.

If you are concerned about middle-age spread, then it seems that regular yoga practice may help prevent it. An earlier study found that middle-age people who practice yoga gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who did not. This was independent of physical activity and dietary patterns and the researchers suspected that the weight-loss effect had more to do with increased body awareness, specifically a sensitivity to hunger and satiety than the physical activity of yoga practice itself.

Mindfulness is a skill learned either directly or indirectly through yoga and it does seem to affect eating behaviour according to the Head of a Cancer Prevention Program.

What does it mean?

Eating mindfully means being aware of why you eat, and stopping eating when full. Non mindful eating occurs when we eat when we are not hungry or in response to anxiety or depression. The way that eating a chocolate from a box is fine, but looking at the box and not remembering you ate them all definitely fits into the concept of mindless eating.

Yoga cultivates mindfulness in a number of ways, such as being able to hold a challenging physical pose by observing the discomfort in a non-judgmental way, with an accepting, calm mind and focus on the breath. This ability to be calm and observant during physical discomfort teaches you how to maintain calm in other challenging situations, such as not eating more even when the food tastes good and not eating when you’re not hungry.


If you want to practice mindfulness around food, try looking at these points when eating:

** awareness – look at your food and observe how it looks, tastes and smells

** emotional response – are you hungry, or eating in response to sadness or stress

** disinhibition – are you continuing to eat even though you are full?

** external cues – have you chosen the food in response to advertising or peer pressure

** distraction – are you just focusing on your food, or on other things like making or taking a phone call or watching TV

Want to boost your IQ

June 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Fitness & Sport

Exercise is the keystone for healthy living, but it is not often advocated to help you to boost your IQ. We already know that older people who exercise three or more times a week have a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Whatever your age, if you exercise regularly you have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of dementia, and even as little as 15 minutes of exercise, three days a week, cuts your risk significantly. One short, brisk, walk every day can make a real difference, but what is new is that recent studies have shown that some forms of exercise may actually help you think better, while others have little or no impact on your brain matter. Here’s three suggestions for what works, and what doesn’t, for those ‘little grey cells’.

Aerobic Training:
In 2006, Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois used MRIs to prove that aerobic exercise builds grey and white matter in the brains of older adults. Later studies found that more aerobically fit schoolkids also perform better on cognitive tests. Widely accepted now that aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do to stay mentally agile into old age.
Impact on intelligence: STRONG

Weight Training:
It might make you feel good to have ripped muscles, but researchers have found only the most tenuous link between heavy resistance training and improved cognitive function.
Impact on intelligence: NEGLIBIBLE

You need as much oxygen as you can get, particularly for brain function, but under stress we tend to hold our breath and reduce our intake which can certainly affect our memory. Yoga can break that habit by helping you learn to breathe correctly which results in less stress and more oxygen.
Impact on intelligence: POSSIBLY STRONG