Yoga to Go #2Nancy Sutton
Year Released: 2006
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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.
General workout breakdown: This 66-min. classical hatha yoga practice includes a “third side” meant to give you a chance to spend more time with a side that needs or wants extra attention (i.e., after doing a pose on both sides, you repeat it one more time on the side of your choice).
The practice begins in a seated or lying position with a meditation to let your thoughts go, focus on the breath, and set an intention. Seated, you do shoulder rolls, dandasana w/ foot exercises (including point & flexing and circling the ankles), knee to chest & extending leg straight, leg sweeps, spinal flexion & extension (seated cat & cow), spinal twist with hip raising & lowering, and windshield wipers w/ feet. On hands and knees you do cat & cow, adding in leg extension & knee to nose; after that, in virasana (more of what I’m used to hearing called vajrasana) you do wrist circles, shoulder shrugs, and arm raises & lowers. A child’s pose - rolling chaturanga - cobra flow follows, after which comes down dog, uttanasana, and tadasana. Lunge, virabhdrasana I, virabhdrasana II, and utthita trikonasana are connected by sun salutations between poses and a rolling chaturanga vinyasa between sides, including the third side. You end with a longer hold in standing forward bend before coming into a squat and then into rolling down from & up into a seated position w/ feet on floor, ending on floor for setu bandha (rolling and held), apanasana (knees to chest), a gentle twist, and savasana. The practice ends in a seated position to express gratitude.
Nancy repeatedly encourages you to listen to your body and make the practice your own, which includes options of playing in the poses (pulsing, trying out different arm or head positions, etc.) or simply staying still. The pace is unhurried, but the holds aren’t too long. The savasana lasts longer than normal on yoga media.
Level: Nancy writes that this is for the experienced beginner through intermediate yoga student, and I’d agree. She assumes you have some basic familiarity with yoga and some preexisting strength and flexibility, so there’s not enough basic form instruction for absolute beginners. But she also assumes that you’re using this as a supplement to your usual yoga class or practice, so she includes a decent amount of instruction.
Nancy provides suggestions for some modifications, both to make the practice less challenging and more challenging; she encourages you to make this your own depending upon your needs and desires in the moment you do it.
I’ve been practicing yoga for 7 years or so now, although I’ve never gotten past the intermediate stage (into headstands, arm balances, etc.), and I feel this is an appropriate practice for me that I can make a little stronger or gentler depending upon my needs, mood, etc.
Class: Nancy alone, with instruction via voiceover. (I don’t think the ducks and geese swimming around behind her count as a class.)
Music: [on my copy, at least] gentle harp for the meditation and relaxation, the sound of lapping waves for the entire practice; there are a few chimes at the end of the savasana.
Set: Nancy’s alone on the shore of Whiskeytown Lake (in California) on a bright, sunny afternoon.
Production: clear picture, decently clear sound (Nancy’s a hair close to the microphone, which picks up one or two throat clearings). There’s one camera angle perpendicular to the mat, although Nancy sometimes turns to show you the pose; it’s maybe a bit far away for those who need to see more details, but I’m happy to see all of Nancy and OK with the lack of close-ups. This is a low budget production, done by Nancy and her husband with their own equipment, yet because this is a labor of love by someone who’s interested in the material more than the medium it’s more user friendly than some of the big budget productions (you know, the ones where the cinematographer’s dying for an Oscar…). If you have no problem with the media released by Erich Schiffmann, Tilak Pyle, Raji Thron, etc., you’ll be fine with this.
Equipment: yoga sticky mat (or equivalent); you may also want whatever props you normally use (e.g. blanket, block).
Space Requirements: enough room to perform a full sun salutation and to lie down with arms and legs extended.
DVD Notes: This is a DVD-R. I have trouble playing this in my increasingly picky 6+-year-old Toshiba DVD player but not in my laptop or the PS2.
Please note that Nancy has tinkered with previous productions based on feedback from users, so what I write here may only apply to the batch of DVD-Rs that I have (I bought mine from Nancy’s website, http://www.nshouseofyoga.com/, in Dec. 2007).
The main menu on my DVD-R has these chapters: Meditation, Joint Freeing, Lunges, Warrior I, Warriot II, Triangle, Roll downs, Rolling Bridge, Twists, and Relaxation. The practice starts automatically after a short bit.
Comments: According to Nancy’s website, this has the same practice as on Yoga to Go #1 except that #1 is set indoors.
Nancy intends this as an evening practice, and I could see how it would be a great one to release tension in the p.m., especially if you’ve been active on your feet. Also, there aren’t really any strong backbends (except maybe if you do full up dog), which is good if you’re prone to staying awake after a strong backbending practice like I am. That said, I did this the other day in the morning; it served as a nice way to work out some of that morning stiffness (although then it might have been nice to have the energizing backbends…).
This is my favorite of the current Yoga to Go practices. The joint mobility and third side bring something different to my collection. (I’ve seen or heard the “third side” used elsewhere, so this isn’t unique to Nancy, but of course now I can’t remember who else plays with this idea. Shiva Rea, maybe?) The third side helps me stay attuned to my body; sometimes my mind wanders far away, but knowing that I have to feel for myself what my body wants or needs makes a huge difference in my ability to focus on my practice. As someone who freely modifies or substitutes where I see fit, I appreciate Nancy’s emphasis on making the practice your own; although I do it anyway, I like having an instructor be so open and encouraging of it. I’m OK with Nancy not saying, “This is how you should get into this pose,” but if you’re newer to yoga and need more guidance, this might feel strange.
Those with wrist and knee / hip problems may want to be prepared to prop, modify, and/or substitute.
Nancy has a pleasant, low key personality and voice. She’s focused on the practice itself, with no extraneous chatter. Nancy includes a good amount of form instruction as well as tips and reminders but doesn’t overwhelm with tons of details. She cues for her right and left. She alternates between Sanskrit and English names for poses. Her language is primarily straightforward and plain. She strikes me as that solid local yoga teacher you luckily stumble across because, well, she is.
Nancy comes to yoga from her background in healthwork: her “day job” is registered nurse. She’s studied with teachers in the Iyengar, Anusara, White Lotus (Tracy Rich & Ganga White of Total Yoga), and structural yoga therapy traditions; although she is more focused on form and alignment here in comparison to some of the other Yoga to Gos, she does seem to have pulled back to a more “classical” style, as favored by instructors like the Total Yoga crew.