BeautyHealthHow to....Lifestyle

How I relax by Denise Leicester, Founder of ila

2f90e1d7e853e117bb688d1ae2d3b1b9It should be easy to do. I mean, what could be more enjoyable, necessary or simple to do than relax? But, when I found myself without children, without work, without anything to do this weekend, I also found it hard to switch off. I’m so used to operating at full-pelt, that when it comes to simply just stopping and being and just chilling out, I couldn’t do it. I felt on edge and even a little guilty, when in fact, I should have just been luxuriating in the total deliciousness of it all.

While I did eventually manage to find the ‘slow down’ button, I realised it had taken me far longer than it should have done. Which is why I decided to turn to someone who has made it their business to know about relaxation. If you find yourself wavering more to the natural side of things, then you may already know about ila, a luxurious organic skincare line that not only uses super-duper plant and mineral ingredients, but is also 100% chemical free. Most importantly, ila is not only about nourishing the physical side, but also about taking care of your emotional and spiritual wellbeing – which will obviously help you relax.

Unsurprisingly, for a company that’s so devoted to holistic wellbeing, its founder, Denise Leicester, is all about natural healing. A qualified nurse, yoga teacher, yogic healer and aromatherapist, Denise is someone who knows how to relax (and set up a ridiculously successful company – I think the two are definitely linked). Here she tells us exactly how she does it…(I’m taking notes)

1. Yoga

I only do 20 minutes every morning and it is my insurance to having a great day. I practice daily from my home in the Cotswolds with a view overlooking the countryside with fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. My mother took me to my first yoga class at the age of 11 and I have been a devotee ever since. In my thirties I took teacher training and then became a qualified yoga teacher and I have taught regularly in London and the Cotswolds since.  Yoga is central to everything I have created with ila as it is based on yogic healing principles which promote physical and emotional healing; something we need more and more as we all lead such busy lives. My yoga practice undergoes a more obvious transition during the autumn: I relish the child’s pose; my mind shifts to a deeper place; I meditate for longer and feel my energy and expectations soften and slow. It’s as though I’m nourishing myself with a renewed balance and tranquillity. And it feels wonderful.

2. Nordic Walking

On the weekend I love Nordic walking as it relaxes and strengthens my whole nervous system. Nordic Walking is a brisk form of exercise devised by Finnish cross-country skiers in the 1930s. It’s popular in Germany and Switzerland and uses ski poles to help you stroll in an exaggerated, torso-twisting way. It’s a totally different way of walking that helps you restore your own inner rhythm.  It’s also a great way to clear your head, open your heart chakra, and boost your senses and energy for the day – plus it’s twice as effective as ordinary walking at burning calories! You can do it anytime, but nothing beats early morning. The Yogis tell us that between 4 am – 8 am is one of the purest times of day, when nature is at its most vibrant.

Our adrenal glands are also most active at this time and Nordic Walking gives us lots of energy. Walking outdoors in tune with nature and our own body rhythm is the ideal way to charge our cells and organs with oxygen and reactivate our nerves and self-healing. It also positively changes our physical posture and balances and energises our emotions and thoughts. But don’t just take my word for it – there are classes and instructors all over the country and the sport is rapidly growing in popularity. Try it once and you’ll understand why! Find out more here.

3. Treat yourself

Autumn is a great time for restoring our body and mind, so too is it the best time to treat our skin. Soaking in a warm scented bath, nourishing ourselves from top to toe with rich balms and applying rosehip serums to our face to restore a balanced glow – all these are wonderful ways to treat yourself. And they all somehow feel so much better when accompanied by elderberry and ginger tea, a delicious diaphoretic brew that supports the body’s natural responses. To me, it’s the taste of autumn – especially when sweetened with a spot of local Cotswolds honey – and helps prepare me for whatever changes the season may bring. I warm my bath with ila bath salts for Inner Peace  and as an extra indulgence I add the ila bath oil for Glowing Radiance followed by the ila body cream for Glowing Radiance. Heaven.

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Bath salts for Inner Peace, £49; Bath oil for Glowing Radiance, £51 for 200ml; Body cream for Glowing Radiance, £63

4. Take time out for yourself

I love having the ila Kundalini back massage to restore and relax my nervous system and ‘reboot’ my energy levels. Ila treatments are healing style therapies which focus on the energy flow in the body using chakra and marma point work to achieve a state of deep relaxation. The Kundalini is the perfect antidote to a week at work or the perfect preparation for any situation in which you want to feel cool, calm and collected. It’s a back massage that soothes, relaxes and balances the nervous system using an essential oil blend, ancient massage techniques and chakra healing.

The treatment encompasses everything from the tips of your toes to your scalp and incorporates rhythmical marma massage to clear blockages in the lymphatic system, which lie just below the skin, trapping toxins before they penetrate the blood stream. It calls on sensuous Kundalini oil (a blend of patchouli, neroli, jasmine, coriander) and relaxing Himalayan herb and salt poultices; all strokes are accompanied by chants that correspond to the various chakras being worked upon at that time. It’s very gentle and the true effects start manifesting themselves a little while after the treatment is over.

5. Sing

I find singing is my ultimate form of relaxation, it is emotionally releasing and fun. I have been singing for many years, mainly as a form of relaxation, but I have also recorded ancient Sanskrit mantras to accompany our treatments in spas. This style of singing uses using mantra, rhythm and sound to relax the nervous system promoting deep relaxation and facilitates the subtlest level of healing. The music has proved so popular that I was getting requests from clients to buy it, so I created two CDs: Dream Time Journey and Heart of the Earth. They are lovely to listen to as you fall asleep, when travelling to combat jetlag, or just to let go and bathe yourself in healing vibrations.


Thanks Denise! I can vouch for ila’s fabulous spa treatments having tried one at Ockenden Manor. Find out where you can try them here.

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