Yoga for Urban Living: Daily ConnectionHemalayaa Behl
Year Released: 2003
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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it a couple of times in the year and a half or so I’ve had it.
General workout breakdown: This yoga workout lasts just over 55 minutes. Hemalaya begins with chanting Om in seated position. After some stretches and breath work she moves into poses like cat and dog tilt on all fours before rolling up to standing for poses like tree and eagle before beginning a series of standing poses, like warrior, triangle, and plow (lunge), with a plank – cobra – downward dog – cat – child’s pose sequence. She does a twist on all fours before moving into some hip openers and seated twists. Boat pose follows, and then Hemalaya starts winding down the practice with some rocking side to side, open window pose, and pigeon with several variations. She ends with a very short savasana, and some final Oms. Hemalaya moves deliberately through the postures rather than rushing them. She’s about the only video instructor I’ve seen who actually rolls up *slowly* through the spine.
Level: I’d recommend this to an experienced beginner (with some strength and flexibility) through a low intermediate in yoga, since Hemalaya doesn’t include much in the way of form instruction, form tips, or modifications. I flatter myself by saying I'm a low intermediate; I'm still working on flexibility and strength after 3+ years of yoga and am just starting to work up towards intermediate moves like handstand, headstand, crow, etc. I find this practice appropriate for my abilities.
Class: Hemalaya alone, with instruction via voiceover.
Music: repetitive instrumental music, some of which is recycled from the Quickie and Evening Bath workouts (or at least it sounds like it).
Set: Hemalaya’s in what looks like an apartment, with hardwood floors, gray walls hung with modern art, a potted plant, and IKEA furniture.
Production: the usual crisp picture and sound from Natural Journeys. The camera angles are generally helpful, but the voiceover doesn’t always match up with the moves.
Equipment: sticky mat (or equivalent), with an optional blanket for savasana. Hemalaya is barefoot.
Space Requirements: enough room to lie with your arms and legs extended and some space to the sides.
DVD Notes: The DVD contains Morning Quickie, Evening Bath, and Daily Connection. The main menu asks to select the Intro; AM, PM, or Main workouts; or the Breathing (3 part, ujjai, kapalabati, or energized breathing) or Instructional tutorials (down dog, cobra, spinal twist, spinal lift = bridge, shoulder stance, reverse pose = modified shoulderstand, boat, eagle, warrior, triangle, reverse prayer, or tree). The main routine has eleven chapters, a couple of which drop you right in the middle of poses.
Conclusion: This is a nice routine, but for whatever reason I just don’t find myself reaching for it. I do like the idea of having such a long practice without sun salutations and having such a versatile DVD.
Hemalaya has a nice voice and her own names for some poses (e.g. plow for lunge), and as Beth mentioned her cueing of left and right is inconsistent.
This 56-minute yoga practice focuses on strenthening every part of the body via classic yoga postures such as hip openers, inversions, and twists. The warm-up highlights breathing through use of both chants and an "energized breathing" exercise; the workout then moves on to sun salutations, standing poses, balance poses, and floor work. This is an intermediate level workout which contains some more advanced moves, including a pigeon series and lying inversions. The relaxation posture which ends the workout is extremely brief, probably less than 30 seconds--not an effective end to an intense hour long practice. However, the first 35 minutes or so of this workout are excellent; advanced beginners could probably skip the more challenging poses and do an extended relaxation on their own.
The music on this video is quiet and pleasant with sort of a tribal theme (similar to Minna Lessig's "Strength and Grace"). At times, the music contained odd transitions--ie, the music is upbeat as you perform a specific pose on one side of the body and then more mellow as you complete the pose on the other side. In summary, if you can overlook this workout's flaws, it provides a nice alternative yoga practice.
Hemalaya has a pleasant voice and offers good general instruction, but there are two main problems with her cuing: 1) her voice over instructions are often out of sync with her camera performance of the poses, and 2) when she cues right and left, she is inconsistent about using mirrored instructions. In addition, I found that her guidelines for getting into some of the more challenging poses (such as camel) were not as effective as what I've encountered with other instructors.