Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy – Viniyoga approach

Yoga therapy is a holistic therapy to optimise our health and well being on a physical, energetic, mental/emotional and spiritual level.   Often when thinking of yoga it is the physical aspect and perhaps breathing that comes to mind, however, yoga incorporates a wide variety of tools, as well as postures and breathing these include: diet & life style advice, meditation, relaxation, affirmations and visualisation; personal ritual, mantra, chanting and study of yoga texts which date back thousands of years.

 Yoga postures are adapted to suit individual needs rather than forcing the body into various positions.  This can help develop strength, flexibility, ease and balance in the body; reduce weakness and structural pain according to need.  Moving in time with the breath helps spinal movement; it can ease spinal compression and lengthen the spine increasing range of movement and comfort.  This emphasis on the spine has a positive effect on the nervous system, it helps calm the mind and reduce anxiety which is further developed with seated breathing practices, meditation, chanting etc

What is involved?

Yoga therapy involves taking an active part in your own healing process.  The therapist devises a practice, taking into account physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs interests, lifestyle and living arrangements.  To gain maximum benefit, you are encouraged to practice at home on a regular basis.  It does not need to be as long as a group class, just 20-30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week will be very beneficial.  In acute cases you may be given a shorter practice to do twice daily.

How quickly does it work?

Positive results are often seen within a few weeks, sometimes within days, the key is regular practice. The more regularly you practice the sooner you will see results.

What conditions can Yoga therapy help?

The Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council states that “Yoga can help with a wide range of disorders and stress related problems.  Including back and joint issues; breathing disorders; issues during PMS, pregnancy and menopause; emotional issues such as anxiety, depression; injuries, surgery and illness.  It may also enhance the quality of life for patients with chronic diseases”.

I am currently working with fibromyalgia, MS, ME, COPT. scoliosis, PTSD, cancer, arthritis, back/neck pain, stress, & anxiety.

Yoga therapy can be used along with conventional medicine and other complementary therapies.

Further information

How Healthy is Your Heart ?

Latest news and research about the heart, click on each link for more information

  2. Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer
  3. Most deaths from heart disease are caused by a heart attack
  4. Heart disease kills more women than breast Cancer
  5. An under active thyroid, can raise blood pressure and so be an issue for heart health
  6. Men who don’t have breakfast are 27 per cent more likely to suffer heart attacks or heart disease
  7. ’Broken heart’ syndrome usually occurs in women, and can be triggered by stresses such as bereavement
  8. The UK spends nearly £2 billion each year on the healthcare costs of treating coronary heart disease
  9. heart in bodyCarbohydrates/Sugar, is the Root of Heart Disease
  10. Saturated Fat Does NOT Promote Heart Disease
  11. Taking exercise, eating a healthy diet and being aware of dangers such as smoking, drinking, high blood pressure, and stress are all important for your long term heart health, whether you currently have heart disease or not.


Staying Grounded – 3 tips to keep you centred


Getting back to nature and following the seasons as in days of old really helps us stay connected, grounded present and aware.  Our routine and diet should reflect the season

Ayurveda is considered a sister science to yoga.  It is one of the world’s oldest healing systems, originating around 3000 years ago in India; it was used alongside yoga to support the body.

It says that our constitution and stage of life, the seasons and time of day comprise one or a mixture of dosa:- vata, pitta and kapha – the tridosa.

In autumn vata predominates.  Vata is linked to the elements of air and ether; it is light, subtle, dry, mobile, rough and cold.  If vata is predominant in the body autumn will aggravate it further.  You may feel off balance or ungrounded.

Suggestions to help ground and balance include:

1.  Eat foods that are warm and moist (soups, stews, steamed vegetables) to reduce and calm vata.

2.  A warm oil massage

3.  A slow, steady, grounding, consistent yoga asana practice.

7 Ways to Keep that Summer Feeling

A beautiful summer lifts our spirits. Here are 7 ways to bring the summer feeling of energy and wellbeing into your daily life:-

Field of Summer Flowers

Field of Summer Flowers


  • Nature: Spend time in nature, just 10 minutes a day is beneficial.  A plant on your desk will bring nature into your workplace.
  • Food: Eat as healthily as possible.  Reduce processed items and increase fresh produce.  Make time for breakfast.
  • Exercise:  Daily gentle yoga stretches or qigong will keep the body and energy moving.
  • Sleep:  Aim for 8 hours a day.  If you have problems going to sleep or wake during the night start a calming routine before bed including some long deep breaths focussing on relaxing as you exhale.
  • Meditate:  A few minutes in reflective stillness during the day will help calm, relax and focus the system.  Make sure you are comfortable, its fine to sit on a chair, just check that the back is upright.
  • Gratitude:  Express thanks for the wonderful summer and for the coming joys of autumn and winter.  A positive outlook makes a great difference.
  • Laughter: Look for the humour in difficult situations, spend time with happy friends and smile and laugh often.

MS Resources

Websites  MS Society  MS Trust   MS Therapy Centres   MS Resource Centre (MSRC )

Magazine with positive contributions from people with MS. Previous magazines can be read on their website                   Information on Vitamin B12 deficiency         Information on the Swank diet The Yoga for Health and Education Trust Yoga for People with MS

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The China Study,   T Colin Campbell, Benbella

Reversing Heart Disease,  Dr Dean Ornish,  Ivy Books,

Optimum Nutrition, Patrick Holford, Piatkus

Molecules of Emotion,  Dr Candace B Pert Ph.D.,  Pocket Books

MS – the Facts,  Bryan Matthews, Oxford University Press

MS – self-help guide, Judy Graham, Thorsons

Optimum Nutrition Bible, Patrick Holford,  Piatkus

Vitamin D3 and Solar Power for Optimal Health,  Marc Sorenson

Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book,  Roy Laver Swank & Barbara Brewer Dougan

The MS Society                         Free information booklets

MSRC Pathways Magazine                  Nov/Dec 2002 page10 – Hughes Syndrome

Yoga is recognised as being valuable in the management of MS by the MS Society.

‘Yoga for MS’ CD, containing two 30 minute sessions, is available from experienced remedial yoga teacher, Joy Frame who was the senior yoga teacher at YFHF for many years.  Cost £5 including postage & packing.  Email [email protected].

Taken from Multiple Sclerosis Q / A  June A Skeggs updated Oct. 2011

Click here for full article

MS & Nutritional Support

Are Omega 6 & Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (E.F.A) Important?

E.F.A’s are essential and present in every cell in the body. The body cannot make them so they come from the food we eat. Research has shown that white matter in the brains of people with MS are deficient in E.F.A’s. Other studies show E.F.A.’s are low in the myelin sheath around the nerves, red and white blood cells, platelets and blood plasma.

E.F.A’s go through several stages of conversion before they can be utilized by different parts of the body. It is believed that for people with MS something has gone wrong in this process at the stage where linoleic acid converts to gamma-linoleic acid. Research at the Nuffield Laboratories in London showed that gamma-linoleic acid given as evening primrose oil capsules was capable of altering abnormal cell membranes, including those in myelin returning them to normal.

The recommended dose is 6x 500mg capsules per day either 2 three times a day or 3 twice a day.  

Why is Vitamin D considered important?

Vitamin D helps prevent cells from becoming diseased. Incidences of MS are higher in countries with increasing latitude where there is less sunlight.  The sun’s ultraviolet rays on the skin make Vitamin D – a few hours exposure a week is sufficient.  This is stored in our liver and body fat for 20 days or more.  When needed it is converted into ‘supercharged Vitamin D’ (1,25D).  This is 1,000 times more active than stored Vitamin D and lasts for only 6-8 hours, hence the need for continual replacement.  Limited exposure to sunlight means that Vitamin D blood levels could be low. ‘Supercharged vitamin D’ levels are reduced by animal protein that increases blood acidity interfering with the production of 1,25D.  Animal protein and too much calcium reduce blood levels of 1,25D.

Vitamin D is also available in some foods, e.g. oily fish, and often as an additive in breakfast cereals and fortified milk. Some supplements contain Vitamin D but it is not absorbed so well. Supercharged Vitamin D is too powerful and too dangerous to make as a supplement.  Dr Campbell advises that if Vitamin D is needed the lowest possible dose should be taken.

It is worth having your Vitamin D levels checked.  The best test is a blood test called 25(OH)D.  Marc Sorenson and Dr William Grant consider a level of 33-100 ng/ml sufficient. Practitioners at ‘The Sanctuary’ in Blackburn, England have found that a minimum of 100ng/ml is required for people with MS.

Why could Vitamin B12 be important?

B12 is needed for the formation of haemoglobin that carries oxygen through the body.  It is important in energy production, healthy cell metabolism and is essential for the brain and nervous system.  It is mostly found in animal products and in micro-organisms in the soil.  Deficiency may be due to a vegetarian/vegan diet or an inability to absorb it properly which can be hereditary.  Sterile soil and over-clean vegetables do not help.

Some Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms resemble those of MS e.g. fatigue, dizziness, tingling and numbness.  It is worth getting your B12 levels checked as some people with MS have had considerable improvement in energy and a variety of symptoms, including walking, when having regular B12 injections.

Taken from Multiple Sclerosis Q / A  June A Skeggs updated Oct. 2011

Click here for full article

Causes/Risk Factors in MS

What causes MS?

Despite having been identified over 100 years ago and with considerable research since, the cause/s of MS are still unknown.  Orthodox medicine currently highlights genetics, viruses and environmental factors as playing a part.


There is a strong relationship between our genes and our susceptibility to diseases like MS.  Genes alone cannot be solely responsible for MS as the increase has been far too rapid.  There is convincing evidence that gene expression and activation, influenced by our environment, is more important than the actual genes themselves.  If we provide our body with the optimum environment e.g. through correct nutrition, freedom from stress and adequate Vitamin D we have a much better chance of expressing the right genes.  Not all genes are active and they can be switched on and off by changing the environment.  In cancer research, for example, Dr T. Colin Campbell found that bad genes could be switched off by reducing the amount of animal protein ingested.


Genes give us our susceptibility to certain illnesses.  In homeopathy that susceptibility with other factors activates the collection of symptoms that orthodox medicine labels MS.  It also determines which miasm/s are activated (we all have them). Miasm is a homeopathic term that describes a “predisposition towards chronic disease underlying the acute manifestations of illness,” transmittable from one generation to another

(Dr George Vitoulkas2). It/they can be treated with the corresponding homeopathic nosode prepared from pathological tissue.

Although we do not inherit MS directly the fact that family members share their genes, susceptibility and environment means their chances of getting MS are increased though incidences of familial cases of MS are very low.


Various viruses have been suggested by orthodox medicine as being responsible for MS but nothing has been proven.  It has been suggested that they could be the trigger that initiates MS.  Chronic diseases like MS do not just appear and have been building up for a long time before symptoms are felt.

Electro-acupuncture (EAP) is a German diagnostic non-invasive test that checks the body for pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites) and miasms.  Treatment with vibrational homeopathy clears pathogens and renders miasm/s (more than one may be active) dormant.  The condition for many people with MS has improved or stabilized with this treatment but unfortunately there are very few practitioners in this country.

Is prolonged emotional stress a risk?

Stress causes and is intimately linked to many diseases.  It is not the event or situation itself that creates stress but our subsequent thought processes and accompanying emotions.  In response to strong emotions like fear our body initiates its emergency ‘fight or flight response’ which is designed to cope with short-term stress only.  When stress is prolonged (chronic) the many changes this induces are harmful and cause a further deterioration in health or illness.

Our thought processes also affect the immune system which fights infection.  Immune cells are thinking cells that communicate with the other systems in our body e.g. respiratory, digestive and nervous systems (Dr Candace Pert).  Thinking healthy, positive thoughts in a calm, relaxed body stimulates the body’s healing system.  Negative thinking and stress weaken the immune system, stop the free flow of energy necessary for wellness and prevent maximum absorption of energy from food.  These leave us more vulnerable to illness.

Does environment increase risk?

When people move from a low to a high incidence environment they have the same genes but their risk of getting MS increases or decreases to the same level as the rest of the population e.g. if they eat the same diet or live in areas with the same amount of sun.  Changing the environment before adolescence changes that risk markedly.  Environment can change both gene chemistry as well as DNA

Do certain foods increase the risk and progression of MS?

Dr Roy Swank followed people with MS and their diets for 34 years and concluded that the progression of MS, even in more severe cases, was markedly reduced with a diet low in saturated fats especially those from animal based foods 1.  His studies have been confirmed and extended by many scientists in many countries.

Dr Campbell has done in-depth studies of diets and illnesses throughout the world and found that the western diet of meat, fish and dairy products is related to the increasing number of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases of which MS is one.  Ingestion of cows’ milk with its protein and calcium is strongly associated with MS.  We are told that we need milk for calcium but we get more than enough in a balanced diet.

Dr Campbell claims that the plant based diet that prevents diseases like MS can also reverse, slow or stop them.  Therefore, eliminating dairy products, meat, fish and foods high in saturated fats in exchange for a plant based diet can have a very positive effect on MS progression and prevention.  Food choices affect all areas of our ‘being’ including energy levels and metabolism.

Taken from Multiple Sclerosis Q / A  June A Skeggs updated Oct. 2011

Click here for full article

1 The China Study page 196, T Colin Campbell, Benbella

2 The Science of Homeopathy, George Vithoulkas, B Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.   page 130

Yoga and Health

Yoga and the 21st Century – Interview with TKV Desikachar May 1999

Question: How far do you think that yoga can contribute to maintaining good health in the coming century? Desikachar: It is now known that health is not just the absence of diseases coming from infections, etc. There are many illnesses for which medicine has no answer or knowledge of their origins.

People are also turning to other health systems which give them hope. Anything that can offer some solace is now being tried – there is aromatic therapy, hypnosis, magnetic therapy, etc.

In yoga we have this fundamental idea – anything that disturbs a person, including illness and disease, can be helped if we can act on the mind. What is so special about yoga is that it gives us a way to strengthen our mind. When the mind gets stronger, we can face illness and we feel healthier.

It has already been proved that yoga can help. Yoga is not medicine – it is concerned with the quality of life, attitudes to life, personal disciplines, and various other things which any system of medicine can accept. It will certainly have a role to play in every system of health care for times to come.

Question: In this field do you see the most important contribution from yoga being on a preventive or a curative level in the coming century? Desikachar: I think the most important contribution yoga can make in the field of health is the courage it can give to face illness, the strength we can find to cope with our ailments. The moment we have this strength, we have already been cured in a way.

That, I think, is a very significant contribution. This is at least what we see with the many different people who come to our yoga institution in India. Some of them have not received education, others are very cultivated, but whoever they are, when faced with illness, they generally feel discouraged.

After some time they have the courage to smile again, to take a walk, to climb some steps – which can be a big improvement…  This happens because yoga identifies a power within them, a power which they didn’t think they had. It is not medicine, but it works.

Question: Are dietary restrictions a part of yoga? Desikachar: When we start yoga, we begin to look at ourselves. We notice what creates problems and what relieves these problems. Food can do both. If we notice that good food makes us feel better, we will start taking more care about our diet.

People who begin yoga practice start thinking about many things which they hadn’t considered before. Some even reflect on what colour the carpet on which they do their practice should be!

Obviously what we eat is an important consideration, but it is not something that we as yoga teachers insist on.  Each person takes care of his or her own diet. As time goes by yoga makes us more aware of what we are doing and what we should be doing.

Question: Modern medicine has done wonders to improve many ailments, but the contemporary disease which we call stress seems to be difficult to handle for the medical world. Why is yoga practice effective for this field? Do you think it will remain so in the future? Desikachar: Our future life will be stressfull – there is no doubt about that. With all the comforts and conveniences we have, and all the opportunities which modern life gives us, we have more and more ambitions – this can only increase the stress level.

The question is how to cope with it? No outside force can do this for us – we have to look after it from within ourselves, using our own resources.

Yoga cannot prevent stress, but as I said earlier, yoga gives us access to our ressources, which are linked to the mind. In strengthening the mind, yoga enables us to develop a sort of cushion, an increased ability to withstand stress. This is the best way to cope with it. It’s like having a good shock absorber when driving a car on a bumpy road.

Through an understanding of what is at stake, linked to the practice of yoga, the force of our mental ressources are developed and we can handle stress better.

TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.

With thanks to Paul Harvey – see also Relevance of Traditional Teaching, Yoga & Psycology