A wellness consultant has revealed the how you can use breathing exercises and stretching techniques to ward off aches and pains while working from home, and which foods will help boost your immune system and help you sleep amid the lockdown.
Helene Cassan, Spa & Wellness Consultant at Heritage Resorts, a leading wellness resort in Mauritius and organiser of the annual Mauritius Wellness Festival, shared her simple six-step guide to improving your wellbeing.
She shared the techniques used during the three-day festival, which next takes place in May 2021, and offers workshops in Pilates, Tai Chi, meditation and even cooking in breathtaking surroundings – including ‘sea walking’, breathing exercises in the forest and yoga in the mountains.
The festival, which is the largest of its kind in the Indian Ocean, is part of a month-long focus on wellness with experts hosting a variety of retreats around the festival, focusing on Mind-Body Practice, Nature Connection, Holistic Health, Personal Development, Artistic Expression and Spirituality.
Helene Cassan, Spa & Wellness Consultant at Heritage Resorts, a leading wellness resort in Mauritius and organiser of the annual Mauritius Wellness Festival, shared her simple six-step guide to improving your wellbeing (stock images)
Speaking to FEMAIL, Helen said: ‘Now is the perfect time to give some care to yourself.
‘Make this lockdown the chance to learn to reconnect with yourself and live in harmony with nature.
‘The Covid 19 crisis forces us all to live differently. We are faced with a choice between feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety or using this opportunity to live in harmony with ourselves.
‘Despite the overwhelming effects of this pandemic on both human and economic levels, the extraordinary regeneration of nature that we are seeing outside with the budding trees and flowers is a positive one.
‘It shows us that we are natural beings ourselves, and that we too can feel positive effects from this situation.’
Helene Cassan, Spa & Wellness Consultant at Heritage Resorts shared her simple six-step guide to improving your wellbeing
‘Breathing is an essential part of our daily life and yet it is so underused or misused.
‘When we feel overwhelmed by stress, our breathing tends to become short and jerky.
‘This can cause poor oxygenation of our body and our brain, in turn opening the door to health problems and making it harder to manage stress.’
How to improve it
- Every morning when you wake up, as well as every night before you go to bed, take 5 minutes to perform 10 long and deep breaths.
- Breathe in through your nose as deeply as possible while inflating the belly (allow air to enter the lower part of the lungs which thus pushes the diaphragm down).
- Exhale through your nose as slowly as possible and deflate your stomach.
- Between exhaling and inhaling try to block your breathing for 4 seconds to feel a very soothing moment of calmness.
- You can use this technique when you experience the first symptoms of an ailment or when you have to deal with negative stress or emotions.
2. Stretches to avoid pain and tension
A teacher at the Mauritius Wellness festival is seen teaching a group the simple stretches to help eradicate aches and pains
‘Everything that does not move freezes, and so does our body. To keep your body healthy and avoid pain and tension, it’s important to keep it supple and flexible from head to toe.
‘Keeping your joints flexible will stimulate good circulation and oxygenation, reducing pain and tension.’
How to stop aching when working from home
‘Every morning when you wake up and every night before going to bed, take another 5 minutes to do these movements 3 times:
- Back stretching: Lying on your bed, bend your right knee and tilt it to the left (above your left leg) while keeping your right shoulder pressed against the bed and your head turned to the right. Then do the same on the other side.
- Back stretching: sit on your knees and lie forward with your arms and head as close to the ground as possible (child pose in yoga)
- Shoulder and neck stretch: Slowly tilt your head to the right as close to your shoulder as possible (you can use your hand to accentuate the stretch which must remain slow and soft), then do the same on the other side. Tilt your head forward and then slowly back, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Turn your head to the right and then to the left, going as far as possible. Rotate your head 3 times clockwise then 3 times anticlockwise. Rotate your shoulders forwards and then backwards.
- Stretching the hands and softening the fingers: rotate the hand and stretch your fingers back and forth while applying pressure with your opposite hand.
- Relaxation of the pelvis and hips: make circular movements of the pelvis clockwise then anticlockwise.
- Relaxation of the knees: hands on the knees, make circular movements of the pelvis clockwise then anticlockwise.
- Flexibility of feet and ankles: rotation of the right ankle, raised heel, clockwise then anticlockwise. Do the same with the left ankle.
3. Essential oils that help your wellbeing
A group being taught about the healing properties of essential oils before trying sunset yoga in Mauritius
‘Several essential oils are said to have antiviral properties. One in particular is said to be particularly efficient in fighting viruses: Ravintsara.
‘Ravintsara is a plant from Madagascar that locals claim has miraculous properties.
‘Its oil is believed to help against viruses and influenza due to its reported antiviral, anti-infectious and immunostimulatory properties, with many using it to aid diseases of the respiratory tract.’
- Apply 2 to 3 times a day: 10 pure drops, or alternatively mixed with vegetable oil or neutral balm. Rub quickly between your hands and put it on your chest and the bottom of your spine. Place your hands around your nose and breathe in deeply.
- You can also diffuse it around the room by diluting it in water to purify the atmosphere.
- When you go out, pour a few drops of the oil into the palms of your hands before leaving.
4. Foods to boost your immune system
The festival even offers cooking classes on how to make simple dishes with healthy ingredients to boost your immune system
‘Diet is also one of our best allies when it comes to boosting our immune system.
It allows you to be in excellent health because it is the best and most natural source of vitamins, as well as many elements and nutrients. Below is a list of essential foods that can bring good health into your daily life’.
- Start your day with a full glass of warm water to cleanse your body. Do not add any other ingredients.
- Raw fruits and vegetables (eating them raw will preserve properties). Of course, take care to buy organic produce so as not to ingest harmful chemicals.
- Anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting mixture: Honey, turmeric, ginger, lemon, rapeseed oil (or other oil full of omega 3 and 6). You can use each ingredient individually or mix them together and add a spoonful of the mixture to a glass of warm water or green tea (not too hot, as heat can destroy certain properties).
- Mix of nuts and seeds (oilseeds) to nourish your cells, keep them “young” and fill them up with omegas. To take alone or as seasoning on your salads.
- Source of energy, vitamins and minerals: Make sure to consume legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, red and white beans.
5. Maintaining a positive mind
Femail’s Jessica Rach trying out the positive mind and yoga execises during the Mauritius Wellness Festival
‘At such a disturbing time, it is important to maintain a positive spirit, even if that is not always an easy thing.
‘Negative spirit and emotions often attract more negativity, whereas a positive spirit and emotions attract positivity into your life. Here are some tips to maintain a positive spirit in all situations.’
- Start your day and end it by thanking life for all the good things you have and the future holds.
- Visualize the good things you want this day to bring you and feel the emotion of getting what you want.
- You might feel negativity that comes from you or your environment during the day. As soon as you sense this, try to detach yourself from that feeling and anchor to something positive (emotion, activity or a more positive conversation). This will be difficult at first but with practice you will master this better and better and spend the majority of your day on a positive note.
6. Exercises to help sleep
A group taking a hike through a Mauritian forest to try ‘forest bathing’ – breathing combined with exercises in nature
‘On the physical level, it is essential to keep in shape. This means exercise and sleeping well. Whilst those two activities might seem like opposites, they both act on our hormones of well-being and are therefore essential for good health.’
- Choose the physical activity that is best for you. Ideally, it contains muscle building and a little cardio to also keep your muscles in shape in every sense of the word.
- You can exercise alone outdoors or indoors or with a group online. It can be Yoga, Tai-Chi, Pilates… the important thing is to remember to stretch before and after.
- Good sleep is essential to regenerate your body and your brain. There isn’t an ideal sleeping time that is applicable to everyone. The key here is to have quality sleep.
- To achieve quality sleep, you must not stay awake too late, meaning ideally you should be in bed before 11:00pm. Once in bed, take a few deep breaths to calm your body and mind, and try to fall asleep with a positive thought in mind to set the tone for your dreams.
- All of these tips will require a bit of discipline and persistence from you at first, but they can soon become part of your daily life. But the game is worth the effort!
‘And don’t forget that YOU are the biggest player in your health.’