Yoga Zone: Conditioning and Stress ReleaseAlan Finger
Year Released: 1998
I've been interested in trying this Yoga Zone practice for some time now. Even though I'm no longer a yoga beginner (I consider myself a solid intermediate), I had heard that this program was very relaxing, particularly for the neck, and I am always looking for yoga practices along these lines. I have tried many of the Yoga Zone videos, but this was only my second full-length (almost an hour) practice with Yoga Zone founder Alan Finger. The first thing I noticed about this program is that is it performed in an indoor studio; since every other YZ video I've every tried was outdoors, this was a bit disappointing but not a major factor. The entire practice moves at a slow, relaxing pace, with long holds of the postures allowing you to really feel the release associated with each move.
Alan and his two students, Lisa and Michelle (who displays less flexible modifications) begin in a seated position with basic breathing exercises and continue with simple warm-ups, including a cross-legged seated forward bend and forward bend with a twist. Next comes the neck release series, which involves a slow turn from side-to-side, a partial turn using the opposite hand as a weight on the top of the head, and a chin push. A few additional moves for the shoulders follow, namely a shoulder roll and an arm pull across the chest. Staff pose rounds out this initial seated series, which lasts about 15 minutes. Alan then transitions you to a lying position for reclined bound angle, bridge, and double-leg back release. Moving to hands and knees, you'll do a cat series plus some really nice wrist stretches. The only down dog of the practice follows, and then a standing forward bend prepares you for the short standing series to come. The standing postures include tadasana, side bend, standing back bend, forward bend, side angle pose, and a wide angle forward bend series. You are now 35 minutes into the practice, and Alan moves back to the floor for 12 point, table, seated forward bend, thread the needle, leg extensions/lowers, single leg back release, revolved stomach pose, and finally, savasana. As with the other longer YZ I've tried (Flexibility & Stress Release), Alan leads you through a lengthy (10 minutes) savasana that is extremely relaxing--there is something about his voice that nearly puts me to sleep every time! The total practice time is approximately 58 minutes, but the soothing music continues into credits, so you could easily relax into savasana for a bit longer.
Although I liked this practice and did find it very relaxing, I also felt that it was a little below my current level. At this point, I have other relaxing yoga videos which I prefer to this one, particularly Benagh's Yoga for Stress Relief and Yoga in the Garden of Serenity (the latter has amazing neck stretches which go way beyond what is offered here). Still, this is an excellent beginning yoga program, and I think it would also be a good fit for those who usually don't enjoy yoga but are looking for a relaxing, full-body stretch routine.
There's something about Alan Finger that has an almost annoying paternalistic quality, but still, I can't help but to like him. He mirror cues and provides excellent form pointers throughout the practice. Also, as mentioned above, he leads the best savasanas I have ever experienced outside of an actual yoga class.