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Gentle Release Therapy – Working with Three Key Organs To Release Stagnation, Improve Flow and Rebalance The Body

What is Gentle Release Therapy?

Gentle Release is based on the belief that vital energy (qi) flows around the body, allowing us health and balance. This new therapy combines and draws from various different techniques including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, abdominal massage, Qigong (energy work), cranio-sacral and neck releases, reflexology, and acupuncture.

The aim of Gentle Release therapy is to gently bring focus and attention to the body, and allow the energy to flow freely to and from areas that it may be holding in stagnation, such as muscle tension, or emotions for example, using energy work with hands usually on the abdomen and head.  Sometimes it’s helpful to use the techniques to balance hormones or the lymphatics by working on the feet, it all depends on the needs of the person on the day. This is a therapy where you do not need to remove clothes, and can also be done remotely, allowing you to remain comfortable at home.

What is Energy?

If you’ve ever experienced a person who makes you feel really drained after spending time with them, or had someone make you feel particularly uncomfortable (without actually doing anything), then you are sensing energy. Sometimes you can also get ‘vibes’ (another way of expressing energy) from buildings or places. Energy is made by us, surrounds us and we are sensitive to it in different ways.

Illnesses occur when these energy flows become blocked or stagnant. We cannot see these energies, but like the wind filling the sails of a boat, we can see the effects of energy manifesting as sound, light, emotions, feelings and so on.

Three Key Organs – The Liver, Heart and Kidneys

Why do we focus on these organs? They are key to many of the body’s most basic functions.

The liver is where our blood is made. In TCM when the body is active (daytime) blood flows to the ligaments and tendons, muscles and sinews, and at night, the blood is stored in the liver. If you find that your joints are stiff or achey in the morning it is a sign of liver energy struggling to move blood back round the body.

The liver allows the flow of energy (qi) through the body, in every direction, which can affect the emotional state, digestion and production of bile (important for digestion of fat). Stagnation of the liver qi can therefore have an impact on proper digestion producing burping, reflux, nausea and vomiting.

The liver is associated with anger – and we can store frustration, resentment and rage – which during the past year we may have an abundance of. Repressing anger can cause a stagnation of the qi or energy, blocking the flow.

The heart is the channel to all the energy within your body. The heart governs the blood by transforming food energy into blood and then circulating it. It also houses the mind – as mental activity and consciousness live in the heart. When the heart is strong, and there is plenty of blood, there is balance – emotionally, with clear consciousness, good memory, clear thinking and sleep.

As the energy of the heart governs the state of the blood vessels, the complexion can be affected – a red face may indicate a heart issue. Likewise the heart qi affects the appearance of the tongue (especially the tip, and the taste buds) and influences talking and speech, talking too much and speech difficulties.

If the heart energy is stagnating or blocked, then we often find that stress and anxiety like to collect here, signs include dull thinking, poor sleep and restlessness.

The kidneys govern our physical and mental strength. They are key to many of the processes that keep our bodies functioning, including those for making bone marrow – including the spinal cord and brain, as well as controlling the manufacture of sperm, and eggs.

They are responsible for birth, growth and development. They also impact on our physical and mental strength and our willpower. Blockages or stagnation in kidney energy can show up as poor memory or concentration, poor sight, dizziness and fertility issues. You might experience lower back pain, problems with the knees, or feeling week and tired.

Our kidneys are key to so much of our wellbeing, but they are also where we store up feelings of fear.

As you can see, just focusing on these three organs, there are a lot of processes and flows which help our bodies to function properly, and any blockages to the energy can have significant effects on our wellbeing, both physically and emotionally.

A Gentle Release Treatment

This is just a brief look at how energy affects three organs of the body. A full Gentle Release treatment would focus on more organs, including the lungs, reproductive systems, the nerves of the brain, and the hormone and lymphatic systems. We also work on emotional releases, which can act as blockages as much as those in the physical organs, and can sometimes helps to release deep-seated feelings or beliefs that you may want to shift.

A full Gentle Release treatment is ideal to use when supporting the emotional aspects of a fertility journey, allowing you to focus on unblocking energy all round the body – especially in the reproductive systems.  Working to correct imbalances from the traumatic emotional impact that people often experiences is as necessary as working on the physical aspects that may be affecting you at this time.  Indeed, we can purely focus on an emotional trauma clearing, if that is what your body needs at the time of your treatment.

I look at Gentle Release as a way of heading off any potential issues, before symptoms appear, allowing our bodies and minds to repair and re-balance in a very simple and gentle way.  It also supports your body back to balance if it’s already hanging up the ‘out of order’ sign!

If we think of the body as housing ‘motorways’ of energy, then Gentle Release is there to unblock the traffic jams and allow the the traffic to flow without disturbance. If the energy flows well, it brings vitality and balance, encouraging the body and mind to be as healthy as possible.

Using Gentle Release techniques on  just these three areas can really help to encourage a relaxed state, where you can step away from the stresses and strains of every day life. It can help to improve feelings of mental and emotional peace as well as physical wellbeing.

When I lead guided Gentle Release sessions online, these are the three organs that we initially work with.

Guided Release sessions online have been very welcome for small groups and individuals, especially for the periods of isolating lockdown that we have all experienced during the past year.

Want to know more about guided Gentle Release for groups? Get in touch with me using the contact form, or book an individual Gentle Release full session here.

Summer Slowdown Sessions

During August, I am running a Summer Slowdown online, using Guided Gentle Release for people who want to re-gather after the past year of pandemic stress, supporting you if you are struggling with stress, isolation, or the ordinary day-t0-day busyness of life.

If you want to be able to take time out for yourself, these sessions are ideal – it’s just an hour, every Sunday.  An hour to ensure your mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are prioritised. I will update a booking link here shortly!

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How reflexology plays a part in reducing symptoms of Migraine

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What are migraines?

Migraine is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms. The main feature is a painful, often throbbing, headache. Other symptoms may include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting.¹

However, the symptoms will vary and people can experience different symptoms during different attacks. Attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours and most people are free from symptoms between attacks. Migraine can have an enormous impact on work, family and social lives.

What are the causes of Migraine?

There is no known cause for migraine, although most people with it are genetically predisposed to migraine. If you are susceptible to migraine there are certain triggers which commonly occur. These include stress, lack of food, alcohol, hormonal changes in women, lack of sleep and the environment.

A recent online article in The Guardian (Australia) newspaper stated ‘despite the Global Burden of Disease study finding migraine to be the sixth-highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability, migraine is an under-recognised condition that is often treated with the wrong drugs.’³

  • Migraines typically affect women more frequently than men – in the UK, 1 in 4 women, 1 in 12 men experience migraine
  • Most migraine sufferers experience their first migraine in young adulthood, but it is possible for migraines to start later in life
  • 5.85 million people aged 16-65 years experience 190 000 migraine attacks every day and lose 25 million days from work or school each year because of them²

The complex nature of migraine means that the treatments available are varied and differ from person to person. There is currently no cure for migraine.

Can Reflexology help Migraines?

In an effort to answer the question above, and to assess effective alternative treatments to medication (many of which have unwanted side effects, as well as being costly to prescribe), the Association of Reflexologists carried out a research project to detail the potential benefits that reflexology may offer to migraine sufferers.

Professionally qualified AoR reflexologists collected data and case study histories for people with migraine, and treated them with regular foot reflexology for 6 or more sessions. The requirements for clients were:

They had a migraine diagnosis by GP or hospital
They were still experiencing migraines
They hoped to benefit from reflexology
Their migraines were of sufficient frequency to see a difference over 6 treatments or more (e.g. one migraine a year would not be frequent enough)

What the Data revealed

Highlights of the published study⁴ showed that:

Self-funded, self-referred case series using MYMOP can indicate change in migraine patients

90% of the participants in this study resulted in a profile change of more than one point in the 7-point MYMOP scale

This change is recognised as being of clinical significance to the individual

60% exhibited a zero MYMOP score for symptom 1 after six treatments

These results indicate that reflexology has the potential to provide relief from symptoms of migraine. Imagine if reflexology were prescribed as part of the management for migraine symptoms? It is my belief that the burden of costs to the NHS over a migraine patient’s lifetime could potentially be significantly reduced if holistic therapies were considered as a front-line first intervention.

Reflexology Helped this Client’s Migraine

To show you how the study worked in real life, I want to share one of my client’s experiences (shared with permission).

My client Annie* is female. At the time of the study Annie was in the age group 41- 50 and came to me almost in despair, hoping for some help with her migraines. She’d recently had a very scary incident with a severe hemiplegic migraine, which had resulted in a hospital stay, and then a lasting left-side weakness afterwards.

She was experiencing at least 2 migraines EVERY week. On average they were lasting 3 days. She’d been experiencing migraines for at least 25 years. In order to get by, she needed to take fairly strong medication – which she didn’t like (because of the side effects) and wanted to stop taking.

For collection data, we used a MYMOP recording form. This was used to assess two physical or mental symptoms, and rate them on a scale, where 0 was the best it could be, and 6 was the worst it could be. We also had a score for an activity that the problem made difficult, and one for general wellbeing. These criteria were all scored ‘on the day’ when Annie came for her reflexology.

Treatment Notes

Annie found that almost all the points that I worked on her feet during her first treatment were very sensitive.  From my reflexology point of view, this indicated to me that many areas of the body were out of balance.

I worked very gently with each point, particularly those of the head, neck and spine, aiming to soothe the nervous system response.  Over time, at each session, Annie was able to tolerate more touch, with a little less sensitivity.

I worked the same specific reflexes for the head, neck and spine each time, incorporated into a full reflexology routine.  By the time we got to the 12th session, Annie’s feet were normal to touch, were not sensitive to any degree and felt more balanced overall.

The day after her first reflexology session, where Annie was almost unable to tolerate the lightest of touch, I receive this email:

“Wow! I just had to email to let you know I feel absolutely great! I had a slight headache on Monday afternoon (not bad enough to take any tablets) & felt quite sleepy but woke up on Tuesday with no headache, no pressure in my head & just very relaxed about everything. I haven’t felt like that for at least a year. Today I’ve woke up feeling exactly the same. Even my Mum said, it’s like having the old you back!!”

What a great message to receive.  We carried on with the reflexology over 2 sets of 6 sessions (a total of 12) for about a year. We continued assessing the symptoms with MYMOP forms, and although not every session had such noticeable results, we did see a massive change overall.

As you can see from the charts above, the symptoms of migraine scored 0 by the 12th session.  This client showed an amazing progression from non-tolerance of touch, with twice weekly migraines, to being able to experience reflexology in comfort and ease, with ZERO migraines. Annie was able to work without the fear of regularly needing sick leave for migraines. Her life at home was more enjoyable because her wellbeing was better overall. Her migraines disappeared.

I recently got in contact with Annie, to ask if migraines were still a part of her life or not – she replied that she had experienced only one or two, which she recognised were likely responding to extreme life stresses at the time (moving house, divorce etc.)

This pattern has been repeated for other clients with migraines (admittedly less severely affected than Annie) and the data collection overall showed that having reflexology treatments made a statistical improvement for clients treated in the study.

*Names have been changed

** References:

1. https://www.migrainetrust.org/ The Migraine Trust, online
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12950377/ 2003 Sep;23(7):519-27. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-2982.2003.00568.x. The prevalence and disability burden of adult migraine in England and their relationships to age, gender and ethnicity, T J Steiner, A I Scher, W F Stewart, K Kolodner, J Liberman, R B Lipton
3. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jul/01/i-usually-end-up-calling-an-ambulance-why-migraine-pain-is-not-just-a-bad-headache
4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388120311051?dgcid=coauthor&fbclid=IwAR28mZABtyQb1zGWRaO7gWtqup59wImVnVS4kfWbMmw1lWJSuUDr5egrRyY, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 41, November 2020, 101230, A pragmatic case series of clients living with medically diagnosed migraines self-referred to reflexology, Tracey A.Smith, Sarah L.Thurgood²

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The monthly cycle and your energy levels

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How do they relate to one another?

Today, I want to write a note about energy levels and their effect on the female monthly cycle.  Many women don’t realise that their cycle can dictate the amount of physical, mental or emotional energy that they have.  And that they can plan what they do around their own cycles.

Levels are lowest during the bleed

During a bleed, or period, which we would look at as the beginning of your monthly cycle, (or the  ‘winter’ season) energy levels are commonly very low.  This is purely because the hormones which regulate your cycle are also at lower levels and this affects the energy that you have available to use.  Remember if you’re bleeding of course you may have a slight iron deficiency, which can contribute to being in a more tired state. Your body’s natural response to hormones at that time means that it usually tells you that you need to slow down. Commonly you might find that along with low energy, your mood may be lower too. This is completely normal, and if you know that it happens for you, then make sure you plan in activities and habits that make you feel good, without wearing you out – reading, a warm bath, gentle yoga, or a brisk walk are all good at this stage.

Energy begins to rise during the second week

During the 2nd week of your cycle (spring season) post-period, you can expect energy levels to start rising. Oestrogen and follicle stimulating hormones start to rise during this follicular phase of the cycle, helping an egg-bearing follicle to mature.   You will notice that you begin to feel more lively and your mood will lift.  You may find that you’re able to do more, for example if you go for a run you might be able to run a little bit further or for longer. You can plan for more physical activity in this stage of your cycle.

Peak Time for Creativity is around Ovulation

As you come up to the time of ovulation (which is the midpoint of your cycle), your hormones are preparing to release an egg from a mature follicle. Luteinising hormone peaks at ovulation, together with oestrogen.  The combination of these two hormones has the effect of increasing muscle strength, stimulating feelings of wellbeing and happiness and making you feel like a queen!  At this point you can expect that your creative energy is really strong as well as your physical energy.  Thinking about new things you want to make or do, designing new products, starting new projects – this is the best time in the month for you to do that, because your creative energies are really high, and your brain is being stimulated by your hormones producing serotonin and dopamine both connected with motivation and pleasure.  Your mood is likely to be higher than during the rest of your cycle.  Make the most of this window – it only lasts about 24 hours!

The magic of progesterone after ovulation!

Post-ovulation (the summer season), your body switches to making progesterone. If you’re trying for a baby, this would support the implantation and growth of an embryo. A corpus luteum forms from the emptied follicle after the egg has been released, and this is what makes progesterone for you. In terms of your energy, progesterone is the hormone that will help you to feel more settled and comfortable.

Progesterone has the effect of calming the nervous system, and it makes it easier to cope with stress. If you’ve got stuff that you really need to crack on with then the 3rd week in your cycle is the time to do it.  You’ll find that you get better quality sleep during this part of the cycle too, because progesterone helps the production of the neurotransmitters which promote sleep, as well as relaxation!

Prepare for a gradual drop during week 4

In the pre-period week (autumn season) you’ll find that your energy levels begin to go down again.  If you’re not pregnant, the progesterone made by the corpus luteum drops and the corpus luteum itself shrinks.  This combination of factors sends the message to your brain that your are not pregnant, and the process of shedding the lining of the uterus starts again, leading to your period.

Some people find that at this point of their cycle that they might be more clumsy, and dizziness or feeling faint can also be quite common before a period. This is a good time to review what you’re doing within that time. So if you’re doing something that needs a lot of dexterity for example, or fine motor control, that’s probably not the week to do it.  I often use the example that you wouldn’t want to do your driving test at this time in your cycle, as you may not be able to give it your best shot.

Putting the hormone puzzle pieces together

Understanding that your hormones have an effect on your energy levels, your creativity and your ability to take on certain tasks is quite important. As you can see from the examples I’ve outlined, the knowledge of how your body is affected can help you to plan out which activities you want to do over a four week period of time (or however long your cycle is). It may just help you to be more productive in a way that suits you better.

If your cycle varies enormously from what I’ve described, you may need to take a few weeks to observe, track and note symptoms.  Most women’s cycles vary from 21 to 35 days – 28 days is just an average.  You may not be ovulating, which means you won’t be getting the benefits of progesterone.  You might not be having periods.  These are pointers that your hormones are not balanced for you, but this is something that you can work on.  I’ll write more on that subject next time.

So now you know:

  • Learn your cycle
  • Plan your life to work with the hormonal flow as much as you can
  • And just know that this awareness of how your body works will help you to manage your needs in a more responsive way

Want to work with me to learn your own cycle?

My new Cycle Management program is a 12 week plan designed to educate and inform you about your personal cycle.  It includes weekly chats, cycle tracking and a selection of holistic therapies to support you and your wellbeing.  It’s delivered completely online, so if you’ve got internet, we can connect!  If you’d like full details and availability, then please use the contact form to get in touch.

 

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Ovulation (It’s all about the eggs….)

 

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Ovulation

Do you know what ovulation is? And what is it for? Do you even know if you’re ovulating?

Ovulation is the main event of your monthly cycle. Hopefully your hormones have been doing their job during the follicular phase, your follicles have produced enough oestrogen and an egg has matured enough to rupture the follicle and start it’s journey through the fallopian tube.

A surge of luteinising hormone (LH) triggers the egg to be released into the fallopian tubes, and this is where it gets fertilised by lurking sperm, or re-absorbed into the body. You may notice a twinge or a mild pain in your lower pelvis when ovulation occurs.  The pain can be a dull cramp or a sharp and sudden twinge.  It’s usually on either the left- or right-hand side of your tummy depending on which ovary is releasing the egg.  It can last just a few minutes or continue for a day or 2. Some women notice a little vaginal bleeding when it happens.

Fun fact – we don’t have a name for this in English, but in German, it’s called mittelschmerz – which just means ‘middle pain’.

At the same time, all that lovely oestrogen which has been working hard on eggs, has also started changing the cervical mucus from non-fertile (white, thick, sticky) to fertile (clear, slippery, wet), making it easier for sperm to have an easier swim up to the Fallopian tubes. Your cervix will also soften, move down and open slightly – all this is to help the passage of sperm.

The Corpus Luteum

At the same time as the egg is released, the collapsed follicle magically restructures itself into the corpus luteum, a gland producing progesterone, which supports the development of an embryo, or fades away over the luteal phase until your next bleed.

Ovulation is the time in your cycle when you are most likely to become pregnant. And conversely, the time to avoid having sex or protect yourself from potential pregnancies if you are NOT actively trying to conceive. If you’re temperature charting you might notice a dip in temperature just BEFORE ovulation, followed by a rise of at least 0.3°C which should then stay higher for at least 3 readings.

Signs of ovulation

What else to look for if you want signs of ovulation:

  • Tender boobs
  • Increased libido
  • More energy
  • Ovulation pain
  • Egg white type cervical mucus

What issues might have an effect on ovulation?

  • Post-contraception anovulation – this can last for months after stopping use of the hormonal pill, coil or implant
  • PCOS – remember this is an inflammatory disease so management is key
  • Hormonal factors like high LH, high testosterone, low progesterone etc.
  • Stress – pandemic, anyone?
  • Being underweight – your body puts itself into ‘safety mode’ which stops ovulation
  • You’re peri-menopausal, where ovulation becomes erratic

Can you improve ovulation?

Can ovulation be improved? Yes. You can improve the hormonal balancing act that leads to ovulation, with a combination nutrition, lifestyle choices, supplements and reproductive reflexology.

If you have physical issues with your ovaries, e.g. you have had an ectopic pregnancy and only have 1 ovary left etc., then you may need assisted fertility treatment in a clinic BUT reflexology can still work to support you and your body alongside this. It takes 3 months for an egg to mature, and be ready for fertilisation.  What steps are you taking to prepare yours?

For more information on monthly cycles, preparation for conception, pregnancy and how holistic therapies can help, bookmark www.weymouthbayreflexology.co.uk

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Reflexology and infertility

Reproflexology and undiagnosed infertility – some numbers for you.

Pregnancy – 70%
Live birth rate – 70%

Success rates from a data collection study of 180 cases, published in Reflexology for Fertility.

‘It is important to be aware that these results can ONLY be attributed to using these particular reproflexology protocols and no other form of reflexology’

Barbara Scott, ‘Reflexology for Fertility, a practitioners’ guide to natural and assisted conception’ (Watkins, 2016)

Are you struggling to get pregnant? Have you been told you have undiagnosed infertility (i.e. “we don’t know why you aren’t pregnant yet”)?

Reproflexology techniques are designed to help you – by teaching you how your bodies work; using specific reflexology routines to support and maintain a regular monthly cycle; by treating male partners as well (remember, their wellbeing is also critical) to help optimum sperm health; and by discussing dietary and nutritional information which is specific to your needs.

I am now taking on new clients to work with these new techniques, get in touch with me to schedule your consultation, by calling or booking an appointment online.

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Reflexology and babies

The Children’s Reflexology programme for parents and carers helps you to learn simple reflexology techniques to soothe, settle and bond with your child, and use routines specially designed for you and your baby by experienced reflexologist and author Susan Quayle (who wrote the successful children’s reflexology book ‘The Mouse’s House’ which the workshops are based on).

This innovative award winning programme uses rhymes, story telling and beautiful illustrations to engage you and your child, making it easy to learn and remember the techniques presented.  The courses are run in informal hourly sessions, and include full colour course notes, and ongoing support through a closed messaging group. If you attend a 5 session course, you will have a complete toolbox of reflexology routines to use to support your little one through their early months and years.

Book HERE

You and your child are welcomed to small, adaptable and baby led classes, where you will learn life-long parenting skills to soothe, nurture and calm your baby.  Each week’s class combines positive bonding with the healing qualities of reflexology, taught to you by an experienced reflexologist (and Mum) with a host of personal experiences of childhood ailments, including prematurity, dairy intolerances, colic and reflux.

Upcoming course dates 2019 –

  • May 3, 10, 17, 24, June 7 – Kids Reflex Dorset 5 week course** Dorchester Yoga & Therapy Centre, Dorchester – FULL
  • June 14, 21, 28, July 5, 12 – Kids Reflex Dorset 5 week course** Dorchester Yoga & Therapy Centre, Dorchester – 5 PLACES
  • Sep 20, 27, Oct 4, 11, 18 – Kids Reflex Dorset 5 week course** Dorchester Yoga & Therapy Centre, Dorchester – 5 PLACES
  • Nov 8, 15, 22, 29, Dec 6 – Kids Reflex Dorset 5 week course** Dorchester Yoga & Therapy Centre, Dorchester – 5 PLACES

**Includes book and certificate of completion

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Reflexology and endometriosis

Reproflexology and endometriosis – some numbers for you.

Reflexology and endometriosis:
Pregnancy – 65%
Live birth rate – 55%

Success rates from a data collection study of 180 cases, published in Reflexology for Fertility.

‘It is important to be aware that these results can ONLY be attributed to using these particular reproflexology protocols and no other form of reflexology’

Barbara Scott, ‘Reflexology for Fertility, a practitioners’ guide to natural and assisted conception’ (Watkins, 2016)

Endometriosis is a condition in which uterine tissues grow outside the uterus – it can develop around all your reproductive organs, around the bowel, bladder and vagina. Up to 25% of women in the UK who are ‘sub-fertile’ are thought to have endometriosis, and approximately 5-10% of all women of reproductive age.

Symptoms: pain during sex, heavy, painful or irregular periods, bleeding between periods, chronic pelvic pain, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue.

Reproflexology techniques are designed to help you – by learning how your bodies work, using specific routines to support a regular monthly cycle, as well as any known conditions that may affect your wellbeing; by treating male partners as well to help optimum sperm health and using other tools and advice.

Book or call now for a consultation and assessment –https://weymouthbayreflexology.co.uk/appointments-fees/