Everyday Yoga for BeginnersSara Avant Stover
Year Released: 2008
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Note: I received a free review copy of this practice from iHanuman.com.
This 75-minute gentle yoga practice from Sara Avant Stover is reminiscent of both Anusaraís heart-centered yoga and TKV Desikacharís therapeutic teachings. After a brief introduction, Sara begins the practice in a seated position, slowing moving through proper seated posture, relaxed breathing, and setting an intention (8 minutes). To continue the gentle warming-up process, Sara offers a reclined series of wind-relieving pose and thread the needle, then comes to hands and knees for cat/cow, kidney crunches, and twisting table, all of which felt wonderful for awakening the body. More strength-intensive poses follow, as Sara moves into down dog, a down dog to plank flow, and finally, five bent knee push-ups.
At this point, the practice comes to a standing position, where Sara starts off with Chi Swings (swinging arms overhead and then down, rising onto the heels). She then moves into slowly flowing, beginnerís-level sun salutations, performing a total of six series (or three complete rounds). A standing posture sequence follows, with Sara using a block under the hand for triangle, warrior 2, and side angle and then finishing with wide-angle standing forward bend and eagle pose; she adds flowing arm movements to most of these standing postures. Then itís back to the floor for a bridge series, reclined twist as a counterpose, hamstring stretch, and reclined cobblerís pose. The practice ends with a nice extended (7 minutes) savasana; soft music with singing Sanskrit is dubbed in for this segment, but Sara returns to close the practice in a seated position.
Overall, this is definitely a nice, relaxed practice that would be appropriate for most beginners, especially those who are already fairly fit. Sara uses a lot of imagery to describe how your body should feel and provides a fair number of alignment cues for the standing postures, but those newer to yoga might prefer a bit more form detail than she offers. Also, this is a fairly simple presentation, not a polished production, and Sara herself seems a little inexperienced being in front of the camera. Although I mostly didnít mind these issues, I did have a problem with the ambient noiseóthe bird sounds were enjoyable, but other noises (sounded like bubble wrap being popped) continued on and off throughout the practice, which I found to be a major distraction. Still, those looking for a basic, soothing yoga routine and who can overlook these factors are likely to enjoy this practice.
Although Sara seemed a little tense on-camera, I thought her instruction was generally fine.