Short FormsDavid Swenson
Year Released: 1997
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For a VF favorite, this seems scantily reviewed, so Iíll just add my 2 cents here.
David Swenson is an internationally recognized instructor of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, a vigorous yoga style that emphasizes breath, flow, and bandhas (locks) rather than precise alignment. It is classically taught as a strictly choreographed series that normally takes between an hour and a half to two hours to complete, and full of poses that require extremely open hips and shoulders. Swenson does a superb job of presenting three abbreviated sequences drawn from the primary series, each taking 15, 30, and 45 minutes respectively. In addition to presenting shorter versions of the ashtanga sequence, he also provides modifications to make the poses safer and more accessible to the beginning practitioner. As ashtanga injuries are on the rise in North America, his precautions and respect for the limitations of the average Westernerís body seems very apt.
Each practice begins with sun salutations, then according to the length, includes a variety of standing poses, seated poses, and a variation of the closing sequence. The strength of this tape is Swensonís ability to show the different variations, from the very accessible to the seeming super-human. His voice is calm and almost hypnotic, with an underlying sly humour that seems to carry you along. He does include inversions such as shoulderstand and headstand, but provides for a headstand prep rather than full headstand if you prefer. I normally prefer to do shoulderstand supported on blankets, but since it is not held very long here, I donít worry overly much about just doing it on the floor. Some ashtanga practitioners consider props to be an interference to flow and I can see their point there, but I personally like having them handy and donít hesitate to use them.
This is not a slick, fancy, Gaiam type production with spectacular scenery and music. It looks to be filmed outdoors in an arboretum of some sort and Davidís mat seems to be laid out on some sort of walkway through a marsh. The camera work is simple and basic but clear, and the audio is strictly Davidís voice Ė no trancey music or anything. You donít miss it, though.
The relaxation portion is very nice. No strange imagery, just a very soothing guided relaxation that releases any remaining tension from the body. Did I already say his voice was soothing? Itís even more soothing by the time he gets here.
Short Forms is a great practice (well, three great practices) for people building up to the primary series, or people who know the primary series but donít really have time to do the whole thing. Or, those who have no intention of ever doing the primary series, but just want a little ashtanga in their lives. This tape is a great way of getting just the right dose.
Oh yeah Ė do not freak out at the introductory sequence David does at the start of the tape, where he goes into handstand, then lotus in handstand, etc etc. Those poses are several seriesí down the yoga road.
An obviously devoted yogi with a highly advanced simplifies and distills ashtanga for the rest of us. You gotta love him for that.
This tape is a must have for beginning and intermediate practitioners of yoga! While I donít consider myself a serious yogini, I love this tape for itís authenticity. Itís just pure yoga. I love the way it makes me feel in the morning. There are no bells and whistles Ė itís just David doing Ashtanga yoga in a beautiful garden (Mercer Arboretum). The video starts with an amazing demonstration of flexibility and strength by David. Fear not, you will not be expected to attempt any of these moves! I find myself reaching for this tape often because you can get a thorough and satisfying workout in 15, 30 or 45 minutes. Although it is challenging, David shows a lot of modifications that you can do while you are building strength and increasing your flexibility. For most of the video there is no music, with the exception of the wonderful 10 minute relaxation section at the end. This workout belongs on DVD but I donít mind rewinding and fastforwarding. I doubt that I will ever graduate to Primary Series, but thatís okay because I have a lot of room to grow with Short Forms. You can order this tape at Amazon or at Davidís website, Ashtanga.net.
David is an excellent instructor. He is clearly a master, but he gives lots of form pointers and modifications to help beginners. You will not hear any spiritual or New Age-y talk.
There was no review of this video. So I decided to give a review. This is a no-nonsense video. Production quality is average. This video is a great introduction to ashtanga yoga. It geared toward people who are taking yoga seriously. Video divided into 4 parts: 1st part is 15 min part, 2nd part is 30 min beginner/intermediate part, 3rd part is 45 intermediate part and 4th part is deep relaxation session. In the beginning David gives a demonstration of ashtanga yoga poses (you look at it and know that you never going to be that good). 15 min part is moving very quickly. It is probably not for beginners. Intermediates however can attempt it. It is geared toward people who just short on time but still want to do yoga. I would rate more challenging than Rodney Yee videos. And plus, it is true ashtanga yoga.
30 min part is geared toward beginners. Here, David shows modifications for people who are not very flexible and not very strong. I would say it is one of the most complete yoga sessions for the beginners on video. It shows flowing session and most of the major and important poses. He does not hold poses for a long time, so even a beginner can follow this session. It also moves pretty slow.
45 min part is geared toward intermediate practitioners of yoga. The poses change quickly from one another. Basically when you otgrow the 30 min session you can move toward 45 min session. Here, he still shows some modifications. Some poses can be dangerous for people who are not very flexible. But if you used to 30 min session you should be ok. Again the session is pretty complete.
In many yoga tapes the instructors don't show some poses like shoulderstand (which is one of the most fundamental and fun pose to do). Many instructors feel that this pose is not appropriate for beginners. I feel that with little modifications it can be done by anyone. This particular tape introduces shoulderstand in the beginner session.
The last part of this video is about 10 min. It is relaxation where David relaxes every part of your body. This portion is extremely relaxing and revitalizing.
Overall, it is a very good introduction into ashtanga yoga. I would rate this tape as beginner/intermediate. If you're not very strong or very flexible, this tape will remedy that pretty fast.
David is a very good instructor. It ashame that he does not have a wider exposure. He explains everything clearly and precisely. He is also an inpiration. You're looking at him and you can see what your body can do with proper training.
This is a great place to start if you are a beginner interested in learning Ashtanga vinyassa yoga.
Ashtanga vinyassa is generally perceived as a more athletic form of yoga. It will build strength and increase aerobic fitness in addition to increasing suppleness.
Furthermore, if you are pushed for time the video offers 15, 30 or 45 minute adaptions of the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga.
Not everyone can find 1 hour and half to practice the Primary Series everyday. Here is the alternative. Additionally this tape offers a springboard for people who would like to build up to the Primary Series.
David Swenson is a serious Ashtanga yoga teacher.