Video Fitness

Yoga: Easy Beginners Workout

Wai Lana

This tape lasts about 35 minutes. It is mostly stretching, with some toning poses. It is aimed at beginners, people who haven’t exercised for a while, and people who want to take a break from more strenuous exercise. In the introduction, she says, “This tape contains 3 separate daily sessions”, but this is a mistake- there are 3 separate tapes in the Easy series (this tape, one for toning and one for relaxation).

The name of each pose appears at the top of the screen, so I’ll just run through them. She begins with standing poses: One Armed Wind Blown Tree; Shoulder Gyration (fingers on shoulders, circle elbows forward, making larger movements until the elbows touch, then circle back, then back and forth, then up and down; the first time I did this I thought my arms were going to fall off!); Easy Double Angle Pose; Kati Chakrasana (nice spinal twist); Diving Pose (really made my legs shake the first few times); Krsna Pose (balancing on one foot).

Then she moves to seated poses: Grinding Beans; Half Arrow (nice hamstring stretch); Torso Twist Toes Touch; Easy Wheel (looked simple - until I actually tried it); Simplified Spinal Twist.

Finally, she does the following pose lying down: Half Bow. Although her instruction is generally good and she sometimes tells you how to modify (but doesn’t demonstrate modifications), I thought she could have given more detail on this one and a modification. I sometimes have back problems, and I think that this pose has potential for back injury – especially for someone who is new to exercise and may well have a weak back to start with. Lying face down, you hold on to one foot and, using your back muscles, lift your torso and leg from the floor (your other leg is still outstretched on the floor and your other hand is under your shoulder for support); then you do the other side. When I do this pose it does make my back feel good, but when my back is feeling iffy, I avoid it. Sometimes I do a modification given by Kathy Smith in New Yoga (lift upper chest off the floor, bend knees, push heels up with the knees apart (ankles lightly crossed) and keep arms at side; as you get stronger, lift your knees from the floor). Sometimes I just do back extensions. It depends on how my back feels. After this she does Mini Sit-Ups; Head Rolls; and Cannon Ball. The tape ends with you lying in the Corpse Pose for a short relaxation.

The tape was filmed outdoors in beautiful surroundings (sea, rivers, canyons and mountains). The music is quiet and calming; some new-agey stuff and some that Westerners like me associate with China. Wai Lana must have an enormous wardrobe - she changes clothes several times! They are all very colourful and some are really beautiful. I feel relaxed after doing this tape, and often have a pleasant warm feeling in my middle and lower back and thighs. I think that the stretches, music, scenery and colours all contribute to this feeling of relaxation.

This is a nice tape for people who are new to yoga, to do alone or to tack onto a cardio or strength workout as a stretching tape.

Instructor comments: Apparently, for many years Wai Lana has presented a yoga programme on TV for Chinese-speakers. She has a quiet voice, her Chinese accent is almost musical at times. Her cueing and instruction are adequate. She gives frequent reminders about breathing.

Glynis van Uden
22 February 2000

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