As a child, I developed Scoliosis. This is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs during the growth spurt periods of childhood. By the time I reached 18, the S-shaped curve needed surgery because my spine was bending by approximately 1 degree every year. In those days, I thought, surgery was the only option to correct the curve. I had a spinal fusion operation which included inserting 2 Harrington Rods along the spine to help straighten me up. It was excruciating and left me in a back brace for a very long time thereafter. As a result, I have very little flexibility and battle with spinal twists and bends. Over the years I have experienced continuous back pain – with intermittent pain free times – but I have learnt to deal with it as it comes!

I have tried yoga classes before but always found that I was behind or just couldn’t do what the teacher wanted. This left me often feeling despondent about doing another class, or even in pain. I gave up thinking that it was not for me, until last week! Enter Lorraine Relleen…

Lorraine is a dear friend and my Nia Dancing Teacher in Kloof. During her yoga teacher training, she needed someone with a “special need” to be her “Body Assist” person. Christine Withiel, Yoga teacher and trainer, from the Jivananda Centre for Wellbeing, asked all her students to bring a family member or friend with a problem so that they could work with their issues in their yoga practice. This aspect of yoga training is very important because every person has a different problem. It is the yoga teacher’s job to help that person become strong and healthy without pain. In this, they need to know how to work with a many types of conditions. I must admit that the training session was amazing! For the first time ever, I felt safe and confident that I was in good hands. Christine is an excellent yoga teacher.

We practiced a series of postures; from simple postures such a Child’s Pose, Downward Dog and even progressed to the extended triangle pose. These poses, as simple as they may sound, are challenging because of the restriction in the spine. Each posture, with its variations, were discussed at length. This gave me a better understanding of the poses and what I can and cannot do. From there, we worked to find the best way to perform the postures to strengthen the stabilising muscles of the body. Special attention was given to each person during our session.

Christine also emphasized to us all the importance of listening to our bodies. We receive “signals” or “messages” from our bodies that something is not right, all the time but we tend to ignore them. In yoga, you learn awareness which can be lifesaving. It is crucial that nothing is forced. One must work gently with the body to prevent pain and injury.

Back pain is more common than I realised. It can be so easily managed, or even prevented, which proper stretching and strengthening. Yoga postures are a method to help this process. Another benefit is that yoga helps to improve overall circulation in the spinal column and nerves.

This yoga class has given me a new opinion of myself – of what I can and cannot do in yoga. I feel more inspired to continue the practice knowing that I don’t have to be sore after a class. I felt very comfortable and supported. I truly believe that TLC (Tender Loving Care) yoga that is offered at the Jivananda Centre is a great way to help people with special conditions like myself.



Both Christine and Lorraine are Body and Mind members, for more information visit their page:

Christine –

Lorraine –