Power Yoga For RunnersThom Birch, Beryl Bender Birch
Year Released: 2003
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Although the production and sound quality of this DVD are not the best, it does provide a good, short, and no nonsense power yoga workout in about 30 minutes. It has one very helpful chapter called Detailed Instructions. When you go into this chapter it lists most of the poses used in the workout. You can chose any or all of the poses, and you will get detailed instructions as Thom and Beryl demonstrate the pose. If you are not familiar with the poses, this would be a great place to start before jumping into the workout. The workout moves along at a quick pace, and there are a lot of up and down facing dogs. The 1st part of the workout has a lot of repetition (they do a series of poses and then do the same series about 2 more times), but the 2nd part of the workout introduces many new poses. Some of the poses include warrior, down & up dog, expanded leg stretch, sun salutations, spinal twist, triangle, reverse triangle, extended side angle, spread your legs and touch your palms to the floor, intense side stretch, stick posture, intense east stretch, seated single leg 1/2 lotus, bound Angle Posture, Bent Leg Twist, and half bound lotus. Thom and Birch work together, but sometimes one of them shows a modification. Like on one pose Birch was holding her toe and extended her leg, at the same time, Thom bent his knee while holding his toe. The set is nothing fancy, a plain room with a sky/cloud background. They have a voice over instructing Thom & Beryl what to do next. I have read several articles about how yoga is beneficial to runners because it makes them more flexible(leading to less impact injuries), and helps to strengthen ligaments around the knees and throughout the body. Workouts like this definitely make me feel better after a long run!
Thom and Beryl show great form and work well together.
This DVD is a good introduction to Astanga or Power Yoga. The production is a little cheesy and the instructors are a little dry (O.K. very dry), but it contains good information and instruction.
I will start with the DVD Chaptering
1. Special Instructions - This contains the usual F.B.I. warning and Health and Safety warnings.
2. Power Yoga for Runners w/ Thom Running - This is a brief segment of Thom running at top speed down a road with intense music playing in the background.
3. Thom & Beryl opening remarks - In this section Thom and Beryl explain the practice and the therapeutic benefits in simple easy to understand terms. In this section you are also asked to watch the whole workout once before trying. This is because the "series" or workout comes first w/ detailed instructions coming later.
4. The Series - This section is the actual workout itself. About 30 minutes long with both Beryl & Thom demonstrating the movements with voiceover instruction.
5. Deep Relaxation - About 5 minutes long w/ Beryl only demonstrating "closing" exercises with voiceover. Super relaxing!
6. Detailed Instruction - In this section each segment of the series is broken down and modifications are shown. Also, a very good explanation of Ujjaya breathing is given.
7. Further Information - In this section they give you information on Beryl's books and the website
8. Credits - Just what is says credits.
The thing that most impresses me about this workout is the thorough instruction given about "Ujjayi" breathing. Breath is the absolute basis of all Yoga practice, but especially Astanga or "Power Yoga. Yet, most yoga tapes don't really explain how to link breath with movement. Many just give reminders to breath here and there. Througout this workout you are told when to inhale and exhale. I find Beryl and Thom's desire to remain loyal to this most traditional, authentic technique refreshing. If you have never taken an actual live Yoga class then I would recommend this tape/dvd for the breathing instruction alone.
I do think it is vital that anyone who does this tape review the detailed instructions at length. As a matter of fact, a real beginner might want to just use this section for a little while. During the actual series the camera angle would make it difficult to follow the movements. Also, the movements in the series are done at what I would consider "authentic" speed for Astanga yoga. As I mentioned in the chaptering, the detailed instructions breakdown each movement and provide important modifications for those less flexible.
Now, this is not a "fun" workout. Beryl has always been intense. She takes yoga very seriously and thinks of it more as a therapuetic practice, not just a mere workout.
Also, I was a little disappointed in Beryl's physical appearance in this tape. Many people credit Beryl with bringing Astanga/Power Yoga to the west. Her books are just about legendary. She has always been in fantastic physical condition. In this tape she is a little paunchy. Now, I don't want to sound shallow. I hate holding anyone to commercial standards of beauty. It's just that next to Thom, Beryl does looks like she could lose a few pounds. I am afraid that might make hard for some people to see the benefit of the practice. Still, you can easily see that she is 5 times more advanced than Thom with the actual movements. Of course, Beryl is probably in her early 60's now. Also, when Ujjayi breathing is down correctly, you don't hold your belly in you push your belly out.
To sum this up, I think this a good introduction to traditional, authentic Astanga Yoga practice. I let someone who does lots of Yoga tapes borrow this. She was surprised at what she learned and how much the breathing technique improved her practice.
Both Thom and Beryl are serious but friendly instructors. You get the feeling that they truly believe in what they are teaching (I have seen them in person, they do!) They are not at all chatty. Sometimes they may seem a little condescending. Beryl has never been willing to compromise traditional instruction to make it more palatable for the general public.