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By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 28 2019 09:44AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein sharese her top tips for keeping yourmat in tip top condition


Having a beautiful mat is great but taking care of it is extremely important to ensure it lasts.


Here are some simple tips to help your mat last:

1. Keep it Clean

Spraying your mat down after each use and giving it a good wash once a week or after approximately 10 uses is extremely important. Keeping your mat clean will prolong its life and keep it smelling great when you use it. Most mats can be put into the washing machine on a cool cycle and then left to dry for a few days. Below is a simple, easy and natural antibacterial spray you can use after class.


Antibacterial Spray

Having an easy way to regularly spray down your mat isn't difficult. Here is a recipe that I use all the time.


Spray Bottle

1 Part Water to 2 Parts Witch Hazel eg 120ml Water, 60ml Witch Hazel

5 Drops Tea Tree Oil

5 Drops Essential Oil


You can use any scent that takes your fancy. I usually use Lavender or Ylang Ylang but you can use anything that you don't mind smelling when you sweat on your mat. Be sure to avoid citrus based scents though as they will erode your mat.


Put all the above into the bottle and happy spraying :)


2. Keep it Dry

Ensuring that your mat is properly dry before packing it away is vital. Rolling up and storing a damp mat will allow germs to breed and your mat will start to smell. Your mat will also deteriorate faster than if you store it away completely dry.


This is sometimes harder if you sweat a lot on your mat. If you can, unroll your mat and leave it to air dry over night after your practice before packing it away


3. Roll it Don't Fold it

By folding your mat, you create weak lines and these areas are more prone to wear and tear. By rolling your mat it evenly distributes the wear ensuring it lasts longer


4. Flip it

Rotate your mat with every practice. This allows for an even distribution of use front and back and side to side so that the mat doesn't wear in one specific area e.g. where you always put your hands.

The more love you give your mat the longer it will last.





By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 16 2019 09:34AM

Acupuncturist Philippa summers considers the view from her allotment and how this interpretation of nature and environment mirrors Chinese medicine's approach to our bodies.



I have recently found an unexpected place of peace, tranquillity and contemplation in the heart of London. It is particularly beautiful at this time of year, with spring flowers, fruit trees in blossom and song birds in full chorus. Sitting on a hill above the worst of the pollution with spectacular far reaching views across the city, it is a world of discovery and unexpected surprises. Today we found lizards beneath some wooden boards. It’s an allotment, or rather a share of one, which is even better and far more manageable, in a stunning location close to Brockwell Park. I frequently use metaphors of nature, landscape and environment to illustrate the way that Chinese Medicine views the body. Working on the allotment has fuelled those ideas.


The allotment is quite different from my garden. More mess and earth, getting down and dirty in the soil, with plenty of muck involved. I’ve learnt a thing or too already from the other plot holders generously sharing tips on what grows well up there and how to improve the soil. It’s clay, which is rich in minerals but heavy, and by adding well rotted horse manure and straw the texture and drainage is improved. It feels good to look at the soil more closely, feel its texture rich in fat worms, and know the difference it will make to the health of the plants and the taste of the produce if the slugs don’t get there first.


The muck is like eating really good fresh vital food, as opposed to processed foods and vitamin pills, the equivalent of chemical fertilisers. An organic approach to gardening builds strength in the plants naturally so that they withstand pests, akin to having a healthy immune system. Nurturing and nudging health in positive directions through good nutrition, appropriate exercise, adequate rest and relaxation, affects how we feel in body, mind and spirit. Even when it comes to genetics, we now know that how we live influences which genes are switched on and off.


People often ask if acupuncture can help, such and such a condition. Of course, acupuncture is better suited to treating some things than others, but it is the bodily landscape that is at the heart of a Chinese Medical diagnosis and treatment, rather than the condition. The landscape - be it hot, cold, dry, damp, stagnant, depleted, etc - creates the conditions in which certain imbalances are more likely to arise and progress. The disease label is very often not as important as the landscape against which it has arisen. Two people with migraines may have very different types, arising from very different bodily landscapes and they will be treated differently. A landscape that gives rise to stomach pains in one person, may cause anxiety in another and the treatments may be very similar. So the landscape, rather than the disease label, is more important when it comes to treating with acupuncture and often has more influence on how easily a health issue will resolve. By addressing the imbalance people often find that their overall health and wellbeing improve, not just the issue that they sought treatment for.


Chinese Medicine sees the body as an interconnected whole, where every part of the body is interrelated, and each part exerts an influence on the whole. With climate change we can see just how delicately balanced and interdependent the whole planet is. This too is reflected in our small allotment, with its lizards, foxes and insect life. Our bodies are not so different, as an example I think of the influence that a healthy gut biome has on brain function.


I find the Daoist view, where the internal landscape of the body is influenced by the same forces that influence nature, to be enlightening, inspirational and nature is a great teacher, as well as a great healer. We often give priority to nurturing our physical health and we can do the same for our mental health and wellbeing. Being out in nature is a soothing counterbalance to the bustle of city life. I have found that tending the allotment and looking out over the view in quiet contemplation, or while hanging out with friends, is food for mind, body and soul, both literally and metaphorically. I certainly wouldn’t do it for economic reasons – at an hourly minimum wage it probably works out about £100 a spud!





By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 2 2019 11:54AM

Massage therapist and yoga teacher Erika Zettervall shares her experience of Hannah's tai chi workshop and the impact on her life force - and recommends you give it a try.


May the forth be with you: the date 4 May has with a pun transcended into the official Star Wars day.


We might not be able to offer Obi-Wan Kenobi or other Jedi masters nor the use of light sabres at West Norwood Therapies but we do have handle on“the force”and have some powerful therapist and teachers on hand. We can build, tune, direct, gather and strengthen either in class with Hannah (tai chi/qigong) or Emma/Yinka (yoga) or by receiving a treatment with Philippa (acupuncture), Melanie (Reiki) or healing hands from me, Veronica, Tessa or Lauren.


The force, being the Life force energy that animates our physical form and flows through, within and around us always. Known to every wisdom lineage – Prana to the Yogi, Qi to the Chinese Ki to the Japanese – it is this vital force that gives us life and the universe life. When it is directed with conscious intent it brings deeper meaning and wellbeing to our lives and when it is on point and in balance, we often feel “in the flow” and we are only mildly affected by the challenges and difficulties we will ultimately incur. We might feel lifted by some unnamed energy which gives us the grace and support to navigate life. This anonymous energy is your life force.


I have mainly been familiar with the Sanskrit term for primary energy; prana (sometimes translated as breath but, comes from the two Sanskrit words pra - constant and na - motion and means constant motion or constant movement) as yoga has been my thing for about 20 years. Much of my own practice revolves around building and regulating prana. However prior to discovering yoga, I took tai chi classes regularly for about a year. It was my first experience of energy practice and a revolutionary discovery to me. So when Hannah joined us I was keen to revisit the chi, by taking one of Hannah’s workshops to see what I remembered. Not much, is the answer at least not the details. But it was very good and enjoyable.


I understand to be Tai chi is a form of martial art practiced with slow graceful poetically named movements woven together on the breath. Mastering the slow motion movements prepares the fast explosive ones. The slowness allows the brain to register the full range of the movement sequence. Then the explosive swift movements can be precise and efficient, in the same way dancers and rock climbers rehearse moves slowly slowly to the be executed effortless and swiftly later.


Hannah teaches small classes and she moves and teaches like a peaceful warrior with grace, confidence and precision. It’s very accessible and easy to join in but best benefit from a series of regular classes as the graceful poetic movements reaps greatest rewards from many many repetitions.

The chi? Yes it felt very balancing, soothing and revitalising and I may think the force be with me and if you fancy the force be with you and turning into a peaceful warrior, come try Hannah’s tai chi/qi gong.




By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 29 2019 07:29PM

Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares her fabulous experience massaging at the London marathon in aid of the NSPCC this year, we're proud of her efforts and enthusiasm :-)



Last year I volunteered with NSPCC, giving post event massage at the London Marathon 2018. It was such a fulfilling experience that this year I went back for more and I couldn’t wait to put my green t-shirt back on! As you can probably remember, 2018 was the hottest London Marathon ever recorded. Water stations started running out of water and medical teams had their busiest year treating heatstroke. This year already looked to be shaping up for a stark contrast on the weather front. With strong winds and heavy rain dominating the weather forecast, I prepared to massage some soggy windblown runners!


Waking up this morning to calmer winds and a nice fresh feel in the air might have tricked some runners into thinking they were still dreaming! Pretty ideal weather conditions for long distance running. So far so good. I was feeling positive as I walked through Trafalgar Square and looking forward to working with Chris and the team again. After a quick hip loosening demonstration, Chris talked about posture and how to maintain good form. It’s all about keeping that chest forwards and proud!


At around 12:45 we applauded the first runner into our massage area. There was then a slow trickle of runners for about half an hour before the trickle turned to a steady stream and all 20 massage therapists were working flat out to ease the aches and pains. The atmosphere in the room was absolutely buzzing; you could almost feel a physical energy to it. Congratulations and elations never ceased and every time someone came up to me, no matter how exhausted they were, they had a smile on their face and such a sense of pride in what they had just achieved. Not one person was moaning or grumbling about any pain they were in, their achievement seemed to lift them above it.


At events it is likely that you will be massaging through clothes and there are several techniques to achieve great results with this. One of them is simply compressions and you can even try these on yourself (mainly on the legs) after a hard training session, event or performance. Simply use the heel of your hand or make a fist and press down on the muscle using your other hand to create the force, holding the compression for 10 - 20 seconds. Vibrations can also be another useful tool, as well as pin and stretch – compressing a muscle when contracted and then slowly extending the muscle whilst keeping the compression; something I like to use on the hamstrings especially and it can be done passively or actively.

Conversations with the runners sometimes verged on hysteria due to adrenaline and exhaustion! However the main topic of the day was their appreciation for the overwhelming support they received: from the crowd, from the charity, from their friends and family and from us! Times didn't matter. They had just run 26 MILES. I chatted to one runner who was running a marathon for every month of the year...that’s 314 miles this year! What an incredible human feat let alone the amount of money raised for charities. The 500 runners for NSPCC today raised £1.1 million between them. What an amazing event to be part of.
Conversations with the runners sometimes verged on hysteria due to adrenaline and exhaustion! However the main topic of the day was their appreciation for the overwhelming support they received: from the crowd, from the charity, from their friends and family and from us! Times didn't matter. They had just run 26 MILES. I chatted to one runner who was running a marathon for every month of the year...that’s 314 miles this year! What an incredible human feat let alone the amount of money raised for charities. The 500 runners for NSPCC today raised £1.1 million between them. What an amazing event to be part of.

Even though it was a long and tiring day, I went home ecstatic and full of inspiration from everybody I had met, runners and volunteers alike. Just knowing that I had helped some of those amazing people in some way gave me my own sense of pride and achievement.


If you ever get the chance to volunteer with a charity at an event like the London Marathon, DO IT. You’ll find me massaging next at the Windrush Aquathlon on Sunday 30th June at the West Norwood Therapies stall. If you’re racing come and see me for some post event massage! If you’re there supporting, come and say hi to some of the team – we offer a whole range of complimentary therapies and classes.




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