Embracing Power YogaMark Blanchard
Year Released: 2000
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For those of you who are looking to spice up their yoga routines with a new tape which will challenge your strength, flexibility and stamina, I can highly recommend this one. Like his previous tape "The Power Within" this one takes place both in a large class with Mark teaching, spliced with scenes of Mark and 2 others, one of whom shows less advanced versions of the poses, doing the same routine on a deck with beautiful mountains behind them. This is not the power yoga as demonstrated in Beryl Bender Birch's book, which is her version of very traditional ashtanga yoga; rather it is Blanchard's version which uses sun salutations in between postures to really build upper body strength. The things I really like about this tape are the numerous balancing postures I haven't found on many other tapes. They are extremely challenging but so much fun to confront. He frequently encourages students to back off from poses, and to compete with neither fellow students nor one's self. Mark also strikes me as being less "in your face" than Bryan Kest.
Although Mark does talk about breathing and often says when to inhale and exhale, I strongly suggest those really interested in power yoga to get David Swensen's "Yoga Short Forms" video. Not only will you get a different take on the poses, but you will learn so much more about proper breathing which you will eventually need on Blanchard's tape. Swensen's tape has a 15, 30 and a 45-minute routine which will help build up your yogic stamina.
The few negatives, which are pretty minor, are 1.) Blanchard wears very baggy pants which means you can't see that his knees are bent at certain parts of a move until he tells you to straighten your legs. As you learn this move, though, it shouldn't be problematic for long. 2.) The only way I think a beginner would benefit from this tape would be if s/he is a person with enormous self knowledge and respect for their body, and could truly stop as needed without becoming completely discouraged about ever being able to advance with this tape. David Swensen's short forms tape would be an excellent starting point. 3.) I think he could talk more about safety and form for shoulder stand and plough poses. 4.) While this tape is not "power yoga" in the "ashtanga" sense, I view it as another means to build strength and stamina while working on amazing poses not usually taught on tape. I plan to alternate this with my regular ashtanga workouts. This, along with his earlier tapes, are some of the most difficult videos I have ever encountered.
He is an encouraging teacher with a calm demeanor. As an experienced yoga teacher, he knows this is hard work and urges students to accept and respect their limitations.