Kundalini Yoga to Detox & De-stressMaya Fiennes
Year Released: 2007
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I have done lots of Hatha and Ashtanga, but this was my first experience with Kundalini and I love it. Kundalini is very different than the yoga you are most likely used to. The poses are different and they tend to be dynamic rather than static. There was more chanting, which may be common in traditional yoga but tends to be rare in the Western variety. There is some talk from Maya about the Aquarian Age coming in 2012 (I guess it passed us by. That sucks.) I can unpredictably go either way on new agey type stuff, but I find Maya's patter quite endearing at best and harmless at worst. There is one asana you do for two minutes and I have no idea what happens, but I go through a phase where my arms start to get tired and then all of a sudden I feel a wave of giddiness and start laughing. It happens nearly every time-it's so strange, but I dig it. Maya wears all white and is in a white studio. Since Ravi and Ana workouts are the same, I'm guessing this is a Kundalini "thing." The moves aren't real complicated, so you can still make out what she's doing well enough despite that. The music, which Maya composed, really adds to the workout. I really like this workout, and wish I wasn't such a cardio/resistance freak so I would do it more often. Definitely don't be put off by this and give it a try. It's a unique, relaxing, joy-filled experience. It's not a very strenuous workout either; there's more emphasis on the mind/spirit side despite the physicality. However, do approach with caution if you have back issues. There is lots of spinal movement (a key supposedly to stimulating your kundalini energy.)
Maya is a fabulous instructor, one of my favorites. Her demeanor is calm and encouraging, her voice soothing. She is Macedonian, and has a cute accent. I had no trouble understanding her. I really like and appreciate the thoughtful touches she brings, such as when she tells the viewer to take a moment to stretch out their legs if they need to, she does it. The Savasana at the end is also Maya doing Savasana, not the workout suddenly cutting off to loud credits music or a title card accompanied by generic yoga music that says "Relaxation" (I have DVD's that do both of these things.) I have several of her workouts, but this one is my favorite.
I have done this DVD a few times now and quite like it. I am not used to this style of yoga, it is certainly different from the usual Hatha or Ashtanga styles. I’d say this feels more dynamic, each exercise is a series of repeated movements rather than static postures. However, there are also moments of stillness throughout to absorb the practice.
I don’t usually gravitate to the new agey “woo woo” stuff, but still find this to be very enjoyable, and not too much past my “woo woo” threshold :)
One thing that makes this particular DVD unique is that so much of it is done sitting cross legged (or in “easy pose” as Maya calls it). You occasionally stretch out into different postures, but, I don’t think you stand up at all during the practice. This could be a good thing or a bad thing I guess depending on what you are looking for. The lack of standing makes it feel very restorative, but you still get a workout.
Another feature of the DVD is that all the music used is her own (she is a concert pianist and composer too!) and is very pleasant. Kind of tribal / world music / ambient, with some songs and chants over the music. The first time I saw one of Maya’s programmes (on the Body in Balance channel) I could actually tell it was her voice in the music as well as in the voiceover, her voice is gentle, uplifting and distinctive with a lovely accent (Macedonian).
Now some details of the actual workout:
Maya is alone in a white studio with a white sheepskin rug, she is also wearing all white. She instructs via voiceover and each section features a different piece of her own music (as mentioned above), each piece of music has a tempo and vibe to match the exercise.
She starts with a tuning in mantra, which she repeats 3 times. You are supposed to join in but I don’t as I do my workouts early in the morning and don’t want to wake anyone! I’m content just to listen to her.
There is then a seated warm up consisting of spinal flexing (“camel ride”), spinal circles, an exercise where you twist your upper body from left to right repeatedly with hands on shoulders (co-ordinated with breathing), and then with arms raised, neck rolls, and some leg stretches. The music in this section is slow and features Maya singing “Om Shanti namo” or something like that (I’m not familiar with mantras).
Moving on to the main practice, there is an exercises which Maya calls a meditation to strengthen the kidneys and adrenals, you are sitting and move your arms in (hands in a lotus mudra at the heart) and out (with hands flexed) repeatedly until your arms get tired, or longer! She says lots of uplifting stuff throughout and the upbeat music in this section keeps you motivated.
After that there are two exercises involving breath of fire (rapid breathing). I have to admit I don’t like these because they make me feel dizzy so usually fast forward or just sit still for a while until the next exercises. There then follows some dynamic exercises, which include a kind of “yoga rowing” some “cat cow” variations (I think that’s what you call it!) and leg lifts, before doing a “kriya” in which you repeat the word “Har” (which sounds more like “Hara” the way she says it) with one arm outstretched, then the other arm.
The programme closes with some lovely relaxation in corpse pose, some more gentle stretching while lying and then coming back to sitting (I don’t think there is a sitting meditation as such, but there are moments of sitting meditation throughout the whole programme).
Maya then “tunes out” with a chant of “Sat Nam” 3 times. Her voice seems to reverberate throughout my whole living room at this point in the DVD :)
The whole programme is about an hour long, but time seems to fly by, it feels like much less to me. It leaves me feeling energised and calm for the rest of the day.
I’m not sure how often I’ll fit this DVD into my practice (I have a bajillion fitness and yoga DVDs, I’m kind of an addict!), but will definitely aim for at least once a week. I usually do more restorative workouts on a Sunday morning, so this will probably become a Sunday favourite.
I’d highly recommend this if you are looking for something relaxing, yet energising which will clear your mind and provide a nice restorative practice. To me if feels like a moving, musical meditation :)
I think Maya Fiennes is a joy to watch and listen too (both in the voice-over and in her music). She is positive, calm and peaceful and instructs clearly. She seems to have a good balance of strength and flexibility. I think many yoga types have excellent flexibility but possibly neglect the importance of strength and can look a bit fragile.