Yoga Complete for Every BodyJJ Gormley
Year Released: 2002
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Iím revisiting this DVD after writing a review of it in 2005 and then letting it sit on my shelf for the past 4 years or so with limited play. I have spent the last few months (on and off) running through every one of the practices on this DVD.
My goal in this review is to reevaluate this DVD now that I have more yoga experience under my belt. At this point in time Iíve been practicing yoga for 8 or so years now, most of that at home. (Iíve probably tried over 100 yoga DVDs, CDs, and MP3s at this point.) Iím kind of at a perpetual beginner / intermediate to low intermediate level of yoga; for several reasons I do not practice some of the more intermediate poses like wheel and headstand (much less the more advanced arm balances, which arenít present here). Even though I skip and/or modify where appropriate for me, I can find plenty of useful material on this DVD, perhaps even a little more now that Iím more adventurous and able to do more poses than when I originally got it.
So, what do I think of this DVD now? Well, it was one of the first yoga DVDs I ever bought (the other was Judi Riceís Yoga for Inflexible People, also from Body Wisdom Media) when I was trying to start doing yoga on a regular basis at home after my initial live classes, and I picked it because it looked like good deal: with one practice as short as 15 min. and another as long as 70 but most in the 30-45 min. range it offers good variety without taking up too much time. (Honestly, if I were in the same situation today, I think Barbara Benaghís AM PM Yoga for Beginners would be a more appealing option - OK, so I just prefer Barbaraís stuff today, too.) Add in the fact that JJ and my original yoga teacher have become conflated in my mind, and that nostalgia and appreciation for getting me started with a regular yoga practice at home are why I canít look at this one objectively. That said, for the most part I still like Ė but not love Ė this DVD. Iím glad I have it and donít see any reason to get rid of it, but I canít say Iíve often recommended it with all of the other great options out there, and I have to make an effort to pull it off of my shelves.
I still like having tons of options, although the flip side is that itís not always immediately obvious what some practices involve, a feeling that can persist even after youíve done them (I think I renamed the Self Esteem Booster something like Donít Feel Bad About Yourself If You Canít Figure Out Why These Poses Were Randomly Thrown Together). Add to that the fact that despite having different names some of the practices end up looking a lot alike; for example, the Intermediate Arms and Abs Challenge and the Intermediate Compassionate Heart overlap a lot. And youíll sometimes think, ďAh, this practice sounds like itíd have some nice hip openers / shoulder stretches / backbends,Ē but for some reason it just never gets around to those types of poses. Jennifer R did a thorough write-up of the poses and premixes, with some great concise descriptions of the more vaguely named, on this thread: http://forum.videofitness.com/showthread.php?t=23712, which is uber helpful in distinguishing between practices. Itís worth noting, however, that even this list canít tell the whole story. Say you donít feel like spending a lot of time in down dog one day, so youíll pick out a practice that only lists one only to find out that there are two in the sun salutations, another in the arm strengtheners segment, and then a few standing poses that start from down dog. Surprise!
Some miscellaneous pros (for me): JJ doesnít include a ton of form instruction, but she does have some nice pointers. She emphasizes broadening the collerbones, which Iím finding very helpful now, especially since I know my shoulders creep up and/or forward, so Iím often tempted to jam them down and back, an action which can create as many problems as it solves. I like having the exercises for the hands and wrists, feet and ankles, and eyes, which are often overlooked. The way JJ teaches her supta padagusthasana (reclined leg stretch series) really clicks with me, and I also like her lunge series a lot; these both help with my tight hamstrings, hip flexors, and outer hips. In fact, after using this DVD somewhat regularly I found myself almost effortlessly floating up into full open leg rocker and teaser positions in my Pilates practice, despite not having done these exercises in a bit, and because of a tight lower body these variations are usually unavailable to me unless I work up to them over weeks or even months. So Iíd definitely say that regular use of this DVD had a positive effect on my lower body flexibility, especially in the hamstrings, although I had limited gains in upper body flexibility and found myself supplementing there. There are some nice sequences, like Wringing Out the Old in the Intermediates, which works through various twists. And I still regularly use the Menstruation series, which I find helpful in dealing with some discomfort during that time of the month.
Some miscellaneous cons (for me): I still have to hit skip the second the DVDís introduction starts, and I do the same for the warnings, etc., at the beginning of each and every single premix. The music, the set, and JJís white full-body unitard havenít grown on me, but I am better at tuning them out. The voiceover doesnít match up any better with the moves in certain places, and while JJ mirror cues in most sequences there are a few places where she doesnít. While most of the sequences seem to make sense in terms of how theyíre put together (for example, I like having the lunge series early in the backbending practices to open up the front side of the legs and hips), there are a few that donít make as much sense. Iím definitely no expert in headstand, but I was surprised to see several general practices begin with that pose; you literally push play and go upside down. Thereís noticeable repetition from premix to premix and level to level, as I believe only the sun salutation sequence is altered as you progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced; all other segments are repeated as is, with some of the less difficult variations or poses swapped out for more challenging ones as you go along. There are several different variations of savasana, but a few are used a lot more often than others (Iím so over the ďimagine youíre a lakeĒ one, particularly since itís used for all of the menstruation sequences, which are my most used off of this DVD). Thereís a lovely savasana sequence that only appears once or twice, and the same goes for a few other poses which make one, maybe two or three appearances, and then never appear again, leaving you to wonder if you imagined them because you were bored with doing the same thing.
Now that Iíve done all of the practices, I feel in a better position to evaluate the level of this DVD. I would recommend this to someone whoís a decently regular exerciser at the perhaps somewhat experienced beginner through solidly intermediate level of yoga, meaning someone whoís familiar with the basics through someone whoís practicing moves like wheel, crow, and headstand. I wouldnít consider the ďadvancedĒ practices truly advanced, although they definitely assume a good deal of yoga experience and knowledge (especially with headstand) as well as strength and flexibility and are more advanced than the previous two levels, which is why I think JJ and/or BWM chose to label them with that term.
I guess Iíd say JJís style is whatís just often given the general term ďhatha yogaĒ (even though pretty much all yoga videos with physical asanas are hatha yoga), meaning that it doesnít really belong to a particular school. I see from JJís bio that sheís passed through the White Lotus (Ganga White of Total Yoga), Kripalu, Sivananda, kundalini, Iyengar, and Anusara schools (and is now into more therapeutic yoga after TKV Desikachar). I donít know enough to say that one style clearly dominates here, although from my limited experience with Iyengar and Iyengar-trained folks Iím not surprised to learn JJ counts teachers in or near that tradition as major influences.
In my previous review I remarked that this didnít have much that was out there or New Agey or what have you, and Iíll tweak that statement a little bit. JJ doesnít do the motivational speaker shtick (no ďrealize your potentialĒ type of stuff), nor is she into being an ambassador of peace and love or saving the planet or whatever; she presents things in a rather matter of fact manner. But those who like more Western / straightforward / athletic yoga might want to know one whole sequence and several poses are devoted to chakras (including one where you rock your pelvis like a canoe and feel whether itís watery or solid ďlike a hunk of bread doughĒ), and there are also a few more unusual things, like the eye exercise sequence. None of this bothers me personally - actually, when I first got this I assumed that stuff was par for the course with any yoga practice - but in the grand scheme of things itís not really out there, IMHO.
Note: I originally wrote that I thought the Yoga for Every Body and Yoga Complete for Every Body were the same DVDs with different covers. From reading descriptions it sounds like that the version with ďCompleteĒ in the title has been refilmed, with JJ in a different outfit on a different set. That said, from what people have posted the practices are the same or at least very similar. I have the version that is just Yoga for Every Body, so keep that in mind when reading my current and previous review.
BWM has released portions of some of their earlier DVDs under different titles, and I think this was one of those, with parts appearing under a Yoga for Beginners compilation.
This dvd can be frustrating due to all the choices and 2 of my dvd players have not played it very well due to how it's put together. Apparently a bunch of poses are filmed separately then when you go through the extensive menus and choose one of the practices it 'strings' the poses together that go with that practice. Having said that, I love the few practices that I've done on this and am trying new ones here and there to add! You pick from beg-int-advanced and then pick the time frame. beginners has under 30 min and over 30 min and I think int and advanced is under 45 and over 45 min but not sure since I've only ventured to int one time and quickly returned to beginners!
my favorites are beginner under 30. there's a practice for menstruation that I shorten to ttom that is all seated stretches. wonderful! you sit crosslegged (she says the yoga term and they show the namein the yoga language on the screen which is kind of nice I think to learn) anwyays. you do some seated series where you stretch the upper back then stretch to each side and nothing is rushed here. then you twist to each side. then you sit in cobbler's pose then wide legged and later you repeat all 3 leg positions but add aforward bend. one legged forward bend too then savasana. another I like is good morning (great for good night! I wouldn't recommend any of these sequences for waking up cause gthe music is way way way too relaxing and they all seem to end with corpse pose and meditation which puts me to sleep), also dealing with change is great for stretching and twists with a couple of standing poses and downdog/brief modified sun salutation thrown in. Anwyays, would take too much room to describe them all and I've only tried maybe 6 of them total so far.
a few notes: it's voice over, the poses don't flow continuously . sometimes you'll end one pose in crosslegged then the next says 'starting from down dog'..so you hve to scramble back to down dog or just step into the pose from where you are. teh set is also drab..maybe a vase of flowers and a curtain. all focus is on her showing the pose or just listening. I'll ofent take off my glasses and just listen when I'm familiar with the sequence. there are tons of poses and a lot to choose from. however the description on the back (i have the version in the brown colored case) says 15 min to 75 min but I haven'ts een any 15 mn ones unless I leave out the long savasana/meditation. that is a large part of the practice so several would be under 20 min without that pose. the music is very relaxing. all instrumental. there's no distraction other than the poses not flowing contnuously and the instructor is fully clothed if that's an issue with you!
dressed in white, seldom smiles but does a voice over and shows the poses very well and her voice is nice and calming. She also shows modifications at times.
Iím reviewing this after using it regularly for a year and then sporadically for another year. Iíve done every beginner routine and at least 1/3 of the intermediate routines.
By the way, this has been renamed Yoga Complete for Every Body. As far as I can tell itís the exact same DVD with a different title and cover. (OK, people, STOP renaming fitness videos!)
General workout breakdown: This DVD contains a variety of general and focused yoga routines for almost any level of yoga student. It offers a wide variety of programs at three different levels so you can choose your practice based on how you feel each day and progress at your own pace. There are 48 programs: seven 20-25 minute programs for beginner, nine 30-50 minute programs for beginner; seven 20-40 minute programs for intermediate, nine 45 minute programs for intermediate; eight 25-45 minute programs for advanced, and eight 45-70 minute programs for advanced. The shorter programs are generally a little easier than the longer ones. Some programs are meant for general practice while some are focused on a specific area (e.g. back) or theme (e.g. ďOpen HeartĒ).
Level: Iíd recommend this to any level yoga student, although Iíve yet to try the advanced so I donít know how advanced those programs are. While prior yoga experience is helpful, a beginner (or someone restarting a yoga program) will probably find the routines doable. I have well over two years of yoga experience but am working on improving my strength and especially my flexibility. I have recently begun practicing at an intermediate level. At the beginning of this year I made the transition from the beginner to the intermediate programs.
Class: J. J. Gormley only with instruction via voice over.
Music / Set / Production Notes: The soft instrumental music is bland. The minimal interior set has a blue curtain on the back wall. Sometimes flowers or a candle appear. The picture and sound quality are good but the production is definitely no frills. There are pauses between poses because this is actually premixed segments, and sometimes thereís a volume or tone change as well. In addition, the voice over is not always in synch with visuals (e.g. youíll come out of a pose as instructed and find J.J.ís about halfway out).
Equipment: sticky mat (or equivalent). You may choose to use yoga block(s), strap (or belt, tie, or towel), or folded blanket for some segments.
Comments: There isnít usually a ďwarm upĒ or breathing / centering / focusing section before each routine, so add one if you need it.
You donít need much space; you should be able to move around on your mat freely.
DVD Notes: I believe this is only available on DVD. The safety precautions appear at the beginning of every routine, but you can skip them.
Conclusion: As a variety junkie I appreciate my options with this DVD. This and Body Wisdom Mediaís Yoga for Inflexible People were the first yoga DVDs I purchased when I went to resurrect my yoga practice at home. I may be in the minority, but I prefer Yoga for Every Body. The pace is a little quicker but still slow enough to go deep into the poses. I connect better with J. J.ís instruction over Judiís for whatever reason. And the production is better on Yoga for Every Body. I also like having the option of using props or not because sometimes I donít have them.
The sequences I use most frequently are the menstruation series. I generally do the restorative menstruation for my first day or two and these for the next day or two when I donít feel like going all out with my yoga.
J. J. is very encouraging and explains the poses well. There is talk of chakras, but thatís about it for ďNew AgeyĒ stuff. She doesnít focus a lot on breath, but I find that she offers helpful technique pointers just when needed.
This is one of the Body Wisdom DVDs that contain loads of different workouts to choose from. The top menu on this one is broken out into workouts of Under 30 Minutes and Over 30 Minutes. From there, you can choose Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced; and then from that point there are a variety of different workouts with different time ranges. I did one of the advanced choices and found it too slow-paced. It also takes a long time for the DVD player to access the next pose in the workout. The particular workout I chose had camel and shoulderstand toward the end; poses which I feel like I need a fair amount of heat built up to safely do. However, I was not even warm. I have some of J. J.ís other tapes and really like her, but this DVD doesnít do her justice.
I had this DVD for months before I bothered to use it. I had previewed it and thought, Bleh Ė ugly set, slow moving, and insert cards that hold you up before each pose. I finally tried it on a night when all my usual yoga vids seemed lacking. And so I came to find that I LOVE THIS DVD. Itís all I want to do now, and itís definitely my desert-island pick for yoga videos!
The DVD is set up with each pose or set of poses as a title; there are 65 titles in all, and they are the building blocks used to create the 40 or so practices you can choose from. The menus are divided into sections by level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and length. Some practices have straight-forward names like ďGeneral Practice, StandingĒ or ďHips, Legs, and FeetĒ, while others have less obvious names like ďCompassionate HeartĒ Ė thereís a great breakdown of the titles and programs in the Combinations, Rotations and Modifications forum so that you can decode the names! When you pick your workout, the first pose/section plays, and then a black screen with the name of the next pose comes up, then it starts that section, and so on. This means thereís a bit of a pause between poses. When I previewed, this pause seemed absurdly long, but when Iím doing the practice, it isnít a problem; sometimes Iíll use the extra few seconds to hold the previous pose a bit longer.
All the usual poses are included, along with others not typically seen in your standard yoga video. There are some flow series (e.g. Sun Salutations, Moon Salute, Hero Salute), some short groups of related poses (e.g. Twist Series, Lunge Series) and there are some stand-alone poses that are held for awhile (e.g. Triangle, Warriors, Cobblerís Pose). The titles range in length from 45 seconds to 7 minutes. Modifications with blocks and straps are usually shown, and she shows variations of some poses to suit different levels of flexibility and strength. (People who wish more videos would actually show the modifications instead of just mentioning them will like this.)
The instruction on all the poses is outstanding, with descriptions of how to position yourself that really work for me Ė I feel like this DVD is teaching me more about yoga than all my Living Arts, Yoga Zone, and Baron videos have. (Which isnít to say I donít love my other yoga videos, but this DVD helps me get even more out of those other videos.) The instruction is voice-over, but she speaks quite naturally, so it feels more like a live class than a scripted Living Arts-style voice-over.
The set is quite plain Ė just a fabric-drapped wall behind the teacher and her mat. The lighting, sound, and production are fine, but itís not a pretty production like Living Arts or the outdoor Yoga Zones.
I think in general this DVD feels more like a class in that it has a wide range of poses arranged in a variety of different orders and very natural-sounding instruction. If you like your yoga videos well-polished and set in beautiful places, you may not like this one. But you should try it anyway, because I am stunned by how much I like it! This DVD doesnít preview well, but it gives you so many options that youíll always be able to find one to suit your current mood or needs. Itís also a good place to see some new poses and mix things up a bit if youíve been dabbling in yoga for awhile.
A final note about the DVD setup: The menu comes up right away, with no introduction or disclaimer. I like that. On the other hand, the disclaimer plays first thing in each program. This is annoying; however, the disclaimer is separated into two chapters, so if you just press next on your DVD player, you can skip almost all of it. Just a tip for people who hate repeated, required viewing of DVD intros and legal notices! Similarly, each pose is divided into 2 chapters, so you can push next to skip right to the end of a pose if thereís one that you donít want to do.
This is quite an interesting dvd. It is part of the Body Wisdom Media set of interactive workouts, and I truly have never seen anything like it. What these people basically seem to have done is filmed every pose on the disk as its own separate little chapter, then strung them all together in a series of pre-mixes. These vary in length from 15-75 minutes, and there are almost 4 dozen to choose from. I would have preferred some shorter ones like they had in the Pilates disk, but at least these ones get distinguishing names, which that one did not. The music is generic soft instrumental---bland in a not distracting kind of way, and suitable for these routines.
JJ teaches alone on a green mat against a blue screen, with a large flower pot perched behind her. She instructs in voice-over. Before each pose, she says the Sanskrit name and it appears on screen. She holds each pose for a reasonable length and offers good cueing and form pointers. She uses props such as a blanket from time to time and suggests modifications. However, unlike the gentle yoga title in this series, the use of props did not seem excessive.
This is not a flowing routine, because each pose stands alone. It is almost like reading a routine from a book. This worked well for me, but I can see how it might not work for everyone, if you like flowing routines, or if you will get bored seeing the same chapter over and over again in so many different routines.
Here is a list of the different dvd sections, and the workouts they contain. () indicates the length of this premix in minutes.
1) Beginner, Under 30 Minutes
Good Morning (25), Dealing with Change (25), Open & Strong Heart (25), Preparing for Meditation (20), Shoulders Wrists & Hands (25), Hips Knees Ankles & Feet (25), Practice During Menstruation (20)
2) Intermediate (Under 45 Minutes)
Stability & Grounding (40), Going with the Flow of Life (40), Compassionate Heart (30), Preparing for Meditation (30), Wringing out the Old (40), Practice During Menstruation (20), Challenge Practice: Arms & Abs (40)
3) Advanced (Under 45 Minutes)
Grounding (30), Mobility (40), Heart (40), Practice During Menstruation (30), Practice for Your Neck (45), Voice (30), Balance (35), Meditation (25)
4) Beginner (30+ Minutes)
Self Esteem Booster (30), Oh My Aching Neck (30), Getting in Balance (30), Flow Series (30), Hip Mobility (30), General Practice Routine (45), General Practice: Floor (30), General Practice: Standing (35), Practice for the Spine (50)
5) Intermediate (45+ Minutes)
Fire in the Belly (45), Opening the Lines of Communication (45), Finding Balance (45), Back Bends (45), Hips Legs & Feet (45), General Practice (45), General Practice: Floor (45), General Practice: Standing (45), General Practice with Back Bends (45)
6) Advanced (45+ Minutes)
General Practice: Standing (50), General Practice 2 with Headstand (60), General Practice 3 with Headstand (45), Heat (60), Abs & Arms (45), General Practice 4 with Headstand and Back Bends (50), General Practice 5 with Headstand (70), General Practice 6 with Back Bends (45)