Video Fitness

Wake up Body (Hello Fitness Series)

Wai Lana

This was my first experience with Wai Lana. I had caught a glimpse of her show a few times on PBS but never joined in. I borrowed this video from my local library. It was about 40 minutes long if you skip the long intro where she describes the various benefits of yoga.

Everything about Wai Lana’s video is different from other yoga workouts I have seen. I could not determine her country of origin (even her website doesn’t say where she is from), but her accent sounds Chinese to me. Her voice is very soothing. She wears very colorful outfits (and wears different clothes in each segment) and the outdoor scenery (I think it is Hawaii) is also colorful. There were no sun salutations. The traditional poses I recognized were boat pose, a modified headstand (with your legs parallel to the ground and feet against a wall), plow and something similar to downward facing dog (but she used a different name). There are a lot of dynamic movements, like leg lifts and a lying spinal twist where you bring your bent knees towards your shoulders. Stretches are held quite long. A few of the poses were very challenging – she demonstrates three levels of a standing backbend: hands on hips, hands on backs of thighs, and finally, grabbing your ankles. I didn’t even attempt that last one. At the end of the workout, Wai Lana spends about 10 minutes singing and dancing to yoga music. This was a bit too strange for me, and I fast-forwarded through to the end. My husband commented that it looked very relaxing, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

All in all, I feel neutral about this tape. It was quite challenging and was a change of pace from other yoga videos that I own. I would have liked to see more modifications, but I don’t think this is meants for beginners. I probably wouldn’t buy this one, but I would try her other videos.

Caroline Kim

For some reason, I had always assumed that Wai Lana taught yoga at a beginning level, but now that I've tried my second video of hers, I'm convinced that this is not the case. Wake Up Body is a stimulating, invigorating practice that includes several challenging postures, and I definitely would not recommend it for anyone below an intermediate level.

The asana practice is approximately 34 minutes long, and it begins with a series of reclined leg stretches. The first move, which involves lying on your back and "walking" the feet over your head (similar to plow pose) is difficult and requires quite a bit of core strength. Next comes side kicks and a single leg stretch, and then Wai Lana moves into plow--a posture that many find relaxing but that I find challenging. Following plow, it's on to your stomach for a 1-legged bow variation.

In some poses, Wai Lana builds up to the more advanced version by starting with easier options: for example, a sort of mini boat pose, a dynamic down dog, and a headstand prep with legs at a 90-degree angle up a wall. She also does several variations of a standing backbend (or standing camel), beginning with hands on hips, moving to hands on thighs, and finally, hands on ankles (which I was unable to do). The practice ends with an additional 6-minutes of Wai Lana's quite unique singing and dancing. Although this seemed a bit silly to me, I gave it a try, and I have to admit that I found it both fun and relaxing.

One thing I really like about Wai Lana's videos is that each asana is like a stand-alone practice: the posture is held for an extended period (sometimes incorporating dynamic movement), and then a brief relaxation follows. Because there are pauses between every pose segment, when you use the video, you can perform as many or as few poses as you choose, simply picking up where you left off the next time.

The Wai Lana series is definitely worth checking out if you have been practicing yoga for awhile and are looking for a departure from mainstream yoga videos.

Instructor comments: I find Wai Lana's frequent outfit changes, gaudy appearance, and heavy accent a bit difficult to get used to. In addition, she does not suggest modifications for poses, which is why the practice demands an intermediate level of expertise. However, she provides very good instruction and non-mirrored cueing, plus she is quite encouraging and offers a good bit of information about the benefits of each pose.

Beth (aka toaster)

July 29, 2004

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