Yoga: Altar of the Heart

Tilak Pyle
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Yoga

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"Don't get caught chasing the perfect pose, . . . perfect body. Relax into yourself enough to know that you're perfect already."

This is the statement that Tilak Pyle makes about 2/3 the way through his powerfully serene yoga practice, "Altar of the Heart." "Altar of the Heart" was voted by the Video Fitness community as their favorite yoga video. As much as I love Baron Baptiste, I'd have to agree. Tilak managed to self-produce a yoga dvd with every essential perfect touch. The scenery is gorgeous (Blue Ridge Mountain Mountains and the Lotus Shrine in Virginia), his voice is ever so soothing, and the music is beyond beautiful. The first time I did this dvd, my eyes actually filled with tears because the music was so moving. That's how good it is. This doesn't even touch the most important element -- the yoga postures and flow. Tilak found a way to blend relaxing and releasing moves, as well as strengthening ones to challenge and soothe the body at the same time -- all at a peaceful pace.

This practice is a little over an hour and is a pleasure to do. And if I don't have a full hour, I can stop at either of a few points where he does savasana 35 and 45 minutes into the practice. Here's a breakdown of the chaptering and poses (courtesy of Beth at VF):

opening meditation, 2:20
seated bends/twists, 5:10
standing warm-up and balance postures, 6:20
half sun salutes/lunge series, 5:45
warrior series, 5:06
side plank/kneeling pigeon, 2:45
pyramid/warrior 3/half moon, 3:22
pigeon series/child/chest stretch, 7:34
wide leg series/savasana, 4:02
reclined leg series, 5:50
seated hip openers, 5:34
headstand, 2:08
seated forward bends/savasana, 3:34
shoulderstand, 1:55
lying and seated twists, 4:08
savasana, 5:48
pranayama, 5:38

In Erich Schiffman's yoga, he often says, "Savor the way that this feels." Tilak says similar thing, but my very favorite line is his non-competitive, self-accepting phrase I mentioned at the beginning. There's so much wisdom in that. As in much of yoga, it's symbolic of regular life -- not just the yoga practice. "Don't get caught chasing her perfect pose" can also carry over into our daily living to not always trying to be perfect -- deciding that the way someone else has done something is the way that we need to be -- always chasing, never being satisfied.

Of course, the noises of the world are often louder than the voices in my heart, so I appreciate hearing this phrase every time I do this yoga practice. I continue to grow with it.

Instructor Comments:
Tilak completed his yoga training with another favorite yogi of mine, Erich Schiffman. Their mellow styles are similar and they have the same approach of letting your body find the place in the pose where it wants to be.



Type: yoga
Length: 75 minutes
Set: various outdoor settings
Music: So good I watched the credits and ordered the CD!!
Difficulty: intermediate

This is a 75 minute yoga video that has much more of a spiritual/meditative focus than you'd usually see in a typical vinyasa flow. I'd rank it intermediate in terms of both yoga poses and strength/flexibililty required. It is filmed around the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as at the Lotus shrine in Buckingham County, Va. Because I live in this area, I thought it was really cool!!! :^)
Various people of differing ages and sizes are all shown, usually one person at a time, which lends a different feel to the "class".
There are outtakes at the end where they are being blown over by the wind, teetering on rocks, crawled on by bees, etc. I am so glad Tilak included the outtakes.
Here is a breakdown of poses I stole from Beth's (Toaster)post. (Thanks, Beth for saving me all that work!)

opening meditation, 2:20
seated bends/twists, 5:10
standing warm-up and balance postures, 6:20
half sun salutes/lunge series, 5:45
warrior series, 5:06
side plank/kneeling pigeon, 2:45
pyramid/warrior 3/half moon, 3:22
pigeon series/child/chest stretch, 7:34
wide leg series/savasana, 4:02
reclined leg series, 5:50
seated hip openers, 5:34
headstand, 2:08
seated forward bends/savasana, 3:34
shoulderstand, 1:55
lying and seated twists, 4:08
savasana, 5:48
pranayama, 5:38

This DVD shot to the top of my favorite yoga videos after just one time through. There is something about it that I can't quite put my finger on, but I cried at the end of it. It sort of pulled all the emotions right out of me! Its about as good as it gets.

Instructor Comments:
He's so down to earth. He included the outtakes! :^)

Peggy T


It took me a while(and help from the yoga checkin) to figure out which one he was because it's done voice-over and has several people in different scenes showing the poses (seems like 4 total). I like how one lady he shows is very flexible but is 'real' (has a little meat on her as well as breasts) so I can see how she does the poses. One guy looks like an exbf but guess Tilak had no way of knowing that would upset me.

I've only done roughly the first half or slightly more than that (I stopped when he got to headstand!) anyways, Ilike how he speaks in this and the different scenes and the music. Iwas very tired the evening I did this but kept going from him and the music. I like how he starts off with some seated stretches before doing the more strenous poses. after some seated poses you stand and reach overhead then go into forward bend several times. these are meant to be invigorating Ith ink because you dont' linger in the pose but keep going in and out letting the arms 'flop'. He does several downdogs/chatarangas (fancy yoga word for pushups)I modified a lot. the downdogs weren't held too long but he would add some standing twists and harder standing poses then a vinyase where youd do the downdog/updog(cobra for me!) pushup sequence and add pigeon, etc. these got more challenging themore we did and I thought about stopping but just couldn't :-) ! Beth on the yoga checkin said about halfway throught there was a brief savasana (corpse pose) so I wanted to get there. Once I got there I decided to do the leg stretches that were next and ahhh they felt nice then he went to headstand prep and i stopped the practice. from what Iv'e heard though that was the hardest pose (headstand) then it went to a nice stretching good before bed type stuff that I may do later or just do the whole thing next time and do dolphin or something for the headstand.
I'm also sorta beginnerish but I've tried differnt yoga dvds and can sometimes modify an intermediate one (this says intermediate and i did have to modify) but Ididnt' feel like I ws cheating. I still enjoyed the practice and when I have time for this length and have the energy I'll do it again. It's not done fast like some of the power yoga dvds but not too slow either and has poses that require a lot of strength as well as nice mixture of nice stretches and hip openers throughout. defintely worth the money imo and I'll be keeping it!

Instructor Comments:
took me a while to figure out which one he was! But he's very young looking and has a very nice voice and way with words. (voice over)



I've only done this video once, and I already love it! It was exactly what I was looking for: an intermediate flow series to help me take my home practice to the next level. The DVD is not chaptered per se, but the "scene selection" feature allows you to begin the practice at 12 different points. I'm not going to list every pose included; rather, I'll provide a general overview to help you get a feel for the practice.

Tilak Pyle instructs via voiceover, and he and his 4 assistants are each filmed in different outdoor location. The practice begins on the floor--which I found to be a nice change of pace--starting with a meditation and simple seated forward bends. You then move to standing, but instead of going right into sun salutations (not my favorite thing), Tilak leads you through several balance postures (tree, eagle) as well as half sun salutes (very reminiscent of Yoga Mind and Body). You will then move into some lunges, including a moving "liquid" lunge and one with the forearms on the floor (similar to in Ana Forrest's Strength and Spirit).

The first standing series consists of warrior 1, 2, triangle, and side angle; short vinyasas are performed between each series, but not between every posture. After plank/side plank, there is a second standing series focused more on balance postures: pyramid, warrior 3, and half moon. Next, you'll move into dog pose, open your hips, and then continue with pigeon. This is followed by a short child's pose series which includes several shoulder stretches and then a brief savasana. This is about the 45 minute mark, so if you don't have time for the entire practice, this is a great place to stop.

The second half of the practice begins with a spread leg standing quad stretch and then moves into standing wide-legged forward bend. Next you'll lie on your back for reclined leg stretches, including hand to foot and thread the needle. From a seated position, you'll perform rock the baby and a forward fold with cat/dog tilt. Next comes headstand, which Tilak and co. perform unsupported but which I did against the wall. I rarely practice headstand on my own, so I was surprised when I was able to kick up fairly easily and hold for the duration of Tilak's soothing voice (not a long hold; probably <1 minute). Another child's pose and a brief pause follow.

The final segment of the practice begins with seated forward bends and moves into shoulderstand, lying and seated twists, yoga mudra, and finally, relaxation pose. The asana practice ends here at about 1 hour, 15 minutes, but Tilak allows an additional 10 minutes for a long savasana, pranayama (alternate nostril breathing and retention), and final meditation.

The DVD offers several options for customizing your practice: you can select minimal or more detailed instruction, and both choices allow you to turn the DVD music off and substitute your own. Other DVD bonuses include a detailed asana list--offered in both Sanskrit and English--and "deleted scenes" or outtakes. Don't miss this last section--Tilak and crew are hilarious as they struggle with uneven surfaces, wind, bugs, external noise, and the like.

I really can't think of anything negative about this DVD, but if I had to offer constructive criticism, I would offer two very minor points: 1) additional arm balances would have been nice (crow is shown in the deleted scenes but is not included in the practice), and 2) I would have liked the music to continue through the final savasana--there was just silence, and I keep looking up at the screen to see if the DVD had ended or not (which I'll obviously know not to do in the future). Overall, however, I loved this practice and found that it was just perfect for my level, which I consider to be low-to-mid intermediate--hopefully this practice will help put me in more solid intermediate territory, and I know that I will use it often. Highly recommended!

Instructor Comments:
Tilak is a young, soothing, calming presence throughout the DVD. His voiceover instruction is excellent (only occasionally moving slightly out of sync with the screen), and while his instruction is not overly detailed (this is an intermediate practice, after all), I found his form pointers to be helpful. His style reminds me very much of Erich Schiffman in Yoga Mind and Body; in fact, this entire practice had a very similar "feel" to me to YM&B, which is also one of my favorites.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I ordered this DVD last week and got it within a few days! Lianne recommended the web site which she discovered on the Erich Schiffman Forum. Apparently Tilak has studied with Erich (it is also listed in his Bio).

After I placed the order, I got an e-mail from Tilak himself thanking me, another when it shipped, and then a nice handwritten note on the receipt.

If you like Erich Schiffman, you will probably like this practice. It is 1 hour 15 minutes long. The production is absolutely beautiful. There is a voice-over – and it is *very* soothing. You can see Erich’s influence in Tilak’s teaching but he definitely has added his own style.

The class is filmed all outside with different yogis and yoginis in different gorgeous outdoor scenes in the Virginia area. The music is amazing – the best in any yoga media I’ve tried and I’ve tried a lot. Some of it is traditional chanting and some if it is instrumental.

The DVD is well chaptered.

There is a great section on outtakes as well – really funny.

Here’s a list of asanas

• Opening Mediatation
• Sukhasana Fold
• Baddah Konasaana
• Pavivrtta Janusirshasana
• Arm Swings
• Opening to Heaven
• Tadasana 1,2
• Vrksanasana -> Garudasana
• Uttanasana
• Ardha Surya Namaskar
• Liquid high lunge
• Cobra Vinyasas (repeated after each of the standing poses)
• Liquid Low Lunge
• Virabhadrasana 1, 2
• Trikonasana Parsakonasana
• Kumbhakasana > Vasisthasana
• Kneeling pigeon
• Parsvottansana -> Virabhadrasana 3
• Arda Chandrasanana - > high lunge
• Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
• Parsva Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
• Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
• Balasana > Vajrasana > Chest Expander >
• Pause
• Adho Mukha Svanasana
• Spread Leg Adductor Stretch
• Prasarita Padatasana
• Same as above but Pavrtta
• Shirsasana
• Supta Padangusthasana
• Reclining Lunge > Thread the Needle
• Rock the Baby -> Ardha Padmasana Fold with cat and dog tilt (very nice!)
• SIrshasana
• Balasana > Vajrasana
• Pause
• Paschimottanasana (and a series of other related postes)
• Sarvangasana
• Twists
• Savasana
• Pranayama
• Meditation

Sorry I may not have the spelling of Sanskrit names.

Anyway I absolutely loved this practice. It is not Power Yoga but if you like Erich I will predict you will like this DVD. The production is worlds better than Erich’s stuff (but if you don’t like music be forewarned – however it is really great music!). The poses move a bit quicker than Erich’s – just so you know.

He has a great way of teaching too – with slightly different language on the subtleties of the poses – some like Erich – others new to me. There were several new poses new to me as well.

The web site is:

Christine Miyachi


This workout is one that I regularly rotate into my life.

The music is very appealing to me. Some of it is hindu devotional which really speaks to my heart and makes me feel more in touch with my ancestors.

The sequences flow and the scenery is gorgeous. He uses a variety of models - and they aren't all buff-girl yoga-butt yoga-for-perfect-limbs models.

Yoga is more than a way to get a perfect set of legs or perfect hindquarters. It's art, it's poetry, it's coming to peace with yourself and your body. It's rejoicing in the shape you have and the things you can do, and rejoicing in the things you have yet to master.

Instructor Comments:
Very soothing voice. Very easy presence.