Bendy BodyKristina Nekyia
Year Released: 2014
Categories: Athletic Stretch
I am a yoga instructor, and my yoga practice has certainly made me more flexible over time, but I am NOT someone with much pre-existing natural flexibility. I am always looking for alternative methods of stretching that will enhance my yoga practice.
I had tried a previous DVD by instructor Kristina Nekyia that I liked, Shoulder School, although as the title of that DVD would suggest, it specifically addressed the shoulders. I have had Bendy Body on my wish list for some time, and I finally purchased it. In her introduction, Nekyia talks about how this DVD goes through three different types of flexibility: 1) passive stretching, 2) resistance stretching through contracting and releasing (also called PNF by others), and 3) active stretching via using your own antagonist muscles. She states that the third method is the main focus of the DVD.
The DVD Main Menu includes the following segments: Play Bendy Body - Introduction - Stretching the Legs and Hips - Releasing the Lower Back - Opening the Shoulders - Backbends. Kristina is alone teaching via voiceover for all segments. I have described each of these segments (and given approximate times in parentheses) below.
STRETCHING THE LEGS AND HIPS (41.5 minutes)
As I moved through this segment, I was surprised that it went on for so long! In terms of the exercises, that was fine, as Neykia includes some great moves here, but this initial chapter comprises over half the workout, so I wish it had been broken up into smaller chapters. Neykia begins with reclined hamstring work using a strap. These moves will be familiar from both athletic stretching and yoga, but she adds many little twists such as pulses, contract/release, and internal/external rotation. Next comes a variation on Figure 4 stretch with the top leg in the air, taking this leg through a series of dynamic movements. Continuing on the back, Nekyia performs various lying straddle stretches. Seated calf work is follows. Neykia then moves to a kneeling position for a very thorough and unique series of hip stretches, addressing the external hip and hip flexor. She starts with work designed to address the external rotators and help move towards middle splits, then moves towards rear leg lifts, focusing on what she calls the "downstairs butt" to release the hip flexors. From a seated mermaid position, she works on the hips/quads, and then she finishes with more hip flexor work in a kneeling lunge position. At the end of this segment, my entire hip and pelvic area felt WORKED.
RELEASING THE LOWER BACK (6 minutes)
This was a nice segment that I would have loved to be a bit longer. Here Nekyia is seated in a butterfly position, and she adds forward bending and twisting to this position to release the low back.
OPENING THE SHOULDERS (12 minutes)
My right (dominant) shoulder tends to get particularly tight, and the work here felt good! Nekyia starts standing with some neck stretches. She then works to attain range of motion in the shoulders in ALL directions. At the end of this segment, she uses a strap with the arms over head, continuing to stretch the shoulders while also getting in a side oblique stretch.
BACKBENDS (8 minutes)
This segment also begins standing. Nekyia works on opening the upper back, eventually moving towards a back extension in cobra pose. The finally work in this section is done kneeling (similar to camel pose in yoga) and working on the upper backbend in this position; this is supposed to be a preparation for a standing drop-back.
Overall, I really liked this DVD! It gave me exactly what I wanted--i.e., an effective, thorough, intense full-body stretching program that would enhance my yoga practice and other activities. My only (small) complaint is that the first section is not broken up into smaller chapters, as I know I personally would use the shorter segments more often. Otherwise, I would highly recommend this DVD.
I like Kristina a lot. Although she is super-flexible herself, she manages to be down-to-earth--even a bit goofy--and not at all intimidating. I do think her personality would shine through a bit more if she were teaching live rather than voiceover.