This video is divided into three sections for Beginners, Intermediates and Advanced practitioners, with each section having 8 workouts varying from 25 minutes to 2 hours, designed to be done first thing in the morning until right before bed. It certainly gets points for variety, especially since the workouts do vary slightly, they are not just cut n' pastes of the same six or eight clusters of asanas.
This is billed as a trademarked "Slow Flow Power Yoga" method. I guess the best way to also describe it is Iyengar-driven power yoga, with very detailed descriptions for the body in a pose, and the use of props. The pace is achingly slow compared to what most Power Yoga enthusiasts are accustomed to; It has the longest, most drawn out Sun Salutation I have ever done, including the longest held Chaturanga (in the Advanced section). For that reason, this is a great practice if you really really want to build physical strength.
The advanced practices make heavy use of a variation on the sun salutation between each pose, but be wary: the pace is so slow, it can feel like all you are doing are molasses-ish sun sals. Also because of the pace there is not a huge variety of poses within each workout (except perhaps the 2 hour one!), BUT throughout the selection of workouts, the variety is great.
This practice has the best preparation and description of Bakasana I have ever experienced, some really marvelous spinal twists in the intermediate sections, and a lot of relaxation poses. In fact, some of the practices start with on the floor relaxation--but I have to say I really can't deal with that much and usually skip them.
One major caveat: Because the planks and other intense weight bearing poses are held for so long, this is not a good workout for someone with injured or troublesome wrists, at least not the advanced practices.
Barbara Benagh has a very clear and calm demeanor and is very consistent in her descriptive language for each pose. The male model for the poses has gorgeous form.
Iím reviewing this after having done it several times a while ago.
The previous review gives a great overview of this DVD and some insights that I canít hope to match. But here are my thoughts anyway.
General workout breakdown: This DVD contains a variety of yoga programs ranging from 15 minutes to 2 hours. There are a total of 24 programs: 8 each for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The power yoga contained in this program is not a fast-moving series of poses that will raise your heart rate and leave you sweating buckets. Instead, it is a series that slowly flows from one intense and deep asana to another with a strong emphasis on breath. The beginner flows in particular offer modifications with props, which is great if your flexibility is limited like mine.
Workout Level: Three different levels are offered: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Iím not sure how this would work for someone whoís an absolute beginner at yoga. I think an experienced beginner (i.e. someone who might have taken a couple of classes and is setting up a home practice or someone who has used at least one introductory video and/or book) would get the most out of the beginner level. I tried the intermediate level once I felt I was in the intermediate stage and found it appropriate. Iím not at the advanced level, so I canít say anything about those practices! I like being able to vary my practice according to my time constraints as well as how I feel. And this DVD is great for advancing your practice at your own pace, but obviously you shouldnít push your body to the next level until it is ready.
Class: Jason Gordon, one of Barbaraís advanced students, demonstrates the moves while Barbara narrates. The voice over matches the moves fairly closely, but a couple of times itís a little off.
Music / Set / Production Notes: Thereís forgettable soft instrumental music. The interior set is minimalójust a lightly painted floor and wall. The emphasis of this production is not the music, setting, etc., but rather the use of DVD technology to mix and match segments in pre-programmed routines. There is a slight pause between segments (corresponding to different flows) as a result. I will say that of the three Body Wisdom Media yoga DVDs I own (the others are Yoga for Every Body and Yoga for Inflexible People) this is the best produced.
Equipment: sticky mat (or equivalent). Some segments, particularly at the beginner level, use a yoga strap (or a tie or belt), chair, folded blanket, and/or yoga blocks.
Comments: There is a little bit of a warm-up at the beginning of some sessions, but if you need to, warm up or center yourself before beginning by doing cardio, stretching, or meditation for a few minutes.
DVD Notes: I believe this is only available on DVD. There is a written introduction for each level that gives you a general idea of which sequences make up each routine. In addition, the DVD contains an interview with Barbara Benagh by the producer about her yoga philosophy.
Conclusion: This DVD rarely jumps off of the shelf and into my player. I think itís a bit too slow and long for me. I didnít care much for the beginner sequences. Many of them are fairly long (40 minutes and up), which was a bit much for me when I was at that levelóboth in terms of physical capability as well as attention span. (OK, so Iím working on patience . . . ) That said, I did like the intermediate practices better because there was more a little more ďactionĒ and a lot less prop.
Iíve flirted with the Iyengar style only by using the Body Wisdom Media DVDs, and I guess Iím not sure if I care for it or not. As someone who likes to have my space clear, Iím not a big fan of the clutter all of those props create, and thereís nothing listing what props you need at the beginning of the practiceómeaning you either have to have everything handy or pop up after segments to grab what you need. I have to admit that the props allow for fantastic modifications that are very helpful and encouraging for people with limited flexibility or other issues.
Will I keep this? I donít think so. Iíve found about a dozen other yoga workouts that I prefer (Erich, Eoin, and Shiva, for starters), and in interest of shelf space I will probably trade this off.
Barbara Benagh, a yoga practitioner for over 30 years and a yoga instructor for at least 25 years as well as an occasional columnist for Yoga Journal, instructs via voice over. Barbara offers enough but not too many form pointers and is very focused on finding the right point for you. Sheís not very New Agey (i.e. no flowery language, limited spiritual talk), but she is a serious yogini whoís intensely focused on what she does. Itís hard to gage her personality. And Iím not sure if she mirror cues, but since Jason often stands with his side toórather than facingóthe viewer it doesnít matter much.
August 9, 2005