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Strengthen and stretch your body whilst you chill out

A guide to relaxation and rebalancing in Chester

There are many ways to strengthen your mind and your body and there are many classes that you can find with specialist practitioners. You might want to try a few out in order to find the teacher that works best for you. Here are a few of the types of classes you could try.


I always come back to yoga once my body tells me it has had enough! I think it is the combination of mind and body that helps me.

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing.

Over the years many different types of yoga have evolved, here is an explanation of a few of the popular ones:

The term ‘hatha yoga’ covers all types of physical yoga. Placing an emphasis on postures with breathing and relaxation, it’s suitable for all ages and levels of ability, making it ideal for beginners. Classes that are described as ‘Hatha’ tend to involve slow-paced stretching with some simple breathing exercises and meditation.

This type of yoga puts an emphasis on postural alignment and poses or ‘asanas’ as a way of deepening relaxation. Physically demanding, it’s most suitable for those with a reasonable level of fitness. Iyengar’s method teaches a correct way to do each pose, sometimes through the use of props, such as blocks, straps, pillows and chairs. Once postures are done to perfection, the balance in the body is reflected in the mind.

Ashtanga uses a fast flowing, dynamic sequence of 45 poses (which take around an hour and a half to two hours to complete) with a focus on breathing. It’s physically demanding, so is best for those who have a good level of fitness to begin with and enjoy a more athletic work out.


Pilates was my ‘go to’ exercise after giving birth to Mini Deva and really helped me to strat reusing some of my core muscles. It wasn’t easy, frustrating at times but hugely beneficial. Pilates focuses on building your body’s core strength and improving your posture through a series of low repetition, low impact stretching and conditioning exercises and has been described as “a refreshing mind-body workout

By emphasizing proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and concentration on smooth, flowing movement, you become acutely in tune with your body. You actually learn how to control its movement.

Practitioners say regular pilates practise can help improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension. For elite athletes, including dancers, pilates can complement their training by developing whole body strength and flexibility, and help reduce the risk of injury.


I love both yoga and pilates but rarely have time to fit one class into my regime, let alone two. Could Yogalates be nirvana for me I wonder? Or is it a compromise too far?

Yogalates incorporates stretching, strengthening and limbering. The focus is more on developing the physical aspect of the self. Yogalates incorporates yoga in the sense that poses are held for some time and there is a pause between poses. There is also an emphasis on breathing and going with the flow. At the same time, intensive abdominal and back strengthening exercises are done, which are more pilates than yoga. Apparently, with yogalates you burn fat faster than with pure yoga, and at the same time get the spiritual wellbeing that yoga brings.


High-intensity workouts such as Insanity pushed followers to the limits of exertion. Now PiYo, a kinder, gentler routine, promises all the gain with none of the pain. It isn’t like standard Pilates and yoga classes that make you hold long, intense poses, or lead you through dozens of repetitive, microscopic core movements. PiYo speeds everything up — including your results — by introducing you to dynamic, flowing sequences that can burn serious calories at the same time as they lengthen and tone your muscles and increase your flexibility.

Bodywork Pilates describe it as “a fluid combination of Pilates, yoga and strength conditioning for long, strong and sleek physique. No jumping but definitely challenging”.


I haven’t tried this class yet but the childhood ballerina in me loves the idea that ballet is being used as a basis to a workout accessible to everyone. I keep encouraging Mini Deva to keep up with her ballet because it is such a great grounding for any dance, helps your flexibility, core strength, control. It really is brilliant discipline. Dynamics Dance and Fitness describe Barre as “a low impact, highly effect toning work out combining the moves from ballet, principles of pilates and lengthening of yoga.”

The barre is used as an aid to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combined with high reps of small range-of-motion movements.

If you want to try out some classes or find a one to one practitioner here are some of Chester’s finest:

Bodywork Pilates: www.bodywork-pilates.co.uk Twitter: @BodyworkPilates Facebook:@BodyworkPilatesLtd Instagram: @bodyworkpilates

Dynamics Dance and Fitness: www.dynamicsdanceandfitness.com Twitter: @DYNAMICSChester Facebook:@dynamicschester

KT Chaloner: www.ktchaloner.co.uk Twitter: @KTChaloner Facebook: @KTChaloner Instagram: @ktchaloner

We Love Yoga Chester: www.weloveyogachester.co.uk Twitter:@hotyogachester Facebook: @WeLoveYogaChester Instagram: @hotyogachester

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