Why Pollen Therapies?

 

How I chose my business name to reflect my love of bees, nature and the great outdoors 

Shortly after I qualified back in 2011 I had my first baby. Here I was, fresh after my course, raring to go with my reflexology, but with a tiny baby! I had had these wonderful ideas of supporting clients while my baby slept peacefully upstairs… Little did I know about those first few months of motherhood!

What I did have time for, though, was reflection.  I spent those first few months, during the long feeds and frequent nappy changes, mulling over names for my therapy business. I wanted something that captured who I am and what my business would be about – no mean feat! I kept returning to the affinity I have with bees; my name, Deborah, means bee in Hebrew and one of my earliest memories is trying to nurse a bee back to health as a child. I love the time of year the bees reappear suddenly as if by magic, signalling the shift in the seasons as the flowers begin to blossom.

Pollen Therapies also reflects my love of nature.  Our move to Bristol in 2016 was in large part to have greater access to the outdoors – having beaches, rolling hills, mountains and rugged coastline within easy reach is truly special.  We have “outdoor kids”; our eldest will attempt to climb every tree he comes across and is happiest running through everlasting fields, and our youngest will sit happily in a muddy puddle with slugs, snails and woodlice for company.

Being in connection with nature, using its wisdom and its gifts to support better wellbeing is fundamental to the work I do.  Mindful walks in nature is one of the best medicines we can support ourselves with and it is one of the most common pieces of advice I give to my clients.  Having just a few minutes every day outdoors, away from technology, feeling in the present, can have a great impact on our overall wellbeing.

Blending all these ideas together brought me to the name ‘Pollen Therapies’.  It always reminds me of what brought me to the work in the first place and what drives me to continue supporting clients.

If you’d like to find out about how reflexology and my other therapies can support you, please do get in touch.

 

Getting into Gardening

 

We were so lucky last year to find a lovely house that was big enough for both me and my partner to work from home.  With our new house came a big garden, perfect for our little two to run around in and cause havoc.

What became clear quickly was that with a big garden comes much gardening… And so after a slow start, this year we started our gardening journey.  Little by little, we’re spending more time in the garden, taming the weeds, planting some new varieties, and tending to the more established ones.  We even grew tomatoes for the first time, and recently harvested them to our great delight; they were delicious!

When I was younger, gardening always seemed like something that ‘old people’ did.  I’m now one of those old people and I’m really benefitting from the mindful moments spent nurturing our outdoor space.

The benefits of gardening are plenty.  Getting out in the garden keeps you physically active, but it also allows you some time to reflect and connect with nature.  Gardening gives you a chance to step away from the over-stimulating world of technology that we live in and slow things down.  There have been studies into the benefits of gardening for reducing anxiety and depression.

One of the most common pieces of advice I give my reflexology and massage clients is to get outdoors, even for five minutes a day, with no distractions, phone off, and have a mindful moment.  It really makes a huge difference and is easy to incorporate even into the busiest of lives.

My next project is making the perfect spot for this in my garden – a place for reflection and a cup of tea.  Bliss…

 

 

If at first you don’t succeed…

 

I recently achieved my diploma in Champissage, a special form of Indian Head Massage developed by  the late Narendra Mehta,  an MBE winning therapist who is credited with bringing Indian Head Massage to the UK back in the 1980s.  This therapy focuses on the shoulders, upper arms, neck, head and face, relieving muscular tension and promoting a more relaxed state.

I took the training course while I was pregnant with my second baby; I had a real drive to learn and expand my therapy skills before the baby arrived as I knew by experience that everything would be turned upside for a while afterwards!  During that time I also gained my qualifications in Thai Foot Massage and Facial Rejuvenation (Natural Facelift) Massage.

Almost immediately after the Indian Head Massage course, we had a series of changes in our lives.  We lost some family, we had our beautiful daughter, we moved cities, started new jobs, and life took over.

So Indian Head Massage took a bit of a back seat.

I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to complete my course, be qualified and start offering this wonderful therapy.  Finally in September 2017 I was able to restart my case studies and, with determination and grit, completed my case studies and exams in June 2018.

To achieve the diploma, I had to complete 25 case studies on five clients and report on my findings.  My final exams included both practical and theory; carrying out a complete session on my tutor, and a theory paper that included the anatomy and physiology of all the bones and muscles in the shoulders, arms, neck, head and face, and the physical and emotional benefits of the treatment techniques.

My tutor, Mary Dalgleish, a wonderful teacher and very experienced practitioner, has encouraged me to share my case study findings, and so below is the summary of my case studies, undertaken over the last nine months.

Here’s the photo of me immediately after passing my exams and achieving my diploma – I was absolutely delighted!

Achieving my Diploma in Indian Champissage June 2018

Indian Head Case Studies – Debbie Allardice 2017/2018

My Experience

I took the Indian Head Massage course back in 2014 when I was pregnant with my second child.  I started my case studies in 2015, but work, juggling the two kids and moving city to Bristol in 2016 saw me restarting my case studies in earnest in 2017.

Starting with my client ‘P’ in Sept 2017, my technique felt quite clunky. As I’ve been a practicing therapist for a few years now, learning a new skill and a new therapy can sometimes feel strange when I’m used to having fluidity with my other sessions.  Once you’ve mastered a new skill you’re able to employ your intuition and respond to the client’s needs more readily.

To help me to understand the approach for each move and the benefit and outcome intended, I referred back to the sequence and the notes during these initial sessions, which made these initial sessions feel disjointed. I bought the DVD so that I could refer back to the techniques visually, and this helped me to improve and gain a better understanding of the flow of the moves.  As my memory for the order of the techniques and their intentions and benefits improved, so did the connection I had with the client’s needs; I became more able to focus on the knots and tension that the client and work with those areas rather than focussing on each individual technique.

This progression made the overall treatment much more beneficial for the client but also much more rewarding for me.

Feedback from clients has also helped to make small changes that make a big difference to the session; initially I was tilting back the clients’ heads back too far to perform the moves on the face.  A couple of clients found their necks were stiff following the treatment, rather than more loose as I’d intended!  Adjusting the positioning of the pillow to support the client’s head during the facial moves made a huge difference to their experience.  I also managed to find a more comfortable chair for the clients after realising that the back was too high and the seat too rigid for some of them.

As the sessions progressed and my experience built, I was able to work more intuitively and with sensitivity to the clients’ needs, and gained the fluidity in delivering the session that I had aimed for.


The clients

What really seemed to connect each case study was the release of tension – physical and emotional – by the end of the session.  Whilst it’s a short treatment, the clients were able to leave feeling less tense, more relaxed and often more sleepy.   The more familiar with the session the clients became, the quicker they were able to relax into it.

The impact on their emotional wellbeing was quite striking in all cases.  This ability for the treatment to almost ‘break-down’ layers of stress and tension is worth noting, as clients may feel more relaxed but also more vulnerable at the end of the session.  It would be all the more important to be sensitive and supportive to clients feeling vulnerable following a treatment.

Some of the clients found that the techniques really improved blocked sinuses, relieved tension in their face and head and gave a feeling of clarity around their eyes.

The neck and shoulder tension that everyone seemed to have was so indicative of a commonality of computer use and desk-based work.  I would think to extend the sessions for people who had a big build up of tension in these areas so that I could focus on breaking this down over a course of treatments.

What is wonderful about this treatment is that it is short enough to be accommodated during a break from work or on an evening, with benefits that will last several days.

I’m really looking forward to offering this fantastic new treatment to my clients.

> If you’d like to come and try the wonderful benefits of Indian Head Massage, book a session with me at the Wells Road Osteopaths in Knowle or the Centre for Whole Health in Bedminster.

A new family tradition

 

Over the last few months my children have become really interested in what I do, and massage and reflexology seem to have become a daily topic in the house.

My eldest who’s just turned 7 (and is so excited about having done so), offers a neck massage to us grateful parents whenever he sees that we are tired or cranky.  He’s really enjoying developing his own techniques and seems to really relish being able to soothe us at the end of a tiring day.  My daughter, 3 going on 4, is experimenting with a form of ‘eye massage’ she’s developed – a surprisingly relaxing, very short massage around the eyes!

Most bath-times now include a little hand, foot or head massage, either me treating the children, the children practicing on each other or, amazingly sometimes, the children practicing on me!  It’s wonderful to see them really enjoying it and truly relaxing with a stroke of the hand, squeeze of the toes and a gentle twist of the feet.

I’m so happy that they are responding so well to this form of relaxation and are eager to practice it themselves.  They also seem to understand the benefit of helping others to feel better too.

Massage and reflexology for children is a wonderful way of bonding as a family and a great way to teach them how to soothe themselves in times of anxiety, stress or sadness.

A great book for little children that combines a story with some simple reflexology techniques you can use before bed, and a particular favourite of my daughter, is The Mouse’s House by Susan Quayle.

If you would like to find out how you can use massage and reflexology with your own children, contact me to discuss or book a session in South Bristol at the Wells Road Osteopaths or the Centre for Whole Health.

Reflexology Lymph Drainage

I’m really excited to now be offering a truly brilliant form of advanced reflexology: Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD).

RLD is an award winning reflexology technique originally developed by Sally Kay BSc (Hons) whilst working in Cancer Care. It was developed to mirror the basis of Manual Lymph Drainage massage via the reflexes of the feet to work with clients with unilateral secondary lymphoedema in Breast Cancer patients.

The techniques used aim stimulate the lymphatic system via the reflexes in the feet.

It is a truly wonderful, deeply relaxing treatment.

The effectiveness of the treatment for supporting people with secondary Lymphoedema has been researched and you can access the results online here.

The method includes using quantitative and qualitative data collection.  Measurements of the affected arm are taken to compare the volume size of the affected and the unaffected arm, and to compare any improvement in volume before and after the treatment.   Outcomes measures are also used to chart any changes in quality of life and everyday wellbeing.

RLD may also be beneficial for the same conditions that MLD has been used to support:

If you’d like to try this new great new technique, please do get in touch with me.

Reflexology for Women’s Health

 

Back in March I spent an amazing couple of days in London attending the Reflexology for Women’s Health course with the brilliant Hagar Basis.

Hagar Basis is an internationally renowned and award-winning Reflexologist that has been practicing reflexology since 1989.  She was the Course Director for the International Institute of Reflexology for 16 years and I was so fortunate to be trained by her on my original reflexology course with the IIR.

She has gone on to set up her own school of reflexology, the London-based Reflexology Academy, continuing to train and influence the development of reflexology in the UK.

Hagar developed the Reflexology for Women’s Health course to cover the wide range of conditions specific to women’s health, and has such a great knowledge and compassion for all things feminine!

We covered a huge range of topics on the course; we discussed the onset of menstruation, our menstrual cycles, female orgasm, pregnancy, labour, birth, post-natal conditions, lactation, menopause, hysterectomy, respecting the ebbs and flow of our hormones, fear, and everything in between!

I learnt some new techniques, refreshed my ART (Advanced Reflexology) skills and am really excited to be putting it all into practice with my clients.  

If you would like to discover how reflexology may help you, book yourself in for a balancing, supportive treatment in South Bristol and see me at the Wells Road Osteopaths clinic in Knowle or the Centre for Whole Health in Bedminster.

Why I became a Reflexologist

 

I’m often asked by my clients what brought me to Reflexology and Complementary Health.

My interest and passion for natural therapies was sparked early on. My Dad and his family are from Southern Africa, where nature was part of everyday life.  He used his knowledge of natural medicine to care for our bumps and bruises, using aloe fresh from the plant when we cut our knee, honey when we had a sore throat and garlic to ‘keep the vampires away’! – his way of supporting our immune systems when we caught a cold.

Dad’s innate faith of natural remedies was passed down to me. At 7, I was amazed when my friend’s mum, training to be a reflexologist, found a sore spot on my spinal reflex that corresponded to a big bruise on my back that I hadn’t known I had. Later, when studying Sociology at University, my fascination with health and illness, and their impact on individuals and those around them, grew. I was drawn towards modules that looked at how different cultures and their beliefs influence how people view, experience and describe illness, disease, reproductive health and even death. My dissertation explored how the family of someone with chronic illness, in this case diabetes, was affected by and experienced the condition.

After University I worked in a number of different industries including manufacturing, design, model making, banking and, most recently, social care.  Whilst working in my twenties I found I had a serious lack of energy and persistent digestive issues.  I found  that orthodox medicine offered me temporary solutions to my ailments, effectively plastering over the symptoms and not getting to the route of the issues. I was recommended a complementary health practitioner and after making some big changes to my diet and lifestyle, I really turned my health around.

I finally took the plunge to take my passion for natural therapies further in 2010 and, with the constant support and encouragement of my wonderful mum and my brilliant partner, I started my reflexology course at the International Institute of Reflexology (IIR).

 

Since qualifying, I’ve relished the opportunities to expand my knowledge of reflexology and its many benefits. There is always more to learn.  I’ve been lucky to attend some fantastic courses over the years with some of the most prominent reflexologists, including maternity reflexology, reproductive reflexology, fertility reflexology, and TCM-style reflexology (see my qualifications for more details). In 2013, I achieved practitioner level in Advanced Reflexology Techniques (ART), a style of reflexology that applies specific, focused techniques to provide a therapeutic, effective treatment.

What I love about reflexology is that it supports such a wide range of conditions and clients from all walks of life.  I never have the same day twice and every client presents with their own unique conditions and character.  I see young and old, those who are experiencing bad back pain, people who have trouble sleeping, those who suffer from year-long and seasonal allergies, people with anxiety and depression, and people with hormone-related conditions to name but a few.  I have people who come regularly to maintain their health and wellbeing, and people who come for one-off treatments for relaxation.  I love supporting couples to conceive and I love seeing the benefits that women in pregnancy gain during and after a session. I feel honoured to be invited to support women who have recently given birth to enable them some time to reset and repair, and I love to have a hold of their new little bundles.

Simply offering a supportive, calm, relaxing space for clients to enjoy reflexology and to ‘switch off’ for an hour, can become a catalyst for positive change in their lives that goes beyond the presenting condition itself.  It is this spark of positive change in people that makes my work so rewarding.

If you’d like to find out more about me, my qualifications or my special interests, please do get in touch:

e: email me

Taking time to grieve

As I write this, I am thick in the early days of grief. My wonderful father died three weeks ago of oesophageal cancer. We are all devastated; whilst we knew my dad didn’t have long, his death was sudden and unexpected – he went much earlier than we all thought he would.

Grief is a strange beast. It seems to come and go, weaving its way in and out of your day to day being, and appears in various forms. You can feel grounded and capable and handling life well and suddenly the smallest thing can topple you over – the sight, smell or sound of something that somehow reminds you of the person you’ve lost can throw you completely. I feel the varying colours of grief – from the darkest of the bleak blackness of missing the person so much your body aches, to the brightest side where your love for them can carry you through your day.

As each day progresses I learn more about my dad, about my relationship with him, and about myself. I feel myself slowly changing, changed by the feeling that losing a parent brings. There is such sadness in mine and my family’s life right now. But the light appears when I think about my courageous, enormously funny and endlessly loving father and I sense the parts of me that are boundlessly linked to him, and I feel myself growing as a person, nurturing those aspects of myself that he nurtured in me.

And at times, of course, I cry. If I can allow myself the time and space to cry – time to myself away from my kids, perhaps with my partner or sometimes alone – I can immerse myself in the sadness and it feels physical, like a necessary physical release.

And I’m aware that time is so relevant right now. People keep telling me to take time to grieve, to take time to myself, and that with time I will feel better.

 

And time is so important to us all, wherever we are in our lives, whatever we are experiencing. Allowing yourself space and time to feel, to think, to get back in touch with yourself. Finding something that allows you that connection enables you to breathe, to take stock, to re-centre.

I am learning that, even with time, this grief isn’t something that I can ‘get over’, ‘move on’ from; it is imprinting itself in my identity, my way of thinking, of being. I’m taking the time to feel it, to express it, to understand it and, really, to welcome it in.

“The deep sorrows of life are not feelings we can get over by dealing with them; they are wounds which forever live with us and are always morphing with each passing month.“ Kevin A Thompson

Science & Reflexology – The Manzanares Method

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a special advanced reflexology course. The course was led by Dr Jesus Manzanares, a medical doctor from Barcelona who has for the last 27 years been studying, researching and practicing reflexology as part of his medical practice.

Dr Manzanares has documented research on 70,000 clients to explore and clarify the neurophysiological basis of reflexology, the precise locations of the reflexes and the protocols for practice. His insights were fascinating, particularly his exploration of the deposits found in the reflex areas and how these can be interpreted to gain understanding of the conditions that are affecting the health of the client. We were also supported to find the different reflex locations on eachother’s feet using Dr Manzanares’ specific and precise methodologies – see pic below.

The Manzanares Method

 

I came away with a renewed energy and added enthusiasm to my practice and was bolstered by the great benefits of reflexology. I’ve already been integrating Dr Manzanares’ methods to my practice and I’m very much looking forward to part 2 of the course next year.

Laughter – the best medicine

Always laugh when you can. It’s a cheap medicine. Byron

Hello! I’m Debbie & I’m a mum, a natural therapies practitioner, a South East London local and a bee lover. And laughing’s really important to me. What else gets you through the tough times?

Laughter and smiling’s been shown to impact your overall sense of happiness. Physically expressing an emotion sends a biochemical signal from your facial muscles that “loops” back to your brain – the “facial feedback” hypothesis. Laughter can also improve memory & quality of sleep, boosts problem-solving ability and creativity, and can relieve muscle tension.

Check out this infographic about what else laughter can do for you.

I’m a great believer of improving your health through laughter and through natural therapies.

Sometimes you can combine the two… The Day Today’s Bile Chanting
& Smack the pony’s Oriental Massage sketch are sure to raise a smile…

Watch this space for musings about motherhood & parenting, local life, bees and more.