TOP 5 WAYS YOGA IMPROVES A BREAK
Director of yoga at Chateau Lou Casteou's Cultural Retreat expands on how incorporating the principles of yoga on holiday can improve mind, body and soul
September is national yoga month, and a pilot study, published in The Lancet Oncology, found this week that stress reduction techniques such as yoga, alongside a diet high in plant proteins, fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains, extend the lifespan of cells.
The study looked at the lengths of DNA called telomeres - tiny ‘caps' on the ends of chromosomes that protect against the ageing process, which they found regenerated with these healthy living techniques.
Chateau Lou Casteou in the Cote D'Azur, is introducing yoga into its next luxury cultural retreat, held over 13th - 18th, this October 2013.
Professional Yoga Teacher, Maja Zimmermann will be running the course at Chateau Lou Casteou. Here Maja outlines the Top 5 ways, the basic principles of Yoga, when applied on holiday, can do wonders for body and mind.
Together with these principles, Maja combines a classic yoga pose, which can be practised when away to help achieve these specific goals.
Top 5 Principles of Yoga for travel
"The concept of exploration is intrinsic to yoga. So whilst away, have fun trying something new; like cooking or painting. Dare to explore and break out from your daily rhythm. This takes a little courage and promises growth and an expansion of your horizon," says Zimmermann.
This pose is a back-bend and needs a little bit of courage opening the chest, shoulders and heart, reaching into the unknown.
How to get into it:
Pad your mat and set your knees hip distance apart, start with putting your palms into your lower back as support (fingertips upwards). Draw your shoulder blades and elbows together, lift you sternum and inhale deeply. For beginners; stay right here.
If you're more advanced in your practice, start bending back till you can reach your feet.
Tip: Curl your toes under, so your heels come up and you don't have to bend so far. Don't forget to breathe...
Benefit of the pose: The Camel pose stretches the entire front body, stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck. It opens the lungs and so encourages deeper breathing, lifts the mood and creates energy. Furthermore this pose builds courage and strengthens the back muscles for good posture. Good for people who sit a lot.
"Holiday time is the perfect moment to focus on more balance in life. Yoga is built on the idea of the ying and yang aspect of our existence. We all need motion and stillness, using the right and the left of our brain. The next Holiday may be the perfect time to dedicate a few days in a beautiful surrounding to sing and dance, or simply meditate," says Zimmermann.
Pose: Vrkasana /Tree
This is an asymmetrical standing pose demanding focus and concentration. It strengthens thighs, ankles and the muscles along the spine as well as improves a sense of balance.
How to get into the pose: Stand with your feet hip distance apart on a hard surface (wood floor, or thin yoga mat). Make a solid platform with your right foot, then bring the left sole of the foot to the inside (inseam) of your right leg, keep your left knee out. Hands can be in front of your chest in prayer pose, on your hips or for advanced practitioners, up above framing your head.
For beginners: The left foot can be against the calf and/or one of your hands may find support from a wall.
Tip: Push the foot against the leg and the leg against the foot, so you're hugging the "midline" and focus your gaze onto something steady. For an extra challenge, try to close your eyes...
"Yoga is so often practised in groups, and one main principle of yoga is bonding with others. Take the time to deepen relationships with loved ones on your next holiday, or make new friends, sharing the fun of being abroad with others. Take the time to listen, really engage in a conversation, and so create quality time and new friendships," says Zimmermann.
Pose: Partner Baddha Konasana / sited forward fold
Fun and easy position. As one person folds forward, the other bends back and helps safely to elongate the spine of both, getting a nice shoulder opener at the same time. Excellent for thigh shoulders and lower back pain.
How to get into it: Sit on the floor back to back, feet in front. Knees are bent and soles of the feet together, creating a diamond shape space. Interlock elbows letting both spines touch. As one is gently folding forward with torso over legs, the other is bending back, resting the head between the shoulder blades of the partner.
Tip: To deepen the shoulder stretch, open the arms and holding onto the wrists, palms turned up.
"Strength is a principle of yoga - as it is needed to hold oneself in positions for a period of time. Strengthen your body, mind and character by eating fresh local produce whilst on holiday," says Zimmermann.
Pose: Virabhadrasana II/ Warrior II
Stretches and strengthens all parts of the legs and ankles. Increases stamina, good posture and relieves backache.
How to get into it: Set your feet about 4 feet (1.2 metres) apart, toes turning forward. Turn the right foot out on a 90 degree angle, then open your arms wide (wrists should be over the ankles). Bend your right knee working towards a right angle and turn your head to the right, softly gazing over the right fingertips.
Tip: The bent knee has the tendency to want to collapse inwards, so rotate the front thigh and knee out toward the little toe side.
For beginners: place your hands into your waste.
"Yoga is all about unplugging from the world for an hour or so, to reach an inner harmony. Reach this change of pace on holiday as you un-plug from the daily routine. Put your phone, electronic gadgets and to-do lists to the side for a few days and tune into silence, and as you rejuvenate body mind and heart. We are human beings not human-doings after all," says Zimmermann.
How to get into it: Sit comfortable with your knees bent and legs crossed. Make sure that the back is straight and the shoulder soft. Hands can be on knees or in a prayer pose in front of the chest. This poses opens hips, lungs and the chest, back muscles are strengthened. As the breath slows, stress subsides and intuition flows. This is a great base for a meditation practice.
Tip: if you have a tight lower back, sit onto the edge of a folded blanket.
The Luxury Cultural retreat at Lou Casteou is aimed to appeal to all ages interested in cultural pursuits - singles and couples alike, at any level of expertise. Guests master the arts of Italian cuisine, singing & song-writing, dancing, trekking and painting. The course is taught by professionals in their fields, over six days, within the property's lavish surroundings. Guests also visit local art galleries and a Provençal market and enjoy wine tasting sessions.
The next cultural retreats will be held from Sunday 13 - Friday 18 October, 2013, and Sunday 4 - Friday 9 May, 2014. Included in the package is transfers from Nice airport, luxury accommodation, a formal champagne reception, drinks receptions in the cloisters, wine tastings, gourmet food and drink, nightly entertainment, and all teaching and materials. The price for accommodation in en-suite bedrooms with sea or mountain views, plus all activities and meals, for both the tennis and cultural academies is 5,500 Euros per couple, or pair sharing a room, or 2,950 Euros per single person attending.
For further information, or high res images:
Tel: +44 (0)7889 231000
About Luxury Cultural Retreat at Lou Casteou:
Lou Casteou is hosting a Luxury Cultural Retreat on 21 April to 26 April 2013. The experience offers a perfect getaway for guests looking to simply unwind, or partake in a range of cultural activity classes, tutored by experts and offered on a daily basis. These include singing and song-writing classes, an Italian cuisine cooking course, art workshop, trekking and appreciation of nature sessions and dancing classes. The experience also includes transfers from Nice airport, a formal champagne reception, wine tasting, gourmet food and drink, visits to a Provençal market and art galleries, and nightly entertainment. The Retreat will cater for up to 24 guests and five nights' accommodation is provided, in beautiful en-suite bedrooms with either sea or mountain views. www.loucasteou.com/luxury-cote-azur-cultural-retreat.asp
About Lou Casteou:
Lou Casteou, which means ‘The Chateau' in old Provençal French, was built in 1904 by Lord Amherst of Hackney - a lover or antiquities who funded the Howard Carter expeditions to Egypt, and the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb. The property was purchased in 2006 by Chris and Morag Baxter, who restored it to its former historical glory, adding touches of modern luxury, such as a home cinema seating 40, heated outdoor pool, and commercial kitchen. The chateau can accommodate 32 guests in luxury, with inside and outside reception areas, for events of up to 200 people. Lou Casteou offers weddings, with blessings at Lou Casteou's small historic chapel, or within the chateau's grounds. With a home cinema and board room facilities, Lou Casteou also caters for conferences and formal events. All pricing proposals are personalised depending on required dates, duration of stay, number of guests, and objectives of stay. Lou Casteou is situated in the Esterel Mountains between Cannes and St. Tropez; forty minutes' drive from Nice airport and five minutes from sandy beaches, excellent sports facilities, boutiques and restaurants. Amongst other accolades, Lou Casteou was selected by Simon Cowell as his ‘judge's house' on The X Factor in 2011. www.loucasteou.com