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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, 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, 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, Aug 9 2017 08:00AM

Facial therapy expert Veronica Massa shares some thoughts around anxiety and jaw tension and gives some helpful tips to help with this - attend her workshop on 26th August for more info!


Can Anxiety Cause Jaw Tension?

Do you relate to that?


Becoming aware of your body and how it feels, helps connecting with the feelings/emotions that are causing that tension. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to let them go replacing them with new, positive and expansive one.


Where does it starts with you?


We tighten our jaws when we feel stress or anxiety. It becomes a habit to tighten our jaws, each time we feel emotions or an urge to share something. The jaws can be a major place for physical stress to accumulate. Just as the neck, shoulders and back, the jaws are a hotspot for mental unease to build up.


Why at the jaws?


Because we were told to do so!


“Shut your mouth!”


“Don’t cry, stiff upper lip”


“Don’t answer back, bite your tongue.”


Have you ever been told any of these sentences when you were a child and the years that followed? Probably as we grew up we were told many times to shut our mouth, to swallow our emotions and to tighten our jaws. So, we did and became very good at it…. just hold it in, don’t show your anger, don’t express your feelings. And we bravely keep them inside, attach to them and can’t let them go. We can hide them, but they are still present and active, manifesting through tension, tightness and pain, ultimately holding us back. And every time a situation triggers that feeling, here it comes again, we clench our jaw!


What if, instead of repressing it, denying it and hold it back, we connect deeply to that feeling and accept it as a part of us, we become comfortable with it, we feel it, experience it, see how our body responds to it, and then we come back to our centre, ground with a deep breath and let it go. Doing so we learn to detach and look at things objectively and ultimately let go of those feelings causing the tensions and be pain free.


So when you feel that tension building up and the pain raising, ask yourself:

How am I feeling? What am I feeling?

Which emotion am I hanging on to?

What is it that upset me? And why does it make me feel that way?

Am I feeling upset? Guilty? Fearful? Angry? Anxious? And why?

Which vibration is making me contract those muscles?

Which thought?


Anxiety, what is it?


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