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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 8 2019 03:04PM

Osteopath and yoga teacher Yinka Fabusuyi shares some thougths about 'wellness' - what it is and how we can take simple, attainable steps towards achieving it.



In 1948 the World Health Organisation defined health as ‘not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being’. This sounds great, aspirational and perhaps impossible.


One approach might be to make small affordable, realistic changes over a sustained period to optimise mental physical and social health. Wellness might be about cutting down, exercising, scaling up, downsizing, recycling, repurposing, cleansing, purging or whatever you think will help you stay as fit and healthy as you can within your means. Wellness can be about addressing changes to your diet or exercise routines which you have always meant to get around to but never seem to have the time. Make a small change right now rather than waiting for the “ideal time”. Get off the bus, start a class, ring a friend, bake that cake, start that hobby. As a yoga teacher I often hear people say things like “I would love to do yoga but I am not flexible enough”. I say, find the right class for you (this may take several attempts), start slowly and gently, keep going and you will get more flexible with the side benefit of learning relaxation techniques, getting stronger and you might even sleep better.


Schools are including wellness in the curriculum and we are beginning to teach children that mental as well as physical health is important for wellbeing. In an ideal world all the resources we need would be freely available, but sadly this is becoming less and less common. I was very saddened not to be able to continue working as an osteopath within the NHS due to funding cuts, but perhaps a regular commitment to exercising, getting more sleep, and planning more leisure time to name a few examples could make a big difference to how well you feel, and decrease the chances of needing medical or other therapeutic intervention. If you do need some input I can help signpost what you could do to get back on track.


Start now, keep going and good luck. Yinka.



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, Mar 13 2019 11:30AM

Massage therapist and yoga teacher, Erika Zettervall, shared some thoughts on sleep and how such a simple thing can be so complex! And touches on yoga nidra - the holy grail of sleep...



A great part of our lifetime is spend sleeping - almost 1/3 provided we get 7-8 hours of it per night. We all know how good sleep is essential for maintaining health and good mood. Sleep plays crucial role in maintaining the nervous system (the brain in particular).


This week it is World Sleep Day highlighting the importance of sleep and there will be plenty advice and information around and good advice but as with everything it’s not what we know or the volume of information that makes the difference but how it is applied.


So simple and yet at times illusive, difficult and near impossible to attain. Just lay down close your eyes relax and drift off into sweet slumber.


In English we say fall asleep, implying a letting go. We also use the term dropping off when going to sleep, indicating a motion of fall and that how it often feels in the mind. Relinquishing control we trust we will wake up again (on time) and we that we can safely drop into the unknown where the subconscious can and will make itself heard and seen in the form of dreams.


Dreaming is fascinating, it can help you understand yourself, but can also be very intense, loud, vivid, frightening and disruptive. To ease and begin to understand deeper parts of my mind my therapist encouraged me to practice directing the dreams so that when becoming aware of dreaming, I began to direct the situation in the dream. This often happens without actually waking up and is so called lucid dreaming. I was also encouraged to go back to dreams after awakening from them and dropping back in and create a different outcome. It has the effect of softening and calming of the mind and therefore better sleep. The mind is powerful and the times when we can’t let ourselves fall into sleep or wake up (4am with a start), the possibility to let go from the grip of wakefulness is out of reach. Thoughts churning, we can end up tossing and turning searching in for the switch that allows us to loosen the grip and allow the sink/fall or drift back into sweet slumber. The more agitated we become sensory input appear sharper harder and/or louder and we can become hypersensitive, hypervigilant or hyperaroused. Us humans are wired to be on guard alert to dangers, this is necessary for survival and safe keeping. The problem for us is when it hijacks our minds unnecessarily and/or for prolonged times.


How do you improve the quality of sleep? Create routines and learn to relax would be my short answer.

Set the scene, take care of the physical space and body - regulate the intake of stimulants such as food (big meal near bedtime and type of food such spice and garlic), drinks (alcohol, coffee) and visual stimulus such as movie/television/or social media. Read in black and white or give the eyes a rest and listen to audio book.

Treat your bed and bedroom with respect and as the place for rest. Simple things such as making your bed every day and caring for sheets and bedding. Investing in good quality and looking after it you spend a lot of hours in bed after all. It set an intention of the importance of rest.


Create routines, keep bedtime but also keep set getting up time some say that is more important than going to bed. Lying-in is not great for establishing healthy sleep patterns or for making up lost hours of sleep. We humans like a rhythm respond well to regularity even if we tend celebrate impulsiveness in our society.

Soften sensory input from sound and light. Some sounds are hard to regulate living in a crowded city where people’s life goes on in close proximity. Softening can be achieved in form of textiles, insulation and white noise like a fan. When we think of light Black out curtains might be good, but if there is a small gap the light gets focused cutting though like laser beam through the room, so softening by a fabric or shutter that create shade light.

But then think of the content baby or pet or people for that matter to whom this does not matter they just switch off and sleep.


To switch off we need to relax. To relax deeply takes practice. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way but I don’t think there is an exaggeration in saying most of us struggle with it. Tiredness and lack of sleep is very common and instead of rest ending up with a false relaxation that occur when we get stuck watching television or searching the internet, still feeding sensory input through our eyes and stimulating the brain.


I don’t think there is a better way to get better at relaxing than to practice Yoga Nidra. It’s very easy and accessible either through class (Emma does one weekly) or through apps (Sanctuary for example) or through internet. Yoga Nidra so called yogic sleep is not sleeping but systematic relaxation, which leads to deepest level of effortless awareness that’s possible where there is no judgement or movement in mind or thought and no mental chatter to accompanying experience. It’s the deepest level of rest with awareness. It’s methodology for relaxation and will lead you to sweet zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz














By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 15 2019 09:00AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein looks at one of the core yoga poses, downward dog, and shares some suggestions to find it with accurate focus to get real benefits from this pose





We often do poses without understanding why we do them. Downward Facing Dog is one of the most famous poses, something that most people, including non-yogi’s have probably seen a picture of. We all therefore have an image of what the pose should look like without the understanding of how to achieve the pose or which aspects are more important to accomplish first.


How you get into a pose and ensuring that your posture is correct is usually more important that obtaining that final Instagram worthy "picture/shape".


Key Muscles and Benefits

This is a pose that lengthens and strengthens all the muscles along the back of the body, from the shoulders all the way down to the calves and along the base of the foot.


The areas where it is most obvious to see this is in the upper legs (hamstrings) and shoulders (deltoid muscles) as these are the ones that are often tight and where we start to feel the pose working first.



As this pose works the whole body, arm strength is needed to help keep your back in alignment and to keep you balanced; core and back strength are needed to help lengthen the spine and push the coccyx up and back; the quads need to be engaged to allow the hamstrings to release and the feet to give stability to the pose.


Doing this pose correctly has many benefits, a few of these being: better posture, relieving tension in the spine and assisting with circulation as the head is below the heart.


How to do the Pose Correctly

It is more important to have a neutral spine than to have your legs straight and your heels on the floor. A neutral spine is one where the natural curves of the back are followed, without trying to emphasise a curve or a lessening of that curve. Keeping the spine neutral, enables the muscles and joints in the body to work correctly and to their full potential.


Step 1: Start the posture with knees and feet hip width apart and hands and elbows shoulder width apart while lifting the coccyx (hips) up and back. As you lift the hips, imagine a string attached to your coccyx lifting you up to the sky bringing the chest closer to the thighs. Engage the core.


Step 2: Set a strong, solid foundation. Spread the fingers wide and push down through all the finger joints. We often lift the thumbs or bend the fingers. Spreading the hand and pushing down strongly through the entire hand gives traction and stops you from slipping as easily. Remember flats are easier to walk in than stilettos! Squeeze the thighs, imagining there is a block between them to really engage your legs and keep the heels pointing directly backwards. Continue to lift the coccyx as high as you can.


Step 3: From here, roll the shoulders back and away from your ears making space between your shoulders and your ears. Push up through your hands and back, lifting the hips higher and taking the chest closer to the thighs. Ultimately working towards a neutral back. Keeping the knees bent until the spine is truly in a neutral position is key. Only once the spine is in the correct position should a person work on straightening their legs.


Step 4: Start to straighten the legs without compromising the neutral spine. If the legs are straight slowly start to take the heels towards the mat. Keeping the focus on previous steps. Start to find a micro bend in the elbows taking them slightly closer to the mat.


Step 5: Hold and breathe.

Remember that no posture is completely static. With every breath, check back in from finger tips to toes and making minute adjustments to bring the body into greater alignment or to re-engage muscles that have taken a break.


What should I be doing with my breathing?

Ideally you should exhale into the posture. What I mean by this is as you move from a passive position (all fours) into the active pose (lifting the coccyx), exhale. Your breath should remain even and controlled throughout, always breathing through your nose. If at any stage breathing becomes laboured or short or you start to breathe through your mouth, then you have taken the posture too far, are pushing further than the body is ready for and need to pull back a bit or take a rest.


Great rest poses or intermediate postures are Childs Pose and Puppy Pose.


Other pointers and tips

The head should hang heavy, releasing any tension in the neck with the gaze towards the navel or between the legs


Bending the elbows very slightly helps to ensure that all the muscles in the arms are being used to support you rather than just locking out the joints which could cause injury


This pose is just as effective done on the forearms with a straight spine and legs or on the knees with straight arms and spine


Walking out the feet, bending and straightening one leg and then the other, is a great way to work into the hamstrings and warm up the legs.


Listen to your body and take it one step at a time. Remember that yoga is an ever-evolving practice that changes daily depending on you, your body and mind at that specific time and space.











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