Shiva Rea With Jai Uttal
I have been doing ashtanga yoga for a while and was looking for a home practice that combined spirituality with the physical side of yoga. This CD is it!! This is a 2 CD guided practice. It combines the best of yoga practices: hatha yoga, kirtan (chanting), pranayama and meditation. The first CD is dedicated to opening the heart with backbends. She prepares you for backbends by A & B sun sun salutations, standing poses, hip openers,stretching your quads exercise: kneeling on knee with shin against the wall and hanumanasana variation against the wall. I have done this in a live class, but have never seen it on a video or CD. How wonderful! A more advanced backbend, viparita dandasana (headstand upward bow)is presented. As always, one needs to know your limitations so as not to hurt yourself, especially your knees or neck. The 1st CD ends with a 10 minute chant with Jai Uttal. You feel blissful afterwards.
The 2nd CD is also a full practice with sun salutations done with a mantra. It then continues with forward bends, hip openers, pranayama, meditation, relaxation and another kirtan. I highly recommend this CD set for those who want to connect inwardly with yoga. Her CD set is available at prabhumusic.com
Shiva Rea teaches Vinyasa flow yoga. She has a wonderful, sincere soothing voice.
Yoga Chant is an audio CD set that provides an interesting alternative to videos, going to class, or coming up with your own home practice. I’m writing this assuming that one is familiar with Shiva’s earlier set, Yoga Sanctuary, as I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Yoga Chant as a first purchase from Shiva, as I’ll explain later. On the other hand, I don’t want to give the impression that it is only appropriate for experienced yoga practitioners. It’s more to do with stylistic preferences and attitude: I would describe this CD as being more metaphorical and conceptual than most.
Like Shiva Rea’s earlier CD set, Yoga Sanctuary, Yoga Chant consists of two discs. The first, “Energizing Sadhana” is a flowing power yoga type practice, corresponding roughly to her “Solar” practice. The second, “Meditative Sadhana”, is gentler and slower, like the “Lunar” disc (you may have to refer to earlier reviews of Yoga Sanctuary to get what I’m talking about). As in YS, Shiva’s cueing is accompanied by wonderful music, and an illustrated booklet (no poster, unfortunately) is included to help follow along with the poses. Tracks of varying lengths and focus can be combined to be adapted to your needs and preferences.
The Energizing Sadhana opens with ashtanga style sun salutations A and B, a few standing poses, then goes into backbend preparations that culminate in full wheel and viparita dandasana. A brief forward bend section follows.
Meditative Sadhana opens with sun salutations again, but not ashtanga style, and the really interesting twist on them is that each pose within the salutation is linked to chanting the 12 names of the sun god (you don't have to chant while you do them, though). The contemplative approach to the poses is continued in the following “lunar practice” track which includes hip openers like double pigeon and cow’s face pose, and concludes the asana portion of the disc. The tracks that follow focus on meditation, pranayama, savasana, and chanting.
Who will enjoy this CD? I’m not sure how people who want to do yoga only to increase their flexibility will respond to this CD. I suspect it will appeal to a somewhat smaller audience than those who enjoyed Yoga Sanctuary.
Overall, this set delves more deeply into the philosophical and traditional aspects of yoga than does Yoga Sanctuary. In the introductory booklet, Shiva explains that her intention was to create a heart-opening practice fusing vinyasa yoga, kirtan (chanting), and bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion). You will either have to be interested in these aspects of yoga to enjoy this CD, or extremely good at tuning out what doesn’t resonate with you. If you enjoyed Yoga Sanctuary but feel it’s at the edge of your tolerance for metaphor and philosophy, Yoga Chant will be WAY over the edge. If you are interested in an approach to yoga that goes beyond bone and muscle, and explores breath, mind, and heart, this disc might interest you. If you think you might be able to go ahead and do this disc for the physical practice and successfully ignore the rest, you’ll find an excellent flow yoga and backbend practice with encouraging and helpful cueing and interesting sequencing, including some poses using the wall. If you have ever typed or thought this sentence: “I have a low tolerance for woo-woo/mystical/new agey aspects of yoga”, this is not the CD for you. (I don’t personally consider it woo-woo/new agey myself – just conceptual, and somewhat devotional). If you don’t like hearing the word “energy” if it’s not followed by the word “bar”, it’s probably also not for you. If you freak that someone might read eastern poetry or philosophy to you while doing yoga, again ….you get the idea. Since I don’t mind any of the above, I really like it. Shiva Rea has leapt to the top of my list of favorite yoga instructors on media and toppled Eoin Finn. My only complaint about her is that her ha-ha factor is low to non-existent. I don’t think yoga always has to be taken quite this seriously.
This is already my most used CD of 2003 ( mind you, it’s only Jan 11!) If you don’t mind going beyond the body in yoga, this might be a good one for you. I’d also suggest that it would be good to have had previous instruction with basic poses and sun salutations, as Shiva’s cueing is more metaphorical than anatomical.
Poses are as follows:
Sun salutations A and B
Down dog in tripod
Warrior 1, 2
Extended side angle
Wide legged standing forward bend, A and C
Front gate opener
Hanumansa variation (basically, one legged down dog against wall)
Cat grabbing tail (that’s the only English name I know for it)
Viparita dandasana (don’t know the english name)
One legged forward bend, two leg forward bend
Sun salutations with chant
Cow’s face pose
Seated spinal twist
Circling the heart (rotations while in cross legged position)
included in review
This is a 2-CD set. The first is a slow-paced vinyasa flow that starts with sun salutations A and B (2 each), then moves into standing postures. Finally there are seated postures and backbends (camel, wheel). This is all pretty slow-paced. CD #2 is even slower. Shiva calls it “contemplative” and it consists of seated postures. I found the workout to be just “okay” – I like it all right, but it doesn’t really add anything new and/or better to my collection. I was hoping it would be similar to Bryan Kest’s CDs, but I overwhelmingly prefer Bryan.