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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, Mar 13 2019 11:30AM

Massage therapist and yoga teacher, Erika Zettervall, shared some thoughts on sleep and how such a simple thing can be so complex! And touches on yoga nidra - the holy grail of sleep...



A great part of our lifetime is spend sleeping - almost 1/3 provided we get 7-8 hours of it per night. We all know how good sleep is essential for maintaining health and good mood. Sleep plays crucial role in maintaining the nervous system (the brain in particular).


This week it is World Sleep Day highlighting the importance of sleep and there will be plenty advice and information around and good advice but as with everything it’s not what we know or the volume of information that makes the difference but how it is applied.


So simple and yet at times illusive, difficult and near impossible to attain. Just lay down close your eyes relax and drift off into sweet slumber.


In English we say fall asleep, implying a letting go. We also use the term dropping off when going to sleep, indicating a motion of fall and that how it often feels in the mind. Relinquishing control we trust we will wake up again (on time) and we that we can safely drop into the unknown where the subconscious can and will make itself heard and seen in the form of dreams.


Dreaming is fascinating, it can help you understand yourself, but can also be very intense, loud, vivid, frightening and disruptive. To ease and begin to understand deeper parts of my mind my therapist encouraged me to practice directing the dreams so that when becoming aware of dreaming, I began to direct the situation in the dream. This often happens without actually waking up and is so called lucid dreaming. I was also encouraged to go back to dreams after awakening from them and dropping back in and create a different outcome. It has the effect of softening and calming of the mind and therefore better sleep. The mind is powerful and the times when we can’t let ourselves fall into sleep or wake up (4am with a start), the possibility to let go from the grip of wakefulness is out of reach. Thoughts churning, we can end up tossing and turning searching in for the switch that allows us to loosen the grip and allow the sink/fall or drift back into sweet slumber. The more agitated we become sensory input appear sharper harder and/or louder and we can become hypersensitive, hypervigilant or hyperaroused. Us humans are wired to be on guard alert to dangers, this is necessary for survival and safe keeping. The problem for us is when it hijacks our minds unnecessarily and/or for prolonged times.


How do you improve the quality of sleep? Create routines and learn to relax would be my short answer.

Set the scene, take care of the physical space and body - regulate the intake of stimulants such as food (big meal near bedtime and type of food such spice and garlic), drinks (alcohol, coffee) and visual stimulus such as movie/television/or social media. Read in black and white or give the eyes a rest and listen to audio book.

Treat your bed and bedroom with respect and as the place for rest. Simple things such as making your bed every day and caring for sheets and bedding. Investing in good quality and looking after it you spend a lot of hours in bed after all. It set an intention of the importance of rest.


Create routines, keep bedtime but also keep set getting up time some say that is more important than going to bed. Lying-in is not great for establishing healthy sleep patterns or for making up lost hours of sleep. We humans like a rhythm respond well to regularity even if we tend celebrate impulsiveness in our society.

Soften sensory input from sound and light. Some sounds are hard to regulate living in a crowded city where people’s life goes on in close proximity. Softening can be achieved in form of textiles, insulation and white noise like a fan. When we think of light Black out curtains might be good, but if there is a small gap the light gets focused cutting though like laser beam through the room, so softening by a fabric or shutter that create shade light.

But then think of the content baby or pet or people for that matter to whom this does not matter they just switch off and sleep.


To switch off we need to relax. To relax deeply takes practice. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way but I don’t think there is an exaggeration in saying most of us struggle with it. Tiredness and lack of sleep is very common and instead of rest ending up with a false relaxation that occur when we get stuck watching television or searching the internet, still feeding sensory input through our eyes and stimulating the brain.


I don’t think there is a better way to get better at relaxing than to practice Yoga Nidra. It’s very easy and accessible either through class (Emma does one weekly) or through apps (Sanctuary for example) or through internet. Yoga Nidra so called yogic sleep is not sleeping but systematic relaxation, which leads to deepest level of effortless awareness that’s possible where there is no judgement or movement in mind or thought and no mental chatter to accompanying experience. It’s the deepest level of rest with awareness. It’s methodology for relaxation and will lead you to sweet zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz














By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 6 2018 10:17AM

Massage therapist and yoga teacher Erika Zettervall considers the meaning of home and how we can find this within ourselves.


Home and away - went home for summer and then came back home.


The downside with self-employment is you don’t have holiday, but the upside is you have the freedom to take time off. For the last couple of years I taken a longer summer break and gone on a road trip “back home” to Sweden. It is a long drive and it feels far, but I love it, the journey gives you time to reflect and adjust. The transition from here to there is a gradual whilst traveling through different landscapes, crossing over bridges, going down through long tunnels and sometimes adding surprise diversions, both literally and metaphorically. The shifts and changes in the environment passing whilst meditating on where you are, where you going and where you’ve been. It takes effort and focus just like a meditation.


Many Londoners are like me, born in one place and moved from different counties or countries, stayed on and made a life here. Visiting your old home can throw you off kilter and bring up memories and questions. We might experience nostalgia and longing, or become reminded of why we left in the first place. The sense of being a different person or version of me in the different places, a bit confusing, conflicting or even frustrating. In my case there is a recurring questioning and pondering whether or not I want to or should return to live over there. At times an outsider everywhere and at times home is anywhere. These two polarities have become easier to encompass over the years thanks to my practice of yoga.


The word yoga has many definitions but ‘to yoke’ is universally used and can be take meaning to balance and that is a form of bridging. ‘Skill in action’ is another definition. Lately meditation has been the focus in my practice taking a seat every morning. This has built a greater confidence in belonging /feeling at home, bridging life here and life in Sweden. Meditation cultivates contentment and inner peace, but also builds resilience for opposing feelings and creates a capacity for space and inclusion.


The question of belonging is very current with the intense focus on identity. It is all prevailing in politics, media and popular culture. Earlier this year I heard and interview with Brene Brown talking about belonging and quoting Maya Angelou:


“You are only free when you realise you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great,”


She then explains:


“We confuse belonging with fitting in, but the truth is that belonging is just in our heart, and when we belong to ourselves and believe in ourselves above all else, we belong everywhere and nowhere.”


It may sound corny but home is where the heart is, when you are content you are at home. With inner peace we are at home wherever we are and with whomever we are. Instead of either or, us and them, this or that, there can be bridges, balance and acceptance. So when I long for home it might be the seat I am looking for.


It great to be home.

















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