Insight Yoga, Earth

Sarah Powers
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Yoga

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NOTE: I received a free copy of this DVD to review for the web site Metapsychology Online Reviews; you can read a more detailed version of my review on that site.

INSIGHT YOGA EARTH is one of two new DVDs offered by yoga instructor Sara Powers. Powers and her husband, Ty Powers, are founders of the Insight Yoga Institute. The DVD insert explains that Insight Yoga involves a balance between the lower body, which is the earthy or "Yin" region, and the upper body, the heavenly or "Yang" region. In Insight Yoga Earth, the emphasis is on drawing strength from the "hara," or the belly center. Both the two yoga practices and the two meditations on this DVD focus on deriving energy from the hara to nourish the entire body.

The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options:

Introduction (1.5 min)
Practices Menu
Special Features Menu

Selecting the Practices menu opens the following submenu:

Practice Overview (9 min; audio only)
Yoga Practices
Grounding Down (55 min)
Spiraling the Universal Chi (31 min)
Meditation Practices
Shamata Meditation (20 min)
Vipassana Meditation (18 min)

I have provided a general overview of each practices below. Powers and her husband are shown in a studio with wooden floors, and Powers instructs via voiceover.

YOGA PRACTICE #1: Grounding Down
This practice is designed to maintain a healthy spine. Powers begins on the floor in butterfly pose. Several standing sequences follow. The first is a lengthy warrior series which includes warrior 1, warrior 2, side angle pose, and a flow from warrior 2 to reverse warrior to side angle that is repeated for several minutes. The second standing sequence is a series of balance poses, including tree, a variation on dancer's pose, and standing knee to chest. Powers then performs flowing movements to open up the upper back and shoulders (e.g., arm circles, spinal twists, and elbow circles). She concludes the standing work with chair pose, adding in lion's breath, and finishes out the practice by returning to butterfly.

YOGA PRACTICE #2: Spiraling the Universal Chi
This practice is described as a combination of seated twists and core strengtheners. Powers begins seated with a focus on diaphragmatic breathing; she uses the mantra "om mani padme hum" (heard in the background) to regulate the breath. For the twisting segment of the practice, three versions of Sage Marichi's pose are performed. This is followed by abdominal work that includes table/boat pose, lifted thread-the-needle pose, reverse plank, and full forward bend. The practice ends with a 2.5-minute savasana.

MEDITATION PRACTICE #1: Shamata Meditation
Powers notes that the translation of "shamata" is "calm abidance" and that the general practice of shamata involves attending to a simple object--in this case, the breath. Most of this meditation is silent, as Powers encourages the breath focus. She also suggests simply observing when the mind is wandering and then returning to the breath.

MEDITATION PRACTICE #2: Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana means insight, or seeing things as they are. In order to do this, Powers explains that this meditation combines mindfulness with inquiry. Rather than a simple breath focus as in the Shamata Meditation, this meditation involves a focus on ALL details of the present moment. The three actions of mindfulness which Powers teaches here are pausing, softening, and connecting.

Powers has a soothing manner in these practices, and those who have enjoyed her previous work will likely enjoy this DVD as well. On the other hand, those familiar with other styles of yoga might have some difficulties connecting with her approach. The first practice offers flowing movements, but it is certainly not a vinyasa or even a "yang"-type practice. And while the second practice is relaxing, the postures are not held at length as in the "yin" tradition. Furthermore, there were a few things about Powers' presentation that I didn't like. First, although the inclusion of the "om mani padme hum" mantra was potentially an excellent tool for breath regulation, Powers frequently talks over the mantra, making it difficult to hear. Second, the meditation practices are quite lengthy, especially for those new to meditation; Powers might have better served her viewers a by offering shorter options.

Instructor Comments:
I like Sarah, yet somehow she also feels a bit inaccessible and remote to me at times. Also, as noted above, her cues sometimes get in the way of the practice.

Beth C (aka toaster)