Backyard Series: Lotus Pose

Erich Schiffmann
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Yoga

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Lotus Pose is another offering from renowned yoga instructor Erich Schiffmann's Backyard Series, a series of DVD produced by Erich himself and filmed in his own backyard. This practice is clearly designed for intermediate to advanced yoga practitioners, as only those with a substantial amount of yoga experience should consider working towards lotus (I should also mention that some people believe that lotus pose should only be learned live from a qualified instructor).

That being, said, in this video, Erich slowly and methodically leads the viewer through various sequences of preparatory work designed to help get the body ready for lotus. Performed almost entirely on the floor, these patterns include leg stretches, hip openers, chest expanders, shoulder stretches, twisting positions, and forward folds--I was definitely pleasantly surprised by all of the upper body work included in this practice. Here is a breakdown of the sequences as Erich lists them on the DVD case:

*Standing forward fold
*Seated forward fold
*Head to knee pose
Seated Lotus Preparation Cycle
*Open leg to side
*Legs parallel
*Cross leg over
*Extended leg
*Extended leg back bend
*Leg stretch
*Half lotus twist
*Half lotus chest expander
*Half lotus forward fold
*Entwined half lotus forward fold
*Seated forward fold
*Lotus forward fold
Sukhasana Pattern
*Happy pose forward fold
*Half lotus horizontal shin forward fold
Pigeon from Dog
*On elbows
*On forearm twist
*Forward fold
*Thigh stretch
*Double pigeon
Yoga Dandasana Stages
*Chest expander
*Forward fold
*Double pigeon
Half Lotus Patterns
*Extended leg
*Extended knee backbend
*Leg stretch
*Forward fold down middle
*Over knee
*Over leg
*Half lotus forward fold
*Tipping into twisting lotus
*Forward fold over each knee
Reclining Lotus Preparations
*Horizontal shin repetitions
*Half lotus repetitions
*Lotus on back
Upward Facing Lotus

I should note that although I have been practicing yoga regularly for about 3 years (and dabbled for about 3 years prior), I have never been able to achieve more than a weak half lotus posture. The first time I tried this DVD, I found the first two cycles quite challenging, mainly because I have very limited flexibility in seated forward bends. When Erich performs full lotus at the end of the second sequence (to "see where we're at" he says), I wasn't even close. However, I persevered and continued with the hip-opening work, which comes a bit easier to me. Then, at the end of the Half Lotus Patterns, which finish with gentle twisting work, I surprised myself by getting into full lotus on one side! Erich is constantly reminding you not to push or strain, and so I held the posture only briefly before releasing. Next comes the Reclining Lotus Preparations, and this time, I was able to brief achieve full lotus on both sides, a true accomplishment for me.

Erich is a master at yoga sequencing; he is extremely effective in his use of preparatory work culminating in a pinnacle pose, as with lotus here. I would highly recommend this DVD to experienced yoga practitioners who know their own limits and are willing to carefully follow Erich's excellent instruction here.

Instructor Comments:
Erich is amazing: his soft-spoken, soothing instruction gently coaxes you to take your body to new places. Although the videos in his Backyard Series are simply produced, with Erich's own camera work and editing, they are very well-done in a pretty, private setting with calm, serene music--and of course Fig the cat!

Beth C (aka toaster)