Saturday, 8 March 2014

The (massage) world is your oyster!

People are often asking me about my career change from marketing to massage and whether I think they should take the same leap.

Of course I can't possibly answer that question but I would say that it's worth looking into if it's something you're interested in...

When you embark on a massage course (or even if you are just thinking about one) it’s likely that you are hoping that some new opportunities are going to open up. Perhaps you want to make a significant change in your life, change careers, change the world! You might have decided that now’s the time to fit work around your life rather than life around your work, to do something that makes you feel good and to help people. Or maybe it’s more about building your own self-confidence and increasing your independence…

When I began my journey there were a few of those factors in play but I also had a desire to see the world and was looking for a skill I could learn that would not be limited by country, local culture or even language. Massage for me was a potential window into a world beyond these borders, an enabler to travel the world and support myself in the process.

Of course, massage does not transcend all boundaries. In certain countries you cannot work as a massage therapist unless you trained in that country. In others you can work but only on a limited basis (and of course you always need to ensure you have the correct work visas too). But on the whole I think you’ll find that most places you might want to go will be familiar with, and think favourably of, Swedish massage such as we teach in our massage diploma course.

Your options are varied – I had no idea when I started my course that I would be working in a Canadian mountain resort within 6 months of graduating, treating skiers and snowboarders by winter and downhill bikers and golfers by summer! It was a wonderful professional experience but I could just have easily worked on a cruise ship around the Mediterranean or South America, done the UK “music festivals circuit” all summer or gone to work in a French Alpine chalet as an in-house therapist… The world really was my oyster.

And here’s the thing – whether you end up taking your skills to Australia or Acton you will go on a journey. There’s nothing more rollercoaster-like than doing a massage diploma course with all the excitement and trepidation that brings.

But it’s so worth it. At the end of it all you will have learned the most wonderful skill, have treated and been treated by fabulous therapists and will be part of a life-long support network, or at least at my school, Essentials for Health, that's true. That journey might only be inside your heart but it’s one heck of a ride… go for it!

Sarah is the Massage therapy expert at Essentials for Health, a graduate of the school and owner of Edge of Eden in Brentwood, Essex.

Friday, 11 October 2013

So am I still 'detoxed' 3 months on from my 30 Day programme?

If I told you I am seriously considering another detox stint then that might provide you with the answer to that question!

I have definitely made lasting and positive changes to my lifestyle and have learned a lot about myself and how to live well. A couple of top tips: stay inspired with Facebook pages, magazines, exercise buddies, fridge magnets, quote-a-day calendars, whatever it takes...

I think it's fair to say that my intensity and dedication have definitely waned, but some things have certainly become a way of life... It's hard to think about going to bed without turning off the wifi, cordless phones and putting our mobiles on airplane mode for example. Every morning we take our supplements (MY detox has become OUR detox - my unsuspecting boyfriend didn't know what hit him, bless him; at least he's as into organic optimum health as I am!) Everything we can get organic, we do.

Flat stomach post-detox
In summary, we're doing ok. Life in general has kept a pretty stressful level these last few months but I think I have a better handle on it now and I think that's down to keeping to the principles of the detox: organic, good sleep, exercise, mental 'downtime' and so on. 
Clearer skin post-detox

I've gained a few pounds... not the end of the world in itself but it's leaving me feeling sluggish and that's not a feeling I enjoy! I've been looking at my 'after' photos from the 30 mind & Body Detox I did for inspiration and hence I'm tightening the ever-loosening reins of my diet and lifestyle again and going back to basics - no sugar, wheat, processed foods, low meat and lots and lots of gorgeous veg xx

After photo
Cellulite almost gone!

This morning we started the day right; we had hot water with lemon, fresh ginger and manuka honey with our organic vegetable juice I made. (This is something we have been doing sporadically at best but this morning we both vowed it was the start of a regular morning routine.) Now it's 2pm and amazingly that has kept me going thus far! :-D

It's definitely time for lunch though and I'm thinking I should have put the oven on an hour ago for a jacket spud as I'm now facing salad on a rainy day...  

The lesson learned today? Preparation and planning is essential when you have a 'no convenience food' rule in your house!

And if you think you can't find the time to eat and live healthily now, you'd better be prepared to find the time to be ill or sickly later on.

Wish us luck...!

Sarah is an Holistic massage & beauty therapist, owner of Edge of Eden and Team Leader for Neal’s Yard Remedies. You can call her on 01277 220301, email at or comment below and she’ll get back to you x

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Extreme deep clean(!) - the benefits of colonics for Detox

When I embarked on this 30 Day Mind & Body Detox journey, I asked the advice of those more experienced than me to offer their top tips for detoxing... one thing which repeatedly was advised was that I have colonics to support the liver in ridding the body of the toxins that were being released by my cells. Apparently it wasn't enough to excrete them through my skin and trips to the loo.

Now, I can't say I was keen to try colonics - to be honest, the whole idea absolutely horrified me, not because of a worry about pain but from a concern about embarrassment. I think it was John Cleese who said that Brits would rather die than cause a fuss or be embarrassed and, whilst I'm definitely not that bad, I don't relish the thought of it.

But needs must, and I can now say I feel "flushed" with pride(!) to have completed a course of 3 colonics with the very lovely and reassuring Jo Cook of Serenity Flow in Surrey. She uses the 'open' method which essentially means that water goes in with a tube but comes out naturally (rather than down another tube which can be messy if it doesn't fit **cringe!**) She also assured me that as an IBS sufferer who is prone to constipation that I would love it and that one colonic is equivalent to 3 days fasting... hmmm, now that sounds tempting, I thought.

Colonic 'bed'
So, full of trepidation I attended my first appointment. It's no wonder Jo is in demand as she put me as much at ease as is possible to be in that situation. I was able to do most of the treatment myself which reduced the embarrassment factor, and I was not exposed at any point (front or back!) I would say that the treatment didn't feel as wonderful as I had hoped for, but also was nowhere near as bad as I had feared. In terms of discomfort I had very little, mainly mental as I came to terms with releasing into the hole in the 'bed'.
The very worst moments of discomfort I had I would equate to having a 'hangover poo' the morning after the night before - you feel a little trembly, like you really want to get this out of you, and then blessed relief when it happens - that was as bad as it got, so pretty good really, and that only happened a couple of times.

I definitely felt better after my first one, quite energised and with the flattest stomach ever! My second one was even better so by my third one I was surprised that I felt a little unwell afterwards and had to have an early night - I released a lot of old stuff in my third treatment though, so I think it was probably just a profound detox. (You'll also find you need to pee all the time for a day or two afterwards - it's the fact that your kidneys and liver have been stimulated to flush out the body and it's a wonderful detox aid).
Reading a book during my treatment

I really must recommend you try colonics at least twice... it undoubtedly contributed to a successful detox for me and I will be having more in the future. Sorry if I grossed you out, but I hope this info has been helpful for you... happy flushing!

P.S. Jo says we trump 2,000 times a day! And I thought that cows were bad...

Sarah is an Holistic massage & beauty therapist, owner of Edge of Eden and Senior Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies. You can call her on 01277 220301, email at or comment below and she’ll get back to you x

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Do you feel tired after your Detox? Then read this...

So I'm now a couple of weeks down the line from my 30 Day Mind & Body Detox and I'm still loving the compliments I'm getting about my appearance, and the way I'm feeling inside. I highly recommend making some changes right away such as using organic toiletries, eating organic foods (especially lots of veggies) and doing more regular exercise to soothe the mind and tone the body.

I can also vouch for the dramatic improvement in sleep quality I have experienced by making a few changes such as switching off electronic and wifi equipment before bed, turning my phone to airplane mode, ensuring the bedroom is totally dark and getting to bed earlier. It must sound crazy but I can tell the difference if I've forgotten to switch the wifi hub off or put my phone on airplane mode - it just doesn't feel as peaceful.

This perhaps isn't so surprising when you consider the article I read in the Metro recently (London issue, 23rd May, page 43). Professor Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School has stated that turning off your iPad or other LED ray-emitting gadgets could be more important than ensuring that all the lights are off as these LED rays are more disruptive to our sleep. It is all part of our modern lifestyles contradicting our built-in circadian rhythms - we stay awake and stay stimulated past darkness and then artificially induce awakeness with caffeine to cope with the morning.

This may all seem a little OTT but when you consider that research has shown that people who sleep less well or less hours per night increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, stroke in adults and concentration in children it is worth taking note. Between 1950 and 2000, the average Briton increased their artificial light sources four-fold with a parallel rise in sleep deficiency. So take note, your beauty sleep may be more important than you thought.

Remember, you do have the power to improve your sleep:

  • If a whirring mind is keeping you awake, try writing down your thoughts before sleep or if you wake in the night. Acknowledging them will allow your brain to relax and move on knowing that you can address them in the morning.
  • Ensuring your bedroom is totally dark will lead to better quality of sleep – blackout blinds, turning off lit screen alarms and TV power lights can help with this.
  • Reduce electrical intereference – turn things off at the plug socket, have your mobile away from your head and on airplane mode or off totally (your alarm should still work), turn off the wifi and unplug cordless phones to reduce the signal waves flowing through you.
  • Take time to relax just before bed – some meditation or deep and restful breathing, self-massage or even just a pampering facial cleansing and moisturising routine can do the trick.
  • Regular massage and facial treatments have also been shown to promote body and mind balance and therefore aid sleep naturally.
  • Use aromatherapy to help you sleep – either burn an essential oil before bed, add a couple of drops to your pillowcase or use a product on your skin that contains essential oils to treat you all night long. Great oils to look out for are benzoin (helps with stress), cedarwood (for grounding), clary sage (calming with sedative qualities, also great for the skin), cypress (soothes nerves), lavender (scientifically proven to promote sleep), orange oil (for insomnia), patchouli (for serenity), valerian root (for relaxation) and ylang ylang (for toning the nervous system and lowering blood pressure). You can find many of these in the organic Beauty Sleep range from Neal’s Yard Remedies – Beauty Sleep Concentrate for a smooth and youthful face and the NEW Beauty Sleep Body Butter for 24 hour moisturisation.

Sweet dreamzzzzzz…..

Sarah is an Holistic massage & beauty therapist, owner of Edge of Eden and Senior Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies. You can call her on 01277 220301, email at or comment below and she’ll get back to you x

Friday, 31 May 2013

That's all folks! The end of my 30 Day Mind & Body Detox

So, it's the end of my 30 Day Mind & Body Detox programme... Or is it?!

Yes, the 30 days are up. Yes, it's been quite a journey with some big ups and downs and (cheesy though it sounds) I've really learned something about myself and my relationship with with food, my body and what goes on inside my head.

With Week 4 came a certain calm, a peace with leaving things on my plate and accepting that, better than 30 Days of Perfection, is a life long series of changes and better choices. My bum feels firmer (hooray!), my skin feels incredible and my boyfriend even commented today how he could really see a change in my shape. Yes ok, I still have a way to go before I feel uber-energised, cellulite-free and slim as a whippet but I'm SO on track for that and if I keep going on this journey then that is surely the direction I am heading in.

To that end, I am going to keep up with many of the facets of this programme ongoing. I do feel that there is benefit in short-term detoxes however what has become clear is that a gradual change is more sustainable. What isn't going to happen is the classic annual 'detox month' each year that allows me to "cheat" the other 11... remember, I'd only be cheating myself and I can honestly say that my desire to eat sugary or processed or wheat-filled foods has diminished hugely so resisting should be much easier.

But more importantly than all this outer bumpf (and yes, it really is more important) is the greater sense of inner calm and contentment and faith in my own ability that has come into it's own recently. I always said that age 26 was the age at which most women seem to make their final "adjustments", reviewing the character traits they dislike and learning to accept the ones they cannot change, perhaps even becoming fond of their quirks and idiosyncracies. It is then you can learn to love yourself and be at peace with yourself...

I now realise that this happens more than once as here I am feeling the same way about more recent changes aged 32. (I'm now also certain it will happen again and again through life). I'm excited to keep this personal development going as I feel I'm right on the brink of something big and exciting although i haven't a clue what... but I'll keep you posted :)

For now, I'm off out to celebrate a rather lovely piece of news I've just had but I'll be posting again in the next few days with the dreaded 'After' photos and a review of how I found each aspect of the programme and what I'll be keeping up with.

Until then, cheers! x

Sarah is an Holistic massage & beauty therapist, owner of Edge of Eden and Senior Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies. You can call her on 01277 220301, email at or comment below and she’ll get back to you x

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Why you should never fake it - using Aromatherapy in my 30 Day Mind & Body Detox

The more I learn about aromatherapy, the more fascinated and impressed by its efficacy I become.

It's pretty widely accepted common knowledge that aromatherapy can have mood-enhancing effects such as helping you relax or waking you up, hence your zesty citrus morning shower gel or lavender-scented evening bubble bath. The most effective and healthy way to harness the power of aromas such as these is to use organic essential oils rather than synthetic scents, and when you do these powerful essences of plants can have profound effects on our physical state too.

Essential oils are the concentrated essence of plant and protect the plant from disease and infestation as well as attracting bees and butterfiles for pollenation. If you have ever rubbed a mint leaf and smelled the fragrance released then you have experienced the very freshest of essential oils :) This pure concentrated plant essence is very powerful and is also the only truly safe and natural way of fragrancing beauty products, perfumes, room sprays and candles if you want to avoid damaging petrochemicals and "parfum".

When you use essential oils it is important to remember not to apply them directly to the skin - they must be heavily diluted in a cream or in an oil. When you apply creams containing essential oils to your skin the oils then get to work in two ways, absorbing into your bloodstream in seconds and getting to work on reducing inflammation and encouraging healing, lowering blood pressure, reducing depression, boosting immune system and more. They also enter our limbic brain (the part that deals with emotions and memories) through the simple action of breathing in the scent and can trigger memories, relax you, give you more focus or energy and help relax you for deep sleep... just some of the reasons I have incorporated aromatherapy into my Mind & Body detox - it really ticks the boxes of both those categories!

Studies recently conducted have proven that aromatherapy either by inhalation or massage can lower blood pressure and improve sleep quality. In one study, patients undergoing arterial stent insertion who did 10 deep inhalations of a blend of lavender, Roman chamomile and neroli essential oils burning on aromastones before and after the procedure significantly reduced anxiety levels, reduce blood pressure and increased sleep quality.

In a second study, a weekly aromatherapy massage and daily body lotion containing a blend of lavender, marjoram, ylang ylang and neroli essential oils also lowered blood pressure and improved sleep quality. Interestingly, the placebo group also received massage and body lotion but with synthetic fragrance in it and did not get the desired results. As if we needed another reason to go natural and go organic! I use, recommend and sell only Neal's Yard Remedies. They are the only brand I trust to be truly green, clean and organic and to work as well as I want them to. I always think, our products smell lovely naturally so you will smell lovely, naturally...

Here are my top 10 tips for incorporating essential oils into your life:
1. Rub them into your skin via a base oil (such as in an aromatherapy massage) or your skincare products - avoid anything with "parfum" in it!
2. Put a few drops in the bottom of your shower - the warm water will make the scent infuse throughout your shower, or a few drops into your bath or into your bath foam - you'll absorb the oils through the water and inhale them through the steam.
3. Burn some in an aromastone - it's so safe and never overheats so you can even leave it plugged in all night.
4. Put a few drops in your hoover bag and scent the house as you clean.
5. Put a couple of drops on cushion covers and then tumble dry them.
6. Use candles, room sprays and reed diffusers scented only with essential oils to ensure your home not only smells nice, it's good for you too! You can also put little bowls of water or eggcups on your radiators with a few drops in too - this will also reduce the drying effects of the central heating.
7. You can pick up vaporiser bottles or little spray bottles very cheaply - try mixing a few drops with mineral water for a refreshing summer spray (keep it in the fridge for extra freshness).
8. Put a few drops on a hanky and keep it in your handbag to sniff when you need to relax or perk up.
9. Use a roll-on treatment to aid concentration, sleep, a sense of tranquility...
10. Clear your head and nose with a good ol' fashioned inhalation... add 4-6 drops to a bowl of steaming water and lean over the bowl covering your head with a towel. (Do not do this if you have asthma or are claustrophobic).

Don't worry too much about what oils to use; of course it would be ideal to visit a trained aromatherapist if your have a specific complaint to address but if you would just like somewhere to start then try a pre-blended mix to relax, energise, balance or cleanse. Alternatively, have a smell of a few oils and trust your intuition - you will often know the one you need.

My Personal top 5 oils are:
1. Bergamot - uplifting and focuses the mind, whilst relaxing
2. Women's Balance - an absolute must for all women
3. Night Time blend - peaceful and sleepy
4. Ylang Ylang - sensual and an interesting one to burn before bed ;-)
5. Roman chamomile - relaxing and calming

I have started burning bergamot essential oil all day every day! It's just lovely and lemony and comforting. I also love Night Time blend before bed and I often moisturise with Beauty Sleep body butter before bed too; I swear it makes a difference :) So have a go and let me know how you get on.

Mmmm... I can smell you from here! x

A safety note: You should not use essential oils on young children or if you are pregnant without consulting a professional aromatherapist.
Thanks for info in this post go to Neal's Yard Remedies and Natural Health News.

Sarah is an Holistic massage & beauty therapist, owner of Edge of Eden and Senior Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies. You can call her on 01277 220301, email at or comment below and she’ll get back to you x

Monday, 20 May 2013

“How’s my Detoxing?” – What do you think of my 30 Day Mind & Body Detox?

You know those lorries that have an (I always think quite sarcastic) sign on the back saying “How’s my Driving? Call xxxxxxxx”…?

Well now I’m asking you about my Detoxing… how am I doing?

I know that I have been far from perfect but I really have changed my day-to-day life and am making significantly better choices than before (and they were already reasonably good!) Does anyone have any suggestions on additional actions I could be taking or disagree with any aspects of my programme? I’ve heard that deep breathing can be powerful? Does anyone have any meditation tips? Any other tips or ideas? :)

To recap, the ‘Mind’ aspect of my Detox includes attempting meditation and yoga 5 x week, getting better sleep (through going to bed earlier, turning off all wifi, mobiles, wireless phones etc in the house at bed time and using aromatherapy), and de-stressing by scheduling in creative time, nature time, quiet time, music, reading etc. I know these last items sound very juvenile but the simple fact is that if I don’t schedule time for these simple pleasures, I invariably end up hoovering or doing laundry instead – there is an endless rolling ‘To Do’ list in my head that never gets any shorter (something I suppose you can all empathise with). So I either dedicate "chill time" or lose it completely!

For the ‘Body’ aspect I am taking an ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ approach, although of course these are inextricably linked; I refer more to treatment from the inside out and the outside in. Yes, our outer shell is a mere reflection of what is happening inside us but our ‘outside’ is also very useful for delivering essential nutrients and expelling toxins… did you know that not only is the skin the largest organ in the body but that 60% of what we put on our skin is delivered into our bloodstream within 29 seconds of us applying it?? Now this is part of an essential function of our skin: to help us absorb medicines and nutrients we need, but if that’s not the strongest argument for using organic, synthetic-free skincare I don’t know what is!

So for my ‘outside’ body treatment I am keeping to a thorough but brief daily organic skincare regime and using a fluoride-free toothpaste morning and night. In addition I am boosting my skin’s absorption of anti-oxidants to neutralise trouble-making and ageing free radicals by using power-packed serums and body lotion. To boost my skin’s natural cell renewal cycle and encourage better toxin excretion and the absorption of these lovely lotions and potions I am also dry body brushing before my shower & finishing with an icy blast every day, as well as exfoliating, using a deep cleansing facial masque and soaking in a detox bath twice weekly as well.

To get the blood pumping and all systems firing I am also exercising 6 x week to varying degrees and having regular massage, another excellent balancing and detoxifying tool (it also feels grrreat!)

Finally for my ‘inside’ body treatment I am taking organic beauty supplements (including Beauty Oil, various teas & vitamin pills – see my last blog for details on which ones I’m taking and what to watch out for). I’m washing all this down with 3 (ok, more like 2 litres) of Highland Spring water from organic land and munching on an organic diet high in vegetables, fresh veggie juice and attention to eating in season and “eating the rainbow”, and low in meat, fruit, alcohol (except red wine), caffeine (except green tea), sugar, sweeteners, cow’s dairy, eggs, low fat foods, wheat, yeast and processed foods. And ok, no I haven’t been perfect at this but ye gods I’ve been better than I would have been.

It’s funny, I feel I’ve done really well on the one hand but not very well on the other so far. I think I had some idyllic sort of vision in my head where there would just be time and space for all these changes to come at once (I mean, that’s the nature of a 30 Day Detox, right?) but in reality I have to come to terms with what happens in real life… things work, others don’t and sometime it’s not a case of strong will power or the lack thereof, sometimes it’s just that sh*t happens ;-)

Anyway, onwards and upwards! I am going to knuckle down to earlier bed times, more meditation practice and trying to get more juice and water down me too. I think I’m ready for the next stage… I’m over half way and it’s time to notch it up a gear and stop dreaming about Pimms and pic-n-mix!

A final note, I met a lady the other day at some Neal’s Yard Remedies consultant training (I’m a Senior Consultant for them; gorgeous company & gorgeous effective products that I use on all my beauty clients). She runs her own company called Serenity Flow that does colonics (eek!) and she mentioned she thought it would be a very good idea for me to have a course of 3 colonics to support my liver and bowel during this detox, especially as I also suffer from IBS. Apparently one colonic is equivalent to 3 days fasting! I’ve got to admit I find the whole idea a bit gross but I think it’s time to bite the bullet and go for it… so I’m making my appointments now… watch this space (or don’t, look away; I definitely won’t hold it against you!)

Sarah is an Holistic massage & beauty therapist, owner of Edge of Eden and Senior Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies. You can call her on 01277 220301, email at or comment below and she’ll get back to you x