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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 8 2019 09:46AM

WNT founder Jennie Duck reflects on what it means to her to work with the Wonderful Women of WNT and how the tone of the team helps nurture the culture of the clinic and studio.

I hadn’t intended for West Norwood Therapies to become a formidable team of women. Formidable yes, but not only women. We have had a couple of men in the mix over the years, but as we head towards our 5th birthday this October we are 12 (wonderful) women.

And as International Women’s Day arrives I’m reflecting on what that means to me and find it is making me very grateful to have this gang around me.


Support is a core value of WNT so any practitioner who flourishes in the team is a good example of support. Everyone has a sense that our emotional, physical and mental wellbeing matter and have an impact on how business goes. I attribute this to more of a female way of approaching life, but it must be boosted also by our vocations as therapists and teachers! Either way, supporting one another through challenging times helps us be stronger as a team.


Our monthly meetings are a precious time of coming together and we leave feeling nourished. It can be a time for sharing, for peer or business support, and sometimes just a time to connect with other women in a similar role who are all rather lovely, caring and funny :-)


These women are amazing! Everyone is pulled in different directions with varying commitments and pressures and everyone not only copes but flourishes. Our loyal band of clients, students and patients can testify to the level of professionalism and skill each practitioner brings to WNT and its an important core of what we offer – a high standard of client care.


We all bring something different to the table at WNT and this helps us practice with integrity and to be constantly evolving and learning in our professional environment. We inspire each other but we also let each other inspire us, an important distinction in strong team work.


Living in Scotland now it’s hard to socialise with the team as much, but I still call in for team meetings and come down for meetings and social events a few times a year and it’s always fun! There is a light heartedness that can be found in sincerity which I believe nurtures compassion and integrity – again these are integral to the values and goals of WNT.

All of this is especially important because the environment we create and nurture as a team sets the tone for our clinic and studio. We reflect on our values regularly and are conscious to practice with integrity in a very down to earth, human and warm way.

I love the team at WNT and I am proud to be part of this gang of Wonderful Women :-)

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 3 2019 06:00PM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers looks at the menopause and shares why she is happy that International Women's Day is running an event called 'Why the menopause is everyone's business'

It’s International Women’s Day on the 8th of March and we have much to celebrate. We have an increasingly more powerful collective voice, creating waves of change in so many areas. The theme this year is #betterbalance and there is so much more to be done to create a gender balanced world. Women in their middle age and older are often underrepresented, take a look at the IWD gallery for starters, but I am pleased to see that one of the IWD events is on menopause, ‘Why the menopause is Everyone’s Business’. It is a topic that deserves to be better understood by everyone, so that women are supported at work and at home through this period of their lives.

Menopause can be extremely disruptive, with 7 out of 10 women in the UK experiencing debilitating symptoms. The wide ranging emotional and physical symptoms are often not recognised as being hormonally related with women feeling that they are going off the rails emotionally or physically falling apart. Hot flushes, sweats, sleep problems, mood swings, changes in libido, dryness of skin, thinning hair, vaginal dryness, joint and muscle pain and a slowed metabolism leading to weight gain, to name just a few symptoms. There is also an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems. It affects family life, relationships and work, in fact it can cause turmoil in just about every area of a woman’s life.

HRT can help with many of the symptoms and there are now many options. With specialist advice to tailor them to individual needs and monitoring they are now much safer than they were, but they are not a choice for everyone. For those women who cannot or do not wish to take HRT, acupuncture can help to ease them through this turbulent time and alleviate many of the physical and emotional symptoms.

So how can acupuncture help?

A recent randomised controlled trial from Denmark published in the BMJ looked at the effect of weekly acupuncture on hot flushes and a range of other commonly experienced symptoms. After just 2 weekly sessions hot flushes, emotional well-being and skin improved, after 5 weekly sessions sweating reduced, sleep quality was better and other physical symptoms also improved.

Studies of this kind, in order to be replicable, use the same set of points for every woman. In a clinic setting the choice of points would be adapted to the individual needs of the woman so the results are likely to be even more beneficial. Acupuncture also releases endorphins which can lift mood and help to alleviate some of the emotional aspects of menopause.

What else can you do to help?

It is helpful to adapt your lifestyle to your changing needs. Here are a few suggestions:

• Reduce intake of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, chocolate and spicy foods which can trigger hot flushes and aggravate other symptoms, and don’t smoke.

• Follow a healthy, balanced, varied, fresh, wholefood diet. Nutrition is a broad subject and everyone’s eating habits are different, so I would recommend seeking the advice of a specialist.

• Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, don’t wait until you feel thirsty.

• Keep your bones strong with weight bearing exercise, like walking, dancing and jogging plus adequate calcium and vitamin D which may be hard to get from diet alone. Don’t forget the upper body, Yoga is an excellent weight bearing exercise.

• Stretch regularly. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Pilates all help to maintain flexibility. The breathing and mindful focus of these exercises deepens relaxation and calms the mind.

• Make time for fun, laughter and social time with friends and family.

• Take time to prioritise looking after yourself and do things that bring you joy.

Don’t ignore your symptoms and put up with them. Get some help and get your life back on track.

Lund KS, Siersma V, Brodersen J, et al

Efficacy of a standardised acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomised study in primary care (the ACOM study)

BMJ Open 2019;9:e023637. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023637

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 9 2019 09:47AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein looks at judgment amongst women, explores how self-defeating and sad this is and suggests an alternative approach.

I have come to realise over the last few years of being a mum that as women we expect an insane amount of ourselves and each other. Don’t get me wrong, I think men expect a lot of themselves too, but they usually have different attitudes towards their expectations and aren’t nearly as judge-y of other men as we, as women, are of other women.

Just think about it for a moment, we are often expected to have a career. Whether this is part or full time, self employed or at a company, in the modern world there is an expectation to have some kind of job. This, in and of itself, has become pretty normal. We expect or are expected to succeed at this job whatever it is while also trying to do a million other things simultaneously, like following the latest trends in fashion, food and social networking and maintaining a house and relationships. And for the most part if asked, we would tell you that it’s crazy to try and do multiple different things at the same time with the same level of dedication and success.

On top of all that a lot of us then go on to become mothers. Again, something relatively normal. (Although this mindset is starting to change). However, once we become mothers, we go from the already top-heavy expectations of being a woman, to expecting ourselves to be pretty much super human. To be full time mums, house keepers, chefs AND to have successful full-time careers. On top of this there is this fallacy of the perfect mum; expectations that are set by us, those around us and most recently exacerbated by social media.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing terrible about wanting to achieve this and major high fives to those of you who do, especially when you do it without the help of a partner. The thing that I want you to question is why you start judging yourselves and others when you or someone else can’t accomplish this super human feat.

Being a mum is an extremely demanding, often underappreciated job, that is 24/7 with no leave, pay or rest. Even when you are away or resting your mind continues to be a mum and work on tasks related to this role. From worrying about your child/children, to planning outings or running through lists of things you feel you absolutely need to accomplish. But as a society, we fail to recognize that we set expectations that are often unachievable. We don’t give ourselves or each other enough credit for being able to manage even one part of this multi-layered role.

For those of us who choose a career or to follow a path that, for whatever reason, does not include children we are judged and for those of us who choose to have children we are judged if we continue our careers or if we change careers or even stop working all together. We are judged for being happy in our choices and if we regret them. We are told to suck it up and get on with it as it was our choice. And on top of that we are then judged for how we accomplish this. With the judge and jury almost exclusively being women our own age who are attempting to accomplish the same things we are.

My biggest frustration right now is with the “Breast is Best” and “All Natural” campaigns that mothers and mums-to-be have jumped onto. These are both great campaigns but pushing these ideals onto new mums is both extremely frustrating and unfair. And then judging other women for not doing what you feel is the best thing or for not doing it the way you are just seems like such unnecessary fuel to an already out of control fire! There are positive and negative aspects for all these things and what is right for you isn’t necessarily right for someone else. Share your opinion, sure, but don’t be judge-y and pushy about it.

A lot of women would love to breastfeed but are unable to for many reasons. Many more just don’t want to, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many women breastfeed simply because they feel that they should, even if they hate it. And then others breastfeed and love the experience. None of these women are wrong, or right. And judging them for their choices when being a new mum is already an extremely tough thing to do is just cruel.

A few of the things that we as women need to stop doing to each other:

• Judging a new mum, for not using cloth nappies, when she is so tired, she can’t remember whether she’s eaten that day.

• Judging, because she left the house in a tracksuit when all she wanted was some adult conversation, a friend to talk to who would understand.

• Judging her for not doing it the “right” way, when her baby is happy and healthy.

• Judging her when she can’t cope or even when she seems to have everything all sorted out.

• Judging her for not being you.

I often get people who come to a Pregnancy Yoga class or talk to me about Pregnancy and the expectations around bringing a new human into the world, looking for “the right way” to do things. My advice is to always do what works best for both you and the baby. That every human is different and therefore there is no “One-Size Fits All” solution.

Yoga can be a great tool in accepting yourself, where and as you are in that moment. Both physically and mentally. To give you the space and strength to tackle the judgement of others as well as your own judgement of yourself.

I think the best advice I got when I was pregnant was from an experienced midwife who said: “Everything, and nothing is normal during pregnancy”.

This really resonates with me and I feel can be applied to all stages of life, not just pregnancy. Just as every human is different, every pregnancy is different and so it follows that every birth and every new mum is different. Every single person is different, the way they view the world, how they look and their life experiences. We should learn to appreciate and support these differences. To build each other up rather than isolating each other. Giving each other advice and allowing and even helping the other person to recognise and choose the path that works for them.

And at the end of the day we need to stop judging ourselves. Stop trying to achieve Instagram-like ideals of what you should be as a woman and as a mum and give yourself credit for being the best version of yourself that you can be – whatever that looks like!

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 14 2018 09:00AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein shares some tips on how to find a yoga retreat to suit your taste, budget and yoga preferences.

In 2016, I spent a week away at a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. Leaving behind the husband and baby and trying to find some “me” time ahead of the insanely busy festive season! It was an amazing experience, and one I would definitely recommend to anyone considering it.

Morning Asana practice, followed by an amazing breakfast. Exploring Unawatuna and the surrounding areas in the afternoon before coming back to our villa for an evening restorative yoga session. Fantastic food – with some of the best seafood I have ever eaten. Lots of sun, laughs and great experiences.

Sri Lankan Curry
Sri Lankan Curry

First thing to look at is Venue/ Location

Shalani Villa, Unawatuna
Shalani Villa, Unawatuna

Do you want to travel to a new country, explore somewhere you’ve never been? Maybe take an extra week pre or post retreat to really explore? Or do you only have 2 days leave remaining and just really want a long weekend somewhere close to home?

It’s important to look at exactly how long you have. A retreat should be a holiday for your body and your mind. If you only have a long weekend, travelling somewhere far away doesn’t make sense. You will have just arrived and need to leave again. It is becoming quite common to find mini retreats just outside of major cities. A little bit like a mini spa break but for someone wanting more of a yoga retreat atmosphere.

There are quite a few websites that help you to find retreats. And they aren’t all about yoga. You can go for a weekend of silence, meditation, specifically to do yoga or all three just as an example.

If you are looking for something a bit further afield then you need to investigate your venue with even more detail. Some things to consider:

• Are you comfortable travelling on your own in that country, will there be airport transfers

• Is the retreat being organised by someone who speaks your native language or at least a language you are comfortable with conversing in

• What exactly is included

The idea of hopping on a plane to India and finding an Ashram where you will live for a week in silence, meditating and practicing yoga every day might sound fantastic. But don’t forget the practicalities.


Questions to ask yourself to help with cost:

• Do you mind sharing a room – most retreats will have the option to share, either in a bigger bunk house or a twin room. Sometimes this can be with someone you’ve never met or maybe you could travel with a friend. Sharing a room often makes the retreat cheaper

• What is the travel cost – sometimes, local retreats cost almost as much in travel expenses as foreign ones as getting to them is difficult

• What is included in the cost/ How much spending money do you need? If you need to be buying your own meals, then you need to factor this into the total cost as well as any outings or souvenir buying if you are in a foreign country.

• Finally, what is the per day average cost. This helps you to really compare one vs another. If you include transport and spending money and then figure out a per day cost you can see which retreats work out more cost effective.

Teaching Style, Teacher and other Students

Knowing whether you will like someone’s teaching style ahead of time is often difficult, unless you have attended one of their classes before.

Recommendations and reviews are your friend here. And this is where the big “find a retreat” websites are really good. Some good examples are Book Yoga Retreats – and Adventure Yogi –

They give a bit of security around the quality of the teaching and make it easier to find what you are looking for.

Talk to teachers you like and see if they have any retreats or teachers that they can recommend. Or if they are doing a retreat that you could attend.

If there is a venue/retreat you’ve found that you like the sound of, but don’t know if you’ll get along with the teacher, then contact them. Ask them what schedule they have for the retreat, what they expect to cover and maybe a bit about themselves and their style. Most of the time they should be very happy to give this to you and it will give a good indication on whether it is something you will enjoy or not.

Different teachers attract different students, and hopefully you will end up on a retreat with like-minded people. Understanding the do’s and don’ts of a retreat beforehand will help with this. Is it a vegan retreat? No-alcohol? Women only? All levels or aimed at a specific skill level?

Every retreat is different, and finding one that works for you is worth putting in the time. I hope you all find time for yourselves over this busy season and enjoy a moment of peace!



Emma is launching new dynamic yoga and pregnancy yoga classes on Wednesday evenings in April.

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