Stress Relief Yoga for Beginners

Suzanne Deason
Year Released: 2000

Categories: Yoga

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I like to throw this into my yoga mix every once in a while because of the focus on shoulder openers. Other than the occasional eagle poses, most vinyasa flow practices tend to ignore shoulders in favor of hips, but also put a lot of stress on them with chatarangas and down dogs. I also hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders anyway and have flexibilty problems there.

As others have mentioned, this video moves too quickly to be truly relaxing. I might try keeping the remote nearby to hit pause and hold some of the poses a little longer. The use of props is very helpful in achieving a nice stretch rather than worrying about holding the pose, so even those who don't normally use them should give it a try.

Instructor Comments:
Low-key, pleasant and encouraging but does not give enough form pointers. As with other videos in the Living Arts series, the "for beginners" is a misnomer since they don't do nearly enough to explain correct form and focus for true yoga novices.



Traditionally, I have thought that I do not like yoga and prefer athletic stretch. Recently, I have tried several yoga workouts and seemed to confirm this assumption. The first thing that turns me off of yoga is the way many yoga instructors talk Ė New Agey or lyrically or like hippies or something. Iím not sure how to describe it, but it drives me nuts. The other thing that turns me off of yoga is the strain many of the moves put on my joints, i.e., downward dogs.

I tried this workout and, for the first time, decided to ignore the exact protocol of yoga moves and do what I could. For example, on downward dogs, I put my hands on my tall step instead of on the floor. It made an incredible difference. Suzanne Deasonís demeanor is also fairly straight-forward and matter of fact and that helps as well. I will do this workout again to see if I still like it, but after the first time I enjoyed it and felt relaxed and worked out and not annoyed by how the instructor gives direction.

Suzanne Deason leads the workout by herself on a beach in Maui. (Being back with her in Maul was a definite plus!) The music was calm and relaxing.

There were a few cases of her directing a move that I simply was not flexible enough to do. For example, when she stretched one leg out in front of her with the other one bent, she directed a more significant forward bend than I could accomplish. However, I just followed the directions Iíve heard from Tamilee Webb multiple times to go as far as I can, relax, and keep my shoulders down. For someone new to any stretching at all, it could be frustrating.

Laura S.


I got this tape because I was looking for a shorter yoga workout to perform when I have less time (most yoga tapes seem to be 40-60 minutes); I also wanted something that was gentle and relaxing as opposed to a more "power yoga" style. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed in this video, which feels rushed rather than relaxing. Although instructor Suzanne Deason's voice is soothing and she cues well, she moves so quickly from pose to pose that there's little opportunity to enjoy the positions. Furthermore, the use of props only hinders and further complicates this practice--if the workout moved at a slower pace, the props would be a nice addition, allowing those with less flexibility to attain the poses, but because the transitions are so fast, I spent most of my time worrying about where the props were supposed to be positioned, leaving little time to relax in the poses. If you are looking for a short, relaxing yoga practice, I would recommend instead Patricia Walden's PM Yoga or Kripalu Yoga-Gentle.

One final note: although all of the videos in the Living Arts "for beginners" series are advertised as being 20 minutes, the times vary a bit; this workout is actually just under 17 minutes, making it both too fast and too short to get a nice relaxation.

Instructor Comments:
Generally I like Suzanne Deason: she has a calm, soothing voice with a lightly accented Southern drawl. Although her instruction is good here, she moves way too quickly, especially with the use of props.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I did this video once and decided to sell it. It's a good video if you are looking for a stretch segment to do after a workout, but if you are looking for a good yoga tape, I would not advise you to purchase it. My main problem with the video is that it does not promote relaxation as the poses flow too quickly into each other. It is a series of fairly quick stretches. In other words, each pose is not held for very long and the whole routine feels rushed. But as I said, it's a decent post-workout stretch tape. Just don't expect to get into that meditative yoga mind state with this video.



This is the perfect yoga workout for beginnners. It's short (only about 17 minutes) but I always feel great during and after doing this video. Most poses here are modified for beginners, so you don't have to be the queen of flexibility to do this tape. Having a "yoga brick" is a must for this tape, however you can substitute a wooden block or an encyclopedia, although the foam is much nicer. Incredible scenery, it's filmed on the beach in Hawaii.

Instructor Comments:
She reminds me of Susan Sarandon, about the same age, and has a soothing, somewhat high pitched (but not squeaky) voice. She always shows modifications for beginners, which are great. I find her easier to follow than Patricia Walden



This tape is one of the new ones in the Living Arts series that includes A.M., P.M., and Abs Yoga for Beginners. The tapes in this series are all 20 minutes long. The setting is a beach on Maui at sunset. The music is new-age instrumental. During the introduction, Suzanne Deason talks about the negative effects of stress on the body, and how yoga can help to relax the body. She explains how the video targets the areas that hold stress: the neck, shoulders, and the low back. This video uses props moreso than other yoga videos; mainly a yoga brick (a thick book would work), and a yoga strap. Even if you don't ordinarily use props, you will find them helpful here.

The video starts with standing poses and stretches for the shoulders and upper back, then goes into side bends. It includes a wide stance forward bend with your hands placed on the brick, and then your head relaxed on the brick. You will then do triangle pose, and lunging side bends using the brick for support. There is then a wide stance shoulder stretch, and then you go to mountain pose and do a standing forward bend, and then a deeper bend with your head resting on the brick. Suzanne explains that you can relax more deeply if you are supported. Kneeling poses are next: child's pose, a kneeling stretch, cat stretches, and then to downward-facing dog with your head resting on the brick. You will do lunges with modified prayer twist. Seated poses are next: seated forward bends with your head resting on the brick, single leg stretches, wide leg seated forward bends--all with your head resting on the brick. Then reclining poses: single leg stretches using the strap, reclining twists, bridge pose, and then bridge pose with your lower back resting on the brick (very nice). Finally, you go into a bent knee relaxation pose, and then into corpse pose. Suzanne rolls immediately to a seated position, but the relaxation music continues through the credits so you can stay in the pose longer if you wish.

All in all, I think that this is a good relaxation video for beginners, since none of the poses are that involved. Advanced exercisers may like this as a post-tough workout stretch. I like the length (20 minutes), as I find that sometimes when I need yoga I don't have 45 minutes to an hour for Yoga Zone or Yoga Mind & Body. This video does not promote as complete relaxation as Yoga Zone Conditioning and Stress Release, for example, due to the 20 minute length and the fact that the poses are not held for as long. The pace is also quicker, but to fit the poses into the 20 minutes they have to be. It was definitely worth the $6.99 I paid for it. Due to the length, I'm sure I will use it rather frequently. I found this video at Target, and a label on the wrap stated that it was available only at Target. I've yet to see it elsewhere.

Instructor Comments:
Suzanne takes a non-mystical approach to yoga. Her form is good, as are her form pointers. She does a thorough job of explaining the use of props, and the benefits/purposes of the poses. Picky me, but I wish the tone of her voice were a little bit more relaxing.

Kristin Aziz


I found this at Target for $6.99. I think it's the only place to buy it since the cover states "Exclusively sold at Target". For that price, this tape is a bargain. I've been looking for stretching tapes to use lately. I made a 1999 resolution to do some stretching after each of my workouts. Previously I would get lazy and skip that part. But I really needed to improve my flexibility so I made stretching my goal. This tape fit the bill because of its 20 minute length. I don't have any more excuses. I was actually looking for a non-yoga type tape but there just isn't that much of a selection if I did that. But this tape is relaxing and the poses are not difficult. I don't like power yoga because usually the length is too long (an average of one hour or more). Then some of the poses improve flexibility but they also provide toning benefits. This is not a bad thing but after working my butt off, my legs are just screaming trying to hold the proud warrior and other poses. So I have to do those type of types on a separate day where I just do stretching & that's it. I don't have that problem with this tape. It's perfect to do after a tough workout. Kristin did a good job describing the poses. I guess the only thing I have to add is I wished some of the poses could have been held a little longer. But then again that would have increased the length of the tape & so I wouldn't do it as often.

Instructor Comments:
Gives good instructions but sometimes because of the length of the tape, I feel a little rushed. I think it's also because Suzanne's voice isn't as calming as Rodney Yee's or Patricia Walden's voice.

Helen Stephens