Yoga Zone: Flexibility and ToneAlan Finger
Year Released: 1999
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This is one of the longer Yoga Zone practices led by founder Alan Finger. It's labeled as being for beginners, and although Alan does offer a good deal of form pointers, I think the practice would be most appropriate for experienced beginner to intermediate practitioners. The setting is an indoor studio, and Alan leads Yoga Zone instructors Lisa and Michelle; Michelle shows more modified versions of the postures, sometimes using props.
The practice begins on the floor, where Alan leads you through ujayyi breath while in a seated postured and then moves into a potted palm series. Kneeling poses follow, including cat, active cat, and lunge, and you finish with down dog and standing forward bend before moving to a standing position. Once standing, Alan moves through two series of sun breath and then two series of sun worship (aka sun salutations). Next comes a sequence of standing postures: triangle, standing quad stretch, side angle pose, and warrior 2, performed all on one side before switching to the other side. The standing work finishes with wide-angle standing forward bend and squat.
Returning to the floor, Alan first has you practice sitting in staff pose, then balance in scale (boat) posture. Next comes cow-face pose to open up both the hips and the shoulders, and finally, full seated forward bend. At this point, Alan has you roll down to the floor for savasana, and my one complaint is that he doesn't do any twists to release the spine before having you lie full on your back. He does lead you through a nice savasana where he has you tense and release various parts of the body, and he concludes the practice in a seated position for a total time of about 51 minutes.
Overall, this was a nice practice. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as my favorite Yoga Zone, Flexibility and Stress Release, which I find both more challenging than this one and more relaxing, but still, this is another solid Yoga Zone offering, especially for those newer to yoga.
I think Alan's manner can come off a bit condescending at times, but he didn't seem that way here at all; he is just gentle, warm, and encouraging, with a relaxing, soothing voice. He also provides mirror cueing, a definite plus!
This 55-minute yoga workout concentrates on stretching with a little bit of toning. The first time I did this, I was just going to do part of it because I didn't want to spend a whole hour. But before I knew it, I was all the way through it! It's really a nice workout -- relaxing and energizing at the same time. And Alan Finger has such a knack for explaining the poses so that you really feel what he wants you to feel. At one point, close to the beginning, he puts you into perfect standing posture (after doing mountain pose, if I recall correctly). I swear, I have NEVER stood this way before. Completely, totally relaxed, but straight and *not* straining or sucking in or anything like that. I can't really explain what I mean, but when you feel it, you know it! Grade A.
Alan Finger is THE BEST yoga instructor, ever, in my book.
I have the four tapes in the Yoga Zone boxed set (Introduction to Yoga, Conditioning and Stress Release, Meditation, and Flexibility and Tone). Although I prefer the other three, this is a very good tape. The total length is about 55 minutes. The setting is a yoga studio. The music is strictly background, and is very relaxing. You will probably not notice it. As has been mentioned, this tape is designed to increase your overall flexibility and strength through yoga. Alan Finger starts out by instructing proper breathing technique. He explains that by using proper technique (i.e., nose breathing making a hollow sound on the exhale), you will create heat within the body, thereby warming the muscles so that you can increase your flexibility. You will then do a series of seated, standing, kneeling, and restorative poses. Some of the poses included are: potted palm series, seated side bends, sun salutations, cat/cow pose, downward dog, warrior, triangle, standing forward bend, wide-legged standing forward bend, high and low lunges, seated forward bend, and corpse (relaxation) pose. The final relaxation is done a little differently than on the other Yoga Zone tapes (and differently than on most other yoga tapes as well). You do a final relaxation, but instead of just consciously relaxing your muscles you tense the muscle first. I like this method; I think it increases the awareness of the muscle being relaxed. I imagine that if this tape were done twice or three times per week it would certainly increase one's flexibility. Some of the poses do take a bit of muscular control to execute, but I would not call this power yoga. I think it would be a good place to start if one was interested in eventually trying power yoga but had never done yoga before. If you own the other tapes in the series that are available separately (Intro to Yoga and Conditioning/ Stress Release), you might find this one a bit repetitive. If you're interested in purchasing all four tapes, you will still enjoy this one (however, you can purchase each of the tapes separately through Collage).
Alan Finger is a very experienced yoga instructor who owns the Yoga Zone studios in New York. His voice (and accent!) is very soothing. His cueing is excellent and very precise. I find myself being able to follow his instruction without even watching the TV! He does not actually demonstrate the poses himself. He is sitting in lotus position in a studio and two of his instructors, Michelle and Lisa, demonstrate the poses. One demonstrates the beginner modifications, and the other demonstrates the advanced beginner/intermediate variations.
This is a really good video. I bought it to increase my flexibility, and so far, it's living up to its name.
Alan F. leads two of his senior instructors through a series of poses for about 50 minutes. The poses include downward dog, proud warrior, sun salutations, potted palm, mountain, and a few more that I can't remember right now. The poses are designed to increase flexibility in the hamstrings, shoulders, back, and hips. Some of the poses also call upon your strength reserves to properly maintain the pose (hence the name Flexibility and Tone). One instructor shows a more advanced version of each pose, while the other shows more of a beginner pose. The set is plain, pretty unremarkable. The music is very soothing, quiet, relaxing. I think this video is definitely a good investment for anyone interested in yoga. Flex. and Tone is definitely a keeper for me.
Alan Finger instructs very well. He's understanding and has a very gentle, yet encouraging, demeanor.