Yoga Journal: Complete Beginner's Guide. 360į View of 35 Essential Poses

Jason Crandell
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Yoga

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I've been curious about this 2-disc package by Yoga Journal for a while and was delighted to receive a complementary copy of it for review. The concept is appealing: 3 beginnerís practices on one disc and a companion disc with 360ļ views of 35 basic poses. The visual presentation of basic yoga poses through the body in space, all the way around, in conjunction with general practices linking and instructing in several sequences is a great idea.

The practices disc includes a long (60 min.) practice and 2 shorter, targeted sequences (energizing and relaxing) featuring Jason Crandall (familiar from previous Yoga Journal DVDs and web-vids) performing the poses by himself, with voice over. The long practice is a general presentation touching on all the elements presented in standard basic classes: sun salutations, standing poses, twists, backbends, forward bends. The baddha konasana/navasana sequence is especially nice. Jasonís instruction is quite good and the poses are held long enough to give the student an opportunity for exploration and muscle differentiation. (Nice change of pace from the many cursory, flingey vinyasa releases I see these days.)

The shorter practices are fine, very brief by necessity, but not rushed. And, although I donít love them, itís nice to see that they arenít simply repeated footage from the longer session. And I like the clear labeling of the poses in Sanskrit and English throughout.

This release is appropriate for multi-level students. Iíve been practicing for over 15 years and I found enough to work with in the material. Admittedly I particularly enjoy revisiting basic practices now and then, finding it easy enough to complicate things when appropriate. I think some previous yoga experience would be helpful Ė this one is maybe not appropriate for a beginnerís first look at yoga. There are some very helpful cues throughout to keep the student in touch with proprioception (more or less, the sense of parts of the body in relation to each other), which helps the practice disc function as a nice partner for the poses-in-the-round. And practice progressions are shown as the student becomes more proficcient, for example working on chaturanga from the knees toward full chaturanga.

Production Values: The photography is good: clean and crisp. However Iím not fond of the practice disc setting (Iíve seen this set or one like it on other Yoga Journal offerings) or music. We are presented with a diagonal view of what looks like the furniture display of a department store, without the furniture: distracting dark blue decorator wall with white window frame looking onto fake scenery. The over-all effect is more like being cornered than looking at a corner. The music is also not particularly pleasant: an attempt at Bryan Eno without Eno (doesnít work for me). However those factors are really minor if youíre paying attention to your practice.

The background for the 360ļ is a pleasant void.

There is chaptering in the practice disc Ė not between poses, but between short sections. The 360ļ views are individually chaptered, though not linkable.
In sum, Iíd recommend this package to somewhat experienced beginners and more seasoned students who are revisiting their fundamental sense of practice. In the best of all possible worlds these two discs would function as one unite like Natasha Rizopoulosís Yoga Journal Step by Step series (which Jason appears in as demonstrator) with its ďchalk talkĒ and, even better would be an interaction function. But the quantity of material and the logistics of packaging would probably make that unwieldy.

Instructor Comments:
Although I very much like the classes Jason has presented for I havenít been that taken with his DVDs. This one is a pleasant surprise for me. I like the depth of instruction and attention to practice detail.

Sharon Frost