Video Fitness

Yoga Now Series

Rodney Yee with Mariel Hemingway

Im by no means a serious yogi. My usual workouts consist of lots of cardio (advanced athletic style) with total body resistance training thrown in about three times a week. Only on occasion, I might throw in some brief stretch segments because I know I need it.

So it is not surprising that one of the reasons why I purchased the Yoga Now DVDs is because they are promoted as cardio/yoga fusion workouts. The Yoga Now Series consists of 4 workouts on 4 separate DVDs. My impressions of each DVD are listed below.

Yoga Now 50 Minutes Is a 50 minute workout that has short burst of cardio distributed throughout. The cardio consists of fast lunges (with hands on the floor or blocks), small jumps or squats, and arm swings. When I initially previewed the video, the cardio did not look that strenuous. After I actually did the workout, while not what I would call a sweatfeast, it definitely is enough to slightly elevate the heart rate. I found this to work very well and not just for the extra cardio. The cardio was just enough to really warm my muscles up and help me get more into the poses. The poses were what I would call simple/beginner level. You begin on the floor in a reclined mountain pose. From there you go into twists, and knee to chest. Standing poses consists of sun salutations, tree pose, warrior 1, warrior 2, and side angle pose. Seated poses consists of cross-legged abdominal, one-legged seated forward bend, staff pose and cobblers pose. Rodney and Mariel are featured with other background exercisers but they do not talk. Instead, both instruct through a voiceover. Im not used to doing exercise videos this way but their voiceovers did not bother me.

Yoga Now 30 Minutes Is a shorter version of the 50 minute workout. It has the same cardio bursts and most of the same poses. Both Mariel and Rodney are with a class/background exercisers and talk during the workout. There are no voiceovers.

Yoga Now AM Is about 10 minutes long and only Mariel is in the workout instructing through a voiceover. Again, this workout is smaller version of the 50 and 30 minute workouts with just a little more stretching. I really like this workout and will probably use it often.

Yoga Now PM Is 10 minutes and features Rodney instructing through a voiceover. There are no background exercisers. This DVD consists of mostly poses using a chair to do wide angle forward bends, cross-legged forward bends, and of course supported relaxation pose. There are no cardio bursts. I found this one to be very relaxing and again, can see myself using it often.

All the workouts/practices take place in what looks like an airy studio with hardwood floors and brick walls. Modifications are shown for most of the poses. The instruction is clear and use of the props for the modifications is explained well.

The DVDs come with a pose guide which I found very helpful, being practically a beginning yogi. Mariel is pictured in this guide demonstrating all the poses.

Overall, I really like these DVDs. The instruction is very clear and simple. It is a beginner workout but I never felt that Mariel or Rodney tried to dumb it down at all. Thanks to their clear and concise way of teaching, I now know that it is ok to wobble in a pose or to constantly adjust myself. My initial idea of doing yoga was to remain as stiff as possible when doing a pose (told you Im new at this). Also I could really feel myself getting in touch with my body and concentrating on how it felt while doing a pose which is another new experience for me. Even if you are not a beginner, these DVDs may have a place in your collection because of the added cardio. And if you are a Rodney Yee follower, I think they are a must have. Yep, all of these DVDs are keepers. I'm happy that I made the purchase.

Instructor comments: The teaming up of Rodney and Mariel is a great match! Rodney is of course a well renouned yoga instructor and now I can see why. I also thought Mariel was excellent. I believe these are her first yoga DVDs and hopefully they won't be her last. The two of them have great chemestry and work so well together.


Yoga Now is billed as a comprehensive exercise program which combines the benefits of yoga with cardio for weight loss. Included in this 3-DVD set are a 30 minute core workourt, a 50 minute accelerated workout, and 2 10 minute workouts, the a.m. energizer and the p.m. destresser. The practices are led by internationally-known yogi Rodney Yee and actress Mariel Hemingway, a long-time yoga practitioner.

I began with the 30 minute workout. Here Rodney and Mariel teach via live instruction a class of three students (one of whom is Rodney's girlfriend, yoga instructor Colleen Staidman). The practice starts in a reclined position and focuses on breathing, then moves into stretches/core work including a reclined leg stretch, nose to knee, abdominals, and twists; a kneeling cat/cow sequence follows. Next, you transition to standing, where you perform the three "cardio" moves. The first is a full body arm swing performed with bent legs (fans of Callanetics will recognize this as one of her warm-up stretches). Next comes a small hop move, with your arms swinging in front of you and your feet barely leaving the floor. Finally, you will get down into a lunge position and quickly move from one leg to the other; this was the most strenuous of the three. The standing postures included down dog, modified side angle, and a vinyasa series (down dog to plank to cobra/up dog), and the practice finishes with a quick cobbler's and relaxation poses.

I found the 50 minute accelerated practice to be almost identical to the 30 minute, with only a few key differences: 1) Rodney and Mariel instruct via voiceover here, and 2) the cardio moves are repeated more frequently, and similarly, there are more frequent vinyasa series between each of the poses. The opening floor sequence is virtually the same as the 30 minute practice. Once you reach a standing position, you will do the arm swings and hops followed by a vinyasa, then triangle, chair pose, and another sequence of arm swings and hops. After another vinyasa, you will do modified side angle, the arm swings, warrior 1, and then the lunges. After returning to the arm swings and the hops followed by a vinyasa, you add warrior 2. In a seated position, you perform a twist and a 1-legged forward bend; the practice ends with relaxation and a final seated meditation.

The a.m. practice is led by Mariel alone instructing via voiceover. She begins in staff pose, and she repeatedly emphasizes lengthening the waist. She performs simple twists and a cat/cow series, and then she goes into all three cardio moves. Standing poses include only down dog and warrior 2, and the practice ends in mountain pose. Rodney leads the p.m. practice, also via voiceover. This practice concentrates on a series of seated forward bends performed using a chair (you rest your arms and head on the chair). There is also a reclined leg stretch using a strap and a nice relaxation pose with your legs on the chair to finish. This set includes bonus materials as well, the best of which is a pose chart featuring clear, colorful illustrations of Mariel performing all of the featured postures (broken down into sun saluations, seated poses, standing poses, supine poses, and poses with the chair). There is also a daily journal allowing you to record your progress, a nutrition plan (includes a "core food" guide, serving information, meal plans, and a grocery list), and a 2-week quick start meal plan.

To my surprise, I found these workouts to be fairly enjoyable; Rodney and Mariel have a nice chemistry, and they worked well together, particularly when teaching live. However, I definitely did NOT feel that the "cardio" moves included in these workouts were enough to provide any real aerobic benefit, and thus I don't see how anyone could lose weight with these videos (other than perhaps those who were completely sedentary to begin with). I enjoyed the 10 minute practices the best; in the a.m. practice, the cardio moves do work well both to get the blood flowing and to wake up the body, and the p.m. practice was genuinely relaxing. I also thought that the 30-minute core workout was a nice, basic level level yoga practice; again, the cardio moves helped to energize the body here. The 50 minute workout was my least favorite, as I found it to be too repetitive.

On the whole, this set was too easy for me, as I have been practicing yoga for several years now and consider myself to be at about an intermediate level. I think that these workouts would be best suited to someone who has tried yoga before and has found it to be too slow or "boring" but who would also find "power" yoga to be too strenuous--Yoga Now bridges that gap, providing a different kind of energizing practice for yoga beginners.

Instructor comments: As I mentioned, I thought Rodney and Mariel had a good rapport, although they were much more effective together when they instructed live (the 30 minute workout) than via voiceover, where their interactions seemed more stilted. Also, for those who enjoy the more spiritual, mind-body aspects of yoga, there is very little of that here; even the usual "namaste" to end the practice has been replaced by "thank you."

Beth C (aka toaster)

October 22, 2005

Yoga Now: 50 Minute Accelerated Workout

I did this workout for the first time this morning and was thrilled that I purchased the Yoga Now set. The cueing is done voiceover by Mariel and Rodney, who are in the foreground. Three participants are in the class, including a beginner who demonstrates modifications and uses a strap and blocks. This video starts out in a supine position and core work is performed. Then you move to standing and do sun salutations, various poses such as warrior, side angle, and tree. What makes this workout different is that cardio is interspersed throughout by performing arm swings, small jumps (can be low impact), and leg movements which start out from lunge pose. I became tired after 40 minutes, and was happy to hear that it was time to sit down. The workout ends with a lovely savasana and seated meditation. I look forward to trying the rest of the workouts in this set.

Instructor comments: Grounded, positive, encouraging



Yoga Now: 10 Minute AM Energizing Workout

This video begins seated in staff pose. Poses are done to gently open the hips and lower back. Then you move to standing and do sun salutations. The leg lunges, arm swings, and jumps are performed near the end of the workout. There are some shoulder stretches, and before I knew it, the workout was over. I really enjoyed it. It definitely helped me wake up.

Instructor comments: Peaceful, friendly



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