The Best Yoga For You
From boosting your gut health to anti-anxiety flow, choose the best postures to make you feel good
The benefits of yoga extend much farther than flexibility and looking good in leggings. A new wave of yoga classes is aimed at treating everything from IBS to insomnia, with studios offering classes and workshops to help you feel your best.
The problem: insomnia
You need: Yoga for Better Sleep at The Life Centre, Notting Hill and Islington (thelifecentre.com)
Lisa Sanfilippo is London’s leading expert on yoga for sleep — her workshops have been known to help life-long insomniacs finally get some shut-eye. “Over the past 15 years I’ve developed a sequence of poses, meditations and breathing exercises which release tension and settle the mind and body for sleep,” says Lisa. And, if you’re one of the one in three people in the UK who have sleep problems, you need to pick your yoga class wisely. “A strong vinyasa class late at night might make you feel tired, but it will have the opposite effect once you’ve gone to bed,” explains Lisa. “You need to calm the nervous system down and get it ready for rest.” For more information visit yogaforbettersleep.com
The problem: IBS
You need: Love Your Belly at Triyoga, Camden (triyoga.co.uk)
Whether you have a bit of a stomach upset, or a more serious condition such as IBD or post-operative bowel cancer, Tanya Goodman Bailey teaches yoga techniques and gives nutritional advice to manage digestive health. “For many people, gut issues are a stress response, and standard yoga practice with deep spinal twists can be too much,” she explains. “This is a very nurturing, healing practice, which aims to reset the nervous system and bring digestion back to normal function. We learn about self-massage and acupressure, as well as various poses that target the digestive organs, calm the mind and settle the belly. We also teach distraction exercises, craniosacral therapy and meditation, which are very effective forms of pain- management.” For more information check out thebellylovemethod.com
The problem: anxiety
You need: Restorative Bliss at Good Vibes, Soho (goodvibesfitness.co.uk)
“Most of us spend our lives in a state of stress and anxiety,” says Nahid de Belgeonne, Founder and Director of the Good Vibes studio. “In our Restorative Bliss class you are completely supported by props, which activate the parasympathetic nervous system and take you into a state of active rest, diverting oxygen from your overly busy brain into the rest of your organs.” The practice happens in a room heated with FAR infra-red panels, warmed to the temperature of a sunny day, which helps to open and soothe the body and can also help people suffering from SAD. De Belgeonne also teaches one-to-one classes for specific conditions such as fertility issues and eating disorders.
The problem: bad posture
You need: Anti-Desk Yoga at Frame, various locations (moveyourframe.com)
This month Frame launched a yoga class specifically for desk jockeys. “It’s a gentle flow that opens up the back, neck and shoulder areas,” says David Kam, yoga teacher at Frame. “The sequences are designed to bring length to the body and improve posture and flexibility for anyone who’s stuck at a desk all day. We also do a lot of hand stretches to free up ‘typing claw’ and breathing exercises to allow you to switch off from the office.”
The problem: a persistent cold
You need: Immunity Yoga at Ushvani, Chelsea (ushvani.com)
If your immune system has taken a battering, luxury day-spa Ushvani is running a four-week workshop to boost those white blood cells. “Each week we’ll do various asanas to rejuvenate cells, allowing oxygen to flow freely through the body and aiding the immune system,” says Deepa, a yoga instructor at Ushvani. “Postures that concentrate on the chest and throat area help regulate the thymus gland, which plays a role in stimulating the lymphatic system. We do a lot of purifying twists to eliminate toxins and activate the secondary organs of the immune system, and we learn to reawaken the abdominal organs with moves like upward-facing dog and wide-angle poses. At this time of year so many people experience lethargy and low immunity, so this workshop just helps mind and body restabilise internally.” This summer Ushvani will be starting a hormone-rebalancing workshop.
A pose to try at home: Cobra
“This pose stimulates the thymus gland, which is responsible for the growth of T-Cells, your body’s first response to the cold and flu. Lie on your belly, place your hands directly under your shoulders and lift your elbows off the ground, make sure the elbows come in towards the body. Keep your pelvis on the ground, relax your shoulders and neck and extend your chest forward. Press down through the tips of your feet (the power of this backbend should come from your legs). Breathe deeply for two to three breaths, lower down and repeat three times,” suggests Deepa.