Bene Yoga

Yoga stretches to counter too much sitting

Human beings were not made for sitting all day long. Sitting, especially with a bad posture, tightens and shortens the muscles along the front of the trunk and back of the legs: the hip flexors, hamstrings, chest muscles and abdominal muscles all remain in a contracted state for many hours. Meanwhile, the back is held in a rounded position and thus weakens, the gluts are underused and tighten. If you have found that your lower back feels tight and painful after too much sitting, the exercises below could help.  These yoga stretches to counter too much sitting are meant to open the front of the trunk, stretch the thighs and hip flexors.  They may also strengthen the upper back and release tension in the lower back.

Yoga for better sleep

Here we are in a time when life could be simpler and calmer for many. With fewer places to go to, less trains to catch, and no social events in the diary during the lockdown period, surely this is the time to feel less stressed and sleep better? On the contrary, sleep problems still seem very prevalent. Many of us have to be glued to screens for many hours of the day, working and ‘schooling’ from home, anxiety is in the air and the new reality is problematic for many. So many of my students have complained about sleepless nights that I decided to consult the recent publication of “Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery” by Lisa Sanfilippo. This blog about yoga for better sleep discusses and demonstrates one of the simple yoga sleep sequences that Lisa promotes.

Time to stretch and strengthen your back: how to ease or prevent back pain when working from home

Working from home in these times of COVID-19 can make it extra challenging to stay fit and keep our body strong, supple and pain free. Most of us have to find work and entertainment at home, so we sit at our desk for most of the day, and on the sofa for most of the evening. Prolonged sitting weakens our back muscles, and poor posture may put stress on muscles and joints. The increase in mental stress levels doesn’t help our back health either. This blog aims to give you some yoga movements that can help you ease or prevent back pain when working from home. This is the time to stretch and strengthen your back, in an aligned, easy and enjoyable way.

Sacroiliac joint pain: how to find relief

Despite not being very well known, sacroiliac joint pain is quite a common form of lower back pain. It is caused by the misalignment and long-term stress on the sacroiliac joints, and usually presents as dull pain or a heavy feeling in one or both sides of the lowest, bony part of the back. On the other hand, the pain can also be intense and acute, with possible referred pain to the groin, hip or even the back thigh. In this blog I demonstrate a few yoga movements that can ease sacroiliac joint pain and tightness. Next month’s blog will focus on how we can make sacroiliac joint pain worse with certain daily movements and habits.

How to manage pain in the middle back

When people complain about back pain, they usually mean their lower back hurts, or sometimes they suffer from pain in the shoulders and neck. Most of my back pain students will have either or both. Pain in the middle back is less common. When my middle back started to feel achy during a recent ski trip, I decided to investigate and see what could soothe this ache. Was I doing particular movements while skiing that caused the pain? Or was my posture different in an effort to stay upright on the very slippery slopes? Finally, how could I manage this pain in the middle back? In this blog I describe the movements that eased my middle back discomfort.

Core strength and stability: stronger and more relaxed in 2020

Happy New Year everyone! May we all have a fabulous year, in which we do something every day towards creating the life we want. If back pain sometimes stands in the way, I am here to support you. My aim with yoga therapy is to help you find more confidence and joy in movement. Yoga therapy can enhance your strength and flexibility, improve your posture, optimise your breathing, and provide a time for relaxation and peace of mind. I teach in group- and individual sessions, through my video series and in these simple but hopefully helpful blogs. In this particular blog I address abdominal strength, as well-functioning abdominal muscles are essential to ease back pain and tightness. Now that the holidays are over, are you ready to find core strength and stability?

Restorative Yoga: staying energised in December

December can be a fun and exciting month, but also a very busy and exhausting one, culminating in a few emotionally loaded celebrations. In order to stay centred and energised, it is important to make time for yourself. In this blog I explain how you can do this with simple restorative yoga. When you feel tired and overwhelmed, or you need a short rest before a long night, most effective and easy is to lie for 15 to 20 minutes in one of the rest positions explained below. Resting for 15 to 20 minutes a day in a restorative yoga position counters the effects that stress can have on your body and mind and restores your energy. It also suits this time of year, when the winter invites us to rest more and turn inward.

3 Yoga poses to counter computer posture

Unless your computer screen is on eye level and you are paying attention to sitting straight, you are likely to adopt the easiest position in front of your computer, with a rounded back and forward neck. This “computer posture” is very common in our times and, apart from tightening or overstretching muscles, has a snowballing effect on our health. Below I explain why we should avoid this way of sitting and describe 3 yoga poses to counter computer posture.

Self-care: uplifting yoga

I once asked a friend how she managed to get through a particularly difficult time in her life. She said she focused on looking after herself and eating healthily. It is an important start when life for some reason has ground to a halt and you don’t know immediately which way to turn. As in the cliché, you then have to “put your own safety mask on first”. I am always reminded of her in times I have to be brave, for example when I lose someone dear and I have to think of a strategy to go forward with strength.  Apart from nourishing my body and walking or exercising in nature, I also use my yoga practice to make me feel better. Practising yoga can stimulate the endorphins, our “feel-good hormones”, and promote an inner sense of contentment. When we need a mood shift, uplifting yoga poses can help. Yoga also offers the space to centre oneself, to feel quiet and “re-group”. This blog will take you through poses and breathing exercises that have an uplifting effect. Use the sequence whenever you need some extra support.

When would you choose yoga therapy over yoga? — Global Yoga Therapy Day.

14 August was the first Global Yoga Therapy Day, a day filled with sharing and informative lectures via Facebook. “If you can breathe, you can practice yoga” was the motto of this online event. This means everyone can do yoga, even when unable to walk or kneel or bend in certain ways. More than just making yoga accessible, yoga therapy actively seeks to support an individual’s journey to greater health and wellbeing.

A yoga therapist is a yoga teacher who has been trained to make yoga accessible, beneficial and safe for people with a variety of health challenges. We probably all have health challenges, so when would you choose yoga therapy over yoga? A general yoga class can be beneficial when you are fairly fit, healthy and strong, and when you enjoy the group dynamics and social contact. In some instances, however, yoga therapy is the much better choice. This blog explains why.