Ultimate Power Yoga

Rodney Yee
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Yoga

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing all segments twice each. I’ve done each of the segments individually and then done all segments together.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains 5 distinct yoga segments, to be done in combination or separately.

- Power Foundation (19.25 min.)
Begin lying in back in constructive rest (half corpse); knee to chest 2x; knee to chest - head to knee 2x; knee to chest – head to knee, extend opposite leg up & lower to ground, then extend bent leg & lower 2x; twist w/ one leg crossed over the other; twist w/ bent knees together; twist w/ straight legs together; internal & external rotation of leg straight in air, ankle over opposite ankle, lower leg to ground; ankle over opposite knee, cradle leg w/ head to knee, lower leg to ground; both knees to chest, reclined crow, crunch w/ twist (armpit past knee), both legs up & lower to ground; happy baby, reclined cobbler’s (w/ feet off ground), reclined cobbler’s w/ head & feet reaching toward each other, reclined wide angle; rock w/ shins crossed; cobbler’s pose, staff – cobbler’s – wide angle – cobbler’s – half boat – full boat – cobbler’s – staff, cobbler’s w/ forward bend, wide angle w/ forward bend, run through rest of series & repeat flowing series; sit back on tailbone w/ shins crossed & feet off floor, cobbler’s, squat - standing forward bend - standing backbend; end in mountain.

- Strengthening Sun Salutations (20+ min.)
Begin standing in mountain, then bring hands to prayer. You’ll build up to full sun salutation B, adding something to the basic flow in almost every pass: volcano pose (hands overhead); standing backbend; standing forward bend, slide chest forward; low lunge w/ hands on knees; low crescent lunge, downward-facing dog, plank, down dog w/ pedaling feet; lunge, down dog, slide from all fours into baby cobra; lunge, plank, push-up position, cobra, down dog w/ pedaling feet, 1-legged down dog w/ opening; plank, push-up, upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog; push-up, up dog, down dog; chair, standing backbend, standing forward bend, slide chest forward, low crescent moon lunge, plank, down dog, coming out through chair & standing back bend; chair, standing forward bend, push-up, up dog, down dog, warrior 1 variation (hands on hips), plank, cobra, down dog, coming up through chair & standing back bend; full B – same thing except with full warrior 1 – 2x; end in mountain.

- Sculpting Standing Poses (14.5 min.)
Begin standing in mountain, volcano, standing forward bend; triangle; extended side angle; mountain – reach overhead – standing forward bend; warrior I; warrior II; mountain – reach overhead – standing forward bend; half moon (via triangle); warrior III (via warrior I); standing back bend – wide angle standing forward bend, mountain – reach overhead; end in hero’s. Note: you’ll do a pose on both sides before moving onto the next pose.

- Broadening Back Bends (21.5 min.)
Begin standing in mountain, volcano, standing backbend, standing forward bend, low crescent moon lunge, downward-facing dog, plank, push-up position, sphinx – sphinx w/ 1 leg lifted, baby cobra, cat & cow on all fours, bent-legged down dog, standing forward bend, mountain; standing backbend series: hands on chest, thumbs in armpits, arms overhead (volcano); mountain, chair – powerful, standing forward bend, slide chest forward, plank, upward-facing dog, down dog, warrior I, plank, up dog, down dog; hero’s w/ hands interlaced overhead, lifted reclined hero’s x2; bow x2 (second time, lean onto one side, then the other), cobra in between; up dog, down dog; camel prep: hands on chest, thumbs in armpits, camel x2, lightning in between; down dog – wide down dog, standing forward bend, mountain, standing backbend w/ hands on backs of thighs, standing backbend in volcano, standing forward bend, slide chest forward, push-up, up dog, down dog; come to kneeling & roll to lie on back for upward bow x2 [substitution: bridge], constructive rest in between; constructive rest – knee to opposite foot, reclined cross-legged position, relaxation; end in simple cross-legged seated pose w/ hands in prayer.

- Ultimate Power Restoration (20 min.)
Begin standing in mountain; standing forward bend holding elbows; slide chest forward; lunge – pyramid, pyramid; standing forward bend holding elbows, standing forward bend holding ankles; slide chest forward, mountain; wide angle standing forward bend, wide angle standing forward bend variation 2 w/ yogic toe lock; mountain; cobbler’s w/ forward bend, staff, 1-legged seated forward bend, seated forward bend, wide-legged seated forward bend, simple cross-legged; child’s; constructive rest, relaxation; end in simple cross-legged seated pose w/ hands in prayer.

Rodney’s pace isn’t slow, except in Ultimate Power Restoration, but it is deliberate. When he does the full sun salutations B in the Sun Salutations segment he does move quickly, but even then he’s not moving so fast that I can’t keep up, even when I have to drop to my knees to modify.

Level: I’d recommend this to someone with at least some yoga experience who feels comfortable with a beginner / intermediate level of yoga. Some poses may present a challenge to those with less strength or flexibility, especially since Rodney rarely suggests some modifications (and doesn’t show those he suggest) plus leaves out a few obvious suggestions for substitutions (like doing bridge instead of upward bow if that pose isn’t available to you).
As someone who’s been practicing yoga for a while (8+ years at this point) but who hasn’t gotten into more advanced practices for several reasons, I found these routines enjoyable and appropriate for my needs and interests. I don’t generally do a lot of power yoga, especially practices that move at a fast pace and/or that have lots of chaturangas (push-up position) and similar poses, but this one is doable to me, especially since chaturangas only show up in two of the practices and the pace, although not exactly slow at times, still allows me to modify where I need to. I found the practice in its entirety very doable; I felt energized and alive after doing all five segments together, not drained and half dead.

Class: Rodney alone, with instruction via voiceover.

Music: kind of generic instrumental with flute, piano, guitar, harp, etc. After my first few sessions I tuned it out pretty easily.

Set: on a lava rock-filled beach along an ocean cove in Maui, Hawaii. Rodney may shift positions (or possibly even locations) from segment to segment, but he’s never far from the water gently crashing onto the rocks.

Production: very clear picture and sound. The music is fairly quiet in relation to Rodney’s voice (which is fine by me). Although the camera angles are always changing and moving, I didn’t find them all that distracting. There are a few moments where the voiceover and visual don’t match up, however; usually the voiceover is ahead of the visual.

Equipment: yoga sticky mat. You may also want 1-2 blocks (substitute: thick book).

Space Requirements: enough room to do a full sun salutation and when lying down to extend arms overhead and legs to each side.

DVD Notes: After the unskippable (but thankfully short) Gaiam intro, promos for Mari Winsor’s Cardio Pilates, Trudie Styler’s series, and Gaiam’s foam roller kit run, but you can skip these to get to the main menu, where you can choose your segment and audio setup (Detailed Instruction, Minimal Instruction – note that the back cover says this isn’t an option for Foundation or Restoration). Oddly there is no option to play all, nor is there a sort of matrix so you can program several segments to play at once. I don’t know why the credits are at the end of the first segment (Foundation) – or, even better, in their own chapter.

Comments: I agree that this video is somewhat misnamed. Yes, Rodney’s power yoga background is evident here, especially in the Sun Salutations and Back Bends segments, but not all segments have many or even any sun salutes and vinyasa flows between poses. Those looking for the ultimate in power yoga sweatfests that’ll leave them feeling as if they’ve wrenched every last ounce of strength and energy out of their body will probably be disappointed, especially if they are more experienced. Additionally, I could see how those who love sun salutations could get bored with Rodney’s chapter of deconstructed sun salutes. Frankly, I’m happy with the relatively low amount of “ultimate power yoga” here, as I do power yoga and similar styles occasionally rather than frequently.

UPY vs. AM Y4YW (AM Yoga for Your Week): I picked up UPY after reading it was in some ways AM Y4YW2. The similarities are striking: 5 ~20 min. segments (although in UPY they actually are around that 20 min. mark, whereas with AM Y4YW they’re often closer to 25 min.), including segments focusing on standing bends (these segments are virtually identical), back bends (similar set of poses and organization), and forward bends (similar ending poses, although they begin differently). Those who have done Twists and especially Hip Openers from AM Y4YW will recognize a few sequences in UPY’s Foundations. (My VF review for AM Y4YW contains a list of poses, so you can compare for yourself.) In both Rodney is practicing outdoors overlooking water, by himself, with instruction via voiceover.
There are some noteworthy differences, however: UPY has a whole chapter devoted to building up sun salutations, while AM Y4YW has only a few half and full sun salutes scattered across the practices. UPY only has a few focused twists and hip openers, mainly in the Foundations practice, whereas AM Y4YW has one whole practice devoted to each. On UPY only two practices end in savasana, whereas all do in AM Y4YW. AM Y4YW is best done with a few props handy, including a blanket, at least 1 block, and perhaps also a strap, whereas UPY as shown uses no props. The pace in UPY varies more, from the relatively fast sun salutations to the longer holds in Restoration; AM Y4YW feels more evenly paced across the practices.
Some other things to note: UPY assumes a little more experience, strength, and flexibility than AM Y4YW; that said, if you find AM Y4YW doable, you should be just fine with UPY. UPY’s routines feel even more focused with AM Y4YW’s, which have a few more poses to round things out since they’re intended as stand-alones. UPY’s routines can be stand-alones or can be combined with each other or with other practices, although the DVD menu could be more accommodating here.
Do you need both? Which one is better? I’m afraid that’s going to be a very individual thing you’ll need to answer for yourself. I’m happy to have both because I like having 15-25 min. yoga practices that I can get in whenever, whether it’s first thing in the morning or later in the day (except for the back bends – those keep me up if I do them too close to bedtime!). Personally I prefer AM Y4YW because I like having the short stand-alone routines with different areas of focus (I kind of miss the relative lack of twists and hip openers on UPY) and because as mentioned I’m not often drawn to power yoga. I am glad I picked up UPY, however, as I anticipate using the Back Bends segment a good deal (I like tacking on a short backbending practice to my Pilates sessions to balance things out) and will probably also use the Restoration segment with some regularity.

Instructor Comments:
Rodney cues and instructs well here, with some interesting and helpful alignment tips. I like how he continually emphasizes opening through the chest, a cue that’s used not just in the backbending segment. For the most part Rodney’s language is straightforward, including using English names for poses, but there are a few cues that could leave people scratching their heads (my dh, a rather literal science-minded fellow, goes crazy with stuff like “draw your ankle skin up” and “lift your armpits upward”). The ocean setting seems to have inspired Rodney to comment on the wave-like quality of the breath and cue you to undulate your body forward in forward bends. There’s really only one wildly poetic phrase, and it comes out of nowhere in the Back Bends, where Rodney says your legs are like rivers rushing to the palace of your heart. None of this bothers me, however, as even that bit is pretty tame in my estimation (I’ve practiced with Rainbeau Mars, Shiva Rea, and several others known for their flowery expressions), and I think Rodney explains things well in metaphors that make me get what he’s saying. IIRC Rodney cues for his right and left, which works better than mirror cuing IMHO because the camera angles often change and he’s sometimes standing with his side to you rather than face on.