I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.
General workout breakdown: This 46.5-min. gentle yoga practice begins seated in sukhasana (easy pose or simple cross-legged; you could also choose another seated position or even begin lying on your back) with breathing and recentering, then setting an affirmation or intention, in a kind of meditation. After some shoulder rolls and shaking out the legs, you move into a seated cat / cow (which comes to incorporate some shoulder stretches, too), forward bend (with option of a little shoulder self-massage), and a gentle twist before malasana (garland; Nancy demonstrates a seated option I’ve never seen before but like as an option for those not so strong days), bakasana (crow) prep, uttanasana (standing forward bend), balasana (child’s pose), adho mukha svanasana (downward dog), virabhadrasana II (warrior II), trikonasana (triangle), wide-legged standing forward bend, virabhadrasana I (warrior I), tadasana (mountain), vrksasana (tree), utkatasana (powerful pose), makarasana (dolphin; Nancy works through two variations), reclined pigeon, small single leg circles, ardha salamba sarvangasana (shoulder stand; Nancy does a modified version), halasana (plow), setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge), supta baddha konasana (reclined bound angle), ananda balasana (happy baby), reclined spinal twist (with both knees bent), apanasana (knees to chest), and savasana (corpse). You return to seated to close the practice.
The pace here is laidback, definitely not too fast or rushed, but not too slow, either, with more than enough time to transition between poses.
Level: Nancy writes that this is for beginners or those more experienced looking for a gentle practice, and I’d agree, although I’d caution beginners not to feel frustrated if this isn’t gentle for them, as it could be somewhat challenging for someone newer to yoga. She assumes you have some basic familiarity with yoga and some preexisting strength and flexibility, so there’s not enough basic form instruction for absolute beginners. But she also assumes that you’re using this as a supplement to your usual yoga class or practice, so she includes a decent amount of instruction.
Nancy provides suggestions for some modifications, both to make the practice less or more challenging; she posits this practice as something for you to make your own, saying that the mat is your own “experimental lab.”
I’ve been practicing yoga for 7 years or so now, although I’ve never gotten past the intermediate stage (into headstands, arm balances, etc.), and I felt this was an appropriate gentle practice for me that I could make a little stronger or not depending upon my needs, moods, etc.
Class: Nancy alone, with instruction via voiceover.
Music: [on my copy, at least] option of natural sounds (waves, although it sounds kind of staticky), voice only, or music (gentle instrumental, mostly piano or orchestral – some of it sounds familiar, but I can’t remember offhand what other yoga video I’ve tried shares the soundtrack).
Set: Nancy’s alone on a mat on a pebble-lined beach along the Yuma River in Washington, CA, on a bright sunny day.
Production: clear picture, decent sound. The camera stays put, without any fancy or jarring effects. This is a low budget production, done by Nancy and her husband with their own equipment, yet because this is a labor of love by someone who’s interested in the material more than the medium it’s more straightforward and user friendly than some of the big budget productions (you know, the ones where the cinematographer’s dying for an Oscar…). If you have no problem with the media released by Erich Schiffmann, Tilak Pyle, Raji Thron, etc., you’ll be fine with this.
Equipment: yoga sticky mat (or equivalent); you may also want whatever props you normally use (e.g. blanket(s)).
Space Requirements: enough room to perform a full sun salutation and to lie down with arms and legs extended; you should also have enough space behind you for plow.
DVD Notes: This is a DVD-R. I have trouble playing this in my increasingly picky 6+-year-old Toshiba DVD player but not my laptop or the PS2.
Please note that Nancy has tinkered with previous productions based on feedback from users, so what I write here may only apply to the batch of DVD-Rs that I have (I bought mine from Nancy’s website, http://www.nshouseofyoga.com/, in Dec. 2007).
The main menu on my DVD-R has these options: Introduction, Practice (Meditation, Malasana – Garland Pose, Uttanasana – Forward Bend, Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Dog, Virabhadrasana II – Warrior II, Trikonasana – Triangle, Vrksasana – Tree Pose, Utkatasana - Powerful Pose, Makarasana – Dolphin Pose, Ardha Salamba Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand, Halasana – Plow Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge, Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby, Savasana – Corpse Pose), Swim, Donation, Set Up (Audio Set Up: Natural Sounds, Voice Only, Music; Subtitles: On, Off). In the swim clip, Nancy goes skinny dipping in the river, but it’s tastefully done, with nothing showing. Also, the Sanskrit and English name of some of the poses appears on the screen for a brief bit at the beginning of those poses.
Comments: This is probably my second favorite of the current Yoga to Gos, although I’m always a sucker for a good yoga practice billed as “gentle” that speaks to both novice and experienced yogis.
#4 and #5 are probably the most similar in format, although #5 is less challenging than #4. Which one someone should acquire depends upon his/her level and interests: #5 is best if you’re still new(ish) to yoga, if you’re not comfortable with poses like headstand, or if you’re looking for something gentler.
Nancy has a pleasant, low key personality and voice. She’s focused on the practice itself, with no extraneous chatter. Nancy includes a good amount of form instruction as well as tips and reminders but doesn’t overwhelm with tons of details. She cues for her right and left. She alternates between Sanskrit and English names for poses. Her language is primarily straightforward and plain.
Nancy comes to yoga from her background in healthwork: her “day job” is registered nurse. She’s studied with teachers in the Iyengar, Anusara, White Lotus (Tracy Rich & Ganga White of Total Yoga), and structural yoga therapy traditions.
April 11, 2009