According to current guidance from the American College of Sports Medicine and Harvard Medical School, we need to move more. In fact, they recommend doing flexibility exercises for each of the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body at least twice a week. In this article, we will look at the benefits of stretching on both the mind and body.

There are a numbers of reasons why you may have reduced muscle and joint flexibility. Some of the most common include: too much sitting while working; the result of playing sport, and getting older. In order to keep muscles strong, flexible and healthy, we need to maintain a range of movement in our joints. Without this flexibility, muscles shorten and become tight. As a result of this, when you then call on the muscles for activity, they become weak and are unable to extend fully.

What are the benefits of stretching?

Stretching is a controlled and deliberate lengthening of muscles and fascia, to increase muscle flexibility and improve the range of motion in our joints. Some of the benefits of stretching include the following:

  • Improved muscle flexibility and joint mobility.
  • Improved blood circulation: increasing oxygen and removing waste from our muscles.
  • Better posture: reducing tightness in the postural muscles improves our postural alignment.
  • Reduces risk of injury.
  • Improves performance in daily life and sport.
  • Reduces stress: calms the mind while stretching, particularly when focusing on mindfulness and meditation.

Ways of improving flexibility

One way of discovering the benefits of stretching is by doing an exercise class. Here at Yoga Mama, we run a variety of health and fitness courses and classes in conjunction with our colleagues at The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy. One of these is Pure Stretch, a 4-5 week course led by Cherie Lathey that is suitable for all levels of experience. Another good way of improving flexibility and mobility is through Gentle Pilates. This class is especially suitable for those who are returning to exercise following injury or after a lengthy break.

For information about classes at Yoga Mama, take a look at our class timetable. and for class and pass prices, click here.



How do you choose a yoga teacher? This question came up in a workshop that I attended. At the time, my response to this was that it was intuition… That feeling you get when you come across a teacher that you seem to connect with. However, I have pondered over this some more. I have looked at what has attracted me to the yoga teachers (whom I still look to for guidance) and why I have let go of some teachers along the way.

My thoughts on this are:

  • The yoga teachers that I really connect with are the ones who have something that I would like to learn myself.
  • They display all elements of yoga, not just the physical asana practice. They teach with kindness and compassion.
  • I trust them to adjust me in postures, especially poses that I am fearful of.
  • My trusted yoga teachers have enabled me to work through some of these poses and move on when I was ready. They don’t look to hold me back.
  • A good teacher for me is someone who wants to share their knowledge and growth with their students and is able to admit that they do not have all the answers.

My yoga teacher once said “do not put your teacher on a pedestal, we are all human with human failings”. This to me says we do not need to be perfect. The honesty in that statement is very freeing.

I don’t think it is necessary to say what I do not like in a teacher. It is pretty clear what works for me and I can only speak from my own experience. However, I do think that people looking to choose a yoga teacher should try a few different ones before deciding which path they want to take. You may be lucky enough to find the one for you in your first class. Whatever you find, it will be the start of your yogic journey.



Here is a very wise quote from the Dalai Lama. Sleep is the best meditation. This is especially true in the fast pace of modern living.

Sleep is the best meditation.

Dalai Lama



Over the years, I have been frequently asked about the benefits of yoga for asthma sufferers. Obviously, I could not possibly speak on everyone’s behalf. However, from personal experience, my answer would be yes. As an asthmatic (who has had a respiratory arrest), I have found that yoga has transformed my life in several ways. Perhaps most significantly, it has enabled me to have greater control over breathing. I am now able to recognise the onset of asthma symptoms and use yogic breathing exercises to relax. Another benefit is that I have been able to drastically reduced the use of prescribed asthma medication.

On a more scientific note, medical studies have also shown that practising yoga on a regular basis is beneficial for asthma sufferers. During an asthma attack, the upper back and chest become tight from wheezing, coughing and struggling to breath. This is where yogic breathing exercises come into play. They exercise the lungs and encourage a full diaphragmatic breath. As a result, learning to breathe deeply in a calm controlled way can help to reduce symptoms when they arise. It goes without saying that you should always seek your doctor’s advice before adjusting your medication. The same applies when taking up any new form of physical activity.


What poses in yoga are good for asthma? There are many yoga poses that can bring relief to the thoracic area. In particular, those that include twisting and some bending of the back. These lengthen and open up areas that have become tight through shallow breathing and wheezing. In this short video, you will see the 5 best yoga poses for asthma relief.


At our Yoga Mama Wellness studio in Putney, we offer Yin Yoga with Cherie Lathey both as group classes or 1:1 sessions. These gentle classes are suitable for asthma sufferers. At present, group classes are running online. However, we look forward to returning to the studio when social distancing restrictions are lifted. In addition, we also occasionally run Restorative Yoga workshops with Diane King.