Issue 65

Page 26

26 mind body & spirit

treat your feet

Photo by Alex Cater

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ost of us rarely give our feet much thought, but without them we couldn’t put our best foot forward, walk on by or remain grounded. So this issue I’m giving feet a little attention. Festival goers last year might have seen the strange phenomenon of people dangling their feet in fish tanks, having their tootsies nibbled. A ‘fish spa’ opened in Bristol last year and, with a couple of pals, I went to try it out. My first concern was for the fish. I asked Rosie Price, who works there, about their welfare. Rosie’s dad’s a vegan and she’s a life-long vegetarian and animal lover; if she wasn’t happy about the treatment of the fish she certainly wouldn’t be working there. Garra Rufa fish, named after a town in Turkey where they’re found (also known as Doctor, Reddish Log Sucker or Nibble fish) “live roughly four years in captivity,” Rosie told me “which is double the time they would live in the wild. They’re natural scavengers; so dead skin is normal fare for them. They get protein from your skin and are fed a vegetarian supplement

Beccy Golding explores the world of feet and the wonderful treatments on offer in Sparkland to make your toes tingle and whole body relax hand, ‘pod’ meaning foot, and ‘iatros’ meaning physician. “About 20 years ago the UK switched to using the term podiatrist, at the same time both titles became protected through government regulation, although practitioners can still choose what to call themselves,” Amber told me. Whichever name, they will have reached a minimum standard of qualification, with “HPC (Health Professions Council) registered” being the key letters to look out for. Amber has been qualified for 20 years. “I wanted to become a specialist in one area of medicine,” she told me. “It’s great to know a lot about one thing and you can go on and on learning – the quality of research and new methods of podiatry now are amazing!” Podiatry is an allied heath profession (AHP), which also includes paramedics, pharmacists and physiotherapists, for example. I asked Amber about the benefits. “It enables the diagnoses and treatment of a very broad range of symptoms – from problems with nails or soft tissue, to infections, to calluses – a podiatrist will be able to help resolve them all,” she said. “They’ll be a specialist in diseases of the foot, but also whole-body diseases that affect the foot, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.” They’ll know about orthotics (moulded shoe inserts) to help with issues such as limb length discrepancy, Achilles problems or collapsed arches, and a podiatrist “can also help with good foot care”. For example, older people may not be able to reach their feet, or see well what they’re doing, so need help with nail cutting, corns or verrucas. Amber has practices in Southville, Bristol and Congresbury, north Somerset, and takes the holistic nature of footcare one step further. “I have a postgraduate certificate in Marigold Therapy.” This range of pastes, tinctures and oils “is a powerful, non-invasive and effective treatment, backed up by research and used in NHS trusts across the country.” She also offers podiatric acupuncture at her clinic in Congresbury. “People learn an enormous amount about their feet,” said Amber. “They understand the mechanics, why they get pain, what functions how, and what they can do about it; they feel empowered.” Reflexology, whilst mainly practised on the feet (less often the hands or ears) enables whole body healing, and pain and stress reduction. Christine Roscoe has practiced for 15 years and teaches reflexology at

every other day.” And what about the welfare of our feet? In some Canadian and US states fish spas have been banned as unsanitary, because any ‘tools’ used in cosmetology should be discarded or sanitised after use. Obviously fish wouldn’t be thrown away ‘after use’ or sterilised through boiling. “We refuse people with verrucas, fungal nail infections, etc, and the water is constantly replaced: we have an excellent filtration system, 11 different stages including a UV filter which filters out any bacteria.” Reassured, we lowered our feet into the tanks. It did tickle as I watched the fish wriggling in between my toes but after relaxing into it the experience became quite soothing. I asked Rosie about the benefits. “There’s an enzyme in their saliva which nourishes and rejuvenates your skin so it’s good for eczema and psoriasis.” She said, “It’s also good for blood circulation.” After our session my feet felt really smooth. Vanessa had been on a major hike the day before and said, “After the buzzing, tingling sensation my feet felt very soft and light.” Later on Alex said, “It was unusual and a good laugh. Five hours later my feet still feel tingly and amazing. They recommend four sessions to get the full effects. My feet were in a bit of a state to begin with so I’m not surprised they might need a few more goes. This was a great way of taking care of them that wasn’t any hassle.” The first thing I asked Amber Kibby, degree-trained podiatrist and chiropodist, was: “What’s the difference between the two?” In fact there’s none, chiropody was the more traditionally English name, podiatry more widely used in the US, Australia, Canada, etc. Both words have Greek roots: ‘chiro’ meaning

Bristol School of Holistic Therapies. I asked her: “Why work on the feet?” “We see the feet as a map of the body with reflex points which relate to specific organs, glands and systems in the body. Gentle massage and pressure to these points can have a positive effect on the corresponding part of the body - right up to the head. So the feet can be accurately described as a gateway to the body. I was drawn to reflexology after receiving a treatment myself which made a huge improvement to my health.”

When she gave me a session Christine started by gently wiping my feet with witch hazel; warming, relaxing and cleansing “so even if you come for a session straight after work you won’t worry about having whiffy feet!” I asked how she deals with people with nervous feet. “The pressure of the massage is tailored to suit the individual, so it’s not at all tickly plenty of feedback ensures the client is always comfortable,” she told me. “You only need to take off shoes and socks and lie on a soft couch. A reflexology session is deeply relaxing - and enjoyable,’ she added. “Many people go to sleep during the treatment.” So practised on the feet, beneficial for the rest of the body, but is it actually good for the feet? “Reflexology improves circulation and muscle and skin tone on the feet too, so it would be great to start the summer with a session and prepare for wearing sandals!” she told me. www.drspafish.com £10 for 15 minutes. Amber Kibby (pictured below) www.amlpodiatry.co.uk 01934 835858 or 0117 9669724 £26 for 30-min consultation & treatment www.marigoldfootcare.com Christine Roscoe www.touchstonehealth.co.uk 0117 658111 Christine teaches a 12-month weekend course with www.bristolschoolofholistictherapies.co.uk (next training starts October 23) Lynne Booth’s Vertical Reflex Therapy www.boothvrt.com

why I do what I do... 5 Rhythms teacher Leigh Tolson

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hen did you first dance? Well, when I was three I do vaguely remember twirling around in a little ballet tutu! Then I clearly remember being a regular visitor to (Bristol’s) Colston Hall to see the rock ‘n’ roll greats of the 70s, like Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley. I hit the tail-end of the hippie era when there was a real sense of love, freedom and community. At gigs, I’d always be dancing front stage and there was always someone who’d be doing this strange swirlywhirly free dance thing and I was always drawn to that. I wanted in, but I didn’t know how. In my early 20s I was living in East Anglia after leaving Cambridge and I discovered the Albion Fayrs, Barsham, Roughham et al, such amazing hotbeds of creativity. It was here that I found rhythm, started playing drums and met the Orange people (Rajneesh sannyasins) who really did the ‘let go’ dance big time. Then kids and life came along and dance kind of froze for years.

guess there is a time when all you can do is give away to the world the gems you have collected on one’s own journey. The Rhythms are a way to rediscover our natural language of movement and through that a way to restore and maintain our wholeness and health. To truly come home to oneself. If you’ve ever been truly lost you know how good it feels to find yourself again. If the human race is to have a sustainable future lived in beauty then I think we each must find inner peace. 5 Rhythms meets the deep desire of all us humans to dance into peace and unwind the knots and inertia of dis-ease. How do you teach 5 Rhythms? A mixture of demonstration and guidance while I play a huge range of music from classical, folk, jazz, world, dance, tribal and experimental genres....you name it! I create a space where people are free to move what is truly happening and this creates a dancing continuum that opens to greater embodiment, congruence and coherence. It’s a feminine practice that helps to balance the strong mechanistic structures

When did you first come across 5 Rhythms? I saw Gabrielle Roth on TV in 1988 when they interviewed 40 New Age teachers. She was the only one who made any sense to me. In the late 60s Roth was working with the leading lights of humanistic psychology, teaching massage, movement and dancing into trance to live drummers. She began to notice the way energy moves in the body, on the dance floor and in life. Over many years she distilled her insights into a movement map which she calls the 5 Rhythms Wave. I read her book, Maps to Ecstasy, started dancing the ‘wave’ with a group of friends and then began an on-going training with Gabrielle in 1991. By 2000 I was running a corporate drumming company and it was while facilitating a team-building event that I realised the overall form I was following was the 5 Rhythms. So I trained as a teacher in 2004 to acknowledge this. Why do you teach the 5 Rhythms? I was drawn to the work quite young, so after 20 years now it’s deeply embodied in my being. I

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of our 9-5 culture. It’s also fun! I have heard it said that my Wed evening class is “a mainstay of alternative life in Bristol”. A resource for the community. It has 30, 40, 50 people turn up each week. Together we create a strong energetic field, a place where people can come in and feel that they belong. Nothing weird, just be yourself and feel how good it is to move. What about the spiritual element? Gabrielle calls this practice shamanic-tantriczen. I like this description. My 5 Rhythms teaching is influenced by my own practice of shamanic teachings, therapeutic modalities and meditations, especially Tantra and my training in Cranio-sacral Biodynamics. I call it Sacred Somatics, where the miracle of this moving body is a gateway for experiencing the awesome mystery of love and life. Dance on! Leigh teaches every Wed, 7.30-10.00pm at St Michael’s on the Mount Parish Hall, Cotham BS2 8BE. Last class July 20. Starts back after summer break on Sept 7. For more info email leigh.dance@virgin.net