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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 12 2019 10:44AM

Massage therapist Melanie Howlett shares some information on why and how she uses hot stones to enhance her massage treatments. Sounds like bliss...


Have you ever felt the benefits of having a hot stone massage?

Many people have seen posters on therapy shop windows or in Well- being magazines with a person laying with a line of hot stones along their spine.


There is more however to having a hot stone massage than meets the eye. The stones can be used with different techniques to relieve trigger points and painful areas of muscle tissue to relieve chronic and longstanding soft tissue pain with some deep soft tissue work with the added benefit of heat.


The stones are a deeply soothing and relieving treatment.


As the temperatures get colder it is really beneficial for us to bring some heat into our body to ward off those damp and cold days.



The stones are especially beneficially for sufferers of rheumatoid Arthritis and those with stiff muscles and joints, helping to improve flexibility and keep us moving.


The hot stones also offer the added benefit of some emotional healing and deeper cleansing as the stones absorb energetic emotional energy from the soft tissues which aids in the healing of the participant.


As well as being detoxifying and cleansing they are also a great stress reliever, the stones are deeply relaxing and you will come away feeling renewed and deeply relaxed.

I love to integrate the stones into my treatments to give a little extra something special for people to enjoy during their treatment. During those colder months especially when clients are coming in from the cold and the nights are drawing closer and we are seeing less sunlight it is a really lovely treat for a body to receive.


So if you haven’t yet treated yourself or a loved one to the gift of a hot stone massage therapy treatment, why not consider it this winter to help you get through those cold and darker days as we wait for the first signs of spring to emerge.










By West Norwood Therapies Team, Oct 1 2019 10:59AM

Feldenkrais teacher Jenny Hill shares her experience of discovering Feldenkrais and the shift it led to in her life.


It’s funny how people turn up at various points in our lives.


To cut a long story short, I had my first Feldenkrais lesson at a critical moment in my life.

I’d been living in New Zealand and was here on holiday visiting my mum. At this time she discovered she had breast cancer for the 3rd time. My holiday visit turned into my retuning home to the UK permanently.

I had no money, no job, seemingly no job prospects and virtually no friends. I’d split up with my New Zealand boyfriend. And I was no spring chicken.


I stayed with my mum in Cornwall. Every Tuesday I would drive to Exeter to take a Feldenkrais class. And every morning at home before breakfast, I repeated the lesson as we had done it in the class -until the next Tuesday, when we did a new lesson.


How I ended up attending a Feldenkrais class is a story in itself, but I won’t go into that now. Suffice to say after my 1st lesson, I felt as if years of tension and heaviness had fallen away from me. Tension and heaviness I didn’t even know I had. I felt light in my body, open, but grounded. I could breathe easily. I felt mentally calm and at peace, despite feeling my entire life was in a significant mess.


Although I’d had a professional dance training and martial arts background, the quiet potency of the Feldenkrais method and this morning practice changed my life. I began to learn what it means to be present; to feel my body, to feel difficult feelings I needed to feel at this time, to become more intimately aware of my breathing, to see how my thoughts were connected to anxiety, which was connected to my body. And to feel that my life was unfolding in quite an extraordinary way - in the midst of my mother dying. No body wants to deal with this. But connecting with this resource inside myself is something I will always feel gratitude for.


Without me realising it the next chapter had already begun.

There have been several chapters since then.

Maybe one of those will come up in another blog page!







By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 2 2019 07:29PM

Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler reviews her wonderful recent massage experience with colleague Melanie Howlett


I was really looking forward to meeting Melanie. Melanie recently joined West Norwood Therapies and specialises in therapeutic & deep tissue massage and Reiki - what a combo! I felt sure that I would receive a massage that would de-stress me and make me feel overall relaxed and balanced. I am glad to say that I was not wrong.


After a 3-year break, 6 weeks ago I started to work in an office again and, like a lot of people, I now spend the majority of my time sitting in front of a computer screen. Overall, I can say that I quickly adapted to my new work routine and I am enjoying it, but wow, my body has felt the shock straight away! On just day two my shoulder and neck started to freeze up and I could feel the balls of stressful tension sitting on my joints.


It was time to finally book my appointment with Melanie!


Over the years I have had many massages and seen pretty much all of the people at West Norwood Therapies. It is wonderful that you can confidently book any of them and you know that you will have a great massage experience.


A great massage experience is not just about the technique and pressure applied. Here is what I look for and how Melanie achieves great rather than good.


Atmosphere: Melanie is very aware of the importance of creating the right environment. The music was calming and swept me away as I relaxed.


Professional: Melanie’s desire to find out exactly where the tension was in my body, and what I wanted to get out of my session with her, immediately put me at ease.


Attentive: Melanie was very attentive and made sure that the pressure she used was to my liking. Melanie also informed me before she used a cooling gel in case I did not want it.


And last but not least…

Knowledge & Added Value: It is clear when talking to Melanie that she really understands the body and she tailors what she does depending on the individual. Melanie does not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. I was really impressed when, after the massage, Melanie gave me some more insight into why I feel the tension where I do. Melanie suggested some follow up exercises to help give me relief.

If you are either feeling balls of tension in your body or just keen to give your body the TLC it deserves, then please get in touch with Melanie or one of the other great massage therapists at West Norwood Therapies. You will not be disappointed.






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.





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