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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 6 2018 02:00PM

Aromatherapist Veronica Massa looks at some festive essential oils and shares the wonders of her festive aromatherapy massage oil blend. You can almost smell it as you read!

Looking at an essential oil blend that embodies the spirit of Christmas and

introducing Festive Aromatherapy Massage.

Aromas evoke memories and feelings, bring us back in time or to the present moment.

Scents can set an atmosphere and create a special moment.

Many smells are associated to Christmas and childhood memories that make us feel good. The scents of Christmas are so familiar that become part of the Christmas tradition, embodying the festive period.

The warmth of the festive season is captured with spicy/sweet essential oils that evoke the smell of ginger biscuits, the smell of pine from the Christmas tree, the smell of clove and orange of a pomander and the delicious fragrance of fruity spice in mulled wine.

One of my favourite Christmas fragrance is the blend for my Christmas Bath Truffle (bath melts) combining cinnamon, clove, orange, patchouli and ginger, so delicious! A classic Christmas fragrance perfect for the spice lover. If you are one of them, experience a Festive Aromatherapy Massage, be immerse in the Christmas spirit with these essential oils that will spice up and warm up your body and spirit. A real boost to your circulation, (both blood and lymphatic), your immune system and will also help with tensions and aches … in case you feel those too… The festive aroma of these oils will create a joyful atmosphere, an add-on to your massage experience.

Let’s take a look at these essential oils from an Aromatherapy point of view and get to know them better.

How do these oils influence our psyche, mood and emotions?

Clove (Eugenia Caryophyllata), probably mostly experienced for toothache, Clove has an anaesthetic effect. A warming oil, it helps with circulation, digestion and any condition associated with cold. It also helps relieve arthritis, rheumatism and sprains.

It is a mental and physical tonic and in terms of TCM, it tonifies Qi. If you feel things are stagnating in your life, Clove could help declutter and de-touch not only from material things but also believes and ideas about how life is or should be lived. Call for Clove when you need a change, open to new possibilities and attract new “clean” energies in your life. Get rid of what doesn’t serve you anymore and Clove will support you in the process of decluttering with the inner strength you may need.

Cautions: Potential skin irritant.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) warming energies are useful to relieve aches and chills in the early stage of colds and flu and for recovery afterwards when you feel debilitated. It is a great tonic for the Winter months especially for the elderly. Great warming oil, it stimulates the circulation and the digestive system, supports the immune system and relieves pain.

Its fiery energy gives a boost to whom has lost vigour and courage and bringsa sense of connection to the present moment.

Cinnamon bark can be a skin irritant so be careful!

Ginger (zingiber officinalis). Its scent will increase your determination and clarity. When feeling confused, undecided, demotivated, lacking in will, vitality and inner strength, Ginger will support, encourage and reconnect you to your will power and inner confidence. With ginger, the realization of your projects will feel a lighter task as you will feel more optimistic to manifest initiative and take action.

Ginger properties are warming and therefore beneficial for circulation and the digestive system, respiratory system and the reproductive one. It has also a warming and stimulating effect on the lungs and can treat chronic bronchitis.

It supports with lower back pain associated with muscular fatigue.

Ginger energy tonifies the kidneys and the heart.

Orange (citrus sinensis). Much loved by children, this sweet citrus will help them to sleep and will settle a belly ache. Just like cistus oils in general, the cheerful Orange uplifts the spirit and brings joy, warmth and a smile on the face of those who feel depressed, nervous, anxious and struggle to sleep.

Reach for this oil when life gets too serious and you forget how to laugh. Or if you are feeling self-doubt and fear when faced with new challenged and decisions to make.

In terms of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Orange helps for conditions related to Qi stagnation, especially in the liver, stomach and intestines. In fact it is one of the best oils for the digestive system.

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) warm and sweet qualities are beneficial for stress related conditions, the perfect oil for this time of the year! If you are someone prone to overthinking and worrying, who spends too much time “in the head” (too much mental activity), who feels “out of touch” with your body and also your sensuality, then this oil is for you! Patchouli will help you to come back to yourself. It is grounding and centring when you feel mentally and physically tense and detached not only from your body but also your creative expression. It helps alleviate anxiety, nervous strain and depression.

It will also help you with *Qi deficiency in the spleen and pancreas, leading to fatigue and tummy problems.

Patchouli reminds us to be in our body and take care of it especially when we put too much importance into the mental/psychic dimension while we are engaged on a spiritual path, it helps us to put things back into balance between the physical and the spiritual.

*Qi energy being the vital force of the body and mind, which moves and makes things move and it is the source of all bodily activities.


Battaglia S., The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2005

Mojay Gabriel, Aromatherapy for healing the spirit, 2005 (Gabriel is my Aromatherapy and TCM teacher)

Zeck Robbi, The Blossoming Heart, Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation, 2014 (3rd edition)

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Nov 28 2018 02:11PM

Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares some information to help you choose the right massage treatment for yourself. Come along and meet Lauren and some other members of the WNT team on Sunday for our open day with hot mulled apple juice and baked treats - YUMMM!

I am a Sports Massage Therapist. Does that mean that I must restrict myself to this ‘type’ of massage? No. As practitioners we are constantly learning and updating our skills and we may take a workshop or further training in something slightly outside of our normal ‘type’ of massage. Each therapist, no matter what type of massage they deliver, uses a whole range of techniques. Therefore there is often a lot of overlap between the different ‘types’ of massage – differences between massage therapists can be as large as the differences between types of treatment.

If you are curious I would recommend that you try a few different massage treatments with a few different therapists and get a feel for how they differ. A good massage therapist should listen to your needs and preferences before any massage and deliver it tailored to you. However that being said, if you know you want a nice relaxing massage and your reason for going is stress related, an invigorating and most likely painful sports massage is probably not a wise choice. Really ask yourself why you are going for a massage and what you want to get out of it.

Receiving a massage can feel like quite a vulnerable experience; you may be feeling exposed and may not be used to the level of physical contact by a stranger. This is completely normal. Don’t let it stop you from being assertive and confident to ask for what you want. Be clear and direct with your needs and receive the best massage for you.

If you are wondering where to start, here’s a rough guide to what to expect from each type of massage out there (all offered at West Norwood Therapies):

Swedish massage: “the most commonly used form of classical Western massage, generally performed in the direction of the heart, sometimes with active or passive movement of the joints. It is used especially for relaxation, relief of muscular tension, and improvement of circulation and range of motion.”

Deep tissue massage: “Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia.”

Aromatherapy massage: “bodily application (as by massage) of fragrant essential oils (as from flowers and fruits) for therapeutic purposes”

Sports massage: “A massage which addresses specific needs of athletes/sports people. It’s techniques include Swedish massage, cross-fibre friction massage, deep-compression massage, trigger-point therapy. Massage can occur pre or post training/events or just as maintenance, to enhance performance or promote healing.”

Indian head massage: “Indian Head massage includes massage of the shoulders, upper arms, neck, scalp, face, ears & rebalancing energy flow, it relieves upper body tension & restores joint mobility; soothes, comforts & gives you a deep sense of peace and calm.

Pregnancy massage: “Benefits include easing aches and muscle soreness, promoting relaxation, releasing endorphines and helping to balance hormones, especially helpful to both mother and baby.”

Tui na massage: “Tui na is a dynamic and flexible form of massage, routinely practised alongside acupuncture. A variety of massage techniques, gentle body manoeuvres and stretches are combined in an individually tailored, wonderfully relaxing or invigorating treatment.”

Piqued your interest? Massage can help with a whole host of things from muscle imbalances and aches to stress –related discomfort. Why not come down to our open clinic day at Feast this Sunday 2nd December and meet some of the therapists. We would love to answer any questions you may have over some hot mulled apple juice and some baked treats!

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.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 26 2018 08:22AM

Massage therapist and Yoga teacher Erika Zettervall considers ingredients for happiness and reflects on why Finland has been ranked top of the UN's happiness list.

Spring has sprung into summer in a few days, making up time for the long cold slow spring. London transformed and alight with vivacious colours and smiling people. The air is filled with joy (pollen) and the mood is uplifted and happy. Brought the question of happiness to my mind.

Last month Finland was ranked top of the list in UN’s report on happiness. Apart from the statisticians scepticism towards conclusions drawn from these kind of reports, my initial response was that this can't be true. How on earth did they come to that conclusion? Finland who invented Angry Birds and wife carrying competitions, happiest in the world? Who and when did this survey take place? I have not looked into the particulars but just followed the link and appear to be quite substantial. My reason for surprise and disbelief are light hearted, as many are the jokes we Swedes (me being Swedish) make about our neighbouring country men the Finns.

Their sparse dialogue in communication and proclivity for vodka drinking in aid of conversation. We tend to stereotype Finns as melancholic introverts who avoid eye contact and use very few words. (No doubt they have ways to describe their neighbour in the west that are equally broad brushed.)

After my initial impulsive prejudged thoughts I stepped back to reflect and reflected on; happiness and what does it actually mean to be happy, on my own prejudgment, and on the qualities of the Finns I know and met. Given it a bit of thought the result was not surprising at all and those attribute (apart from the vodka drinking that is a problem for at least some part of the population) may be important to happiness.

Then I came across a post from my teacher Rod Stryker about happiness: ‘We are all looking for the same thing - happiness. Even the mind ’s busyness is in search for happiness. It's constantly searching happiness. It's constantly searching to fulfill its desires and longings. If we purposefully still the activity of the mind, we can access the ultimate of joys, and one that is not fleeting. The reason your mind is so busy it is busy looking for joys. We need to tell the mind, “Listen mind, settle down,” so we can find that dimension that is beyond all thought. It is a place that both the mind and the soul can both fully enjoy, which ultimately, fulfills our search.’

Happiness isn't a reaction to an event but a state of mind that has very little to do with what is going on around us. That said, being comfortable with silence and pauses in conversation, would be a sign of deeper happiness rather than social awkwardness and the melancholic trait understood as an emotional maturity.

Melancholy might just be a bit underrated and forgotten in a world that bangs on about positive attitude and unrealistic exuberance. Being realistic, content and accepting of life is important as well as being able to feel sorrow, sadness and disappointments without getting frightened alarmed. Alain duBottom school of life has great little short films about it and recommend watching https://vimeo.com/123004006 Alain duBottom School of life on melancholy.

In a different context, being hands on and connected with a creative process is explained to be mean to happiness. Getting your physical hands involved. Doing art, playing instrument or painting as well as more practical creations such as cooking, gardening and diy.

This also fits with the Nordic life approach that is very hands on with high level of practical life skill, it is far more common to do your rebuilding, redecoration, repairing or gardening yourself, rather than having someone else doing it for you. The same goes for clearing up from natures seasonal debris such as leaves and snow, keeping you physically connected to life. These kind of activity that requires a gentle focus or concentration on the task at hand is calming for the busy mind and helps it settle down. Settle, so we can find the dimension beyond thought. Also purpose full and satisfying.

The Scandinavian countries has also been slower in becoming over commercialised. Advertising has been more restrained and you be struggling to find shopping listed as a pastime or leisure activity. The vast choices we have over stimulate the mind and it will go into over drive searching for something that is ‘it’. The adverts subliminally bombard us with messages of need of something or in other words what'll have or are is not enough. We are a bit wrong - buy this and then you be ‘fixed’. Same happens on the internet, we search and search looking for joys. Temporary elation will be found, but the underlying state of mind will remain. Of course we need to buy food other things for our lives but very little happiness is actually delivered from the promises in adverts, on the contrary they reinforce discontent and lack. This even in the era of ‘peak stuff.’

The pursuit of happiness may be a life's work but simple connecting with what you are doing and settle the mind, getting comfortable with the sways and flow of life and feelings is a way to happy state of mind.

I also asked one of my Finnish friends what he thought about the report he smiled and said it must have been done on a sunny Friday afternoon. But his words where spoken with great content and a radiance of ease and at least this Finn appears to be happiness embodied.

Reading suggestions:

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Life Lessons

Johann Harri Lost Connections

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