Can pilates help with mental health?


People normally start doing pilates with us because they have a bad back, want to gain more core strength or are pregnant. However Pilates has more benefits than just the physical ones. Joseph Pilates believed mental and physical health were closely connected and I think this is one area we need to explore further in this busy world where levels of depression are high.

I know for myself, teaching Pilates is the best job. After a stressful time in my other work as a dietitian or as a mummy, I get to chill out in a relaxed, beautiful space and teach a calm, mindful class. Focusing on your breathing, your body movements and your muscles is part of mindfulness so you can instantly see why Pilates has more benefits than just the physical ones. One statement I heard this week was “I always sleep best on a Thursday after Pilates”. I can see why that is. Pilates helps you slow down your pace of life, move your thoughts from work, home and stress to your body and draw plenty of oxygen into your muscles, using deep, thoracic breathing.

Breathing Quote


Mindfulness is a therapy that is being used for all kinds of mental health conditions now. A definition of it is: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” It uses compassion and breathing to help you to let go of negative thoughts, stress and even pain. The similarities to Pilates are easy to spot. Even if you went to a Pilates class and did nothing except lie on the mat and breath you would feel some benefits for your mood and stress relief.

So there seems to be an obvious link between Pilates and mental health. One thing I always want to know is what is the evidence? Has there been any actual research done? There is actually quite a lot that shows a link between Pilates improving your mood, lowering stress and helping with cognitive function.

Look out for my next blog post that looks at the research.


RUNA Review

Disclaimer – I was sent these clothes to review, all views are my own.

My days tend to go from school runs to pilates sessions to being a dietitian and seeing patients, then back to the school run and more pilates. So I either have to change clothes multiple times a day or have multi-functional clothes.

The lovely team at RUNA sent me some of their clothes to review and having initially been intrigued about how a dress could be used as fitness apparell, I’ve now been converted. One of their website statements is “Designed for life”, which is what I need. These dresses are stretchy enough to be used when I am teaching a 1-2-1 Pilates session and fitted enough to look great over leggings for the school run or for a meeting. I can easily see these becoming my staple wardrobe for the days when I do a bit of everything! The material is soft and dries fast too.

Pilates with Priya - RUNA 2

Prints and patterned leggings are popular right now and I could easily have a legging addiction brewing. What I love about Runa’s leggings is they have a very different pattern and look to the rest of the market. Each piece is inspired by a different location such as Dubai which gives them a grown up, sophisicated look.  I have had quite a few positive comments about them, saying how different they are.

Pilates with Priya - RUNA 5

Pilates with Priya - RUNA 4

Pilates with Priya - RUNA 3

You can find the brand here or on Instagram: @runa_ldn

Mummyhood: Finding your identity

Becoming a mummy is the most exciting and nerve wracking thing I have ever done. Told me it would change my life, to be honest I shrugs that off not believing them. Now I completely agree. Life has changed, pretty much everything is different now that I have children to think about. It it changes how I shop, where I go, who I’m spending time with, what I wear and what I eat.

Pilates with Priya - mummy

In the midst of the baby sick, playing with Lego, making snacks, doing the school run, teaching pilates and trying to stay in some control of the house, it can be all too easy to lose sight of one person. Now I have these wonderful, beautiful children who are need so much on me, who am I?

Pilates with Priya - 3 amigos

As a parent (I was going to say mum, but it’s not just mums is it) I think it is all too easy to lose sight of our identity and be all consumed by the small ones. Yes, to some extent we have to be consumed by them, they do become our world. However it is important to somehow keep your sense of self as well. Knowing who you are, how amazing you are, having your own sense of style, chatter and being will keep you alive. I well know how draining life with small children can be. On those days when I feel like all the life is being sucked out of me, it is then I know I have to dig deep and find me. The me that loves to dance, the me that likes to sing about anything and everything, the me that like colour and quirkiness. The me that likes to bake, loves markets, loves travel, loves the sun.


This blog has come out of me at a point where baby 3 is almost a year. The tiny baby phase is passing, I can leave her with someone else and have a few hours to myself. That feels strange. What do I do with child-free time? It’s exciting to think about who I was and who I want to be now. I challenge you as a mummy to rediscover yourself and develop that new identity.

Click, Clunks and Pops

This is something that often comes up in class. Shoulders, ankles, hips, knees that click when you do an exercise. Sometimes the click does a bit of a Mexican wave around the class as we warm up. Sometimes it seeks out one person and proceeds to annoy them repeatedly.

So what are these clicks and pop, are they anything to be concerned about.

  1. The sound of cracking knuckles – that is gas or air popping out of a joint as pulling the joint, stretches it and releases bubbles of gas. Usually due to a lax joint that is moved in a different range. The laxity gives it more movement than usual and….. It could be that the joint has sustained an injury at some stage and so is unstable and moves around more in the joint. Should you worry? Only if you are hypermobile as there could be risk of the joint dislocating. Either way Pilates will help.
  1. The tendons supporting the muscle can catch on the bone as you move/stretch. This can be due to poor alignment and joint positioning. Should you worry? No, not in the short term but it is good to work on fixing the problem. See my tips below.
  1. Crunching and grinding can be noises to be concerned about as they could be signs of osteoarthritis or worn cartliage. If you get any pain then you should certain seek medical advice.

Top tips:

TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE: this can not be emphasised enough. Having not just good, but great technique will really make a difference.

Reduce the range of movement and check your alignment. Are your hip bones level, are you lengthening through the hips and legs. Are you using the right muscles in the exercise?

I’m going to use the hips as my example as that is where the majority of people get a clicking noise. This is often due to an imbalance in the muscles around the hip joint. The femur struggles to stay in the hip joint and doesn’t move smoothly.

It could be your hip flexors are overactive, so work on switching those off. Exercising with the legs outstretched in turnout for the hundred so the inner thigh works more can help, or place a ball between your knees to activate the inner thigh on the mat for anything with curl ups. Nail those curls ups first and then add in the legs. Your bum muscles may need strengthening. Squats, spine curls and oysters are all good ones for this.

The position of the hip in the socket is key. Whether it is reaching too far out or sinking too far back into the socket. Experimenting will help you find out or book a 1-2-1 session with a good Pilates teacher to help you figure it out. Lengthening is what works for me. I tend to sink down into my hip and I have to think of length in the hip area.

Common exercises that lead to clicks are the one leg circle and single leg stretch. One of my hips clicks in these if I’m not concentrating hard enough!  In the single leg circle turn your foot out as you move it away from your body and make sure the movement is initiated from your hip and you aren’t moving from your knee or thigh. In the single leg stretch focus on not over activating your hip flexors as you curl up and keeping length through the hip area as you stretch the leg away.

If you need any 1-2-1 support with this don’t hesitate to get in touch.

See you on the mat/reformer.


Is it too hot to exercise?

This is something I often hear said “I didn’t make class or do my workout as it was just too hot”. On the one hand I completely get this. There are times when I honestly don’t feel like being active and would prefer to curl up on the sofa or sit in the garden with a glass of wine. However once I get going and commit to doing the exercise it feels SO good.

Yes, sometimes it is hot. Yes, exercise can make you “sweat/perspire/glow/warm” insert whichever word you prefer. Yes, it can feel like the last thing you want to do. So should you do it?

I would always say GO DO IT. But then I am that person who has been running on the beach whilst on holiday in Sri-Lanka. It was 7am and it was awesome. So why exercise in the heat?

If you get out of routine it is harder to get back into it.

After you have gotten all hot and bothered you get the fun of cooling down and feeling smug that you’ve been and conquered.

It will get those endorphins pumping and you will feel energised, happier and healthier. Often the hotter weather can make you feel lethargic and sluggish, here is where exercise can help.

Think about changing your exercise routine to include activites that are more suited for hot times. Pilates and Swimming for example. Or schedule it into the cooler times of the day.

© Fotograf77 | - Girl Running Photo
© Fotograf77 | – Girl Running Photo

Make it happen and you will meet your goals.




How to stay on top of cooking healthy meals

The craziness of 2 small children and teaching classes at times others would eat means I HAVE to be ultra-organised about our meals. It’s that or live off beans on toast, which wouldn’t be very considerate for my Pilates classes 😉

So if you also have a busy lifestyle, if you are cooking around young ones or if you are wanting to save a few pennies… read on for my top tips.

Pilates with Priya: Top Tips for Healthy Meals

My top tips:

  1. Meal Planning really does work. We have a whiteboard in our kitchen and I plan out our evening meals and some of our lunches too.
  2. Use your meal plan to shop and prepare in advance. When you have a quieter day chop up some veggies in advance for example, or boil a pile of eggs for lunches, make hummus or cook a meal to get ahead.
  3. Cook in bulk when you can. If you are doing a casserole, chilli, bolognaise, soup or freezable meal cook double and freeze it. This saves me on a regular basis on days things go wrong and I realise I’ve no time to cook!
  4. You don’t have to wait until dinner time to cook. I often end up cooking our evening meal in the morning, as that’s when I have a gap in my day. It can be quite satisfying knowing dinner is already cooked!
  5. Embrace the slow cooker love. The beauty of this is you can prep it the night before and keep it in the fridge, then switch it on in the morning and by evening you have a cooked meal, often with leftovers to freeze. See my slow cooker recipes here or my pinterest board with over 50 ideas.
  6. Have a day a week you use up the leftovers. Put them on a pizza, add to pasta, put veggies in a frittata or stir fry… it may not be a standard recipe but it can save you time, money and is inventive! See Love Food, Hate Waste for top tips and recipes.
  7. Have some emergency meals in your stores. Baked potatoes can be cooked in the microwave in 10 minutes, add tuna and sweetcorn with some chopped veggies and you have a meal. We always have a jar of pesto ready for that emergency pasta dish and frozen veggies.

What are your top tips or recipes?

For more recipes pop to Dietitian UK.

GIVEAWAY: Feathers of Italy Cardi/Jacket.

So if you come to classes you have probably been eyeing up the beautiful looking Slate Grey Cardi/Jacket that is hanging up. I can now tell you that we are able to GIVE THIS AWAY to one of our Pilates clients. I know quite a few of you have asked if you can have it… well one of you can!

It’s pretty gorgeous and I’d certainly like to add it to my wardrobe! Perfect for wearing after a class and smart enough for work too.


Kerri from The Interior Company has very kindly given it to us to give to you! You can find out more about the item itself on this webpage.

To make sure it goes to someone who really wants it we are asking you to choose to enter via Rafflecopter below.

You can also enter by entering your email address on the form in the studio.

The winner will be chosen next Sunday at midnight, Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The best healthy snacks for Pilates: Review.

Being a Pilates teacher and the owner of a busy studio life really can be busy. I often have to eat at odd times or on the run. As someone who not only teaches exercise but is also a dietitian, I really do have to practise what I preach. So as part of our BARN studio LAUNCH I contacted a few companies who are known for their healthy products. People often ask me to recommend products to them, these ones below are all ones I would definitely say are great healthy choices and taste amazing.

Lizi’s Granola:

I don’t usually eat granola as it is packed full of sugar. I keep thinking about making my own, but that never quite happens. So I was delighted to have a lot of granola be sent to us. Lizi’s Granola has a low Glycaemic Load, which is a measure of the effect it has on blood sugar levels. This granola therefore will not lead to your blood sugar levels rising up too high but instead you will get a slow release of energy from it over your morning. Perfect for Pilates!

We were sent 4 flavours in individual portion packs. At our launch party people really enjoyed tasting all the flavours. I’ve then been giving out sample packs in our client goody bags, which has brought a big smile to people’s faces.

Comments include:

“It was really nice mixed in with my porridge”

“This made a fabulous snack on the run, dry from the packet with no milk”

“The packet makes portion control so easy”

Personally I’m enjoying it with fruit and yoghurt as a snack after teaching Pilates in the evenings. I’m always hungry and this is leaving me feeling satisfied and yet I know it’s a healthy treat.


Munchy Seeds:

I’ve heard of these and always wanted to try them, so I was super pleased when Munchy Seeds said they would send us some. The biggest accolade I can give these is that my 4 year old, who doesn’t like seeds, adores them (I can’t quite figure that one out) and my husband who prefers dry roasted peanuts, is also a huge fan.

Somehow these cross the divide between a salty snack and a healthy snack. Clever work.

Emily Fruit Crisps:

These were the first thing to go at our launch party. Emily Fruit Crisps are sweet to the taste, crunchy and delicious, yet these literally only contain fruit and vegetable oil. I’d have to be careful when opening a packet of these as they would fly out the door!

These are certainly something I would reccomend as a healthy snack or to have out when friends come round as a nice nibble. I also love the pretty packaging.



California Prunes:

Now I used to think that a prune was a prune. I was wrong. These are extra juicy, squidgy and soft. It must be all the extra sun they have when growing!

One thing I loved was the California Prune company sent over a leaflet with a great sounding recipe in for a savoury dish, enough for each of our client goody bags. I usually only use prunes in baking and sweet dishes so this has certainly inspired me to try them out in a few savoury dishes too.


I like to make up a mixed portion of dried fruit, nuts and seeds with a couple of squares of dark chocolate, my own snack box 🙂

What are your favourite healthy snacks?

DISCLAIMER: These products were all sent to me to review for free. All thoughts and views are my own.

Top 5 Pilates Books.

I’ll be honest. If someone tesll me that they have been learning Pilates from a book I inwardly cringe. Personally I feel that you can only get a proper understanding of Pilates from attending a class with a good teacher. One who will correct your technique, be hands on with you if needed and who takes the time to understand you and your body. Where books can be useful if for home practice or for learning more about how and why exercises work. It’s still not as a good as a class where a teacher can eyeball you… but it’s definitely a good idea to try and do some Pilates practice between classes if you can. Pilates with Priya: Top 5 Pilates books So here are my top 5 Pilates books: 1. A Pilates Primer: Return to life through Contrology and your health by Joseph Pilates – this has the original exercises in that Joseph Pilates designed as a home workout. However please do not use this as your home workout, we modify these exercises now! It is a good read to learn how Pilates started, for those interested in Mr Pilates himself. For home workouts, I find The Body Control Books are all pretty good options, with clear instructions and good tips on technique. 2. The Complete Classic Pilates Method by Lynne Robinson. A good starter book to have. 3. The Pilates Bible: The Most Comprehensive and Accessible Guide to Pilates Ever by Lynne Robinson. This has so many exercises in it that you are bound to find ones you recognise. Pick the ones you know help your body and that you need to work on. 4. Pilates: Simple Routines for Home, Work and Travel by Alan Herdman This has some nice stretches you can use in the morning and a good section with exercises you can do at work which I like. 5. Pilates for Life by Darcey Bussell. Split into sections making it easy to follow. You probably won’t end up looking like Darcey but you can imagine 😉