Video Fitness

Yoga Zone Power Yoga for Strength & Endurance

Lisa Bennett

This is a 55-minute power yoga video. The cover states that it is appropriate for all levels. I would agree, except I think those who are very advanced would get bored with all the instruction. It would be very appropriate for beginners and intermediates, though. I definitely fit into that category as far as yoga videos are concerned! The setting is a resort in Jamaica. I think that it is the same set that is used for the Yoga Zone program on Fit TV. It's very pretty, very tropical looking. There are some ducks nearby--I kept waiting for them to walk into the workout area! I wonder if they had to stop filming at any point! The music is new agey and more upbeat than the music on many other yoga tapes. I recognized some of it from the stretch sections of a few other tapes I have (Angles, Lines & Curves?).

Now to the workout. You go through a series of sun salutations, lunges, standing twists, warrior 1&2, upward and downward dog, awkward chair, rotated chair, right angle pose, and crescent pose with the right foot forward. There are several series done here. You then repeat the entire series with the left foot forward. That seemed to take a really long time and got a little repetitive to me. I really felt it in my quads and hamstrings, though. The second half of the tape starts with balancing poses, which are tough. The modifications are definitely doable, though, giving A LOT of room to grow with the tape (sorry, I don't know all the names of the poses offhand): prayer twist, standing on one leg with the other leg (or knee) extended out in front of you, standing on one leg with the other leg extended back (you are in a "T" position at this point), and some standing twists. There is also the raven pose (Bryan Kest does this in Volume 3) where you balance your knees on your elbows and use your arm strength to lift your feet off the floor. NOT!!! I was *definitely* not worthy here! Gina shows a modification where you lift one foot up off the floor at a time. Needless to say, I followed Gina on this one! Next is the 3-point, which is like downward dog except one leg is extended up as far as you can go with good form, then you bend your knee up and bring it down facing forward in between your hands (does that make sense?). You do some seated and lying poses at the end--stretches, twists. Standard yoga video stuff here. One-legged forward bends, bow pose and for those familiar with the Method toning, a form of the teaser for the abs (although it wasn't held nearly as long here). Bridge pose is done, and a more advanced modification is shown where you lift one leg at a time until your leg is perpendicular to the floor. Lying twists are next, and then of course corpse pose to finish.

Lisa does a good job of explaining form and modifications. The other instructors demonstrate the poses well. The setting is nice, and the music fits the workout. As far as whether I like the workout--I do, but it just hasn't grabbed me like some other yoga videos have. As far as difficulty level goes, it's less difficult strength-wise than Bryan Kest's Volume 1, but the balancing poses are more difficult. It's more difficult than Ali McGraw's Yoga Mind and Body (if you do the advanced versions here). I can't compare it to Baron Baptiste's videos, since I don't have any of them. The "feel" of this video is athletic rather than spiritual; it's kind of similar to the feel of Crunch Joy of Yoga in that it demystifies yoga. There is a lot of instruction, so it would probably be a good choice for someone new to power yoga but who has some experience with the basic yoga poses. That being said, I prefer Bryan Kest's approach (just MHO). His workouts seem to "flow" more smoothly.

Instructor comments: Lisa Bennett is the blonde who demonstrates the advanced beginner poses in the original Yoga Zone series. She is one of Yoga Zone's master instructors. She appears frequently on Fit TV's Yoga Zone. In this video she strikes me as being a cross between Susan Harris of the Firm and Sara Ivanhoe (the Crunch Joy of Yoga instructor). She's kind of breathy at times, and relaxed and hip at others. I wouldn't call her demeanor relaxing, but then again this is a power yoga tape. Just don't expect the hypnotic relaxing flavor of Alan Finger in the original Yoga Zone series. Lisa is very good at describing the poses, proper form, and body alignment. She does border on being a little too chatty at times, especially for a yoga tape. A couple of times, she giggles (almost a nervous giggle). Lisa does not demonstrate many of the poses, but there are two other instructors: Charles, who demonstrates the advanced versions, and Gina, who demonstrates the beginner modifications. Their form is good, but I do see Charles wobbling a little bit during some of the tougher balancing poses (but of course by this time, I've fallen on the floor already)! Overall, this video has very good demonstration and instruction.

Kristin Aziz

What a great workout! This is Yoga Zone’s hardest workout and runs about 50 minutes. Lisa teaches add-on style: you do the previous sequence of poses, tack on a new one, and then go backward through the sequence to get back to the starting point. The first time I did this, I got a little antsy about the repetition, but when I was done with the right side and realized there was a choreographed “design” to it, I really enjoyed doing the left side. Now, it’s almost like a dance. You know what’s coming, and you just flow through the movements and really get into it. You also feel it in your thighs and buns the next day. I like this so well, I replaced my VHS copy with DVD, because I’m definitely going to keep it for a long time. Grade A+.

Annie S.

I’m revisiting many dust bunnies now and dug out this gem of a power yoga tape. When I pushed it to the back of my shelves I didn’t exactly regard it as a gem – my issue at the time was the sequencing in the standing poses, which at the time seemed annoying and repetitive. However, on this re-visit, I found it flowed beautifully, definitely challenged both my strength and endurance, and was an extremely enjoyable practice.

Instructed by Lisa Bennett and demonstrated by two students, Gina and Charles, this 55 minute routine is filmed, like many Yoga Zone videos, in an outdoor setting in Jamaica. Again, the atmosphere is relaxed and breezy. Lisa’s instruction is very much like that of the Yoga Zone founder, Alan Finger – friendly, accessible, and reassuring.

Unlike many other power yoga tapes, the practice doesn’t begin with the seemingly requisite Sun Salutations A and B. Rather, after a preliminary simple sun salutation, Lisa begins building a sequence of standing poses. Each pose is introduced and held as she explains and instructs proper form, then returns to the up-dog down dog point. Each time you go through a sequence, you are given relatively detailed (for power yoga) instruction for a new pose, then you flow through the ones you’ve already learned. The part that bothered me earlier about this tape is that you do them all on one side, eg. Warrior 1, then 2, then right angle, etc all on the right side of the body, building the full standing sequence on one side before starting all over again on the other. Previously, I found this TIFTing-like repetition annoying, but this time, it flew by quickly, and the emphasis on one side before going to the other certainly brought out the endurance aspect of the practice.

The balancing sequence too was challenging, also due to flowing through several one legged poses before moving to the other side.

The seated poses round the practice off well, with good hip openers like pigeon and its variations, bridge with variations, as well as seated forward bends and lying twists.

Charles and Gina demonstrate advanced and modified variations of the poses, but even Charles wobbles in some balance poses, which is very reassuring. The demonstrators seem quite “real” to me. Lisa, while clearly showing similarity to Alan Finger’s teaching style, nevertheless has her own personality. She seems enthusiastic, and emphasizes the internal awareness of the breath over muscling your way into a pose. She’s kind of perky, too – at one point, coming out of the balance pose, she exclaims “Thank God, right? That’s Charles’ favorite pose” She sounds almost Cathe-like.

I’m glad I hung on to this tape and plan to revisit it again soon. It’s a nice practice for someone with some experience at some flow-type or power yoga, and probably suitable for experienced beginners upwards.

Instructor comments: Fresh and perky. Good as long as you've had your cup of coffee that morning. More importantly, well focused and clear in instruction.

Sept 6, 2004

This is the first time that I tried this DVD, although I have had it for a while. I am so glad that I tried it, because I plan to use it regularly in my home yoga practice. It is an excellent and challenging power yoga workout. I am an intermediate yoga practitioner with good flexibility, strength and balance, and found this workout to be appropriate for my level, although a few poses, such as the raven and the half moon, were quite tough. I liked the way the workout progressed from sun salutations to chair pose with twists, to warrior poses, to seated poses, ending in savasana. The progression felt great, and just when I felt I needed a break, Lisa would move to the next pose which would provide one. I liked that there were 2 participants, with one showing modifications and the other showing the advanced level. In addition, the setting was very nice, with a tropical outdoor setting. The music was nice, yet unobtrusive.

By the end of the workout, which is nearly an hour, I felt like my entire body was thoroughly worked, yet tension-free and energized. I would recommend this workout to anyone who is above the advanced beginner level. I give it an A.

Instructor comments: Lisa is beautiful, and gives very clear and helpful instructions.


April 1, 2005

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