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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Oct 1 2019 10:59AM

Feldenkrais teacher Jenny Hill shares her experience of discovering Feldenkrais and the shift it led to in her life.

It’s funny how people turn up at various points in our lives.

To cut a long story short, I had my first Feldenkrais lesson at a critical moment in my life.

I’d been living in New Zealand and was here on holiday visiting my mum. At this time she discovered she had breast cancer for the 3rd time. My holiday visit turned into my retuning home to the UK permanently.

I had no money, no job, seemingly no job prospects and virtually no friends. I’d split up with my New Zealand boyfriend. And I was no spring chicken.

I stayed with my mum in Cornwall. Every Tuesday I would drive to Exeter to take a Feldenkrais class. And every morning at home before breakfast, I repeated the lesson as we had done it in the class -until the next Tuesday, when we did a new lesson.

How I ended up attending a Feldenkrais class is a story in itself, but I won’t go into that now. Suffice to say after my 1st lesson, I felt as if years of tension and heaviness had fallen away from me. Tension and heaviness I didn’t even know I had. I felt light in my body, open, but grounded. I could breathe easily. I felt mentally calm and at peace, despite feeling my entire life was in a significant mess.

Although I’d had a professional dance training and martial arts background, the quiet potency of the Feldenkrais method and this morning practice changed my life. I began to learn what it means to be present; to feel my body, to feel difficult feelings I needed to feel at this time, to become more intimately aware of my breathing, to see how my thoughts were connected to anxiety, which was connected to my body. And to feel that my life was unfolding in quite an extraordinary way - in the midst of my mother dying. No body wants to deal with this. But connecting with this resource inside myself is something I will always feel gratitude for.

Without me realising it the next chapter had already begun.

There have been several chapters since then.

Maybe one of those will come up in another blog page!

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 16 2019 10:30AM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers shares what you can learn from looking at a tongue and why she might ask you to 'stick out your tongue' when you go to see her!

Tongue Diagnosis provides a clear contribution to overall diagnosis in Chinese Medicine.

Here’s a look at how it fits in with other information, what you can tell from a tongue and

how it relates to treatment.

Gathering Information

Your first session with a Traditional Acupuncturist, like myself, is usually quite lengthy. I

allow 90 minutes for most initial appointments* with about half that time set aside for

gathering information and half for the treatment itself. Alongside understanding the

problem with which you are seeking help, whether it is headaches, low mood, anxiety,

period pain, fertility, tiredness, eczema or something else, it is important to get a picture of

the background against which it has arisen and a more rounded picture of your health and

wellbeing. Digestion, sleep, your monthly cycle for women, reactions to heat and cold and

feelings, among other things, all contribute to a holistic diagnosis. Also important is the

context - your life and lifestyle, what is working well and supporting you and what is not.

Two additional contributions to the overall diagnosis and hence direction of treatment are

pulse and tongue diagnosis. Pulse diagnosis is subjective and is easily affected by what is

going on at that moment or that day. Tongue diagnosis gives a more objective clear picture

and provides a very reliable contribution to your diagnosis and subsequent treatment

strategy. I will almost always ask you to stick out your tongue, although I know that might

seem a little odd!

What do I look for on the tongue?

The tongue gives a glimpse of your insides and although it is a part of the digestive system it

gives clues that relate to the whole body. It can of course be affected by diseases of the

tongue itself and also affected by medication but here I am focussing on situations where

they are not influences. A healthy tongue is pink with a very thin white coating.

Fig 1 A generally healthy looking tongue. Even this healthy tongue gives some clues – there is slight

swelling indicated by the dip in the centre and toothmarks at the edges.

When I look at your tongue I am observing several aspects which include:

• The Tongue Body (the tongue itself beneath the coating) - the colour, shape, texture

and movements.

• The Tongue Coating - the colour, thickness and consistency.

• Points and Spots - their colour and size (distinct from the normal taste buds)

• Cracks and fissures

• Areas of the tongue and their correlation with parts of the body – see Fig 2.

How do these relate to physiology?

Some aspects of the tongue give clear indications on their own, but generally it is the

combined information that provides insight and gives meaning.

So, for example, the tongue body colour (ranging from pale to deep red) gives information

about relative heat and cold in the body, also about the state of the blood and whether it is

well nourished. Spots on the tongue (red or white) and the colour of the coating (white, to

various shades of yellow and even black) give further clarity to influences of heat and cold. A

very slight purplish tinge to the tongue, whether on a pale or red tongue generally indicates

some stagnation.

The relative moisture of the tongue gives the most direct indication of internal body fluids

which is further refined by the relative shape of the tongue and the consistency of the

coating. A very wet, swollen tongue, with a thick greasy coating is a usually a sign that body

fluids have accumulated which hampers function by congesting and blocking. A thin, dry

tongue with no coating may indicate a deficit in fluids which hampers function through lack

of lubrication and nourishment.

Cracks and fissures are more complex and can mean different things depending on their

location, appearance and other aspects of the tongue, but are often associated with a

depletion of body fluids and also with heat.

Different areas of the tongue also relate to different parts of the body. If we divide the

tongue roughly into thirds, the front portion relates to the chest area, the middle third to

the digestive organs above the navel, and the rear third to the area below the navel.

Fig 2 Areas of the tongue as they relate to organs. Note: These are the organs as they are understood in Chinese Medicine and don’t relate exactly to the physical organs although there is considerable overlap.
Fig 2 Areas of the tongue as they relate to organs. Note: These are the organs as they are understood in Chinese Medicine and don’t relate exactly to the physical organs although there is considerable overlap.

It is worth noting that the Spleen in Chinese Medicine includes pancreatic function, so is

very closely connected with digestion. The reproductive organs, especially in women, are

influenced by findings in all areas of the tongue despite their location below the navel.

Putting it all together.

Traditional Acupuncturists seek out the patterns that weave signs and symptoms together

and treatment is focused on bringing harmony, so that everything works together more

supportively. In doing so we aim to improve your health overall, including of course the

main issue that you are seeking help with. An important part of treatment is also working

out what factors are influencing and contributing to the imbalances, so that they too can be


Almost without exception the picture painted by gathering together all the signs and

symptoms will not be textbook patterns, but an individualised interaction of the patterns,

sometimes with some contradictions and some patterns masking others. Everyone is

different and at times the picture can be very confusing. The tongue can give real clarity

and help to prioritize treatment and the most important factors to focus on. Over time the

effects of treatment are reflected in the tongue.

It really is an invaluable tool and it is amazing how different each tongue is. So, when I ask

you to stick out your tongue, please don’t be shy!

*The exception would be when treating a simple muscle of joint problem, like an ankle

sprain, where going into your background health and looking at things from a more holistic

perspective is not as important. An hour is then usually long enough for the first session, but I

may still ask to see your tongue as it can still be helpful.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 8 2019 07:30PM

Sports Massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares some insight into various types of stretching and suggests some things for you to try to improve flexibility.

Summer holidays are fabulous: sun, fresh air, and a well-earned rest. However, when you return to reality it can often be hard to get back into your exercise routine in a controlled and gradual way. Although it’s tempting, especially if you are working towards a goal, don’t feel like you’ve got to make up for any workout time missed while away. Bombarding your body with vigorous workouts after a more sedentary period is not ideal. Instead, keep the first few sessions back to steady cardio, bodyweight and resistance exercises.

The other important thing to consider when looking after your body is recovery from exercise. When increasing your exercise load you must consider how you are going to help your body recover and refrain from sustaining an injury. One of the best ways to help your body maintain good form is stretching.

Stretching comes in many different forms. The one you are probably most familiar with is static stretching, done passively: This requires an external force to hold the stretch and stretches are most commonly held from 15 – 60 seconds. Contrary to what most of us learnt in Physical Education at school, I would advise against this form of stretching pre-exercise. It has been shown in most studies to make little or no effect on performance and even decrease performance in exercise. Static stretching is best used post-exercise or gently in the evening before bed, preferably after a warm bath.

The current preferred pre-exercise form of stretching is dynamic stretching. This involves repetitive slow movements that progressively increase in range, for example joint rotations like ankle rolls or arm circles. Dynamic stretching improves flexibility in motion and can resemble movements you may make in a specific sport.

Can you touch your toes? For an increase in long-term flexibility, it is important to develop a continued stretching regime. Even if you just add on 5-10 minutes at the end of your usual workout you can improve your flexibility. As flexibility increases, the resistance against a joint rotation decreases and therefore the range of movement at that joint increases. It makes sense that with a larger range of movement, injury is less likely as a result of any unexpected sudden forces on the joint.

Your stretching regime should be carried out after exercise or completely separately. I would advise a mix of static stretching and something called PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching. PNF is often recognised as the contract-relax method: a partner takes you to the end-range stretch of a muscle, you then contract the muscle against your partner’s resistance for a period of time, after which you relax and your partner stretches the muscle further. PNF stretching is something that I like to help my massage clients out with at the end of a session if increasing flexibility is a goal of theirs. If you are interested in PNF stretching why not book a session with me and we can work on it together post-massage!

When trying to increase flexibility it is likely that you will experience a level of discomfort when stretching to your end range. This is normal but the sensation should not be pushed into real pain as this can cause injury in itself. You know your body and its limits so stretch with consciousness!

With thanks to Jules Mitchell MS, CMT, Yoga teacher and massage therapist writing in Co-Kinetic Journal, July 2019.
With thanks to Jules Mitchell MS, CMT, Yoga teacher and massage therapist writing in Co-Kinetic Journal, July 2019.

Pictures are of me!

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 2 2019 10:54AM

West Norwood Therapies founder Jennie Duck is excited to be celebrating 5 years of WNT as we build up to our birthday in October

We are nearly 5!!! It is very exciting to be turning 5 in a month's time and in the build up to this we will be highlighting our last five years of working with all sorts of clients in West Norwood, the diversity of what we offer / have offered over the years and the collaborative way we do this.

We hope you'll enjoy following our commemorative campaign as we acknowledge our work so far and look forward to building on this over the next 5 years!

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