Video Fitness

Creative Core Abs

Shiva Rea

This is definitely a different approach to working out your core. Over time, yoga instructor Shiva Rea's media releases have become more and more fluid and freeform, and Creative Core Abs is no exception. The Main Menu of this DVD offers the following options: Introduction-Play Workout-Chapter Index-Shiva Rea Biography-Music Options-Also from Acacia.

The editorial review did a very good job of breaking down the three practices available on this DVD. The first, Water Core, is 10 minutes long. All of the sequences here are performed on the floor, mostly on the knees or on the back, for the effect of a sort of flowing warm-up. I found the music here very reminiscent of Ali McGraw's Yoga Mind & Body. The next segment, Spontaneous Core, is the shortest at 8 minutes; this time there's a live drummer. Shiva incorporates some of the movements from the Water Core, adds some crunch-like work, and then encourages you to put them all together in your own pattern. Shiva ends with some stretches, including cobra pose. The drummer continues into the final segment, Fire Core, a more lengthy practice (17 minutes). Here Shiva starts with kapalabhati breathing (she also calls this "Breath of Fire," but my understanding is that kapalabhati and breath of fire are two distinct types of yogic breathing). This segment is definitely the most intense, as it incorporates quite a bit of plank work, including what Shiva calls an "advanced agni kriya," or a sort of rapid plank with hopping each knee in and out; elbow plank appears as well. This segment is the only one which includes some standing work, as Shiva performs squats, a fun take on Warrior 2 (adding a bow and arrow arm movement), and wide-legged standing forward bend.

As mentioned above, this is definitely an innovative approach to core work. However, I found the actual effect on my core to be somewhat hit or miss: sometimes I felt that I was strongly targeting my core, but at other times, it was so difficult to follow what Shiva was doing that I didn't feel I was getting much of a workout at all. While some will surely find Shiva's unique approach refreshing, many are likely to find it just plain weird. Although I do like Shiva, I find myself closer to the latter camp. I don't mind non-traditional approaches to core work, but overall, this DVD was just not a good fit for me.

Instructor comments: If you are familiar to Shiva, you'll already know that she takes a more spiritual, new-agey approach to yoga that includes a lot of flowery language and freeform work; this approach is likely to work very well for some, but it is definitely not for everyone

Beth C (aka toaster)

March 2, 2008

Beth has reviewed this core-focused offering from Shiva in depth, I'll just piggy back my personal impressions as someone who enjoyed it from the other side of "just plain weird."

I enjoyed the routines despite my annoyance at being cheated by the repeat of the Water Core segment from Fluid Power. However, I got over it and went with the flow - as intended. I enjoyed the fluid approach and embraced cues to explore, challenge myself and get in touch with the inner fire. Moving intuitively helped to unlock my lower back and hips and brought some joy and silliness into my day. Doing the full DVD after a power walk left me sweating. I especially enjoyed the standing twisting moves after the Agni segment, the brief Warrior II variation with bow and arrow and the plank variations. And the drummer!

On the downside, this was a perfect opportunity for Shiva to instruct home yogis to integrate the power of bandhas to enhance core focus and overall strength for vinyasa - particularly mula bandha and uddiyana bandha. This was a disappointment. The brief kapalabhati breathing did not quite compensate. I do enjoy it for what it is but probably will not use it that often.

Instructor comments: Shiva is her usual limber, California girl self; instructs well.


October 6, 2008

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