10 Alpine Inspired Wellbeing Tips
As we emerge from lockdown, many of us are seeking ways to boost our energy levels, restore balance and inspire more happiness in our lives. The stunning Swiss Alps await, offering an opportunity for a change of scene, a rest or some invigorating skiing, snowshoeing and other winter sports.
Whether you’re staying at ‘Home’ or can escape ‘Away' to one of the chicest most sustainable hotels in Europe, Antonis Sarris - Head Therapist at the only Six Senses Spa in Switzerland, at The Alpina Gstaad - offers his advice.
1. TAKE A HIKE
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 20mins 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 colours, 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 in The Alpina Gstaad’s programmes are practiced outdoors. Try fun alternatives in the alpine setting, such as deep-snow hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
2. BREATHE IN THE SUNLIGHT
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 & 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 towards the light in mindfulness can be a game changer. If you can, sit and work next to a window.
3. RAISE THE VIBRATION AND RECONNECT
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 energy into positive on The Alpina Gstaad’s new Power Vibration Retreat (5 or 10 days), through a blend of vibratory sound and energy healing treatments, sophisticated daily mindfulness, and breathing techniques. Sense, feel and experience inner pulses and energy movement through the chakras and body vital points with breathing and meditation, sound healing, energy treatments and physical training. From CHF 7416 including 6 nights accommodation.
4. BECOME AN ALCHEMIST
HOME: Create a seasonal theme: choose a relaxing, nature photo from your favourite 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 a 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.
5. WINTER ALFRESCO
HOME: Bring the warmth outside: get a mini coal burner (or try a gas or 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 The Alpina 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.
6. LEARN FROM TIBETAN MEDICINE
HOME: In cold weather, one of the best things to eat is bone stock - for protein - with ginger, asafetida 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 flavours 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.
7. NEW YEAR DETOX
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 The Alpina Gstaad try a skin analysis, detox massage and Green Caviar Facial or enjoy an antioxidant peeling from the new Detox & Boost your Immunity programme (1 or 5 days). Combining customised treatments, nutritional supplements and the latest anti-ageing technologies, the programme includes a skin analysis and personalised face and body treatments. From CHF 5857 including 4 nights accommodation and 3 lunches. A one-day taster is also available from CHF 802.
8. STAY YOUNG
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 The Alpina Gstaad Holistic Anti-Aging, a 3-night programme 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 personalised program. Includes a range of treatments, yoga, meditation and fitness activities. From CHF 6315 including 3 nights accommodation.
9. GET HIGH
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 hotel’s Energy Sound Healing programme. If ever we needed to calm stress, release tension and restore balance, it’s now. This 2-day, 3-night retreat will do just that, while sending energy levels soaring and boosting mental clarity. Fully personalised thanks to a Wellness Screening using over 40 biomarkers, it includes Reiki and Sound Healing, yoga and meditation. From CHF 3623 including 3 nights accommodation.
10. CORE BODY TRAINING
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 in the hotel spa. Deepen your yoga practice with their three yoga retreats, and reap the wider wellbeing benefits. For beginners - ‘Discover Yoga’, For deep relaxation - ‘Yoga Sleep’, For immunity and cleansing - ‘Yogic Detox’, Each 3-day, 4-night retreat includes wellness screening, personalised yoga sessions and complementary spa treatments.