Rodney Yee's Daily YogaRodney Yee, Colleen Saidman
Year Released: 2011
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I had been curious about this DVD for some time, and I was able to try it from my library. I love Rodney Yee's AM Yoga for Your Week, another DVD which features five short yoga practices, and I was hoping that this video would be similar, but I actually found it to be quite different. First, not all of the practices on Daily Yoga are instructed by Yee; although this is not mentioned anywhere on the DVD case, his current wife, Colleen Saidman, leads one of the routines (see below). Second, although Yee is an Iyengar-trained instructor, he attempts to offer a taste of different yoga styles in each practice here. This is an interesting idea, but in reality, the execution does not work particularly well.
As the title of the DVD suggests, the practices are designed to be performed on different days of the week. Two are shown in a rather bland white room, but the remaining three are featured outdoors. The only props needed are a yoga mat and a strap (for just one practice). I have broken down each of the routines in greater detail below.
DAY 1: BUILD THE FOUNDATION (Iyengar, 25.5 minutes)
This routine is performed indoors, with Yee instructing live while Saidman models the poses. Given this, there is an almost instructional feel to the routine, which begins with a detailed description of mountain pose. From there, Yee leads Saidman into a standing forward bend, child's pose, and down dog. The standing series includes warrior 2 (one side only), triangle, side angle, wide legged forward bend, and warrior 1. Yee also takes Saidman through what he calls a "mini" sun salutation of modified postures before coming to the floor for modified camel, reclined leg stretch, cobbler's pose, simple seated twist, lying savasana prep, and a very brief (about 1 minute) savasana.
DAY 2: ENERGIZE (Vinyasa, 21.5 minutes)
This practice is lead by Saidman, who teaches outdoors via voiceover. As she explains in her intro, vinyasa means simply postures linked by breath. This is NOT a fast-paced vinyasa practice; it is very much a slower flow. Although I thought Saidman included some nice moves, particularly some enjoyable twisting postures, I found her sequencing to be rather odd and her cuing to be a bit off. She starts seated for a seated flow which includes a simple twist and flowing seated side bend. Coming to standing, she moves in and out of standing forward bend, takes some large sun breaths, moves back to down dog (pedaling the feet), and stretches in cat/cow. The standing pose sequence includes warrior 2, reverse warrior, thread the needle, side angle, and several repetitions of wide-legged standing forward bend, including a twisting version. She also adds in both modified side plank and full side plank, seated one-legged forward bends, tabletop, and bridge. The savasana is almost non-existent (about 10 seconds!) for this routine.
DAY 3: STRENGTHEN THE CORE (Core, 17.5 minutes)
Yee leads this outdoor practice via voiceover. Those who have tried his Yoga Abs or Core Cross Train DVDs will recognize many of the moves incorporated here. Yee begins in a reclined position for a series of knee ins and leg lowers, both single and double leg; he also uses a strap to lower around your double bent legs ("like you are jumping rope"). He ends this series with a combined happy babies pose/lying cobbler's pose (legs in the air). Next comes a seated series which involves a vinyasa flow between poses such as cobbler, wide-angle, staff, half-boat, and full boat. After moving into down dog, Yee comes to standing for a few standing side bends. Returning to the floor, he performs both single and double leg locus pose. Yee finishes the practice with 10 breaths in constructive rest. This was one of my favorite practices on the DVD.
DAY 4: CLEAN IT OUT (Ashtanga, 26.5 minutes)
Here Yee is again teaching outdoors via voiceover. In his live intro, he describes this routine as "vinyasa prep" for the Ashtanga first series. To that end, the first 15 minutes of this practice consists of sun salutations. Yee starts with sun salutation A, building up slowly and eventually going to full jump-backs. He does the same with sun salutation B, although these became VERY fast in addition to adding powerful pose and warrior 1. Yee then moves through several variations of standing forward bend before starting the standing pose series, which includes triangle/revolved triangle, side angle/modified revolved side triangle, wide-legged standing forward bend, and pyramid. Yee comes to the floor for hero's pose, and he again concludes the practice with 10 breaths, this time in savasana.
DAY 5: CALM DOWN (Restorative, 14.5 minutes)
Yee is back indoors for this final practice, still instructing via voiceover. He leads a nice, gentle practice, although it is not truly "restorative" in that he does not use props to facilitate the postures. Yee begins on the floor in lightning pose, then moves to child's pose. Coming to seated, he performs a simple cross-leg seated forward bend, transitions via cobbler's/staff poses, and then comes to a reclined position for constructive rest. Returning to a seated position, Yee performs a few minutes of seated meditation. He does a nice job of setting up for savasana, allowing a bit more time (about 2.5 minutes) for the final rest than in the other routines on the DVD.
Overall, I found this DVD to be just okay. The practices felt uneven, and the quality of the offerings did not seem up to what I would usually expect from Rodney Yee. Even if you are looking for a taste of different yoga styles, I don't think that this DVD would be your best bet.
Rodney Yee is one of my favorite yoga instructors. In general, I really enjoy his work. I also think that he cues very well, although he does not mirror cue. This was my first exposure to Colleen Saidman's teaching, and I found her to be just okay. She seemed a little stilted, almost as if she was trying to copy her husband's style. And I found her cueing to be off as well (usually too soon).
I’m reviewing this workout after doing each practice once.
General workout breakdown: This DVD contains five distinct yoga practices, each with a different focus and style. Despite the title, Rodney is not the main instructor in all five segments; his current wife, Colleen Saidman, serves as the model for one and instructs another (in which Rodney doesn’t even appear!).
- Day 1: Build the Foundation (Iyengar) – 26 min.
Rodney instructs live while Colleen demonstrates. Those who are uncomfortable with seeing physical interaction between teacher and student should know that Rodney frequently points to the relevant area on Colleen, such as running his hand just above her back in down dog to stress his point about lengthening through the spine. They’re in a circular room with white walls, and Colleen practices on a (colorful) mat on a raised platform.
Rodney introduces Iyengar as a precise, alignment-based type of yoga, which is true (but I can’t imagine BKS Iyengar is thrilled about the fact that anytime anyone tells someone not to be sloppy or mentions alignment or pulls out a prop - something Rodney actually doesn’t do here - someone else says, “Oh, you’re doing Iyengar yoga!”). Rodney sees this as the foundation for the routines to follow. He does cover a number of basic poses and principles, and he includes a lot of form tips, although some seem a bit fiddly to me, even for Iyengar. For example, he’s very focused on the feet and ankles in mountain pose, but he almost entirely ignores the legs, skipping up to the ribs, and he doesn’t spend any time going over how to lower to the ground properly from plank. I suspect this is going to be a practice a lot of people won’t have the patience for because Rodney takes some time to set up poses, which leads to some short pauses or breaks in between asanas, although he never holds poses for very long.
In this practice you’ll spend some time exploring mountain, volcano, standing forward bend, child’s, on all fours, downward-facing dog, warrior II (I’m about 99.9% certain Rodney skips or at least rushes through this on the second side), triangle, extended side angle, wide-angle standing forward bend, warrior I, sun salutation into cobra – down dog – upward-facing dog, lightning (sitting on heels), camel, constructive rest (lying on back with feet on floor), reclined leg stretch, reclining volcano, cobbler’s, seated twist (one leg over the other), staff, preparation for rest into final relaxation (corpse), and come up to seated with hands in prayer.
- Day 2: Energize (Vinyasa) – 22 min.
Colleen introduces the workout live but provides instruction during the actual practice via voiceover; she is the only “class member.” She is outside on a platform set near a forested area (a bit scrubby, with evergreens, rocks, and dry brush), and it’s a bright, sunny day.
Vinyasa is a rather sweeping term that refers to a style where poses flow from one to the other, and Colleen moves through the sequences gracefully, so you’ll get the sense of the dance-like quality of this style. She emphasizes moving with the breath.
You’ll begin with cross-legged seated twist - cobbler’s - staff, seated side bend – cobbler’s – staff, cat & cow on all fours, bent knee downward-facing dog – pump the legs – come onto toes and come down into full down dog, standing forward bend – extended forward bend, inhale & raise arms – exhale & lower arms, half sun salutes, half sun salutes with powerful pose, sun salute into thread the needle, cobra vinyasa into warrior II, standing wide-legged forward bend, reverse warrior, cobra vinyasa into warrior II, standing wide-legged forward bend w/ twist (hand to oppose leg), side angle, up dog vinyasa, modified side plank, up dog vinyasa into cobbler’s - staff - seated twist (foot planted inside of knee), revolved 1-legged forward bend, down dog - plank - side plank, cobbler’s – staff – tabletop, bridge, constructive rest, final relaxation, knees to chest, roll over to side and come up to seated with hands in prayer.
- Day 3: Strengthen the Core – 18 min.
Rodney introduces the workout live but provides instruction during the actual practice via voiceover; he is the only “class member.” He is in that same outside space Colleen uses for her practice.
Rodney explains that this isn’t just about working the core but about moving from the core and being centered. If you have a number of Rodney’s more recent videos (AM Yoga for Your Week, Ulimate Power Yoga, Yoga Core Cross Train) the mini sequences in this practice will look pretty familiar.
You’ll begin on your back, bring your nose to your knee & then straighten your leg as you lower it, happy baby - reclined bound angle with feet off ground, bring knees to chest and move strap up & over feet (“like you’re jumping rope”), straighten leg into air to bring nose to knee & then lower straight leg, repeat with both legs, with knees to chest reach outside to foot (a sort of oblique crunch), bent knee reclined spinal twist, bend one leg as the other lowers to the ground, straight leg reclined spinal twist, rock on back, cobbler’s – forward bending cobbler’s, staff – cobbler’s – wide angle (straddle), first with wide leg side bend & twist and then forward bend into center, add half boat & full boat to staff – cobbler’s – wide angle flow, down dog - plank flow, standing forward bend, chair, slight standing backbend, standing side bend (2 variations, second with a little bit of a twist), mountain, half sun salutation into prone position, 1- and then 2-legged locust, all fours, cobbler’s w/ slight back bend, simple cross-legged with hands in prayer, constructive rest, and back to sitting cross-legged with hands in prayer. Note that Rodney uses a yoga strap here; an easy substitute would be a small hand towel, an old tie, a bathrobe belt, that sort of thing.
- Day 4: Clean It Out (Ashtanga) – 27 min.
Again, Rodney introduces the workout live but provides instruction during the actual practice, which he does by himself, via voiceover. And once again he’s outside near that wooded area.
Rodney introduces this segment as preparation for the ashtanga primary sequence, with an emphasis on the gaze and sound of the breath. I have to be honest: most of the cleansing sequences I’ve done have a lot of twists, so I was a bit surprised Rodney only slipped in a few subtle ones into the standing poses at the end. Most of the “detox” factor here is from the sweat you’re sure to generate during the sun salutations. If you’re a real sweater like I am, have a towel handy and a big glass of water for after. I have to say I’m not the biggest fan of sun salutations, and this one had just one too many for me.
You’ll begin standing in mountain (equal standing pose), 2 rounds of preliminary sun salutations, 1 round w/ jump back & up, 2 rounds full sun salutations A, and 4 rounds sun salutations B (w/ powerful pose & warrior 1). You’ll then do standing forward bend holding the toes, standing forward bend standing on the hands, triangle, revolved triangle, extended side angle, modified revolved side angle, wide-legged standing forward bend, pyramid w/ hands in reverse prayer, hero w/ hands in prayer, constructive rest, savasana / relaxation, knees to chest, and come back to seated with hands in prayer.
- Day 5: Calm Down (Restorative) – 15 min.
Rodney instructs and demonstrates, with instruction via voiceover after the live introduction. He’s back in the white room (which is fine here, since like me you’ll probably have your eyes closed for much of the practice), and he’s by himself this time.
Rodney demonstrates what seems to be what a number of video-using yogis think of as restorative: a gentle sequence with lots of calming forward bends, not a lot of props used, that sort of thing. If you were expecting a more hard-core Iyengar type of restorative practice, with lots of blankets and props to support you in supta baddha konasana for 5-10 min., this isn’t that. This is closer in style to Barbara Benagh’s Yoga for Stress Relief, although honestly I’d rather just do Barbara’s – and pull out a few props.
You’ll begin seated in lightning, then move into child’s, simple seated cross-legged forward bend, cobbler’s, staff, constructive rest, lying on side, simple cross-legged w/ hands on knees to focus on breath, preparation for final rest, relaxation (probably the longest one on this DVD, but still kind of short for this sort of practice), and end back in cross-legged seated position with hands in prayer. Rodney recommends having a blanket or block handy for the seated poses if you have a tight back or are otherwise uncomfortable sitting for long.
Level: Rodney indicates in the intro that he thinks this is great for beginners. I’d recommend this to people who are already somewhat active and conscious of their body moving through space, as Rodney assumes some preexisting strength, flexibility, and body awareness. For example, in the Iyengar section, supposedly the foundational segment, he does chaturanga into upward-facing dog without any variations or modifications given and offers the option of a full camel pose, and in the Ashtanga segment he instructs the student to jump back into plank pose or forward into standing forward bend, which isn’t available to even some experienced students. I’d hate for those who are brand new to exercise, not just yoga, to be discouraged by the challenge of these poses. That said, this would be great for someone already active who’s exploring yoga, maybe has taken some classes or done some videos, but wants to try out several options.
Normally I’m more of an int./adv. exerciser, but these days I’ve found myself at more of an intermediate level. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 8 years now, although for various reasons I find that I’m perfectly content at a beg./int. level when it comes to yoga. While a few parts of these practices felt basic to me, I do like a good “for beginners” practice that still offers something to the more experienced person. On the flip side, none of these were too challenging for me, although I was surprised at how much the sun salutations in Clean got my heart rate up.
Music: mostly instrumental, usually piano-based rather than too flute-based, with some vocalizations. If you liked Ann Dyer’s songs on the AM Yoga for Your Week practices, you’ll like this, as I think this has more of her songs.
Production: clear picture and sound, camera angles that try to be helpful (close-ups at times you might actually want to see a little closer, that sort of thing).
Space Requirements: You should be able to do a full sun salutation and to lie down with your arms and legs extended. These are pretty compact.
DVD Notes: This DVD begins with an unskippable intro from Gaiam on how they’re so green. Um, Gaiam, if you’re really that committed to the environment, how about you help us stop wasting electricity by cutting out unskippable promos and intros? After that comes several trailers, including one for Rodney Yee’s Daily Yoga. Yes, you read that correctly: you have to sit through the trailer for the very DVD you have in your player at that very moment. Finally Rodney comes on screen to introduce the different practices. Then the main menu, listing the five practices and a web address for a free bonus meditation, finally comes up.
Comments: A very kind friend lent this to me because I was undecided if I wanted this after watching preview clips. I’m very glad I had the chance to try before I decided to buy, because I saved myself a few bucks. This would work better for someone who doesn’t have a lot of media (or space for media) and wants a manageable variety of options on one DVD. This would also be great for libraries because people looking to get into yoga could check out (pun intended) a variety of yoga styles at once. But for someone like me who’s been practicing yoga for a while, who has a large collection of DVDs, including a fair number from Rodney and a fair number that cover similar styles, it’s not a must have.
I should disclose that I generally don’t do a lot of vinyasa, ashtanga, or power yoga, mainly because I have a bad elbow which doesn’t work well with lots of chaturanga vinyasas (yogi push-ups) but also because those styles don’t fit my personality and likes and needs as well as other styles. I like Iyengar – more specifically, I like instructors who’ve passed through Iyengar but have gone off on their own path – and I like restorative yoga, but I have too many other yoga practices in those styles or in something similar that I like better. And I just don’t turn to yoga for core work: for better or for worse, that’s what I think Pilates is for, and the core strength I get from yoga is just an extra added bonus for me. So on my shelves this DVD would just gather dust, and I’d get a frequent reminder of that as I’d pass over it for Rodney’s similarly formatted (as in 5 segments of 15-25 min. each) Ultimate Power Yoga (UPY) and especially AM Yoga for Your Week (AM Y4YW) again and again.
Because I like UPY and love AM Y4YW, I wanted to like DY, too. I like the concept of DY – a different style for each day – and thought it would make a good complement to the other two. But I was somewhat underwhelmed with DY, both as a stand alone yoga DVD and in comparison to the other two. Part of DY were more basic and instructional than either AMY4YW or UPY, and yet other parts were more challenging. I don’t think anyone loves all segments of AM Y4YW and UPY equally, and I know some people only use a few or even one segment from each, but I think even more people are going to find that they only use one or two segments off of DY. If this had been available when I was new to doing yoga videos at home, I probably would have been the diligent little beginner yogini who’d follow Rodney’s recommendation to do one of these each day, but I suspect I wouldn’t have particularly enjoyed the exercise after a while.
My final verdict: this was a good idea with an all right execution (I still can’t fully shake my initial impression after I saw the first clips that there was a Gaiam/Rodney conversation over what to do with some practices he and Colleen filmed that resulted in deciding to film a few more segments and put them on this compilation). But, as it doesn’t offer anything special to me or fill a hole in my collection, I’ll personally pass, although I hope others find it more useful than I did.
Rodney and Colleen both speak clearly and is pretty straightforward during the practices, although there are a few “Say wha?” more, well, metaphorical moments (like Rodney’s comment about your arms being the horses of your body pulling the carriage of your body in down dog, and I’m still working through the concept of “narrow your hip points”). Both Rodney and Colleen cue for their right and left rather than the viewer’s (so no mirror cuing). Both almost exclusively use English names for poses.