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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 20 2020 12:11PM

Tai chi and qigong teacher Hannah Horsfall shares an interesting blog looking at the differences between tai chi and qigong. Hannah's next block of 6 beginner classes combining tai chi and qigong starts on Monday 24th February and there are 2 spaces left.

The term Tai Chi has become more familiar than Qigong in the west, with both being seen to comprise of slow flowing movements however though there are many overlaps and connections there are also differences. They are both sequences of movements combined with breath work and the sequences are called ‘forms’.

The Chi/ Qi both sounding like chee or jii mean different things. In Qigong the Qi is “energy” from “life energy work (or skill)” and in Tai Chi Chuan the Chi means “ultimate” from Grand ultimate fist.


Qi is the animating power that permeates the universe and all living things. It is the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) -- Qi flows throughout the body’s energy pathways, or meridians, to help maintain essential health by gently unblocking, where there may be blockages and facilitating free flowing and balanced qi to energise the organs systems and cells.

There are three main paths of Qigong, which of course can run parallel or overlap. These are:

• Use for healing in TCM or health and well-being through balancing the flow and reducing stagnation of energy in the body.

• The cultivation of qi for increasing power for use martially

• Qigong Meditation for integration of mind and body, emotional and spiritual fulfilment, qi cultivation and healing.

Qigong has many forms that can be performed whilst lying down, sitting or standing through breath work, slow gentle movements and an internal focus.

In Qigong forms the movements tend to be short in sequence and repeated several or more times before moving on to the next.

The Qigong breath work and forms in the classes are not merely a warm up for the Tai Chi but support health/healing and the development of deep relaxation of the mind and body in working with the life energy which can then be carried forward through to enrich the experience of the tai chi forms.

Tai Chi

Tai chi also has many forms in various styles (theme for another blog!) all stem from a martial art thought to be developed by the founder of Chen Style tai chi, Chen Wangting (1580–1660) from which all the other styles developed.

Tai chi consists of continuous, usually slow, circular, relaxed and smooth flowing movements that has numerous health benefits for people of all ages and health conditions.

All of the movements in tai chi without exception relate to, potentially, a martial application and the forms tend to be made of several to many movements that follow on from each other, rather than repetition of short sequence of movements as in Qigong.

Practising Tai Chi one works with the fundamental principles in the forms involving grounding (rooting), alignment, integration, coordination, connection, precision and unity which in time and practise will in itself bring about a healthy flow of qi.

In Chen style tai chi, along with the longer forms which can take some time to learn, but are indeed very rewarding, there are also shorter ‘exercises’ called “Silk Reeling” and help to stimulate and circulate Qi through the body whilst developing a felt understanding of the fundamental principles of movement in Tai Chi.

Chen Style is also one of the only styles to include fast movements woven into the forms and where any number of movements can be practised at high speed, though in our classes the main, but not all, focus is on taking time to develop the form and awareness through slow movement.

Although here at WNT the focus is on the health benefits of Chen style tai chi and, though not teaching martial tai chi, we refer to some of the martial applications at times to give a deeper understanding of the origin and 'intention' of the movement so as to be able to exercise the movement with greater focus and deliberation.

The classes at West Norwood Therapy work with both Tai Chi and Qigong.

We work primarily with the shorter Tai Chi forms with a focus on the deepening of the quality rather than the quantity of movements from the outset of one’s journey with Tai Chi and Qigong.

If you want to read more about the specific forms practised at West Norwood Therapies and their benefits please see

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 5 2019 11:38AM

Reflexologist Laura Devonshire explains what happens when you come for a reflexology appointment.

*Laura is running a special offer during December 2019 *

Your first Reflexology treatment includes in-depth personal consultation to understand your medical and lifestyle history, this is to ensure the treatment is tailored specifically to your needs and requirements.

Laura will make you comfortable with bolster support for your knees and ankles. It is only necessary to remove your shoes and socks for the treatment as pressure will only be applied to the feet and lower legs. Laura may also treat the hands if necessary.

There are many different reactions one can experience during a treatment and each person responds differently, also understanding it can change with each treatment depending on what you are experiencing and how you are feeling on that particular day.

One may experience some of the following reactions; changes in temperature, changes in emotions: feeling the need to laugh, cry or sigh. Feeling of being in a deep meditative state or on occasion falling asleep. One may experience visualisations, different tingling sensations across the body or feelings of some pain and discomfort over specific reflex points.

The treatment closes with a foot massage using a soothing and nourishing organic cream and grounding to gently bring you round. It’s important to drink plenty of water to help with the clearing and cleansing process.

You can feel the effects of the treatment in the following days as reflexology continues working to achieve a state of homeostasis. Based on your needs and requirements you can discuss follow up sessions that can either form part of a complete treatment plan or be stand-alone for relaxation and balance.

Laura is a qualified Preconception and Pregnancy Reflexology Practitioner.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Nov 11 2019 08:04AM

Our new reflexologist (and yoga teacher, reiki and tibetan sound bowl practitioner) Laura Devonshire introduces this fabulous treatment and shares the benefits that can be gained from treatment.

Reflexology is a natural, holistic and non-invasive therapy that helps the body engage its own self-healing processes on a physical, emotional and energetic level.

It works on the premise that our feet and hands are a microcosm of the body with all organs, glands and structures mapping to corresponding reflex points through a system of zones and energy channels, addressing all the main systems of the body.

It is estimated that 75% of illnesses are caused by stress. Reflexology works to rebalance the body and mind, encouraging a state of relaxation to ease stress and anxiety, releasing toxicity held in the internal organs and muscles.

On a physical level Reflexology alleviates joint and muscular pain. It improves circulation, increases lymphatic drainage helping with detoxification. It brings balance into the physiological systems and structures, stimulating hypo-active and sluggish areas and calming hyperactive, over-productive parts.

On an emotional and energetic level Reflexology eases tension, allows for clearer thinking, improved concentration, relief of fear and frustration and encourages a greater sense of wellbeing and wholeness.

Reflexology provides great fertility support with preconception helping to bring the body and hormones into a state of equilibrium, encouraging and regulating menstrual cycles, boosting blood circulation to the reproductive areas and reducing stress levels helping to prepare both physically and emotionally.

Pregnancy Reflexology supports mum –to-be through the many significant changes her body is constantly responding and adapting as baby grows. Pregnancy Reflexology alleviates the physical aches and pains, sooth digestive discomforts, aids energy levels and provides much needed relaxation.

The following is an extensive but not complete, list of conditions and symptoms Reflexology can help with: * acne *anxiety *arthritis *asthma *back pain *digestive problems fibromyalgia *gynecological problems *headaches and migraines *hormonal disturbances *insomnia *kidney/urinary problems *low energy *muscular and joint pain *PMS *prostate problems *sciatica *skin conditions.

There may be times when it is not appropriate to use Reflexology; if you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact Laura.

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!

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