Gentle Energy Yoga

Kim McDermott

Categories: Yoga

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This nearly an hour-long gentle practice draws heavily from a Korean style of yoga that focuses on healing, according to Kim.
It begins seated, with legs in front of you, for bouncing, ankle rotations, toe tapping, and breathing with feet in various positions. Next come breathing exercises and stretches in a 1-legged stretch (a janu sirsasana position); bounces and more static stretches in butterfly; forward stretches in pretzel (the lower body portion of cow’s face pose); and tapping and sweeping legs in a straddle position. Shoulder rolls and shakes, turtle (shoulders up by ears, then release); neck stretches and rolls; forward bend with arms twisting behind, wringing arms out and stretching chest, shaking arms out, forward bend w/ hands clasped behind back, and sweeping out tension in arm; tapping head and face and then opening meridians by tapping and sweeping up and down chest, arms, abdomen, hips and legs and feet (plus some bonus random clapping of the palms) in half lotus (seated cross-legged) follow. Then you lie down on your back with your knees bent for some breaths before bent knee revolved belly twist, knee to chest, knees to chest & chin to knees, and rock side to side; you then extend legs and palms for relaxation (savasana) with directed focus. The last part of the practice kind of works in reverse, as Kim takes you out of savasana and reawakens your body and mind.
Don’t expect a lot of long static holds; when Kim does longer stretches, she often moves into the position, holds for a breath or two, then backs out, repeating that sequence several times. Bouncing the legs is common in between series.

Level: I’d recommend this to people with perhaps some prior yoga experience, whether from a beginner’s class or by using beginner videos and/or books. That said, this is designed to be accessible to anyone, although it helps if you’re not completely inflexible (but you don’t need to be Gumby) as Kim doesn’t provide any modifications. As someone who’s been practicing yoga for about 7 years now, this still had some value to me because it’s a different style of yoga than I’ve seen before. I found it very gentle and didn’t find my relative lack of flexibility a real hindrance to getting the most out of this.

Class: 1 woman, a beginning student, joins Kim, who instructs live.

Music: upbeat elevator-type music.

Set: bright interior studio with brightly colored energy wheel (?) on back wall. During the relaxation and meditation (the times when your eyes are supposed to be closed) a shot of gorgeous landscape near Sedona, Arizona, appears.

Production: clear picture and sound, nothing too fancy in terms of production, but nothing too distracting, either.

Equipment: yoga mat (or equivalent).

Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with limbs extended and to sit up with legs spread to each side.

DVD Notes: The main menu offers you the option of playing the practice or the meditation. Everything up to the relaxation is in one chapter, while the relaxation has its own (which is where you’re taken if you select meditation from the main menu).
The DVD also comes with a meditation CD that’s similar to what Kim does in the savasana part of the DVD.

Comments: This is one instance where “gentle” is truly accurate. The practice never moves off of the floor. I would probably have enjoyed this one much more when ill, but I was relatively healthy when I did it, and I found it hard to keep my mind from wandering, especially in the second half of the practice. (I admit I have quite the “monkey mind,” which is hard to quiet down, however.)

Other all seated practices include the stretch portion from Karen Voight’s Yoga Focus (now sold as Yoga Power; this is also on Sleek Physique, now sold as Slim Physique), Rainbeau Mars’ Pure Tranquility, and Kathleen Anderson’s Yoga in the Garden of Serenity, plus some practices off of several Body Wisdom Media DVDs (e.g. Barbara Benagh’s Yoga for Stress Relief, J J Gormley’s Yoga for Every Body, Judi Rice’s Yoga for Inflexible People) plus Zyrka Landjwidt’s Gente Yoga. I’d say Gentle Energy Yoga is the gentlest of these.

This isn’t going to appeal to everyone, with its talk of energy and Eastern healing practices, including acupuncture and acupressure. The talk of meridians reminded me of Sarah Powers’ discussions in Insight Yoga, while discussion of stimulating the glands and organs reminded me of kundalini yoga.

Instructor Comments:
Kim has a pleasant, gently encouraging personality and is at ease in front of the camera. She spends a good bit of time interacting with her student but doesn’t forget about the viewer. She doesn’t provide tons of instruction, but she often cues breath or movement (including a number of moments where she counts), although there are moments of silence. She usually explains what the exercise is and what you should be feeling and/or the intended purpose of the exercise. She reminds you to check in on yourself, saying that “the body loves when we pay attention to it,” and she also asks you to smile and enjoy the practice.