Mysore Style Ashtanga YogaMelanie Fawer
Year Released: 2004
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I have to say that I am just so thrilled to have purchased this DVD. I started taking led ashtanga classes at my local studio over the summer but had to quit once September rolled around and my childrens' schedules started interfering with my ability to practice in the early evening. I always found the led classes to be beyond my ability especially once I got 1/2-way thru the seated postures but loved them nevertheless because (i) they're so challenging physically and (ii) I found that with a steady practice -- I was attempting to go 2x a week for about 8 weeks -- I saw more gains quickly than ever before. Of course it helped that I go to a wonderful studio with teachers and fellow students that always encouraged you to move on while working within your abilities.
Melanie Fawer's practice consists of 2 DVD's -- the first one a 3 hour instructional DVD and the second a full 1 1/2 hour led practice of the primary series. I decided to take her advice and start with the instructional DVD and went thru 7 of the total of 28 lessons (each separately chaptered) that get you thru the entire primary series. This took me about 1/2-way thru the standing postures. Melanie's instruction is excellent. First of all, with respect to the invocation chant, it was broken down with a translation up on the screen (which I was immediately thankful for because I was always wondering what in the world I was chanting in my led classes). She then goes into extreme detail teaching the bandhas and correct posture in samastitihi and then follows with each posture and encourages you to stop and perfect each posture before going on to the next one. After Suryanamaskara A, she teaches (in detail) the finishing poses so that after each lesson, she will then tell you to stop and do the finishing poses to end your practice for the day. The idea is to learn the posture, make it to the full expression of each asana and take the sequencing to memory so that you can practice in a Mysore type setting (or on your own).
Melanie's voice is quite soothing and encouraging and (since I can only compare her voice to Freeman's as his is the only other instructional ashanga DVD I own) quite animated. I find that with Freeman, unless I am completely awake, I can zone out on his monotone.
Melanie's pacing is just right for me -- it's a little faster than Freeman's and slower than Swenson (who I can't keep up with).
The setting is a small wooded (probably bamboo actually) floored room with vases of fresh flowers throughout. There is no background music but frankly in a a video with as much instruction as this one provides, I personally would find background music to be incredibly distracting.
Melanie instructs you to use the Practice DVD each day (except Saturday as traditional Mysore Ashtangi's) to the point where you are in her lessons and then finish off with the short finishing series.
The instructional DVD is just like a led ashtanga class with Melanie alone leading and you practice along with her with her breathing rhythms. She cues each pose and gives instructional pointers thru-out. In that sense, it is very much like the led Ashtanga classes that I have taken except for the fact that in the classes I have taken, once you do 2 sun salutes of A or B, my teacher instructs you to do 3 more at your own pace and then we continue when everyone in the room catches up with each other. I was a little disappointed in this because I would really like to memorize the sequencing so that I would feel more comfortable in a Mysore class (especially since they are offered in the morning at my studio and are therefore more accessible to me) but I understand the need to cue in a video so that everyone keeps up.
Basically, I believe that if you're interested in learning the Primary Series from start to finish the way it is meant to be taught and you don't have access to live classes, this is the way to do it. I've already decided that this DVD is an invaluable addition to my collection.