Yoga for Stress Relief

Barbara Benagh
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Yoga

I was just perusing the wonderful new reviews section and was SHOCKED to see no reviews of this DVD; I guess I forgot to submit my review here as well. This has become a favorite in my collection and I believe by many other VFers as well, so I'm pleased to share my review below.

This is an extremely versatile DVD by renowned yoga instructor Barbara Benagh. She has combined short posture segments into a series of 20 different practices addressing a variety of stress-related conditions, from energizing after a long day to coping with aches and pains to relieving various digestive conditions. The practices, which are slow-moving with a mostly restorative focus, range in length from 15 to 60 minutes, making it easy to fit yoga into even your busiest days. Barbara frequently uses props; in addition to a yoga mat, I would recommend that you have at least one blanket on hand (preferably 2-3), with pillows and an eye bag being optional.

A breakdown of the DVD is listed below. The headings are the items found on the main menu, and the bullets indicate submenu items. The times for each practice are given as they appear on-screen, but I've added times in parentheses based on my own review. I've included brief notes on some of the practices that I have already tried; I plan to edit this review with additional notes as I use more of the vast material on this DVD.

Discussion of Meditation by HH The Dalai Lama (35)
Interview with Barbara (22)

Beginning and Ending Your Day
* Begin Your Day Slowly, 25m (24.5) - starts slowly on the floor and gradually moves into more active postures, including sun salutations
* Wake Up! 60m (58) - nice, slow flow combining seated breath work, sun salutation/standing postures, and seated forward bends
* Evening Revival, 40m (35.5) - starts in child's pose and moves on to standing postures and then shoulder/back stretches on the floor
* Letting Go of the Day, 40m (37) - a series of floor and restorative postures, including reclined cobbler's, supported child's pose, and seated forward bends/twists
* Insomnia Series, 35m (36) - relaxing postures to help prepare for sleep; starts with simple standing poses and moves on to seated forward bends, supported cobbler's and child's pose, and legs-up-the-wall

Neck, Shoulder, and Back Issues
* Easing Neck & Shoulder Tension, passive, 20m (19) - a series of reclined postures allowing passive relaxation of the neck and shoulders
* Easing Neck & Shoulder Tension, active, extended, 30m (29) - more active stretches of the neck, shoulders, and upper back from both seated and standing positions; ends with legs-up-the-wall
* Lower Back Tension, 35m (35.5) - reclined and prone postures to open up the back
* Hip Pain (SI Joint), 25m (36) - a series of gentle hip-opening postures including reclined leg stretch, open half lotus, and prone postures
* Tension Headaches, 45m (44) - a combination of sequences from both the passive and the active neck and shoulders segments above; ends with legs-up-the-wall plus a lengthy relaxation

Easing Your Mind
* Breathing Exercises to Calm the Mind, 15m (15) - a slowly moving series of different breathing techniques while lying
* Restorative Poses for Relaxation, 15m (13.5) - three simple postures to facilitate deep relaxation (supported cobbler's, heart opener, legs-up-the-wall)
* Deep Rest, 20m (18) - reclined breathing combined with a lengthy relaxation segment
* Mood Uplift, 30m (32.5) - offers a combination of calming and more active postures, starting with standing postures and moving to supported bridge and supported heart opener
* Serenity in Stillness, 35m (40.5) - combines elements of the digestive, hips, and neck practices; my favorite so far, especially with the supported bridge
* Anxiety Relief, 50m (40) - focuses largely on breathwork to calm the mind; also includes prone poses, reclined twist, and supportive postures

Stomach and Digestion Issues
* Constipation, 25m (27) - gentle prone postures to stimulate the stomach combined with standing and seated twists
* Improve Digestion, 30m (28.5) - sun salutations plus standing and seated twists; ends with half shoulderstand
* IBS, 30m (26.5) - starts with reclined breathwork and moves on to seated forward bends; ends with half shoulderstand and legs-up-the-wall
* Diarrhea & Indigestion, 30m (25) - nice series of gentle supported postures to open the upper back and release the stomach; includes supported bridge and legs-up-the-wall

One final important note is that not all of the practices end with the traditional relaxation pose, or savasana: some conclude with legs-up-the-wall pose, others end in a relaxed seated position. Overall, this is an excellent yoga DVD well-suited to a wide range of practitioners, from those fairly new to yoga to more experienced yoginis like myself. Highly recommended!

UPDATE: KathAL79 has compiled an even more complete list of all the poses included in each practice here:

Instructor Comments:
I definitely like Barbara, but she has a slow, drawn-out way of speaking that might be annoying to some; also, she does not mirror-cue. I find that for more relaxing, restorative yoga, I like her style, but I don't click with her for more active practices.

Beth C (aka toaster)