Video Fitness

Foundations of Power Vinyasa Yoga (Yoga Journal Great Instructors series)

Baron Baptiste

"Foundations of Power Vinyasa Yoga" is part of Yoga Journal's Great Instructors series, a series of DVDs filmed at the annual Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco. It features Baron Baptiste, a well-known yoga instructor of power yoga. Here he presents an 85-minute class which emphasizes form and foundation in each posture. Throughout the practice, Baron frequently mentions the spiritual benefits of each pose, and he focuses on the core through frequent reminders to engage uddiyana bandha.

Baron generally leads the class from the middle of the room, but he occasionaly walks around the room making adjustments along with his three assistants. The video also features a "yoga demonstrator" on a dais at the head of the class for easy reference. This DVD is well-chaptered, and the introduction suggests that each chapter can stand alone as a shorter practice if necessary. The chapters are as listed below; I have added in approximate times as well as brief descriptive information.

Warm Up (11m)--The practice begins in child's pose and then moves on to a slow, meticulous setup of down dog. After coming to a standing forward bend and taking a few sun breaths, this segment ends with three chants of OM.
Surya Namaskar A (5m)--A slow sun salutation flow with longer holds of plank and down dog.
Surya Namaskar B (28m)--Here Baron begins to move fairly quickly through the vinyasa flows. He provides detailed instruction for warrior 1 and also includes crazy dog (moving into a backbend), side plank, crescent lunge, and prayer twist.
Standing Poses (24m)--Postures here include several standing forward bend variations, standing splits, airplane, knee to side, eagle, tree, warrior 2, and reverse warrior. Very fast vinyasa flows are performed between some of the postures.
Backbends (7.5m)--This gentle backbending sequence includes bow pose, locust, and half camel.
Seated Poses (12m)--Baron begins with boat pose and then moves into seated pigeon, 3-legged table, seated twist, full seated forward bend, and table or reverse plank.
Final Relaxation (9m)--Baron concludes the practice with reclined twist, viparita karini (not using a wall), and reclinded cobbler's pose; the practice ends in a seated position with namaste.

The Main Menu on the DVD lists a Play All option, an Introduction, Chapters, and Special Features. The latter includes an 8-minute interview with Baron in which he talks about his experiences with yoga since childhood. He also discusses the evolution of his teaching over 25 years of practice and emphasizes the importance of a strong foundational practice. Given this, Foundations of Power Vinyasa Yoga is designed to teach the fundamentals of the postures, and Baron suggests that it would be approrpriate for beginners to more advanced students. Although Baron does keep the postures basic and offers many modifications, I would limit this practice to beginning yoga students who are already quite fit and strong, as even the simple postures presented here can be quite physically demanding. I found Baron to be more affable and engaging here than in his other videos, where he sometimes comes across as a bit scripted. He frequently jokes with the class and is quite light-hearted. Overall, this is a solid vinyasa practice which is likey to appear to more beginning and more advanced students alike.

Instructor comments: I like Baron, particularly in his Live! practice series, but as mentioned above, I liked him even better here, as he comes across as more laid-back and more jokey. He does an excellent job providing detailed alignment information, and he constantly encourages the participants to modify as needed.

Beth C (aka toaster)

December 20, 2007

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