Restorative Yoga

Evelyn Neaman
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Yoga

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Iím reviewing this workout after previewing it once and doing it about half a dozen times.

General workout breakdown: This restorative, restful yoga practice runs a total of 67 min., 74 if you do one of the poses (supported fetal pose) twice as suggested. The poses included are corpse pose (9 min.), legs up the wall (8), heart opener (7), supported fetal pose (6), supported pose of the child (6.5), supported cobblerís pose (7.5), supported bridge (8.5), opening to breath (6), and mudra meditation (9). There are two premixes: Afternoon Elixir (39 min., 45 if you do Fetal Pose on both sides) has corpse, legs up the wall, heart opener, fetal pose, and the mudra meditation; Evening Relaxation (37 min.) has childís pose, cobblerís pose, bridge, opening to breath, and the mudra meditation.
Each pose begins with a discussion of the poseís benefits and contraindications. You assemble and set up props before assuming the posture. Then you relax into the posture for several minutes. (Once you become familiar with the poses and props, youíll be able to set yourself right down into the pose, thus gaining an extra couple of minutes.) You may practice certain breath techniques, chant, or listen to the music while in the pose. Finally, a chime indicates the end of the posture.

Level: Iíd recommend this to someone looking to explore restorative yoga. You donít have to be an expert yogi at all, but I think some previous experience with yoga helps, especially with some of the breathing exercises and exact positioning within postures. This is a gentle practice, however, so it should be accessible to many people.

Class: Evelyn alone, with instruction via voiceover (either Evelyn or Steve Herman).

Music: sometimes instrumental (with a flute or sitar), some vocal (with songs in Sanskrit, English, and Hebrew; perhaps the most, well, striking one is a ďHallelujahĒ set to Pachelbelís Canon). In some tracks the sound of ocean waves plays.

Set: various interior shots (appear to be actual rooms in a house) and views of a beach.

Production: clear picture and sound, although there is a bit of a noticeable switch between audio tracks (narration vs. music and/or ocean waves).

Equipment: yoga mat (or equivalent) plus various props. The intro contains information about ways to make your own props, but the program itself uses the following: 2-3 blankets and 3 long round bolsters, with an eye pillow, chair, and sandbag as optional props. I get by with 2-3 blankets, a rectangular bolster, and my eye pillow.

Space Requirements: enough space to lay on your back plus enough space along a wall for legs up the wall pose (about the width of a door). If you do not have a wall, have a sturdy chair nearby, preferably one with a high, straight back.

DVD Notes: The main menu allows you to play all (with the intro), just the introduction, the afternoon premix, or the evening segment. Each pose is separately chaptered.

Comments: Iíve found this useful to jump start my restorative practice at home. As I get more comfortable with doing these postures and taking the time to practice restorative yoga, I will probably start doing these completely on my own and pass this along to someone else to help them take the same path.
This type of routine definitely lacks a fun factor, but thatís not the point. Restorative yoga goes a long way towards calming the mind and relaxing the body, which in turn can prevent and even heal health and mental issues, primarily those related to stress. (At least one recent medical study even showed that restorative yoga proved to be a potent weapon in weight loss, presumably for those whose bodies hold onto weight because of stress. I havenít lost any weight or anything like that, but rotating this with a live restorative yoga class and Barbara Benaghís Yoga for Stress Relief plus Yoga Journalís Yoga for Stress helped me keep my sanity and prevented another mono relapse last semester.)
Evelyn and Stephen clearly hold reverence for yogic traditions and teachings, and they employ a chant in Sanskrit as well as various mudras (hand gestures). What is particularly unusual, perhaps even unique, about this video is the juxtaposition of these practices with elements drawn from a faith tradition not usually linked with yoga.

Instructor Comments:
Evelyn and Stephen switch off narration. They speak deliberately and articulate carefully Ė perhaps a little too much so. They perhaps overwhelm you with information at the start of each pose (some people might be afraid to do this posture after hearing the contraindications, especially since some are for some not so mainstream things), although it would be nice if there was a teensy bit more on position, form, or alignment.