26 January 2017

Free talk: Introduction to Hypnobirthing

In conjunction with our partners at The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy, we are holding a free public talk titled Introduction to hypnobirthing on Saturday 11th February (1 - 2pm). This talk will offer you the opportunity to meet our resident hypnobirthing expert, Dr Stacy Gandolfi. Come along and discover what hypnobirthing is, and find out whether it is right for you.

Introduction to Hypnobirthing: A birth without pain?

Below you will find details about the talk.
  • Introduction to Hypnobirthing: A birth without pain?
  • Speaker: Dr Stacy Gandolfi
  • Date: Saturday 11 February 2017
  • Time: 1 - 2pm
During the session Dr Gandolfi will provide an overview of:
  • What hypnobirthing is
  • How it is beneficial for you, your birthing partner and your baby
  • The scientific evidence underpinning this approach
  • A taster of the relaxation techniques. These can help reduce pain and help you stay calm and in control during labour and birth
At the end, you will also have the chance to put your questions to Dr Gandolfi. She will offer information and advice so that you can decide if this course is suitable for you.


This talk is aimed primarily at pregnant women and couples, but is open to general public. It is a free talk. However, due to limited space, it is essential you book your place. To book, call us on 020 8789 3881 or book online.

February 1-2-1 Reformer Pilates special offer

Our selection of Pilates services continues to grow. As a special introductory offer, our new Pilates teacher Linda is offering a discount on your first Reformer Pilates session throughout February 2017.  See below for full details.

What is Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is low impact (easy on the joints), yet challenging, form of exercise. At Yoga Mama and The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy, we use the Allegro 2 reformer machine, a versatile piece of equipment that allows a wide range of exercises to be performed. The machine’s attachments increase the range of modifications that can be made to exercises, and allows for additional exercises beyond what can be done on in a mat-based Pilates class. This, in conjunction with the support given by the resistance the machine provides, allows people with a limited range of movement or injuries to safely perform modified exercises.

Special February Reformer Pilates Promotion

As a special introductory promotion, Linda is offering a 50% discount on your first 1-2-1 Reformer Pilates session throughout February 2017. These 1-2-1 sessions usually cost £70, but throughout February it will cost just £35. There are a limited number of sessions, so book early to avoid disappointment. To book your first 1-2-1 reformer Pilates session, call us on 020 8789 3881 quoting the promocode 121REFORMER.

About Linda Zurak

Linda Zurak has spent more than 17 years teaching movement and exploring the physical, mental and emotional blocks that keep us from living our full potential. She has dedicated her career to mentoring both new and seasoned movement teachers from all walks of life.

In 2006 she moved to London as the first graduate of The Pilates Center Advanced Teacher Training and Masters Programme in Boulder, Colorado. Linda has run her own Teacher Training Programme, continuing education workshops, retreats and bespoke in house training for various studios in the UK and Europe.

In addition to training in Landmark Education, NLP, Gyrotonic ® Gyrokinesis ® Body Rolling and Pilates; she has a qualification in Somatic Psychotherapy. This allows her to work with clients on a deeper level addressing the emotional and mental blocks that show up in old movement patterns.

Linda's current projects include an on-line mentoring/coaching programme and Emotional Anatomy workshops for movement teachers. In addition, she is proud to be an Ambassador for Lululemon Athletica.

Linda is a creative, energetic teacher and mentor that inspires people to live beyond their perceived limitations. She believes that how we relate to our bodies directly impacts how we experience the world and all of life.

February Stretch Workshop



Are you looking to increase your flexibility? Then this is the workshop for you.

Many people, whether they are elite athletes or desk bound office workers, need to spend more time stretching to increase their range of motion. Lots of injuries and back problems can have their roots in tightness or in balance in the muscles or stiffness around the joints.

This workshop is loosely based on the Yin Yoga principle of holding stretches for  3- 5 minutes, thus also stretching the facia that surrounds the muscles.

This workshop is open to anyone as we will use props to help facilitate this deep stretching. There is no jumping around and the workshop is mostly floor based. Be prepared to take yourself out of your “normal” stretch comfort zone.


This workshop costs £25. To book your place, visit the Yoga Mama online booking system or call us on 020 8789 3881.

Free stress management workshop

The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy will be running a free stress management workshop on Thursday 23 February (7 - 8:30pm). The workshop will be led by clinical hypnotherapist and cognitive behavioural coach Fiona Worthington. For full details about the workshop, please see below.


What if you could sort your stress out?

Free stress management workshop with Fiona Worthington

Thursday 23 February, 7 - 8:30pm
  • Procrastination setting in?
  • Trouble focusing on tasks?
  • Easily angered or irritable?
  • Blame others when things go wrong?
  • Constantly feel overwhelmed?
  • Self-doubting?
  • Eating the wrong foods?
  • Drinking and/or smoking more?

If any of the above apply to you, changes are you are stressed! We all get like this. Challenging things happen to us all the time. That is life. That is being human. Wouldn't it be good to have some tools and tricks to help manage stress?

About the talk

The talk will cover the following:
  • What is stress?
  • When is stress good and when is it bad?
  • Top 10 life events that cause us stress
  • Take a free stress test
  • Find out what your stress triggers are
  • Options to handle stress
  • Enjoy a relaxing group hypnosis session


This talk is open to the general public and is free. However, due to limited space booking is essential. To book your place, call us on 020 8789 3881. Alternatively, you can reserve you place online here.

About Fiona Worthington

Fiona Worthington practices Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnosis at The Putney Clinic. After having worked for nearly 20 years in the City, she can relate to the everyday stresses and strains facing people working for massive corporate cultures. She is really keen on working through anxiety, stress and self-esteem problems.

Fiona uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and Hypnotherapy. CBT helps people to manage their emotional problems. This is done by understanding and changing the way we think about stuff and so we can change how we feel. It is not positive thinking. Hypnosis is similar to daydreaming. However, when you are in ‘hypnosis’, you are highly suggestible, so change can take place. It’s great for relaxation and confidence building. Both techniques are about training the mind, and clients can go away and use them for themselves.

Fiona has an Advanced Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, a Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy, a Diploma in CBT coaching and she is also a Certified Practitioner in Neuro-linguistic Programming. Fiona is fully registered and credited with the General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR) and registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

Top 10 reasons to attend a hypnobirthing course

Here are the top ten reasons to attend a hypnobirthing course.

Gain the tools to achieve a positive birth experience

One of the key elements for a positive birth experience is confidence. Regardless of the type of birth you end up having, you can have a positive experience by knowing what you can control. And, of course,  letting go of what you cannot.

Learn to trust your body, your instincts and your baby

From an early age, we have been socially programmed to believe birth is painful. By replacing this fear and negative outlook, you can enjoy the amazing experience of pregnancy and birth. Having the confidence that your body will work effectively and in the way that it is naturally designed to is vital. It is equally vital that  your baby knows what to do too. This confidence will keep you relaxed and calm. It will also enable you to follow your instincts. This, in turn, will guide you to what is best for you and your baby.

Birth without unnecessary interventions

There are always options available. However, without a full understanding of these, it is easy to go along with whatever is offered to you. It is empowering to know what your options are and and how you can make the best decisions for you and your baby.

Endorphins are stronger than morphine

Endorphins are, in fact, up to 200 times stronger than morphine! Reduce the need for drugs by learning how to release these endorphins during labour.

It’s a full antenatal programme

You will learn what to expect at each stage of the birth. As well as understand the ‘system’ and know your options. Having this knowledge will put you in a stronger position to make informed decisions, including where to birth your baby.

Learn techniques to aid relaxation, ease tension and soothe any concerns

You and your partner will learn how to let go of fear and tension, so that, regardless of how your pregnancy and labour progresses, you will be better placed to relax and enjoy the process of both pregnancy and birth.

Practice breathing and visualisation techniques for each stage of the birth process

Practising breathing and visualisation techniques for each stage of labour to make the birth a comfortable and enjoyable experience. It’s good fun and there are a range of visualisation techniques that you can chose to suit you!

Your birth partner will feel more involved

Hypnobirthing partners develop a deeper bond with their baby due to their involvement throughout the process! It also provides partners with the tools and guidance to help them feel more involved during your pregnancy. They will also have an active role in facilitating your baby’s birth. Creating time and space to discuss what you want inevitably brings you closer. And on the big day, your partner will be ready and capable to offer the support you need.

Make friends with likeminded people

Sharing such a unique and special time with those who have the same values can lead to lifelong friendships and support. This will see you through to baby’s teenage years and beyond!

Receive ongoing support

There are many physical and emotional challenges during pregnancy. As a result, I fully understand the need for continuous support during this often uncertain feeling time. The relationship I develop with you whilst on the course does not end as you leave.

Next hypnobirthing course at Yoga Mama

The next hypnobirthing course at Yoga Mama starts on Saturday 25 February (12-3pm). This 3-week course, led by Dr Stacy Gandolfi, costs £295 per couple. To book, call us on 020 8789 3881 or visit the Yoga Mama online booking system.

If you would like to learn more about hypnobirthing, why not attend our free introductory talk on Saturday 11 February (1-2pm). To book, call 020 8789 3881 or sign up here.

A birth without pain? The science behind hypnobirthing

Studies have shown that 95% of labour pain is the direct result of the birthing mother’s fear and tension. So what if there was no fear and tension? Does that mean there would be very little pain in childbirth? Well, many hypnobirthing mothers would agree with that. They would claim that any discomfort was manageable without the need of medication.

So how does fear cause a labouring woman to feel pain?

When we experience fear or anxiety, our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in. We all know that feeling. Think back to how you felt before a test, an interview or meeting your prospective in-laws. While you may not have run away or hit anyone, you would have experienced that rush of adrenaline produced by your body to help you survive the situation if it becomes too scary.

A labouring woman who feels afraid or nervous is not in a position to fight anyone and certainly is not capable of fleeing the scene. Well, not with any speed. However, her body will still produce adrenaline.

Adrenaline causes our hearts to pump faster. It causes all our energy to travel to our essential organs (brain and heart), followed by our arms and legs to prepare us for survival. This means it is travelling away from other organs, such as the uterus. It is no surprise then that during labour adrenaline is very unhelpful. A birthing woman needs energy in her uterus, certainly not in her arms and legs! The uterine muscles are the muscles which push the baby out. And if they have little energy, they will struggle to work effectively and efficiently. When a muscle is striving to work hard but has little energy to help it, it can feel painful and exhausting.

So what if there was no fear and tension during labour?

So what if there was no fear and tension , and the birthing woman was relaxed and comfortable? When we feel calm, confident and relaxed, our body produces oxytocin. Oxytocin, commonly known as ‘the love hormone’, is produced in large quantities when we experience love. It peaks when we fall in love, make love and after birth! However, it is also known as the ‘shy hormone’. We are less likely to produce it when we feel observed. Think of your best orgasm. Were there strangers there, lights shining on you, people telling you what to do?

During labour, oxytocin aids the uterine muscles. If a woman feels safe, confident and calm, and is able to minimise feeling exposed, her body will produce higher levels of oxytocin. This makes the birthing process more efficient and less uncomfortable.

It is at this time that beta-endorphin, another hormone is secreted. Beta-endorphin acts as a natural painkiller, working to block the perception of pain. So, if the mind is calm and relaxed, the body produces oxytocin to make labour efficient and beta-endorphin to make it comfortable.

Hypnobirthing and labour

So being able to release fear and resistance is essential if I want to minimise my dependence on drugs during the birth? Indeed! A key element of hypnobirthing is learning how to release anxiety and tension.

Taking a course will teach you how to become deeply relaxed quickly and easily and in any situation you may find yourself. This is essential if you want to avoid the adrenaline rush and instead encourage the oxytocin to flow. This is possible even if you find yourself in the bright lights of a hospital and under the watchful eye of many a medical professional!

Free introductory talk on hypnobirthing

Join Dr Stacy Gandolfi for a free introductory talk on hypnobirthing on Saturday 11 February, at 1pm. The talk is open to the general public and is free of charge. To book, call us on 020 8789 3881 or visit the Yoga Mama online booking system.

12 January 2017

Yoga may be best to ease back pain

Session on the yoga mat may be best to ease a bad back

By Henry Bodkin

With its catalogue of headstands and one-legged contortions, it might be thought yoga was best left to those of us who are in peak physical condition. However, new research suggests the group of people who could most benefit from adopting the lotus position is those who are immobilised by pain.

Analysis of more than 1,000 adults with long-term lower-back pain found those who practised yoga were most likely to reduce pain and improve mobility. The findings, from researchers in the US, add weight to calls for GPs in Britain to prescribe yoga sessions to ease long-term discomfort.

Back pain causes more disability than any other condition and affects almost one in 10 Britons, becoming more common with age. Because the causes are hard to isolate it is difficult to treat and  patients commonly resort to long-term use of strong painkillers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines instruct doctors to consider recommending various aerobic and biomechanical exercises, but there is currently no specific mention of yoga. However, the new analysis of 12 academic studies from the UK, the US and India suggests yoga, as distinct from traditional back exercises, could yield the best results.

The scientists behind the new research are now calling for fresh longer-term trials to understand the full benefits for patients with persistent back pain, as the existing data only relates to benefits after six to 12 months.

Lead author Susan Wieland, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: “Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to reducing the symptoms of lower back pain by a small amount, but the results have come from studies with a short follow-up. At the moment we only have low- to moderate-quality evidence for the effects of yoga, before six months, as a type of exercise for helping people with chronic back pain.”

The patients involved in the studies analysed by Dr Wieland had all been enrolled on yoga courses that were designed for their conditions and provided by qualified teachers.

However, the British yoga community is currently riven with uncharacteristic disharmony amid a debate over whether or not to regulate yoga teachers following a series of injuries after students were reportedly encouraged to adopt dangerous positions.

Although yoga teachers who practise in gyms and leisure centres currently have to join the register of exercise professionals, anyone can set themselves up as a private instructor.

“The yoga exercises practised in the studies we reviewed were developed for lower back pain and people should also remember that in each of the studies the classes were led by experienced practitioners,” Dr Wieland said.

She also warned that one in 20 participants (50 patients) actually reported their back pain getting worse after starting a course of yoga.

Derived from a Sanskrit word, yoga aims to “coordinate the breath, mind and body to encourage balance, both internally and externally,” says the British Wheel of Yoga.

But despite its widely acknowledged benefits, it is not considered strenuous enough to count towards the Government-recommended minimum weekly exercise target of 150 minutes of activity, according to the NHS.

However, it is being recommended to elderly people to help prevent the risk of falls.

Published originally in the Daily Telegraph: Session on the yoga mat may be best to ease a bad back

05 January 2017

Quote of the day

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Dalai Lama

04 January 2017

February Hypnobirthing Course

What is hypnobirthing

Pregnancy is a time of joy, excitement and anticipation, but the thought of childbirth often evokes fear and anxieties. Hypnobirthing provides the knowledge and tools to help reduce those fears and build confidence in this natural process. Based on a well established practise and rooted in medical research, hypnobirthing empowers you to feel in control regardless of how your baby is born. It will make a positive difference to your experience and will hugely benefit both you and your baby.

Likely benefits for you and your baby

  • Feeling empowered, calm and in control when approaching the birth
  • Looking forward to giving birth
  • Providing a relaxed atmosphere for your baby
  • A positive experience of giving birth for you, your baby and your partner
  • Shorter and sometimes even pain free labour
  • Reduced likelihood for the need of medical intervention
  • Having an alert and calm baby who is ready to bond with you
  • Reduced recovery time and minimised postnatal difficulties
  • A shared and loving experience for you and your partner

The course

The course runs over three sessions, during which it covers:
  • Techniques to release fears and achieve a deep level of relaxation
  • Breathing and visualisation exercises
  • Massage
  • The role of the birthing partner
  • How your body is designed to give birth and how your mind can help
  • Positions to help you and your baby achieve a comfortable birth
  • Information surrounding the medical procedures offered during pregnancy
  • How to make informed choices throughout your pregnancy and beyond
To experience the full benefits, some simple practice is required at home. To facilitate this you will be given a full hypnobirthing kit (including relaxation CD, hypnobirthing book and a folder of handouts).

Your birthing partner is essential in providing support and protection to you during this special time and the course is designed to empower you both. Partners who have attended the course report feeling included and actively involved during both the pregnancy and birth. Of course it is not always possible for partners to attend, and you will still benefit from attending alone.

The ideal time to undertake this course is during your second trimester, as this allows time to follow the simple practices and prepare for the birth. The techniques learned are also wonderful tools to help you relax and enjoy the pleasures of pregnancy. You are, however, welcome to attend at any time that suits you. All pregnant women are welcome, regardless of how they are intending to have their baby.


There is free support after the course, including an optional session for you to attend closer to your big day!

Cost and bookings

3-week hypnobirthing courses with Dr Stacy Gandolfi cost £295 per couple. The next course starts on Saturday 25th February from 12-3pm. To book your place on this course, visit the Yoga Mama booking system. Alternatively, you can book by calling us on 020 8789 3881.