muck_a_luck: (Yoga Namaste Two)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
My journey toward meditation practice )

Anyway, all that said, I picked up Rodney Yee - Meditation & Yoga (Yoga For Meditation) (it seems to have two alternate titles) at the library this weekend.

It is divided into an introduction and five segments and runs around an hour in length. The first segment is Mountain, a very gentle hatha sequence that seems designed to get the kinks out and open your whole body up for ease of breathing.

Mountain is followed by Garden, a chair yoga sequence for opening the hips. I have never done any chair yoga, assuming it was to assist those not flexible or strong enough yet for a "real" asana practice. Live and learn! I was impressed by how using the chair as a prop allowed range of motion that really leveraged hip-opening.

Tree invites you to go to a wall with your yoga block and develop the traditional seated postures used for meditation. Mr. Yee explores Baddha Konasana, Virasana, Siddhasana, and Half and Full Lotus.

Wind is a reclined meditation to help bring focus to the breath.

Sky is a seated meditation, combining the posture guidance and breathing of the earlier sequences with a guided meditation.

The asanas of Mountain are appropriate for all levels of practitioners, though if you are not familiar with yoga you might want to plan to get some familiarity with these few postures so that you can integrate them into the achievement of a calm openness, rather than just be focused on how the postures are done. For a person who knows the asanas already, as usual Mr. Yee is very good at helping you to find the subtle adjustments that will better align your postures and help you to find balance.

The seated postures in Tree, however, are surprisingly challenging. Mr. Yee instructs each posture with a block first, then without. Also, I didn't have a convenient wall. Possibly this would have been easier if I had done as instructed. Mr. Yee again brings his ability to suggest adjustments that bring lightness and fluidity to the spine.

While Wind is not billed as the "meditation" segment, this is a great warm-up for the final meditation finale in Sky. Again, attention to the fluidity of the spine and the ease of the breath, and an added attentiveness to breathing. This is relaxing and establishes the beginning of the attentiveness of meditation.

By the time I got to Sky, I was feeling relaxed and open, ready to expand my mind though the feeling of the minor adjustments of my posture and the flow of my breath. For the first time, I felt during a seated meditation the same loss of boundary that I occasionally feel during my moving meditations.

For me, this DVD was an excellent aid to getting more deeply into a seated meditation. I don't know if it was the careful preparation prior to the beginning of the meditation, or if it was the guided nature of it, but I definitely recommend this DVD to anyone who is experimenting with meditation practice, like me.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Camel)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
This Christmas was yoga-light, but I did get myself two new DVDs.

1. Janet Stone: Ananda Vinyasa. Loved it. If you are trying to decide how to invest some Amazon gift card money and you like vinyasa/power type yoga, I cannot recommend this DVD highly enough. 75 minutes unlike any 75 minutes I have done with a DVD instructor before. Very fresh and flowing. The grace and fluidity of Shiva Rea at her best, with the fire-in-the-belly focus of Sadie Nardini, and the soothing calm of Rodney Yee. There are postures here I will not be doing anytime soon, but for me they did not disrupt the flow - I just stopped at the stage of the posture I could do and waited for her to get back to me. There is an awesome wrist stretch and even more awesome - passive shoulder stretches! I wish I had more time for yoga in my schedule, because I would love to do a [personal profile] just_ann_now-style 30 day run with this DVD, but at 75 minutes, it will probably only fit on my weekends. I cannot wait til I can invest in a couple of more from Ms. Stone.


2. Shiva Rea: More Daily Energy. I got this because the first Daily Energy DVD is so useful to me. I fall back to it even though it does not thrill me because it has solid short practices I can do then move on with my day, even though none of them are really my favorite. More Daily Enegy might turn out to be different. I really enjoyed the three-segment practice I put together. Looking forward to exploring everything it has to offer and maybe finding something to love.
rydra_wong: a yoga practitioner does a jump through, the motion turning into a blur (yoga -- jump through)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Two very important notes:

1) This would not be a good DVD for someone who currently has a shoulder injury or is recovering from one (Gary Kraftsow's Viniyoga Therapy DVD might be a better option).

The presenter, Jill Miller, is very flexible and some of the stretches are not only very deep but turn out to be deep in unexpected ways; Miller does throw in reminders to back off if experiencing pain, but IMHO it'd be very easy to make a shoulder problem flare up before you know it. Alternatively, you might find that you could only avoid re-injuring yourself by skipping half the exercises.

However, if your shoulders are currently in good health but you're doing things that put them under a lot of stress (like, oh, rock-climbing, for example -- or slumping in front of a computer), or you've had recurrent problems in the past, this DVD might be a good preventative. I'm planning to use it a lot.

2) There's very little actual yoga in this DVD.

It builds up to an examination of how the various principles demonstrated apply in Dolphin and Downwards-Facing Dog, there are a few moments of sitting in Dandasana, and one exercise is described as "one quarter Urdhva Danurasana", but those are pretty much the only asanas to appear.

What the DVD does contain is a lot of exercises deeply influenced by yogic understanding of anatomy, which work to develop flexibility and strength in ways with obvious applications to asana practice.

So it won't substitute for a practice DVD (or your own personal practice), but it might make an excellent complement to one.

Caveats over, there's a lot I like about the DVD.

It has the excellent idea of having a "workshop" section which discusses the anatomical principles involved, then breaks down and teaches the various exercises (and some modifications, though it'd be nice to have more), followed by a "practice" program which takes you through them at full speed and with repetitions. So you don't have to replay bits repeatedly in order to figure out what you need to do, or listen to an extensive description every single time.

And the exercises are really, really good, and terrifyingly comprehensive: if your shoulders are stiff or weak at any angle, the DVD will expose this ruthlessly. It's especially good for those of us who think we have flexible shoulders but have been unconsciously "cheating" certain movements for years.

The presentation is fairly un-fussy. Miller seems tooth-achingly artificial during the little introduction at the start of the DVD, but relaxes and displays an off-beat, dry snarkiness when she's actually narrating and teaching.

Basically, it's a specialist video; it's not giving or trying to give a complete practice. But what it does, it does very well.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Camel)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Yoga Fusion: Basic Steps to Great Abs

I picked up this VHS from the library because of how much I enjoyed Teigh McDonough's Yoga Fusion: Power.

I was very MEH about this video, though to be fair, it is what it says it is. Basically yoga abs, with some pilates thrown in. You get Lolasana, DolphinPlank, and Navasana, as well as half sun-salutations, and a modified Surya Namaskar A vinyasa. There is also Core Plank, as described at this iyougalife link, and crunches based on Supine Pigeon.

Pilates moves include Roll Downs and Bike. There's also that head and foot lift thing with Breath of Fire.

They bring in the alternating Belly Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana A) that Hemalaya Behl uses for Evening Bath on Hemalaya Behl: Yoga For Urban Living:. Again, it is done as a vinyasa, exhaling, dropping the legs to one side, inhaling, bringing the body back to center, then doing the other side.

There is a brief restorative segment at the end with Supta Baddha Konasana followed by Savasana.

It is a relatively short workout – 30 minutes total. The instructors are attractive and competent, and the spiritual yoga component of their instruction is very heart-focused. For some reason they were irritating me this morning, but that might just have been me this morning. Good modifications are offered, and the encouragement from the instructors to use the correct modification was better than average, with a lot of emphasis on being true to the needs of your body so that you use easier modifications as needed, but also encouraging you to attend to your breathing as a way of cluing you in if you are not challenging yourself enough.

Not a bad abs routine, but it is definitely not "full-body" and while some of the postures made me work, I really didn't sweat much. I also don't know what to say about the level of this routine. Lolasana is freakin' hard, but the vinyasa pieces are very much for beginners.

I will note that this video is a mere $2.00 right now on Amazon. So it would be a good value if you were looking for something short, yoga, and abs. (BTW, if anyone wants a VHS converted to DVD for their own, personal use, I have the equipment for that.) I will probably leave it on my wishlist just because it is so cheap, but I think if it were a normally-priced DVD I would be content just to check this out from the library sometimes.

Namaste.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Reverse Namaste)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Sadie Nardini: Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour: Whole Body + Abs


I am loving this DVD, but it is not for the faint of heart. This is conditioning in the form of yoga, and because of that it is intensely strenuous, and for many people, this might be an unpleasant experience.

However, if you are an intermediate or advanced beginner, and are interested in moving your flexibility, strength and balance to a new level, this DVD will definitely assist you in the development of your practice, and there is a lot to like about this, too.

Read more... )

So? Is this a DVD for you? I would say, hold off on this until you no longer dread Extended Side Angle or Navasana. You will spend a lot of time hanging out in lunges held for long periods, which can be uncomfortable for the front leg, and "Navasana Pulses" or even more fun, "Goddess Navasana Pulses" certainly build "the fire in the belly," but they might just seem excruciating if you go into them unsuspecting. You should also be ready to do 30-40 minutes of strenuous vinyasa flow.

If that sounds up your alley, you will definitely get huge benefits from this DVD. My seated forward bends, not a particularly important part of this DVD, have never been deeper. The hip flexibility this routine develops is really remarkable. Also, since you spend so much time in the Warrior Seal, this routine does an exceptional amount of shoulder opening, as well. I can feel the impact in Wheel. And of course, the core strength you build is good for every component of your practice. For me, this has become one of my favorite DVDs.

Namaste.

P.S.: Don't forget, that Sadie Nardini has a YouTube channel that is just loaded with material. This DVD combines elements that are probably all there into a one-hour practice that it is easy to play on your TV. If you can easily practice from your computer, then by all means, you should investigate the possibilities there.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Camel)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Shiva Rea: Power Flow Yoga

Just saw this on Amazon. It is being released December 7, just in time for your Christmas shopping.

This is a compliation: According to the review on Amazon:

    Opening:
    Twisting Kriya (7 minutes, Trance Dance)

    Namaskars:
    Agni Namaskar (17 minutes, Surf Yoga Soul)
    Mandala Namaskar (11 minutes, Fluid Power)
    Chakra Namaskar (20 minutes, Daily Energy)

    Core:
    Water Core (10 minutes, Fluid Power/Creative Core Abs)
    Handstand Vinyasa (8 minutes, Fluid Power)

    Standing:
    Fire & Water (20 minutes, Daily Energy)
    Balance Flow (20 minutes, Surf Yoga Soul - is it really that long?)
    Flow of Empowerment: Standing Poses (22 minutes, Yogini)
    Creative Roots (13 minutes, Creative Core Lower Body)

    Back and Forward Bends:
    Backbending Vinyasa (14 minutes, Fluid Power)
    Forward Bends & Hip Openers (18 minutes, Fluid Power)


    Shavasana (5 minutes, Fluid Power)


If you wanted a really good sampler to see if you like Shiva Rea, this looks like a good one. The selections from Fluid Power, Daily Energy, and Trance Dance are definitely wins, though be sure you have plenty of floor space for the Fluid Power Forward Bends. (I can't comment on the other selections, as they come from DVDs I don't have.)
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Warrior II)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Rodney Yee: Power Yoga Total Body Workout

I can't believe that I have never actually reviewed this DVD.

This DVD is, in my opinion, a perfectly composed yoga experience. It doesn't have everything. Prominently lacking – inversions, arm balances, and Sanskrit names. There is also a complete lack of yoga spiritual references. This is all about the asanas. But if you are looking for a good, vigorous workout, a wide range of postures, and excellent instruction, including good breath cues, this is a great DVD.

Mr. Yee opens with a nice pranayama that develops into simple alternating lunges. After the first Downward Dog, he eases you into basic sun salutations, which get faster as he ads standing postures between the transitional vinyasas. The major standing postures are all there, with an emphasis on Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II): Powerful Pose (Utkatasana), Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana), Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana), Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I), Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III), and Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana). Although Mr. Yee moves quickly through the transitional vinyasas (great for getting the heart-rate up!), he gives you time in the standing postures to really settle in and experience the pose and gives good advice on how to adjust all the parts of your body – the position of the ribcage and pelvis, attentiveness to the position of the shoulders and the relaxation of the face – so that you can develop the posture and deepen it. There are some quicker combinations of standing postures prior to the balance poses, too, that allow you to transition between the postures and feel their relationships to one another. A really well-developed, challenging sequence.

Just when you think you can't take any more and are going to have to quit halfway through, Mr. Yee backs it off, for Wide Angle Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana), and Pyramid (Parsvottanasana).

He then starts a slow build toward Wheel, progressing from Warrior I, Deep Lunge (Anjaneyasana), Sphinx, Cobra (Bhujangasana), Upward Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Bow (Dhanurasana), and Camel (Ustrasana), with a nice shoulder opener in while seated in Hero's Pose (Virasana), which works to prepare and limber up the knees. Finally, three nice, long, well-instructed iterations of Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana).

THEN, just when you think you are about to die AGAIN and have to quit, ah, supine postures that let you relax and restore. Reclinging Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana) releases the hamstrings, and a hanging version of it releases the lower back. For hip opening, he uses Reclining Pidgeon (Supta Kapotasana) (small icon here at the bottom of the page).

But Mr. Yee is not done with you yet! Now for the rocking! First, he has you rock on your back with your legs tucked and crossed, gradually rocking all the way up to seated and back towards Plow (Halasana). After you do that for a while, he switches you to rocking with your legs extended, from Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) allllll the way back to Plow, the forward again. Fun, envigorating and stretchy!

Then, the seated postures. This segment transitions between Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana), Staff Pose (Dandasana), and Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana), with Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) and Boat (Navasana) added to the flow. He also includes a seated twist in Half Lotus, and a deep forward bend in Half Lotus.

Mr. Yee guides you through Savasana with practical advice to assist you in finding and relaxing tension in your bdoy, and concludes with a final, brief seated meditation.

In all, this DVD would be an excellent addition to any home practice. Although some of the balance postures and backbends are challenging, I believe even a beginner can tackle most of these postures. There is an element of endurance and stamina needed to make it though, but there is a nice, balancing component of relaxation and restorative postures as a reward. Expect to sweat and work hard, but you can do it!

Namaste.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Om)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Hemalaya Behl: Yoga For Urban Living: Evening Bath

This is 25 minutes of pure, guided relaxation. Do not expect a lot of instruction from this Ms. Behl. It's more like she's showing you, hey, here's what I do after a long day when I just need to wind down before bed. That said, she is obviously a very proficient yogini, and her voice throughout it soothing and calm. She also gives good prompts for breathing, contributes to the relaxing nature of the routine.

She begins with a very brief seated meditation/pranayama, followed by a simple, seated twist in Half Lotus.

She follows this with rocking on the spine, knees hugged into the chest. This routine has some sneaky core-strengthening moves in it, considering that it is a "relaxation" sequence. She rolls all the way to each side, and I was laughing at myself because I actually got stuck at one point trying to get back to supine/center.

After some relaxing and core-developing rolling, she does an alternating Belly Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana A) done as a vinyasa, exhaling, dropping the legs to one side, inhaling, bringing the body back to center, then doing the other side. After several iterations, Ms Behl holds the posture, then deepens it by extending the legs straight.

After this cycle is complete, more rolling on your back.

Then she explores Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana), Plow (Halasana), Ear Pressing Pose (Karnapidasana), and Fish (Matsyasana). Just a word of warning – these are actually fairly complex postures and Ms. Behl gives zero instruction on how to do them, so if you are new to these postures, either research them first, or pay very close attention to how she executes them.

More back rolling.

There was also a sequence where she did a thing extending both feet into the air and stretching both hamstrings at the same time by yogic toe lock. No idea what that might be called. Also, not quite sure where it was placed. Possibly before Fish.

Nice, unguided Savasana at the end. She likes you to cover up with a blanket during Savasana, and once introduced to this practice, I have used it almost always, except on the hottest summer days. It is very relaxing. I highly recommend it. Of course, that means you have a blanket on you for any post-Savasana stuff – in this case, a brief seated meditation, but that was actually very nice, too.

If you are looking for a soothing practice, I found this very pleasant and calming.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Om)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
You know, I really hate when they need to put "weight loss" into the title.

I picked Yoga Complete For Weight Loss up at the library based on the enthusiastic reviews on Amazon by Iyengar practitioners who were so extremely excited to have a DVD of their own!

This is a massive DVD. I haven't counted, but it claims to have "over 20" pre-set practices. They vary in length and are arranged as Beginning, Intermediate and Challenging.

Coming to this from a vinyasa flow practice, what stood out for me was the care and instruction dedicated to each posture. Postures are held for longer and the yogini puts much more thought and care into every aspect of the posture.

This morning, I did the "Greet the Day" practice. It begins with a lengthy study of Surya Namaskar A, with the addition of Utkatasana (Chair).

The second sequence is a simple, but killer abs strengthener based on Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose). The legs are lifted and lowered, hinging at the hips, pausing for isometric holds at 30 and 60 degrees. This is a tough segment for the low back, though I was fascinated at how she used the arms stretching overhead and away along the floor as a counterbalance, generating the abdominal support to the weight of the legs. Still, I would definitely suggest taking this section with care.

The third section was a supine twist. I can never find the names of these twists. Anyway. Laying on the back, legs are extended upwards to 90 degrees again, and then mindfully lowered to each side in turn while keeping the back as flat as possible.

The final section was a long, careful Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). Very nice, very relaxing.

Finishes with a carefully inwardly-directed Savasana.

Coming from a vinyasa flow practice, the second thing I noted was how few postures were practiced in 45 minutes, though I think this was in part due to my choice of a practice that focused so much on Suyra Namaskar A. There was a lot of repetition of Upward Dog, Downward Dog and Uttanasana and Mountain Pose.

The pace here is slow, deliberate and soothing, and the instruction and concentration is intense. On the one hand, I hardly broke a sweat, though the long holds on Upward Dog and the leg lifts definitely got my heart rate up. On the other hand, I finished feeling relaxed, refreshed, and lengthened - you know the feeling I mean. Taller.

I think I will try External Strength, Inner Balance (60 minutes) next, to see if I can get similar benefits, but maybe a few more postures and a little more sweat. This would not be my choice for a daily practice, but I think this DVD will go on my list for a regular reminder to slow down and pay attention to the details.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Jaya Mudra Sunset)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
This weekend I picked up Ana Brett & Ravi Singh: Warrior Workout: Kundalini Yoga.

I am fairly ignorant of yoga spiritual practices. I'll let you visit the Wikipedia page on Kundalini yoga and this website about Kundlini Kriya Yoga for your own edification. One of the important aspects of Kundalini appears to be releasing/controlling the energy of the lower spine to generate enlightenment and bliss. Two of the main tools are kriya and prana, and there's some very interesting breath work as well as challenging and enjoyable kriyas on this DVD. If you are interested in more in-depth discussion of kriyas, visit Kundalini-Teacher.com and PinkLotus.org.

As an aside, not really related to the DVD, you might be interested in this discussion of the possible hazards of unexpected, unguided spiritual awakening of kundalini energy.

I thought this was a well-rounded DVD for someone who wants to blend meditation and physical activity. It opens with a short meditation and closes with a long one (very well-reviewed on Amazon, though I have not had a chance to explore), with brief pauses throughout to stop and re-center with very brief meditative moments. It actually struck me as an interesting combination of vigorous activity and stillness.

Rather than long vinyasa type flow sequences, this DVD is almost completely made up of kriyas, defined by me as simple, though powerful, actions performed in repetition. Almost all of the kriyas are performed for periods of about two minutes.

It would have been very helpful if the kriyas had names. :D Alas, I could not find them, if they exist.

Warm-Up Kriyas )

Warrior Cardio Kriyas )

Cardio Clense Kriyas )

My impression, as a person used to doing vinyasa/flow/power yoga was that this has more pulse to it. The movements are rapid and repetitive. The breath of fire takes practice and is very different from ujjayi, and practicing using so much rapid breathing has a very different rhythm.

After 17, at the end of Warrior Carido, while you are resting on your belly, Mr. Singh says, "Rest, breathe. Fill every cell with pure light." It was easy to have that feeling of glowing. After 18, the hip bouncing kriya, he says to feel "…rivers of light coursing through your body." I did find that after this disc, I felt bright and fresh and refreshed, even though it was a fairly tough workout.

This morning I also tried Fat Free Yoga with Ravi Singh and Ana Brett. It had longer meditative pauses between kriyas, and more breath work. I was less sweaty after this one. It had cardio, but I think the cardio was trimmed to allow space for a good, challenging abs section. Again, I found it to be a well-balanced workout.

In all, I have enjoyed my Kundalini experiment and will probably try both of these DVDs a few times more. I admit to being morbidly fascinated by this video of Cardio Dance Blast last fall, and Dance the Chakras also intrigues me. Probably something will make it to the Christmas list.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Jaya Mudra Sunset)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Shiva Rea: Fluid Power

I've been putting off my review because I have not fully explored all the disc has to offer, but I love it so much, I'm ready to talk about what I have been working on.

This is a DVD about circular movement and movement through water. The current moves under you, the movement flows over you, you plunge into water and rise out of it. Like Yoga Trance Dance, this video was filmed at White Sands National Park and is stunningly beautiful. It includes six pre-set practices, as well as a matrix to design your own practice. You will be happy to know that this matrix is much more user friendly than the one on Shakti, with better navigation between boxes on the table.

Shiva is in her best creative form. My favorite segment on this is the Mandala Namaskar, which you can see beautifully demonstrated here and which you can see demonstrated with instruction here. I love the flow of this sun salutation, and the grace and rhythm with which it moves in all directions.

When you are really ready to sweat, you can do the two Dancing Warrior 1008 sequences – one is preparatory and one is the sun salutation in full flow. Combined, they are a 25 minute yoga session all in themselves. This sequence moves from Downward Dog to Vasisthasana, shifting to a Vasisthasana variation on the other side, then to Side Chaturanga and back to Downward Dog. In the transitional vinyasa she throws in fluid Cobra, Salambhasana and Dhanurasana. By the end your arms will be shaking and the sweat will be dripping off you! Ah. The best kind of yoga! You can see just a snippet of this sun salutation here at minute 1:53-2:30. Regarding "Side Chaturanga" (which the inimitable [personal profile] zats_clear says looks like she's fallen and can't get up), sadly, the clip doesn't show the whole vinyasa, so you can't see that part. If you go to minute 2:50 you can see the way the legs are in the posture, though you have to imagine her up on her arms as in Plank, then going down in to Chaturanga, with her legs in those positions. With my current upper body strength, I can't even pretend that I can do it as Chaturanga, and I stay in Plank, thank you very much. :D

The Fluid Backbend segment, while not as perfect as Heart-Air on Daily Energy, is still an excellent heart opening sequence. Shiva builds to Camatkarasana in a circular sequence transitioning to Urdhva Dhanurasana that you'll think, no way! But then your yoga brain will say, hmmm. I could do that. I have not pulled it off yet… :D

I found the circular nature of the Supine Poses sequence to be difficult to follow. Definitely plan to watch this one before you do it, or you will get stuck and have to stop and watch anyway.

There are a couple of nice meditation sessions included, and as usual, Shiva does a great job with movement meditation, as well. The Spiral Meditation in particular is one that we should all have in our repertoire of movement. She moves your whole body in circular motions, starting with the wrists, then the shoulders, moving through the chest and hips to the knees and legs. At the end, your body feels ready for anything, loose and open.

I love the pre-set sequence Hip Opening. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and when you get to the seated forward bends at the end, you will be amazed at how deeply you can enter the postures. The Backbend Flow is long and challenging. The Creative Flow is meditative and soothing.

I really love this DVD, but be aware that if you are just starting or at a lower level of fitness (as I am these days, actually) this will be tough work. This past week, after a long layoff from yoga, the thought going through my head by the third round of Mandala Namaskar was "relentless." Plan to work. A beginner might get discouraged. Plan to stop at two rounds instead of three, or to use modified poses.

However, for the beginner, one great component of this DVD is Shiva's guided preparatory segments. There is one called Foundation Vinyasa, and one for Dancing Warrior 1008. The Foundation Vinyasa in particular is a careful review of all the various components of the vinyasa – how to draw your knee toward your navel; the four directions of lunge; the legs, hips and shoulders in downward dog; movement into and out of Plank, Chaturanga, and Vasisthasana. She breaks it down to every action very carefully. It's a great review for every practitioner and excellent for a beginner. Dancing Warrior 1008 Prep focuses on the arm balance components and is also great for a beginner.

This disc is a great addition to a home practice and I highly recommend it.
just_ann_now: (Yoga: cobbler pose)
[personal profile] just_ann_now
(Reposted from [community profile] exercise_every_day) A few words about Fat Free Yoga with Ravi Singh and Ana Brett.

This is not one of my favorite dvd's - it actually lives in my "To Give Away" pile - but every now and then I haul it out because of its emphasis on ab and upper body work, as well as breathing and meditation. Ravi Singh is particularly annoying throughout, especially when he's trying to sound like an aerobics class cheerleader, and hearing him talk about toning hips and thighs is just ridiculous. There's one spot where he hilariously misspeaks "public" for "pubic", which just throws me right out of a semi-meditative state into fits of giggles. But every now and then my body says, "No back bends today, please," and that's when I haul this out. And I can say that I've made progress; the first time I did it my abs ached for days afterward and now there are just a few temporary twinges. So that's a good thing.
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Camel)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
I have recently been on a kick of "fusion" type DVDs, so I thought I'd review a few as a theme.

First, the most "yoga" of the three.

Jillian Michaels – Yoga Meltdown. Includes two thirty-minute routines.

I bought it several weeks ago at Costco, all you Costco shoppers, for about $8.00.

After thinking about this, I would call this a "fusion," because Ms. Michael's approach to yoga has a very strong emphasis on using it as strength training by way of body weight resistance. And she adds cardio. A word of warning to the beginner, yoga postures are used as the tool for body weight resistance, but the postures *are not* taught. I cannot emphasize that enough. If you are newer to yoga, you will want to use an instructional video first, or at the very least watch this video on fast forward, pausing to see how the postures are executed before trying to actually do the workout

Workout content first, DVD review after )
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Camel)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Shiva Rea: Daily Energy

When I saw this DVD on Amazon, my first thought was "FINALLY!"

My problem is that I almost always have time in the morning for 20-30 minutes of yoga, but most good discs are 40 minutes to an hour. I have doodled around with the yoga matrix on Shakti, but have not been able to put together a really satisfying 20-30 minute set. I have thought, while doing that, I wish she would just set up a couple of shorter workouts.

That's what this DVD is all about. There are seven twenty-minute practices that can be done on their own, with a few other components in the matrix to build around the seven twenty-minute sets. Plus, there are six pre-set practices combining two or three shorter sequences for longer workouts. The pre-set practices range from 37 to 51 minutes long. So in theory this DVD should provide a little something for every mood.Cut for very long commentary )
muck_a_luck: (Yoga Reverse Namaste)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Tribal Fusion – Yoga Isolations & Drills: A Practice Companion with Rachel Brice

I've had this disc for a while and thought I should come back to it and do a review. It's been ages since I've done any bellydance stuff, and I am really a complete novice.

The disc has 15, 30, and 45-minute sessions. This morning I did the 45 minute set.

Letting an Amazon reviewer do some of the grunt-work for me, here's an index:

    The 15 minute practice includes:
    - Half Sun Salutes
    - Locust Pose
    - Hip Locks on the Up
    - Hipwork on the down
    - Chest Lifts
    - Undulations up to down (Body Roll)
    - Cat and Cow poses

    The 30 minute practice does a full sun salute with lunges and adds to the 15 minutes practice the following moves:
    - Chest drops
    - Undulations down to up (Reverse Body Roll)
    - Pelvic locks front
    - Interior hip circles
    - Spread leg forward fold

    The 45 minute practice includes everything above, except the hipwork on the down (I'm not sure, but this may be an error on the DVD, because the practice really clocks in at about 40 minutes). Added for this practice is:
    - Double Chest locks
    - Rib Cage Figure Eight
    - 5 minutes of Corpse pose (with floaty clouds on the screen, and a doumbek drumming at about heart-beat speed)



The yoga on this disc is basic, but it is interesting to see what Ms. Brice chose as good yoga preparation for the belly dance drills.

As the disc name states, the meat of this disc is drills. Ms. Brice instructs some basic moves and drills you through them, first slowly and carefully, then double time, then at full speed, smoothing out the individual movements to make the full-body and hip/waist undulations of belly dancing.

The instruction is very good. When I went upstairs and checked myself out in the full-length mirror I was managing passable versions of everything taught on the disc. However, Ms. Brice is not a chatty teacher. She tells you how to do it one way, and she illustrates it beautifully with her own movements, but if her one explanation isn't enough for you, then that's the only chance you get, making this video more for the advanced beginner or intermediate student than the true beginner.

My other observation is that Ms. Brice, not chatty, is also not smile-y or bouncy. Her face is supremely calm, even serious. In some ways, this suits the idea that you should be calm, with a relaxed face and a focused mind during yoga. But you also get the impression that this is Serious Business. For some people that is probably a huge positive. For others, it might be off-putting.

This is not a great yoga video, but it is a way to have some yoga with your dancing. I think this is probably a very good video for someone getting started with dancing or wanting some guidance to make their dancing more precise.

As an aside, this video has a Gothic performance piece that is just *amazing.* Probably no one older than 14 really has the knees for it, but hey! I can dream!

Namaste.
muck_a_luck: (Exercise)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Not technically yoga, though it contains a few isolated yoga components. I thought it might be of interest to members of the community.

Short review of The Bollywood Dance Workout here.
rydra_wong: a woman wearing a bird mask balances on her arms in bakasana (yoga -- crow pose)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
DO NOT MAKE THIS YOUR FIRST YOGA DVD. DON'T. SERIOUSLY. JUST DON'T.

It probably shouldn't even be your first introduction to Ashtanga; for that, you might try something like Yoga Today's abbreviated, introductory version of the Primary Series.

But.

This is a DVD which does exactly what it says on the box: it's a Primary Series led by a teacher with extraordinary levels of experience and skill.

It's distinctly old school: you get Swenson, on a carpet, demonstrating and narrating. That's it. No other demonstrators, no studio, no pretty scenery (except for the opening demo and the end of the relaxation period, which take place in a park; that's about as glitzy as the production values get here).

And it's tough; I've only managed to make it through it once so far, and that's for values of "make it through" that include lying on the floor whimpering well before we got to garbha pindasana.

But Swenson opens it with an excellent section teaching basic principles and how to modify poses and transitions in various ways, and he repeatedly reminds you to alter or skip poses and vinyasas as needed.

At one point, if my memory is correct (this was around the point when the whimpering started), he says, gently, something along the lines of "Take responsibility for your practice".

In other words, you're responsible for making grown-up and mindful decisions about what your body can handle, instead of straining to "get" the pose. And the Primary Series is going to humble most of us initially.

It's not a sparkly shiny DVD, but I rather like the plainness and seriousness in this context; it feels like a solid and trustworthy presentation of the sequence.

Having reached the point where I felt ready to start dipping my toe into the Primary series (through classes as well as DVDs), I'm pretty happy with this as a choice.
muck_a_luck: Exercise without the bellydance part (Yoga Animated)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
Just a quick note, since I haven't had time to do a DVD review in ages.

A friend of mine was saying she dind't like the dry delivery of Rodney Yee Power Yoga Total Body. She said she wanted more spirituality with her workout.

I've been enjoying Shiva Rea's Fluid Power DVD the last few weeks. This morning, I did the pre-set Creative routine. I realized that this disc is a really nice balance of good sweaty workout, and several meditative segements. In addition, the narration often revolves around the importance of water and circular movement in our lives, as a source of energy, calm, and rejuvenation.

This DVD might be a good choice for someone looking for something spiritual with their sweat.
muck_a_luck: (Sun Salutation)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
This is a great video if you just can't decide whether to do yoga or abs today.

It is only available on VHS, but if you check out Amazon, you can usually find it for $.69 plus shipping. I actually got my copy for $.01 plus $2.50 shipping. Also, don't forget to check your local library.

It is important to remember that this is not strictly a yoga video. The warmup section at the beginning has a strong dance flavor and also incorporates elements of qi gong.

After about five minutes of warmup, Ms. McDonough moves to her standing postures sequence. I really like this set. Back when I first started doing this video, as a yoga beginner, it was a real challenge. Today, returning to the video after a long hiatus, I found that as an advanced beginner, it was a lovely way to stretch, sweat a little, and enjoy my morning yoga practice.

Ms. McDonough then moves to a pilates set for abs. It has been a while since I did any specific abs toning – these days all I do is yoga for my workout – and I could tell I will be feeling this tomorrow. It was about a ten minute set. I don't know any pilates terms, and she did not name the moves. Reviewing a list from a web search, it looks like we did rollups, leg circles, side kicks, and a few other moves, including a challenging side lift thing, omg.

She moves back into yoga again via a modified Bridge, done on one leg, with the other leg lifted. This may also be a variation on pilates pelvic curls. This leads into a backbend sequence based on Bridge, Cat and Caws, Locust, and Bow. It's a nice, not too difficult backbend set, especially nice for anyone who wants to get in some decent backbending, but who might not be comfortable yet with Wheel and Camel.

She closes with a really nice supine sequence, though I go back and forth between being amused and annoyed by the use of the term "Goddess Pose" for Reclined Cobbler.

I am glad I have rediscovered this video, and I definitely recommend it. However, it does have a few drawbacks.

First, Ms. McDonough's teaching style sometimes reveals her difficulty holding back her inner aerobics instructor. Second, the women demonstrating with her appear to me to be dancers, and their extreme flexibility is remarkable, even in the world of yoga videos. And I find the smirking blond woman v. annoying. *is petty*

Most importantly, Ms. McDonough gives very little specific instruction on how to do the yoga portions. You should go into this video with a good foundation in the postures, so when she says to do Triangle pose, you can just do it, without a lot of explanation from the instructor.

This is a video I enjoy. If you can find it for sixty-nine cents plus shipping, I highly recommend you add it to your home practice library, if only because you'll never have to decide between abs and yoga again!
muck_a_luck: (Sun Salutation)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck
And now for something completely different!

When I was first starting to think about yoga, the talented, wonderful, and beautiful [personal profile] uisgich suggested the six-disc Yoga Zone set.

Six discs are each 40 minutes long, but divided into two separate 20 minute sessions, so this is a nice set if you need bite-sized yoga. :D

I did Yoga for Fat Burning this morning.

If you like to do yoga for more vigorous exercise, rather than mainly for flexibility and relaxation, this is a routine that can definitely contribute to a raised heart-rate and a good sweat.

This is an especially good disc for you if you are just sick to death of the usual transitional vinyasa. All that jump back, plank, chaturanga, up dog, down dog. So. Bored. :D

The heat and calorie-burning movement in this routine comes from almost continuous deep lunging and chair, with the addition of upper body and arm movement.

The opening vinyasa was new to me. They call it "Cat Chaturanga." From all fours, extend one leg, then move the arms and shoulders into an approximation of chatruanga. Nice for arm strength. It started getting my heart-rate up and my body warm almost right away.

After that, it is lunge series after lunge series. This sounds worse than it is, though, because it is, after all, only a 20-minute session, and there is a small cool-down at the end.

The second segment uses chair and even more deep lunging. The second lunge sequence in particular is creative and interesting, but that's what you're doing, and you will be sweating hard by the end.

These routines do not include much if any final relaxation, so if you want to incorporate that into your practice, you need to plan to do it on your own.

I need to remember this disc. It is not really for me. I find that yoga that uses a lot of upper body and arm flailing to raise heat and heart rate are not very interesting to me. But on the other hand, it is a change of pace, and something new to do. The instructor is good, though occasionally and without warning she just *stops* instructing, expecting you to continue the vinyasa with your own breath. That's fine, it just caught me by surprise. There is also much more "new agey" talk in this instruction than in my other discs. You are "burning the tension out of your cells." And the mere practice of yoga is going to teach you to curb your cravings for bad foods. I'm sure there are plenty of yoga practitioners who would not even note these comments. I found them non-intrusive.

Overall, a challenging routine, especially if you plan to do the two pieces together in sequence.

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