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By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 14 2020 10:18AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein talks us through the technique of Ujayi breathing in yoga - what it is, how to do it and why it is helpful to practice.


Sitting in a yoga class, and the instructor tells you to engage your Ujjayi Breath, suddenly everyone around you sounds like they're Vader and you have no idea what is going on, sound familiar?


So, what is Ujjayi Breath?


Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word meaning victorious or sound. Vinyasa flow yoga is based on the linking of breath to movement. Therefore, having a vocal breath makes it easier to link the two.


Some practitioners believe that a normal breath is better during an Asana/physical practice and Sound breath should be reserved for Pranayama practice, however there are many benefits of using the Sound breath during an Asana practice


1. Restricting the flow of air takes concentration, which helps to keep our minds focused on our bodies. Allowing us to remain in poses for longer and less likely to be affected by distractions, keeping us grounded during our practice.

2. Builds endurance, with the noise working as a sound meditation, maintaining the rhythm and flow of the class.

3. Regulates the heating of the body by cooling the air flowing into the lungs, while generating body heat warming the body from the core out in preparation for Asana. Heat makes stretching safer and helps organs to remove toxins.

4. Assists with releasing tension and tight areas in the body, reduces pain from headaches, relieves sinus pressure, decreases phlegm and strengthens the nervous and digestive systems.

5. Indicates when we push too far too fast. The breath should remain even and smooth. It helps us to practice honesty, taking a step back and letting go of ego.


It is accomplished by restricting the flow of air in the throat which creates a sound; often likened to waves or the ocean. The part of the throat that is restricted is called the Glottis - this is where the vocal chords live. When we whisper, we restrict the back of the throat.


The same principles are in place for Ujjayi breath. Keeping the breath flowing freely through the nose, and the mouth closed but relaxed, try and close the throat slightly.


Personally, I used the trick of trying to breathe through my mouth without opening it forcing the breath to flow through my nose instead. This helped me to get used to the feeling of constricting my throat. This is something to play around with until you find something that works for you. Once you have the knack of it, it will come naturally.


Keeping the mouth relaxed allows the breath to echo in your mouth as it flows in and out and intensifies the Ujjayi Sound, which is really helpful for being able to monitor your breathing during practice.





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 16 2020 09:09AM

Acupuncturist and wise person Philippa Summers shares some thoughts and helpful suggestions to help find moments of calm in this unusual and uncertain time.


These are the strangest of times and we have all had to adapt overnight to circumstances that no one could possibly have imagined. People’s lives have been turned upside down and inside out, against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty. We are all having to explore this new terrain and work out what works for us, each of us with our own individual challenges which are often multidimensional and impacting on many facets of our lives. Coupled with often distressing news this can be completely overwhelming. It may come in waves or it may feel like an incessant onslaught, so anything that can help us manage our internal response is beneficial.


I have found solace in the unchanging rhythms of nature, spring is springing unabated and the birdsong is more audible, the air cleaner. I am immensely grateful for all the humour, creativity and community support that has sprung up amid adversity. At times when things feel bleak I look to those for hope for a bright future when we have reached the other side of this period in our lives.


For now here are three free online resources that I found useful, all aptly connected by a focus on breathing. I hope you will find them helpful, too:


• Reducing stress and anxiety

• A Qi Gong routine to strengthen the lungs

• Guided Meditation


Reducing Stress and Anxiety

These four pages of pure gold are simply the best thing I have read about our reactions to the new reality and what we can do to stay calm and cope. The author acknowledges the reality of what we are going through and then gives several very useful tips on how to cope. Spoiler – it includes cake! Written by a lawyer/psychotherapist friend of a neighbour but unfortunately, I have not been given her name to give her credit. You can read the article here.



A Qi Gong Routine to Strengthen the Lungs

Whatever exercise you are taking already consider incorporating some mind/body routines like yoga, tai chi or qi gong. Qi Gong is similar to Tai Chi and very good for mind and body.

Qi Gong for the Lungs by Peter Deadman, is a simple 20 minute Qi Gong routine divided into three parts:

• Breathing

• Movements to open the chest and lung channels

• Slapping the chest – think of it as a vigorous pat!


Guided Meditation

My favourite meditation website, Mindfulness Exercises, has lots of free guided meditations including an Introductory course suitable for beginners. It took me a while to find a meditation resource that I liked and I think this is superb – they speak from experience, it is simple, very easy to listen to and as you progress through they address many of the common questions and issues that come up for people.


Although West Norwood Therapies is currently closed for any face to face appointments, we are offering online sessions in Self-Massage, Relaxation and mediation, Yoga, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.


Stay well, stay calm, stay home - hope and breathe!





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 6 2020 11:05AM

Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares a blog with information and tips on self massage to go with her free online videos and one to one video sessions.


For many of us we are maybe not moving or playing sports as much as we used to in this new ‘stay at home age’. While you may be mourning the loss of your gym sessions or time on the field with the team, this could actually be a beneficial step back for your body. An enforced rest and re-set period if you will. Take this time to connect and strengthen the deeper muscles, perhaps through yoga or pilates, and work to create a healthy, functioning body. Trust me, it will thank you.


It is unlikely that you would need a vigorous sports massage at this time so instead I have been focusing on gentle self-massage techniques to release tension and stress that may have built up from the current situation. Whether you are one of our amazing key workers and feel a bit tired and worn-out when you come home, or whether you are working from home in a not-so-ergonomic-set-up, I hope this blog post will help you in some way.


I’ll start with ways to release tension that is probably caused by stress. Make sure the room you are in is warm and that you are comfortable. The best time for a self-massage is after a bath or maybe even in the bath depending on which area of the body you are massaging. I tend not to use any oil when massaging myself, but if you want to use oil then you probably have olive oil in the house; that works just fine.


Most stress-induced tension tends to centre around the head, neck and shoulders. Let’s start by lightly massaging our temples. Using your thumbs apply very light pressure in circular motions at your temples and then slowly move these circles up along your hairline so that your thumbs meet in the middle. Swap your thumbs to your index fingers, one on top of the other, at the top centre of your forehead. Moving down the middle of your forehead press lightly at intermittent points and then separate your fingers to move fluidly up over your eyebrows and circle your temples again. You are back where you started! You can repeat this as many times as you like and it could help with relieving mild headaches and tension.


Quite a few people hold tension in their jaw and a good way to release this is to use your knuckles to apply pressure to the area just below your cheekbones and just in from where your jaw hinges. You should feel it when you get the right spot – your whole jaw should ache. Apply pressure for 10-20 seconds and it will feel great when you release.


Get into those upper traps, the thick band of muscle that sits on top of your shoulders and goes up into your neck, by simply squeezing the muscle between your fingers and thumb. You can be pretty vigorous with this one, don’t be afraid to really ‘pick up’ the muscle and give it a good squeeze and wiggle around.


Lastly, make sure that you are not neglecting the front of the body. If most of your working day is spent sat at a computer, sat at a cashier desk, or bent over caring for patients, then it is great to stretch and open out across the front of the shoulders and chest with a shoulder mobility exercise. All you need is a belt or scarf, anything that is long, thin and straight. Start by holding the object at either end so that you are holding it taut and out in front of you at shoulder height. Keeping your arms straight take the object up and over your head and all the way down so that your arms are now almost back by your sides. Then simply reverse the movement to bring the object back in front of you. You should have felt a lovely opening across the chest and a stretch for the front of your shoulders.


For a bonus massage where you don’t have to do the work(!), try using a tennis ball or something similar to get into trigger points in your back or shoulders. Simply lie down on the floor and place the tennis ball under your back, finding the points that are most uncomfortable – these are the areas that need it! Keep the ball in place until the sensation decreases and you feel that point has been released. Just be careful not to place the ball directly on your spine. If you have a smaller, harder ball this can be used to roll under your feet to give you a nice foot massage.


All of these exercises are just suggestions. Please use your own discretion when self-massaging or stretching, and never continue through pain.


I hope some of these techniques and exercises will help you whilst stuck at home and if you’d like to delve into more, I am releasing tutorial videos. Titled ‘Head to Toe: Self – massage techniques’, the series is split up into different episodes that each focus on a different part of the body. I have already released 3 episodes that have focused on Head and neck, Shoulders, and Back. I will continue to make them until I get down to the feet! You can find the videos on my Facebook page, just search Sportsmassagesos. Or alternatively each episode is attached to its own blog post on my website: www.sportsmassagesos.com. If you have specific goals in mind and want to work through something 1-1, I am also offering 1-1 online sessions through zoom. These can include anything from postural exercises to improving your flexibility. For more information and to book just drop me an email at: sportsmassagesos@gmail.com. Stay safe and healthy.
I hope some of these techniques and exercises will help you whilst stuck at home and if you’d like to delve into more, I am releasing tutorial videos. Titled ‘Head to Toe: Self – massage techniques’, the series is split up into different episodes that each focus on a different part of the body. I have already released 3 episodes that have focused on Head and neck, Shoulders, and Back. I will continue to make them until I get down to the feet! You can find the videos on my Facebook page, just search Sportsmassagesos. Or alternatively each episode is attached to its own blog post on my website: www.sportsmassagesos.com. If you have specific goals in mind and want to work through something 1-1, I am also offering 1-1 online sessions through zoom. These can include anything from postural exercises to improving your flexibility. For more information and to book just drop me an email at: sportsmassagesos@gmail.com. Stay safe and healthy.






By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 2 2020 05:17PM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein introduces her series of yoga workshops focusing on the core - a good comprehensive journey to help you support yourself in yoga which will run in April and May over 4 Sunday morning 2 hour wokshops.



Yoga Core

A 4-week course of 2-hour workshops

Open to all levels – appropriate for beginners

Course Overview

A stronger core may reduce back problems, improve posture, balance and strength throughout the whole body. Stronger pelvic floor will help with incontinence, especially postnatally and a well-maintained diaphragm can help reduce stress and anxiety.

During these four weeks we will

• Focus on strengthening all parts of the core, including the diaphragm and pelvic floor;

• Take a progression through arm balancing and work specifically on Crow and Forearm Balancing

• Dip our toes into breathwork and how to use the diaphragm properly

Workshop 1: What is the Core?

• Starting to strengthen and bring awareness to all aspects of the core

• Encounter arm balancing and start to build your foundation

• Take a first look at breathwork

Workshop 2: Focus: Abs and Back

• Taking a deeper focus onto the front and back of the body

• Abdominal and back flexibility through back bends

• Abdominal and back strength with postures targeted to these areas

• Building onto arm balances from previous class

Workshop 3: Focus: Sides, Pelvic Floor and Diaphragm

• Taking a deeper focus on rotational core as well as building the pelvic floor

• Building onto arm balances from previous class and a look at variations

• A deeper look at breathwork

Workshop 4: Putting it all Together

• Using everything learnt from the previous weeks together

• Taking your arm balancing to its maximum

• Wind down with a final look at breathwork and how to incorporate it into your life


Dates (Sundays): Workshop 1 - 26th April; Workshop 2 - 3rd May; Workshop 3 - 17th May; Workshop 4 - 24th May

Time: 10:00 - 12:00

Cost: £30 per workshop or £100 for all four booked together

NB: You must be able to attend 3 out of the 4 workshops to book in.

Book by contacting Emma directly: info@yogafloga.com






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