Element: Intro to Yoga

Tamal Dodge
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Yoga

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This DVD offers two yoga practices just over a half-hour each by Tamal Dodge, a yoga instructor raised in Hawaii. As with all the DVDs the Element series, the routines are filmed outdoors in a beautiful poolside garden setting overlooking the ocean. Dodge is featured alone in both practices, instructing via voiceover. The only props used are a yoga mat and an optional yoga block.

The Main Menu offers the option to Play Yoga Fundamentals or Play Intermediate Yoga. I have described each practice in further detail below.

Dodge begins this practice seated on his heels (option of using a block) focusing on the breath; he instructs victorious (ujjayi) breathing here. Moving to standing on the knees, Dodge performs a spinal twist. He then comes to all fours for modified chaturanga, flowing from this position to cobra pose three times. Next, Dodge comes into downward facing dog, practicing this posture with breath retention. At this point, he walks the feet to the hands into a forward bend, moving into several rounds of quarter- and then half-sun salutations. This is followed by a standing pose series. Dodge starts with warrior 1 to open warrior, then moves from a very brief warrior 2 into side angle pose. Straightening the front leg, he comes into triangle pose and then revolved triangle. He concludes the standing series with chair pose before repeating the entire sequence on the other side. Transitioning with down dog (again with breath retention), Dodge moves to seated for a seated forward bend, a bent leg seated twist, and half boat. Coming to his back, he performs bridge pose with the option of using of block for supported bridge. The final posture is a bent leg reclined twist. Dodge then cues savasana, or final resting pose. (Note: for most of the postures, he uses both the English and the Sanskrit name.) After resting for about 2.5 minutes, he comes to seated to conclude the practice.

For this routine, Dodge starts standing, again with a focus on the the breath. After performing a side stretch, he moves into three rounds of sun salutations (adding in jump backs as he proceeds), he ends with down dog with breath retention. He then performs a sequence that begins with side plank and moves into modified crescent lunge, full crescent lunge, warrior 2, triangle, half moon, standing splits, warrior 3, and chair pose; the entire series is then repeated on the other side. The standing postures are followed by three variations of standing forward bend. Transitioning with a hold of toe squat, Dodge performs a seated pigeon variation (tailor's pose) followed by balancing bound angle (feet in the air) and a seated twist with optional bind. (Note: Dodge states that some of this work activates the fast twitch versus slow twitch muscles.) The final postures include a reclined elevated tree and a reclined twist. Dodge leaves time for only a brief (2 minutes) final rest before again finishing in a seated position.

Dodge is an engaging instructor with a pleasant manner. Although he is encouraging and provides form pointers throughout the practices, he does not offer nearly he level of instruction necessary for a true beginner to yoga. Even in the Fundamentals practice, he moves fairly quickly into postures, not allowing sufficient setup time for those new to the practice. Furthermore, he includes some postures that would likely be extremely challenging for an inexperienced yogi, such as revolved triangle pose. As an intermediate practice, the Intermediate Yoga is a nice routine, but with the inclusion of even more advanced poses (e.g., half moon, standing splits), this entire practice seems out of place on a "introductory" DVD.

In terms of the quality of these practices, this DVD is nicely done, but in rating the appropriateness for beginning yogis, this DVD has less appeal for me. However, if you are a more experienced beginner who is already familiar with basic yoga postures, ELEMENT: INTRO TO YOGA may work for you.

Instructor Comments:
Tamal is pleasant enough, but I'm finding that I'm not really clicking with him for some reason--I don't know if it's the way he says "exhale" (more like EGGS-hale), that his breath counts are too long for me, or that his voice reminds me of Ron Howard's! However, he certainly has a gentle, easy-going manner that will probably appeal to most people.

Beth C (aka toaster)