Coincidentally, I had a couple of emails drop in my inbox this January, which were totally unconnected and yet exactly what I felt my burnt out mind, body and spirit was craving. Reflexology is something I’ve never really tried before but have always been fascinated by and yoga, well me and yoga have never really got on when I’ve tried it in the past but all that has now changed.
I started my road to reconnection by walking my feet to Harrogate Reflexology in Harrogate. Helen Riley is a private reflexologist registered with the Association of Reflexologists. Her home based treatment room is a lovely calm, warm and welcoming space which put me at ease, just as she did. We began with a relaxed chat about how I was feeling generally. I admitted I’d been feeling quite tired and lethargic, which I always put down to just being a busy mum and the fact I’m no longer a whipper-snapper. I mentioned a niggling knee gripe which I’ve been ignoring for a couple of years too. I also filled in a short questionaire about my general health to help build up a picture.
Reflexology is often dismissed as a glorified foot massage and while it can be wonderfully relaxing (I nearly dropped off towards the end of my treatment) it is so much more than that. In short, pressure points on the feet correlate to areas of the body and manipulation of these can help the body to heal itself. Like many complementary therapies, reflexology taps into our body’s natural abilities.
As I lay back in the cradle-like chair I felt warm, secure and cocooned while my cold stiff feet became more pliable in Helen’s expert’s fingers. It really is interesting to observe the sensitivity you can feel as different areas of the feet/body are stimulated. For example, I felt my body temperature fluctuate and at one point I felt a slight ache around my womb, like I do when I have my period, which made sense when Helen explained that one of the areas she works on for women are the ovaries/womb.
Afterwards I felt soothed yet refreshed and my feet were really hot (so much so that Helen had to apply some cooling peppermint oil). NB my feet never feel hot, they are permanently icy, just ask the mister. Two areas of note that Helen mentioned after the treatment is my lungs and my thyroid. She suggested that my breathing could be an area I need to work on in order to boost my circulation and that it might be worth getting a thyroid test to see if it’s underactive (which I guess could explain the fatigue).
We also discussed a number of simple lifestyle changes I could consider that would help to boost my health and wellbeing and it was this holistic approach of Helen’s that I really appreciated. She suggested I could try a detox diet, reducing my sugar and gluten, which would really raise my energy levels. But she also recognised the need for balance. Instead of mainlining caffeine because I’m tired (again guilty), I could try savouring my one proper coffee of the day, making a real event of it and then drinking herbal/decaf/water the rest of the time. I was also given the number of Helen’s physiotherapist so I can get that knee sorted out! I left feeling like I’d had a health MOT and my feet were pretty happy too!A week or so later, I then tried out my first yoga session in about fifteen years. I’ve always wanted to get into yoga but a couple of the classes I tried down in London during my twenties left me feeling like the clumsy, uncool girl and I disliked the seemingly competitive nature of it all. Plus, I have always written myself off as the most unbendiest person yet as I get older and stiffer I know that this really is what my body needs. It needs stretching and strengthening and if I don’t start soon I might never be able to do it.
So many people talk about how important the right teacher is when you do yoga and I really understand that after a session with Sophie Bickerdike from Go Yoga in Harrogate. Funny, kind, easygoing, Sophie embodies everything she teaches. She places less emphasis on achieving the perfect yoga pose and instead works with people to just see what their body can do. And of course it’s about so much more than body but also breathing and focus – in fact a lot of the things that my reflexologist mentioned. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to join these dots but I can really see how so many of these practices and therapies are related and have added benefits when combined.
So how did I get on? Well, I’m still no yogi (yet). I still wobbled but I felt in control (mostly) and it was fun. I found most of the core poses (downward dog, salute to the sun etc) familiar enough and surprisingly still do-able even after all these years. I could see how after a few more sessions my body could find that stretch and open up more. Sophie gauged the difficulty level just right for me and gently encouraged and corrected without being intimidating. In fact I was having so much fun I had to stop giggling and focus a bit more. We slowed things down eventually with some lovely essential oils (a speciality of Sophie’s), breathing and relaxing stretches that felt like my body had been crying out for.
The next day I had that nice, gentle ache you get when you’ve used muscles that you’d forgotten about but nothing too strenuous. More importantly, I felt the urge to book my next session, poring over the timetable to see when I could find a class that would fit with my childcare. Go Yoga run classes from two sites; Cold Bath Road and Hornbeam Park, so there’s plenty of choice from beginner level to sports yoga and even kids’ classes. I’m even thinking of digging out my old, unused yoga mat out of the ‘to eBay pile’.
I’m conscious that both of these reviews are Harrogate-based but for my readers further afield, I hope you’ve found this helpful in case you too were thinking of ways to reconnect mind, body and spirit. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to self-love/care recently as I mentioned in this post. It’s hard to find the time, money or even energy for the things but I really do think we’re worth investing in, even if it’s just finding five minutes for a bit of meditation. Let me know what works for you, I’d love some more recommendations.
Big thanks to both of these companies for allowing me to review their services free of charge. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.