Backyard Series: Beginning YogaErich Schiffmann
Year Released: 2002
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(Note: This DVD is usually referred to on VF as "Backyard Beginners," but I copied the title exactly as it appears on the DVD case.)
With the exception of the beautiful Yoga Mind & Body (with Ali McGraw), this is my first Erich Schiffmann video. During the introduction at the beginning of the practice, Erich explains that the entire video was created by him--not only the instructing, but also the filming, editing, etc. Therefore, he notes that since there is no camera person, the camera angles might sometimes be a little off, but I did not find this to be a problem at all. Although you won't find the amazing production values of YM&B here, I still thought this DVD was very nicely produced, definitely more than adequate.
The DVD is very well-chaptered into 10 segments which could easily be mixed and matched to create your own customized practice. Although the DVD has been broken down by others, I've included a brief overview below along with my own comments (all times are approximate).
1. Introduction, 7.5 minutes. From a seated position, Erich leads you through forward bends, side bends, and twists.
2. Mountain series, 7 minutes. Similar to the first segment except in a standing position; ends with a forward bend and squat.
3. Cat/Dog series, 3.5 minutes.
4. Half Salutes, 9.5 minutes. Erich performs half sun salutes and then flows into a series of standing postures, including triangle and wide-legged forward bend with a twist.
5. Reclining lotus preps, 13.5. From both a reclined and a seated position, Erich leads you through a series of wonderful hip openers such as thread the needle and rock the baby; my favorite segment!
6. Shoulder stretches, 14.5 minutes. Another great segment; Erich presents a great series of shoulder openers while seated in hero's pose (these include, but are more comprehensive than, the shoulder exercises which appear in his book).
7. Locust series, 4 minutes. A shorter series of gentle backbends.
8. Half Dog, 3.5 minutes. Shoulder stretch (also performed in YM&B).
9. Bridge, 6.5 minutes. Includes several bridge variations plus a reclining twist.
10. Savasana, 5 minutes. The credits start rolling about 1.5 minutes into this segment, but the music continues, so you can easily continue your relaxation until the chimes sound.
(Total time: approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes)
Like virtually everyone who has tried Erich, I really enjoyed this DVD, and I know I will get a lot of use out of it. Also, I can't wait to try other videos in the Backyard series!
Erich instructs via voiceover, and as always, his instruction is top-notch. I find his voice uniquely soothing, although some of his comments did get a bit repetitive (I didn't mind, but others might). Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the appearance of Fig, Erich's cat--I was totally amused by Erich's ability to completely ignore Fig's presence. :)
I have been an Erich fan ever since I found him, but I put off buying this video because I didnít think I needed a beginnerís tape. However, a recent sale made me go for it, and I am absolutely delighted with it and wish I had bought it sooner. Erich is his usual charming self, and in this video, he does so much that isnít found elsewhere. My particular favorite part is a shoulder-opening session using a strap. It is incredibly yummy, and helpful as well. This is one Iíll be doing often. Grade A+.10/21/2004
This is a great beginning yoga DVD. It's well chaptered and especially well sequenced. It's filmed outside in Erich's backyard. His cat Fig makes a guest appearance. This is a wonderful yoga practice to prepare you for more challenging yoga poses. The shoulder stretches are amazing.
I think Erich has the best voice and manner of speaking for yoga.
I will get into trouble right away by saying that I wouldnít consider this a good video for true yoga beginners. It is wonderful in many ways. But, not for baby beginners. I am sort of a beginner. I have done yoga on and off for years. Only recently has it becomes more important to me as a part of fitness and of life.
I did parts of the workout a few times. The other day I did the whole thing, which, at 77 minutes, is way longer than Iím used to doing yoga. There is no dread factor at all. No endless sun salutations, no painfully extended and repeated downward dogs. Mostly gentle stretches, asanas and preps for harder asanas.
Several of the poses were way hard for me. The lying leg out to the side one was tough. I will use my yoga strap next time. The cobra part was very hard. I felt there wasnít enough instruction to avoid injuring the back. The ab work could have used more explanation. Letís face it, I needed more instruction in some parts! And I am not a baby beginner to yoga.
I needed more props too. I know there is no law that says that beginners have to use props. I find them very helpful.
There is a great shoulder stretch section that is so enjoyable. And not just because his cat comes over to greet him and have a little bath for the camera!
When Erich first appeared on the screen, my first thought was, ďThis guy is stoned.Ē Then I thought, ďHeís not the buff superdude like Eion or Rodney.Ē In less than a minute, I was absolutely smitten with this instructor. He has a deceptively soft appearance and manner. Yet, his moving through the poses is strong and effortless. He has some endearing mannerisms that make him ever so human. The hair fixing. The ring adjusting. When he removes leaves from his mat or adjusts his clothing, itís almost hypnotic.
The best part is his attitude which says: Enjoy this!
He is the only yoga instructor Iíve ever felt Iíd like to meet. Iíd give him a big hug!
A quick addition to LisaTV's review. I just received, and completed, Erich's Beginner Backyard on DVD
Erich's teaching style is wonderful - very grounded, serene vibe.
I wanted to post, especially, to report the production values on the DVD are fine. The sound quality is very good. No ambient noises. There's nice indian music on some portions, just voice on others. The picture's really ok. There are points where you might have wanted the camera to frame the shot better - but no big deal.
The cat's a great addition.
I enjoyed this dvd very much, particularly the shoulder openers - but also the hips. The sequencing is just terrific. I feel open and centered and generally, the way one should after a nice practice.
here's a link to order:
This 1 hour 17 min video was self made by Erich. The production quality is better than his Live series, but you shouldn't expect the movie quality of Yoga Mind & Body. Music does play at times during this video, but not always. There is audible high speed dub tape hiss.
This is a terrific yoga video for beginners (and others), possibly the best I've seen! If you're looking for a gentle-ish practice that's very low on the woo woo factor and has little or no sanskrit, this is for you too. It's Erich in his own backyard with his cat (who you hear meow off camera once, and who hangs out on the mat for a while). The shoulder openers are particularly thorough and good. I can't recommend it enough!
Here is a breakdown. You'll need blankets or a zafu to sit on (I was too lazy to get my zafu out, so I just grabbed a nearby block) and a strap of some kind (a tie or belt from a bathrobe works too):
Opening Part 1
1. Easy cross leg
2. Forward fold--side bend--vertical twist--chest expander--forward fold
Opening Part 2
1. Mountain pose on toes
2. Arms up, palms down, on toes
3. Chest expander
4. Standing side bend
5. Arms up, palms up, up on toes
6. Chest expander
7. Forward fold arms behind back
Opening Part 3
1. Cat pose--dog pose
2. Kneeling--squat--curl up
3. Half salutes
4. Triangle pose
5. Wide leg forward fold
6. Reclining lotus prep
7. Knee to chest--abdominal
8. Straight leg abdominal
9. Reclining leg stretches
10. Seated lotus prep
11. Shoulder stretches on zafu (watch for Erich's cat!)
12. Locust pose
13. Half dog--quarter dog
14. Bridge pose 1, 2, 3
15. Reclining twist