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December 9, 2021 - Whether you’re staying at home this holiday season, or you can escape away to Six Senses Spa at The Alpina Gstaad, Head Therapist Antonis Sarris offers his top tips on restoring balance and happiness in the chaotic festivities around you.
As we approach the new year, many of us are seeking ways to boost our energy levels, restore balance and inspire more happiness in our lives. The stunning Alps await, offering an opportunity for a change of scene, a rest or some invigorating skiing, snowshoeing and other winter sports. Whether you’re lucky enough to escape away, or even if you’re staying home, Antonis Sarris – Head Therapist at Six Senses Spa Gstaad – offers his top tips for Alpine inspired well-being.
Hiking is advantageous regardless of the season. In an alpine environment, the natural chemicals secreted by evergreen trees, known as phytoncides, can improve our immune function.
Home: Take a 20-minute brisk walk in the morning and evening. If you’re already fit, try more vigorous uphill and downhill walking to lower bad LDL cholesterol. Walking downhill is twice as effective in improving blood sugar and insulin intolerance: walk with small steps, place your feet carefully and zigzag down to protect your knees. Walk with the five senses (perceiving colors, sounds, tactile sensations, tastes and aromas) and appreciate nature, whatever the weather.
Away: Training in the mountains improves your fitness, as even with gradual climbs, more METs (the ratio of your working to resting metabolism) are required. With this in mind, many of the exercises and classes at Six Senses Spa at The Alpina Gstaad are practiced outdoors. Try fun alternatives to your usual routine with deep-snow hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Breathing connects us with our inner body and is our highest self-healing method. It can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, decrease stress hormones and improve immunity.
Home and away: Stand upright and close your eyes towards the sun. Stretch out your arms and inhale upwards and then, with the palms of your hands facing downwards, exhale three times vigorously, inhaling fresh energy and pressing bad energy and negativity down to be absorbed by the earth. Even short exposure to the light in mindfulness can be a game changer. If you can, sit and work next to a window.
Everything in the universe has a vibrational frequency. Sound healing and vibrations have many health benefits, can calm and balance your mind, improve Nitric oxide production and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Home: Try a Tibetan singing bowl, placing it on different chakras. Hum while lying down and experiment with the different vibrations you experience.
Away: Turn negative into positive energy during a 4-night Sound Healing Retreat through a blend of vibratory sound and energy healing treatments. Sense, feel and experience inner pulses and energy movement through the chakras and body vital points with breathing and meditation, sound healing and energy treatments.
Home: Create a seasonal theme: choose a relaxing, nature photo from your favorite season and place it where you can see it often. Collect herbs and fragrances such as lavender, rosemary, rose petals and chamomile flowers - herbal aromas that evoke memories of this season - and burn the scents or use incense sticks. Play music or sounds from nature, prepare a bath with the herbs, close your eyes and sip herbal tea.
Away: Visit the hotel spa’s alchemy therapist to mix herbs from the organic garden, prepare a face mask or body peel. Indulge with a treatment or in-room bath to increase dopamine and serotonin.
Home: Bring the warmth outside: get a mini fire pit (or try an infrared heat source) and prepare a high quality green or herbal tea. Let the moment unfold, watch the smoke and listen to the soothing sounds of boiling water and the crackling of the glowing coals.
Away: At Six Senses Spa Gstaad, enjoy a herbal tea in front of the heated outdoor swimming pool, in the tranquility of the snow-covered mountains or, on a sunny day, enjoy a picnic outdoors.
Home: In cold weather, one of the best things to eat is bone stock - for protein - with ginger, asafoetida and nutmeg. Boil the broth for two to three hours and drink a glass every evening for a few days. In winter, it’s important to eat more sweet, sour and salty flavors and foods such as pear, apple, banana, sweet-tasting vegetables.
From time to time apply warm packs (of salt, sand, herbs, hot stones and ceramic) to the back, abdomen and joints. They help circulate the blood and energy flow deflected by the external cold temperature, and also prevents seasonal joint pains.
Away: Try a variety of warming Traditional Tibetan treatments, like Hor-Me (bundles of cumin and nutmeg in warm sesame oil), moxibustion, ceramic fomentation and warm oil Ku Nye massage.
Cleansing your system will boost your natural immunity, and the New Year is a popular time to detoxify.
Home: Turn to a healthier diet, cleanse your inner body with herbal supplements or a colonic. Scrub the skin with alpine salt or try dry brushing with a natural bristle brush.
Away: At Six Senses Spa Gstaad, try a skin analysis, detox massage and Green Caviar Facial or enjoy an antioxidant peeling from the new Cleanse and Boost your Immune System (three or five days). Combining customized treatments, nutritional supplements and the latest anti-ageing technologies, the program includes a skin analysis and personalized face and body treatments.
Home: Biohack your brain with binaural beats and induce a meditative relaxed state. Write a gratitude journal - listing three things that you are grateful for each day. Eliminate negative thoughts and toxic emotions by writing in a journal and burning it afterwards. Practice a daily ritual (best in the morning) that makes you feel present. If necessary, take some supplements (adaptogen powders, nootropics) to improve brain and body function. Keep smiling; your smile is radiant, use it.
Away: Book onto Holistic Anti-Aging, a 3- to 7-night program that combines scientific advances in nutrition, fitness and neuroscience with ancient wisdom to achieve a balanced body and mind. Overcome lifestyle-related aging effects and extend your health span through a personalized program. Includes a range of treatments, yoga, meditation and fitness activities.
Home: Get to a higher altitude or visit your nearest hypoxic training studio. Amplify your oxygen absorption, improve your oxygen transportation, enhance production and rejuvenate mitochondria. Or simply learn some breathing skills from Tibetan yoga (called Tummo). The yogis survive in very cold environments just with these techniques, where they are able to produce enough body heat to dry wet sheets!
Away: Explore these elements of yoga and meditation, all enhanced by the high altitude of Gstaad, through the Mountain Stress Release program. If ever we needed to calm stress, release tension and restore balance, it’s now. This 5-days, 6-nights retreat will do just that, while sending energy levels soaring and boosting mental clarity. Fully personalized thanks to a Wellness Screening using over 40 biomarkers, it includes breathing exercises, chakra meditation and Tai Chi.
Core training is an ancient practice that promotes health and strength. Yoga, Tai chi and Pilates all involve this type of training as the core muscles (transversus abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor) are essential to improve balance and stability. Before we do any other movement, core muscles are activated to provide support.
Home: Lockdown has introduced many more of us to the benefits of yoga, even if from our living room. Try some simple yoga exercises like tree pose, plank or side plank, cobra or bridge.
Away: Core training is a key part of the training at Six Senses Spa Gstaad. Deepen your yoga practice with one of three yoga retreats and reap the wider wellbeing benefits: for beginners “Discover Yoga”, for deep relaxation “Yogic Sleep”, for immunity and cleansing “Yogic Detox”. Each 3-day, 4-night retreat includes wellness screening, personalized yoga sessions and spa treatments.