Yoga Journal's: Yoga for Well-Being

Jason Crandell
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Yoga

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Note: I received a free review copy of this DVD from Yoga Journal.

Yoga Journal’s Yoga for Well-Being offers three short (20 minutes each) yoga sequences, each with a different area of focus. The practices are led by yoga instructor and Yoga Journal contributing editor Jason Crandell, who provides instruction via voiceover while model Kathryn Budig demonstrates the postures. Each sequence begins with a very brief introduction by Crandell and then flows right into the practice, which features Budig alone in a studio with gentle, non-obtrusive music playing in the background. Although Crandell cues all of the poses in English, both the English and the Sanskrit names appear on screen briefly at the start of each new posture.

The Main Menu of the DVD allows you to select each practice individually or to choose a “Play All” option. I have described each sequence in greater detail below:

Mental Clarity.
Crandell states that the emphasis for this practice is on standing forward bends, balancing postures, and twists. Certainly the practice includes plenty of poses in the first two categories, although few in the last two. The session begins in down dog, moving into standing forward bend and then the first balance posture, tree pose. Next comes a standing series which includes triangle, side angle, and wide-legged standing forward bend; standing forward bend is practiced between each of these postures. This series is followed by the only other balance pose, eagle. The practice then moves to the floor for down dog, child’s pose, and the only twisting posture, sage 3 pose. After bridge pose and knees to chest, the practice ends in a very brief (<1 minute savasana)—the only practice on this DVD to end in relaxation pose.

Greater Energy.
The focus for this sequence is supposed to be on standing poses and shoulder openers to revive energy. Crandell begins with sun salutations: first half salutes, then lunge salutes, then sun salutation series A. The initial series of standing postures includes warrior 2, side angle, and triangle pose, first performed all on one side, then repeated on the other side. A second standing series alternates warrior 1 with pyramid pose. There is then one final sun salutation to transition to the floor, where the practice ends in a seated position. Although this was a nice sequence overall, I wasn’t sure where the shoulder openers were supposed to be—that is, unless Crandell was considering the arm movements in the standing postures to be shoulder-opening work.

Restful Sleep.
In his introduction, Crandell states that this practice features hip openers, forward bends, and gentle twists (the DVD case also notes the inclusion of restorative postures, but as you will see from my description below, there are no restorative posses included in this sequence). The practice opens with a series of a seated shoulder openers which includes eagle arms. A series of hip-opening forward-bending postures follows, with cross-legged forward bend (also performed to each side), cobbler’s pose, and wide-legged seated forward bend. Next comes a lunge series which includes low lunge, lizard pose, and pigeon. There are also a couple of standing forward bends (traditional and wide-legged), and then another series of seated forward bends featuring forward bending in cobbler’s pose and in a wide-legged twisting position. This practice ends in child’s pose with the suggestion to continue in savasana if desired.
Overall, these are three well-done, well-designed practices, although I didn’t quite feel that the sequences matched their stated goals (e.g., I would’ve liked to see restorative postures in the sleep practice). Crandell does a nice job with the voiceover instruction, providing good cueing and alignment pointers and generally allowing enough time for transitions between the postures (although the start of the sleep practice felt a bit rushed to me). As stated on the DVD case, these practices would be appropriate for beginning and intermediate students; I would actually recommend these sequences to all but those brand-new to yoga, as Crandell assumes a basic prior familiarity with the postures. The DVD offers a short (3-minutes) bonus interview in which Crandell describes his own history with back injury, anxiety, and insomnia. He makes the case that while 60-90 minutes of yoga per day is ideal, not everyone has time for this, and so he emphasizes that even 10-20 minutes of yoga per day can provide excellent benefits. This is a valid point, and so for those who are looking to fit shorter sessions of yoga into their day, this DVD might be a great place to start.

Instructor Comments:
Crandell has a nice voiceover presence and generally paces the sessions well. I thought he did a good job overall; no complaints.

Beth C (aka toaster)