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by Barbara Benagh
bodywisdom media, 2013
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Apr 30th 2013
This DVD features veteran yoga instructor Barbara Benagh, who has again paired with Body Wisdom Media, this time offering six yoga sequences specific to back care. The Main Menu presents the following options:
- How to Use this DVD
- Interview with the Instructor
- General Back Care (Revitalizing) (40 Min.)
- Neck Care (40 Min.)
- Lumbar Care (20 Min.)
- Sciatica Relief (35 Min.)
- Scoliosis Routine (25 Min.)
- Rest and Restore (25 Min.)
In her general interview, Benagh explains that up to 8 out of 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In addition, each practice includes a short introduction providing more specific information on that routine. For example, Benagh recommends using the General Back Care practice about once per week in addition to the other segments. She also describes the Rest and Restore as THE most importance sequence on the DVD.
Benagh uses a blanket in all the routines; there are a few poses that require a yoga block (a thick, sturdy book can be substituted), and two practices also use a folding chair. I have described each sequence in greater detail below, providing more specific time information as well.
GENERAL BACK CARE (REVITALIZING) (40.5 minutes)
Benagh starts this routine seated for a seated twist and seated side stretch. Coming to standing, she moves through shoulder shrugs, shoulder stretches, and standing forward bend, followed by a low lunge on either side. She then uses the block between the hands for heart opening pose (a shoulder stretch). Staying on the floor, Benagh flows from cat to cobra and then performs several locust variations. Returning to standing in a wide-leg position, she moves through standing twist, forward bend, and bent over twist. Benagh comes back to the floor for a leg stretch with slight crunch, bridge (feet narrow and wide), and reclining twist with arm variations. She concludes with a short savasana (about 2 minutes) using a blanket under the head and shoulders.
NECK CARE (38.5 minutes)
Benagh explains that this practice will focus on passive traction; several of the moves are reminiscent of her Yoga for Stress Relief video. She begins seated with shoulder shrugs, adding in a rib stretch. Coming to lying with a blanket bolster under the neck and shoulders, she moves into a variation of two stretches from her past DVDs, arm across chest twist and arm under the waist. Several more reclined stretches follow, including arms overhead with a block and arms in trident shape. Returning to seated, Benagh performs a side body lift. Next comes stretch of the East practiced with the hands both forward and back. Additional postures include heart opening pose, dolphin to plank, locust variations, and bridge with a block under the sacrum. A slightly longer (3.5 minutes) savasana ends this practice.
LUMBAR CARE (22.5 minutes)
Here Benagh notes that a weak core and tight hips can contribute to low back difficulties, so this practice focuses on these areas. She begins with a variation on reclined leg stretch, floating one leg and reaching with the arm. Next is reclined bound angle, moving the knees in and out. Benagh then performs core strengtheners, including small crunches, half boat, and twisting side crunch. Moving through thunderbolt, table, and bird dog, Benagh comes down to a prone position for locust variations and sphinx pose. She concludes with a 4-minute savasana, resting the calves on a chair.
SCIATICA RELIEF (33.5 minutes)
Benagh states that this practice is designed to increase flexibility in the hips and external rotators. She starts in constructive rest, performing sacral rocks with foot raises and sacral stabilization. Next is reclined half lotus, an isometric knee press, and sacral rocks with a slight crunch. This is followed by reclined leg stretch, wide leg bridge, and active child pose using a block. Seated on a blanket, Benagh performs firelog pose, half-cow, and half Lord of the fishes variation. She finishes with a 5-minute relaxation.
SCOLIOSIS ROUTINE (23 minutes)
This practice begins lying face-down, resting the hips on a blanket bolster. Benagh then performs a side stretch on one side only in an attempt to stretch the shorter side. Next, constructive rest with a shoulder stretch and then reclined twist, again on the short side only, then constructive rest with arms overhead. The practice concludes with heart opening pose, three repetitions of bridge pose, and about 3.5 minutes relaxation, using weights on the tighter shoulder and opposite hip.
REST AND RESTORE (26.5 minutes)
For this more restorative routine, Benagh begins lying in constructive rest for wave breathing. She again practices arm across chest, this time adding in a twist. This is followed by a reclined twist and modified bridge pose. The remaining restorative postures including lying using a bolster and block, legs up the wall (using a block and a chair), and savasana with a blanket under the thighs and a block under the head.
The gentle sequences on this DVD are appropriate both for those who are actively in pain and for those who wish to maintain optimal back health. Prior yoga experience would be helpful, but it is not a necessity, as Benagh provides thorough, detailed instruction and offers modification suggestions thoroughout.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.