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Secret Sud Charente: How to get a body like Gisele Bundchen

With the wonderful hot days we’ve enjoyed this April many of us pulled on our shorts for the first time this year, took one look at our legs and reverted to a pair jeans. If you want to get your body toned and honed after the winter hibernation there are lots of options here in Sud Charente indoors and out, social and private.


Yoga is one of the oldest relaxation systems in the works and it’s currently enjoying unprecedented popularity. Many a celebrity is putting their taut bodies down to yoga, which as well as relaxing your mind, helps tone the body inside and out.

Yoga was originally taught on a one to one basis by a guru who chose specific positions or ‘asanas’ for each student. This is the reason for the number of different systems that are now in existence, You might come across Iyengar yoga which concentrates on getting each asana correct and holding it for several minutes; Sivananda yoga which is gentle and relaxing, with an emphasis on breathing and meditation; or the power yoga known as Ashtanga, a fast paced system practiced by Sting.

On top of her regular exercise supermodel Gisele Bundchen stays in shape with the help of Anusara yoga. Bundchen started doing yoga at the age of 12, the same age she started doing Kenpo and Tai Chi. She practices the yoga every morning and couples it with meditation and healthy eating.

Sting says of his practice: “When I do my yoga in the morning I have more energy during the day. I get more done and my mind is more composed.” Each asana works on a different part of the body, helping to release tension, which the breathing techniques help calm the mind. Tests have even shown that experienced practitioners can control temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure. In the short term regular practice - consisting of at least a couple of sessions a week - can improve a number of stress related ailments such as tension, backache, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure and heart conditions.


Zen Yoga, as taught in Sud Charente by Sophie Hanson, refers to a variety of physical and energetic practices that can be found within the Zen Buddhist tradition, and increasingly taught in the West. Sophie’s classes are suitable for all levels and take place weekly on a Thursday in Bouteilles St Sebastian and at 10am on Friday mornings in the Salles des Fetes, Passirac. Local complementary therapist Cher Brunson says of Sophie’s class: “This yoga teacher is so amazing, she has brought me and my understanding for yoga on brilliantly the last two years, I would recommend her classes to everyone. I feel great every time I go. Sophie Hanson knows her Yoga.”

For complete beginners Sophie’s new ‘Simply Gentle’ Yoga class offers a nurturing and restorative experience. If you are recovering from an injury, have problem areas of the body or are unable to sit on the floor to exercise, this class could be perfect for you as you can sit in a chair if you need to. During the class you are guided through modified yoga postures using props to support the body whilst incorporating breathing techniques at a slow and gentle pace.

This class is on Wednesdays, also at the Salle de Fêtes in Passirac 16480 from 10am -11am.

As the first session is free what’s to stop you giving it a go?

Contact tel: 06 52 70 48 54; email;

Price:10€ a class or 40€ for 5 classes.

A Short Yoga Course

If you’d like a concentrated few days of yoga to kick start a regular practice there is a workshop being held at The French Retreat, 16210 Yviers on 22-26th June, with two London based native French yoga teachers Sarah Drai and Alix Flamand (pictured right and above).

The mantra of this retreat is slow down from your busy life and reconnect with yourself and nature. You can expect to practise dharma yoga, vinyasa/yinyasa yoga and some acro-yoga too! There will be breathing exercises and meditation every day as well. This is designed as a residential retreat but it is also open to people from the area who can just attend the classes.

You can find out more here:

Contact tel: 00 44 7885 655 072; email:

Yoga Festival

If you’d like to have look at the different yoga options there is OM Shanti Chambon Yoga Festival

in Eymouthiers, Charente from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 May 2018.

Everyone is welcome, even complete novices. There will be classes for all levels, for beginners or advanced and different types of yoga: hatha yoga, yin yoga, yoga nidra, ashtanga yoga, vinyasa, acro-yoga. Find out more here:


Pilates is a form of exercise based on stretching, It was invented in England during World War 1 by German-born Joseph Pilates and was taken up after the war by dancers, actors and athletes, because of its suitability after injury. The slow, controlled movements - which strengthen muscles without forcing them - also makes it a perfect way to restore the body after pregnancy. However, the technique is now acknowledged as being good for people who are experiencing stress and stress-related diseases, as Pilates is based on eight principles: relaxation, concentration, co-ordination, alignment, breathing, flowing, movements, centring and stamina.

A class takes place on a mat or simple wooden equipment and can be taught privately or in a small group. It is a balanced workout that starts very gently by targeting core postural muscles and results in increased strength and flexibility. It differs from a regular keep-fit class because the correct posture and alignment of the body is always taken into consideration.

Pat Cash - the Wimbledon tennis champion - regular practices the Pilates technique. “Having originally taken up Pilates to help me recover from a back injury, I then found it invaluable to help me unwind during tournaments and to ease the effects of a hard match.” Cash says. “A Pilates relaxations session after a long-haul flight has also become and indispensable part of my travel routine.”

Classes are held in Bazac Mondays & Wednesdays 11:15am – 12.15pm 10€ per session.

Contact tel: 09 53 70 08 55; email:

Personal training

If joining a class is not your thing then a personal trainer might be the answer to help you achieve your fitness goals. Susan Cross is a qualified personal trainer based in Riberac, although she can come to you. She says: “During Personal Training sessions I focus on understanding you, your body, your habits, and the type of exercise that works best for you - everybody is different, and my training reflects that. We will work with a variety of methods to motivate and train you whilst keeping your mind and body challenged in different ways. Don’t worry if you haven’t done any exercise for a long time, I will assess your level and take that into account."

Contact tel: 06 34 50 01 20; email:; Siret: 81417837200011


There are various hikes or randonées organised by schools or communes, many with food stops en route. They are great for finding new walks in the area and for socialising with the local community. They are mostly promoted via flyers under your windscreen on market days but there are also lots of French websites promoting Charentais walks.

You can plan your own hikes using this website: which is is lovely way of exploring the region. You can search for the duration and difficulty level that suits you.

There are also Hiking Clubs in Sud Charente, which include


Contact tel: 05 45 24 84 84; email:

MARCHER AUTREMENT, Mairie de Salles de Barbezieux, 16300 SALLES DE BARBEZIEUX Contact email :

And check out more here: /

If there are any other classes or events you would like recommend please post on our Facebook page get in touch so we can add them to this list.

#yoga #health #wellness #Pilates #Personaltraining #hiking #France #SudCharente #Charente

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