Spinal Strengthening

Bryan Kest
Year Released: 2002

Categories: Yoga
- Audio Workout

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I got this CD b/c I wanted some audio CDs that I could do anywhere, using my laptop or MP3 player. Also, I'd like to make my lower back a little stronger, which is why I bought this CD as opposed to Bryan's other live class CD.

I only did this CD once, last night, but it CD far exceeded my expectations. I was worried that this would be a little more spinal relaxation (like twists) than spinal strengthening. Instead, there are many, many poses, that seem to get at a whole bunch of aspects of back strength and flexibility, while addressing other "categories" of yoga poses (inversions, forward bends, etc.).

It's a two CD set, divided into 8 chapters, as follows:
-Spinal balancing (start out at table--opposite leg straight off floor, and opposite arm straight, off floor)
-Side arm balances (many variations)
-Seated poses (forward bends, boat)
-Prone poses ("superman" or "swimming" like poses, and bow)
-Camel and lateral poses (again, whole lots of variations)
-Standing poses/advanced series (standing splits--I skipped this)
-Extra hips & legs (openers & twists)
-Finishing poses (plow, shoulder stand, neck stretches, savasana)

There is a total of 132 poses (!) although that includes the vinyasas between some of the poses, and the modifications. It comes with a pretty little book that shows Bryan demonstrating the poses and someone else demonstrating the modifications. As a cute touch, many of the pictures show one or two doggies sitting near or on the mat watching the action! (Extra cute b/c my doggie also likes to sit on or near the mat.)

I like this CD b/c, I really felt like it did what it was supposed to--work on back strength. There were also many infrequently-used poses included, and many modifications described. Also, while there are vinyasas between some series, there are no sun salutations.

Even though it says the CD is for all levels, I'm a little wary of recommending this for a true beginner, or for someone who hasn't taken a lot of live classes, since there are a lot of opportunities to do something harmful (bow, camel, hero's pose, shoulderstand, etc.). There's no music in the background, like there is in Yoga Sanctuary.

Overall, I think it's a great CD.

Instructor Comments:
I liked Bryan's voice, and the way he encourages you to take a break if you need to, or warns when a pose was going to be held a long time.

Bryan uses some, I think, sexual imagery. Stuff like "use your left nipple like a headlight and shine it onto the sky" or "this is the crotch candy pose--because it is so sweet to stretch your loins." Not to mention liberal use of the highly technical phrases "ass" and "butt cheek." I thought it was funny. But if find all of that a little nasty-well, this may not be the CD for you.



It's in cd format, therefore one can do as little or as much as one can handle. It is actually a well rounded full body workout. I thought it might be lots of spinal stretching and relaxation, but it includes loads of strengthening for the spine and the core. Starts off with a spinal balancing sequence - table position on hands and knees with extended opposing arm and leg - then side arm balances with lots of variations, and extended cat pose...then seated poses with table (stomach towards ceiling) with lots of variations and much boat work. Then prone poses- swimming type work, yoga "supermans" and bow pose. Next track is variations on camel with great lateral stretches. Then standing balances which are quite advanced. Then there's an extra hips and legs section - reclining pidgeon and nice hip stretches which feel great. Finishing poses include plow and shoulderstand and neck stretches. Plus of course my favourite spinal twists.

In between the poses in the first tracks - mini flows - plank down to low pushup position, and cobras and down dog. All in all about 130 poses which include the transition poses.

The booklet is great too. I thought it was going to be tiny - cd sized, but it's quite big - about 8 inches square - and it's spiral bound - excellent! Every pose is photographed - Bryan doing the advanced version of the pose, and a female model showing modifications. There are also written instructions along all the poses. And there are a couple of cute dogs in some of the photos - nice touch - my cat likes to join me in my yoga practice, so I appreciated this.

No music, but I don't mind. Music can be great, but it can be distracting.

All in all a great find. I am rally happy with my purchase, and plan to do it regularly.

Instructor Comments:
I like Bryan Kest. At first I found his pronunciation strange, but now i don't mind it, because he has a nice voice. And he pushes you - which I need. He gives good cues too.



Oh, my gosh why did I wait so long to buy these Bryan Kest CDs!!!??? The only word to describe this is FABULOUS. I have never done a yoga workout that left me with this strong of a reaction (and Ive gotten excited about a lot of them!). This 90-minute workout concentrates on loosening up your spine, with front, back, and side bending, stretching, and balancing. This is the only workout where Ive actually done a *good* camel comfortably. Backbend moves have always been difficult for me, but Bryan just leads you right into it. The combination of poses he chooses gets you ready for it and makes it seem like a walk in the park. I was totally amazed the first time I got to this part now I want to do this CD all the time! The rest of the workout is just as good. This one not only leaves you with that floaty, lighter-than-air feeling, but it also leaves you feeling like that for days! Grade A+++!

Annie S.


I bought this 2-pack CD along with Bryan's Long, slow and deep CD. After doing both of them, I returned the Long, slow and deep and kept the "Spinal" CD. They are both very similar, but the Spinal CD is much better. You do lots of cobras, side lateral stretch; camels (3x), locus, bow (held for 15 counts). Wide-legged stretch; forward stretch, push ups (sets of 5); abs, half-moon and some other balancing poses; plow and shoulder stand. There are no sun salutations, but don't think that you won't break a sweat; because you will.

My only complaints are that he does Virasana (heros pose) which is very bad on the knees for anyone over 40. I substitute happy cow face. Also there are no bridge and upward facing bow. I add these poses because after the spinal work my spinal is so limber that I just float up into upward facing bow.

All in all I like this CD and it's quite hard. I will certainly use it for years to come (especially since as we age, I'm 45, our spines become less limber.

Instructor Comments:
A little caustic and full of himself, but after awhile it's easy to block him out