Reflexology Gift Vouchers

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You can give a gift they will remember this Christmas time with a gift voucher from Breathe Holistic Therapy Kidderminster. This gift gives precious "me time", a special opportunity allowing your loved ones to take time out for themselves. 

Treating  your loved ones and yourself to some time out can improve the whole festive season. It's such a busy time for everyone so you can avoid the hustle and bustle of the shops and treat your loved ones to a gift voucher for a relaxing treat in the new year, and book yourself in for a treatment with the time you saved!  You really can put your feet up and relax with reflexology and mindfulness while you finish off your Christmas shopping at the same time!

Are searching for a present to show someone how much you appreciate them? There is no better way than focusing on their well being than with a  wonderfully relaxing reflexology treatment. Maybe you love reflexology yourself?  Sharing this fantastic treatment with a gift voucher can introduce the benefits of reflexology to friends and family enhancing their well being.

Gift vouchers can be purchased for either for a cash amount or a specific treatment such as reflexology . The choice is yours. You can be sure you friends and loved ones enjoy a treat that's just right for them. This gift allows them to enjoy some "me time" when they may not usually take precious time out for themselves.

Do you know a new mum or mum-to-be? You can treat them too! Gift vouchers are available for maternity reflexology, pregnancy massage, baby reflexology or post natal treatments. A lovely relaxing treatment to look forward to in the new year, what an lovely present to receive.

It is easy to buy a voucher, you can contact me by text, phone or email and I can arrange it all for you. Payment can be made by online banking or cheque and I can post the voucher straight out to you with no delivery costs.  But don't leave it too late as I can not post out any vouchers after 18th of December 2017.  
 

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.

Posted on November 16, 2017 and filed under reflexology, stress management, mindfulness, maternity.

The Relaxation Response Revisited

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When I established Breathe Holistic Therapy back in 2008 my aim was simply to give my clients time to breathe. A break from their lives, time just for themselves to relax and recharge. I love all the benefits of reflexology but for me the relaxation response and its value for well being is key.  I explored the relaxation response in a post a few years ago so I thought is was time to revisit how relaxation effects your body

The relaxation response is a powerful skill you can  use to increase your well being.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S.A recognises the relaxation response as having a wide variety of health benefits including the reduction of pain and restoration of sleep.  In addition, research on the relaxation response has shown that this simple technique can: increase energy, decrease fatigue as well as increase arousal from a drowsy state.  It can increase motivation, productivity, and improve decision-making ability.  The relaxation response lowers stress hormone levels and lowers blood pressure.  Their are many research papers available on the NIH site for example a study finding the relaxation response was a viable treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

There are many was to trigger the relaxation response such as enjoying reflexology or meditation, but you can learn to include this in your daily life in between your appointments.
 
Relaxation Techniques 

What is the Relaxation Response? The relaxation response is defined as yourability to make your body release chemicals and brain signals that cause your muscles and organs to slow down and increases blood flow to the brain. IN many ways the result of this response is the opposite to the stress response. The Relaxation Response is unfortunately not achieved by  laying on the sofa or sleeping! It is a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed.
 
There are many ways of achieving the relaxation response. Some of these techniques are called: ➣ Progressive Muscle Relaxation (tense & relax) ➣ Visual Imagery ➣ Deep Breathing ➣ Meditation ➣  Yoga ➣ Biofeedback
 
We will look at one technique for simulatingthe relaxation response and the benefits will grow with practise.
 
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Tense & Relax Technique)

Everyone has a resting level of muscle tension.  Some people have a high level of tension at rest, others less.  When people are under high stress, their muscles tend to have higher levels of resting tension that can be painful and fatiguing.  After you tense and relax muscles, the tension level not only returns to the original level but automatically drops below the original level, producing even greater relaxation to the muscles.    

Start the exercise by getting comfortable.   You can keep your eyes open or shut.  Most people prefer to close their eyes. Try not to fall asleep, I know it is very tempting and sometimes you will drift off but try to stay awake.   As you perform this exercise, you will tense different muscle groups,  but you need not tense to the point of pain – simple tensing for 2 seconds is generally enough.   Focus on how the tension feels.  Then, let the tension go.  Focus on the sensations of relaxation. During the exercise it can be tempting to hold our breath, but do remember to breathe!  If you experience any discomfort during the exercise do not continue to tense those muscles and if you need to change position that is absolutely fine. Please speak to your health care provider if you are concerned about your physical or mental health.
 
The Tense & Relax Exercise: 
 
Preparation 1) Make yourself as comfortable as possible in a seated position 2) Try and sit up straight with good posture with your hands resting in your lap 3) Remove your glasses if you wear them, some people prefer to remove their contact lenses
 
 1. Relaxation of the feet and calves:  Flex your feet (pull toes toward the knees)  Contract calf muscles and muscles of lower leg. Feel the tension build and hold the tension  Take a deep breath  and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go. If the word relax doesn't feel natural to you then try others such as "calm" or " ease".
 
2. Relaxation of the knees and upper thighs:  Straighten your knees and squeeze your legs together. Contract your thigh muscles and all the muscles of your legs. Feel the tension build and hold the tension .Take a deep breath and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
3. Relaxation of the hips and buttocks, tense and relax the hips and buttocks in the same was as above.
  
4.  Relaxation of the abdomen: Observe your abdomen rising and falling with each breath Inhale and press your navel toward the spine then tense the abdomen. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
5. Relaxation of the upper back: Draw the shoulder blades together to the midline of the body and contract the muscles across the upper back. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and ss you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
6. Relaxation of the Arms and Palms of the Hands: Turn palms face down and make a tight fist in each hand then raise and stretch both arms with fists.  Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
7.  Relaxation of the Chin, Neck, and Shoulders: Drop your chin to your chestDraw your shoulders up toward your ears. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and asyou exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
8.  Relaxation of the Jaw and Facial muscles: Clench your teeth together and tense the muscles in the back of your jaw. Turn the corners of your mouth into a tight smile and Wrinkle the bridge of your nose and squeeze your eyes shut. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and as  you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
  
9. Take a deep breath. As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go. Finally  become aware of your surroundings (location, people, noises)  -  Move your feet, legs, hands, arms, rotate your head– open your eyes feeling re-energized, refreshed, and relaxed

This is one type of relaxation technique and there are many more to choose from. I believe their is a technique to suit every one so do experiment with techniques to find what suits you best. Do not be put off if your first attempt is not what you expect. It can take some time to feel familiar with a technique and begin to feel the benefits.  If you have any questions about the technique please do not hesitate to contact me

Posted on October 18, 2017 and filed under stress management, mindfulness.

Mindfulness techniques for you

I am passionate about mindfulness and see how it enhances both my own and my client's lives. It can however be difficult to begin incorporating mindfulness into our lives. It is often true that the busy doing aspect of life just gets in the way. In this blog I am sharing a couple of techniques that can help you to begin to use mindfulness daily, developing your "just being" mind, regardless of how busy you may be.

The first technique is known as the RAIN method.  This enables you to focus your attention on the moment in a structured way. As your mindfulness develops you will probably move away from the structre but it is helpful to start with.

RAIN 

R - Recognise

A - Allowing

I - Investigating

N - Natural awareness

RAIN technique, Mindfulness Meditation

RAIN technique, Mindfulness Meditation

R   -  RECOGNISE WHAT IS HAPPENING

You can awaken mindful awareness simply by asking yourself: “What is happening inside me right now?” Call on your natural curiosity as you focus inward. Try to let go of any preconceived ideas.

A - ALLOW LIFE TO BE JUST AS IT IS

Allowing means, “Letting be”, the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you discover. You may naturally feel a sense of aversion to any difficult feelings or sensations that arise.  Wanting unpleasant feelings to go away is a response which has become a habit for most of us.  However, with some practise, you will become more willing to be present with, 'What is', and a different quality of attention will emerge.

Allowing is intrinsic to healing, and realising this can give rise to a conscious intention to “let be.” 

I - INVESTIGATE INNER EXPERIENCE WITH KINDNESS

Investigation means calling on your natural interest.  Simply pausing to ask, “What is happening inside me?”, might initiate recognition, but with investigation, you engage in a more active, pointed, line of enquiry.   You might ask yourself:

“What most wants attention?” “How am I experiencing this in my body?” “What does this feeling want from me?”

We need to offer a gentle welcome to whatever surfaces. Avoid the natural habit of wanting to change thinks or find solutions, just be with the answers that arise. Investigating with open non-judgental curiosity.  

N - NATURAL AWARENESS

The first three steps of RAIN require some intentional activity. The ’N’ of RAIN, expresses the result; a liberating realisation of your Natural awareness. There’s nothing to do for this last part of RAIN.   Realisation arises spontaneously on its own.  We simply rest in Natural awareness. Not trying to get anywhere and not trying to change anything, just "being" with whatever you have discovered.

Sixty seconds meditation

Sixty seconds meditation

The second technique requires just sixty sessions.  It can be practised whenever you are in a situation which does not require your full attention ( so not when driving a car for example!!)  If you have a timer on your phone then set it for sixty seconds, close your eyes and focus solely on your breath. Bring your attention to the movement of the breath as it travels in from the mouth or nose all the way down to the chest. Then follow the exhale in the same way.  There is no need to breath in any special way.  When your attention wanders simply escort it back to the breath.

This may sound very easy, just 1 minute concentrating on one thing. Or you may be thinking that your mind is far too busy to focus on something you normally pay no attention to?  Whatever your initial thoughts try to enter the meditation with an open mind and see what you discover.  By meditating in this way you allow yourself to insert a pause into your day; a moment to just be with your breath and see what develops. Taking time to allow yourself to take a  break from your "doing" mind in this structured way will help you to develop a mindfulness approach to many aspects of your life.

I know it may see like a contradiction to learn techniques which allow you to develop mindfulness when the practise itself is about non-doing rather than doing techniques and exercises!   We do, however, need guidance to develop our own mindfulness and techniques can really help.  Most importantly remember to be kind to yourself and know that you do not need to strive to be good at any technique, just doing them is the key.

If you would like more information please take a look at mindfulness meditation

Posted on September 6, 2017 and filed under mindfulness, stress management.

Beautiful Bump Photography Worcestershire

As a maternity therapist I have the pleasure of working with many beautiful mums to be at Breathe Holistic Therapy Kidderminster.

I am privileged to watch my maternity reflexology and pregnancy massage client's bodies develop as they go through their pregnancy. Many couples now choose to celebrate this with a pregnancy photography session. I know a lot about pregnancy but nothing about photography so I have asked a local photographer to share some advise on maternity photo shoots.


Hey! I'm alex, I'm a local photographer in Worcestershire - I specialise in newborn, bump to baby and family. 

pregnancy photo

Wow so you're a mum to be!! 
Having a child myself I know all the changes that happen to your body during that wonderful 9 months - what a great adventure you're on. 
I remember the stage " your really glowing " I never saw it myself, but now photographing pregnant mumma's I see it! You look absolutely breathtaking. There you are with a life inside you waiting to enter the big wide world, it's truly amazing!

My maternity sessions are very relaxed and comfortable, being completely led by you; would you like to be gracefully nude? Would you prefer to be a completely natural shoot of you bump and partner? Studio or location? 

These are just some of the questions we will talk through and see what exactly you want. 
If you change your mind last minute and think "ah no... I cannot bare to show anything"... again the session on the day is completely led by you. 

couple

 

Are you thinking what do I wear to a maternity session? How do I dress?... I always say go with what you're comfortable in. The jeans with a casual shirt is a nice look - dresses are great for showing the bump proudly. I recommend all colours, bright, dark and graceful white.

 

Makeup and hair, again that's your decision, you know your best look and what you feel best in.  I also here at Alexandra Creative Photography have set out photographic pregnancy dresses that can be used if you choose to do so. 

A lot of mums-to-be say they couldn't believe how comfortable they were in my presence on the first day we met. I recommend pregnancy sessions from 30+ weeks, with booking your pregnancy session at 12 + weeks.

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pregnancy shoot

Please take a look at my work feel free to call/email to discuss further. http://www.alexandracp.com/

www.facebook.com/Alexandracreativephotography

Posted on May 8, 2017 and filed under maternity.

Exercise for Expectant Mums

It has been great to link up with Puddle Ducks Worcestershire this month and learn about their aqua natal classes in Kidderminster and Worcestershire. My maternity reflexology and pregnancy massage clients often ask me about other activites available for them.

I'd like to share this guest post kindly written by Clare Harris from Puddle Ducks Worcestershire

It can be hard to find a suitable exercise class when you are a mum to be. We all know that it is good to keep fit while you are pregnant but your normal class may longer be suitable or you might not feel like going to the gym. 


An Aquanatal class, is a great combination of relaxation together with cardiovascular exercise. The right class can provide a range of benefits including keeping fit, improving sleep, and reducing the aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
 

Swimming is one of the safest ways to exercise during pregnancy as the water supports your joints whilst also providing resistance work for all the muscles, strengthening your back and abdominal muscles ready for carrying your baby around!


When choosing a class it is worth checking what training your teacher has undergone. Puddle Ducks teachers must pass antenatal swimming training that is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives Trust, STA Aquacise training and our own extensive Aquanatal training. This means that you’re in the safest possible hands as you work out and relax.


It is great to be able to combine exercise with relaxation– the perfect way to unwind and enjoy a little ‘me’ time. Classes take place in the soothing, warm comforts of pools and combine exercise with relaxation activities Exercise and relaxation release your body’s natural happy hormones, endorphins, which suppress pain and help you (and baby) feel calm – not only helpful in later pregnancy, but also really important during and after labour.


If you have recently had a baby then Aquanatal classes can also be undertaken post-pregnancy, the gentle exercise helps mums’ bodies recover after birth and get back into shape gently. 
Puddle Ducks classes are held at DW Fitness in Kidderminster on Saturday mornings at 12.15 pm. You can attend as many classes as you like, throughout your pregnancy, for the one-off admin fee of £45, you do not need to be a DW Fitness Member to attend. If you would like to go to the sessions post-natally they are then £5 per class.


A great bonus for all expectant Mums attending is that you will get 20% of the cost of your first term when you sign up to swim with your new baby. Puddle Ducks run swimming classes for children from just a few weeks old through to 10 years at 10 pools throughout Worcestershire and the West Midlands. Swimming is an amazing experience to share with your little one and one of the few activities that you can both enjoy together.


If you would like to attend a class for free please call Puddle Ducks on 01905 888346 or email worcestershire@puddleducks.com, please quote the code  BTSAQ17.

For more information take a look at the website:  Puddle Ducks

Meditation in the Media

As I work with my reflexology and mindfulness meditation clients in Kidderminster and the Worcestershire area I regularly see and hear about the positive effects of meditation. I love to read articles promoting meditation, spreading the word about the benefits.

 I read with interest "10 reasons to meditate" recently in a national news paper. This brief little piece shared some great points and even covered some recent research.

  1. " It will help you relax" Meditation provides a break from everyday tasks, an opportunity to slow down and focus on breathing, free from distractions.  These few moments can allow the body to relax as well as the mind.
  2. " It might help your exam results" In a 2013 study regular meditation improved student's exam performance by boosting memory and concentration. Students saw an average of 16% increase, which really could make a difference to the final grade.
  3. "Preserve the brain" Researchers in California found that people who practiced meditation over 20 years had better preserved brains than non-meditators. The study showed their brains had more grey matter.
  4. "...or rebuild it" A 2014 study in Harvard found meditation could restore grey matter.  In as little as eight weeks changes were seen in brain tissue.
  5. "It can bring down blood pressure" Transcendental meditation has been seen to trigger the production of telomerase which is an enzyme linked to lower blood pressure.
  6. "Boost your mood" A review of almost 50 separate studies concluded that meditation can help anxiety and depression. Meditation appeared to strengthen the person's ability to regulate their feelings.
  7. "It's good for the gut" Many digestive disorders are worsened by stress. A study of women with irritable bowel syndrome found that meditation for eight weeks led to a reduction in pain, bloating and cramps.
  8. " It can help you quit smoking" A study in Texas found that smokers who meditated alongside using nicotine replacement reduced the amount of cigarettes they smoked, often without noticing! 
  9. "Shed the pounds" It is common for people to make unhealthy food choices when stress levels are high.  In 2011 a study of obese women found that meditation helped to reduce comfort eating.
  10. " And improve sleep" Meditation for only six weeks can help reduce insomnia, a study found.  The investigation found that the subjects who meditated improved more over six weeks than those on a sleep education course.

Meditation has many clear benefits for all our well being. If you would like to learn more about meditation and how it could help you then please do contact me.

 

Posted on March 21, 2017 and filed under mindfulness, stress management.

Pregnancy Massage Myths

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As a maternity massage therapist I was surprised to hear the reaction to pregnant Coronation Street character, Leanne Battersby, having a pregnancy massage. Many fans reacted with shock accusing writers of a massive blunder.

The character was taken to a spa as a treat by her sisters and during her visit she enjoyed a back massage.  Viewers expressed their opinions on twitter.  

One wrote on Twitter: “Erm, how did Leanne get a back massage when she is heavily pregnant #Corrie” while another added: “How has Leanne Battersby just laid on her front for a massage?”  A third agreed, writing: “How can you get a back massage with a massive bump?” Others speculated how she managed to have a back massage, with one writing: “Just how is Leanne going to get a back massage with that giant pillow stuffed up her? Is she going to stand or what?”   Viewers were baffled how a heavily pregnant woman would be able to get her back massaged without hurting the baby. One fan even expressed how she felt massage would bring on labour  "Massaging a pregnant woman? Doesn't that usually, er, prompt a delivery?"

I though maternity massage was quite a mainstream therapy, but it seems I am very wrong! The myth that you cannot enjoy massage in pregnancy is clearly still commonly held.  This is really sad as it must be preventing so many pregnant women from enjoying and benefiting from massage. 

Massage and other therapies such as maternity reflexology can be very supportive during pregnancy, helping to manage the many changes taking place both physically and emotionally. After the first scan at around 12 weeks is a great time to explore maternity therapies. It is important to visit a therapist training to work with pregnant clients and tell your midwife about your plans first. 

As one twitter user guessed:  “do you think Leanne lay on her side for her back massage? #practicalquestion #corrie”.  Yes, pregnancy back massage is usually performed in a side lying position with cushions to support the bump. The massage tables available with holes in to accomodate the bump are not advised as they put unnatural pressure on the uterus and surrounding muscles. 

If you are in the Kidderminster Worcestershire area please do contact me to discuss any questions you may have.

Posted on February 2, 2017 and filed under maternity, reflexology.

Vertical Reflexology Therapy, a powerful new technique

vertical reflexology therapy

I began my work as a reflexologist in my home town of kidderminster ten years ago and have regularly enjoyed learning new techniques to help benefit my clients. These have included a wide variety of training such as maternity reflexology and baby reflexology.

I have for many years been aware of a technique called vertical reflexology (VRT). This form of the therapy involves working on the feet whilst in a standing, weight bearing position. I have looked at VRT over the years but felt that it was not something I wanted to explore further because my treatments focus on promoting deep relaxation which I did not feel could be achieved when asked to stand.  After reading a number of studies, however, reporting strong results form VRT I decided it was time try it out! 

I trained with the Booth Method last year and have been working on the technique with my nearest and dearest over the last few months. Whenever I add a new element to my work I believe it is important to hone my skills and look at the results before introducing then to my clients. My friends and family are always keen to offer me their feet! This enables me to explain the experience and the benefits with complete confidence.

What is Vertical Reflexology Therapy?

VRT is a unique technique where the feet are briefly treated in a standing, weight bearing position. It was originally developed by Lynne Booth to help musculoskeletal conditions. The therapy has now expanded to have a universal application just as traditional reflexology. Working on the feet in this position results in deeper responses for the client. For some the pressure can feel very much stronger than traditional reflexology.  I was working on my partner, for example, who was experiencing acute wrist pain and when working the reflex area for his wrist whilst standing the discomfort was intense but resulted in a good reduction in wrist pain.  I have found throughout my VRT work since training that the brief standing treatment can be uncomfortable for some but the results are quick and impressive.  

VRT can be incorporated into a traditional reflexology session with a brief period of standing treatment before reclining in the chair.  The standing element of the session is only around 6 - 10 minutes long allowing plenty of time to enjoy the relaxation benefits of traditional reflexology. At Breathe Holistic Therapy many clients appreciate a 90 minute appointment which allows time for holistic reflexology and specific techniques such as VRT.  This provides a fantastic balance of specific focused work and holistic relaxation. 

Lynne Booth the developer of VRT has worked extensively with sports injuries and for over ten years she has been part of the medical team at Bristol City Football Club.  Lynne works with the coaching staff and players to address injuries as well as issues such as sleep and anxiety. The very knowledge that VRT has been employed by the team for so many years is a strong testament to the power of this therapy. I plan to share more details relating to specific studies including the work at Bristol City in future blog posts.

If you would like to know more about VRT or to book your appointment please do contact me.

 For more details of treatments available and prices please click here.

Posted on January 18, 2017 and filed under reflexology, stress management.