Yoga from KauaiMichaelle Edwards
Year Released: 2003
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This restorative practice is based on Michaelle Edwards' concept of Yogalign. She provides many reminders to keep correct body alignment throughout, which I found helpful, but not particularly different from other yoga practices. What makes this practice truly unique and relaxing is the inclusion of lomi lomi self massage throughout the set. You massage your whole body from head to toe, and it is luxurious! I also really like her shoulder sequence, which has greatly helped my troubled rotator cuff. I will often do just this section. This DVD is easily split up into smaller practices, but there is a glitch in the menu for the shoulder section (if you try to access the chapter directly from the main menu it will only play half the sequence). The scenery is absolutely beautiful, and occasionally there is some very pretty slack key guitar music.
There are several minuses to the practice, though. First, and this is just aesthetic, Edwards' plum outfit is pretty unflattering. Second, there is a male voice that intrudes occasionally to tell you about Hawaiian history, traditions, etc and link them to yoga. The first time I tried out this DVD, my SO heard it from another room and thought I was watching a National Geographic program! Unfortunately, this voice does part of the savasana, and I find that a little distracting.
I’m reviewing this workout after previewing it once and doing it a couple of times.
N.B. When I was in Kauai this summer, I saw this DVD at Border’s with the name Yoga from Hawaii.
General workout breakdown: Denise and Leslie have already described this interesting approximately 70-min. yoga video well. I can’t think of much to add, except that for the Michaelle varies her presentation, sometimes pausing to instruct, sometimes not, sometimes stringing poses together in more a flow, sometimes not.
Level: I’d recommend this to someone with previous yoga experience, perhaps practicing at a high beginner through low intermediate level.
Class: Most of the time Michaelle is by herself, but in one or two bits 3 women and 2 men join Michaelle. For some segments Michaelle instructs live; in others, she instructs via voiceover.
Music: for some segments, Hawaiian slack-key guitar; for others, nothing. Sometimes you can hear the ocean waves in the background.
Set: Most of the practice is set outdoors at various beaches and gardens along Kauai’s northern shore, particularly Hanalei Bay, Kai Aina, Anini Beach, and Tunnels Beach, but a few moments take place inside a simple wooden structure with yoga equipment. At times the camera cuts away to the ocean, waterfalls, Kauai’s surreally beautiful Na Pali Coast, or tropical plants.
Production: Clear photography without any crazy camera angles, clear sound.
Equipment: yoga mat (or equivalent). Michaelle is barefoot. You’ll also want a strap for the shoulder opener segment. You may want a cushion, block, and/or extra strap for some poses.
Space Requirements: enough to do a full sun salutation and to lie down with arms and legs extended
DVD Notes: The main menu allows you to play the whole routine or pick your chapter (which Denise and Leslie have already noted).
Comments: This is kind of a quirky production. I love the scenery (even if Kauai didn’t have a special place in my heart, I’d still enjoy it) and the self-massage segments, but parts of the flow and the “little bit of this, little bit of that” aspect didn’t appeal to me as much. If you’re looking for something different from the mainstream, however, this may appeal to you.
I expected more focus on alignment throughout the video, but as with the flow and instruction Michaelle is more inconsistent than not. I did realize that I was leading with my head when I come out of sun salutations, so in that sense I found what she did include interesting, even helpful.
Interestingly, Michaelle lists Erich Schiffmann among her thank yous. I guess I can see that in her interest in carving out her own path within yoga. I prefer Erich Schiffmann’s shoulder stretches with the strap on his Backyard Series: Beginning Yoga, however.
This is a fairly straight-forward approach to yoga, although Michaelle does encourage you to focus on your breath, give yourself aloha (love), and do quite a bit of lion’s breath.
Michaelle’s somewhat stiff in front of camera, although she seems more comfortable when she’s instructing via voiceover. She cues decently, although she’s somewhat inconsistent in her mirror cueing.
>From the DVD back cover: YOGALIGN method is a safe and painless style of yoga developed on Kauai by Michaelle Edwards. This core-based practice re-educates and balances the muscle groups eliminating unconscious tension while promoting physiologically efficient movements and graceful posture. Deep conscious breathing with positive affirmation bring peace to body, mind and spirit.
This beautifully produced DVD is chaptered:
Chapter 1: "Introduction to Michaelle Edwards and Yogalign"
There are beautiful scenes of Hawaii (waterfalls, the ocean and flowers) and of Michaelle practicing yoga alone on the beach. Soft, Hawaiian slack key guitar music plays in the background as a male voice-over explains some of the Yogalign theory. Then a short intro by Michaelle (sitting among lush vegetation by a waterfall). She explains that the key elements to the Yogalign theory include: precise natural alignment of the 4 curves of the spine, core-based awareness and movements, utilizing inner isometrics, deep conscious breathing and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi self-massage techniques.
Chapter 2: "Yogalign Breathing and Techniques"
There are more beautiful scenes of Hawaii with a male voice-over explanation of the original meaning of the word "Aloha"---sharing the breath of life face to face. Michaelle's voice-over explains that conscious breathing is the core of yoga---breath is like waves gently going in and out of the body. Then Michaelle is alone on the beach (ocean and mountain in background---breathtaking scenery!) instructing us to always breath through the nose in yoga practice. She demonstrates ujjayi breathing. There's no background music. The sound of water lapping ashore is audible, but soothing.
Chapter 3: "Yogalign Basics and Inner Isometrics"
Michaelle is outdoors on the grass. She teaches you to root your upright body to the earth like strong tree roots, and how the spine should be properly aligned. There's intermittent soft Hawaiian slack key guitar music in the background. As Michaelle explains/demonstrates, the camera show various beautiful scenes of Hawaii(tree roots, waterfalls, the ocean, flowers and plants). She teaches breathing with arm movements.
Chapter 4: "Reclining Self-massage and Lower Body Warm-ups"
Michaelle is alone outdoors on a yoga mat on the grass (plants and a small waterfall in the background). Intermittent soft Hawaiian slack key guitar music plays in the background. She begins in a sitting position and immediately moves into supine position. Flex and extend the feet as the arms move from the sides to overhead with breath. She demonstrates a (self) foot massage, leg rub, ankle/leg circles and leg stretch (bring leg straight up with hands behind it and then resist the leg against the hands). Repeat on opposite leg. Spinal rolls. Stand up and perform Lomi Lomi self-massage: massage belly in circular motions, massage hip rotators, lower back, sacral area and gentle poundings on the gluteal area. Next is standing forward bend (she sticks her tongue out as she exhales on the bend). In the bent down positions, massage the scalp, ears and back of neck. Then interlace fingers behind the back and extend the arms upward while turning the head side to side. Inhale, come back upright and finish with circular shoulder rolls.
Chapter 5: "Shoulder Openers Technique"
Michaelle is standing alone on the beach and she uses a long yoga strap to demonstrate modifications. Interlace hands behind the body along the right side for a side semi-twist stretch. (She doesn't mirror you here). Then she performs the cow face pose and she pushes up on the balls of her feet on inhalation and then returns to the soles of her feet upon exhalation. Next is a self-massage of the left shoulder, arm, wrist and hand. Then the chapter ends, even though she doesn't repeat any of these on the opposite side.
Chapter 6: "Yogalign Sun Salutations and Standing Poses"
Michaelle is standing on a yoga mat by the oceanside. There's no music in this chapter. She begins with crescent moon pose (side stretches with overhead arms). The scenes vary from Michaelle being alone outdoors to her being alone indoors to her being outdoors with a small class. The transitions between the scenes are smooth. Next is a sun salutation (she does a modified front lying boat pose, cobra-to-child pose and semi cat stretch in the middle of the sun salutation). She does one more sun salutation. Next is bow pose to child pose, standing warrior I, standing warrior II with "wall pushes", side angle pose, triangle pose (at the end of the triangle pose, Michaelle looks upward and sticks her tongue out of her mouth as she exhales loudly), side angle twist with hands in namaste, standing yoga mudra pose, wide-legged forward bends and then tree pose with various arm positions. She repeats the side postures on both sides of the body.
Chapter 7: "Back Bends, Hip Openers"
There's no music in this chapter either. She begins with spinal rolls. Next are elbow-to-opposite-flexed-knee lying twists, supine bilateral leg raises, bridge pose, boat pose with "breath of fire" breathing, sitting and reclining hero pose, camel pose, child's pose, full back bend, cat stretch, downward facing dog with leg lift and pigeon pose to semi-cobra pose (she sticks her tongue out as she exhales forcibly) and wide-angle seated forward bends (she demonstrates modification with 2 yoga straps"). In corpse pose with arms stretched overhead, she demonstrates self massaging of the scalp, ears, upper and lower jaws, temple and forehead. She concludes with a face stretch (hands on either sides of the face, pulling face gently towards the back of the head) and she sticks her tongue out she stretches her face.
Chapter 8: "Shavasana"
Lie in corpse/relaxation pose. There's male voice-over verbal guided imagery with various, beautiful scenes of Hawaii. The soft, Hawaiian slack key guitar music in back. There's a scene of Michaelle playing the guitar on the beach and then another of her with a male guitarist on the beach.
Chapter 9: "Credits and Ordering Information"
I think the production of this DVD is outstanding and I like the blend of breath awareness with mixed levels of yoga practice. It's not fast-paced, vigorous yoga. I did not enjoy the parts where Michaelle sticks out her tongue and it made her look frightening to me. My usual preference for yoga/stretching workouts is an outdoors setting and I absolutely loved the different scenes of Hawaii. I also prefer to have continuous music in the background and it felt strange to have intermittent/no music.
Verdict: it will go into my yoga rotation.
Michaelle Edwards has been practicing yoga for over 30 years. She's also a professional massage therapist and a performing jazz/Hawaiian musician.
Michaelle's voice is calm and soothing. Her use of spiritual language (woo-woo factor) is minimal in the DVD. She does not always call the poses by their names. Her voice-over cueing is good and she demonstrates well. I just wish she hadn't chosen to wear that plum-berry outfit.
This is a 1 hour mixed level practice. It is well made with a beautiful setting. (outdoors, Hawaii) The music is Hawaiian slack key guitar instrumental. You can choose to do the entire workout or just specific chapters. This dvd is well chaptered, as follows:
2. Breathing techniques: Here Michaelle goes over proper techniques to encourage proper yoga breathing
3. Basics & Inner Isometrics: quick chapter, very basic
4. Reclining Self Massage & Lower Body Warmups: This is a great chapter! She demonstrates self massage techniques, such as foot massages. This chapter also has great stretches for the lower body. (your hamstrings/quads will love this section)
5. Shoulder openers: poses used to enhance this area
6. Sun Salutations & Standing poses: This chapter includes many different poses. In most of the other chapters she is alone but in this one the scenes flash from her alone to her outside with a class (good sequence, no interruptions found)
7. Back Bends, Hip Openers
Again I like that you can pick and choose sequences based on your needs. (experiencing tight hamstrings, choose #4--hips tight, choose #7)
Knowledgeable, warm. Michaelle is the creator of the Yogalign Method. To visit her website, www.manayoga.com