Category Archives: Lifestyle

5 signs active people need to stretch

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling like somebody twisted your body overnight and you are not sure how you are going to unravel it? Or maybe you struggle to tie up your shoe laces and have to be creative with the ways in which you bend over to reach your feet? Or maybe you find it difficult to concentrate as sitting down at your desk is uncomfortable because you feel that your body is being pulled in unexpected directions?

It might well be that your body is trying to tell you that you need a jolly good stretch to reset it and restore it to a more functional state. You’d be surprised at how accumulated tension can affect your wellbeing physically and mentally.

You need to stretch to counter a sedentary life

Sometimes the signals that our body is sending us can be subtle and can be difficult to spot. So here is an easy recap of 5 signs that you need to stretch.

1 – You are getting older and you need to stretch more

It’s a sad thing but ageing isn’t something that any of us are going to escape. What really sucks about getting older is that just as you get a handle on your emotions and life skills your body starts to fall apart and stops playing ball. Your muscle mass decreases and your cartilage gets worn out reminding you of all the high impact activities you did in your youth. This results in your body getting stiffer, especially after sitting down (or even lying down) for prolonged periods of time.

The good news in all this is that you can do something about it. By dedicating a few minutes every day to stretching you can maintain your flexibility and make up for the wear and tear of everyday life’s activities. Go for a full body stretch first thing in the morning addressing all joints and all major muscle groups to feel rejuvenated and ready to face the day.

2 – Your energy levels are low

This may be counter-intuitive but when you feel constantly tired despite sleeping and resting it might be that your muscles are tense and therefore they are using up more energy than if they were relaxed. Although there is disagreement among experts about the benefits of stretching if you want to top up your energy reserves you need to stretch.

There are many different styles of stretching that you can choose from: from yoga poses that specifically address energy levels to other activities like Tai Chi and Qi Gong which include dynamic stretches not as strong as those in Yoga and yet just as equally effective at getting your energy moving and rising again. You don’t need to spend all day doing these, have a go at a few different styles and then choose the exercises that work for you. 20 minutes max is all you need to feel energised.

Tai Chi is good when you need to stretch

If this problem persists though you will need to double check your nutrients intake and your lifestyle, there might be other reasons why you are always feeling tired.

3 – Your muscles ache (you really need to stretch)

Recent studies on the benefits of stretching after a workout have concluded that the benefits are minimal. One such study conducted at the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney found that out of two groups of people of which one stretched after a workout whereas the other didn’t. a quarter of those who stretched reported less muscle ache the following day compared to those who didn’t stretch.

However, stretching achy muscles has proven beneficial in reducing the discomfort. This is especially important if the aches and pains are the consequence of poor posture or over doing physical work in conditions that don’t necessary allow for proper form or, again, posture. A good stretching session at the end of the work day can help you correct your posture, improve your flexibility and therefore help you prevent injury.

4 – You are stressed

Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed over events in your life that your shoulders and neck tighten up? This is a common cause of muscle tension that I see in many of my lovely Thai Yoga Massage clients: there are stressors in their lives and as they deal with them their bodies tense up wreaking all sorts of havoc to add to their woes.

Stretching  your body when you are under pressure can bring welcome relief from stress and anxiety. Slow, focused stretching like you would do in Yin Yoga also can lower your blood pressure and breathing rate helping you restore balance.

A two hour Thai Yoga Massage treatment helps relieve the stress in your life by taking you through a sequence of slow, deep stretches that encourage muscle relaxation and also help you calm your brain and clear your head. By the end of the treatment you will feel your focus return and you will be able to think clearly again. Clients often report feeling a sense of lightness at the end of the treatment and are ready to deal with stressful events in their lives with renewed energy and focus.

5 – Your sports performance is sub par and you are prone to injuries

Regardless of your choice of sport you cannot access your strength fully unless you take care of your flexibility. A tense muscle won’t allow you to use your joints’ full range of motion thus limiting your performance somewhat. Because of this you might also be more prone to getting injured.

If you don't do well at sports you need to stretch more

I know this from personal experience from spending the past 40+ years doing all manners of sports and activities that required me to be both strong and flexible to be able to enjoy them and keep making progress. It’s not all about winning and being the best, it’s about loving what you do and knowing that you can do it safely and to the best of your abilities.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, stretching helps your circulation so that your blood can better deliver nutrients to muscle tissue, helping you perform better not just in your chosen fitness activity but in everyday life activities too. If this isn’t enough to convince you that you really need to stretch there if further research that shows that stretching can help you build strength in the same way that resistance training does: by creating micro tears in your muscles that get repaired leading to growth.

Can Thai Yoga Massage help me when I need to stretch?


Each treatment will take you through a series of stretches and mobilisation exercises that address your specific issues whether they relate to your sports performance, your wellbeing, your mental health or just to give you the space for some “me time”.

All you have to do to get started is click the button below and you too can experience all the benefits of stretching without having to do it.


To recap…

5 signs active people need to stretch

Give your martial arts moves the edge with Thai Yoga Massage

The first time I ever came across Thai Yoga Massage was during my first trip to Hong Kong to study Wing Chun at Grand Master Ip Chun’s school. I didn’t know what it was but one of my travel companions recommended it highly and I was sold on the idea of being stretched as that was an area of my personal fitness journey that had a lot of room for improvement. It still is, actually.

Cristina Alciati in Foshan, PRC with Grand Master Ip ChunFor those of you not familiar with Wing Chun, it’s a style of Kung Fu that involves quick and sharp movements to hit and overcome an opponent. It’s famous for teaching students the art of the 1 inch punch and fighting inside a phone box, i.e. up close and personal with your opponent.

When you learn Wing Chun in the West most people are of European built: fairly tall, strong, muscular and with good sized bones. However, being a martial art that originates from China it evolved to suit people with a smaller frame, not particularly muscular and typically minute.

It’s the combination of this body type plus the ability to stay relaxed under pressure that gives them the edge when practicing the art. Especially when they train with Westerners.

My travel companions and I learned this lesson the hard way when we arrived in Hong Kong: we watched several accomplished martial artists from the UK and USA being slapped around by their tiny Chinese training companions. These were the kind of guys that would intimidate anyone just with their physique. We were all actually trying very hard to improve our techniques and become more proficient but the secret wasn’t to get stronger, it was staying more relaxed and therefore becoming quicker and more unpredictable.

The importance of staying relaxed under pressure

Fast forward a few years and I started studying Brazilian Jujitsu and Escrima at my local Dojo. Again, especially with BJJ, being able to stay relaxed under pressure as well as being agile and flexible were the key to success. It was the same with Escrima: you start your training with long range weapons (rattan sticks) and again being able to flow instead of forcing the movements gives you an advantage.

When you are relaxed you can throw punches quicker and you can move faster around your opponent. You can call on your strength at the moment of impact to make your strike felt or to pin down your opponent. It won’t matter so much what the other person tries to do to you because you will be able to counter their martial arts moves with ease.

BJJ has some spectacular martial arts moves

A big part of the martial arts classes that I attended at Shen-Ti were the stretching sessions at the end of training. These were great to help us increase our natural range of movement to help us move better around our opponent as well as prevent injuries. They were also great for relaxation after all the exciting stuff during each class.

The thing is if you focus your training on building mass and getting stronger you are also creating muscular tension, i.e. what women call a “toned body”. This is brilliant for any physical activity and/or fat loss programs BUT, if you want your martial arts moves to really improve, you need to put just as much effort into relaxing and stretching as you do building your body.

Think about people who spend a lot of time sitting at their desks and how they develop hunched shoulders and short chest and abdominal muscles… that’s also what happens when you do too many sit-ups or chest flyes without stretching adequately afterwards.

The secret to unleashing your best martial arts moves

That’s where Thai Yoga Massage becomes your secret training aid that will give you the edge over your fellow students and competitors.

Unless you are naturally flexible in the beginning most stretches will be uncomfortable to get into and hold for any period of time. If you are really struggling with your flexibility doing the stretches on your own won’t help you much because they will feel like torture and you will wiggle and compensate and twist to get comfortable defeating the object of the exercise.

Man struggling to stretch

I know this because when I got back to exercising at full speed after a 3 years convalescence I was stiff like a plank and even the stretches I always found easy were really painful. It takes time, skill and patience to get a lot out of stretching and actually see improvements.

Or you could cheat and get somebody to stretch you.

Thai Yoga Massage isn’t that dissimilar from PNF stretching however it doesn’t involve any active participation from the client in the form of contracting the muscles to resist the stretch. Quite the opposite, in fact. The secret to successfully stretching past your comfort zone in Thai Yoga Massage is to relax and let the stretch happen as opposed to try and force it.

I worked with many martial artists in the past 6 years or so and they all reported being able to fight better because they were more relaxed and had more reach whether they were sparring or rolling. They had regular treatments and they reaped massive ROI for their investment.

But wait… what about this?!  👇👇👇👇

Capoeira martial arts moves

Although I only studied Capoeira for a short period of time I can promise you it’s very difficult to pull off these martial arts moves unless you spend insane amounts of time preparing your body for it.

Again it’s all about being smart with the tools available to you. If they are not good enough come and find me. I know I am.  😉

Jokes aside… when you invest in the right training, and you could say that Thai Yoga Massage treatments would be an ideal addition to any serious training program, the limits of what you can expect to achieve suddenly get that much broader. When you are more flexible you can deploy your strength better. You can balance better. You can kick people in the head. You can windmill yourself out of a sticky situation. You can swing at your opponent better. You can get out of chokes and bear hugs easily.

Get the picture?

If you are ready to take your martial arts moves to the next level (and the next, and the next) don’t hang around and book your first treatment today.

As a lifelong student of martial arts I would be honoured to show you just how much better you can become. Your fellow students might call you a pain in the arse but, trust me, it’s worth it.

Stress at work? It happens. Whether your home office is located on the 30th floor of a tall building downtown, or located on the first floor of your home, looking out onto the backyard, you’re going to encounter stress. There are deadlines and clients and projects and trying to do too much with too little. Even just the time you spend sitting can lead to cramped up muscles on your neck and shoulders.

But do you have to sit and suffer, no matter what, just because it’s at work? The answer, fortunately, is a resounding no.

Depending on the type of work that you do getting up often to stretch your legs around the office may not be an option. Depending on where you work having a professional massage at work may also not be an option. Depending on how long you spend at work visiting a clinic to receive a Thai Yoga Massage treatment may also not be an option.

Some simple exercises, done while you’re sitting and maybe without anyone knowing what you’re doing. In the process you can do more than just calm your nervous system. You can help make yourself more alert, and even improve blood circulation. It doesn’t have to take long and you can do it at any time during the day whenever you need a break from the doldrums of office work.

So what are those exercises and how should you do them? This graphic helps to explain it but, if you live in Essex (UK), as soon as you are ready book yourself in for a proper treatment here.  😉

A treatment to help you clear your head

When people ask me about the Thai Yoga Massage treatments that I offer they are curious as to what they are as, surprisingly, not many individuals are familiar with them. Whereas most people focus on the physical aspects of the treatments they are often surprised when I mention the spiritual benefits. It’s something that I can only discuss with a few discerning clients!

A complete break from the daily grind to clear your head

When you are super busy all the time juggling many roles in your life it can be difficult to stay focused on the most important tasks in the midst of all the distractions. I see this a lot with clients who are visibly flustered and I can just tell they have that little hamster spinning the wheel in their heads…

Being able to clear your head and filter out the unimportant stuff is of the utmost importance if you want to remain relaxed and enjoy your work, hobbies, family and interests. I am sure you have noticed how it’s so much harder to be successful at anything when your head is in the clouds.

Have a break from your daily grind

Sometimes being able to meditate even for just 10 minutes first thing in the morning is enough to help you get focused and plan your day ahead. However if you are also experiencing physical tension in addition to feeling that your thoughts are scattered you may need help from an external source.

My personal experience (it might help you clear your head)

A few years ago I was going through a bit of a rough time in my personal life that was made worse by all the physical tension that I accumulated after years of constantly pushing myself to the limit, small accidents and dealing with conflict on a daily basis at work.

I was no longer able to think or stand up straight and I was in the grips of a permanent feeling of dread and fear. I just couldn’t shake things up and create a way out. That’s when I sought help from a very talented Holistic Therapist that was recommended to me by a client. Among the various treatments she also offered a mini version of a typical Thai Yoga Massage. It focused on stretches as a way of eliminating all manners of tension.

The “physical intervention” soon started to bear fruit: because I was able to relax more physically I was also able to think more clearly and with a more positive mindset. This compounded the effect of the treatments: thinking freely and reconnecting my creative side undoubtedly helped the body remain more relaxed and better able to recharge its batteries with rest.

How you can experience more clarity and clear your head too

I always insist that clients turn their phones on silence during the treatment. I do this too. The reason for this is that it gives them the chance to disconnect from their digital life and being always available. Let’s face it, we are all addicted to our digital lives to varying degrees. On my side going unplugged gives me the chance to work intuitively to make sure I focus on what my client needs.

I find that for most people the 1 or 2 hours of the treatment is the only time when they can completely let go and experience deep relaxation. In fact it’s unusual for clients not to fall asleep at least once during the treatment. Admittedly the location of the clinic, away from the busyness of most towns, helps with this too.

A moment of peaceThe thing is being able to go through the stretches is a lesson in “letting go” of fear and learning to trust. Whenever your limbs are encouraged to move beyond their regular range of motion the body’s own defense mechanism kicks in and causes the muscles to tense up to stop the stretch from going too far. Although this is great for preventing injury it also prevents you from experiencing the sense of freedom that taking your joints through the full range of motion that they are designed to withstand will bring.

Clients usually describe this feeling as one of lightness and happiness. Their bodies are no longer contracted to the point of causing constant pain, their posture is great and their thoughts are flowing freely once again. Having the opportunity to remain in silence for the duration of the treatment allows for introspection although I often find that people enjoy opening up and chatting with me to get an outside perspective on something that’s on their mind.

Although I cannot promise that you will suddenly rediscover your inner Picasso I am confident that you too will benefit greatly from some quiet “me time” with plenty of space for your mind to wander wherever it wants to go.

Ready to clear your head?


Thai Yoga Massage Essex at the Nature’s Medicine Clinic in Purleigh

When I first started with Thai Massage Essex I was offering treatments at my home in Witham, Essex. It was great for a while as I live in a very quiet area on the outskirts of town with very little noise during the day and a lot of light coming through the giant windows.

I would normally set up the mats in my front room and on the warmer Summer days I have been able to treat clients on the lawn, under the hawthorns and apple tree. My cats sometimes would come to say hello to clients and they always knew which ones were the “cat people” and which ones weren’t.

Eventually though I felt the need to find an additional venue in more formal settings where I could treat people who perhaps were not so keen on visiting somebody’s home where there were pets.

By pure chance I saw a message on Facebook posted by one of the lovely ladies at the Nature’s Medicine Clinic in Purleigh, Essex. It’s a new branch of a well established group of Clinics operating at various locations in London, Sussex and Essex and it so happens that my teacher also offers Thai Yoga Massage treatments at one of their venues.

A new home for Thai Yoga Massage Essex

I love love love this place. Set on the outskirts of a working farm in a secluded location, the clinic is surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens with a heated pool on one end and plenty of well established trees alongside the hedge ensuring privacy from the main road.

The treatment rooms are hosted within an old cottage that has been exquisitely decorated to give clients a warm welcome in an understated chic environment.
Thai Massage Essex is also here

On 30th May 2015 I gave a couple of demos at the Clinic’s open day to spread the word about Thai Yoga Massage Essex and what I do.

I joke about it on the home page but unfortunately there is a huge problem here in Essex with men mistakenly associating the ancient healing art of Thai Yoga Massage with the infamous red light district art typically practiced in seedy areas in major (and minor) cities around the world.

There is also another myth that portrays Thai Yoga Massage as “excruciatingly painful”. This is simply not true as typically treatments are conducted with the utmost respect for the client and his or her boundaries and pain is never an option. However, I have experienced the rough end of massage during one of my travels myself so I am well aware of what goes on out there, I just don’t want Thai Yoga Massage Essex to be associated with it.

One of the "treatment rooms" at Thai Massage Essex

Summer house by the pool… in the rain.

At the Clinic in Purleigh I can offer treatments in different “locations”: in one of the treatment rooms within the main building, in the Summer house by the pool or on the lawn under the trees on the other side of the pool. The choice is very much with the client depending on whether he/she prefers more privacy or is happy to enjoy the warm Summer days.

In Thailand massage is carried out pretty much everywhere: on the beach, on the pavement, in clinics, within shopping malls, etc. both client and practitioner are fully clothed so as long as there is enough space for one person to lie down and the other to work around them, there is enough space. All you really need is a bit of floor space and something for the client to lie on comfortably so they don’t get bruised on the hard surface.

This is my typical set up in the treatment room upstairs at the Nature’s Medicine Clinic. 👇


View this post on Instagram


Ready for another treatment #thaiyogamassage #thaimassageessex #flexibility #healthyliving #health #relax #fitness

A post shared by Thai Yoga Massage Essex (@thaiyogamassage.essex) on

I received some amazing feedback for my demos on the day and a few people have already booked their first treatments at the clinic. I am very grateful for my “models” who patiently laid on the floor why I was illustrating some of the basic techniques used in Thai Yoga Massage and often had only one side of their bodies treated. I know how weird that feels! 🙂

Ready to experience Thai Yoga Massage?

You can book your treatment HERE.