How Yoga Keeps the Spine Healthy?

Do you suffer from back pain or you have any issues related to your spine?
In yoga the spine is called the Brahma danda, which literally means the walking stick of god.
The spine holds the central vertical nerve centre, the sushumna. The discs between the vertebrae are like fluid filled pillows and are dependent on water and need to be hydrated continuously. They regenerate during the night when we are asleep.
The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine, this is why their presence is extremely important as the spinal column contains and is the conduit of important nerves towards all the organs in the body.
Application of pressure on the discs helps with the rehydration and recovery of them. The proteoglycan structure of the discs works on the basis or osmotic pressure. Do you remember from the physics class? This means that repetitive application of pressure and relief have positive effects on the discs. Through the process of squeezing and soaking, the discs absorb nutrients and fluids as a sponge does when pressed and released. Called imbibition, this process prevents the discs from losing resiliency and becoming narrow. Movement stimulates imbibition by compressing and releasing the discs. Moving the spine in all possible planes – forward, back, sideways and in rotation, is a means to maintain its flexibility and mobilityyoga therapy
Yoga asanas with repetitive forward spinal bending and back bending, like e.g. the surya namaskara – sun salutations, therefore are excellent exercise for the health of the spine. The primary aim of any forward folding poses is to stretch and lengthen the lower back. 
Iyengar suggests the following yoga poses for backache: sirsasana/headstand, sarvangasana/shoulderstand, all standing poses, supta padangustasana, janu sirsasana, paschimottanasana/seated forward fold, ardha matsyendrasana, malasana and many more.

Often, strengthening of the lower back goes hand in hand with the stretching. Also keep in mind the engagement of the abdomen in any forward folding pose in order to protect the discs.

1.) Yoga journal
2.) Donna Farhi, Yoga mind body and spirit
3.) BKS Iyengar, Light on yoga
4.) Leslie Kaminoff, Yoga anatomy

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New Mindfulness Mediation Series

6-Week long mindfulness courseDidiholistics Logo

Mindfulness cours
What is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness” is used in many contexts nowadays and there are many different understandings of the term. It is a blend of meditation, body awareness, and yoga: learning through practice and study how your body handles and deals with stress, communication and daily activities neurologically. Mindfulness practice can help to bring more awareness into your life and it can help to cultivate lost connection of the self with the body and with life itself.

Participants will be provided with: links for recordings of short meditations to follow for a daily practice, workbook
Week 1. How to cultivate mindfulness
– What is mindfulness?
– The origins of mindfulness
– Meditation and mindfulness
– The science and clinical applications of mindfulness
– Mindfulness and neuroscience
– Basic mindfulness breathing
– The wandering mind
– The posture of presence
Week 2. The way of the body
– Coming home into the body
– The mindful witness
– Awakening body awareness
– Breath is your comfort
– The body scan practice
– Turning into the senses
– Mindful walking
– Mindful stretching
Week 3. The power of being present
– How to live all your moments
– Mindful eating
– The modes of doing and being
– Sitting meditation
– Mindful hatha yoga
– Introduction to your energy
– The power of surrender and acceptance
Week 4. Mindfulness and stress – the awareness of your patterns
– What is stress and how to use mindfulness to respond
– Our habitual reactions to negative experiences as anger, anxiety and sadness
– The power and impact of aversion
– Cultivation of a greater degree of awareness.
– Mindfulness and our moods
– Dissolving pain
Week. 5 Building resilience and self-love
– Mindfulness of thought and emotions
– Using mindfulness to boost creativity
– Planning new behaviours and habits with mindfulness
– Cultivating well-being of the self
– Changing the way you perceive and respond to difficulties and how it can help you with stress.
– Dissolving karma
– The power of being grateful
Week 6. Beyond the self – cultivating compassion
– Extending mindfulness beyond the self
– Mindful communication
– Cultivating love for others and the people you dislike
– Interpersonal mindfulness – applying awareness and presence at times when communication becomes difficult.
– Meet your ego. Observe your ego
– Access your higher self and expanded awareness


Practice day – 1-day retreat (additional)

This day will provide space for the participants to deepen their mindfulness practice over an extended period with the help of the group and a guided structure.

The practice day will include: sitting, lying down, walking meditation, eating meditation with periods of silence and group sharing with self-reflection.

Each participant will access benefits related to their own life, which they then will be able to apply to enhance the quality of their life.

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NEW YOGA CLASSES in Teddington: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 6-7pm


~Do you only have one hour to do yoga? Join us for this hour long practice to experience ease, relaxation, more calmness, strength and grounding.

::::::::::HATHA YOGA CLASSES in Teddington:

  • Monday       6-7pm
  • Wednesday 6-7pm
  • Thursday     6-7pm

Location: DidiHolistics private venue in central Teddington.

Advanced booking is required as spaces are limited. Book here , message 07848011064 or reserve your space online now here

Didiholistics Logo

Please bring a yoga mat (if you have one, otherwise there are a few spare ones), a water bottle and wear loose clothing. Do not eat at least an hour before the class. I invite you to follow your body at all times during the practice.

The Hatha Yoga Flow Classes are a fusion of Hatha yoga poses, meditations, energy exercises, breathing techniques and movement.

These new classes last one hour and they combine breathing, poses and short relaxation. These classes are suitable for all levels and abilities including complete beginners.

Come and treat yourself to a gift of being present in the body, boost your immune system and increase your stamina as well as re-wire your nervous system through positive affirmations, surrender and acceptance given to yourself.

See what other attendees have said:

“Yesterday I attended the yoga class facilitated by Didi. Didi brings a conscious and spiritual connection to her form of yoga that adds a dynamic that I have not experienced in other yoga classes. She adds herself, her groundedness, her sense of being, her softness, her compassion, her music, her care were all manifested in abundance in this setting, she took us through flowing forms but added yogic practices for the eyes, meditations, breathing techniques. She tutored us in anatomy and physiology, she helped aide my body with gentle presses so easing my body into deeply grounding movements, she laid on of hands with sensitivity that moved me to tears and left my body feeling deeply connected with myself and all that i am. Those of you that know me well know that i do not praise for the sake of praising or to ‘big up’ even a friend’s work unless I genuinely feel that i value the work and am left feeling that I have received a gift. Didi is indeed the giver of gifts and presence and i am very grateful for what I received yesterday evening. I shall be attending again x” Jason

It was a beautifully crafted, deep and meditative class. Thank you for your sensitive and loving teaching. You have such a gift for this. Its been a real blessing to witness you develop it and take it deeper week by week as we’ve journeyed through the chakras ” Chris

“I remember coming to Edina’s first yoga class a couple of months ago, I was completely hypnotised by her teaching practice and the way she explained asana for us. Her soft voice was so calming, her beautiful flows were creative. You leave the room calm, stretched and a bit more fluid than when you walked in. Edina is very attentive, with a very deep knowledge of yoga anatomy that is carefully and thoughtfully matched to the needs of her students. She gives you a real insight into the spirit and aim of the yogic philosophy.
Edina, you are one of the most inspirational people I have met, you are a natural teacher.” JC

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Mindfulness meditation for every day

Five Basic Steps to Mindfulness Meditation – Blog

The following article from the Time, 3rd February, 2014, guides you through the 5 basic steps to mindfulness meditation:

“Basic mindfulness meditation, the practice of doing nothing and being tuned into your own mind at the same time, can be frustrating at first. But research shows it reduces stress and increases focus.

  1.  Sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor or in a chair. Keep your back straightyoung business man in mindfulness meditation and let your shoulder drop. Take a deep breath and close your eyes if you wish.
  2. Notice your breath. Don’t change your breathing, but focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your lungs.
  3. As thought come into your mind and distract you from breathing, acknowledge those thoughts and then return to focusing on your breathing each time. Let any thoughts go as if they were clouds. Just let them pass by.
  4. Don’t judge yourself or try to ignore distractions. Your job is simply to notice that your mind has wandered and to bring your attention back to your breathing.
  5. Start by doing this 10 minutes a day for a week. The more you meditate regularly, the easier ti will be to keep your attention where you want it.” (adapted from Full Catastrophe Living, 2nd edition, by John Kabat-Zinn)

Recent research has proven the positive effects of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere: during eating – mindful meditation, when getting up, walking to work or brushing your teeth. Bring your awareness to the breath, breath normally and you might notice that your breathing is slowing down on its own. Mindfulness meditation brings you back to peace and into the intimacy of your own body. Make 2015 the new start towards being at home in the body! See you on the mat,


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Yoga Therapy as a Holistic Approach

Yoga therapy as a healing tool

Concept, origins and development
Yoga is a systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit. Yoga is not a religion. Although yoga came out of ancient India it is not a form of Hinduism. In fact yoga is widely practiced by Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, atheist and agnostics alike.
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ruj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and one’s attention on, to use and apply. It also means union and communion. Yoga means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that Yoga presupposes; it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly. The word yoga has been translated by many as union of the body mind and spirit, however it also means separation. It can be the answer to the existential dilemma about enlightenment or union of the yogi and the yogic practice. Yoga can mean the union between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul – God.
Yoga may date back to the seventh millennium BCE, though no one knows for sure how old it is. Yoga first went to the USA when Swami Vivekananda, a hindu monk arrived in Chicago.
It is hard to track back the history of yoga in ancient times, as there was not found any written work from the Indus Valley civilization (c3000-1700 BCE). On the contrary, the Vedic culture (c1700-800 BCE) provided us literature but no archaeology. It has been proven that the Vedic tradition may have come from outside Asia, but yoga does not originate from the Vedas. The exact historical origin of yoga is not proven therefore.
For first time Yoga was mentioned in the Katha Upanishad. At that time Yoga meant rituals and living in harmony with nature. Liberation, enlightenment or karma has not been mentioned at all.
The rise of Buddhism and Jainism approximately after the 5th century BCE had brought the shift. Sramana, consisting of Buddhism and Jainism, were concerned about karma and saw the world as a bad place. In the time 4th century BCE to 4th century CE, the Bhagavad Gita brought a significant change by evolving yoga into 3 forms of practices: jnana, karma and bhakti yoga. Krishna said: “Perform action with awareness”. It took another 500 years until we started to see women in bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga sees the love to the divine as an ongoing meditation.
In the 2nd century CE, Patanjali introduced the idea of the world being a place of suffering and he suggested meditation as solution.

Adi Shankara in the 8th century consolidated the Vedanta teachings and almost at the same time the Tantrism arose in the 6th century, dominating onwards. Tantrism gave rise to Hatha, Mantra, Nada, Kundalini and Laya yogas. Tantra started to deal with the expansion of the consciousness and it was not afraid to connect its practices to the body.Yoga therapy

Yoga as a system consists of breathing exercises, yoga poses and meditation. Traditional yoga as is however incorporates much more than just these three aspects. Yoga teaches us about letting go of the desires, controlling the senses, living without harming of any living organisms and how to train our mind in order to be able to concentrate for example on the flame of a candle.
Yoga therapy is one of the most powerful systems of overall health and well-being I have ever seen. This single comprehensive system can reduce stress, increase flexibility, improve balance, promote strength, heighten cardiovascular conditioning, lower blood pressure, reduce overweight, strengthen bones, prevent injuries, lift mood, improve immune function, increase the oxygen supply to the tissues, heighten sexual functioning and fulfilment, foster psychological equanimity and promote spiritual well-being. Yoga therapy optimizes the function of every system in your body from the muscles to digestion, circulation and immunity. Yoga teaches that only when these elements are aligned can you maximize your chance for health and healing. In yoga, doing your spiritual work affects the body. You stretch and strengthen your muscles and that affects the circulation, digestion and breathing. You calm and strengthen the nervous system and it affects the mind. Yoga says that if you look clearly you will see that everything is connected to everything else. From a therapeutic standpoint, this provides the insight that you improve the functioning of any one organ or system by trying to improve all. There is now scientific evidence that yoga therapy appears to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of health conditions.Yoga therapy

Yoga therapy’s health benefits can in part be explained by the fact that the various stretching, breathing, movement, balance, meditative and strength practices – the elements of what’s known as hatha yoga. There is a continuum of effects from yoga therapy. First, it can relax you. It can also; sometimes it can lead to the relief of some symptoms of illness. With sustained practice, particularly with asanas and the breathing techniques known as pranayama, the body and the breath become stronger. Posture and lung capacity improve, as does bowel function and lymphatic drainage.
Yoga therapy is a series of practices that allow you to steadily gain discipline, strength, and self-control while cultivating relaxation, awareness and equanimity. Yoga therapy can be used as a therapeutic tool to help clients to deal with physical and emotional issues.
General yoga classes can improve general health and resolve mild complaints, but may be ineffective – or even harmful – for serious conditions. In such cases yoga therapy can help by designing yoga for individual needs. It helps promoting all-round positive health, as well as assisting particular medical conditions. Yoga therapy is preventive in nature, as is Yoga itself, but it is also restorative in many instances, palliative in others, and curative in many others.
Training required
Recently the number of organisations offering yoga therapy teacher trainings has grown enormously. However, not all teacher trainings cover the various aspects of yoga, and not all of them train their teachers to teach yoga that is safe. British Wheel of Yoga is the main governing body of yoga in the UK. Any yoga teacher wanting to be insured by the BWY, will need to have completed a BWY approved teacher training which as usual last 200 hours spread out throughout 2 years. The BWY ensures that the yoga teachers certified by them receive sufficient ongoing professional training.
The British Wheel of Yoga was founded in 1965. The British Wheel of Yoga was awarded National Governing Body status by the then Sports Council in 1995 as one of several applying organisations. In its role of Governing Body, the BWY accredits other yoga teacher training organisations.

The BWY is a professional organisation offering first class training in all the practical and ethical aspects of being a safe, skilled, competent, qualified yoga teacher. Their course includes yoga philosophy, anatomy & physiology, yoga asanas, pranayama, mudra & bandha, concentration & meditation and relaxation. Significant time is devoted to ‘how to teach’, the professional practises required to become a safe and effective tutor so that they can stand with confidence in front of their students.

Key aspects of good clinical practice
Yoga has been successfully used lately as a form of holistic therapy. Referral is possible through the local GP’s to the yoga therapist. When yoga therapy is used for a certain condition, customized treatment program should be developed. Yoga teachers are also legally liable for the health of their students in the class and they are responsible to give modifications to students who struggle with health conditions. Various yogic practices have different contraindications where certain poses and practices should be avoided. Effective communication prior each yoga session with each client is essential in order to offer a safe yoga practice or treatment. Formal questionnaire is suggested to be used prior to any yoga session and registration of a new client (See attached questionnaire – Appendix 1.) British wheel of Yoga ensures that yoga is offered only by individuals who follow the guidelines of safe practices.
It is to be noted that yoga therapy is not the same as taking a yoga class. If someone has a serious medical problem, only yoga therapy should be considered.
The Yoga Biomedical Trust facilitates the development of yoga as a holistic therapy in the treatment and prevention of medical conditions, and for positive health. Its practitioners can tailor their treatments to specific health problems as well as teaching general wellbeing through yoga.
The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) is the UK regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners that was set up with government funding and support. CNHC has agreed that The British Wheel of Yoga may verify yoga teachers’ applications for CNHC registration to gain the CNHC quality mark.
Many scientific studies have been conducted to prove the benefits of yoga. We can expect more evidence in the years to come from studies currently under way evaluating yoga’s effects on everything from breast cancer to back pain.

Timothy McCall, Yoga as Medicine
B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga
Victoria Woodhall with Jonathan Sattin, Everyone try yoga Website of British Wheel of Yoga Website of the Yoga Biomedical Trust.

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