“Thank you again,” one client, experiencing nausea, anxiety, sadness, insomnia and itchy skin, texted me. the day after her reflexology session. “I’m a different person after yesterday! Nine and a half hours sleep and I’m ready for anything. You’re amazing you really are.
“Genuinely think it’s the most effective treatment of any kind I’ve ever had.”
Much as I love all the different therapies I work with – reflexology always for me, and for many of my clients, has a particular edge.
It’s an edge that I experience personally and my clients comment on all the time – one of them called it “going zen”. Without realising it, all the stresses and strains have melted away and you’re in an alternate reality where nothing phases you for the next five days (seven if you’re really lucky!) Another said “I’ve been so relaxed since the session, nothing bothers me!” You can feel the difference as the treatment starts to ‘wear off’ and you come back down to earth again. Reflexology really has the edge in restoring balance and harmony to the body and, importantly, the mind.
Many discover this Z-factor as an extra bonus having come to reflexology for a specific reason – to help with symptoms during pregnancy, with digestive disorders, or insomnia, for instance. Yet many become fans and keep coming back for this ‘Zen’ affect, which is a bi-product of the overall treatment rather than the issue requiring treatment. Thou, that said, the reflexology is particularly effective in all these areas too.
Reflexology alongside many other therapies from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) basis operates on the Principle of Correspondence: That through the treatment of the feet- we treat the whole body; as the feet (& hands) reflect/correspond to the whole of the body. There’s even a method for giving a lymphatic drainage session using the reflex points of the feet – which I often find particularly effective with swelling of the ankles, leg, feet & hands during pregnancy- and the whole body benefits.
As a reflexologist, I’m also interested in how the feet look. I work with templates of feet and mark what we call surface signs (for example hard skin, swelling and bone spurs) and also locations of crystalline deposits I find in the feet – during the treatment. This information offers a way of diagnosing where the client is experiencing stress in their body and we spend longer working in those areas.
The Western reflexology chart was developed from the earlier work of zone therapy. I use this often with babies and children, and teach their mothers; it’s much easier to learn, and to deliver on small babies, than reflexology. The feet are divided into five zones from toe to heel. Working along these lines encourages the body to achieve homeostasis. My experience is that children who see their mum receive reflexology often want to try it themselves!
Several of the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians also start or finish in the feet, so as a tui-na practitioner I can also utilise acupressure points on the feet, ankle and calves to support the reflexology (such as extra points for insomnia, to stimulate labour or for energy). Often I’ll show you how to use these points yourself – so for instance if you have problems sleeping you can reinforce the points nightly before going to bed.
I also work mindfully and offer Chi gung visualisations and other breathing and meditation practices within the session to aid you in bringing your own vital force to points that I am stimulating and to take you deeper into the session. You can then repeat these techniques at home. Often they are bespoke and could be to help you battle cabin fever after a C-section, to make a safe place for yourself or to anchor yourself when anxious. One of my favorite Chi gung practitioners Jeremy Colledge, has always ascertained that layering meditation like this over the top of the practice increases it’s effectiveness by 20-30% as shown by studies conducted in China. One of my weekly and more elderly clients used to visualize the whole reflexology session when she couldn’t attend a treatment and she found it helped enormously.
Reflexology never stops surprising me. The touch can be firm or soft and sometimes the lighter touch facilitates the stronger response. Using the Principle of Correspondence you can even do energetic work such as working with the chakra’s, as represented on the feet, and I’ve found this often offers a profound way of promoting a deep sense of relaxation and contentment.
Eunice Ingram, the mother of modern reflexology, said that one of the best things we could do for our health was to walk around barefoot. So next time you are on the mat – dedicate your yoga practice to the feet that support, uplift and reflect your entire body- your sun salutations will never seem quite the same again.
View Helen’s therapy schedule.