Video Fitness

Yoga Zone: Stretching for Flexibility

Jeanne Kerner and Douglas Stewart

This is one of the Yoga Zone DVDs made from their TV show. It has two 19-minute practices. The commercial break points are not obvious in these workouts, and the routines flow really well. Both practices are filmed outdoors in Jamaica. Production quality is good.

The first practice is pretty straight-forward stretching poses “to keep you flexible for a lifetime”; poses are held for several breaths and modifications for less flexible people are shown. Jeanne Kerner leads this practice with Douglas as the second exerciser. This practice is a great choice if you want to stretch your lower body without having more strength-oriented poses thrown in. Aside from the focus on using your breathing in each pose, it’s not terribly different in content or feel from a non-yoga stretching tape. Jeanne does a really nice job of explaining the role of breathing in the poses, though, and I think it would be useful for someone new to yoga.

Practice 1 Details:
Chapter 1: Opening – Seated poses including twists, hamstring, side, and inner thigh stretches
Chapter 2: Lengthening – All 4’s back stretches, downward dog, front and side lunges, and a seated forward bend. This practice ends in a seated meditation

The second practice focuses on “using opposition – 2 points moving away from each other – to enhance stretching.” It has more strength-oriented poses than the first practice. Douglas Stewart leads this section with Suzanne as the second exerciser. Douglas gives wonderful explanations of how to feel opposition in poses, and how you should be active in poses that look simple. However, this practice isn’t as stretching oriented as the first one, and its mix of poses makes it hard for me to figure out how to use it. I have used the 2nd practice followed by the 1st one before for a 38-minute stretching routine, and that works pretty nicely, though with some pose repetition.

Practice 2 Details:
Chapter 3: Opposition Principles – Dandasana is the first pose, and Douglas takes time to explain how the feet and tailbone should be moving apart and the sit bones and head should be moving apart. You then do some lying poses that strengthen the stomach, again focusing on the different lines of opposition. Table, a seated side stretch, plank, downdog, and standing forward bend follow.
Chapter 4: Using Principles – Standing poses including warrior 2 and chair (still focusing on the lines of opposition in each pose), then seated inner thigh, side, and hamstring stretches. This practice also ends in a seated meditation.

In general, I think Yoga Zone productions seem more upbeat and less serious than the Living Arts productions. The sets are bright and the instructors speak naturally rather than using a scripted voice-over. The instructors all seem friendly and make yoga seem accessible and pleasant, while still managing to give alignment and breathing pointers. This is a nice DVD for beginners to yoga who want to stretch out; the information on breathing in the first routine and opposition in the second routine is a good introduction to some basic yoga ideas. It’s also a good DVD for more experienced yoga practioners who want a gentle and brief stretching-focused video.

Instructor comments: Jeanne Kerner and Douglas Stewart are both friendly and encouraging and give lots of useful form pointers. As in all YZ DVDs, they instruct pretty continuously, so if you just want to listen to music and breathe while you stretch, you’ll need to choose the music-only option from the DVD menu.

August 21, 2004

This well-intentioned dvd presents two 20-minute routines taken from the Yoga Zone tv show, designed to ease the less flexible into proper yoga.

Jeanne Kerner leads the first routine, with Douglas. While I did not find her as appealing as Jennifer from my other Yoga Zone title, she was a competent teacher and offered good form pointers.

Most people will be able to handle this workout just fine. I realize my personal flexibility issues (I essentially have NO flexibility at all) are perhaps on the more extreme end and should not be generalized to others, but---there were things here that did not work for me. There were positions that, even allegedly ‘modified’ for the less flexible, were not modified enough for me. For example she does this multi-tasking thing in a few places which I hate, hate, hate where you work two body parts at once. The most egregious example was one stretch where you had your legs out to the side (leg stretch) and your hand reaching toward your toe (back stretch) and then she adds in a side bend (obliques). No! And her assistant guy doesn’t use yoga blocks for the down dog. THIS is for beginners and less flexible people? The first section ends with a kneeling sequence that was just fine, but the first 10 minutes were completely unacceptable for me.

Douglas, from the first workout, leads the second section with Suzanne. I did not find him as polished as a teacher---he uses cues like ‘the first leg’ and ‘the other leg’ and stumbles a few times. He also talks more about breathing than Jeanne did. The workout begins with a seated section of bends and twists (plus a reverse table, which is very challenging), then a plank and downward dog section. Again, they don’t use blocks and he doesn’t tell her to bend her knees. Then forward bend, warrior, chair pose and a few finishing moves on the floor.

I liked that all the poses are held for a pretty long time in this workout. It is a bit less ‘flowing’ than most yoga routines, but that works in this case. I love the Yoga Zone format, the beautiful outdoor scenery and the friendly, personable instructors. But I think that in this case, the idea of taking footage from their show constrained them a bit too much. It is very easy to take a yoga workout and call it for ‘fat-burning’ or ‘relaxation’ or whatever the other titles are. But something like this, I think they would have served their audience better by designing a new routine with them in mind, rather than trying to shoehorn their existing footage fit in with such a theme.

Instructor comments:



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