This is a truly excellent light yoga/relaxation video which I am convinced will prevent me from getting an ulcer. I got this tape as a part of the Yoga Zone four-tape Boxed Set for beginners, and probably would not have picked it up on its own. Boy, am I glad I got it! I'm in a very high stress job, and this tape has convinced me that meditation may be a way of escaping all of the harm that can be done to one's body by stress. I never thought I would have the patience for meditation, but this video has convinced me otherwise.
This video is actually split up into two meditation segments. The first is a more basic meditation segment, and the second is entitled "chakra meditation." Both segments begin with some basic yoga poses, which Alan Finger describes as meditation preparation poses. Alan begins by asking you to focus on your breathing, and carefully instructs on proper breathing techniques. Both segments then move into very gentle poses; the potted palm series is integral to both segments. Throughout the initial poses, Alan provides constant reminders about form and breathing, and uses excellent visualization techniques which help to maintain good posture. Both segments then bring you into a cross-legged position for meditation. Alan is also very good at providing alternatives for people who are not all that limber, have bad knees, or sore backs-- these essentially involve the placement of towels and other props, or sitting against a wall for back support during meditation. I also think that Alan's instruction is so careful that you could do this entire tape with your eyes closed-- and I in fact do about fifty percent of each segment that way. Just in case your eyes are open, an advanced instructor from Alan's studio demonstrates all of the poses.
The basic meditation segment continues with Alan talking very calmingly about what happens to your body when you enter a meditative state. He advises you to see what you can see with your eyes closed, talks about how your breath slows when you enter a state of physical stillness, and continues with visualization techniques. The first time I did this segment, I thought it was really cool. I actually felt more aware of my body despite the fact that I was absolutely still. The segment then goes on to a five minute period where Alan asks you to stay still, and he is silent. There is very soothing music on the tape during this part. At first, I was afraid that I would become to antsy during this segment, but I was not. It went by surprisingly quickly. Then Alan takes you out of a meditative state by instructing you on how to spread the energy throughout your body.
The chakra meditation session is a bit more complicated following the initial yoga poses. Alan asks you to focus very clearly on your spinal column. He then asks you to focus on different "energy centers" (aka chakras) at different locations along the spinal column, beginning at your tailbone. At each location, Alan asks you to visualize a different object representing a certain emotion or desire. For instance, in one location you are asked to visualize a silver half-moon, and are told that the silver half-moon will help to calm a sense of greed. At another location, you are asked to visualize a purple-grey oval, relating (I think) to communication. All of these images were very calming. Toward the end, you are again asked to sit quietly just listening to your body. I actually wanted this part to go on longer-- call me surprised! Alan then brings you out of meditation in the same fashion as the first segment. At the end of both segments, you feel incredibly relaxed and peaceful, but your mind feels clear and aware.
The total running time of this tape is 55 minutes, so each segment is a little less than a half hour. I have used it after several high intensity tapes (with sufficient cool down in between) and have really loved it. I should also say that I am not at all anyone who I thought could get into this sort of thing-- total type A personality, no interest in new agey type stuff. I think the fact that I think this tape is so fabulous speaks to the fact that Alan Finger seems to know his audience might not go in for this if he went over the top, and so he accomplishes what the tape is meant to accomplish: he provides you with a calming, soothing experience that is a great way to end your day. I highly recommend this tape.
Instructor comments: Alan Finger has a very calming voice that is perfect for this tape. I found his instruction of this and the other Yoga Zone tapes to be very soothing and very careful. Alan is excellent at providing visualization techniques so that you are certain to maintain the correct pose and/or posture, and so that you can relax and sink into a meditative state. He gets an A++++ from me.
This Yoga Zone Meditation video is lead by the founder of Yoga Zone, Alan Finger, and features one of his master instructors, Lisa Bennett. It offers two basic meditation sessions, each approximately 30 minutes in length. Both sessions contain pre-meditation postures, breathing exercises, seated meditation, and a final focus on the energy created within the body.
Session 1 is 33 minutes long. The pre-meditation yoga postures are performed entirely on the floor and consist of simple forward bends and twists such as potted palm, cat/seal, simple seated twist, and one-legged seated forward bend. Next comes an 18-minute segment which includes instruction and practice of alternate nostril breathing (4 minutes), kriya breath (4 minutes), focusing the mind with a mantra, and finally, 5 minutes of silent seated meditation. The session closes with a focus on spreading the energy created by the meditation throughout the body.
Session 2 is called a Chakra Meditation, and it's a bit shorter at 27 minutes. Again, it begns with seated pre-meditation postures, including dandasana, Sage 3 twist, and one-legged lotus forward bend. Then, seated in a single lotus (or half-lotus) position, there is a 10-minute segment, the beginning portion of which concentrates on feeling the breath move in and out of the ribs. The meditation portion which follows involves moving from chakra to chakra while meditating on a specific shape and color at each location. During the final segment of this session, there are several minutes of silent seated meditation, and then Alan again finishes with spreading the energy created by the meditation throughout the body.
For those who are looking to try meditation but need some guidance, these practices provide a nice introduction, offering a combination of gentle prepatory yoga postures, breathing techniques, and both guided and silent meditation.
Alan has a calming, accented voice that works well for meditation; he nearly lulls me to sleep every time! As with his yoga videos, here he mostly instructs his assistant, Lisa, without actually going through the practice himself.
Beth C (aka toaster)
January 13, 2009