Simply Spoga/Spoga, The Mind/Body 'anti-aging' WorkoutsMichelle Lee
Year Released: 2004
In her introduction to the workout, instructor Melinda Lee says that Spoga is a combination of Hatha, Kundalini and Tibetan yoga and that it also borrows from Qigong, Pilates, and aerobics. I saw minimal evidence of the latter, as the bulk of this half hour workout is a practice of the 5 Tibetan Rites, five ancient exercises that are supposed to help one stay energized and youthful (try a google search if you are unfamiliar with the rites).
The Spoga DVD is broken up roughly into 3 10-minute sections. The first, "Connect with Your Body," helps you to set an intention for the practice and to focus on breath. You'll spend several minutes waving your arms over your head, bouncing on your legs, and panting; I felt pretty silly doing this, but I have to admit, it was energizing. Following this, you move to the floor for a few yoga poses, including twists, butterfly (using the bellows breath), and boat; you also roll like a ball as in Pilates.
Next comes "Take Action," a practice of the Tibetan rites, or what Melinda calls the "Spogans." Each of the Spogans is performed 21 times, although Melinda encourages you to go at your own pace and do less reps if necessary. With the exception of the first Spogan, I found that the pace she set was too fast for me to keep up, so I did a few less than 21 reps each time. In all the Spogans, breath is connected with the movements, inhaling on the first part of the move and then exhaling on the second. The first Spogan is "Twirling Temple," turning around in a circle with your arms spread wide. This is likely to cause dizziness in most people, but Melinda does allow you to pause to regroup at the end. She calls the second Spogan "Double Waterfall." Basically, you are standing on your knees, and lean back slightly as if performing Camel pose (you don't do the full pose); you then curl forward slightly. She finishes with a full Camel pose at the end. The third Spogan, "Rising Tide," involves lying in a reclined position while raising and lowering your legs and head. For the fourth Spogan, "Wave," you start seated with your legs in front of you (Staff pose) and then move to Table pose. Finally, the last Spogan, "Hi-tide/lo-tide," has you move from Down Dog to Upward Dog. In-between each Spogan, there are pauses on your back to take deep breaths and "integrate" your work.
The final segment of the video, "Connect with Your Spirit," is a guided meditation while lying in savasana. Melinda has you imagine being on a flying carpet and landing on a peaceful beach. Her soothing voiceover is accompanied by relaxing images on screen, but since your eyes are supposed to be closed, you don't really get to appreciate these (I peeked!). I definitely found this to be relaxing, especially after performing the Spogans, which were quite strenuous. The practice finishes in a seated position with final intention and breathing instruction.
Melinda states that this is an advanced practice, and I was able to follow along without any problems; however, I practice yoga regularly, and I've done the 5 Tibetans in the past. Those with little or no yoga experience will probably want to begin with the other Spoga video, "Simply Spoga." Although this video provided a nice change of pace, I can't really imagine doing it regularly. However, it might work well for someone who is not a fan of traditional yoga and would like a more energizing yoga-inspried practice.
Melinda was fine as instructor, she cued well (without a lot of instruction though) and frequently encouraged you to let loose and have fun. Many of her comments had a new-agey feel to them--for example, encouraging you to connect to the earth, to envision happiness and truth, etc.