Video Fitness

Yoga Zone: Flexibility and Stress Release

Alan Finger

This is an intermediate video from Yoga Zone. I've done this video only once and since there is no review I've decided to write my own. There are three participants in the video. Alan with two other girls. One girl always demonstrates the beginner version of the move. The other demonstrates more advanced version of the move. There is a wonderful outdoor setting near the pond. Just watching this video will relax you. I would say this video would be appropriate for both beginners and intermediates. Beginners can start follow the girl who shows beginner moves and then move to intermediate version of the move. The moves in the video are very similar to those in his other videos. I would say that this video might be not challenging enough even for intermediates. He has some strength moves in the video like active cat where you stretch back one of your legs and do a push-up. But those challenging moves are not constant (just a few). There very good standing postures sequence consisting of sun salutation, some balancing moves and standing poses. There is also a sitting sequence which can really increase your flexibility if practicing consistently. As always, Alan pays a great attention to details. Poses are held just long enough that you are able to follow all his instructions but not long enough that you're tired right away. The best of this video though is the last 10 minutes. It is relaxation and meditation part. It is similar to his meditation tape but done lying done so your legs don't get crumps. I can say it is one of the best relaxation sequences on the video. Alan guides you with his soothing voice through the whole sequence. You wake up relaxed and almost rejuvenated. I can say this is the perfect tape to use when you want to relax but the relaxation and stretching videos you have are too easy for you. Another way to use is an alternative to Brian Kest when you just want relaxing yoga workout without fast pacing power moves. The video is a great stress releaser. It is definetely a keeper.

Instructor comments: Alan Finger is a wonderful instructor. His voice is very soothing. You get relaxed just by listening to him.

Elena Lowenthal

Alan Finger

This is a nice, calming, intermediate-level yoga video that leaves you feeling calm and relaxed. Itís about an hour long. You start with some sitting "getting-ready" type poses, move to standing poses, then move back to the floor. After I do this, I feel like Iíve gotten all the "kinks" out of my body, and I feel very refreshed. The instructor, Alan Finger, includes a couple of poses I havenít seen before. Of course, Iím not a yoga guru, so if youíre really in to yoga, they probably wouldnít be new for you. The Yoga Zone series of tapes are my absolute favorites for yoga Ė mainly because Alan Finger so perfectly explains each pose. He makes it easy to know what youíre supposed to be doing/feeling at any time. Although the title of this one is Flexibility and Stress Relief, I think it concentrates more on the stress relief aspects. Grade A.

Annie S.

Flexibility & Stress Release is a nice, full-hour yoga practice aimed at releasing tension from the muscles and fostering relaxation. It is lead by master Yoga Zone instructor Alan Finger. Alan is assisted by two female yoga instructors, one of whom is his wife, Greta, and the other of whom always displays modifications. Alan himself demonstrates only some of the poses, as most of the time, he focuses on talking and teaching.

The practice begins with breathing instruction in a seated position and moves on to hands and knees for a cat stretch series. There is a brief vinyasa (flowing poses with breath) which requires quite a bit of arm strength and is fairly challenging. You will also perform down dog and then move to standing. At this point, you will do a warrior series, moving through several poses on each side, and then Alan leads you through three slowly-flowing sun salutation series, the third of which includes extended lunges. You will then practice some balancing postures, including eagle and a challenging arm balance, raven (aka crane or crow).

Next, the workout continues on the floor with an extended stretch in child pose. You will also perform seated forward bends, simple back bends (locust and bow), reclined twists, and scale posture (aka boat pose). The practice ends with a really nice, lengthy (10+ minutes) relaxation pose; to deepen your relaxation in this posture, Alan leads a guided meditation focusing on color and energy centers in the body. At the end of the practice, I felt completely stretched and refreshed.

I enjoyed this routine and felt that it provided a nice combination of challenge and relaxation. I have been practicing yoga for several years and am at an intermediate level; I would not recommend this video for beginners, and it might not be enough of a challenge for more advanced yogis. Overall, a very solid yoga practice.

Instructor comments: People rave about Alan Finger, and while he was certainly competent, I didn't feel that I completely "clicked" with him. I would have preferred to have him perform the all of the poses along with the two women. Also, be prepared for the fact that he talks throughout the ENTIRE practice.

Beth C

August 19, 2004

Instructed by Alan Finger, demonstrated by his wife Greta and one other student, this is a relaxing, pleasant practice just under an hour long. Filmed in an outdoor setting in Jamaica, it has a fresh, breezy atmosphere and Finger and his two demonstrators all look like theyíve just been eating fresh fruit on a veranda somewhere prior to setting up their mats.

The routine includes sun salutations, but at a more relaxed tempo than the power yoga kind, and a few poses you donít see too often in videos, such as active cat, which includes a pushup. The pace moves well, never feels rushed, never drags. The intensity is appropriate for beginner to intermediate students, and two variations for most poses is demonstrated, making it accessible to most practitioners. You donít really build up a sweat doing this video, but you will get good coverage of most body parts that need some stretching and strengthening.

I really enjoy the Yoga Zone videos, especially the ones instructed by Alan Finger. He has a confident, easy going teaching style, precise cueing, and seems to be enjoying himself as he leads his students through the sequence. His instruction is among the clearest Iíve seen on video and his manner is reassuring. The students seem occasionally self-conscious about the camera, but itís no bigÖthey look more like theyíre trying to ignore it and concentrate on demonstrating well and still have some fun.

The relaxation sequence is nice and long, and includes some imagery and visualization of the chakras. Even if you donít buy into the chakra thing, the imagery is soothing and pleasant. The only thing is that once youíve relaxed so deeply, itís almost jarring to hear Alan start OOOOMing at the end. I like a good OM as much as any yoga student, but it doesnít come off quite as mellow as youíd like at that point.

Other than that, a good mid-intensity video, perfect for working the kinks out.

Instructor comments: Alan seems to have his fans and detractors at VF; I'm something of a fan. I think his instruction is very clear and encouraging, but I can also see why not everyone clicks with his old hippie vibe. Being of that demographic, I kind of like it. I think he's kinda groovy.

Sept 6, 2004

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