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Me time: at Flow, Tunbridge Wells

Existing in the moment should be the most natural thing in the world, but isn't always as easy as you think. That's why FLOW yoga studio are doing their best to make meditation mainstream...

THE MISSION

For 10 years before my life on Muddy, I was a Health Editor on a national magazine. So my ears pricked up when meditation made the news recently. The latest guidelines from the National Institute for Care and Excellence, (NICE) – the guys who offer guidance and advice to public health and social care professionals – now actually officially recommends Meditation as a mainstream first port of call for boosting mental health.

So if there’s anyone out there that still thinks this is some strange, mystic, woo-woo fad (there really can’t be, right?) – take note! Experts say that learning the art of stillness actually returns us to a more natural state of mind. It’s our modern lives that have created the ‘monkey mind’ – when our thoughts, feelings and emotions can be like monkeys jumping from one branch to another without any obvious plan or direction.

Sound familiar? Do you sometimes feel incapable of switching off and prone to lying awake at night ‘swinging from branch to branch mentally’ and making random lists in the middle of the night? Meditation allows us to bring more order to our thoughts and reactions, steadying them with ease and practice.

THE LOWDOWN

But it’s not as easy as you think for some of us to sit still. It can take practise. That’s why FLOW, Winners of Best Yoga/Pilates Studio in Kent (in fact they’ve only gone and done the hat trick and won 3 years in a row) are running both ONLINE and IN STUDIO ‘Learn to Meditate’ courses.

They are specifically designed to offer support for those who would like to cultivate new and beneficial meditation and breath-work practices and habits. It is equally aimed at complete beginners to meditation as well as those who would like to explore more meditation and breath-work techniques, ideas and concepts.

THE LOCATION

The January ONLINE course will begin on Thurs 6 Jan and run weekly for 8 weeks till Thurs 24 Feb. Each session is 90 minutes, meeting weekly on a Thursday evening from 7 – 8.30pm.

The 8-week IN STUDIO course will take place on Mondays from Mon 10 Jan, 1.30 – 3pm, at the smart, friendly studio in the FLOW garden, on Woodbury Park Rd, in Tunbridge Wells.

FLOW is well known for the brilliant yoga on offer. But there’s much more to this special space than that. A hidden holistic health haven in the heart of Tunbridge Wells – this small but perfectly formed studio is your one-stop shop for all things wellness-related.

Run by husband-and-wife founders, Lucy (well established and much loved yoga teacher) and Ben (osteopathic genius), Flow is a real find for anyone serious about their yoga practice and beginners alike. Both Ben and Lucy have a strong reputation locally with Ben having been in practice for over 20 years and Lucy for 12 years.

MEDITATION

Lucy Parker, co-founder of FLOW, yoga teacher and meditation expert

Meditation can feel like a pretty heavy and complicated topic, all wrapped up in mysticism and mystery. However, once understood it can become one of the simplest and most life-changing habits you could ever adopt.

Learning to meditate can quickly help reduce stress and anxiety giving us the tools to clearly recognise and respond to the many changing moods and thoughts our hearts and minds present to us.

MASSAGE

Melissa Denyer, massage therapist extraordinaire

Melissa Denyer is FLOW’s resident Massage Therapist. With meditation, yoga and osteotherapy already on offer it makes so much sense to have Mel on site too. She’s brilliant at sports massage, pregnancy massage, massage for headaches and massage for stress reduction.

As a former athlete she understands better than anyone the injuries caused by exercise or need for even the fittest amongst us to help our bodies.

She is also a qualified and experienced Pregnancy Massage therapist as well as an experienced practitioner for the treatment of headaches.

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

MEDITATION

I’m not sure there is an expression more apt than the Monkey Mind – that feeling when your brain jumps from one thought to another, rarely settling and simply chattering away. As a health writer, I know that meditation is brilliant for maintaining a healthy mental state – I’ve read all the research.

But I just needed a bit of a reminder about finding that mental space – even if it’s only for five minutes (if you only do five mins a day it will still make a massive difference.)

Lucy gave me a sample session of the course which debunks a lot of the myths around meditation, actually explaining the theory behind the method and what’s going on in your body. This briefly touched on the anatomy of the breath and the connectively with our nervous system and stress response.

I loved learning about this almost as much as the end result – which for me was the kind of mental Zen state I usually only get to on Day 3 of a summer holiday spent solely on a sun sunlounger. I really liked Lucy’s calm and accessible approach. No sound baths or gongs here.

MASSAGE

Having previously tried the brilliant yoga classes at FLOW, I wanted to see if the massage lived up to the same standard. I can say that Mel’s magic actually surpassed my expectations. I have lots of neck and upper back issues from hours and hours spent at my computer, taxi-driving the teens around or HIIT classes. I don’t stretch. Ever.

So I was especially happy to hear that Mel’s background is in sports massage. This is not a spa ‘relaxation’ experience, but a proper deep-tissue and highly effective session. She specialises in helping ease aches and pains, even headaches – and also pregnancy massage – for which she’s developed a really strong following locally with all the mums-to-be.

After 60 mins at Mel’s mercy in the peaceful sanctuary of the FLOW treatment room I could move more freely and felt my posture had immediately improved. I swear my shoulders dropped an inch and I was less hunched, than on arrival.

In fact I was so won over that I went home and immediately booked Gift vouchers for the massage for Mr Muddy for Christmas (shhhh, don’t spoil the surprise).

And I can also see how these bite-size workshops on Meditation, offer an increasingly valuable tool in our modern lives.

And if ever there was a more pertinent time for finally getting round to booking that relaxing massage or mindfulness session – that time is now, surely?

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