Element: Yoga for Energy & RelaxationTamal Dodge
Year Released: 2012
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
I have several DVDs in the Element series (e.g., Element: Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility, ElementL Total Body Pilates With Mini Ball, and Element: Pilates Weight Loss) and enjoy all of them, so I thought I might like this DVD. This was my first experience with instructor Tamal Dodge.
Like all of the Element offerings, this DVD contains two practices, both of which are set in a pretty outdoor garden setting. Dodge is featured alone, teaching via voiceover, and the only prop needed is a yoga mat. I have provided an overview of each practice below.
YOGA FOR ENERGY (32 minutes)
Dodge begins this practice standing, moving into a standing backbend. He then performs half sun salutes. Coming into downward dog, he moves through plank, dolphin, and forearm plank. This is followed by a series which includes down dog to three-legged down dog, crescent pose, twisted side angle, warrior 2, reverse warrior 2/reverse triangle, side angle, and repeat reverse warrior 2. Dodge holds each posture for several breaths, which is quite challenging; he then repeats the entire series on the second side. Sitting on the heels, he performs breath of fire (two rounds) and belly breathing. This is followed by a series of seated poses, including full seated forward bend, seated leg stretch, reverse plank, forward bend in butterfly, and crab (aka table). Finishing postures include a lying stomach twist and an approximately 2 minutes in relaxation pose before concluding in a seated position.
YOGA FOR RELAXATION (40 minutes)
For this routine, Dodge begins seated to practice ujjayi breathing. Next comes a series of stretches, including shoulder/elbow rolls, a side neck stretch, a back neck stretch, and head shakes/rolls to finish. Dodge then comes to all fours for cat/cow and a modified child's pose. Sitting back into child's pose, he moves into rabbit and thread-the-needle with a bind. Dodge raises up into down dog with a calf stretch and then lowers down onto the belly for sphinx and crocodile poses. The next series of stretches moves from down dog to half (kneeling) pyramid, pigeon pose, and then concludes in down dog with breath retention. From seated, Dodge performs head-to-knee forward bend, butterfly, modified eagle (wrists and ankles crossed), and fire log pose. To conclude this practice, Dodge lies down on his back for half happy babies pose, revolved stomach twist, and about 3.5 minutes of yoga nidra, or relaxation; he again ends in a seated position.
Overall, I enjoyed both of these practices. Although I consider myself to be at an intermediate level in yoga, I found the Energy practice to be challenging--not because the postures themselves were difficult, but because Dodge holds the poses for a significant amount of time. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the longer holds for the Relaxation practice. I would recommend this DVD to someone who is experienced enough in yoga to be familiar with the postures and who does not have many flexibility limitations, as Dodge does not show modifications (although he is very encouraging to only do what you are able to do). This is a very nice DVD, and I would recommend it.
I liked Tamal well enough, although he seemed VERY young. (I don't mean to be ageist; this just made him a bit less relatable to me, in my mid-40s.) But I thought he did a nice job overall. I don't think he gave enough information for beginners, which is why I would recommend this for more experienced yogis. Finally, his voice reminds me of someone--I think maybe Ron Howard???
The DVD is chaptered into two 30-minute sections: (1) Energy and (2) Relaxation. Both practices are filmed in the gorgeous Element setting that those familiar with Element workouts have come to expect: A beautiful flower garden complete with wisteria-covered gazebo next to sparkling reflecting pool, with the Pacific Ocean gleaming in the distance; the quietly melodic tune in the background added to the overall serenity of these practices.
RELAXATION begins in “easy pose” (basically seated with crossed legs) and we practice our breathing. I am sooo easily bored with breathing exercises, but tried to “relax” into this practice, LOL! Next we bring our hands to our shoulders and circle our elbows forward, then back. Then we stretch our neck. Now, at the six-minute mark, we do a short vinyasa: Starting in child’s pose, we transition into table top for cat/cow stretches, camel pose (a back bend done on your knees, child’s pose, rabbit pose (sort of like child’s pose, only crown of head touches floor and shins are on floor, thighs lifted, hands on backs of thighs), then back to child’s pose, from which we “thread the needle” for a nice arm/oblique stretch. Then we do another short vinyasa: Move from downward-facing dog to plank, then cobra. Throughout the moves, you can hear the sound of deep breathing which we are supposed to emulate. It helped. Next we move into crocodile, which is a pretty easy prone position. Then it’s back up to downward-facing dog, then a high split and stepping forward with one foot into a pyramid pose, which is like triangle pose only with your chest down and folded over your front shin. Then some more stretching before moving into pigeon pose – and then repeat the vinyasa with the other leg.
Floor work was next: single-leg forward bends, butterfly pose, and seated modified eagle pose (on one side, then the other), which Tamal says shuts down our flight or fight impulse to reduce stress and help us relax. Other floor work included forward seated stretch, rolling down into supine, bringing knees into chest and circling them one way then the other, bringing knees back into chest for leg pulls and spinal twists, then finally corpse pose. The audible breathing and gentle guidance via quiet voiceover throughout the practice was very relaxing indeed.
ENERGY begins with breathing exercises while standing in Mountain Pose. This is followed by a back bend and three sun salutations. Then things get even more “energetic” with a short vinyasa of plank pose, downward-facing dog, forearm plank, dolphin pose (like downward-facing dog, only on forearms), then child’s pose. From here we move into updog, then press back into downdog. Tamal constantly reminds you to work at your own level.
Next comes a series of asanas (poses) done on one side, then the other: Move from downward-facing dog to downdog split; step forward to crescent pose then reverse crescent pose; move into twisting side angle pose, then warrior 2, reverse warrior, and back to warrior 2; then down to the mat for seated hero pose with a breath of fire (my cat did not like BOF!) The next set of ananas include seated forward bend, leg stretches, back to forward bend, move into reverse plank, seated for butterfly pose, move into crab pose (a “plank like” pose), then supine spinal twist, and finally corpse pose.
I felt this was aptly described as the more energetic of the two practices, and there was a nice flow to the sequencing of the poses. Many of the poses are held for one minute or longer; I suppose they are held this long in “traditional” yoga, but I am easily bored.
I can't say enough about the setting and the music: both simply beautiful.
Very calm and encouraging.