Video Fitness

Yoga for Meditators

John Friend

This morning I decided to spend 45 mins with John Friend. I just bought this vid from my yoga studio. John is the founder of Anusara style yoga.

The video is a series of chest, leg and hip openers to make ready oneself for seated meditation. This isn't a video for building heat.

If you're at all turned off for whatever reason by New Agey lingo, this isn't one for you. I want to stress he doesn't say lots of New Agey things--he says ONLY New Agey things. Be ready for "bathe in the light of the divine" et al. He also tells you to smile from time to time. During one hip opener when he told me to smile and be equally happy on both sides I did feel a level of hatred for him, I'll admit it.

So it's not my favorite one, but I will say this--by the time we got to seated med at the end I was feeling pretty doggone comfy sitting there. If you're really stiff, or have big time DOMS from lifting the day before and can't face a morning with Bryan Kest this could be a good pick.

If you have Yoga for Meditation with Rodney Yee, it's a similar video except it's not broken into segments like Y4E is and it doesn't have the gorgeous scenery. Also, this is picayune but John tends to wear shorts that are too short in his videos (I also have his Alignment and Form video) and Rodney he's *not*.

There are a few shoulder openers, but mainly the video consists of forward bends and hip openers with a couple of twists. I really felt the twists with his form directions--I got nicely wrung out from them.

Lisa TV

This is a hard-to-find video/DVD, and it's a rare opportunity to see a yoga practice led and actually modeled by Anusara yoga founder John Friend. (In his more recent DVD releases, which have been filmed live at various conferences, Friend uses a female model.) The goal of this session is to provide an asana practice which prepares your body for seated meditation. Accordingly, the practice involves approximately 50 minutes of postures and then an additional 10 minutes in meditation, for a total of 60 minutes.

The main menu of the DVD offerings the following breakdown:

Introduction 1
Poses 2-9
Sitting Instructions 26
Meditation Practice 27

If you click on any of the above pose segments, there are also names and chapter points for each of the individual postures.

Friend begins by taking some time to set you up in mountain pose. He then moves into a sort of mini sun salutation series which includes standing forward bend, lunge, down dog, child's pose, and baby cobra, ending with a standing backbend. The standing pose segment is short, focusing on just wide-legged standing forward bend and side angle pose.

Coming to a lying position, Friend moves into some hamstring openers (reclined leg, thread-the-needle) as well as a reclined twist and bridge pose. Moving to a seated position, Friend continues to work on opening the hamstrings as well as the hips with cobbler's pose, head-to-knee pose, baby cradle, wide-legged seated forward bend, cow seat, pigeon, dying warrior twist, and finally, child's pose.

As mentioned above, the active portion of the practice ends after about 50 minutes. Friend then begins to provide instruction on setting up seated meditation. With music playing softly, he continues to offer pointers on form, alignment, and breathing for approximately 6 minutes, while the final 3-4 minutes consist of music only as the credits begin to roll. There is no savasana, although Friend suggests that you can add this on after the meditation. Overall, this is a nice little practice that is appropriate for all levels of yoga practitioners. It is certainly not limited to those who would like to meditate, but it is definitely well-suited to this purpose. In particular, this practice might be good for those who would like to begin a meditation practice but would really benefit from a focused asana practice beforehand.

Instructor Comments: If you are familiar with Anusara Yoga, you will know that Anusara means "opening to grace"--grace, love, and devotion are themes of every Anusara practice, including this one. Friend teaches here via voiceover, and I found him to be significantly more low-key than on his more recent live releases (the Anusara Grand Gathering DVD set as well as the Omega Yoga series).

Beth C (aka toaster)


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