AM Yoga for Your WeekRodney Yee
Year Released: 2008
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I like all these practices. I'm inflexable in the hips and I think he picked some good poses in the Hip practice, I feel it in inner and outer hips. The Backbends practice feels great too! I like having these short practices in the morning, but I agree with others, they are great for any time of day.
He gives his typical strange commentary, like "move the muscle away from the bone." But his cueing is actually good despite being sometimes strange. Very calm demenor as usual.
Rodney Yee, a veteran yoga instructor as well as the featured instructor of many yoga videos and DVDs, has recently released this new offering, AM Yoga for Your Week. The intent was to provide five 20-minute practices (but note that the actual practice times vary from 22-26 minutes) which could be used during busy weekday mornings to get the day off to a good start. In reality, these five excellent yoga sessions, each of which has a different focus, are appropriate for use at ANY time of the day. Although each individual practice revolves around a specific body area/group of postures, each are well-rounded, stand-alone yoga sessions. I have described the five practices briefly below.
STANDING, 22.5 minutes
Standing postures include standing forward bend, tree, triangle, side angle pose, warior 1, and warior 2; standing forward bend is performed in-between some of these poses. The standing poses conclude with chair and wide-legged standing forward bend before moving to the floor for hero and then finishing in relaxation pose. Yee offers some particularly nice form pointers while holding the standing poses.
TWISTS, 26 minutes
This practice opens with a series of reclined twists (one of which uses a strap). Yee then transitions to standing with down dog and standing forward bend for revolved prayer twist and crazy dog. Coming back to seated in cobbler's pose, he performs a twist in wide-legged seated pose and two variations on Sage 3 posture. This practice finishes with half Lord of the fishes, cobra, and relaxation pose.
BACK BENDS, 25 minutes
Yee starts here by rolling two blankets together to create a bolster for under the upper back; he lies over this for a gentle lying backbend. Coming to standing, he moves through a variation on sun salutations which include standing backbend, chair, down dog, warrior 2, side angle, warrior 1, and crescent lunge. He then moves to the floor for cobra, bow, and camel. After finishing with the backbending work, Yee nicely stretches out the body with cobbler's pose, simple seated twist, reclined leg stretch (using a strap if needed); he finished with relaxation pose.
FORWARD BENDS, 24 minutes
This practice begins in a reclined position for a series of moves that felt more like hip openers than forward bends: reclined leg stretch (using a strap if needed), happy babies pose, and thread-the-needle. Next Yee gradually transitions to standing through child's pose, down dog, standing forward bend, wide angle standing forward bend, and 3-legged down dog. Coming back to the floor for seated forward bends, he performs a simple cross-legged forward bend, head-to-knee pose, full seated forward bend, cobbler's forward bend, and wide-legged forward bend, finishing with a brief rest and then relaxation pose. To my surprise, this segment was probably my favorite, as it had a great mix of postures.
HIP OPENERS, 26 minutes
This segment uses a yoga block. It starts with a seated opening vinyasa in which Yee flows from staff pose to cobbler's to wide-legged seated pose, gradually speeding this up and also adding half-boat pose. He next does a simple cross-legged forward bend before incorporating the block. Keeping one leg stretced straight out in front, he first rests the other knee on the block, then brings the knee out to the side at a right angle. He also uses the block for cobbler's pose with the block between the feet. Additional postures which follow include pigeon, revolved crescent lunge, double pigeon, half Lord of the fishes, wide-legged seated forward bend, and cobbler's forward bend. The practice concludes with lightning pose, hero's pose on the block, and relaxation.
Despite Yee's long history of making yoga videos, he has still managed to offer something that feels fresh and new here. As always, his cueing is impeccable (although mirrored cueing would be even better!), and he offers wonderful form pointers which help you to get into the postures more deeply. Although I wouldn't recommend this DVD for those brand-new to yoga (Yee doesn't give quite that level of instruction), more experienced beginners and beyond should do fine. In conclusion, the practices are amazing, the instructor is extremely skilled, and the scenery is breathtaking--what's not to like? Highly recommended!
I have always liked Rodney Yee, although I tend to prefer his older media (ie, his Yoga Journal releases) and don't own any of his newer offerings. However, I'm happy to have found this one; it's definitely a keeper! Now, if Rodney would only learn to mirror cue... ;)
This DVD offers five short (23-26 minutes) yoga practices, each with a different focus:
Kath has already written a very thorough review on this DVD so I’ll just give my impressions here.
I am an inconsistent yoga dabbler. Every once in awhile I think it might be a good idea for me to try some yoga but I never wind up practicing on a regular basis. It might be too soon to tell, but this DVD may have changed that for me. The practices are short, which makes them very accessible for me. Time is of the essence and as much as I would like to practice yoga more often, I usually don’t want to relinquish my limited workout time. I’ve been adding these practices on at the end of my cardio or strength workouts and I really enjoy using them this way. I’ve been using them almost daily since I acquired the DVD about two weeks ago. That’s pretty consistent for me.
I find Rodney’s instruction incredibly helpful. You’ll do a pose on one side of the body, impeccably cued, and then you’ll do the other side and get even more helpful tips. I am not terribly flexible so I do find that these challenge my flexibility and that is exactly what I am after when I use one of the practices after weights or cardio. These are short and thorough practices with precise instruction. A perfect yoga DVD! So glad I picked this one up.
My DVD actually came in a regular plastic DVD case, not the cardboard box.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing each practice once.
General workout breakdown: This yoga DVD contains five distinct short practices designed for the morning. Here is a list of the poses included in each segment:
*Standing Poses (22 min.): mountain, standing forward bend, downward-facing dog, tree, triangle, extended side angle, warrior I, warrior II, wide angle standing forward bend, chair, hero’s, relaxation, and seated. As with most of the other poses in the other practices, you generally do a pose on each side before moving onto the next (rather than doing several in a row on one side, then repeating the series on the other side).
*Twists (25 min.): reclined mountain, reclined twist (with one leg straight and the other bent), reclined belly twist (with both knees bent), reclined one leg stretch, downward-facing dog, standing forward bend, low lunge with twist (hands in prayer), one-legged down dog with twist (bent knee), cobbler’s (with forward bend, later without), wide angle seated forward bend, wide angle with side bend into forward bend over each leg, simple cross-legged with twist, staff, seated twist with knee into chest (aka Marichi’s pose with twist C), sage twist III, half fish, cobra, and relaxation.
*Back Bends (24 min.): reclined mountain over bolster, standing mountain with slight backbend, sun salutations (each time varying the posture list with child’s pose, baby cobra, chair, plank, and push-up; the salutation always includes mountain with slight backbend, standing forward bend, and down dog), crescent moon lunge, warrior II into extended side angle, warrior I, cobra wave, bow, camel, cobbler’s (aka bound angle), simple twist, reclined one leg stretch, back release, relaxation, and seated cross-legged.
*Forward Bends (23 min.): reclined mountain, reclined one leg stretch, happy baby (aka dead bug), reclined pigeon, child’s, downward-facing dog, standing forward bend, standing mountain, wide angle standing forward bend, one leg down dog, simple cross-legged with forward bend, staff pose, one-legged seated forward bend (aka head to knee), two-legged seated forward bend, cobbler’s with forward bend, wide angle seated forward bend, rest (back release), and relaxation.
*Hip Openers (25 min.): staff – cobbler’s – wide angle (later adding half boat; this series is repeated multiple times), simple cross-legged with forward bend, an interesting stretch with one knee bent inwards and then outwards while the other remains in staff, cobbler’s with block between feet, downward-facing dog – one-legged down dog with twist – cross-legged lunge (aka pigeon) – cross-legged lunge with forward bend, low lunge with twist (hands in prayer), seated stacked legs with forward bend (aka double pigeon or firelog), half fish, wide angle seated forward bend, cobbler’s with forward bend, lightning / hero’s, and relaxation.
Each practice has its own relaxation pose, which is customized for that focus. Relaxation is short (1-2 min.), but as others have pointed out if you stay down when Rodney comes up and the credits play you’ll add another minute or so, and if you continue to stay down for the loop that plays during the menu you can extend your rest pose by several more minutes.
Rodney packs a lot into a little time, but the pace never feels too rushed. Those looking for long holds may be disappointed, but I didn’t feel like anything really got cheated.
Level: I’d recommend this to someone with at least a little yoga experience (e.g. you’ve taken a beginner’s yoga class or practiced with some introductory yoga media). The routines are probably approachable to most yoga beginners who are generally active already, although some poses may present a challenge to those with less strength or flexibility, especially with that morning stiffness. (You can always do these sessions after a little activity if your muscles need to be warmer.) Rodney suggests some modifications but doesn’t always show them. That said, as a more experience yogini (6+ years) who has been on a big back to basics kick for a long while now I found these routines very enjoyable. If, like me, you’re still working on flexibility and strength, you can appreciate this DVD no matter how long you’ve been practicing yoga. If you’re time crunched, again whatever level you consider yourself, these routines may appeal to you, too.
Class: Rodney alone, with instruction via voiceover.
Music: unobtrusive gentle instrumental (usually flute, guitar, or sitar), with a few moments of vocals (the “ooh, ahh” type rather than words).
Set: Rodney’s on a wooden platform overlooking Arizona’s Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.
Production: very clear picture and sound. The music is quiet in relation to Rodney’s voice. Although the camera angles are always changing and moving, I didn’t find them all that distracting in the end. They move slowly and steadily to reveal different views, including both wide angles and close-ups, of Rodney in the poses. The voiceover matches up with the movement well, with only a few slight differences between the two in some of the practices.
Equipment: yoga mat (or equivalent). Some segments use a prop: Twists uses a strap (substitute: old tie, belt, etc.), and you might also want it for Back Bends and Forward Bends; Back Bends asks for two blankets, rolled up into a bolster (one thick one might be sufficient; you want a firm blanket, like a wool or cotton one, rather than something squishy or fluffy); and Hip Flexors uses a block (substitute: thick hardcover book, like that discount volume of Shakespeare you’ve never cracked).
Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with hands and legs extended, to sit with legs out to each side, and to do a full sun salutation.
DVD Notes: The main menu offers you two choices: A.M. Yoga For Your Week (which leads to a menu with each of the five routines) and Bonus Features (Get to Know Rodney Yee, which has a copy of Rodney’s bio from the back cover as well as a live interview with Rodney, and Audio Selection, which offers these options: Full Instruction, the default option; Minimal Instruction, or cues only; and Spanish, a translation of the full instruction).
Each pose is individually chaptered with the routines.
As has been noted, the DVD cover promises a guide to meditation, but I haven’t found it, either. Those who believe it’s the brief blurb included in the Rodney interview are probably correct.
There’s no more long Gaiam intro. Hooray! After the warnings, however, the DVD launches right into Rodney’s intro, which plays every time. Fortunately you can skip this by hitting “menu” right after the Gaiam logo flashes on the screen.
This comes in Gaiam’s new “eco conscious” biodegradable cardboard package, which has an awkward egg carton-like spindle (mine grips the disc too tightly, which means I’m in constant danger of snapping the disc as I attempt to dislodge it, but another Gaiam eco conscious case I have grips it too loosely, so the disc comes loose whenever I move the case) and doesn’t like to stay close when stacked vertically. Saving the environment shouldn’t look this cheap.
Comments: This is not a repackaged video; all material on here is brand new. (That said, it wouldn’t be a shock if Gaiam reissues some or all of the practices under different titles in the future. Sigh.)
This DVD is very versatile; you can choose whatever practice suits your needs on a particular day. I do agree, however, with the VFers who have posted about the no doubt purposeful order of the sessions, starting you off with the active standing series on Mon. and invigorating twists on Tues., reenergizing you with backbends on Wed., and then releasing tension and stress with forward bends on Thurs. and hip openers on Fri.
Although Rodney intends beginners / beginner-like people to do these practices first thing in the morning, this DVD can be used much more broadly, such as by people with more yoga experience or at other times of day. For example, Forward Bends would make a great pre-bedtime routine, as forward bends can have a calming and even drowse-inducing effect. (You might want to avoid Back Bends right before bed, however, if like me you find backbends keep you awake, kind of like caffeine.) Hip Openers and Twists are both great post-work sessions to get out some of the stiffness that comes from sitting in chairs all day. Forward Bends, Hip Openers, and Twists also make great post-weights routines, too. If you need to get things moving in the lower digestive tract, Twists would probably do the trick. And I found that Back Bends makes a nice complement to my Pilates class by balancing out a discipline that tends to focus on forward flexion; it also stretches out hip flexors, abs, and other muscles that get tight from Pilates.
One VFer suggested Rodney make a P.M. Yoga for Your Week. I would definitely be interested in that, too!
While there are a number of other AM yoga videos out there (including, if I’m not mistaken, at least one by Rodney), if you’re looking for something else with multiple options for the morning you might also like Barbara Benagh’s AM / PM Yoga for Beginners.
Although Rodney is almost exuberant in the intro and interview, he’s more laidback and straightforward during the practices themselves. He focuses on instructing and reminding you to breathe. In fact, Rodney cues well enough that I didn’t often have to look at the screen during my first time through. Also, I found some of his form tips and reminders (in the full instruction) helpful and insightful; I may have heard a number of them before, but they resonated more with me here for whatever reason. He uses English names only for poses (although he doesn’t name all of them). Rodney cues for his right and left rather than the viewer’s, but given the constantly changing camera angles this makes the most sense. Rodney subtly discourages you from trying to rush into the poses and hold them rigidly; he has you play with some slight movement, and he’s not above wiggling a little to get into position or to get more out of the posture.