Yoga Zone: Conditioning and Stress ReleaseAlan Finger
Year Released: 1998
Yes, you too can become a big ball of goo if you do this tape. I have come to refer to the state in which I find myself after completion of this tape as the "Big Ball of Goo" phase, because this tape is so relaxing that I feel warm and mushy all over when the tape is done. My housemate actually voiced concern when I did this yesterday that I had "meditated myself to death" at the end of the tape because I was so quiet and motionless. :0) In short, this tape definitely achieves not just stress release, but stress elimination. For that reason, as well as others, this tape is definitely in my own personal Hall of Fame, and I think others who do it will agree that it probably belongs in the VF Hall of Fame as well.
I agree with Chris' descriptions of the tape, so I'll just add my own little opinions. The poses in this tape, as Chris points out, can often be quite strenuous, but once you master the breathing techniques which Alan teaches at the beginning of the tape, it becomes easier to hold the poses. I actually tend to forget how strenuous the poses can be until I'm actually doing them each time, because I associate such a sense of relaxation with this tape. It is not all that difficult to let go into the easier poses, because Alan has such a soothing voice that you almost want to close your eyes throughout the whole tape. During the final segment you actually do get to close your eyes, and Alan asks you to scan your entire body for stress and to release it at each place that you find it. Plus, in one of my favorite images, he asks you to visualize the stress leaving your body as a warm oil descends from your scalp through your neck and shoulders and out your arms.
My favorite parts of this tape are the stress release exercises for the wrists-- I hadn't realized how tight they were until I did this tape-- and the lower back releases. The wrist exercises involve placing pressure on the wrists in ways that your wouldn't normally-- by turning them backwards when on all fours or by gently pulling the hand away from the forearm. The back exercises involve pulling the legs up to the chest, and the twisting rotations when on the back. Both types of exercises appear to be very gentle stretches but really do the trick of eliminating tension.
I think that both of the Yoga Zone instructors who demonstrate the poses are pleasant to look at, and I like the fact that one of them demonstrates the poses for less flexible people (like me). The music in this tape is there, but barely so, and it is calming, soothing instrumentals-- for lack of a better term, its "new age."
I have been using this tape once a week after a rigorous bout of Tae Bo, and I love the combination. Plus, since the tape is fifty five minutes and I don't usually have time during the week to complete it, I save it for my Saturday workout and its a weekend treat.
All in all, I think this is a great beginner yoga tape, and it definitely lives up to its title in relation to stress relief. Big thumbs up on this one.
Plus, one additional comment which might sound a little cheesy: this tape has really given me a sense of awareness of my body as a whole, as opposed to different parts, and I feel its given me a better body image because I can see how all the bits of my body serve a function and are part of the whole. Like I said in my other Yoga Zone review, I'm totally not into the whole new age thing, and I'm surprised to hear myself say what I just said above, but its true. Definitely an added plus to this tape.
Alan Finger is an excellent instructor. He has a very calm voice with a great accent, and provides superb cueing for each pose. He also provides great visualization techniques which really help you to achieve and/or maintain the proper pose. He is very thorough and also clearly concerned about providing modifications for beginners and reassuring beginners who can't perform each pose perfectly that it is okay just to attempt the form, even if your knees are bent , etc. Alan is an overall great instructor in this and other tapes.