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Yoga Journal's: Yoga Practice for Flexibility

I must admit, I have had this video for a couple of years, and haven't done it a lot. I probably should have started with their "Yoga for Beginners" video, but silly me, I think I'm so hot, I jumped right in with one of their more advanced videos, and I had never done yoga before.

The video is divided into two different sections, one forward bend segment, and one backward bend segment. Each segment is around 30 minutes long. I was not strong enough to do a lot of the backward bends the first few times I did this video. Then I put it away for about a year, and in that time I discovered the Firm videos and started doing strength training. The next time I tried it, I had the upper body strength to do the poses.

I didn't realize until I tried the Bryan Kest Power Yoga videos, that one of the reason's I found these videos so discouraging at first was that they have one person doing the poses, and she is so amazingly flexible that I could never do the moves as well as her. They do show modifications, but since I was somewhere between the modifications and what the instructor was doing, I just felt inadequate. However, I do like this video, I just think I would have done better if I had started with the beginner video, which I assume has more instruction in the basics. This series has received very good reviews elsewhere, so don't let my slightly soured view of it completely turn you off to them.

Not a very specific review, but I haven't really done this video a lot, and when I do it there is a big gap between times, so my memory of details is pretty thin. (hey, is this a review of my review?)

Trish Ransom

There are two sections: back bends and forward bends. I don't do the back bends, mainly because I'm chicken. I'm afraid I'll hurt my back! The forward bends are sit-down stretches where you bend forward over your legs and other variations. It's extremely relaxing. It not only stretches your leg muscles, but also your lower back, and it feels really good!

I keep this tape around just for stretching, because I'm not really into yoga. If you like yoga, you'll like this tape. If you just want to stretch, I'd recommend Karen Voight or Charlene Prickett instead.

Instructor comments:

Patricia Walden is definitely a pro when it comes to yoga. I wish I had her flexibility! Also, she has a very soothing voice, which is good for this kind of workout.

Annie S.

Patricia Walden leads you through two sessions designed to increase your flexibility and open up your front and spine. Most of these moves will require modification if you are a beginner so you will need to use a bolster or pillow, some folded blankets, and blocks or a chair.

Session One: Backbends: dog pose, mountain pose, triangle pose, proud warrior, standing forward bend, revolved triangle, extended leg pose, supported backbend, dog pose, dog/upward dog vinyasa, camel pose, upward bow, standing forward bend with twist, dog pose, child's pose, relaxation pose. The supported backbend is extremely relaxing. You lie on your back with your legs bent and your lower back over a bolster or pillow. After a minute or so in this position you will feel your back release and soften, at which point you can straighten your legs to get more of a chest opening. The upward bow pose is what most people call a back bend; it is very difficult and requires a great deal of strength to maintain it for any length of time.

Session Two: Forward Bends: vinyasa (poses included are standing forward bend, dog pose, upward dog, triangle, proud warrior, side stretch, revolved triangle and extended leg pose), staff pose, head to knee pose, hero's forward bend, heron pose, seated forward bend, wide angle pose, relaxation pose. The heron pose requires extreme flexibility. I had to do it with my lifted leg resting on my tall box. If you have tight hamstrings they will really limit your ability to go deeply into these poses. I found that discouraging at first but after doing the tape about 8 times I am noticing an increase in flexibility.

Both of these sessions will leave your upper and lower back feeling relaxed. My lower back always seems quite warm to the touch after doing one of these sessions.

Patricia Walden gives great cues and modifications, and is as soothing and relaxing as ever.

Laura Harper

This is an excellent video, good for advanced and intermediate exercisers. I have had this tape since 1993 and I still enjoy it as much today. I highly recommend yoga to all runners; I feel it has kept me from getting injured. (I used to have a lot of knee problems before I added yoga to my routine.) There are two workouts on this tape. The first is a backbends series. It starts with a number of poses to warm up the body and increase general flexability. Then it moves into the backbends, which are very challenging. They open the back, and (it feels to me) strengthen the thighs. The first workout is about 45 mins. The second workout, which is about 30 mins, starts with a warm up series of poses, and then moves into forward bends on the floor. These stretch the hamstrings. As a runner, I really appreciate these poses. Overall, I think this is a terrific tape, well worth every cent I paid. It stretches me out well, and helps to quiet my mind. It is a bit new agey, which may turn off some people. I actually like that aspect of it. After yoga, I feel very calmed and grounded.

Instructor comments: Patricia Walden provides excellent cues, and has a very calming voice. She is a peaceful presence. She is very thin, and wears a white unitard. And is she ever flexible! During "crane pose", she just lifts her leg smack up to her nose, no problem. My only complaint is that Patricia always goes to the most advanced pose, some of which are well beyond my abilities. I prefer Bryan Kest's approach on this issue: he gets you into the basic position, and then says "if you can, go further." Particia Walden just tells you to go further, and if you can't, then modify.

18 June 98

I wasn't happy with this video. The moves were good and I was actually a little sore the day after I did this video. I didn't like the set that this was filmed on. I also wasn't happy with the instructor. I bought Buns Of Steel Yoga and I am much happier with this tape. I also like the instructor in that video. Maybe also because I only paid $5.99 for it.

Instructor comments: She has a nice soothing voice but I wasn't happy with her. Maybe if I tried a different video with her in it? I know yoga is supposed to be calming but I found her a little to calm.


I'd been doing upward dog (or cobra) for about six months before I bought this tape. But the detail that Walden provides in this tape helped me improve the pose immensely. I remember staring at the ceiling and thinking "This is the best cobra I've ever done." I love spending that extra time to get that extra extension.

That said-- the backbend series is mostly warmup to get to the backbends, and by the time I get to them, my arms are tired from the warmup! I can't usually hold the upward bow for nearly as long as she does. And she does it-- four times? Five? By then my arms are noodles. So, I'm challenged by this tape, but I don't usually do the whole thing through. Sometimes I put the tape in just for the up-dog/ down-dog vinyasa which she explains better than Yee, Schiffman, or Arkin.

The forward bend section is very enjoyable. I love the standing-pose-flow Vinyasa that she starts it with and occasionally put the tape in just for that vinyasa. I enjoy the symmetry in it; everything is done to the right and to the left, but smoothly, with dog pose in between. By the second time thru that vinyasa I'm feeling great.

After reading many reviews that ask the question "is this tape for beginners or not", I'd like to say: I think that all the rest of Yoga Journal's series (and the Living Arts series too) assume that if you have not taken yoga classes, then you have used the "Yoga Journal's: Yoga Practice For Beginners" tape. The rest of the "beginners" tapes could be renamed "for Advanced Beginners". If you are new to Yoga, do youself a favor and start with "Yoga Journal's: Yoga Practice For Beginners".

Instructor comments: Patricia Walden always provides excellent directions for working in each pose to get the most benefit out of that pose. This tape is no different. Her attention to detail-- especially stretching the spine, grounding through the floor, and opening the ribs-- continually challenges me to improve my asanas. Great instructor.

Helen Wright
6/ 17/ 99

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