Crunch Fat Burning YogaSara Ivanhoe
Year Released: 2001
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Please note that I wrote this review 4-5 years ago; I've copied and pasted it as originally written. At the time of the review I had done it about half a dozen times.
Oh, and for the record I ended up trading it off (shortly after writing this review, IIRC).
General workout breakdown: This yoga workout clocks in around 40 minutes (if you skip the Crunch introduction; itís a teensy bit less if you also skip the ďTipsĒ chapter). The chapters divide it into the following sequences: Mountain Pose & Swan Dive, Folding-Flowing Series, Lunges, Twisting Lunges, Standing Poses, Standing-Flowing Series, Abdominal Sequence (DVD bonus), Cool Down Stretches, and Final Relaxation Pose. N.B.: Sara loves downward facing dog pose, so donít say I didnít warn you.
Sara mentions several times throughout the workout about stimulating adrenal glands or the digestive system, working up a sweat, and burning calories. This isnít power yoga as most of us would definite it; it does move at a decent pace, but most people probably wonít work up a major sweat with this one. Iíd say the focus is more on building strength and improving flexibility than just relaxing, for sure.
There are some pauses while Sara stops to instruct or encourage you. Beginners in particular will appreciate this time to pause, rest, and recenter; a more intermediate might want less pausing.
Level: Iíd recommend this to an experienced beginner to a mid intermediate yoga practitioner. I donít think a true beginner to yoga would be comfortable with the fairly small amount of basic instruction here unless s/he was complementing their practice with a live class, a book, and/or other tapes. Anyone who considers themselves a high intermediate (or even some solidly intermediate yogi(ni)s) might not find this challenging enough. I have over two years of yoga experience but am working on improving my strength and especially my flexibility. I have recently begun practicing at an intermediate level. I find this workout appropriately challenging where I am now.
Class: Sara leads 6 women and 1 man, all young. One woman shows some modifications, which I didnít always find helpful with regards to my limited flexibility; theyíre more for people with limited strength.
Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The instrumental music is pleasant and appropriate. The workout is done in a large studio space, with wood floors and fitness equipment off to the side. There are large fans to the back, and some big light fixtures hang down from the ceiling. The picture and sound quality are very good.
Equipment: sticky mat (or equivalent). All participants are barefoot.
Comments: You donít need a lot of space for this workout. You should be able to lie down with your arms and legs extended.
DVD Notes: This is available on Crunchís The Perfect Yoga Workout DVD, which also has Saraís The Joy of Yoga. The DVD has 6 additional minutes of footage focusing on the abdominals and back (ďcoreĒ) regions which are integrated into the routine. You can choose your chapter. You can choose to workout with the instructor and music or just the instructor.
Conclusion: This one jumps on and off my trade pile. (Iíve put it on the list, done it again and pulled it off, done it again and put it back on.) I like it, but I donít love it as I do my Erich, Shiva, or Eoin yoga DVDs, for example. I think if I liked The Joy of Yoga more Iíd definitely keep this DVD. (I personally prefer Fat Burning Yoga to Joy because I like the variety of poses better. Joy spends too much time in down dog or lunge for my tastes.)
That said, I think this is good yoga workout and Sara is a good teacher. Like Karen Voight or the Quick Fix yoga tapes, there isnít much here to frighten off people who are wary of chanting, flowery language, spiritual overtones, etc. Iím getting into those things, so this workout and the ones I just mentioned donít appeal to me as much now as they did when I was first starting out.
Sara is positive and encouraging, but not annoyingly so (in my opinion). She offers some form instruction, but to me her form tips are better than her instruction. She has a young vibe and voice. There isnít much ďNew AgeyĒ talk here, although there is a good deal of talking in general.
This is a good workout for those who find themselves easily bored by yoga and are interested in a more active practice. While not at the pace of power yoga, this workout moves quickly through the use of sequences: several poses are combined together in a flowing sequence, and rather than holding each individual pose for any length of time, the entire sequence is performed and then repeated several times.
The workout begins with instruction on breathing using the simple mountain pose. The first sequence involves mountain pose, standing forward bends, and chair pose. After this warm up, a longer sequence follows, containing lunges, push-up pose, simple backbends, and many repetitions of downward dog. For each repeated sequence, a slightly more difficult variation is introduced, and by the end of this series, your arms and shoulders have gotten an intense workout. A series of twisting lunges comes next, followed by some basic standing poses such as proud warrior, triangle, and side angle pose. Again, these are done in a sequence that flows quickly from one move to the next. A short abs section caps off the workout: after a few boat poses and seated backbends, there are also two Pilates-like exercises for the midsection. Finally, the practice ends with some brief seated stretches and an even briefer relaxation pose.
Sara's cues are detailed enough for those new to yoga, and the program is appropriate for beginners, especially with the modifications provided. However, some prior familiarity with basic yoga postures might be beneficial, and it should also be noted that this is intended to be intense and energizing rather than a relaxing practice. At 45 minutes, this program provides a nice change from traditional weight-bearing strength workouts while still offering the opportunity to work on toning at a more moderate pace.
Instructor Sara Ivanhoe is completely non-intimidating; she uses language such as "wiggle your fingers and toes" and "you might want to take it up a notch." She places strong emphasis on breathing and enjoying the workout and de-emphasizes perfect form. Her yoga instruction is completely Westernized, with little evidence of the more mystical/mindful aspects of yoga practice.
I absolutely *love* this video. It's a nice length for daily use (approx 30 min I think) and I really like the way it flows. It's what I would think of as beginner's power yoga. Most of the workout involves going through a series of poses, taking a little time to hold them, and to work on form and detail - and then combining them into a flowing series where you move through them more quickly paying more attention to breathing and flowing than to perfect form. It's really fun and makes me feel sleek and graceful.
There is one person doing slight modifications for beginners or less flexible people.
I don't know how much "fat burning" you'll do (I wish this had a different title - but who can argue with marketing), but this video does get my heart rate up a bit, breathing heavier and I work up a good sweat. (I am quite overweight (approx 60lbs above an ideal healthy wgt) but I'm reasonably fit - do Firms, ride bike.)
I think this is wonderful and I'd recommend it for anyone.
I've got several of the Crunch Yoga videos with Sara and I really like her style. She's very down to earth, manages to keep some of the spititual quality in her directions without being very new agey. ("..bend forward...then offer up your heart...now arms to the side, and straighten up"). She also gives you a bit of time to scootch around and get into the pose, and encourages you to help yourself out (by pulling your foot a little more forward if you didn't get it where you wanted the first time) which I like because it makes me feel much better about not always being able to just gracefully step from pose to pose the way other people can.
People who liked Sara Ivanhoe's previous Crunch yoga tape will like this one for the same reasons---it's well-cued, fast-moving and overall, a fun workout. But people who disliked Joy of Yoga will dislike this one for equally familiar reasons: it's repetitive, somewhat clinical, and very hard on the wrists (and knees).
The video opens with a nice sun salute sequence that flows smoothly and warms up the body. This was my favourite part of the tape---it begins with the standard sun salutation sequence, then moves into a chair sequence that was pleasantly challenging, yet easy to follow.
Next up is a lunge/down dog bit that, although well-instructed, was a bit too repetitive for my taste. The down dog was repeated endlessly, and the lunges involved long periods of resting the body weight on one knee at a time. Even in sweats, on a pillow, on a mat on a carpeted floor, I found it uncomfortable. By the time Sara moves on to the balance lunge/twist combo, I was more than ready for a break from all the kneeling.
The final standing section is a series of twists and triangles that was a bit harder to follow than the previous sections, especially is this sort of move is something you need to modify. She held the twists a bit too long for the fast-paced Power Yoga vibe she was going for here, and in spite of her generally careful cueing, she lost me when she tried to go into the triangle from the floor.
The workout concludes with some boat/table stuff on the floor that, while effective, will be quite challenging for the less flexible. You need a good yoga background so you can modify here: her "advanced" table with the feet stretched out will probably be easier for a beginner to get into than the standard arch kind, but she does not even offer this variation until the second time through.
Overall, I did enjoy the tape, in spite of its quirks. It is often the tape I pull out first when I feel like doing yoga, because it is easy to learn and does not require a lot of mental concentration. But it is seldom a tape I finish all the way through. If you are reasonably flexible, have well-cushioned knees and really like balancing on your knees and wrists, you'll enjoy this. The less strong/flexible can still work with this tape, but you'll need enough background to modify accordingly.
I've just done this tape once and keep in mind that I'm the zone out kind of exerciser -- don't take notes or analyze much. But here goes:
At first I thought Ivanhoe was a tad less relaxed on this tape than she was on my much-used Joy of Yoga , but she loosens up as she goes. I really like the tape, at least on the first go-round. It's tougher than JOY and would actually make a nice intro into Baptiste or Kest in an intermediate kind of way.
The warm-up is similar to JOY (although more heat-inducing) and then we proceed to vinyasa-type sequences with slower introductions to the major movements. I especially liked the prayer twist sequence and the boat/table stuff. In between is a reclining back-bend sequence that's reminiscent of the one on Schiffmann's tape (I seem to remember VFer information that Ivanhoe studied with him at one point), but easier, and I didn't mind that at all.
Ivanhoe is great with her cues and form pointers as you might expect. Perhaps too many references to weight loss (well, take the title -- please!). The flow of movement is great. The modifications are referred to often and demonstrated in this tape by Natasha (not Sue).
Also, there are many downward facing dogs -- which I love.
My most major quibble is that I would have liked more seated forward bends at the end, but I can always add them on my own -- or tack on Yoga for Energy , seg. 4. I think I'll be doing this tape often.
The music is acoustic classical-type guitar for the most part. The set is Crunch but looks less cluttered.
Oh -- it clocks in at 5 seconds short of 40 minutes, more or less.
My fitness level: At-home exerciser for 20 yrs. Can do advanced tapes, but try to keep my level high-intermediate. Have done yoga videos for 5 or so yrs. No Ashtanga (yet) and a little dip into Power Yoga here and there. I'm 56 years old.