Yoga Synthesis: Ashtanga Vinyasa Ė Short Form

Raji Thron
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Yoga

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Iím reviewing this workout after previewing it a couple of times.

General workout breakdown: This yoga DVD contains an abbreviated first series of the ashtanga vinyasa school of yoga. Poses in the 60-65-min. sequence include the following:
Even Balanced Standing (Samastithi) with cultivation of Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha
Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) & Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskar B) (several series of each in turn)
Forward Bend Ė Big Toe Hold (Padanghushtasana) & Forward Bend Ė Hand Under Foot (Padahastasana)
Triangle (Trikonasana) & Twisting Triangle (Parivrita Trikonasana)
2nd Warrior (Virabhadrasana II) into Extended Angle (Parshvakonasana)
1st Warrior (Virabhadrasana I) into Twisting Extended Angle (Parivrita Parshvakonasa)
Straddle Forward Bend (Prasarita Padotanasana) Ė 4 variations (hands on floor, hands on hips, hands clasped behind back, fingers around toes)
Side Forward Bend (Parshvotanasana)
Extended Leg Balance Ė Big Toe Hold (Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana)
Vinyasa into Staff Posture (Dandasana), Sitting Forward Bend (Paschimotanasana), and Reverse Plank
Half Lotus Forward Bend (Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimotanasana), Half Hero Forward Bend (Traianga Eka Pada Paschimotanasana), and Head to Knee (Janushirshasana), with vinyasa in between
Marichyís Twist A (Marichyasana A) and Marichyís Twist C (Marichyasana C), with vinyasa in between
Boat (Navasana)
Cobbler (Baddha Konasana), with forward bend, and Wide Angle (Upavishta Konasana) Ė both forward bend and rocking back to balance
Plow (Halasana), rolling forward into Wide Angle
Reclined Leg Stretches
Backbends: Shoulder Stand Bridge (Setubandha Sarvangasana) and/or Upward Facing Bow (Urdva Dhanurasana), into Sitting Forward Bend
Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), coming out into plow and then back up with lotus or crossed legs
Fish (Matsyasana), with several variations presented
Headstand (Shirshasana), coming out into childís pose
Yogic Seal (Yoga Mudrasana) into lotus or sukhasana with backs of hands on knees for meditation, then into lift
Relaxation / Corpse (Savasana)
Raji moves at a measured pace, never rushing, except maybe for the savasana, which is on the short side for such a long practice.

Level: Iíd recommend this to an experienced yogi(ni) practicing preferably at the low to mid-intermediate level. Although Ravi assumes youíre relatively new to the ashtanga short form series, he presumes that youíre already comfortable with most of the asanas included in the video. (In other words, he doesnít spend a lot of time with basic instruction.) Iím a perpetual beginner / intermediate, but a rash of health problems means that this practice is too strong for me and that Iíve been inspired to move away from vinyasa-heavy practices. I wish I had the strength and flexibility to tackle this program, however, because I enjoy Rajiís Inner Light Series.

Class: Raji and Rose perform the poses while Raji instructs via voiceover. Rose demonstrates modifications or substitutions (e.g. stepping instead of hopping back from standing forward bend into chaturanga, bridge instead of wheel).

Music: gentle, slowly regular chimes that give the practice a meditative feel.

Set: on the shore of a New Jersey lake as the sun is setting. From time to time a boat or bird passes by.

Production: good picture, clear sound. (This is a homemade production, so donít expect fancy cinematography.) There are a few different angles, most of which are from far enough away to give you a good view of everything, but the camera person can get zoom-happy at times. The voiceover and visuals usually match up well, although every once in a while one gets ahead of the other.

Equipment: yoga sticky mat (or equivalent). If you need a strap, block(s), blanket(s), etc., have them handy.

Space Requirements: enough space to do sun salutations, extend arms and legs while supine, space beyond you for plow, etc.

DVD Notes: In addition to the main program, the DVD also has previews for Raviís other videos.

Comments: Raji notes that he studied ashtanga with Richard Freeman and Pattabhi Jois (after his kundalini and Iyengar studies but before his training with Erich Schiffmann and Ganga White & Tracy Rich). Iím certainly no expert on the ashtanga series, so I have no idea exactly how closely this adheres to the traditional sequence, etc.
Thereís nothing fancy about this video, and thatís whatís great about it. Yeah, there are a few unpolished bits, like wiggling around to get into postures, reaching over to grab a prop, etc. I find these things kind of endearing, because this is a homemade production, after all. I feel like Iím watching real humans practice yoga genuinely.
Raji uses the Sanskrit names for poses interchangeably with the English ones. He doesnít spout flowery phrases, etc. Itís all about the yoga, connecting breath and movement in a graceful yoga flow.

Instructor Comments:
Raji has a soothing, calm voice and speaks clearly, concisely, and precisely. He cues well, focusing exclusively on movement and breath, with no extraneous chatter. He does not spend a lot of time on basic form instruction, but he includes some nice form reminders. He comes off as accepting and genuine.