Presence Through Movement: Yin YogaKim Eng
Year Released: 2010
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NOTE: I received a free copy of this DVD to review for the web site Metapsychology.net.
Yoga instructor Kim Eng, who is also the teaching partner of spiritual author Eckhart Tolle, presents a classic Yin yoga offering with this DVD. Yin differs from other styles of hatha yoga in that the postures are held significantly longer, sometimes more than five minutes. Unlike with restorative yoga, however, the goal of Yin yoga is not simply to relax, but specifically to stretch the connective tissues in the body.
During the 19-minute Introduction included on this DVD, Eng spends about five minutes providing an overview of Yin yoga principles, including the yin/yang nature of the practice and the importance of holding stillness despite resistance. The remainder of the Introduction features Eckhart Tolle providing a lecture on additional yogic concepts, such as maintaining awareness during discomfort.
In addition to the Introduction, the Main Menu offers the following options:
Complete Yin Yoga: Play—Select Pose
Daily Yin Yoga: Play—Select Pose
Choosing “Play” provides a complete routine, whereas “Select Pose” gives individual chapter menus. For both routines on the DVD, Eng appears alone, teaching via voiceover in a pretty outdoor setting. She is surrounded by a variety of props (e.g., blankets, blocks, bolsters), and she makes suggestions for viewers to incorporate these into the postures as needed. I have broken down the two main practices below. (Notes: All times are approximate. Posture names are as given on the chapter menu, although Eng will sometimes pause in child’s pose or otherwise rest between postures.)
COMPLETE YIN YOGA (1 hour, 16 minutes)
• Seated Meditation, 9 minutes. Starting with such a lengthy meditation felt odd to me, as I’ve always learned that physical postures are intended as a preparation for seated meditation.
• Long-legged Butterfly, 4 minutes. Forward bend in this pose.
• Shoelace, 3 minutes per side. This is cow-face seat; forward bend in this pose.
• The Dragon Sequence, 5 minutes per side. Eng moves from Dragon (a low lunge) to Dragon Flying Low (a.k.a. Gecko pose). Rest in child’s pose between sides.
• Sleeping Swan Sequence, 4.5 minutes per side. This is pigeon pose, and Eng performs it first with the traditional forward bend, then with a twist. Rest in child’s pose between sides.
• Tadpole to Frog Sequence, 6 minutes total. Eng starts this hip opener with toes together, then adds in more of a forward lean, and finally moves into full frog pose.
• Happy Baby, 3 minutes. Add in rocking side-to-side and straight legs.
• Windshield Wiper, <1 minute. Rocking the legs back and forth.
• Spinal Twist, 3 minutes per side.
• Shavasana, 3 minutes lying, and 2 minutes seated to finish.
DAILY PRACTICE (44 minutes)
• Seated Meditation, 9 minutes.
• Long-legged Butterfly, 4 minutes.
• The Dragon Sequence, 5 minutes per side.
• Sleeping Swan Sequence, 4.5 minutes per side.
• Shavasana, 5 minutes total.
For the Daily Practice, the transitions between poses are shorter than in the Complete Yin Yoga routine. I enjoyed the nice hip-opening work of the latter, although at almost 80 minutes, this routine is quite lengthy for a home practice. I would have appreciated a mix-and-match option, but luckily, the DVD is well-chaptered, so it would be easy enough for viewers to create shorter practices for themselves as needed. Eng has a soft-spoken, soothing manner, making this DVD a good choice for both beginners and more experienced yogis looking to explore what Yin yoga has to offer.
Eng is a pleasant, calming presence, although the voiceover presentation doesn't really showcase much of her personality. Partly for that reason, I prefer Mark Laham's Mind Body Warrior Yin DVD to this one.
The first time I completed this DVD I found it very difficult. Some of the poses seemed to go on and on and on. I wanted to give it a second try before giving up on it, though. I learned that being able to hold a pose for 30-40 seconds isn’t the same as holding it for 2-3 minutes. The second time I followed many of her modifications. There are two practices.
Complete Yin Yoga:
o Seated meditation – I have a difficult time sitting cross legged for an extended period, so the second time did it in Shivasana with a pillow under my knees. It was very relaxing.
o Long Legged Butterfly- similar to bound angle pose, except the legs are out long and the back is rounded. I was wondering how my lower back would feel about this and had no problems with it. The second time around, I placed blocks under my knees for support. This pose was very relaxing.
o Shoelace – similar to gomukasana. The second time around I did it has half shoelace with the bottom leg out straight. This was, again, very relaxing.
o Dragon sequence (low lunge variations) – This is a more challenging pose. The second time was much better, although I overstretched in the groin a little bit. I did not hold this pose as long as Kim did.
o Sleeping Swan sequence – similar to pigeon pose. I skipped this pose the second time around. I can do pigeon pose, but the over 3 minute hold time was too long for me!
o Tadpole to Frog – I stuck with tadpole the second time. Another very relaxing pose.
o Happy Baby – very nice, includes rocking from side to side.
o Windshield Wiper – with legs moving from side to side.
o Supine Spinal Twist – the second time around I placed a pillow under my knees. Another perfect example of a pose that I can hold just fine at 30-40 seconds but the pillow was very helpful for the extended hold time.
The shorter Daily Yin Yoga includes seated meditation, long legged butterfly, the dragon sequence, and sleeping swan sequence. I doubt I would use it since it includes the two poses I have the most trouble with. However, each of the poses is chaptered in the Complete practice so using the longer flow it is very easy to just chapter skip to the next pose to personalize.
This was my first yin yoga DVD. I don’t see myself running out to purchase more of this style, but I think this DVD was very good. I think it will be nice to use when I’m looking for something a little special. The scenery was pleasant, Kim’s voice is wonderful. She does a great job at including modifications for those less flexible. I think that the practice would become more enjoyable over time as you learn to modify the poses naturally and just enjoy.