Understanding Your Stress Response.

Hi friends

Do you find yourself coming down with a cold or virus as soon as you go on annual leave?

You’re not alone! Research indicates that around 1 in 5 of us will come down with the common cold during a period of annual leave.

And this recent article by the New York Times cited that being under severe stress for more than one month but less than six months doubled a person’s risk of a cold, compared with people experiencing only routine stress.

But what is routine versus severe stress? And what does it have to do with us catching a cold?

Well, it’s all down to how you respond to the stress in your life and in this month’s lifetonic, we’re going to be digging deeper into what your stress response is, why stress can sometimes be good for you and how to look out for the ‘bad’ stress that’s not so good!

You’ll also learn about your three in-built responses to stress, looking at three of the most powerful ways you can control the physiological effects of stress with your TLC tools and resources.

So if you’re looking to book that annual leave for the Christmas Holidays and actually get to make the most of it, then this is the lifetonic for you!

What is stress?

Quite simply, stress occurs when pressure exceeds your perceived ability to cope.

This is really important to understand, because it’s not just about external pressures like hitting deadlines, but whether you believe that you can cope with a situation that you perceive as important or threatening.

That means stress is going to be different for every body!

The good news is, through experience, understanding your stress response and developing helpful coping mechanism, you can actually get good at stress and it can help to make you more resilient for whatever life throughs at you.

This line of thinking is rooted in positive psychology and is often called developing a ‘growth mindset.’

Understanding Your Stress Response

The stress response is a biological set of processes that start in the brain and body and are triggered once you become stressed (Palmer and Cooper, 2015).

It is important to note that there are two biological responses to stress; a short term stress response, which is a natural response to dealing with threating situations, and a long term or ‘chronic’ stress response, which can lead to a number of different physical and mental health conditions if left unmanaged.

The diagram below is actually a diagram I put together for my stress coaching certification. It helps to explain the long and short term stress response, including the main hormones involved.

The blue areas illustrate the short term or ‘acute‘ stress response. Acute stress is the ‘good’ stress or the healthy response to stress. This is the stress that protects you from the threat of danger and can help motivate you to get things done, achieve a goal or complete a project on time.

Here’s the cool bit – acute stress supports your immunue system. For example, the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline help to prepare your heart, lungs and major muscles groups for action (fight or flight mode), whilst fats and sugars are released into your blood to provide energy.

Combined, they’re actually working for you, helping you to stay safe or ‘get the job done.’ This response prepares you for action. When you take that action, or ‘get the job done,’ your using up that energy your body has given you to remove the stress, helping it to return to balance. This is called regulating your stress response.

Where we can run into hot water, is where we don’t take any action to regulate our stress system. Instead, we just let stress go round and round, taking ourselves into a cycle of chronic or long term stress.

The orange area illustrate the longer term, ‘chronic‘ stress cycle and is epitomised by the ‘always on’ culture. .

The chronic stress response is made in your HPA Axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal).

Constant stimulation of the HPA axis can lower the body’s immune system and increase blood pressure leading to hypertension and regular headaches and colds. 

And although adrenal fatigue is not a real condition, it goes some way to describing the ‘stress’ that the adrenal gland is put out during periods of chronic stress. Chronic stress puts it at risk of malfunction, which can result in tiredness, digestive difficulties, sleep disturbances, dizziness and a craving for sweet and starchy food.

Sound familiar?

Our in-built responses to stress

There are only three 3 ways your body responds to stress. These are:

In this lifetonic, we’re mainly going to be looking at the physiological responses but stand by for future lifetonics, which will look at important aspects of the other two.

Resetting your Stress Response

Whether you’re aware of it or not, the tools and resources that you have access to within the lifetonic Club offer you a mind / body / life approach to managing your stress response and boosting your wellbeing.

The only thing you have to do is to take action!

This is the hard part of most of us. No longer do we have tigers chasing us, so taking action on our stress response has become less about survival. It’s a mind set shift we have to make – it IS still very much about our survival, the long term survival of our health, our relationships and our life!

Let’s look at how some of the tools and resources with TLC are set up to support this:

Wellbeing Resources

10 minutes is better than none

One of the best known ways to lower your stress levels is through exercise (White, 2017,; Palmer and Cooper, 2015).  In his book ‘The Stress Solution,’ Dr. Raangan Chatterjee states that exercise is one of the best ways to pull yourself out of a “damaging stress state,” caused by too many “Micro Stress Doses” (MSD). 

This is a term he uses to describe the modern day ‘always on’ culture (texts, emails, alerts, notifications). MSD cause your body to pump out cortisol over and over again. Moving helps to use up that cortisol and sends a ‘safe’ signal to your brain, triggering the rest and digest response.

One of the best findings of recent years is that it’s no longer about duration or intensity, but the importance of moving your body as much as possible each day, and paying attention to how you feel before and after that can really have the most impact (Chatterjee, 2017).

Eat more anti-inflammatory foods

Maintaining a healthy diet plays an important part in maintaining a healthy body and mind (White, 2017).

Chronic stress increases chronic inflammaton in the body but the good new is, eating well can help reduce inflammation (Charterjee, 2017) and prevent things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and even cancer.

Central to this is eating a balanced, healthy diet. This can include things like healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, oily fish like salmon), complex carbohydrates and foods that are high in fibre (green, leafy veg, wholegrain pasta, rice, bread, sweet potato and fruit), protein (lean meat, chicken eggs, lentils) and avoiding refined sugar, overly processed food and unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) (White, 2017; Palmer and Cooper, 2015).

Did you know that anti-inflammatory foods can also help you to regulate your mood and perform better?

To help us dive a little deeper into this subject, I’m delighted to bring you a BONUS series this month called ‘Food for Mood.’

These short videos, (all under 10 minutes), have been created for us by our brilliant in-house nutritionist, Moira Newiss and you watch them below for some helpful hints and tips about how to use food for mood!

Learn to relax

There are many mind body techniques that can use used to help enter a state of calm and relaxation and reduce the effects of stress and tension, including meditation, breathwork, relaxation imagery and pilates (Chatterjee, 2018).  

All of these techniques work by enhancing the para-sympathetic nervous system helping you to access your ‘rest and digest’ state. 

Palmer and Cooper (2015) state that “mediative techniques can lead to 50 per cent fewer visits to hospital as either an in or out patient.”

In my opinion, movement that strengthens and nourishes your body, a diet that’s fulled by whole, real foods and taking time out to promote healing and relaxation in your body and mind are the holy trinity of controlling your response to stress at a physiological level.

Work towards building your own unique toolkit for respoinding to your stress by picking one or two things to focus on for this month.

I hope you are starting to feel the benefits of what taking small, intentional steps with your health can really do for you.

Have a peaceful October.

Download your October Mindtonic for daily inspiration:

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Brain health

Hi friends

For this month’s Lifetonic, we’re turning our attention towards focusing on a part of our body that we often don’t realise needs a lot of care and attention…

…and that’s our brain!

We rely on our brains to help us do everything we can possibly do in a day, making decisions, moving our bodies, talking to ourselves positively, interacting with others, problem solving, communicating.  Most of these things we do automatically and we can take our brain function hugely for granted, but our brains are an important part of our bodies to care for.

When we care for our brains regularly, we improve our chances of delaying or avoiding age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders. We can also improve our overall cognitive function.

But what does that mean for us?

Brain health is essential for long-term healthy living and daily function. While it’s important to start taking care of our brains early on, it becomes even more important the older we get.

That’s why this month’s Lifetonic is to focus on ways to boost our brain health!

Neuroinflammation, or inflammation of the brain, can happen over time, causing the brain to age or atrophy. Symptoms of neuroinflammation can include “brain fog,” slowed thinking, fatigue, and even depression.

While it’s necessary for our bodies to have some inflammation to fight illness, too much inflammation can lead to long-term diseases and declines in our overall health, including brain function.

Here are a few positive steps you can actively and mindfully take, to improve your brain’s overall health:

“Reducing inflammation is pretty much the most effective anti-aging strategy of all.” – Dave Asprey

As we get older, our bodies and brains change and adapt. That’s why it’s so important to take care of them as they go through this process.

Many people don’t notice the effects of their lifestyles until they get older. And while genetics do play a part in our overall health, we can make mindful choices to help us continue on the path to good physical and brain health.

I hope you’ll join me this month in caring for our brain health together. Taking intentional steps to care for your body and brain for long-term health benefits is truly empowering and helps keep us young!

Love Julie x



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Whether you’re a member of The Lifetonic Club, have downloaded one of my free resources or follow along on my YouTube channel, today I’m sharing a few quick tips to help you stay on track with an at-home workout.

a pilates mat set up for an at-home workout.

Why pilates is perfect for an at-home workout

Unlike other types of fitness programmes, pilates lends itself particularly well to an at home environment because it’s uniquely non-competitive and also encourages you to be full of mindfulness on the mat, which means that you don’t necessarily need to lean on the support of others in the moment.

Outside of that, we have our TLC Facebook Community Group where we connect for support, motivation and inspiration.  This is a wonderful community who will cheer you every step of the way to reach your pilates goals!

So whether you’re just getting started with an at-home workout practice, or have been at it for a while and are looking for some extra motivation to set yourself up for success, the tips below will help you to stay on track and get the results you signed up for!

Tip #1: Wear what you feel most comfortable in

The beauty of home workouts is you don’t have to get dressed in the latest activewear to get on the mat!  You can wear whatever you want!

I’ve been known to work out in my pajamas and you’ll often see me on Instagram sneaking in 10 minutes of pilates here and there in my jeans!

Some days jeans are fine but on other days changing into actual workout clothes gives me a boost that encourages me to show up with more intention and focus on my mat.

Remember in The Lifetonic Club we’re on the mat to tune into how we feel, so pay attention to this during your workouts, and choose to wear something that works best for you!

And definitely don’t be fooled by the influencers on Instagram who make it look as though you need to have dropped several thousands of pounds in Sweaty Betty to ‘look’ the part.

You don’t.

Tip #2: Create at-home workout triggers

In The Lifetonic Club I talk a lot about using triggers to help motivate and encourage you to get on the mat.  These can be especially useful with an at-home practice.

I often encourage our members to try and create a small space that they use just for their pilates practice.  This space can act as your visual trigger to get on the mat.

The more you do pilates in this space, the more you associate this space with pilates. This can serve as a powerful way to ‘anchor’ the practice in your brain and help you to develop the habit of getting on your mat.

And if that doesn’t work for you, you can also just keep your mat rolled up somewhere you can see it. This is something I’ve done for years to remind me that those positive, feel good vibes are only a 15 minute workout away.

And this isn’t just a crazy idea – research shows that if you are looking to integrate a new habit into your life, then you need to make the cue, (in this case your mat), a big part of your environment.


Tip #3: Think simplicity

It’s easy to think that you need all kinds of equipment at home to get a good workout but that simply isn’t true! We’ve found in The Lifetonic Club that the more simple you keep your routine, the more likely you are to stay consistent – and consistency leads to results.

Nearly all of the workouts within The Lifetonic Club use your bodyweight to build strength and don’t require expensive equipment or an elaborate set up.

So if you want to stick with your routine for more than a few days – keep it simple.


Tip #4: Have a plan

In The Lifetonic Club, members benefit from a clear plan and calendar to follow from home, helping them to skip decision fatigue.  When you are busy and feeling a little low on energy, not having a plan can be a real barrier to getting on your mat at home.

Also, a quick search on YouTube and Instagram will pull up thousands of free workouts and it’s hard to know where to start (and also who’s qualified to teach what!).

Each month in TLC, I put a calendar together so as members know what to do each day, how long they are going to need and how they can track their results.  

If you’re a member of The Lifetonic Club, then you’ll also benefit from the coaching I provide inside our private Facebook Group.  I go live  2 to 3 times a week where I teach you all about movement, motivation and mindset.   All the things that I love and that help drive a successful at home practice that’s going to get you those all important results. 

I’m also working towards both my qualification in stress management and wellbeing and my Level 4 pilates (always busy!), so I’m in the Group regularly sharing ALL my learnings to help you build strength, lower those stress levels and help you feel great in ways that will bring about those long term results.

Ready to build your own at-home practice? 

Then join over 400 others who have completed my easy (and FREE), 21 days of pilates challenge to see if it’s for you.

Each workout is only 10 minutes and everything is delivered straight to your inbox to do in your own time.

Just sign up below to get started today!

I’ll see you on your mat soon

Love Julie x

This simple and quick morning pilates routine is a perfect way to set the tone for the rest of your day, allowing you to move through it with simplicity and ease.

You’ll get some delicious, gentle movement into tight areas like your back and hips and also build strength in that all important core, so as it’s ready to support you for the day ahead.

The benefits of moving your body in the morning

I find moving my body in the morning one of the most productive ways to set me up for a productive and positive day head. Some of the amazing benefits of morning exercise include:

Time in the morning can feel like a luxury, especially if you are juggling family priorites and I know not everyone has the time, or energy, to smash out a 30 minute HIIT session.

That’s one of the main reason’s why I developed The Lifetonic Club – to make it easy for you to fit in a workout that will leave you feeling great but won’t be a drain on either of those things. You can follow this link to find out more about TLC (don’t you just love that the acronym is TLC!).

Getting into a morning routine

It can take a while to get into a routine with exercise in the morning, but I’ve found having a goal to move myself for just 10 or 15 minutes, and focusing on how I’m going to feel after it, is enough motivation for me to roll out my mat.

In fact, I actually look forward to setting my alarm clock to get up that little bit earlier!

And if you’re reading this wondering how you could possibly find the time for yourself first thing, then let me introduce you to a little secret about how to master it – you steal it from your evening.

I had to change my habits many years ago when I suffered from chronic low back pain. The morning was often the worst time for me. I’d wake up stiff, sore and tired, which often translated into a less than positive mood! Often it would take at least 15 minutes just to get up and moving around.

It wasn’t until I discovered pilates and incorporated some simple 10 to 15 minute stretches into my morning routine, that I felt a huge difference, not just in the pain I was having but in my mood too.

And all I really had to do, was get up a little bit earlier than I was actually used to, but the pay off was huge; I’ve not had back pain for over 15 years now.

julie doing the pilates cobra
A simple morning pilates routine is a quick and effective way to shake off stiff muscles first thing in the morning.

So yes, I’ve tried and tested the theory that you don’t have to get up hours before work to ‘fit in’ exercise and feel good. Nor do you have to go to bed hours before you get up!

Making your routine work for you

I’ve discovered a way that makes exercise work for me, for my routine, and in a way that helps me to reap all of the incredible benefits of pilates in a very short space of time.

One that leaves me feeling energised, healthy and eager to get up and on my mat every day because of how I feel at the end of it and it doesn’t take up hours of my day.

That’s what feeling good should be all about – easy, accessible and convenient for you.

I think often when we hear the word ‘routine’ we can be misled into thinking it’s about getting up hours before to do 100 different tasks to bring us into a zen like state.

Let me simplify things by telling you that your morning routine should come with ease and instill a sense of calm, which is what this workout is designed to do.

So, I hope you enjoy it! It’s a perfect daily pilates routine for beginners, it will also benefit anyone with a more advanced practice; you’ll get all the healthy movement your body needs in one simple, mood boosting burst!

Use it to bring in some fresh energy for the day ahead and to set you up on a note of positivity for whatever comes your way.

And if you’re looking for a little added inspiration for your morning routine, then you can check out this blog post where I share 5 Tips for a Mindful Morning.

Start your day on a note of positivity with this quick and simple morning pilates routine

Leave me a comment to let me know what you think and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so as you can be notified when other pilates routines, just like this one, go live!

Love Julie x

P.S. After some more quick and simple pilates routines to help you feel good? Then don’t forget to download my FREE PDF – 5 simple pilates exercises you can do everyday below!

an image to support a blog post on the best pilates props
Learn about the top 10 best props to take your pilates from good to great!

Whether it’s 10 minutes or 60 minutes, the best thing about pilates is that you can get everything you need from a session without any pilates equipment, making it super accessible and easy to get started.

BUT what happens when you’re looking to take things up a notch?!

Enter pilates props (think small equipment); things like the overball (small ball), therabands, light hand weights, the pilates magic circle, a yoga block can all add variety to your matwork, helping to keep them fresh and exciting.

Pilates props also help to isolate or engage specific muscles, and can foster “a-ha” moments even during the most familiar exercises. Like the springs on a Reformer, props can provide support and stability or offer more challenge, depending upon the movement being performed and how they are used – they are also just really good fun, which is what workouts should be!

Here are some of the most commonly used pilates props and how to use them.

1. Foam Roller

The best friend of a lot of sporting professionals and physios, the foam roaller is widely known as a rehab tool designed to smooth out your fascia. As it has a wobbly surface, it’s brilliant for challenging balance. In a vertical position, you can lie on it and try Arm Circles, Single Knee Fold, Toe Taps, or Dead Bug to get those core stability muscles firing. Or turn it horizontally and rest your pelvis on the Roller while spine curling, working up to Bridge. Placed beneath the shoulder blades, it’s fantastic for supporting curl ups and oblique twists and facilitates spinal extension – amazing after being a desk all day!

2. Light hand weights

In Pilates, we use light hand weights to keep the emphasis on the entire body. One- or two-pound weights add challenge to the Standing Arm Series and just about any of the mat repertoire – yes even single leg stretch! Many Reformer exercises, from Coordination to Rowing to Backstroke, can be done on the Mat using Hand Weights.

You’ll find these being used in my Foundational and Core mat classes, Total Barre and also my HIP Pilates class. Brilliant for toning the upper body and building strength in the core (and in the case of single leg stretch, co-ordination too!)

3. Theraband

Probably the most versatile of all the pilates props, it is a long, stretchy band that’s available in varying levels of resistance, and is great for stretching the hamstrings and lower back while lying on the Mat – it was in deed a life saver for me when I suffered with my chronic low back pain. I’d use mine to stretch my hamstrings twice a day. The band can add resistance and challenge in so many of the mat exercises including the Side-Lying Leg Series, and it provides support and stability in exercises such as the Roll Up, Roll Back, and One Leg Circle.

Again you’ll find the theraband in my mat classes and also my Barre class.

4. Overball

Probably my favourite pilates prop, the overall is a dream piece of kit for wakening up the surrounding muscles of the inner thighs, ankles, or palms when it’s placed between any one of these parts. It’s also a great for challenging stability and getting those deep core muscles to fire when placed under the pelvis (love doing toe taps this way) and provides a great modification tool when placed under the thoracic spine to help with curl ups.

Try this Pilates for Beginners workout using the small ball.

I also use it in prenatal behind the mid-back to avoid my ladies lying supine (flat on the back) for an extended period of time.

I run a specific pilates with the small ball classes – check my schedule for more information and to book. This is the piece of kit to give you serious shakes and wobbles!

5. Tennis ball

Joseph Pilates invented several small pieces of Pilates equipment specifically to engage and work the feet, most famously the Foot Corrector. The small size and firmness of a tennis ball makes it ideal for waking up the feet. Try rolling the sole of your foot over a tennis ball while standing or seated (try it whilst you’re working at your desk to keep your feet mobile!).

Tennis balls can also be placed under tender areas such as the hips or shoulders for a static stretch or gentle rolling massage.

You will have seen the tennis ball in use during tennis ball rising in my mat classes (we also use spikey balls, which we’ll talk about next).

6. Franklin ball (spikey ball)

These small, inflatable balls are used to massage and wake up the muscles and fascia. Placed beneath the pelvis, lower back, shoulders, or other tight or sore spots, spikey balls work with the body’s own weight to release tension. These balls can be used for static holds or you can slide them back and forth across the fasciae for a self-massage.

Again I’ve used these quite a lot in my matwork classes and last year attended an Art of Motion teacher training course on the slings system with the wonderful Katherine Pentecost. This training class was focused on using these little pieces of wonder to help you find glide and release through your fascia system.

7. Pole

I’ve only ever used the pole in Reformer sessions, but they are so effective when added to exercises like the classic Roll Up as it adds resistance and a challenge on the way up from the floor and contributes to a great stretch in the forward rounding position.

8. Magic Circle

I would have said that this is the most well known of all the pilates props, but I think in recent years there has definitely been a shift more towards the overball in its place. Still, this deceptively simple tool has endless uses and is a firm favourite of mine – you cannot get a better inner thigh workout!

It’s a resistance based circle that you can hold between the ankles, thighs, or palms for finding the mid-line or your ‘centre;’ an important pilates principle (think of the phrase “naval to spine”). The Magic Circle can also create instability (the same way an overball does) when balanced on the floor beneath an outstretched hand in the Side-Lying, or Side Kick Kneeling, or under the ankle of the stationary leg in the One Leg Circle. There’s also an entire standing series performed with the Circle placed above and between the ankle bones — a major balance challenge.

9. Chair

Did you know that many pilates exercises can be modified so that they can be done in a seated position? Sitting upright is especially beneficial for beginners, as it encourages length in the spine (the same effect can be achieved by sitting on a Foam Roller or a Yoga Block). Try Spine Stretch Forward, Spine Twist, or the Saw, for starters. Bonus: you can do these on an airplane or at your desk.

10. Yoga block

In yoga classes, blocks are commonly used to bring the floor closer to you in Forward Folds. In pilates, these firm but not rigid foam blocks can take the place of a magic Circle or an Overball. They can prop up the sacrum in a Bridge and provide a useful perch in any of the seated exercises. Lightly hugging a block between the hands in Single Leg Kick engages the back muscles and upper arms. And can also be used in place of a cushion for the Big Squeeze.

Try adding props to your Mat work and see if it doesn’t challenge you in interesting ways and reveal new information about the exercises and your body.

Hope to see you on the mat!

P.S. Have you grabbed your FREE 20 minute Strength & Stretch pilates workout yet? It’s perfect for beginner level right through to advanced and will give you just the release you need in your body if it’s feeling tight and out of balance. Grab it by clicking here now.

By far and away, one of the most asked questions I get is around pilates breathing, “I can’t quite get my breathing to match my movements,” “am I meant to breathing in or out?,” “I think I just stop breathing altogether!”

Please know that when you first start out on your pilates journey, nobody gets the breathing so you are not alone! The first objective of breath work in pilates is really just to become aware of your breathing and then to try and keep that breathe natural and fluid as you go; having that awareness is the start of building the mind/body connection that pilates is so famous for. Once you start to become aware of it, this will allow you to develop it as you go I promise.

“Breathing is the first and last act of life. Our very life depends on it.”

joseph pilates

So why is the breath so important then?

Breathing is a key pilates principle and is one of the building blocks of the practice along with alignment and centering (using core stability) – your ABCs! My community members will know all about this because I created a handy Guide for them all about it.

Intentional breath, or focused breathing, helps calm the nervous system, oxygenates the blood and gets rid of nasties (carbon dioxide) from the body, provides us with energy, activates our muscles and keeps our immune system ticking over.

Breathing is also directly related to the alignment of your skeleton. Nearly all muscles involved in breathing have a postural function and many of them are also involved in stability and help control good alignment as you move. In a nutshell, breathing directly influences stability and control of movement as well as posture and alignment so we are ticking a lot of boxes just by breathing well!

Your diaphragm is the muscle responsible for breathing in your body; it sits between your upper body and your lower body but all 3 parts are connected through your fascia system (that’s like wallpaper on your insides) so just by breathing slowly you are consciously stretching your whole torso – from your neck to your pelvic floor – very cool! The abdominal muscles (especially your deep core ones) are the ones you use to exhale, so breathing out helps kick start your body’s ability to stabilize.

That’s why you will hear cues like ’on your exhale, draw your belly button to your spine’ or ‘draw your abdominals down towards the spine’ or ‘feel your abdominals wrapping around your spine,” that’s me reminding you to think about actively recruiting yours abs on your exhale so as you can give your body some gentle support before you move. It always sounds so much more complicated than it is!

We use lateral (ribcage) breathing in pilates where we consciously breathe into the sides and backs of the ribcage (as if the ribcage was yawing apart), and then as we exhale the ribs draw back in to meet, allowing you to connect and hollow your deep adnominal muscles as you empty your lungs. You then aim to keep this ‘hollow’ as you take your next inhale; holding yourself stable.

Typically we inhale to prepare and exhale to move. However, this doesn’t always work for everyone – sometimes it can be useful to experiment and find a way that works best for you. I’ll do this in The Hundred sometimes when I find the in / out breath count of 5 is too much. If you’re in class with me, you will have seen me do in for 2 / out for 2. I think this is a good compromise for one of the more challenging pilates exercises and is easier to get handle on if you are new to it all.

Whatever you do, just don’t forget to actually breathe! Holding your breath, which is what most people do when they learn something new and are concentrating, adds to tension in the body and we’re trying to release it.

Just remember, that once you feel co-ordinated enough in your movements, then you can start to work on matching the breathe with what you’re doing. We will all be at different stages in our pilates journey so it’s about working in a way that feels right for you – take your time with it, don’t get impatient with yourself. Remember pilates is non-competitive; it’s a journey not a destination so enjoy the ride!

“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

joseph pilates

Foundational exercises to support pilates breathing:

Pilates breathing helps stretch the upper mid back, can help to release tightness in the neck, jaw and shoulders, can strengthen and restore good health to the pelvic floor muscles and of course can calm our nervous system. So many benefits!

Here are the key exercises to practice with – get noisy with it and have fun!

Good luck!


P.S. Did you realise there was so much going on with just one breathe? I love to know if these tips might make a difference to your pilates practice so if you try them, be sure to leave me a comment with your thoughts.

P.P.S Have you read my post on breathing exercises that I wrote for you too? They are great to have in your back pocket for when you need to take a moment out for yourself or to practice your pilates breathing. I’ve linked them here for you.

After a hard day’s work, sometimes heading to the gym for a big sweaty workout session can seem like the last thing you feel like doing. Thank goodness for pilates then. You can roll out your mat at home and in as little as 20 minutes feel stronger, rejuvenated and more relaxed. You don’t need any expensive equipment and you don’t need to be a celebrity to do it either!

1. It’s a simple way to send stress packing

I recently surveyed my long standing clients who shared that just one hour of pilates a week left them feeling less stressed and more energised afterwards. Pilates has a magical quality to it; it will bring your body and your mind together from the minute you step onto your mat and leave them talking long after a session. Breathing, relaxing and flowing movements all help to calm the nervous system, lower your stress levels and focus your mind.

Not only that, my pilates community are incredibly fun to be around so spending any amount of time with them is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

2. It future proofs your body

Start it before you have any aches and pains like in your low back, and you stand to reap the benefits of the practice long term; core strength, flexibility, balance and better posture are just a few of the pay outs of a consistent practice. A low impact form of exercise, it targets your bones and joints moving them in a healthy way that keeps them mobile, well oiled and helps maintain bone strength which can help protect proactively against things like osteoporosis.

3. Anyone can do it

One of my most favourite things about pilates is that it is a non competitive form of exercise that any body can do AND reap the benefits. It is gentle and kind on the body but still has the ability to leave you feeling like you have worked out. I teach a whole variety of classes and people, shapes and sizes. From foundational beginner sessions (i have one kicking off on Monday 11 May – just FYI), that focus on teaching you the all important basics of the method, to more conditioning based dynamic reformer sessions, to junior pilates, pre and post natal and silver swans; there is something for every body at every stage of their life so don’t be fooled into thinking pilates is only for the instagram generation – it’s a lot more than fancy inversions and the ability to bend over and touch your toes!

4. No poor posture here folks

Pilates is used by everyone from athletes, to celebrities, to those chained to their desk 24/7 because of its ability to develop strengthen and correct posture in the key areas of the hips/lower back, upper back and neck. Basically counteracting the effects of slouching.

Typically in a class I’ll look to focus on areas effected by sitting all day in C position (aka the rather unattractive ‘hunched back’). A session will see me targeting and releasing overactive areas of the chest, shoulders, upper back and hip flexor muscles as well as activating and strengthening your bum, abs and shoulder stabilisers.

Muscles are worked in isolation and then more dynamically in a functional way (how they were designed to be used in daily life). This all helps with training dynamic stability, which is the body’s ability to hold itself in good alignment and an upright posture for longer periods of time. This is important because it means your body can respond to the demands placed on it in faster and in safer ways (that means your less likely to incur wear and tear injuries by the way – see point 2 above).

5. It’s a no fuss way to exercise

Like i said at the start, you can roll out your mat at home and you don’t need any expensive equipment. Technically you don’t even need a mat as long as you have something soft to lie on to protect your back!

Comfortable joggie bottoms or leggings and some water to sip on and your good to pilates!

For other hints and tips on how pilates can help you build strength, reduce stress and feel great, follow us on instagram and facebook or sign up to receive the Ostara Living newsletter below.