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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 1 2019 03:36PM

Tai chi and qigong teacher Hannah Horsfall shares the gentle yet powerful effect of tai chi - perhaps suggestive of a good way to approach life


Many of my students find themselves surprised at the end of a gentle calming session they also feel as if they have “done a good workout”!


It is often thought that Tai Chi is so slow and so gentle that it could not possibly offer anything like the cardiovascular benefits of other more vigorous exercise. However in the programme “Trust Me I’m a Dr” a beautifully clear experiment was conducted between a group of adults doing 12 weeks of Tai Chi and a group doing 12 weeks of Zumba!


Watch this 2 minute film to see the results!











By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 27 2019 08:51AM

Tai chi and qigong teacher Hanna Horsfall shares some information on what qigong is and how we can understand it in the context of current research on fascia, health and healing ahead of her qigong workshop on 16th March.


Qigong (pronounced chigung) directly translated means energy skill/ training.


Qigong can be practised as a series of flowing movements or practised without movement other than breathwork and mind focus.


There are obvious musculoskeletal benefits alongside developing internal awareness, sensitivity and a calming of the mind.


Practising Qigong can lead to deep relaxation that brings benefits in itself. This also allows for the freeing up the of flow of bodily fluids through the systems we are aware of in the West, circulatory, lymph and digestive but also the flow of Qi through the chinese meridian system as used in acupunture.


Ba duan Jin (eight silk brocades) and Wu Xin Xi ( Five Animals) are both ancient qigong forms that work with all the meridians facilitating balance and promoting health and self healing.



In China qigong is part of the national health plan with it being practised in Hospitals, schools and workplaces. Currently tai chi, better known in the West, is popular in China but many more have Qigong as part of their daily practise.


Interestingly, the relatively new research in western medicine into fascia and myofascial trains run very closely along the same routes as the ancient chinese meridians.


The following documentory explores the fascia with regard to the musculoskeletal system, the impact of stress, and the experience of pain.This opens up a whole new world of understanding of the body and , I hope, help to promote how the body can heal itself.


There is a long way,however, to catch up with the knowledge of the fascial realtionship to the internal organs, its potential as a trainable sense organ and its interralationship with both the internal and external stimuli.


The video I am sharing mentions, physiotherapy, yoga and acupunture but not Qigong.

In time…..


So I let you draw your own conculsions from the programme and invite you to to experience qigong for yourself!


Watch The Mysterious World Under The Skin documentary


Hannah‘s next Qigong workshop on Saturday 16th March 9.30 – 11.30am More info and booking





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 20 2019 10:00AM

Sports massage therapist and budding swim-star Tessa Glover shares the next stage in her journey towards the Windrush Aquathon in June.


Last week I was fortunate enough continue my swimming training for the Windrush Aquathlon at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. Wow, what a place! Of course my (now fellow) Windrushers have been training there for a number of years and know what a wonderful experience it is but I had never been on an activity holiday before let alone to an entire sports complex like this. There were so many sports and classes to choose from and I went with tennis, boxing, golf, squash, TRX, various body workouts and swimming.


As swimming is my main focus, I took a 1-2-1 lesson and participated in the beginners front crawl session. Both were incredibly helpful and covered breathing, kicking, body position, arm position (all in 25 minutes). Phew… but it was made much easier by carrying out the drills in 25 metres instead of the full 50 metres as it wasn’t so daunting. There was also the major plus of being gloriously HEATED in all three Olympic sized pools!


So every day I headed to the pool and carried out the DRILLS that I have been working on.


1. Sink downs to help fully empty the lungs before taking a new breath.


https://www.triathlete.com/2014/12/training/try-it-sink-downs_67701


2. Popeye breathing (with half of the face still in the water, suck in air from the side of the mouth). So that you don’t turn your head and neck too far out of the water.


3. Catch-up arms to help you work on “long and straight” body alignment, from the tip of the outstretched, extended arm down through your shoulder and side all the way to your feet. This drill can also help with breath timing and assisting in learning how to delay starting the pulling until the body is in a good position.


4. Using a float held with both hands, face in the water to concentrate on leg kicks. Relaxed feet with big toes brushing each other, knees soft and working from the glutes to kick. Making sure your feet break the surface of the water and you feel the water on the dorsal and plantar sides of your feet.


5. Arm position. With a pull buoy, concentrating on keeping your arms wide as you take your strokes so that your hands don’t cross in front of your head. Tips of the fingers enter the water first, elbow slightly raised and bent. Imaging you are zipping up the side of your body with your thumb as you return your arm under and out of the water for the next stroke.


6. Body rotation. As you reach for each stroke, rotate the body as if head, neck and back are all on a pole and turn as one. Windrush coach Audrey Livingstone suggests imagining you are rotating in time to a waltz. It really does work!


Asking a friend to film you swimming is so helpful as you can analyse your stroke and then work on the areas you need to improve on. Here’s my latest attempt. I’m aware there’s a lot more to work to do as I’m still finding the breathing difficult and am out of breath after 16 strokes. BUT that’s double what I could do before so I’m staying positive. Any hints and tips are always appreciated.


Watch Tessa's video on her front crawl progress





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Nov 21 2018 09:00AM

Sports massage therapist Tessa Glover shares the second in her series of blogs about her brave adventure towards the Windrush Aquathon 2019 - Go Tessa!!


The beautiful summer has come and gone and I have to admit I have not been swimming as much as I planned to. I had hoped to swim 2-3 times per week before starting on the Windrush Beginners Swimming course but this did not happen. I was fortunate to have a trip to Italy in October but unfortunate in that I am not a member of this yacht club in Civitavecchia (Porto Turistico Riva Di Traiano) and had to just gaze admiringly at the pool from the terrace.


In reality I had only managed 3 or 4 swims in the two months before the first lesson and was totally unprepared. I felt out of my depth (pun intended) as 11 or 12 30-something males and only 3 women (plus me at the age of 50+) gathered on the side of the pool.


The lads set off like a shoal of hungry piranha while I splashed about like an aimless flounder. Thankfully the coaches, Audrey* and Becky*, were great and very patient with me. After seeing how much I struggled just trying to do a few lengths without stopping, Audrey suggested I wore my fins (flippers) all the time which helped me to keep up with the others in my lane.


The lesson concentrated on breathing and was incredibly informative. I had no idea that you could relax and breathe out under water at the same time but as the hour ticked on I came to learn that when you’re tired, breathing bilaterally without swallowing water is impossible so by the end I felt as if I’d drunk about 2 litres. At one point my heart felt as if it was about to beat out of my chest or was I about to have a heart attack? (Alarmingly, it occurred to me, I am at the age where that sort of thing could potentially happen).


I was shocked at how difficult it was to do so many lengths in one hour and came away from the lesson feeling incredibly despondent. I even asked if I should bother to come to the next session but Becky encouraged me to continue. I asked if she would give me some much needed 1-2-1 lessons and thankfully she agreed. She obviously loves a challenge!


The following week I had two lessons with Becky. She was fantastic. She broke down each element of the breathing. I used the bubble bubble breathe technique but she noticed that I turn my head too far out of the water and gasped for breath rather than rotating my whole body from the hips and turning my head quickly to the side to breathe. So she suggested Bubble Bubble Stretch, this way I was reminded to reach out my arm even further forward as I took my breath.


At this point I was exhausted and getting out of breath very quickly. Firstly because I am aerobically unfit and secondly because Becky noticed that I was breathing from my chest rather than from the diaphragm, meaning I was running out of air quicker and, as a result, panicking. We had a break from the swimming and she suggested that I practice some ‘sink downs’ to help me relax. Sink downs involve trying to expel as much air from your lungs as possible as you sink down to sit on the bottom of the pool. If you keep too much air in your lungs while doing the front crawl, your chest may be too buoyant which will make you swim at an angle with your legs sinking down. I found it almost impossible to stay under and kept bobbing to the surface again. With practice it’s getting better and Becky suggested I look at these Swim Smooth forum posts on the subject.


http://www.swimsmoothforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=2961


As for body positioning, she showed me how to torpedo off from the wall using my feet to start off. This makes sure your body stay long in the water for a good 5 metres before beginning your strokes and encourages you to stay that way for the duration of the length.


The evening of my second lesson, I sat in the car outside the swimming pool wondering why I had come back. I almost persuaded myself to go home but I remembered my promise to my colleague to do the Aquathlon and dragged myself into the changing room.


Their were fewer people this week and it seemed a lot calmer. I didn’t try to keep up with everyone else so didn’t get as out of breath. I kept my flippers on and concentrated on the drills. More breathing, head positioning and swimming on our sides this week. I felt a little better about my lack of ability!


10 minutes before the third lesson and again I was hesitant to go in. This week for some reason was even worse than the first lesson. My breathing was even shallower, I got out of breath during every length. To my horror, Audrey posted a video up of the session and there I was shaking my head and not doing crawl at all. I felt miserable looking at it.


This morning I arrived in the changing room to find I’d brought the bag containing items for the charity shop instead of my swimming stuff! I made myself go home and get the right back and do my swim. There’s dedication for you. As well as breathing, I practised swimming on my side with my head resting on my arm for body positioning improvement, sink downs and even did a few lengths without stopping… wonders will never cease.


Thursdays’s 1-2-1 lesson with Becky we worked on ‘sculling’. I always assumed sculling meant using cupped hands to empty water out of a sinking boat. However, there are many definitions but this one is the closest.


(of an aquatic animal) propel itself with fins or flippers.”the limbs were modified into efficient paddles, perfectly adapted for sculling through the water”


We worked on getting a feel for the water with the hands, cupping and moving in and out as if stroking a cat’s head back and forth (or turning on taps). We then moved on to shoulder, elbow and wrist position in combination with the cupping.


Finally here was something I could manage! All those years of being a cat owner have paid off….


Next time: the last two Windrush lessons and my first attempt at a Parkrun after 6 years…


*Rebecca Goodwin https://windrushtri.co.uk/coaches/ Twitter: @beckykyky


*Audrey Livingston http://www.alphafitness.me.uk/audrey.html




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