Tracey Rich and Ganga White
This is the first in a three part series, billed as a restorative series, and as "excellent for beginners," though you wouldn't have to be a beginner to benefit.
The format is Tracey and Ganga doing the poses on a wood-floored empty set. There is no background music except during the relaxation session at the end, which is also accompanied by beautiful photography that you'll never see because you're lying down with your eyes closed! The pace is slow and flowing, with lots of time to get into each pose, and Tracey shows the easier modifications which a beginner should be able to follow. She gives lots of form tips, though the poses themselves are slightly more challenging that you'd find in the Yoga Zone beginner's series.
Let me give the sequence, more or less, as I remember it after doing the video twice. She begins by teaching ujjayi breathing in Half Lotus, and then moves into two Sun Salutation series, a modified A and C. From there she does Triangle Pose, and one of the Warrior Poses. Then she does half a Sun Salutation A to get down to the floor to do Boat Pose, and over to her back for three variants on Bridge Pose, each a little deeper. She sits up to do forward bends and Twisted Sage Pose, and then goes back to the mat for a lying twist. Then she places her buttocks against the wall and back on the floor for inversions up the wall, with feet straight up the wall, straddled, and in Cobbler's Pose, knees pushed towards the wall. At the end, you go into Savasana for a 10 minute relaxation. The whole workout is 50 minutes, including relaxation.
The woo-woo factor on this tape is low, and it would be a good choice for someone who wanted to get into yoga as well as for someone who wanted to go beyond their Yoga Zone beginnings. In particular I appreciated the inversions at the wall; usually the only inversions in beginner tapes are Downward Facing Dog and Forward Bend, two poses I personally dislike.
But perhaps the most notable feature of this tape is that long relaxation. I usually have a lot of trouble clearing my mind to do relaxation or meditation in any form, and I find if the instructor talks all the way through the "relaxation" part, it's even worse. But there is no talk at all for the whole 10 minutes, and the second time I did the tape, even though my mind drifted a great deal, in the last minute or two I suddenly realized I was looking at the golden light behind my eyes and my body felt suffused with energy. I was so surprised -- Tracey never even mentions energy let alone golden light -- I opened my eyes, but the feeling remained, and only subsided when Tracey told me to roll over and sit up. As I said, the woo-woo factor of this tape is low, but by allowing such a long relaxation, they seem to have allowed me my own way into finding my centre that other tapes haven't managed. If golden light isn't your thing, you may just have a nice relaxation, and I think the tape works just as well on that level.
Tracey instructs while Ganga shows more advanced versions of the poses. She is very calming, though for some reason I found her flat American accent a bit jarring, it probably wouldn't be an issue for anyone from the USA.
21 July 2002
This video leaves me more worked than a Primary Ashtanga class, and that's saying something. Between all of the Sun Salutations at the beginning, the vinyasas thrown in between the standing postures (one for each side!) and the advanced seated postures (in my opinion, Dolphin burns much more than Headstand), you are working! However, the pace is calm and measured- there's no "go, go, go!", which isn't what I go looking for in a yoga video.
The tape begins with an ujjayi breathing exercise, which I find a lot of yoga tapes skip. Short but to the point. 3 rounds each of Sun Salutations A, B and C follow. It's a lot, but I found myself wishing that D, the rolling variation from Total Yoga, the original, had been included- I needed the break! Then the standing postures- Triangle, Warrior 2, Right Angle, Revolved Triangle, Revolved Right Angle, Warrior 1, Warrior 3, Half Moon (probably a few I'm skipping and the order is a little off). You do a vinyasa, then you do Triangle on one side. Then you do another vinyasa, then you do Triangle on the other side. My upper body wants mercy well before that's done (so I modify to my knees when I just can't take it anymore).
After a chaturanga to the floor, a couple of gentle backbends, then Boat, followed (I believe) by Camel. The order is a little bit hazy, but you go into a few Forward Bends, then some Back Bends, then begin the finishing postures: Headstand or Dolphin, Shoulderstand, Lotus, Corpse. I haven't measured the duration of Corpse, but it's over five minutes if not up to ten. So nice- on most tapes I feel like I'm only just getting to relax when I'm pulled out, and then I end up feeling like I need a good stretch. And if you just can't manage to close your eyes during relaxation (there is a condition called Relaxation-induced Anxiety, so don't feel bad), they put in some beautiful scenery.
A lot of people were put off by the austerity of the Total Yoga set, and I think White Lotus worked on that here. The background is more sky colored- a little hard to describe- and most of the time Tracey and Ganga are practicing together. The film quality is very high- at one point they zoom in on Tracey's feet, and the detail is very clear yet not overly sharp. I haven't seen that quality in other exercise videos.
Recommended for yoga practitioners who are not brand new. (If you are, I hope you've been working on your tricep pushups!) This isn't power yoga per se, but it's very challenging and if you work your breathing you will break a good sweat as well as tone your muscles.
Tracey's form is perfect, and her voiceover instructions calm. Ganga shows the more advanced variations for some postures and provides some philosophical insights. Of all of the yoga tapes I have, I love theirs the most. I feel like I get a full soup to nuts experience (breathing, postures, relaxation) and their tone isn't as harsh or demanding as some.
Earth is the easiest of the total yoga elements set. It consists of some sun salutations, trinagle/warriors and gentle poses. This is perfect for beginners who have had exposure to yoga before or for others who want a nice easy yoga practice. Great long savasana at the end, perfect! I think the whole set is great to have because you can work up and have the easier ones for lighter days.
great calm voice shows modifications
In 2004, I got into stretching workouts as a way of relaxing myself and dealing with really tight muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders. Since starting this, I have seen some real flexibility gains and have loosened up my neck and shoulder area. In putting together a combination of tapes, I have several athletic stretch tapes/DVDs and several yoga workouts that are mostly stretch oriented. The workouts I reach for most often are Tamilee’s 10-minute stretches and Slim & Limber (just under 15 minutes) as add-ons after my regular workouts.
I am what I would refer to as a “non yoga” person as I use a few yoga tapes, but, still, mostly for stretching. In the past few months, however, I have begun experimenting a little with some longer workouts that are less totally stretch oriented. Someone sent me this tape because they thought I might like it, but weren’t sure. I’ve now done it several times and can’t quite nail down exactly what I think.
For me, it is a fairly long yoga workout. I skip the intro part on the breathing and the first few salutations. I have major hand/wrist issues, so in the subsequent salutations where they move through downward dogs into the cobra, I substitute the child’s pose. However, the rest of the workout I pretty much do as is. The instruction is excellent and she gives very precise directions that are so easy to follow. I did find it off-putting that she gives the formal name of the move first, because I would think, “Huh?” and look at the screen. However, I have learned that she will follow with an explanation of what she wants me to do, so I just wait now. At the end of this tape, I feel really relaxed and stretched out, but like I have accomplished something. The ending relaxation is long and sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t. I am learning to plan my time better so I fit it in.
I think I will end up keeping this workout and doing it when I take the time to do a yoga workout and when I want more than “just a stretch”. I’ll have to see if I do it regularly over the long term.
They are extremely competent and capable. The instruction is very good.
October 3, 2005
Earth is the most gentle of the Total Yoga Programs out there. Here is a breakdown of the entire routine:
Total Yoga: Earth Ganga White and Tracey Rich (White Lotus)
1. Ujayi Breathing 2. Three-Part Breath
8:30 “A” Series Salutation with Modifications (4 x’s) :
Sweep arms outward and overhead / Uttanasana / Standing Arch / (step back to) Down Dog / (step forward to) Standing Arch / Standing Fold / Arms Overhead / Tadasana
14:20 “C” Series Salutation (12 Position Sun Salutation) (4 x’s)
Hands in Namaste / Arms Overhead ( palms facing) w/ slight arch / Uttanasana / Lunge w/ Right Leg back-knee to ground / Plank / (lower to) Ashtanga Pranam (knees-chest-chin) Sweep into Cobra / Down Dog / Right foot forward to Lunge with left knee to ground / (step to) Uttanasana / Arms overhead w/ slight arch / Close pose to tadasana
20:50 Triangle pose (right foot forward first, then switch)
22:30 Warrior 2 (Hero) pose (right foot forward first then switch)
23:50 Standing straddle fold twist (first extend legs and bend forward with both hands to the ground, then place the left hand with the fingers pointing to the right and extend the Right Arm overhead, as you twist and turn your head to look up at the right hand), then lower the right arm and Hang with Folded Arms, then place right hand on the ground with the fingers pointing to the left, and Extend the Left Arm overhead as you twist left and look up at the left hand), then lower to folded arms, roll slowly up. Then step forward to:
25:40 “A” Series Salutation (partial): Arms overhead / Uttanasana / Standing Arch / Down Dog
move thru table-top and lower to floor to:
26:18 Lying boat position (2 x’s) (alternate which side of your head rests on the floor between each repetition of the pose).
27:20 (move into) Embryo pose
27:35 Gentle neck release (rolling over the crown of the head, hands by shoulders-2’xs)
28:05 Transition (come up to sit on your knees, swing your legs around then lower slowly backwards to the ground).
28:18 Bridge Position w/ three variations
1. Tuck Tailbone 2. Lift Hips (hands face down, roll shoulders under) 3. Full bridge (with hands clasped-arms straight)
30:20 Knees to chest, rotate knees counter clock wise then clock wise (three times in each direction) then roll forward to :
31:12 Janu Sirsasana (extend Right Leg First, flex the foot. Bend the left leg to the inside of the right thigh, then switch)
33:10 Paschimottanasana (Seated forward fold)
34: 50 Bent leg spinal twist (bring right leg in (knee facing up), left leg extended, inhale-bring left arm out to the side, exhale-bring it across the front of your body, clasp your forearm, inhale/exhale-extend your right arm back behind you, rotating from the center of the spine, shifting the shoulder slightly back, extending your chin to look over the shoulder, keep a strong line from the base of your spine through the crown of your head inhale-lengthen, exhale-twist) then repeat on the other side.
transition- lower slowly to ground
37:00 Lying spinal twist (extend your right leg, bring your left foot to the top of your right knee, inhale-extend your right hand to meet your left knee, on exhale rotate your head to the opposite side. Draw your knee down towards the floor, press with your left hand and drop your left shoulder back towards the floor, keep the elongation from your head through the straight leg, and the rotation moving off the center of your spine)
Then bring knees to chest
38:50: Legs up wall (inversions)
40:00 Straddle split position against wall
41:10 Cobbler against wall
Knees together, then sit up and breathe
Lower to :
51: 50 Roll to side and come up to
52:10 Seated Meditation ……… Namaste.
Tracey Rich gives clear instruction and both her and Ganga White demonstrate the poses beautifully!