‘Tis the season to be Ethical

This particular post came about as I was writing this month’s newsletter. I intended to write a short paragraph about our Gift Vouchers and what great Christmas presents they make – about how to gift our loved ones with experiences and presents that really mean something. We’re biased, of course, but we do believer our Gift Vouchers make a more thoughtful and conscientious gift than another scented candle or pair of socks (although I do have a particular soft spot for novelty socks). I started thinking about the Christmas season and what a strain it is on us and our environment, which led me to thinking about choices, and how this ties into our business Ethos. I wanted to give myself some space to fully explore this topic, so this blog post was born. So, if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share some thoughts (and a call to action!) with you on Christmas, the Environment, and how to run a business Ethically.

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Christmas and the lead up to it can be a somewhat stressful time. I know this not just from my own heightened levels of stress, but also in the increase in clients desperate for some relaxation at this time of year. While we can most certainly put this down to seasonal change and the effects that less sunlight has on our bodies and minds, a big part of that is the nervous anticipation of  what can be a demanding time of year. There’s so much to think about – presents, food, parties, family dynamics… and add into that lots of (don’t get me wrong… lovely!) booze and it’s depressive effect on our body, it’s no wonder many of us are so exhausted come January.

We’re bombarded every year with constant adverts on loop forcing Christmas cheer on us and telling us we need more tat and meaningless products to show our loved ones how much we care about them. It can be exhausting – on our bodies, on our energy, on our wallets, and not least on the environment. Businesses rush to create vast amounts of cheap products in excess (some using cheap labour and questionable business practices to do so) to meet ever-growing demand. A lot of this just ends up in landfill along with their plastic packaging and wrapping, or they clutter up our houses and our minds. It’s not a stretch to say that our planet does not need this extra strain on it’s dwindling resources!

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With heightened awareness, however, comes more alternative choices. Search online for ‘Ethical Christmas’ and you get pages and pages of results, and websites full of advise and information on not just eco-friendly and ethical gifts, but also how to be waste-free, how to cook an ethical Christmas dinner, gift wrapping without using tons of plastic paper and where to get your Christmas Tree. More and more businesses are becoming aware of growing social and environmental needs, taking responsibility and striving to offer alternatives. It’s inspiring, and a move in the right direction. Of course, we still have to be careful of false claims or made-up certification – ‘Green Washing‘ is abundant, so it’s important to read the labels or consult a reliable source!

I’m currently halfway through my Masters in Social Entrepreneurship, something which was inspired by my time here at The Little Escape. I’m very privileged to have been Centre Manager for 5 years, working alongside our owner Lilja to run the business and keep our clients, therapists and receptionists happy. Over the years, we’ve sought to shape The Little Escape to be a different sort of business – one which doesn’t seek to create profit, but which offers real support for everyone involved. The temptation to cut our costs and maximise our income is always there, as it isn’t easy to make a business at the very least sustainable in our current economy, and in the sector which we’re in. We make sacrifices to ensure we can charge fair rates to our therapists, keep costs reasonable for clients, and to make sure all our supplies and products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free and, where possible, local. This is entrenched in our business Ethos – health and holism incorporates not just our own health and happiness, but that of our planet and all those who reside in it.

One day in a our near future we hope to fully become a Social Enterprise so we can have the structural support to continue practising democratically and transparently and to better represent the needs of our clients, therapists and our amazing receptionists. We also believe that this change will allow for more financial support and autonomy for practitioners to in turn be able to offer more low-cost treatments. There are a lot of vulnerable people who might benefit from some help and support but who cannot otherwise afford to pay for themselves. We would like to reach out and offer what we can but we need to do this sustainably and meaningfully, by making sure that our therapists are covered so that they don’t lose out financially. What form this change will take will become clearer as we work towards that goal, but we would like this process to involve everyone that makes up The Little Escape – and that includes you, our amazing clients. We would love to hear from you: Ideas, thoughts, things you’d like to see from us, or things you think we can do better.

Thanks for sticking with me on this post! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas in whatever form that takes 🙂

Peace out,

Eve

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4 reasons why you should try a traditional Thai massage

Traditional Thai massage is a beautiful treatment that can almost feel like dance between practitioner and receiver due to its rhythmical nature and use of assisted stretches. The receiver lies on a futon in loose clothing, and the practitioner uses pressure with hands and sometimes feet to massage the whole body. The aim is to bring movement and flexibility back into tired bodies and minds.

Here is why I love it and why I think this traditional treatment is the perfect antidote to modern times. It’s a cheat’s yoga class! We all know that sitting at desks or hunched over laptops and phones plays havoc with our posture. Yoga is brilliant for helping to relieve some of these ailments but sometimes we just want to relax! Traditional Thai massage perfectly combines the benefits of the yoga class with the feeling you get from a relaxing massage. It uses lots of assisted stretches that lengthen tight muscles and improve joint flexibility but you don’t have to do the work. Result.

It’s a tonic for both body and mind.

Our lives are running at full pelt and it can be really hard to completely switch off. Thai massages are longer than a lot of other treatments (the shortest is 1.5 hours) but I have found that this extra time really allows the body to let go and gives the mind chance to rest. I think this is one of the reasons the treatment is so effective and gives such a lasting feeling of relaxation.

It’s a whole body treatment that gets to the roots of your tension.

We often want massage to focus only on the places where we are experiencing the most pain and although this can feel good it may not treat the real cause of the problem. For example, tight hamstrings can be the cause of a low backache rather than tension in the back itself. Traditional Thai massage works the whole body starting at your feet and methodically working round the whole body so the practitioner can really find each tight area and work to relieve it.

It feels fantastic!

Perhaps it is not what you might normally go for when booking a massage but I invite you to try this wonderful style of massage. It may be a little different but I believe it has something very special to offer.

5 crazy amazing years!

The Little Escape is going to be 5 years old very soon (March 24th 2017!).

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too soon before launch day! not so cozy! 

This time 5 years ago I was probably as stressed as I’ve ever been; the launch date drew near and the flooring was not down, the gas was not connected, the walls were not painted, the booking system was not ready, the phone company let me down…

 

It is strange and amazing to reflect on the roller coaster ride since its inception, and actually, I can now acknowledge that I’m really proud of what we as a team have created! I had the opportunity to start something, and my concept was a centre which had sustainable health at its heart, and which benefited everyone involved. I genuinely think that we have succeeded in accomplishing this- with a huge learning curve, and plenty more work ahead, but the core is there to be built upon!

We have stayed open without compromising our values, and supported staff, practitioners and clients. We are a not-for-profit company and we have always strived to keep costs down for practitioners so that they can make a sustainable living from doing what they love (and are gifted at!) while keeping the space safe and beautiful and calm.

We have taken over 20,000 bookings for over 3,500 clients, who have benefited from high quality treatments, in a supportive and sensitive environment. I am so proud to be part of a team of practitioners who are all super skilled and down to earth- and who I’m genuinely happy to be treated by and to refer people to.

Meanwhile we strive to ensure our business is ethical and sustainable- as holistic thinking does not end with health (though I might argue it begins there…!?) or with treatments, and I believe that our mental and physical health is inextricably intertwined with the health of our environment and society. So, as a business, we make sure that our energy supply is renewable, we recycle our rainwater, we use organic and peat-free compost and fertiliser for our houseplants and little herb garden, use ethical and environmentally aware brands for our soaps, detergents and cleaning products, we recycle and reduce waste wherever possible, use ethical banking, and we support other local independent businesses wherever we can.

I consider myself a practitioner first and foremost, and as a practitioner I have been so grateful to be able to work in what is essentially an ideal treatment environIMG_4903ment – I love that my patients enjoy coming here and appreciate the atmosphere and that they can relax even before treatment has begun, and I love that we have good daylight and natural wood and that there are good comfortable treatment couches so that my back doesn’t ache after a full day of treatments.
I love that the trusted reception team take care of my patients too, and that bookings are easy and efficient. And I love my amazing rewarding job.

I do not see myself as a business person or an entrepreneur; in fact I am rubbish at the business and admin side of things! So we would be nowhere without the awesome Eve and Fiona, who have been front of house almost since the beginning -I can’t even explain how grateful I am for their loyalty and understanding and their work keeping the clinic running day to day! And endless gratitude to all the rest of the excellent amazing team !

So pleased to have been able to allow Fiona to finish her Nutrition course and to support her to become a practitioner now that she is qualified!

So proud to be supporting and inspiring Eve through her Social Enterprise Masters- and so excited to be able to benefit from all that she is learning so that we can work together to ensure that the little escape continues to grow as an ethical social enterprisewatch this space!

So- THANKS to all who have visited and enjoyed our little escape, THANKS to all who work and have worked here, THANKS to all who have helped us get this far…

And here’s to a happy, healthy, sustainable future for us all!

Lilja xx

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Migraine and Feverfew

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has gained a reputation as a primary natural remedy for treating and preventing migraines. Often combined with other, carefully selected plants, Feverfew has much to offer in the management of this condition. Feverfew has been used throughout recorded medical history as a remedy for severe headache. Other traditional uses include fever and inflammation. It is a perennial plant with daisy-like yellow flowers that is indigenous to south-east Europe.

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Herbal Tea

The active constituents in Feverfew include monoterpenes, sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids and its essential oil is bactericidal and fungicidal. Sesquiterpene lactones are thought to be the most beneficial constituents for an anti migraine effect.

Studies have shown that Feverfew is beneficial in the reduction of severity and frequency of migraines, and it is widely used in Europe and Canada for migraine prevention.Treatment with Feverfew is long term, not an immediate cure for a migraine attack. It is suggested that it takes 4-6 weeks until an initial response can be seen.

The success of the management of migraines can be measured by decreased frequency, severity and duration of migraine attacks. Often Feverfew is combined with other plants such as Ginkgo, Lavender, Cramp Bark, Skullcap etc. for a targeted prescription for each patient, depending on any other relevant factors.

It is advised that Feverfew is administered by a qualified Medical Herbalist, as any other conditions and medications have to be taken into consideration. This herb is not to be used in pregnancy, breastfeeding women or children under the age of 2.

If you want to find out more about Herbal Medicine Marion is offering a FREE 15 minute consultation, call 020 3384 0509 or email hello@thelittleescape.com to book!

Experiencing Ear Candling

I recently had my first experience of ear candling with the wonderful Ciara, and thought it might be nice to share an account of this gentle and very relaxing therapy. As Ciara quite rightly commented when I first saw her, the ears are quite a neglected part of the body, but mine have been niggling me for years. I was diagnosed with Eustachian tube dysfunction, after complaining to any GP who would listen about how my ears would suddenly block and I would be walking around feeling like I had a goldfish bowl over my head, dulling my hearing. For those who are wondering what this fancy piece of ear equipment might be, the Eustachian tube links the nasopharynx to the middle ear and helps to equalise pressure on either side of the ear drum. When I saw Ciara was offering this

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ear candling therapy

natural therapy dating back to ancient times, I thought it might be worth a try, especially as I haven’t wanted to take the steroid nasal sprays I’ve been offered to help resolve the issue.

Ciara and I had a chat about my Eustachian tubes and the fact I suffer from recurring sinus infections. She showed me the candles and explained what she would be doing, following which I lay on the couch and the candling began. A long beeswax tube was inserted into one ear at a time and lit. Each candle took about 15 minutes to burn down, during which time, I heard gentle popping and crackling in my ear. The sound reminded me of a needle jumping on a dusty old record player, and I found it quite comforting. Ciara explained that my sinuses were being filled with steam, which would help to de-congest them.

Following the candling, Ciara gave me a gentle face massage, which added to the general feeling of relaxation. I arrived for both the sessions I’ve had to date feeling tense as I was preparing for a big exam, but left feeling calmer and more grounded. Since then my ears have definitely been blocking less frequently, and I’m booked in for a further session as ongoing issues like mine can need a couple of regular treatments to maximise results.

I think given the treatments are so relaxing and they’re helping me to tackle those pesky Eustachian tubes, I could well become an ear candling addict! 🙂

Anna

 

If you’d like to try Ear Candling – you can book on-line or contact us directly 🙂 Each wonderful session lasts £45 and costs only £40.

Creativity and Well-being

Apparently next week is London Creativity and Well-being week!

I have only just heard of this though it is in its 5th year, but I love the idea of it, and it is such a fascinating topic in terms of how being surrounded by art or music makes us feel, and also in terms of how actually participating in creativity affects us on different levels.

As the LHAF states on its website; “Participation in the arts and access to a range of arts opportunities can dramatically improve health outcomes and increase well-being. Supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build well-being.”

There is more information here: and the LHAF is also all about making Hospitals, Clinics and other healing spaces beautiful because of the well-being benefits– which is also something at the core of The Little Escape (hmm we really need some more photos of the clinic- but come and see!)

And another excellent looking event I just found out about that runs in a few weeks in sunny South London!

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But meanwhile I thought I’d write something about the links from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective….

The Liver channel is the one most directly associated with creative energy and drive, and it is also very much associated with anger and frustration when the Liver energy is not allowed to move smoothly – and this is where problems may become apparent.

The Kidneys are also related- and especially because the Kidneys in TCM are associated with Fear, and Creativity is about allowing yourself to make mistakes – which many of us are afraid of. So for some it is about strengthening that Kidney energy and taking some chances!

In my experience as a practitioner, people who’s creativity is being stifled for one reason or another (space/ time/ children/ work etc etc) can have major issues with mood swings, depression, inappropriate anger or headaches.

Sometimes (while acupuncture is definitely a big help with moving that stagnant Liver Qi!) the solution is to also find a way to weave more creativity into their life. If it is an artist who is used to doing huge expressionist canvasses, then yes we may have to think laterally about how to satisfy their creative urges, but there are ways! My mother is an (amazing) artist (you may have seen her work at the clinic!), so I also know first hand how she struggles when she can’t get enough studio time!

In these cases I also suggest people incorporate stretches that work on the Liver meridian: side stretches and yoga twists can be especially useful.

However, stress manifests in different ways for different people (surprise surprise!) and Liver Qi Stagnation can affect all systems of the body depending on an individual’s “type” and other factors- creating a Pattern of Disharmony which can be quite complex, especially if imbalances have been going on for a while…

So- before I totally digress- back to using Creativity for Wellbeing…!

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For some people, it is about using the Lungs to open the chest and Heart and move the Liver too- and it may be that they haven’t particularly been stifled creatively but their voice or truth has been suppressed in some way- and here is where singing can come into play. Especially people who notice that stressor frustration can trigger asthma or coughing, skin problems, or who get that sensation of a lump stuck in their throat. Writing is also great of course for expressing emotions but doesn’t have the same kind of knock-on effect on your physical wellbeing. In fact so many of us nowadays are so often hunched over a screen or paper that we end up weakening the chest and lungs with poor posture- so even more reason to sing and open the chest and diaphragm!

Choirs are fantastic, and have fascinating benefits that have been researched a documented (see here, here & here)- but singing in the shower or car definitely still counts- I have even been know to “prescribe” private room Karaoke 😉 – it feels amazing!!

For more “Earth Types” who may have a tendency to weight problems, IBS or digestive issues, it might be most appropriate to channel creativity into cooking or gardening- both very grounding and creative activities!

For some, possibly those “Heart Types” who struggle with a “Monkey Mind” and inability to relax- incorporating a creative element to support mindfulness is really helpful- hence the popularity of Colouring books, Embroidery and knitting. Also Mindfulness has been shown to improve creativity (check out James’s class at The Little Escape, and Lis’s Sunday Meditation sessions)

I often incorporate this sort of “Lifestyle” advice in Acupuncture sessions alongside other things, but it all comes down to what works for the individual, and getting to know yourself better.

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So- take some time this week to *really* enjoy and embrace some art, music, writing, workshops, or just getting inspired to get back into doing a little of what you love. Think about how it makes you feel, which colours or shapes or themes affect you most, and if it makes you feel good- do more of it!

Lilja x

And lets finish with a some inspiring quotes, because everyone loves a good quote, and being succinct is definitely not one of my strong points 😉

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut

“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” Matt Groening

“Cut the arts? Then what are we fighting for?” Winston Churchill

Some Thoughts for the Solstice

There are many associations we humans have with the sun. The annual summer solstice that falls in June is an opportunity to honour this great star and be grateful for its sunny splendour. This year the solstice falls on Monday 20th June. The solstice corresponds with the tilt of the earth’s axis being most inclined towards the sun – hence the longest day of sunlight.

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Surya Namaskar is a well known sequence in yoga. It is in essence a bowing to the powerful sun – surya meaning sun and namaskar stemming from ‘namas’ meaning to bow or adore. This reveals the deeper wisdom of yoga and how we cultivate respect for nature through a regular practise.

From a subtle anatomy perspective, the sun feeds our manipura chakra, otherwise referred to as our solar plexus chakra. This is located about a hand’s width up from your navel. The colour yellow is associated with this chakra and the element of fire. So consider golden rays of sunlight perfusing your solar plexus and nourishing your vital force.

The sun is a constant in our lives. It rises and sets no matter what the circumstances. It radiates warmth and light. It provides life to plants through photosynthesis who all grow towards its radiance. Life giving, light bringing, energising sun.

The sun symbolises power, growth, health, passion and the cycle of life with its daily rise and set.

Oh sun, we salute you this summer solstice and thank you for your brilliance.

 

Come and have a one to one with Ciara Roberts at The Little Escape and learn more about the beauty, wisdom and transformational capacity of yoga.