You’ve got anti-ageing for your face and body but new Spinal Regeneration is the yoga-influenced exercise that claims it can make your back younger. Healthista blogger, yogi and journalist Genny Wilkinson-Priest tried it
As a daily yoga practitioner, I’m fairly used to bending my backbone in all sorts of directions. Backwards, forwards, sideways – you name it.
But when invited for a session of Spinal Regeneration, I fairly quivered in fear. My spine – reborn? I’ve been through labor more than a few times – it bloody well hurt giving birth. Are you telling me I’ve got to do it again?
Like many yoga teachers I know, Petra Mitidieri’s studio is in her home – a lovely North London house that oozes Camden cool with its distressed wood floors and post-modern interiors. My nerves however, weren’t put at ease when I walked into the studio itself and came face-to-face with a wall perforated floor-to-ceiling with precisely measured steel holes on which ropes, handles, and pulleys hung casually. I couldn’t help but feel like I’d walked on to the movie set of the next Fifty Shades of Grey movie.
on a wall perforated floor-to-ceiling with precisely measured steel holes ropes, handles, and pulleys hung casually, like the set of the next Fifty Shades of Grey movie.
Mitidieri herself exudes a certain dominatrix air, which is not uncommon to Iyengar yoga-influenced teachers – a style of yoga known for its near-uptight attention to detail. If your big toe isn’t placed just so, some Iyengar teachers have been known to slap a student, and not in a playful way. Rest assured Croatian-born Mitidieri doesn’t go to nearly that extreme; in fact her direct, authoritative manner and dry sense of humor put me right at ease. I immediately felt like I could trust her, which was a good thing considering what she asked me to do next.
Every time you do spinal regeneration, the spine grows one week younger, Mitidieri says
Spinal Reneration at Petra Yoga consists of a series of four exercises that utilize ropes and belt straps to cajole the spine to deeply – yet comfortably – twist, flex forward, extend backward and bend sideways. The idea is to increase the space in between each of the 24 articulating vertebrae, and regenerate the spongy intervertebral discs that separate them. The benefits are plenty, Mitidieri insists, as she proceeded to provide an avalanche of anecdotal evidence: painful sciatica eased, chronic generalized back pain soothed, and even growth in height.
‘Every time you do spinal regeneration, the spine grows one week younger,’ Mitidieri said. And though she has no scientific proof of this – she has plenty of clients who swear it’s true.
‘Thanks to Petra’s hanging ropes, I remember at my advanced age, what it feels like when I was young,’ said Eva Jiricna, a 76-year-old architect. ‘During the hanging experience, and for a while after my entire body feels like it’s 15 years old again.’
Youth, restored? Count me in.
I found keeping my breath even and smooth pretty difficult when upside down as I held on for dear life to Mitidieri’s thighs as she pulled my spine backwards
Now I practice yoga for nearly two hours every morning, and found 30 minutes of spinal regeneration tough going. Despite the fact that your spine is in traction – meaning you are doing a lot of ‘hanging’ in the ropes, relying on gravity to do the work for you – it was a lot of effort. I found keeping my breath even and smooth pretty difficult when upside down as I held on for dear life to Mitidieri’s thighs as she pulled my spine backwards.
Mitidieri learned the spinal regeneration technique from her Seattle-based yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala, the founder of Purna Yoga and who was once a senior Iyengar teacher. (Tip: Never learn yoga from a teacher who herself/himself doesn’t maintain regular contact with a yoga teacher more senior to them.) Mitidieri visits Palkhivala every year, learning new techniques – in her most recent trip she learned procedures to address chronic neck problems.
Despite the initial depletion of energy, spinal regeneration ignited me from the inside out
After my session of spinal regeneration, I feigned a new pup’s vigor, and bid a hasty goodbye to Mitidieri. I retreated home, collapsed into bed and woke up 30 minutes later feeling, well – reborn.
Despite the initial depletion of energy, spinal regeneration ignited me from the inside out. I felt like I walked a little bit taller for days after, and felt a noticeable freedom of movement in my spine that was probably pretty healthy to begin with already.
spinal regeneration ignited me from the inside out.
Spinal regeneration is not for everyone. It’s not recommended for those who are pregnant, have high blood pressure, heart problems, or glaucoma. And while spinal regeneration is ‘miraculous’ according to Mitdieri, for treating non-specified spasm or disc-related pain, you must wait until the pain has subsided to a ‘functioning’ level before seeing Mitidieri.
Private session of spinal regeneration: 30 – 45 minutes at £50
Spinal regeneration as part of a private yoga class: 60 minutes at £60, or 75 minutes at £70.
Group classes on Wednesdays 6:30 – 8 pm (maximum 5 people): 90 minutes at £25 per person. Includes spinal regeneration. Find out more at petrayoga.co.uk
*All photos by Dario Mitidieri