SHOP – Hedgehog of the North a.k.a Baby Whale UK

“You’re only as old as your spine!”

Traditional Chinese teachings put a lot of emphasis on spine health.   A spine should be strong & stable and there is an acknowledgement that the spine is a whole series of joints and, like all our joints,  should regularly move  – a well used hinge will never rust! 

text neck
text neck

We should gently roll, wave, flex and extend the spine regularly.  The spine is the central highway for not only our blood vessels and nervous system and also the lymphatic system – the bodies waste disposal system so it’s health is so vitally important to us and our wellbeing.

It’s not a coincidence, back illness is highly prevalent in the West, and according to the UK’s Health & Safety executive, there were 3,417,000 working days lost to work related back disorders in 2015/16.   So how can we counter balance all the demands of sitting, driving, texting etc?

With this guy… that’s how!!


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The Hedgehog of the North – a revolution in back health

Me and my spine

Despite years of dedicated exercise, yoga and stretching my body was unable to get into any classic backbending postures – positions like wheel and camel.  I found it impossible, not to mention darn frustrating, to watch others get into delicious back-bends and for me not to even get into the starting blocks of this highly therapeutic pose!

But then Stretch Therapy changed all that last year!   The work Kit and Olivia have done exploring ‘passive backbends’ was revolutionary for me!  The idea is simple enough, use a prop to support the body so there’s no physical effort to hold the pose and you can get on with the important job of relaxing and getting comfortable in this new range.   If you’ve ever lent back over something, or some-one, you’ll know how great it feels just to lie and relax as your ribs open and your back softens over the object.  As with everything Kit and Olivia do, it’s the impeccable implementation of the idea and the attention to detail that’s key!

The only trouble is I couldn’t get one in the UK!

At around the time, I was weighing up the environmental impact, not to mention the costs, of shipping one all the way from Australia (where they are made), I had a chance encounter with Stephen – a local craftsman and former professional dancer.


Dancers are the athletes of God - Albert Einstein


I couldn’t have handpicked a better person for the challenge;  someone who not only understood how the body moved, but who also understood how to shape wood.  If you’ve ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance you’ll understand how exciting and rare it is to find someone who has balanced the Romantic notion of nature, freedom, spontaneity and personal expression with the Classical ideas of logic, reason and analytical thinking.  Check out more about Stephen here. 

I got the green light from Kit and Olivia to produce my own UK cousin to their Australian Baby Whale.   Kit is committed to the open source model – his whole stretch therapy system is based on it (Contrast it to the US system of copyright and protection).  Just pause for a moment and think about the level of fearless living it takes to say “Go for it!’ when someone asks to take your idea and run (off) with it!  It’s why I love the ST family and it’s why i love them in particular for creating it.

Anyway that’s my long and very personal story of how this thing came to be…but you’re probably wondering how to use it!

To see more on how to use the baby whale and it’s benefits of the from it’s original founder Kit Laughlin, go here.  I’m currently working on content about the way I use mine too.  (*)

Where can I get one?

I am absolutely delighted to be able to bring to you my version of the Stretch Therapy created ‘Baby Whale’ – ‘The Hedgehog of the North’.  I knew i needed quality – something very strong and stable.  Strong because i needed my back to mould around the piece of and not just squash out of shape as i put my full weight through it.  It needed to be stable because a muscle that is trying to balance is not a muscle that’s about to relax and lengthen anytime soon!

Finally, the angle of the curve is integral to the design – and it’s no coincidence that this curve ratio we used is frequently found in nature – known as the Golden Spiral

Working with our local carpenter Stephen and your specific requests and dimensions of your back, we can create your very own personalised spine stretching device.

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If you’re based in the UK or Europe and would like a stretch needs analysis and to order your very own beautiful ‘hedgehog of the north’ please email me.

Turn around time including consultation which can be via skype is less than 30 days.

(*) As a trained Stretch Therapy teacher, I have permission from Kit and Olivia to share my work with you.


Fast Forward – one mans 10 day journey without food

Sunday 25 May 2014

Following my ignoble false-start, I had to pick myself up, dust myself down, and start Day 1 of my 10 day fast with renewed vigour!

The previous 2 days of no dairy, no meat, no processed food, was plain sailing on a sea of steamed vegetables and kale soups.

I start the day as I will do everyday for the next 10days with 500ml of water, 4 tablets of Essential Amino Acids, and 20 tabs of Cracked Cell Chlorella.

‘Essential’ means they can’t be manufactured by the body, – and there’s no calories in them so nothing to digest – so it seems sensible to include a supplement.

2 hours later I’ll have more aminos in the form of spirulina and wheat grass powder which I’ll mix into 500ml of water.

That green drink is accompanied by 15 drops of what tastes like battery acid but which I’m informed is a very concentrated mix of sea and plant minerals – largely magnesium.

Actually I’m informed that it’s ‘Supercharged activated fulvic acid; ocean and plant derived magnesium with over 72 ionic trace minerals’ but I prefer my description!

I do this water/aminos/minerals ritual 3x per day in all, and each night I have a tablespoon of powdered fibre blend – I don’t want the bacteria in my gut going hungry – they haven’t signed up for this!

And finally the cherry on top night-cap -literally- is 2 tablespoons of super concentrated sour/tart cherries in 200ml of water.

There is about 70calories in this powerful hit of antioxidants but I feel important to include for a couple of reasons…

One, the surprising levels of melatonin will give me a good nights sleep each night which may or may not be a factor when trying to sleep on an empty stomach. Two, and perhaps more importantly it will assist with uric acid metabolism – serum uric acid will has been shown to be elevated during prolonged therapeutic fasting.

We’re getting into technical waters but uric acid has a main role of protecting high-oxygen tissues such as the brain from damage (fairly important then!).

Hopefully the nitty-gritty above is useful information for anyone attempting their own fast (although it doesn’t need to be technical, plenty of people do water only fasts), but for me the important thing is remaining mindful over the 10 days.

Mindful of why I’m on this journey of self discovery and mindful of any shifts that may come my way whilst I’m on it.

Invite Yourself to Move with Purpose

Doing stuff in the gym in order to look fit is putting the cart before the horse.

Nothing wrong with wanting a body that looks like it has a purpose but just start with the purpose.

Purposeful Movement A body built for show will look different to a body built for ‘Go’!

If you didn’t understand any of the above just consider training ‘movements’ not muscle the next time you workout. 🙂

Trying to Find Yourself…? Get Creative!

After years spent patiently waiting to ‘find myself’, it occurred to me that it would be far more prudent to actually ‘create myself’, just in case i didn’t like what i found. Not only would this mean i didn’t have to wait a day longer to start realising my potential, it would also mean i had the final say in the end product – me!

What would you attempt to become if you knew you could never fail?
What would you attempt to become if you knew you could never fail?

If your thinking about planning a similar journey then you’ll want to start with the end-product in mind – this will change a million times as you grow and level-up your shit but at least you’ll have a starting point for now. Who knows, maybe this continued metamorphosis is the real journey to finding yourself -and if not at least you’ll have had fun trying!