Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Reflexology

I have to admit something. Up until recently, I have always hated having my feet massaged. Yes I know it may sound odd for a massage therapist to admit that but it's true. Over the last 16-years or so, I have undertaken literally hundreds of hours of massage training in varying styles and I have always cringed when the moment came to work on or around the feet.

Generally ticklish, I never liked having my feet treated. That is until I trained in Reflexology.

Now I know at this point you may wonder what on earth possessed me to train if I hate my feet being massaged and I must admit, that there were moments at the beginning of the course when I asked myself the same question. Initially I signed up to the course because for over 12-years, I've had many people ask for the treatment and finally I thought, why not?

And so I was more than a little apprehensive the first time I was to receive a treatment during my training but within moments of starting I found myself struggling to stay awake, it was just so relaxing! In the end, I think I was the person in class who was most likely to start snoring as soon as my feet were touched.

Over the course of the training I gave and received many treatments and it was clear that those attending who already had a good background in massage were giving not only a powerfully effective Reflexology Massage but also an exceptionally good deep massage of the feet at the same time.

I believe that there is a level of strength and skill needed for Reflexology that a therapeutic massage therapist has honed over many years of day to day practice. So it's probably not a surprise that I took to the treatment like a duck to water and found myself really enjoying giving Reflexology, as well as receiving it of course.

It has been said that Reflexology can treat a wide range of conditions by working the zones of the feet which represent different areas of the body. In addition to this there are many Acupuncture points around the feet and ankles. As an experienced Acupuncturist, this enables me to focus not only on the typical reflexology zones of the feet but I can also use my skills of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupressure to encourage further benefits.


Reflexology is quickly becoming one of my favourite and most popular treatments. I begin each session with a consultation followed by a brief cleanse to freshen and soften the feet before I commence a sequence of therapeutic Reflexology massage using a therapeutic blend of Aromatherapy oils which I have formulated especially for safe use on the feet. The treatment lasts for 45-minutes but can also be combined with Aromatherapy Massage, Deep Tissue Massage or Hot Stone Massage or for those wanting something extra special and for a deeply rebalancing experience, I also offer a 1-hour combination or Reflexology and Reiki to include my skills as a Reiki Master/Teacher.

I have come to understand just how special Reflexology massage is. Not only is it incredibly relaxing but it is also deeply restorative and soothing. I am not totally converted to having my feet massaged and I really hope that after you have seen me for a treatment that you will be too!

For more information please visit my website.


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Acupuncture Resolutions



As an acupuncturist, one of the most common questions I am asked at this time of year is “how can acupuncture help me stop…..”

The range of requests vary but the most common ones are around smoking and eating or to be more precise, how to stop eating junk food and loos weight.

Acupuncture alone will not literally MAKE you do or not do anything any more than swallowing hundreds of pounds worth of herbs or supplements will.  It can however help to manage cravings and deter you from bad habits.

After I qualified as an acupuncturist in the UK, I went to China to study further at The Peoples Hospital in Jinan which is part of the Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was interesting to see how the doctors approached weight loss there as western culture has really swept through modern day China and you commonly see all of the large junk food chains you would see in the west. As such, obesity is becoming a real and relatively new problem for them. People are sadly moving away from a classical healthy diet towards saturated fats and food containing high levels of sugar and salt. The doctors I shadowed approached weight loss with a mixture of eye watering Tui-na (Chinese massage literally meaning “push and grab”) strenuous acupuncture, herbs and firm advice on exercise. 

There were certainly positive results in the treatments I witnessed using Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM for short) but ultimately, reducing the calorie intake and leading a more active lifestyle is still the best way to achieve faster longer lasting results.

Smoking is a little different as a LOT of people smoke in China. It seemed like a national pastime when I was there! This meant that I was able to observe many interesting cases and learn a lot of effective techniques which we didn’t study in the UK.

The most commonly used acupuncture treatment for the cessation of smoking is Auricular Acupuncture whereby the ears are treated. Commonly, small press needles or seeds are left in the outer ear for up to 5-days at a time for constant stimulation. Whenever there is the craving for a cigarette the patient gently rubs the points until the desire reduces. This is surprisingly effective and yet a huge amount of the ability to actually stop smoking comes down to one very simple point; willpower.

Cutting down on foods, drink, smoking or anything else requires will and self discipline. It is also a very sensible idea to discuss it with a GP as would be the case with any significant change of diet, exercise or life style before beginning.

My first question when I am asked how acupuncture can help to stop a habit is “do you really want to stop it or are you being encouraged by others?” If the answer is ”yes I want to stop” then I explain ways that acupuncture may help but if that isn’t the case then I suggest it’s best to come back when the motivating force behind the decision is their own.

Ultimately, over the last 15-years of my practice I have been rewarded by seeing how effective alternative treatments including Acupuncture, massage and TCM can be in helping people through lifestyle changes. I can also say that where those people have been fully committed to making a change, have walked away from unhealthy life styles and choices and in doing so have taken responsibility for their own health and well being, that the effects have been far more impressive and long lasting. A treatment or therapist alone can’t change your life or life style for you, but they can certainly offer you some help and support along the way.

If this New Year is a time of changes for you, I wish you the very best of success. Stay focused and on your path and believe in your ultimate destination because only you can make those changes.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Aromatherapy, More than a Massage


In 2004 I was lucky enough to qualify as an aromatherapist having completed the Diploma in Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Science with Neal’s Yard Remedies.

The training was diverse and challenging and as well as studying in the UK I spend time on a farm near Carcassonne in the South of France. During my time there I studied not only the therapeutic properties of essential oils but I also spend time on the land harvesting aromatic plants and flowers and learning how to distil oils. It was a magical experience and I have always been grateful for the high level of teaching I received.

a very hot summers day picking sage to make essential oil in 2004  


adding rose petals early morning during essential oil making 2004 

Later, I went on to write and teach courses in aromatherapy and other subject for Neal’s Yard before I left to become a full time therapist.

As the years have passed, aromatherapy is still an important part of my work but I also use it at home. I always have a mixed bottle of lavender and tea tree oil in my medicine chest and I keep several other blends made up for a variety of ailments including bites, stings, aches and pains. I credit my working with essential oils each day as keeping me cold and bug free all through the winter!

Perhaps most importantly, I keep a good stock of oils in my therapy room for use with my clients.

When most people book in for an aromatherapy massage, they usually ask for a nice relaxing blend of oils or simply “something that smells nice”. They rarely come in with something very specific other an achy back or shoulders which is a shame. I believe the reason is that most simply don’t realise that aromatherapy is a potent therapeutic modality which can be used in many ways to work with a number of ailments.

In the UK, we are not qualified to prescribe oils to be taken internally. We can only use them in massage, compresses, baths, ointments and salves and in inhalations. However, this does not limit us to what we can achieve and it’s always worth discussing your ailments with a qualified aromatherapist to see if there is a safe natural solution.

Aromatherapy is most commonly used in the form of massage. When I see people for massage, I spend time discussing their needs before making up a bespoke blend of oils freshly for their treatment. I also keep some pre blended oils and waxes that I have made in advance for use in more general deep tissue style treatments.

making massage wax with essential oils and beeswax 2015

Oils can be selected for a specific physical value; for example, they may be effective in reducing muscular inflammation and pain. Or, it may be something more emotional that we are working with. In this case, rose oil is deeply soothing and relaxing when feeling worn out, tired or emotional.

Blending oils is an art form and takes years to master. There is a sense of alchemy at work as the therapist selects and blends oils to help balance mind body and spirit. When the blend is combined with the hands of an experienced massage therapist, the magic is deeper still.

After a treatment I recommend to leave oils on the skin for several hours if possible. Care has to be taken if going outside in the sun as oils can make us more prone to burning. However some oils can take a long time to fully penetrate the skin so the longer they have to soak in the better the ultimate effect will be.

Ideally, when seeing an aromatherapist, it is best to have a course of regular treatments to allow the effects to build up over time and the beauty of aromatherapy is that it is very diverse. You can add aromatherapy oils to deep tissue and sports massage as well as to hot stone and other forms of oil based massage such as Chavutti Thirumal. It always enhances the effects of a treatment and advice can be given on the use of oils at home.

So next time you are thinking about having a massage, try aromatherapy or ask to have aromatherapy oils added to your treatment. Your therapist will have spend a long time studying plants and their therapeutic value and the oils will be blended with you in mind. You will then be able to experience for yourself that aromatherapy is more than just a massage. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My Journey With Yoga


When I turned 30, I decided after years of hitting the gym to stay fit that it just wasn’t working for me anymore. I hated weight training and found endless hours on a tread mill to be like watching paint dry, yes, I’ve tried it and it’s dull.


A friend of mine was a yoga teacher and had a really peaceful manner, she always seemed relaxed and happy and had lots of energy. That added to the fact that she was in great shape and never seemed to break a sweat made me think that maybe I should give yoga a go.


I honestly didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know the difference between Hatha and Ashtanga let alone all of the other foreign sounding names. Granted they sounded very romantic but I really didn’t have a clue where to begin. Added to that, I wasn’t flexible at all; I could barely touch my toes and the idea of standing on my head? No thanks!


My friend suggested that I try a beginner’s class with Sivananda in Putney. I lived in Wandsworth at the time so it was close and they ran a beginners program. So I decided to give it a go and like all those with good exercise intentions, I went right out to buy a mat, blocks, books and much more besides. 


I still remember my first yoga class, it felt like torture. It wasn’t that everybody was really bendy; it was just damn hard work! I had this idea that yoga was just waving your arms about and chanting a bit, boy was I wrong. It was a carefully combined series of movements including balances and stretches designed to work on stamina, stretch and concentration.


Needless to say the next day I felt sore in a way I hadn’t felt with my usual gym workout but I stuck to it and kept going, twice a week for 90-minute sessions. A couple of weeks in and a female colleague asked if I was working out, I was flattered and surprised and just said I had taken up yoga. That really inspired me to continue and so on I went.


When I moved out of London some time later, I was living in a rural location and there wasn’t any real option locally for classes aside from the typical drafty church hall option where I was the youngest one there by at least 40-years. That said, I have since had the humbling experience of knowing people in their 80’s whose yoga practice is stronger than mine, a real testament to the power of yoga, however at that time I found the classes frustrating and not challenging enough. This lead me to focus on building my own practice at home and I worked this way for several years.



When I moved to Brighton I was overwhelmed by the choice of studios and teachers available so I spent some time trying out lots of different classes and exploring different styles of yoga


I had long since known that eventually I wanted to train as a teacher but still hadn’t decided  where I wanted to train. By chance I was on a massage course and one of the teachers was talking about where he did his yoga teacher training. I made notes then took a few classes with him and really enjoyed them. I started googling and found The White Lotus Foundation in California. I immediately knew THAT was where I had to go! So I began a process of applying for yoga training with them over a 2-year period. Several trips to the US and several thousand pounds later, I was a qualified yoga teacher, registered with Yoga Alliance. 


I began my teaching slowly, starting with 1-1 tuition (still the best way to learn and grow as a teacher as everybody is so different) before going on to teach group classes. 


Since that time I have studied many different types of yoga in the UK and India and later this year, I will deepen my love of Yin Yoga withSarah Powers, author of Insight Yoga as I undertake her teacher training in Thailand.


I often comment on how yoga changed my life and sometimes I think it actually saved it. People often comment on how calm and relaxed I am and colleagues I work with wonder how I have so much energy and stamina for my job, the answer is simple… “I do yoga!”


So in 10-years I have come full circle, from un-bendy and if I am honest, pretty unhealthy 30-year old to a calmer more centered yogi. May the next 10-years (and beyond) of yoga bring me even more benefits. 


For more information visit:  http://brightonacupunctureandmassage.co.uk/yoga

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Chavutti Thirumal "Massage by Foot Pressure"


Several years ago I was working in a clinic with a therapist who offered Chavutti Thirumal (Massage by Foot Pressure). I had never heard of it before but after reading his leaflet, I was interested if not a little apprehensive about trying the treatment.

The idea of being naked on the floor and having a 6,4” man walking on me was not at all appealing! However, I had a long chat to him about it and eventually decided to give it a go.

First of all, I realised that you don’t actually have to be completely naked. Yes you are laying on your front on a futon in a hot room and as the full length of the body is massaged almost simultaneously, it’s not really practical to use a towel, you also don’t need one as the room is quite warm. He gave me the option of wearing a disposable salon style thong; it’s the same thing you wear for a spray tan.

Once he started the massage I realised that you are not walked upon at all. One of his feet was always on the floor and he just massaged me with his other foot, really just like the way hands are used in a regular massage. The pressure was firm but not painful, if anything it felt much better than hands as the feet are broad and the instep moulds itself naturally to the contours of the body.

After about 10-minutes I was so deeply relaxed and comfortable that I just drifted off for about an hour while he worked the back of my body including my hips and legs before rolling me on to my sides and then eventually my back at which point I was given a hand towel to put over my lap for comfort as I turned over.

He finished the massage by using his hands to massage my neck, shoulders head and face and finally my feet.

After 2-hours I was in heaven and almost floated home to the best nights sleep I’d had in ages. I woke up the next day so relaxed and not at all sore as I often am after a deep tissue massage.

From that day on I was a convert to Chavutti and went and had it as often as possible.

Years later and after much procrastinating on my part, I plucked up the courage and travelled to India to study Chavutti for myself. I had wanted to learn the massage for many years and it took me a very long time to find the right teacher.

Chavutti Thirumal originates in Kerala southern India and dates back over 2000 years. In Malayalam, the local dialect, it is literally translated as “massage by foot pressure” but in the west though there are very few practitioners here currently, I have also seen it called Indian Rope Massage of Ayurvedic Foot/Rope Massage.

On the first day of my training course, I quickly realized that despite having massaged for over 10-years that using your feet instead of your hands was a whole new world and really difficult to master!

I had to really learn to trust the rope, which is just there to help you to maintain your balance. You don’t swing off of the rope but you do lean in to it as you slide your foot up and down the body and it took a lot of practice to get it just right.

After a week or so, my fellow students and I were exhausted. Every day was an adventure with yoga in the morning followed by the study of anatomy and theory before we went on to massage. Every day we learned new things as well as reviewing what we had done before. There was so much to learn and we also had volunteers coming in most afternoons for us to practice on! They all gave us great feedback but we were really looking forward to a weekend off to sleep, rest our feet and of course hit the local markets!

Our weekend off was of course a lot of fun but we also found time to revise what we had learned so far.

The next week was also a lot of work but slowly things started to fall in to place. We all started to feel more confident with our feet and the ropes and our models feedback was getting better and better. Our teacher Helen, who had been working with Chavutti for over 10-years was endlessly patient and helped to boost our confidence while also making sure we were doing things right.

By the end of my time in India I was buzzing with ideas and even more in love with Chavutti than when I left for India weeks before! I couldn’t wait to get home and start working with it.

Back home in the cold of Brighton (it was February and I arrived back on the only weekend we had snow all winter!) I was eager to start and went straight out and bought rope and hooks before inviting dozens of friends and friends of friends to come in for free 2-hour massages so I could practice. Everybody taught me something new and people came all the way down from London just to try my new massage, work was spreading fast and I was getting amazing feedback!


Since then, having launched the treatment to my customers, I have been amazed by the positive response! I hoped Chavutti would be popular but I have been literally rushed off my feet trying to fit everybody in!

I am getting such great feedback from people but also a lot of questions, so I am going to answer a few of them here for your interest:

What’s the rope for?
We hold the rope with our hands while we massage with the soles of our feet. It’s just there for balance to stop us slipping and hurting ourselves.

Feet? Doesn’t that really hurt:
Not at all, our feet are clean and smooth and compared to the hands or elbows used in regular massage, feet are large and rounded at the heel not sharp of pointed like thumbs or elbows. The instep also moulds itself naturally to the contours of the body so it feels really nice and the pressure is more evenly distributed.

It’s going to be too deep for me!
Most probably not. Like any massage we can alternate the pressure but as feet are so broad, we can work the muscle thoroughly without it feeling painful or too hard.

I don’t like the idea of being walked on!
We don’t walk on you, ever! One foot is always on the ground and most of our weight is in that foot. It’s a very safe treatment.

I feel a bit weird about being naked:
You don’t have to be! I felt really weird too the first time I had a Chavutti massage and still do when it’s a new therapist I don’t know. When you receive a Chavutti treatment, you are invited to be naked in the traditional method however your comfort is of paramount importance and your modesty is respected at all times. Towels and pillows are always at hand to cover areas and ladies are requested to wear a thong when coming in for a massage (a disposable one will be provided otherwise). If they fee comfortable they are welcome to be topless but If being topless makes them feel uncomfortable, a towel can of course be used to cover the chest when we work on the front or they can wear a bra or bikini top. In either case, the breasts themselves are not massaged. Gentlemen are welcome to be naked if they feel relaxed and comfortable that way. A towel can be placed when massaging the front of the body if preferred or a disposable thong can be provided free of charge.

I make you feel comfortable and relaxed and however you choose to dress; you will still receive a brilliant massage!

Will I be warm enough?
The treatment is carried out in a well-heated room and on a soft well-padded futon style mattress so you can really let go and sink in to the floor. I have a heater right by you and also when it’s cooler I place an electric blanket under the futon to keep you toasty warm. I have plenty of towels if needed.

Chavutti Thirumal is the ultimate full body massage, both deeply relaxing and therapeutic. Ever since I first experienced it many years ago it has remained my favorite style of massage both to receive and give!

If you are new to Chavutti, curious to would like to give it a go, please contact me for more information and come in and enjoy a little taste of India.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Acupuncture for Hayfever

Yes it's that time of year again, when those of us who suffer start to sniff, get watery eyes and sore throats!

I have been lucky enough to have treated my own hay fever over the years with acupuncture and no longer experience any symptoms at all. I don't take any pills and barely even sneeze any more so I know first hand how well acupuncture works.

I am asked every summer if acupuncture really does help treat hay fever and of course the answer is YES! But you need to start early for best results. I recommend that you start in April or May at the latest and have a course of treatment. Depending on how badly you are normally affected, I suggest either 6 or 10-sessions, you can start with 6 and see how you go.


Treatments really need to be as close together as possible, either once or twice a week. This is made easier at my Low Cost Acupuncture Clinic in Hove where you can have treatment for just £20 every Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning but you can of course come to my regular clinic at any other time.

Needles are usually inserted in to the back, arms, hands or face and to make it as comfortable as possible, I use the best quality silicone coated needles which are not only very fine but also extremely smooth, making the sensation of the needle gentle yet still effective.

For more information visit my website or drop me an email to find out just how Acupuncture can help you through the summer.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Sports & Remedial Massage

Sports & Remedial Massage, often also referred to as Deep Tissue Massage is by far the most popular form of massage with my clients.

I am lucky that I trained with The London School of Sports Massage (LSSM) under Mel Cash, one of the most respected schools and teachers in the country before going on to study many other forms of bodywork such as Myofascial Release and advanced deep tissue techniques with internationally recognised teachers such as Art Riggs.

Since I completed my training at LSSM I have completed almost 500 extra hours of training in massage and therapeutic related skills including acupuncture that is way beyond the required amount of professional development annually stipulated but the organisations I am a member of. But my work is a passion of mine and I am always looking to learn new techniques to help my patients.

One of the benefits of training at such an advanced level is that not only did it give me an excellent grounding in clinical therapeutic massage techniques such as soft tissue release, muscle energy technique and neuromuscular technique to name but a few but it also taught me how to deal with sports related and every day injuries.

Since then I have been able to treat a wide range of sports enthusiasts including runners, rugby players, golfers, yoga practitioners and footballers but also people who practice little or no sports at all and ultimately, the basic techniques we use are the same. The only real difference is the context in which we are treating them. For example an ankle injury obtained during competition needs to be approached differently if the athlete is still participating and not able (or in most cases willing!) to rest suitably.

Leading up to and following last years Brighton Marathon, I saw a large number of runners. Some of them had been running for years, others had just started out and were running to raise money for charity and so their injuries or problems were a little different. Both groups however benefited from regular sports and deep tissue massage before and after the run. Initially I helped prepare them and their bodies and afterwards to reduce scar tissue and injuries sustained during such a long run.


Luckily as a graduate if LSSM, I was able to register with The Institute for Sports and Remedial Massage (ISRM) and since with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) which means that not only can my patients (and their GP’s) recognise my level of skill and training but in many cases it means that their private medical insurance may cover my treatments. Of course this is dependant on the wording of their policy but I have certainly seen an increase over the last 12-months of patients coming to me exclusively as I am one of only of few therapist in my area who are recognised by both the ISRM and CNHC and as such by insurance companies who offer cover for massage.

If you have never had a sports and remedial or deep tissue massage before, there are a few things to consider.

This style of massage is therapeutic and clinical and not really a soft relaxing treatment though some people do seem to prefer the deeper style and find it relaxing. Generally though expect it to be a cooperative process, as I will be asking questions about pressure etc during the treatment. Also, you may be asked to move around the couch during the treatment and may not exclusively be laying on your back or front. For this reason, it’s often worth wearing shorts (and a sports bra for ladies) or simply if you are comfortable remain in your underwear so that you feel comfortable when moved around the couch. These styles of massage often include stretches, which are always done with your cooperation, thus wearing suitable clothing will make you feel more comfortable especially when working your hips or hamstrings. Deeper pressure, which is always applied sensitively, may still leave you feeling a little tender the next day and this is normal. I always encourage my patients to feed back during their session if they are feeling uncomfortable and I give them aftercare advice which if followed helps them recover quickly and comfortably. Do remember though that if you are looking for a more soothing traditional style of massage that techniques such as Swedish may be more to your liking and will still be generally therapeutic and beneficial.

The date for the 2011 Brighton Marathon is 10th April and I am already taking bookings for the weeks before and afterwards. So if you were planning to have some sports massage I would highly encourage you to book early to avoid disappointment!