Bryan Kest's Original Power Yoga The Basics: Step by Step and 20-Minute Beginner Workout
I've been doing yoga since 1997 and have Bryan's first three Power Yoga tapes, which I love. Despite mediocre reviews on the forum (none of which have been posted here yet, grumble, grumble,) I decided I had to give the new 4 pack a shot. Although I am familiar with power/flow yoga, I decided to do the intro and beginner tapes because I thought perhaps I might hear something new or different about the individual poses that would enhance my practice.
Bryan's newest tapes seem packaged to emulate the initial Tae Bo set--an introductory tape, a beginner tape, and more advanced tape, and a shorter tape focused on ab work. Each tape starts with a montage of testimonial clips. In this review I will cover the introductory and beginner's tapes.
The introductory tape, The Basics: Step by Step (35 minutes) teaches you the basic poses needed to get through surya namaskara A and B (sun salutations): mountain pose, standing forward bend, plank, cobra, downward-facing dog, chair pose, lunge, and warrior 1. In terms of explanation (including discussions of breathing, focus, and motivation,) this is a good introduction for beginners (better, I think, than the Living Arts Power Yoga for Beginners videos which move awfully fast), *however*, because Bryan spends a *lot* of time talking and explaining the poses, I think it would be difficult for a beginner to stay in the poses the whole time. *I* had a hard time staying in the poses the whole time! (I guess it's similar to the difference between lifting weights on a 2 count and lifting them on an 8 count--it gets harder than you expect.) While Bryan gives you permission to drop out of poses if you need a rest, it was frustrating to me to be hanging there in down dog waiting to move on to the next pose. (I guess I just wasn't "in the moment", but then I wasn't expecting an Iyengar style workout in which you hold the pose for a prolongued period of time.) After running you through surya namaskara A and B 3 or 4 times each, Bryan moves you into seated forward bend, lying spinal twist, and then into "resting pose" (aka corpse pose or savasana.)
The 20-Minute Beginner Workout also starts with a sun salutation lesson, but it moves a little faster. It includes more of the poses from other power yoga workouts, including warrior 2, side arm balance, forward fold with the arms held behind you, standing side bend (half-moon in Iyengar terminology), side angle-pose, triangle pose, boat pose and purvottanasana (reverse plank), upavishta konasana A (wide leg seated forward bend.)
Sets: In both tapes the set is a room with cement floor and brick walls. There are around 7 class participants (Bryan doesn't demo the poses, he just talks you through them and adjusts his class members' form) on pink, purple, and blue yoga mats. One class participant is the designated modifier in each tape. Male and female participants represent a relative variety of ages and ethnicities and are a little less intimidating than some of the super slim and super flexible people in his first set of videos. The workout is taped, so it looks like most other workout videos, as opposed to the filmed quality of the first set of videos.
Some criticisms that have been voiced on the forum include that in the videos Bryan talks non-stop. It wouldn't bug me so much if you weren't left hanging in the pose (usually down dog) while he talks. He also speaks in Dr. Seuss-isms at times, "Palms flat, tuck your toes, butt to the sky, down dog pose," which can be charming or annoying depending on your point of view. He also uses words that do not mean what he thinks they mean. "Rhythmatic" breathing? "Pectorials?" Some of the patter has a definite infomercial quality, in fact my husband overheard part of the tape and thought I was watching an infomercial:
"You know what's amazing about this, too? You could be on the top of the mountain or on the floor next to your bed in the hotel room and it doesn't matter where you go. For the rest of your life you have this amazing dance through every bone you own. Everybody, this is a workout you can take wherever you go. And it's complete onto[sic] itself...This is *my* dance. I'm doing it just like everybody else but I'm doing it to my own degree. And I don't need any weights, and I don't need any machines, and I don't need any fancy running shoes, and I don't need any fancy sports clothes, and I don't need any memberships. All I need is my body and a little piece of space on the floor and I'm cruising through every bone I own. And there probably is not a machine on the planet, not all of them put together, that can give me what I'm getting here." (From The Basics: Step by Step)
I also didn't care for Bryan's cueing as if he were doing the workout, too. "My hands are palm flat on the floor. My legs are straightening. My neck is free." That bugs me the same way I get bugged when a video instructor says "You look great!" as if they can see me.
Other comments: The labels on each video are color coordinated with their boxes, but do not say the name of the particular video on them, only "Bryan Kest's Original Power Yoga." I added the names on with a pen, but I know how much this would bug people who like their tapes and covers to be pristine.
Final judgment: Not a bad introductory set if you can get past the talking.
First of all, this workout is a bit longer than its title implies (more like 26 minutes) which isn't that big of a deal, but I thought you might like to know. (Kind of like the Tae Bo 8 min. workouts are about double that).
This is the only total body power yoga video of Bryan's that is this short. (His ab video is short too, but it mainly hits the core). I really like this length for adding on to some cardio, doing a quick workout in the evening, using when sick, or just energizing myself on a slow, time-crunched day.
Bryan begins with sun salutations, as usual, but seems to go a little slower in this video than his others, which feels nice and calm. There aren't any tricky balancing poses or any strenuous poses to hold for a long time, so it really is a beginner workout. Amidst the sun salutations, you also do Warrior 1, Warrior 2, the Triangle pose, Airplane (seems to be a favorite of Bryan's), a side stretch like they do in Pilates (but he has you keep one knee down -- I got up on both of my feet like they do in Pilates for a greater challenge), and some great side and forward stretches.
Even though this workout is truly geared to beginners, this isn't a workout that would bore or not be beneficial to an advanced exerciser. I can do Bryan's harder videos, but enjoy throwing this one in for variety and a change of pace.
The music in this workout (and in all of Bryan's new series) is quieter than in his first set. I miss the more prominent music and found myself not wanting to hear Bryan as much as I did in his other videos. So what I've started doing is playing an instrumental CD (I alternate between the 2 Yoga Zone CDs) along with the video. I can still hear Bryan's instruction, but I don't hear his music at all and enjoy the workout much more.
I really love Bryan Kest. He has a passion for Power Yoga that shows in his voice and the words that he uses to motivate. He seems to talk a bit more in this new series -- I'm not sure if that's because it's geared to a new, beginner audience, but I like the visuals he gives in helping me to get the most out of each move.
This is a great one when youíre time-challenged. Although itís marked as a beginnerís workout, it is not TOO easy, so you donít feel like youíve wasted your time if youíre experienced. Itís really a beginning power yoga workout, not a beginning yoga workout. Bryan assumes youíre familiar with the basic yoga postures. He puts them together in faster/more strenuous ways that might not be familiar to someone who has done only general Hatha or relaxation-style yoga. The video quality on this one is not as good as his other series, but itís not so bad that it detracts from the workout.
This is a very good introduction to Bryan Kest's Power Yoga tapes. Having done his longer (and more difficult) videos, I found this one to be a pleasant addition to my yoga video collection. It takes the basic moves of Bryan's power yoga workouts and puts them together in one 20-minute workout. this video can be used by beginners as an intro to Bryan or even used by those more experienced as yoga when they are short on time. I don't recall everything about the video but the poses/vinyasas included Sun Salutation A, Sun Salutation B, Warrior 1 and 2, Triangle, Boat, Bridge and Corpse. I recommend this video. (One note, there is a pretty longish speech by Bryan at the beginning of this DVD, I FF'ed through it but if this is your first time with Bryan, it's good to sit through it once.)
I like Bryan. To me, he's pleasant and somewhat charming. He has a message that he's trying to get across about the benefits of yoga and I think he does that effectively. (I like his rhyming too.)