What is...yin yoga?

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What is...yin yoga?

Our newest yoga teacher, Lynne Fugard, explains all about yin yoga.

Before my first ever yin yoga class I was admittedly a little sceptical. Until then, I had thrown myself into a fast-paced, dynamic style of yoga and was completely addicted to the sweat, stimulation, intensity, endorphins, physical transformation, empowerment, and joy that came with challenging and extending my physical limits. In comparison, the thought of finding stillness of breath, body and mind in long, passive stretches didn’t immediately appeal to my impatient nature. Two hours later however, I left feeling lithe, spacious, focused and relaxed, only regretting that the class had not been longer. I went back a few more times and, sure enough, enduring physical and mental benefits soon began to reveal themselves throughout my usual dynamic yoga practice, as well as in daily life. It turns out that the subtleties of yin were just what my body and mind needed, and now this powerful practice constitutes an essential, balancing supplement to my more “yang” vinyasa practice.

Yin for the Body
A yin yoga class consists of passive, seated and/or supine positions that specifically target the fibrous, collagen-based connective tissues (fascia) that surround every joint, muscle, tendon and ligament in the body. These tissues bind and hold our muscles together, ensuring proper alignment of muscular fibre, blood vessels and nerves, whilst allowing these structures to change shape without impinging on one another as the body moves. Often when we feel we are tight, tense or inflexible in certain areas, or experience chronic pain or discomfort there, it is not actually the muscles that are restricting our range of motion, but rigidity or “densification” in the neighbouring fascia.

“Yang” styles of yoga work on strengthening and lengthening the body’s elastic muscular tissues via short, repetitive isomorphic movements between tension and release. Yin yoga on the other hand adopts the “slow burn” approach: long, passive releases – usually held for around 5 minutes – that deepen into the more plastic connective tissues. Importantly, this requires the muscles around the fascia to completely relax, something that is often easier said than done. Working on these tissues in this way can dramatically enhance the flexibility, stability, control and range of movement in our bodies.

Lynne in India

Lynne in India

One of the joys of teaching yin yoga is the recognition that every student’s body is completely different, depending on biology, genealogy, habits, posture, daily routine, and previous training and exercise regimens. I’m never surprised when some poses to which I myself have dedicated years of practice seem to be much more accessible to students on their first attempt. In any yin class then, each position is supported with props (bolsters, blankets, blocks and bricks), and can be adapted so that everyone can comfortably soften into the sensations of release with safe alignment.

Lynne

Lynne

In that sense, one of the joys of practicing yin yoga is the opportunity to get to know with real detail the specific quirks of your own body, watching it transform. You notice where you are naturally supple, where you are strong and stable, where you struggle to release and let go, and where you can begin to sense opening and improvement.

With a regular yin practice, this enhanced relationship with the body begins to be mirrored by an increasing understanding of the particularities and habits of the mind.
 
Yin for the Mind
As you melt deeper into each pose, the challenge comes with finding a focused stillness, and staying there: letting your awareness explore the sensations stirring in the body, noticing the emotions that arise alongside them, and the thoughts that attempt to define or distract. At the same time, restorative breath and meditation techniques help to relax the mind by activating the calming parasympathetic nervous system. As opposed to the over-stimulated “fight-or-flight” sympathetic nervous state that is particularly prevalent in London living, this groovier parasympathetic state allows blood flow and activity to increase in the digestive and reproductive systems, as well as the brain, supporting healthy sleep patterns, recovery and rest so that you leave feeling calm, focused and stress-free.

Yin with Lynne is on Wednesdays from 19.30 to 20.30.

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Wellness Rooms Christmas party

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Wellness Rooms Christmas party

To celebrate our first ever Christmas here at the Wellness Rooms we headed out for a festive meal with our lovely team. It was great to get everyone together and chat through what has been such a successful first year.

Here's to exciting plans for 2016!

Happy Christmas from all of us at the Wellness Rooms x

From left (clockwise): Anna (pregnancy yoga teacher), Marion (massage therapist), Elina (Pilates teacher), Simon (Chiropractor and Founder), Vivien (Founder), Steve (massage therapist), Ginny (Practice Manager), Claire (yoga teacher), Mieke (receptionist), Jade (yoga teacher) and Millie (yoga teacher). 

From left (clockwise): Anna (pregnancy yoga teacher), Marion (massage therapist), Elina (Pilates teacher), Simon (Chiropractor and Founder), Vivien (Founder), Steve (massage therapist), Ginny (Practice Manager), Claire (yoga teacher), Mieke (receptionist), Jade (yoga teacher) and Millie (yoga teacher). 

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Do I have sciatica?

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Do I have sciatica?

Many patients who have low back pain with related leg pain often get diagnosed with sciatica pain. But what is sciatica pain? And is it truly the root of your problem?

The sciatic nerve runs form your lower back and down the back of your leg. When this nerve gets irritated the pain can be felt from your low back with shooting pains down the back of your leg, often with numbness and tingling.

Irritation of the spinal nerve roots in the lower back can be caused by pressure from a prolapsed or degenerative disc resulting in sciatica symptoms.

Here is a video showing how your sciatica may be caused. 

However other conditions can have similar presentations such as sacroiliac joint dysfunction and piriformis syndrome. It is also important to note that non-musculoskeletal conditions such as diabetes and B-12 deficiency can also cause numbness and tingling into the legs. Therefore it is important to have an accurate diagnosis.

Chiropractors are primary care physicians that will be able to diagnose and treat your condition. In some cases disc prolapses may be too severe or other complications may be present therefore you will be referred to an appropriate consultant.  

By Simon Leung DC, MChiro

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How to stay healthy this winter

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How to stay healthy this winter

As the temperatures drop and the layers go on, staying healthy can feel like more of a challenge. Here are five tips to help keep your body in balance in the chilly months:

Stay hydrated

When it's cold it’s easy to forget to keep hydrated, leaving us feeling flat and lethargic. If you don’t feel like plain water, try something new to top up your hydration levels such as herbal tea, a warm smoothie or hot water with fresh ginger and lemon. We all need to aim to drink two to three litres of water per day. A useful tip is to keep a two litre bottle of water by your desk and sip from that all day so that you can keep track of how much you are drinking. Good hydration levels keep your body in balance leading to reduced tiredness, a balanced appetite and glowing skin.

Rest up

The autumn and winter months are a key time to rest and let the body recuperate as it battles against the cold temperatures and increase in illnesses. The recommended amount of sleep time is seven hours per night but this can vary from person to person. Listen to your body and find the pattern that works for you. Many people find it useful to experiment with two earlier nights per week – say 10.00pm - and build from there.

Top up your Vitamin D levels

With the shorter days our Vitamin D levels can drop drastically leading to fatigue and poor health. Catch as much sunlight as possible by wrapping up warm and going for a walk or run at lunchtime when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. The mixture of exercise, fresh air and sunlight will do wonders for your physical and mental wellbeing. Aim to do this a few times a week and you’ll soon feel the difference.

Keep active

It can be tempting to see winter as the time to let exercise regimes fall by the wayside but a key way to keeping healthy is to remain active all year round. Not only does exercise keep us in good physical condition, it boosts our immune system, keeps our metabolism level and floods our body with happiness hormones. Adjust your routine to work with the colder weather by adding a mixture of outdoor and indoor activities such as brisk walks, cycling, indoor exercise classes or at-home workouts.

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy – try upping your vegetable intake with homemade soups, stews and slow-cooked meals. In the colder months it’s even more important to have a diet full of fresh seasonal vegetables to keep our bodies topped up with vitamins and minerals so we can fight off colds and viruses. Try experimenting with root vegetables such as carrots, swede, parsnips and sweet potato. Here are some ideas for Winter Soups from Jamie Oliver.

How do you stay healthy in the colder months? Tell us below.

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Introducing our new yoga instructor Fern...

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Introducing our new yoga instructor Fern...

Fern Ross, our new yoga teacher, talks to us about her love of yoga, and how a knee injury brought a new depth to her practice.

What is yoga?

Yoga is a spiritual, mental and physical practice that has many wide-reaching benefits: from a calmer mind to a stronger, more flexible body. Originating in India, the word yoga means to ‘yoke’ or union. With regular practice, it does just that, leaving the individual feeling more balanced. For me, like many Westerners, I came to yoga focusing purely on the asana, or the physical side of the discipline. But, over time, I have reaped the mental benefits, and deepened my spiritual understanding. Ultimately, following Patanjali’s eight-limbed path (as set out in The Yoga Sutras, upon which all classical yoga is based), yoga leads to liberation, or Samadhi, where the soul and mind are in equal balance.

 

''Over time, as you practice, you begin to learn that all you need to be happy is within you. That in itself is a very powerful thing''
 

Why should I do yoga and how can I benefit?

While Samadhi may seem too unquantifiable a context for most of us to grasp, practising yoga (including meditation) can bring many benefits to modern life, but I’ll focus on the ones that hooked me. Firstly, the asanas make you strong and flexible, working the body from the inside out, starting with the breath. Second, the breath gives you a focus throughout your practise, grounding you and transforming it into a moving meditation as you flow from posture to posture. And third, yoga forces you to slow down, be present and turn your gaze inwards. Over time, as you practise, you begin to learn that all you need to be happy is within you. That in itself is a very powerful thing.

What style of yoga do you teach?

I teach Vinyasa Flow and Hatha, but I have tried a number of styles of yoga, ranging from classical Ashtanga through Rocket and Jivamukti to more restorative styles, such as Yin. Personally, I like getting sweaty and feeling strong, and I also like creative sequencing, so I fell in love with Vinyasa as soon as a tried it. What I like about it most is that, due to it being so creative, you can tailor each class to the individual, and adapt your flows to suit the energy of the people in the room.

How do you tailor your classes to the individual?

During my training, the anatomy module was one of my favourites. I had surgery on my ACL a few years ago, and had to undertake a year of physio to regain full strength and mobility in my right knee. As a result, I am all to aware of the body’s limitations: not everyone can bend like a pretzel; it’s so important to listen to your body and practise mindfully. My classes have a strong focus on alignment and I always offer options, so that everyone can enjoy a complete and injury-free practice that suits their body.

What do you love most about yoga?

As I mentioned earlier, I was initially drawn to yoga because of the asanas. I’m naturally very flexible and like getting bendy! But over time, I started to reap the mental benefits and my spiritual awareness grew. I had previously suffered from anxiety and depression, and I found that through regular practice, my mind was quieter and confidence grew. It gave me a sense of self and a sense of purpose, and I want to share the power that this mind-body-spirit connection can bring.

Fern will be teaching on Saturday mornings. For more information, click here.

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The restorative power of our breath

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The restorative power of our breath

Our Mindfulness teacher Zelly Restorick explains the power of breath.

I’ve been reading about autonomic relaxation techniques in the book, Total Relaxation by John R. Harvey. In my last blog, I talked about the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS): sympathetic and para-sympathetic. The former activates the mind-body for fight or flight – and the latter moves the mind-body into a state designed for restoration and recuperation.

One system works for inhibition and one for activation – and they work in balance to keep us healthy. Autonomic tension occurs when this balance is lost and we experience either excessive activation of the sympathetic or the para sympathetic – or an erratic fluctuation between the two extremes.

We can use our breathing pattern to bring the ANS into balance.

According to Harvey, four distinctive dimensions of breathing affect the ANS: our inhale and exhale, the rate of our breath, thoracic v diaphragmatic breathing and smoothness.

Harvey suggests there are two ways to achieve balance and relaxation of the autonomic system: direct and indirect, including the practice of even, smooth diaphragmatic breathing, extending the length of our exhale, autogenic relaxation – a self-generated state of relaxation and restoration, exercise and visualization.

Time and practice are needed to re-program the autonomic nervous system from a state of constant tension, which we often experience in our Western lifestyles to a state of balance and relaxation.

The benefits are improved sleep, mental clarity and emotional balance and a decrease in digestive problems, anxiety, high blood pressure and headaches.

If you’d be interested in attending an introductory workshop to learn more about relaxing and balancing the autonomic nervous system, please contact us on 0208 314 5535.

 

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Technology and neck pain

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Technology and neck pain

As we become increasingly reliant on technology many of us spend a large amount of time looking at computers, televisions and smart phones. This is causing poor neck posture and lack of dynamic movement which can lead to a dysfunctional neck.

The reason for this is that as the neck becomes more dysfunctional there is an increase of stress onto the joints and muscles leading to stiffness and pain. Long term dysfunction of the neck can even lead to conditions such as headaches, migraines or shoulder and arm pain caused by irritation of the spinal nerves.

Earlier this week a photographer released pictures showing just how much we use our phones and tablets in everyday life. It’s interesting to highlight the poor postures that people can adopt - notice all the heads are looking down? This will only add more pressure onto the neck.  The post also highlights the psychosocial aspect of being technology dependent, which is food for thought in regards to overall wellbeing. After all, we should all try and have a digital detox from time to time.

Of course technology is extremely useful and is only going to become more integral in our lives. We just need to make sure we keep our bodies happy and healthy with lots of movement! It’s important that we counteract these poor postures by spending more time being physically active and seeking Chiropractic care if needed.

How can Chiropractic help?

Neck pain is one of the most common reasons why people seek Chiropractic care. Chiropractors look into restoring the function of the neck through spinal adjustments, massage and exercises. They also take into consideration the whole body, ergonomics and lifestyle factors.

Common neck complaints include:

·         Acute neck injury and/or arm pain (e.g., whiplash)

·         Poor ergonomic/postural stiffness and pain

·         Osteoarthritis related stiffness and pain

·         Acute pseudotorticollis (severe painful limitation of all neck movement)

·         Headaches

Remember pain only occurs during the latter stages of dysfunction. Stiffness is also just a lower form of pain. It is best to prevent the pain from happening in the first place through being active, better ergonomics and getting chiropractic adjustments.    

Written by Simon Leung, Chiropractor at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms

Research supporting chiropractic care for neck pain:
In a study funded by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to test the effectiveness of different approaches for treating mechanical neck pain, 272 participants were divided into three groups that received either spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) from a doctor of chiropractic (DC), pain medication (over-the-counter pain relievers, narcotics and muscle relaxants) or exercise recommendations. After 12 weeks, about 57 percent of those who met with DCs and 48 percent who exercised reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, compared to 33 percent of the people in the medication group. After one year, approximately 53 percent of the drug-free groups continued to report at least a 75 percent reduction in pain; compared to just 38 percent pain reduction among those who took medication. -- Bronfort et al. (2012), Annals of Internal Medicine

 

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How yoga can increase your productivity at work

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How yoga can increase your productivity at work

Improve your physical and mental well-being and your career could see the benefits too

With our stressful modern lifestyles we all need a bit of time out for relaxation. Here at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms we offer treatments and classes specifically for this – from Indian Head Massage to Mindfulness & Meditation classes.

Yoga, a practice developed 5,000 years ago in India, is our most popular class and for good reason. Its wide ranging health benefits, from improving immunity to increasing flexibility, are widely known but what is not so often talked about is its ability to help productivity.

Practicing yoga lowers stress levels and improves mental clarity by encouraging a state of deep relaxation using breathing techniques and a variety of postures. As body awareness and physical well-being improves, the student learns how to relax more easily and starts to experience a host of benefits including:

  • Increased energy and reduced tiredness
  • A reduction in stress
  • Improved mental clarity and concentration
  • A renewed sense of creativity
  • Relief from physical ailments such as stiffness, aches and pains
  • A general feeling of calm and control

Dedicating time to treat our mind, body and spirit helps us to gain the tools to deal with the demands of modern life both at work and at home. By including yoga into your regular routine you will notice subtle changes in your approach to everyday life and may find yourself making healthier choices as well as reacting to challenges in a calmer way. 

Try a class today.

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Back pain and Chiropractic care

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Back pain and Chiropractic care

More of us are suffering with back pain than ever before and much of this is to do with our modern lifestyles. 

Recent consumer research by the British Chiropractic Association has revealed that four in five of us are experiencing back or neck pain. This is a 10 per cent rise on last year. According to the figures, almost one in four suffer on a daily basis and younger people are suffering too with 45 per cent of 16-24 year olds currently living with back or neck pain, compared to 28 per cent last year.

So why is this happening?

Our sedentary lifestyles are to blame. Modern technology and ways of working mean many of us are staying seated without regular breaks. On average, people spend ten hours per day sitting down and less than two hours being active.

Sitting for long periods puts strain on our spine and is one of the top triggers of neck and back pain. It causes up to twice as much pressure on spinal discs as standing so it’s essential to include regular movement and stretching in your day to relieve any built up tension.

Prevent the build-up of back strain with these simple exercises from the BCA:

• Sit up straight: relax when sitting into your seat, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. For drivers; the back of the seat should be set slightly backwards, so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.
• Be computer compatible: make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor. Using a laptop or tablet away from a desk will encourage poor posture, so limit time spent in this way; where possible keep the screen at eye level – try stacking on a pile of books to get the height you need and use a detachable keyboard and mouse.
• Take regular breaks: don't sit for more than 20-30 minutes at a time - stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little. If you struggle to get away then take time to gently massage the back of your head and neck as you relax your stomach region with slow easy breathing. This will help to improve posture and reduce back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
• Drink Up! Try drinking water instead of tea or coffee; it will be healthier and keep your body hydrated.

For more information and tips visit the BCA website

Chiropractic treatment

If you have persistent back or neck pain we offer Chiropractic care which could help speed up recovery.

Chiropractors specialise in spinal health and are highly trained in finding the root cause of back pain. They use manual treatments such as spinal manipulation, where they use their hands to free stiff or restricted joints, or mobilisation, which is the gradual moving of joints, to relieve pain and prevent repeated episodes.

Click here for more information on our Chiropractic services or give us a call on 0208 314 5535.

 

Figures taken from BCA research 2014. Figures taken from BCA research 2014 on a sample of 18-24 year olds. Figures taken from BCA’s 2015 research; On the average day 1.6 hours is spent being active – walking/ playing sport/ other activities. Research was carried out on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association between: 07/01/2015 and 20/01/2015. Sample: 2,127 UK adults aged 16 – 55+.  BCA website

 

 

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What is Western Herbal Medicine?

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What is Western Herbal Medicine?

Our Medical Herbalist Marion Colledge reveals all about this powerful form of treatment...

What is Western Herbal Medicine?

Herbal Medicine works with the body’s natural defence systems in a gentle and well-tolerated way to provide long term relief from both physical and mental disorders. It uses plant extracts, usually in the form of tinctures and teas, as medication in conjunction with lifestyle advice and an individual treatment plan.

Herbs have been used for thousands of years as food and medicine and still act as mainstream medicine for much of the world’s population. Now many in the more developed world are looking again at ways in which plant medicine can offer them a naturally healthy life, often alongside orthodox medicine.

Teas and tinctures are often prescribed by medical herbalists

Teas and tinctures are often prescribed by medical herbalists

Who can benefit from it?

Herbal Medicine is suitable for everyone, including very young children and the elderly. Any existing medication will be taken into account when herbs are prescribed to avoid any unwanted interactions. 

Herbal Medicine is appropriate for most of the conditions for which you would visit your GP. These include digestive and circulation problems, skin complaints, sleep, stress and emotional issues, hormonal imbalances, musculo-skeletal aches and pains, respiratory conditions and many more.

What's so great about it?

Herbal Medicine is a gentle and natural way to treat existing health problems and to maintain good health and well-being. Many orthodox drugs have a long list of side effects and it’s not surprising that more and more often people look to the benefits of herbal medicine. The treatment is tailored specifically to each patient and we treat the root of a problem and not just the symptoms, looking at the patient in a holistic way.

Have you had any experience benefiting from it? 

Having grown up in Germany where natural medicine is much more widely used and often prescribed by the GP as the first line of treatment, I found that in the UK this was still a very niche way of healthcare when I moved here 15 years ago. Therefore I decided to take the leap and study Herbal Medicine to make it my profession and to be able to help more people take care of themselves in a more natural and holistic way. Me and my family, including my two children, always use herbal medicine where appropriate and we have managed to keep the use of antibiotics and over-the-counter medication to a minimum.

In my practice I often combine Herbal Medicine with the body work treatments I offer, particularly for emotional or mental disorders such as stress, anxiety or sleeping problems.

Marion Colledge

Marion Colledge

I do not specialise in any particular area of Herbal Medicine although a large number of my patients have treatment for hormonal imbalances, including PMS, PCOS, fertility problems, menopausal complaints. Speaking from my own experience and with more and more research being done, herbs can be very effective in this field.

How do you tailor your prescriptions to adjust to the individuals needs?

After an initial and detailed consultation, and examination where appropriate, I make a diagnosis based on the findings and, where necessary, refer the patient on for further tests. Then a management and treatment plan is discussed with the patient and herbs prescribed as necessary. The prescription may be a tincture or tea, also sometimes creams, lotions or capsules, and is made up by the herbalist specifically for each patient. Follow up consultations are of shorter duration and in regular intervals. Adjustments may be made to the medication and treatment plan during this time to ensure it is at its most effective.


WESTERN HERBAL MEDICINE APPOINTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE ON MONDAY AND THURSDAY MORNINGS WITH MARION.

The initial consultation takes approximately 60 minutes in our clinic in South East London and includes a detailed medical history as well as the patient’s lifestyle and general well-being. A physical examination may be carried out if necessary. A treatment plan and herbal prescription will then be formulated and the patient can pick up the prescription at a pre-arranged time. Follow up visits take place 2-6 weeks after the initial consultation and going forward, depending on the condition.

PRICES
Initial Consultation £50
Follow up Consultation £35
Children £30 / £20

 

 

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Eating seasonally: foods for autumn

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Eating seasonally: foods for autumn

Autumn is here and with it a delicious selection of new seasonal food to eat. Ginny Weeks explains the benefits of eating with the seasons.

Summer is officially over and as the days get chillier our food tastes change. This is because our bodies need greater warmth and longer lasting energy as the weather cools. Basically, this means it’s the perfect time to start home cooking stews, soups and other yummy things.

Seasonal vegetables and fruits are plentiful in autumn as the summer ripening season draws to a close. It’s an ideal time of year to add more nutritious food into your diet. Here is just some of what is in season right now: carrots, blueberries, apples, peas, spinach, sweetcorn, plums and squash, and that’s just for starters. You can find the full list here.

Vegetables and fruits naturally grow better at particular times of the year for a reason: the natural cycle. Traditionally, nature provided foods that we needed at particular times of the year to fuel us appropriately. For example, root vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes and beetroot tend to be harvested in autumn and winter when we need long lasting, sustainable energy to fuel us through the colder weather. Where as in summer we eat lighter foods such as berries and leafy greens as our nutrition needs are different.

This cycle has become out of balance with the availability of fruit and vegetables from all over the world, at any time of year, in our supermarkets and shops. With so much selection most of us have forgotten what British produce is in season and when.

Many of us are regularly eating foods which may be nutritionally deficient as well as costly on the planet. By eating what is local we can fuel our bodies with the best vitamins and minerals and this in turn increases our ability to fight off illnesses and to feel at our best.

Seasonal eating is better for the environment and the planet as traditional production calls for far less pesticide and fertiliser use, as well as next to zero air transport.

The local economy benefits too. Eating British fruit and vegetables means that farmers get the support they need and as consumers we feel a greater connection with the food we are eating as we know where it has come from.

Another factor is cost – most local seasonal produce is often less expensive than food from other countries as it grows in abundance and doesn’t need to travel as far.

The best way to add seasonal vegetables and fruits to your diet is to make it convenient. Try an organic veg box scheme such as Abel & Cole, or here in Honor Oak Park we have local supplier Lee Greens.

Alternatively, when you are next at the supermarket check the food label to see where it was produced – you might be surprised at how much produce comes from abroad. Always try to choose British vegetables and fruits for the best seasonal nutrition.

If you’re still in need of inspiration, here are some delicious soups to get you started (all featuring seasonal veg). Enjoy!

Butternut squash soup with chilli and crème fraiche 

Carrot and turmeric superfood soup 

Spicy parsnip soup 

Do you feel the benefits of eating seasonally? Tell us below

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In pictures: our well-being open day

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In pictures: our well-being open day

Here's a little photo diary of our open day this Saturday where we offered free taster classes, spinal screenings, talks, massages and much more. Thanks to all of you who helped make it such a success!

Our reception area also doubled up as a (very popular) food station

Our reception area also doubled up as a (very popular) food station

Pilates teacher Elina teaching her first taster session of the day in the loft room

Pilates teacher Elina teaching her first taster session of the day in the loft room

Zelly, our Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement teacher

Zelly, our Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement teacher

It was a full house for Chiropractor Simon who presented a talk on the basics of spinal health

It was a full house for Chiropractor Simon who presented a talk on the basics of spinal health

Sports massage therapist Steve treated guests to 15 minute massages

Sports massage therapist Steve treated guests to 15 minute massages

Delicious but healthy food by local well-being caterer Jessie Badal 

Delicious but healthy food by local well-being caterer Jessie Badal 

After lunch, Elina taught her popular version of STOTT Pilates

After lunch, Elina taught her popular version of STOTT Pilates

...followed by the lovely Claire who led a packed Dynamic Hatha Yoga class

...followed by the lovely Claire who led a packed Dynamic Hatha Yoga class

Thanks again for all of your support. We couldn't have planned a better day! Keep an eye out for our future events.

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Movement, Mindfulness and Meditation

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Movement, Mindfulness and Meditation

Our new teacher, Zelly Restorick, explains how simple techniques can lead to a state of relaxation and regeneration.

In recent years, research has shown the detrimental effects of stress on the body-mind, leading to the development of serious health problems. And yet we all have a natural automatic restoration system within us. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two separate systems - the sympathetic and the parasympathetic – which help us to maintain a sense of balance within our body-mind.

The sympathetic system is activated when we are in an emergency, stressful situation and results in increased heart rate and heart metabolism, constriction of blood vessels, rapid breathing and a poor digestive system.

The parasympathetic system activates a whole system of responses which restore the body to a state of relaxation and regeneration, nourishment and repair: your heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, blood vessels in the lungs dilate, digestion is stimulated and metabolic rate stabilizes.

''Once learned, you have these techniques for the rest of your life and you can carry them with you''

These systems are designed to work in harmony, maintaining our body-mind balance. However, they cannot be activated simultaneously. Excessive activation of either system can have detrimental effects on the body-mind. It is generally believed that nowadays we spend too much time in a state of stress and tension, over-activating and sustaining our sympathetic nervous system responses.

However, using simple techniques, easily acquired and practiced, we can activate the para-sympathetic nervous system, naturally bringing ourselves into a state of calm and relaxation.

Co-coordinating gentle movement with your breath (Chi Kung), being present in the ‘now’ moment and practicing simple breath awareness meditation all activate the natural self-healing effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, having a restorative effect on the body-mind. Once learned, you have these techniques for the rest of your life and you can carry them with you, with no need for equipment or a special location.

Come along to a free taster session of Movement, Mindfulness and Meditation at our Open Day, 12 September, 10 – 10.45am

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Meet our new Pilates teacher Elina

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Meet our new Pilates teacher Elina

Elina Karimaa, our new Pilates instructor, talks us through the benefits of Pilates and how her experience as a dancer shaped her teaching style...

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a mind-body exercise method created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It is an innovative and intelligent exercise system that targets the deep stabiliser muscles of the torso (a.k.a the core) and emphasises breathing, proper body alignment and quality over quantity. In a Pilates class you can expect to do a series of controlled movements which will work your strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and posture, changing the way your body looks, feels and functions.

Why should I do Pilates? What's so great about it? Who can benefit?

I believe that practicing Pilates can benefit each and every one of us. Pilates targets the all-important deep supportive muscles in the body helping us to move with ease and stay free of injuries. We all create misalignments and muscular imbalances during our daily activities, whether it's sitting by a computer, doing heavy manual labour or taking care of children at home. Pilates helps to strengthen and rebalance our bodies and can also work as a way to relieve stress.

What kind of Pilates do you teach? Tell us about your teaching style and experience

I did my teacher training with STOTT PILATES which is one of the contemporary approaches to the original method created by Joseph Pilates. The inclusion of modern principles of exercise science and rehabilitation makes it one of the safest and most effective exercise methods available. I teach mat-based Pilates and I am currently also working towards a Reformer Pilates qualification.

I was sixteen when I first started practicing Pilates to support my dance training and I continued with it throughout my career in ballet and contemporary dance. It was a very natural transition to start teaching Pilates after working as a dancer. Pilates exercises have many similarities to ballet and contemporary dance, and because of my background this element is very visible in my classes.

My teaching style can be described as hands on and I aim ensure that everyone is exercising safely with a good technique and getting the most out of each session.

What do you think the most common misconception about Pilates is?

In my experience a very common misconception is that Pilates is very light exercise and mainly used for rehab. Pilates is certainly great for anyone recovering from injury or illness but the fact that it is low impact and often slow tempo does not always mean it's easy. There is a huge range of exercises to choose from and to challenge even the fittest professional athletes. Anyone doubting should have a look at the advanced repertoire... I teach quite a few cyclists who train intensively most days a week. Some of them come to their first Pilates class expecting some stretching and relaxation and in the end of the class they come to tell me how wrong they were!

How do you tailor classes to the individual's needs?

It is certainly one of the great aspects of Pilates that it can be modified to suit different body types and abilities, including pre and post natal women and a range of injuries. For instance, starting positions or the intensity of an exercise can be modified for an individual without changing the essence of the exercise. Small props like cushions, balls and resistance bands can be used to make movements more achievable and comfortable or sometimes to add challenge. These small changes allow everyone to exercise safely and on a level that works for them.

Elina will be teaching on Wednesday evenings. For more info click here.

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Get active for free!

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Get active for free!

London has long been known as an extremely expensive city, the cost of living is said to be fourth highest in the world. This being said, it can appear daunting to want to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a city where it’s common for a gym membership to exceed £50 per month and there are often reports about the soaring costs of healthy food – Whole Foods Market even carries the nickname ‘Whole Pay check’. So we’ve had a look at some of the FREE active things to do in London, which will contribute to you feeling your best and progressing on your well-being journey!

-          Find a walking route

Even amongst London’s many high rise buildings there are plenty of green walking routes to find. Popular ones include the Grand Union Canal Walk, which follows the towpath of Britain’s longest canal, starting at the scenic Little Venice in West London.

-          Visit London’s newest park

Officially known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Olympic stadium grounds are now open to the public. The southern section of the park comprises of children’s play areas, four walking trails and public artwork displays. A great opportunity to see the history making stadium for the first time!

-          PING a ball

Earl’s Court’s Ping Pong restaurant and bar is free to play on a first come, first served basis and there’s even a tournament every Tuesday.

-          Climb big ben

Big ben and the Elizabeth Tower tours are free to UK residents. The guided tour takes you up the 334 spiral stair case and if that doesn’t get your heart beating nothing will!

-          Train with Nike

Nike is doing free exercise classes via Facebook, which are booked around two weeks in advance. Yoga, running and general fitness sessions are all on offer, classes are held in a range of location such as Clapham Common, Victoria Park and the exercise space in the flagship Nike Town shop.

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The full lowdown on Yoga and Pilates at The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms

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The full lowdown on Yoga and Pilates at The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms

If you would like to understand the different styles of yoga and Pilates better you’re in the right place. Here at The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms, we offer a range of Yoga and Pilates classes, in both the morning and evenings. A yoga class takes place almost every evening during the week, so if you’re busy working in central London or taking care of your children, there’s plenty of slots for you to be able to find a class that suits you.

The basic details of our classes are on our website, as well as the facility to book online. However, we thought it would be useful to share a bit more information about the differences between each class and the benefits you could receive. One thing is for sure, every class will leave you feeling holistically relaxed and one step closer to your health and well-being optimum.

Hatha Flow Yoga

Hatha yoga is the term that refers to practicing postures, and can therefore be referred to most forms of yoga. Flow with Hatha is adding a steady flow from posture to posture, adding more movement to the class. This flowing style of yoga provides benefits to the body and mind. The movement helps stretch stiff muscles, allowing greater mobility. Hatha Flow also helps to connect the mind with the body on a spiritual and emotional level, relieving stress and anxiety.

Alignment Focused Hatha Yoga

This alignment based yoga class builds a connection between movement and breath, while focusing your attention on the precise positioning of each pose. Props are often used in this class to help students reach an aligned pose. This class is great for building strength and ability, as you are challenged physically and mentally to hold each pose.

Dynamic Hatha Yoga

Dynamic Hatha Yoga is similar to Flow Yoga due to its fluid and lively nature. One difference with this form is the spectrum of moves is broader, with dynamic variations in the way the postures are performed.

Power Conditioning Yoga

This kind of yoga is ideal for improving your sports performance by combining physical conditioning and focused concentration. Conditioning yoga can improve your performance no matter what sport you play, allowing you to fully coordinate the mind and body. 

Pregnancy Yoga

Prenatal yoga can be amazing for your body, helping you through an incredible journey. Poses help your body deal with a growing baby by strengthening your hips, back arms and shoulders. Through the focus on breathing and holding each pose you are able to improve balance both physically and emotionally – also calming the nervous system through deep breathing. This holistic programme is suited to all stages of pregnancy upwards of 12 weeks.

Body Control Pilates

This form of Pilates works with the deep architectural structure of the body to improve core stability, reduce incidence of back pain and injury and improve posture, amongst other benefits. The class teaches you control over your body, helping you to handle stress better in everyday life and to feel relaxed more easily. 

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Pilates VS Yoga

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Pilates VS Yoga

Have you always wondered about the crucial differences between yoga and Pilates? This article will help to identify these variances while resolving some age-old truths and myths between the two classes. One thing that is for sure is that both can be extremely beneficial in your health and well-being journey, as well as a valuable tool in your efforts to improve your quality of life.

Yoga is of course much older than Pilates and has a greater focus on meditation; this is due to the prominent role of spirituality in the practise of yoga. Whilst the connection between mind and body is focused on in both Pilates and yoga, spirituality is a big part of yoga practise.

The benefits of yoga and Pilates on the other hand are quite similar – for example, both classes help to improve flexibility, increase muscle strength, improve posture and body awareness and are great for stress management and relaxation. If, however, you are looking for help with a specific area, it is worth doing some more research on which class targets your individual health goal. For example, if you are looking to achieve an improved sense of inner peace, yoga has been shown to lower stress hormone levels. If instead you’re concerned with building abdominal strength to promote a taller posture, then building core strength through Pilates is great for this.

What can you expect in each class? This is a common query for those deciding between yoga and Pilates – the great thing about yoga and Pilates is that there are so many postures, sequences and variations, that routine is quite unpredictable. Pilates classes are the more structured of the two; however, the style of the teacher is the biggest influence on the agenda for the session.

If you’re still undecided, it’s worth giving both a try and seeing what works for your own specific health objective. If you’re looking for a more relaxing meditative yoga try our Alignment-Focused Hatha Yoga, or for a more core based class try our Power Conditioning Yoga and Pilates classes.

 

Photo credit: antanask / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

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Headaches and migraines – could they be related to your neck?

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Headaches and migraines – could they be related to your neck?

Have you noticed your headaches/migraines have increased in severity and frequency recently? Is it starting to affect your daily life? Then this blog might be able to help.

Headaches and migraines can cause pain – seriously effecting people’s quality of life. About 97% of people with headaches will end up seeking help from a primary care physician. Migraines, for example, occur in 15% of the UK adult population, and more than 100,000 people are absent from work or school as a result of migraine every working day. Cluster headaches are less common, affecting around 1% of the population at some time in their life.

Common types of headache include:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines headaches
  • Cluster headaches
  • Sinus headaches
  • Trigeminal headaches

Patient are often unaware of the link between headaches and tension of the neck. Cervicogenic headaches (headaches arising from the neck), can result in discomfort due to the pain sensors in your joints and muscles located in the neck, that is regularly misdiagnosed or unrecognised. This may also include structures such as your jaw (TMJ) and related muscles, sinus problems, face, mouth, teeth and throat pain.

Numerous studies have shown Cervicogenic headaches to respond favourably to chiropractic. A study released in 2001, by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Centre in Durham, DC, found that spinal adjustments resulted in almost immediate improvement for headaches that originate in the neck. They also had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief than a commonly prescribed medication for tension type headaches.

In 1995, a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal adjustments are an effective treatment for tension headaches, and that those who attended chiropractic treatment for four weeks, experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit compared with patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.

Remember there are other factors such as dietary triggers, environmental triggers and secondary headaches arising from other pathological diseases.  Chiropractors will make sure to diagnose the right headache and provide a holistic approach to the management of your headaches. Why put up with having headaches? Or continuously taking medication? There may be a natural way of treating your headaches. Look into seeing one of our chiropractors now.  

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Healthy and fun family activities for the summer holidays

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Healthy and fun family activities for the summer holidays

Our clinic is based in South East London, so we know what its feels like to be indecisive over what to do in the summer holidays, especially when the weather is extremely unpredictable. We’ve scouted out our top recommendations for some healthy and fun activities, which will keep the kids entertained, and stop you from counting down the days till September:

1.       Boating in Battersea Park

Battersea Park is just a short distance from The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms, in the neighbouring borough of Wandsworth, and during July and August you can rent boats, either to pedal or row, around the lake. Boating is a fun leisurely activity that all ages can get involved with. Plus it counts as physical activity, getting your muscles moving while enjoying the soothing effect of being surrounded by water.

2.       Swimming at Brockwell Lido

A feature of the community since 1937, Brockwell Lido is located in the corner of Brockwell Park and offers a much-loved day out for the kids. Swimming is also a sure fire way to get the kids moving and is great for cardiovascular and muscle strength!

3.       Kayaking at Albany Park Canoe and Sailing Centre

Open to beginners, Albany Park Canoe and Sailing Centre offers an array of activities based on the River Thames. Kayaking is great for improving general fitness as well as muscular strength, particularly in the arms and torso, definitely worthwhile! Summer 2015 activity dates run from 20th July to 4th September and can be booked on their website.

4.       Rollerblading in Battersea Park

Featuring in our list for the second time, Battersea Park is home to The Easy Peasy Skate, which is a free group skate that starts at 10:30am every Saturday. Not only can rollerblading be really fun but it’s also an effective cardio activity, whilst also being low impact as there is no foot to ground impact.

5.       Holland Park Ecology Centre

The ecology centre provides a whole programme of events including walks, talks and workshops; there are also themed activities in the summer. The centre is focused on promoting the importance of the environment, which is great for supporting the kids learning outside of school whilst in an active setting.

6.       Hackney City Farm

Hackney city farm is located in a convenient location for access from all over London. The farm has a range of animals that rotate their time between the city farm and a working farm in Kent. Farms are always exciting for young kids and involve lots of walking around and fresh air, great for releasing mood boosting endorphins! The farm also offers other fun activities like mosaic and pottery classes. 

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Cycling Biomechanics – A Vicious Cycle?

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Cycling Biomechanics – A Vicious Cycle?

Bike Fit? Or Body Ready?

A key method of preventing cycling injuries is to alter your bike to fit your body. Going to a local bike shop and getting your bike personally fitted could play a big role in enhancing performance and preventing injuries, therefore improving your overall health and well-being.

However, what if your body already has muscle imbalances, faulty movement patterns and joint fixations? You would be fitting your bike to an improper framework, reinforcing bad movement patterns, and building on a forgotten injury. Going for long rides can resurface these old injuries, only worsening those faulty movement patterns - sending you back to the bike shop for a retrofit – a vicious cycle!

So, which should come first; bike fit or body ready? Maybe it’s time to get your body in tip top shape and iron out any old unresolved injuries, faulty movement patterns or fixated joints. It makes much more sense to go and see a Chiropractor to make sure your body is working at its optimum, before you get your bike fitted.

 Bike Posture

 A flexed bike posture is almost the same posture many people have resided to at their office desk.

This creates a hip flexed position with a big ‘C’ curve spine, where your pelvis rotates forwards.

This can lead to:

·         Tight hip flexors

·         Tight quadriceps muscles

·         Weak gluteal muscles

·         Weak low back muscles

·         Disruption of hip biomechanics

·         Increased hip capsular and ligamentous adhesions

·         Low back ligament and facet joint strains

·         Restricted rib cage inhibiting proper diaphragmatic breathing

·         Loss of economy and power

 

Healthy strong gluteal and abdominals are essential to prevent low back sagging and pain.

Here are some exercises to do to help:

·         Gluteal bridges

·         Lunges

·         One leg squats

·         Iliopsoas (hip flexor) stretch

·         Piriformis stretch

A well fitted bike combined with a well-balanced and functioning body allows for better endurance and performance therefore great enjoyment of cycling!

 

References:

Eric Dalton, Ph.D. (2012) Dynamic Body Exploring Form Expanding Function: Freedom From Pain Institute.

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