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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 15 2019 01:35PM

WNT founder and manager Jennie Duck shares how we decided on a beautiful new studio floor and the teamwork that made it happen

I always hated laminate flooring. It had been suggested that it would be a good alternative to our carpet a couple of years back as we were starting to offer more classes as well as treatments and I pretty much flatly refused. We ended up going with a foam interim - sounds awful but actually worked well for classes and looked quite good. But it was a faff for treatments since it needed protective mats and not the most durable option in the long term so back to the drawing board...

Then I discovered laminate can be nice!!! Who knew??! In fact it can be really lovely - like the oak effect that we went for as pictured here.

So it was all hands on deck to get the room cleared out and then reconstituted with minimal disruption to the clinic and classes. Our team in action - I stayed 400miles away in Scotland and kept in tune with progress. My husband travelled down to put the flooring in - a mammoth job over a long weekend with 4am starts and late nights. Thank goodness he loves me enough to see it through, as old-man-like he was on arrival home with sore knees from kneeling and a tired body.

Again I give my thanks that the team at WNT is so much a team and the comaraderie and engagment is there to make decisions together (once I open my mind to the options of course ;-) and carry out work to make things happen.

Everyone is happy with the look and the first round of students have enjoyed classes on it so we are excited and optimistic that it is a great new chapter for us in our life as a yoga, tai chi, qigong and (soon) Feldenkrais studio as well as a clinic for treatments.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 8 2019 09:46AM

WNT founder Jennie Duck reflects on what it means to her to work with the Wonderful Women of WNT and how the tone of the team helps nurture the culture of the clinic and studio.

I hadn’t intended for West Norwood Therapies to become a formidable team of women. Formidable yes, but not only women. We have had a couple of men in the mix over the years, but as we head towards our 5th birthday this October we are 12 (wonderful) women.

And as International Women’s Day arrives I’m reflecting on what that means to me and find it is making me very grateful to have this gang around me.


Support is a core value of WNT so any practitioner who flourishes in the team is a good example of support. Everyone has a sense that our emotional, physical and mental wellbeing matter and have an impact on how business goes. I attribute this to more of a female way of approaching life, but it must be boosted also by our vocations as therapists and teachers! Either way, supporting one another through challenging times helps us be stronger as a team.


Our monthly meetings are a precious time of coming together and we leave feeling nourished. It can be a time for sharing, for peer or business support, and sometimes just a time to connect with other women in a similar role who are all rather lovely, caring and funny :-)


These women are amazing! Everyone is pulled in different directions with varying commitments and pressures and everyone not only copes but flourishes. Our loyal band of clients, students and patients can testify to the level of professionalism and skill each practitioner brings to WNT and its an important core of what we offer – a high standard of client care.


We all bring something different to the table at WNT and this helps us practice with integrity and to be constantly evolving and learning in our professional environment. We inspire each other but we also let each other inspire us, an important distinction in strong team work.


Living in Scotland now it’s hard to socialise with the team as much, but I still call in for team meetings and come down for meetings and social events a few times a year and it’s always fun! There is a light heartedness that can be found in sincerity which I believe nurtures compassion and integrity – again these are integral to the values and goals of WNT.

All of this is especially important because the environment we create and nurture as a team sets the tone for our clinic and studio. We reflect on our values regularly and are conscious to practice with integrity in a very down to earth, human and warm way.

I love the team at WNT and I am proud to be part of this gang of Wonderful Women :-)

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 16 2019 09:00AM

WNT founder Jennie Duck considers our new year habit of making resolutions and shares how she is resolving to resolve by employing the philiosophy 'just start again'

Happy new year!

It’s that time of year again where we all make resolutions to make ourselves better in some way. For a long time I resisted making resolutions at New year, feeling like it was a setting up for failure – we are coming off the back of Christmas indulgence: indulgence in food, drink, spending, resting, family or friends. If it is a generally happy time for us then we splurge. If it is a sad time for us then we can feel overwhelmed. Then the new year comes, with its sprinkling of optimism and ideas that we can change and do better this time…then the glitter fades and by the end of January we are in the midst of a cold, dark, dreary winter with no Christmas on the horizon to distract us. The wheels come off and we feel worse than we did before.

But I feel differently this year. 2018 was a tough year for me, but it was also the year that I stepped into yoga in a more committed way than before. I discovered Yin yoga and the calm and self-awareness that I could find within it, which was a revolution to my tendency towards head-led determination and pushing myself. Yoga gave me space when I needed it most and has helped me – is helping me – navigate some difficult emotions and challenges.

Over the past year I have explored all sorts of yoga, lots of lovely Yin and also more dynamic and creative session and two things really stand out for me as big general life lessons:

One, how to listen to my body and respond rather than impose onto it what I think it should want or need. As a massage therapist who has spent years working with bodies under the assumption that their minds and bodies are one and the same, you’d think I would do this already! But as per the second point, we are also conditioned to strive and aim to make ourselves better rather than accepting who and what we are at any given point.

This second lesson is the subject of this blog – Just start again. I’ve actually had a painted sign with this up at home for a few years now, but only this year has it really started to feel like something I can really let happen. It’s a core principle in meditation and I see my yoga practice as meditation. Such a simple principle – when your mind wanders, just start again.

What we often do in life when we lose focus or drive is not that but beat ourselves up, get frustrated, implement harder rules or drivers, tell ourselves we are ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘not good enough’. Then our resolve becomes a carrot that needs a stick to beat us towards it, rather than an internal drive to be better.

To ‘just start again’ we actually need some self-compassion and understanding. We need to appreciate that we are trying, we are ok, we are inherently good, right and good enough. That can be a BIG challenge.

Here are a few examples from my own experience over the past few weeks:

- Oversleep and wake too late to go for a run.

o Chose not to berate myself for ‘obviously being inherently lazy’ and rather acknowledge my body must have needed sleep, I’d had a stressful day the day before and I could just go for a run tomorrow – just start again

- Decide to cut way back on refined sugar after Christmas had ramped it from an occasional part of my diet to a (more than once) daily habit…Find some chocolate money in the door of the fridge and chomp through it with guilt-tinged delight

o Bit of regret here, but rather than hang on to that and assume that I had failed and was beholden to sugar forever now, I focused on the fact that it tasted nice but I know I feel better without it and I can start being free of it again now (especially as the chocolate is now finished ;-)) – just start again

- Withdraw from my partner rather than sharing with him when I felt exposed and fearful

o Yin yoga saved me here, where I was able to tap into what those feelings really were rather than just reacting to the ‘bad feeling’, then I could step back towards him to explain – just start again

So here’s to resolutions – small, frequent, kind and considered resolutions to keep trying to become better people.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 12 2018 10:00AM

WNT founder Jennie Duck shares five things she's learned this year about grief.

Over the past 18 months I have experienced my first major bereavements and been thrown into the world of grief, it’s quite an experience! And, I believe, no two experiences will be quite the same. Relationships differ, ways of death and any ‘preparation’ for it differ, where you are in your own life when you experience it differs.

My story is this: my dad died very suddenly 16 months ago – an ostensibly fit, healthy 64 year old he died out running with his (now our) dog, Jack. My mum had just been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier and she declined rapidly to die in February this year. I was in the midst of other big life changes as this was happening – becoming a parent and moving from a London flat to a smallholding down a rural Scottish track, ironically to be closer to my parents and other family, with big changes in our work lives too.

So these are just a few things I have learned through my own particular journey so far. I think it will be a lifelong journey…

1. Grief is isolating – I am not an isolated person: I have family, friends and support around me. I also have people around me grieving the same people too. But I wouldn't say it's something you can really share. It is so personal and something I almost feel protective around. Relationships are unique and your experience of letting go of that person must therefore be unique. This can be extremely painful and make you feel very lonely. Feeling sad can make you want to withdraw, especially when you feel like people just want you to be ok again and you’re just not. It can also be hard for people close to you to understand, it can be hard to support someone with a bubble round them, but I think that bubble is necessary protection for our grief for a bit at least, which means it simply is isolating.

2. Grief is visceral – I heard a psychotherapist say “grief feels like fear” and I totally agree with that. It comes with heightened anxiety and can take over your body, tense your jaw and churn your gut in particular. It is therefore really an embodied feeling, which can mean back pain, stiffness, upset stomach as well as anger and bubbling frustration. Another bereavement specialist told me “you can’t deal with anxiety cognitively” and this was so helpful a reminder that our bodies are our minds and vice versa. The routes out of anxiety for me are the same that are helpful for managing symptoms of grief - Yoga, massage, acupuncture, running, hugging (see Erika’s blog on oxytocin for reasons this helps so much), meditating, talking, sleeping, playing hide and seek with a toddler…

3. Grief is unavoidable – Grief comes with death so is unavoidable for that reason. But I also say this in that grief is something you actually do have to go through when you experience death. Early on a friend told me "No one escapes the full grief experience " and this has chimed with a lot of anecdotal evidence from, for example, interviewees on Griefcast who tried to avoid the experience and it comes back to haunt them later on. But it’s not something you go through then finish! It’s something that you have to create space for in your life, to examine and process and ultimately to learn to live with. Grief changes you and you have to adapt to absorb those changes.

4 Grief is not all bad – if you said this to me on some days I would feel like punching you! I sometimes feel like that is untrue, but in my more rational frame of mind I see it like any injury - if you attend to it, if you go into it and explore it you can learn a lot about yourself and life. If you just numb the pain then it will just hide there and give you greater trouble down the line. Grief is a sign that you have really loved and that is what makes life worthwhile, so if you can bear to let the process happen it can help ground you in your priorities and focus on what really matters.

5. Grief is Really F*&£$ing hard!! – Because it's isolating, because it’s visceral, because it’s unavoidable and even because it’s not all bad (really you’d rather have them back!) – all these things and the adapting to the change the loss brings make grief hard. It is a complex beast, it’s absorbing and intense at times. It is like childbirth and chronic pain, these are things that everyone acknowledges are tough and painful, but until you experience them yourself you won't really ‘get it’.

I wanted to share these experiences as I have found it helpful to hear other experiences, particularly through listening to Griefcast and also through Griefworks. While it is such an individual journey, there are so many common aspects, emotions, tensions and challenges. I have found solidarity, understanding and support through these channels and they’ve helped me make sense of some of the reactions I’ve had, which is invaluable on this confusing, anxious, sad and important journey.

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