How do you prep for the party season? My ‘pretox’ efforts used to involve a panic LBD diet and laying off the mid-week wine a bit in an attempt to ready my liver.
But it’s not just our bodies that need to be at their best at this hectic time of year.
The inevitable late nights and hangover blues, coupled with all of those opportunities to misbehave in the name of festive fun, can knock the best of us off balance if we’re not careful.
It’s easy to slide back into bad habits and lose focus on all the good work we’ve been doing the rest of the year when everyone around us is going cray cray in sequins. And - ironically - this is exactly the time of year when we need to be able to draw on the best and most zen versions of ourselves as we face back-to-back parties, ‘one for the road’ peer pressure, drunken chats with the boss, beige buffets, mother-in-laws, the M6, Westfield....
Which is why, having spent a lot of energy trying to improve my work/life/party balance in 2016 I’m taking inspiration from super woman Gemma Arterton ahead of this Christmas party season.
The 30-year-old actress manages to combine a hectic work schedule with a busy social life AND glowing skin. She’s down-to-earth and likes a drink and a dance, but also puts in the hours on the mat so she's definitely a Detox|Retox woman, and she credits yoga with keeping her sane, calm and happy.
But not just any kind of yoga.
Gemma’s teacher Nahid de Belgeonne, founder of Good Vibes studios, is a huge advocate of Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra (also known as Yoga Sleep). And Gemma is a big fan of the calming sessions which she combines with healing facials from celebrity beautician Nichola Joss (of course she does, Gemma may be from Gravesend but she’s still a superstar).
Unlike the high-energy Vinyasa flow classes many of us are used to, Restorative Yoga is all about supporting the body in static, simple poses combined with breathing techniques that balance the nervous system and encourage complete relaxation.
"When you are supported by props you feel supported by the universe,” says Nahid, who learned about the healing benefits of Restorative Yoga from her teacher Judith Hanson Lasater, and whose one-on-one sessions are coveted by everyone from stressed magazine editors to models, bloggers and busy execs.
Unsurprisingly Nahid, who has worked with Gemma since the summer, recommends rest as her number one tip for preparing for hectic times, whether that’s the Christmas party season, half-term, The Oscars, exams or Fashion Week.
She says: “During rest the blood diverts from a busy brain to the organs to heal and repair, blood pressure is reduced as is blood sugar levels. you also see an improvement in digestion, fertility, ease of muscle tension and fatigue. Regular rest sets up good sleep patterns. And Restorative poses help us to learn to relax deeply."
A Restorative Yoga session is comforting, delicious and detoxifying. And off the mat it helps bring a sense of clarity and calm, helping you sleep better, think clearer (better judgement is something I definitely need to work on in the face of xmas temptation) and even look better as the poses often reverse gravity flushing fresh nutrients and oxygen to the face and giving your skin a healthy glow and softer appearance.
Nahid will often combine Restorative Yoga with Yoga Nidra, a powerful guided meditation used for stress, insomnia, depression and even PTSD. And for the ultimate pre-party therapy has worked with Nichola to create the Restorative Energy Healing Facial, as tried and loved by Bond girl Gemma.
Gemma, who says that yoga generally helps her cope with living in a stressful London, told us: "Nahid's restorative yoga sessions and Nichola's restoring facials compliment each other so well, both incorporating chakra rebalancing into their treatments. Especially nourishing for the soul, one session put me on the path to discovering my yoga new practice and I would recommend to all."
And Nichola, who is the go-to face guru for Hollywood actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams and Cate Blanchett adds: "Its really important to pretox the body AND mind pre party season or busy holidays. The mind and body work completely together so relaxing with meditation or even simple breathe work and being mindful of stopping and doing nothing and clearing the mind will start to have not only a peaceful effect on the mind and the chatter of the brain and ego but will also connect to relax the physical body, regulating circulation and calming muscle tissue and skin cells."
So, according to expert advice, slowing down and investing in a bit of 'me time' now means we can look better, feel better and hopefully maintain a bit of balance come the hectic festive season.
Man. Pedi. Barry's. Brazilian... now it's time to add some yogic R&R to our pre-party check list.
- Nahid de Belgeonne is holding a 'Calm Before Christmas' Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra workshop at her Good Vibes Covent Garden studio on Friday 2nd December. The two hour session will explore deeply restorative poses as well as breathing practises and end with a Yoga Nidra meditation on being content with your life, just as it is.
- The Restorative Energy Healing Facial and Restorative Yoga De-stressing Treatment combines a 45 minute facial with renowned facialist Nichola Joss using essential oils and deep relaxing massage to heal skin tissue damaged by stress and exhaustion as well as healing the mind through restorative hands-on energy. The facial is followed by a 45 minute restorative yoga session with Nahid where you will be fully supported in gentle poses including inverted poses with a range of props so that you can fully let go. An indulgent, richly relaxing mind and body treatment, that will remove stress and rebalance the mind, body and skin.