Yoga with John Schumacher (Volume 1): Basic Daily RoutineJohn Schumacher
Year Released: 2003
- Audio Workout
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Note: I received a free reviewer's copy of this audio practice from iHanuman.com.
This is a 60-minute, 2-part audio yoga practice led by John Schumacher, a certified senior Iyengar yoga teacher who studied under both yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar and acclaimed teacher Dona Holleman. Here Schumacher offers a yoga routine which centers around a series of fundamental yoga postures. In accordance with the Iyengar tradition, Schumacher places a strong emphasis on precise alignment in each pose. Given this, you will find no extraneous comments in his instructionóhis ongoing dialogue consists entirely of verbal prompts to facilitate accurate execution of the postures. The practice features Schumacherís voice alone (no music), and he cues each pose first in Sanskrit, then in English.
Schumacher begins the practice by spending several minutes setting up mountain pose, a basic standing posture; he comes back to this stance in-between each of the standing poses. The standing postures include tree, triangle, side flank, warrior 1, warrior 2, intense side stretch, wide angle standing forward bend, and standing forward bend. For some of the poses, Schumacher encourages the listener to modify (e.g., using a block under the hand in side flank pose), but he sometimes fails to suggest modifications at other points when this would be helpful (such as providing an alternate for reverse namaste hands in intense side stretch). Each pose is set up, held briefly, then repeated on the other side. Upon conclusion of the standing series, Schumacher moves to a reclined position for leg lifts, advising listeners with back problems to execute caution here (he also suggests placing a blanket on your mat). This ends Part 1.
Part 2 of the practice continues on the floor for seated postures, including thunderbolt, hero (with a block if needed), and staff pose. Schumacher then moves into down dog while providing numerous form details for this posture. Following down dog, Schumacher has the listener perform two long holds of Chatturanga, pushing up into this posture from the floor. Returning to a reclined position, there are several rounds of rolling up into bridge, finally holding the pose with the arms clasped. Next Schumacher resumes a seated position for easy pose with twist, staff pose, head to knee pose, and stretch of the west (full seated forward bend). With 7 minutes remaining, Schumacher guides the listener into savasana (relaxation pose). As is the case for the entire practice, Schumacher is meticulous in setting up this final posture, providing suggestions to ensure that the bodyís weight falls evenly against the floor; he encourages the listener to remain relaxing for as long as desired.
This practice would be excellent for yoga beginners who have some familiarity with the basic postures but who are still learning how to attain proper alignment in the poses. That being said, more experienced yoga students are also likely to benefit from this practice as an exceptional refresher on form. Schumacherís teaching style is well-suited to the audio format: although youíll get little sense of his personality here, you will definitely get everything you need for a high-quality, foundational Iyengar yoga routine.
As mentioned, his instruction is precise and detailed, but it does come off a bit flat and dry.
John Schumacherís Basic Daily Practice is an oldie, but goodie. For those looking for a no-nonsense approach to iyengar yoga, this CD is a good choice. Thereís no music. The practice is about 60 minutes long, but he covers many basic poses. For the past few years, Iíve had a cervical spine injury and have had to restart yoga slowly. Iíve found iyengar and anusara to be helpful approaches for their focus on alignment and safe execution. The poses included in this CD can be performed safely by anyone not suffering from an acute injury. It is a nice, gentle way into strengthening the back muscles and opening the hips, shoulders, and hamstrings.
Genuine beginners would be better served by video practices first, but those with a few years of practice under their belts or several months of classes will do fine and will know when to modify. For example, Schumacher instructs the listener to put her hands in reverse prayer position (the hands cupped in prayer position on the back). This was one of the rare instances when he didnít give a modification. Those whoíve done yoga for a while will know that itís also fine to clasp the elbows behind the back instead.
Schumacher gives very precise instructions about how to position parts of the body so that stretches are deepened and joints are protected. His meticulous alignment cues drive home the intricacy of the most fundamental poses in yoga like mountain and triangle poses. His instructions are sometimes too much to absorb all at once, since he explains how in each pose you must focus on how multiple muscles are working together, but I like that. I never felt completely lost and knew that if I had missed a line or two of instruction because I was focusing on something else, I could pick up on what he said next time. This is a basic routine, but itís one that a person can grow with. Highly recommended.
His delivery is professional and informed. No side comments. No metaphysical meditations. Just intelligently rendered instructions for improving the poses.
This is an hour-long practice consisting of 30 minutes of standing poses and 30 minutes of floor poses and savasana.
It is a fairly fast-moving but not power yoga practice. That, I like about it. I realized today that I learned yoga moving directly from one pose to another without IMO extraneous chaturanga-down dog-up dog between asanas, so it is more comfortable to me.
The practice is meticulously instructed, with a nonstop barrage of form pointers. I caught myself thinking of him as the yogi drill sergeant.
The instruction itself is quite dry, no flowery language whatsoever, just "move your right hip forward and straighten your left knee". There are a couple of references to "kidneys" that aren't strictly anatomical and a bit of "brain movement" imagery in the savasana that makes my literal nurse mind scream "subdural hematoma!!!", but that's my problem.
The poses are held fairly long, I never felt rushed, but on the other hand, I never had that oh, geez, HOW MUCH LONGER feeling that I've had with other practices.
There is no music in this CD, even in savasana. This could be either a plus or minus, depending on your temperament. There is so much instruction in this CD that music could be a distraction. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who had taken a class with John as to whether or not he conducted a live class in a similar manner.
Overall, a practice which can be very useful to beginners and more advanced practitioners alike.