Video Fitness

Yoga for Beginners & Beyond

Ana Brett & Ravi Singh

Yoga for Beginners & Beyond is one of three new DVDs from the husband/wife team of Ravi Singh/Ana Brett. As with their previous videos, the workout features Ana alone on screen while she and Ravi take turns providing voiceover instruction. However, gone is the plain white studio and the furry little rug; here Ana uses a traditional yoga mat, and she practices on a raised platform, surrounded by columns and against a painted backdrop of a tranquil lake scene. In the Introduction to this workout, Ana states that Beginners & Beyond is a combination of hatha, power, and kundalini yoga styles, incorporating the best of all three.

The Main Menu of this DVD reads as follows:
*Play DVD
*Chapter Selections
*Design your own Workout Matrix Menu Option
*Matrix Tutorial
*Pre-Set Selections

With these new DVDs, Ravi and Ana have offered a Matrix option; this option allows you to customize your own workout by selecting any of the chapters in any order (up to 15 total) to create your own yoga practice. Each DVD also has Pre-Set Selections which provide a variety of additional routines. When you choose “Pre-Set” off the Main Menu, you reach a screen which offers tips on programming your own Sample Pre-Sets. There are then two additional screens with Pre-Set routines as follows (includes times in minutes):

Sample Routines
*Sample Routine ONE for Beginners (62)
*Sample Routine TWO for Beginners (50)
*Sample Routine THREE for Beginners (52)
More Sample Routines
*Creative Sequencing Routine ONE (53)
*Creative Sequencing Routine TWO (55)
*Creative Sequencing Routine THREE (1hr, 25m)

Here is the Chapter Selection breakdown (includes times in minutes):
*Introduction/Tune-In (3:00)
*Standing Warm-Ups (6:00)
*Yoga Salutations for Beginners & Beyond/The Challenge (17:35)
*Hamstrings & Hips (9:45)
*Hips & Lower Back (7:00)
*Nerve Strength & Core Power (12:00)
*Upper Back, Neck & Shoulder Strengthen & Stretch (7:30)
*Deep Relaxation (4:35)
*Be Stress Free Meditation (6:20)
*Sat Nam Chant (5:45)
*Closing Prayer (2:55)
*Breath Primer with Energy Breath (5:00)
*Energy Breath (0:30)
*Posture Primer (6:15)
*Chair Exercises (7:35)

The yoga sequences presented here definitely incorporate more traditional hatha yoga than what is typical of Ravi and Ana’s previous yoga DVDs. Some of the recognizable hatha postures include triangle pose, warrior 3, down dog, high lunge, reclined leg stretch, plank pose, upward plank, happy babies pose, thread the needle, and dolphin pose. But there are also differences: for example, the “Yoga Salutations” are not the sun salutations of hatha yoga but rather an alternate plie-standing forward bend sequence, and there are other more unique elements, such as the stomach pumping exercise featured in the Nerve Strength & Core Power chapter. However, one of the hallmarks of the kundalini yoga style, Breath of Fire (BOF, or Bastrika), appears only once during the main practice sequence (i.e., Introduction through Closing Prayer, which is just over 80 minutes in length), although it is also used during the Chair Exercises segment—here it is combined with flowing arm movements as is more typical of Ravi and Ana’s past kundalini work.

A few other important things to note. First of all, the font used for the DVD menus, especially the submenus, is VERY small—so small, in fact, that I found it impossible to read the submenu selections on my 13” workout room TV (although when I played the DVD on my computer, the text appeared clearer). Also, the “Beginners” label in the title of this workout is somewhat misleading; parts of this DVD are quite challenging, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to someone who is new to yoga. On the other hand, this DVD might be a good bridge for someone who is familiar with hatha yoga but new Ravi and Ana’s workouts and/or the kundalini style. As for myself, I practice hatha yoga regularly and like doing a little kundalini once and awhile for a change of pace. Although this DVD is very well-done, and I particularly enjoyed certain segments—such as the hip-opening and shoulder work—I’m still not sure how I feel about the blending of the hatha and kundalini styles. Overall, however, I think that most Ravi and Ana fans are likely to enjoy this DVD, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others as well.

Instructor comments: Ana has an extremely graceful on-screen presence, and she does an amazing job of demonstrating the postures--she is seemingly indefatigable, and she always appears to be enjoying herself. She and Ravi do an nice job of sharing responsibility for the off-screen voiceover instruction.

Beth C (aka toaster)

March 6, 2009

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