book class book appointment Helpful things during lockdown WNT Logo A green on white buy gift voucher RSS Feed

Web feed

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 19 2019 09:44AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein shares the importance of Savasana in yoga - often a love/hate part of a class - ahead of her restorative yoga workshop on Sunday 24th March.

Savasana the Corpse Pose

One of the hardest but the most important postures out of all of the yoga postures. It is a fully conscious, completely still meditation.

People who come to classes, generally fall into two categories

• Those who love savasana and wish half the class was a meditation; and

• Those who don't see the point and often leave before the end to avoid savasana

For both groups, it's important to understand why we do savasana.

For those of you who view yoga as purely a gym or aerobics class, having 5 minutes of lying on the mat doing nothing often seems like a waste of time and it can feel that in our crazy busy lives this time could be better spent. Maybe by getting to the showers faster so that you can get to work or home sooner.

Realistically, 5 minutes in the grand scheme of our lives is a very small investment into something that is the most important part of an entire yoga practice - Savasana.

Why is Savasana so hard?

A lot of people really struggle with lying still and allowing the mind to switch off. Either twitching and wriggling with the mind running wild and their thoughts going all over the place or in some cases falling asleep.

During an Asana class, if the mind has been concentrating hard on maintaining the breath, how the body feels in each posture and being fully aware of oneself, and the body has worked hard throughout then by the end both the body and mind should be tired. This helps to keep the mind clear of thoughts and the body still.

The mind can often still get in the way however, with thoughts still running rampant. Such as

• How much longer will this last?

• Am I breathing correctly?

• Did someone just snore?

• I really need to sneeze/cough/scratch an itch

• I'm hungry

• What am I going to make for dinner?

• What am I really doing with my life?

• Should I quit my job?

Having thoughts is not the issue, allowing those thoughts to expand and flow into a full conversation in your head that is where we fall off track. Being able to bring your thoughts back to your breath and stillness every time they wander is the hard part.

The Art of Savasana

In an ideal world, it would be easy to allow the body to rest and to calm the mind to have no thoughts for 5-10 minutes. However, this takes time and practice but is extremely rewarding once mastered.

A successful savasana takes practice, but here are some steps to help you find that calm space

• Find a comfortable position. Wriggle, stretch and move until you are comfortable, in a position you can maintain with stillness for 5 – 10 minutes. Traditionally, flat on the back with the feet flopping out and the palms facing up. Keeping the chin slightly in to help release your neck. The more comfortable you are the easier it will be to relax. The more relaxed you are the more benefits you will receive. If finding that comfortable space means putting on a jumper or covering your eyes, then do it. It is important to find what works for you. And if you need to roll onto your side or even sit-up then do it.

• Take a few deep cleansing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to release any tension. Sighing out loud if this works for you. This signals to the parasympathetic nervous system that is OK to relax.

• Slowly bring your focus onto your breath. Feeling the rise and fall of the chest and stomach as the whole body breathes. Observing as you breathe in and out any areas of remaining tension and consciously allow that tension to flow out of your body.

• When your mind wanders, because it will, bring it back to your breath. Allow yourself to observe without becoming attached to any one thought. Some days this will be easier than others, but that is part of the practice. Over time the moments of stillness and quiet will become longer. Don’t judge yourself when this happens, it is normal and takes time and practice.

There are lots of benefits to taking the time to practice savasana.

Stress Relief - Savasana calms the brain and helps to relieve stress and mild depression, reduces headaches, fatigue and insomnia as well as lowering blood pressure. The body holds mental, emotional and physical stress in the form of muscle contraction or tension. Stress is linked to many health problems and learning to release this tension is extremely beneficial to both short- and long-term health.

Healing - Giving the body time to rest, as well as relieving muscle stress allows the body time to heal. Draining any toxins that have been released during the practice and reoxygenating the body.

Self-Acceptance - During class we focus on our bodies and what they can do; today, in this class. In savasana we do not have the distraction of doing to keep us from being self-conscious. By allowing yourself to just be and surrendering to the moment takes practice. It is difficult to accept yourself just as you are in this moment.

Peace - Finding that moment of stillness, connecting with your breath, finding acceptance. Our lives are so busy that often the only peace we find is during sleep. Being able to find and appreciate peace during a conscious waking moment is extremely fulfilling.

Accepting Death - It is extremely common for people to fear death. To fear the unknown, pain and loss. Death however is universal and natural. Savasana is called the corpse pose as it is a living death. The peace we find while in savasana feels good. It is unintimidating. Savasana helps us to acknowledge and accept our own mortality.

When coming out of savasana, we often feel rejuvenated, energised and refreshed. It is so crucial to remember that all the postures we do have a purpose and that savasana is just as important if not more so than the rest of our practice.

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, Oct 31 2018 07:03PM

Our newest massage therapist and reiki practitioner, Melanie Howlett, shares her experiences and suggestions for how to find and maintain balance and wellbeing when the pace and demands of life get too much

My introductory blog is about the art of how to keep sane balanced and healthy in the world today.

I personally find that when the demands, expectations and pace of every day life becomes more and more relentless and demanding, allowing little time to slow down and tune in, is when I start to lose touch with how I am feeling.

Everything in our society today has become more instant. We have information at our fingertips, fast food on our doorstep‘s, work deadlines that are looming, a not enough days in the week rolling schedule and everyone’s email seems to need immediate time and attention.. like yesterday...

Times are rapidly changing and AI (Artificial Intelligence) is looming with a new ‘buzzword’.

Machines have quietly reached singularity, which is that point in time when artificial intelligence /machines are smarter than human beings and can make their own decisions without us..

Can you speak to the self service checkouts for us please??

The internet and social networking gives the illusion that we are more connected than ever to everyone when in fact we are further apart with the whole world in our living room.

It’s those times when I loose touch with myself in the fast moving highly demanding, pressure and virtual reality of today’s city life that leads to me getting stressed and overwhelmed..

Stress can come on suddenly and affect our well being and those around us in many ways.

It is often difficult to express how we are feeling when it takes a hold and how to approach how we are feeling at the time.

It is the number one cause of disease in the world today and the root and beginning of many illnesses.

Some of the signs of stress could be muscle pain and tension and irritability. Illness and injury. Sleepless night’s, short patience with others and negative ruminating thought processes.

This can can lead to Anxiety and panic attacks and feelings of overwhelm.

So what do I do when the pace of life becomes too fast?

I am going to share with you the ways I find are an effective way back to inner peace, joy and how I like to reconnect.

Number One. Touch base with Mother Nature.

- Nature takes her time, she can’t be rushed

One of the ways I love to shake off some of the pressure when I’m starting to feel off-balance is to go for a long walk in nature.

I love to reconnect to Mother Earth in a world that has become so unnatural and synthetic.

When we take time to slow down and go for a stroll in the park, hug a tree and take in the beauty around us, it brings us back to ourselves and we come back feeling re-energised, re centred and relaxed.

- I love to take a long soak in an Epsom or Pink Himalayan salt bath with lavender and Roman Chamomile to relax and calm my body and mind. I feel so re- energised afterwards.

- I remember that I have to give back to myself by having a therapeutic massage.

Having a good massage really does help to calm the nervous system and help with feeling a lot less stressed. It is important for us to take some time for ourselves and give back to our body by releasing the tension and emotional stress which ends up stored in a soft tissue through times of pressure.

When I take my own advice and allow myself the time for a massage it really helps to put me back on track. I usually find that having 1 treatment a week for 3 to 4 weeks really helps me to re centre, calm, uplift and re energise.

A Reiki treatment is another really lovely way to nurture and awaken your bodies own natural healing abilities. It can be a deeply relaxing and restorative way to unwind.

Energetic blockages can manifest outwardly.

As within so without. As above so below.

Reiki works by going to the root cause of an illness or imbalances to release the energetic blockages.

As well as being a calming and meditative treatment, Reiki often initiates subtle changes to the energetic field to bring about positive shifts in a persons life.

- I stop drinking coffee and stimulants at this time and support my system with some Chinese tonic herbs to balance the three treasures and help my adrenals. I also like to drink chamomile and marshmallow root tea.

Before the big rush starts I remind myself to connect with how I am feeling. Connect with my breath and check in with how I am. Reduce screen time and mobile phone use in the evenings before bed and in the mornings when I wake up.

- Keep breathing. When we get stressed we come out of our body and into our head. The best way to try to reconnect with ourselves is to focus on our breath and practice deep breathing techniques to help us stay present and aware of how we are feeling when things start to pile on top of us.

I find taking a yoga (especially yin/restorative) or Pilates class to reconnect is a great way to come back to my breath, release the stress and to come back to my core.

I remind myself to stop giving myself a hard time.

I am not a machine 😉

Be good to myself and do things which nourish and support my body.

It is easy to neglect ourselves in today’s busy world.

Don’t feel guilty.

Remember we can only help others when we ourselves are fit and healthy, calm and relaxed.

And finally..don’t worry. The machines will soon read your mind and be able to answer all of your emails for you while driving you to your machine operated workplace 😉

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

Massage therapist and Yoga teacher Erika Zettervall considers how dogs approach life and how real change happens when it is heartfelt and sincere

We are now well into the year 2018 and have just marked Chinese New Year and said welcome to the Year of the Dog. This year, according to Chinese astrology is a particularly good year to focus on health, introduce healthy habits, finding balance and change the way we live. Healthy dogs are happy, loyal and relaxed creatures and if mine is anything to go by enthusiastic, loving and patient.

Spring is round the corner with Easter falling early this year lent began last week making this a good time to get into some good routines and habits and engage in a little life inventory/spring clean.

Giving something up for lent? One of my friends decided to give up lying this year. I was a bit puzzled and unsure what she meant because she doesn't come across as a deceitful person. She explained how she had become aware that using small lies to herself and others in order to avoid doing things had become almost automatic and habitual and had started to have an impact. She has a strong desire to be truthful and authentic and is a very insightful person. It takes courage to look at aspects of yourself that is not very pleasant without falling into destructive self-hate.

Habits creates tendencies that goes on to form our characters that then shapes our lives who we are and what we become. So it is valuable to spend some energy time taking inventory of existing habits and desired habits. Asking yourself who you want to be and having a reality check can be sobering, not always nice, but grown up.

Resolutions made around the time of New Year celebrations might by now have fallen off the radar and the resolve from January didn't last the distance and are all but forgotten. But perhaps revisit and take a closer look delve deeper into what drove the idea. Often there is lack of deeper connection with the reason for change. What is behind the reason and what made you stop or give up. If there is a desire for change, try again. Small steps over time will build character.

Giving something up, like drinking coffee for example, for the sake of it, is good in so much that it strengthen the willpower and practice determination. A bit of a willpower workout. However, unless it is heartfelt and there is a desire to be a non coffee drinker, the drinking will most likely continue after the pause.

I regularly have a break from coffee for a week or so just to un-grip the hold of the habit and exercise my willpower. But then I resume, often with a lower level of consumption. It gives a sense of freedom from my habit and a feeling of not being ruled by it.

Differently, I aspired to have a regular meditation practice and there is the intention is for daily practice. It is something for my health, long term wellbeing and development. Now meditation is on par with brushing teeth. It took a long time to get to that point I used to have entertain the idea of it being good but only managed to sit irregularly and at different times in the day. I knew it was good to do daily but I had not created a routine for it. But when I connected with deeper desire and commitment to meditation as part of how I live well and good maintain health it wasn't difficult.

Dogs are good at relaxing and introducing good habits for sleep and rest is good. It would for most require some willpower in reducing screen time, curbing habitually reaching for a device that is over stimulating, distracting and enormously time consuming but might just mean introducing a regular bed time.

Dogs are also playful creatures so if you have a very regulated scheduled life you might benefit from a bit of habitual playtime. Getting out onto the grass in the park connecting with you inner dog.

Welcome to our blog where we share tips, advice and thoughts from our fantastic team of experienced practitioners

Historic blogs can be found on practitioner profile pages - they are a great way to get to know us!

NB some old social media links bring you to this page, so please use tags or profile pages to find older blogs