Video Fitness

Vinyasa Flow: Beginners (Sacred Yoga Practice)

Rainbeau Mars

Beginners Yoga is one of the “Sacred Yoga” series by Rainbeau Mars which also contains Pure Power, Pure Sweat, and Pure Tranquility. I think the entire set is excellent and each video contains a program that is unique enough to provide nice variety. Each video is filmed with a beautiful Hawaiian beach/ocean backdrop. Rainbeau performs the moves alone on the beach with a voice-over of the instructions. The approach in each of the Sacred Yoga videos embraces the mind/body emphasis and is similar in approach to Shiva Rea, Kripalu, and Erich Schiffman.

I’m not sure why this video is titled Beginner’s Yoga. It is not a beginner’s video from the perspective of being primarily instructional, or completely basic. I think it is labeled Beginners because the pace is moderately slow, and modifications are offered. However, it is not so basic that yogis of all levels might not enjoy it on a day that calls for moderation. I think a better title for this video would have been Gentle Yoga, similar to the Kripalu Gentle video.

This video starts on the floor with ujjuya breathing, alignment in reclined mountain pose, and twists, then moves to cat’s breath, downward dog, standing forward bend, half sun salutes, lunges, more cat’s breath, twists, and shavasana. I particularly like Rainbeau’s kind, affirming voice and directions. I find that she prompts with just the right reminder when I need it. While I really appreciate her attention to mind/body, mindfulness, and breathing, some people might be put off….as an example of the tone of the video, one of the statements she uses to introduce this video is: “drop any agendas or anxiety and allow yourself to open to the healing effects of this practice.” This is not a video for people who are only looking for the stretching/flexibility benefits of yoga.

Two minor knit-picks about all the videos in this series: (1) the phrase “enjoy your breath” is overused throughout all four videos, (2) each tape ends in shavasana, but there is very little time at the end of the video to relax before a jarring transition to advertisements for other exercise videos, complete with loud rock music. I dubbed a tape for my own use so I could get rid of this annoyance.

Michelle Clark

July 2003

This is the first video of Rainbeau Mars' Sacred Yoga Practice: Vinyasa Flow series. Although it is labelled as a "Beginners" workout, I would not recommend it for those totally new to yoga, as 1) the instruction is not overly detailed, and 2) some of the poses present a bit of a challenge and require some strength.

Rainbeau begins the practice lying on the floor in relaxation pose--a nice change--and slowly leads you through some basic breathing and warm up stretches. She then moves to an all-fours position (table pose) for some nice back stretches: there are several different sequences involving cat pose plus a few downward dogs, some of which are held for a fairly lengthy period of time. From here, Rainbeau guides you into a standing forward bend with bent legs, gently encouraging you to open up further into this pose with several repetitions. She also spends a bit of time in a mountain pose variation before moving on to a single sun salutation. This series is done at very slow pace: Rainbeau goes through lunges on both sides and then lowers to the floor in push-up pose, which brings the practice to an end at 28 total minutes.

Overall, I enjoyed this practice, which I would describe as gently challenging rather than gentle per se. This is not the video I would choose for pure relaxation, but I definitely will reach for it again when I want a moderate-length, not-too-difficult practice.

Instructor comments: As her name implies, Rainbeau comes across as sort of a young, hippy chick. She is obviously very knowledgable about yoga--she sometimes uses the Sanskrit names for the postures and provides detailed anatomical information--and she is gently encouraging throughout the practice. Although she cues well, at times her voiceover cuing was slightly out-of-sync with her on-screen movements.

Beth C (aka toaster)

August 19, 2004

I have only done Vinyasa Flow: Beginners twice and have traded it away because this tape was really difficult for my wrists. My wrists are always a problem in yoga but I have never had such a hard time until this video. You spend almost the entire 40 or so minutes in a table position, up dog, down dog, lunge or other asana where your weight is on your wrists. The first time I tried the video I used child's pose a lot and the second time I folded my mat three time which helped a lot but it was still pretty rough.

The practice was done on rocks by the ocean in what looked to me like Santa Cruz. You can hear the waves which is wonderful. The pace of the video goes very nicely with the pace of the waves. I think they should have left the other new age music out, although I didn't mind the music. Rainbeau cues in voice over and I was easily able to do most of the video without looking at the screen.

I think this practice would be perfect for someone who has little or no yoga experience and wants to learn the basics in a Vinyasa Flow. Most "power" yoga tapes leap into sun salutations without giving a lot of form pointers for poses like Mountain and lunge. She did an excellent job with having you adjust your body correctly and keeping that adjustment through the practice. She also talked a lot about the breath and connecting it to the practice which many beginner tapes don't do very much. I am surprised that the other reviewers didn't think there were a lot of form pointers because I really learned a lot from this tape and she holds each pose for a pretty long time. If you are a complete beginner and have a hard time holding poses for long you are encouraged in the video to take child's pose and "join us when you can".

This tape would not be good for someone with bad wrists or someone who doesn't like the more flowery yoga language. In other words, if you don't like imagining lotus flowers stay away. She also kept repeating the phrase " enjoy your breath" which was a little annoying but I think she just says that instead of "remember to breathe" as others often say which can also be annoying.

In conclusion, if it wasn't for the wrist issue I would certainly keep this tape. It was smooth, beautiful, and instructive without taking away from the flowing and relaxing aspects.

Instructor comments: Rainbeau executes the moves very beautifully but I didn't like her voice for some reason.


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