Elements of Yoga: Earth Foundaton

Tara Lee
Year Released: 2013

Categories: Yoga



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NOTE: I received a free copy of this DVD to review for the web site Metapsychology.net.

Tara Lee is a London-based yoga instructor who has created the Elements of Yoga series. “Earth Foundations,” the first video in this series, is designed to be accessible to all levels and to focus on the Earth element via grounding postures. For all the practices on this DVD, Lee is outdoors by a river teaching via voiceover. Her only prop is a mat (with the orientation frequently changing from parallel to the viewer to perpendicular due to shifting camera views), although occasionally an inset is shown with modification options. Lee sometimes notes the names of the postures in English, sometimes in Sanskrit, sometimes not at all.

The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options: Introduction—Play All—Practice 1 (22 mins)—Practice 2 (20 mins)—Practice 3 (21 mins)—Savasana (5 mins)—Bonus Features—Music Options. Music Options includes choices for “Music & Instruction” and “Music Only,” but no option for “Instruction Only” (a.k.a. a “Music Off” option). The individual practices work as stand-alone sequences, but they can also be combined together for a full routine of just over an hour. I have provided detailed information on each practice below.

PRACTICE 1
For this first routine, Lee begins with a long (about 5 ½ minutes) sequence of seated breath practice, including extending the breath, breath retention, and setting intention (sankalpa). She then moves into several additional minutes of simple seated stretches. Coming to hands and knees, Lee continues to perform gentle stretches such as child’s pose, modified cobra, child’s pose variations, bird-dog, and hip circles. From an upright kneeling position, she moves through gate pose and reverse gate pose on both sides, then concludes the floor work with more hip circles and downward dog. Lee finishes this practice in standing forward bend.

PRACTICE 2
The second practice is more active, and it includes various vinyasa flows. Starting standing, Lee comes to the toes for a stretch left and right. Next, she moves into a chair/forward bend vinyasa. From here she transitions into a modified sun salutation, then returns to the chair/forward bend sequence. The next vinyasa is a flow between plank and downward facing dog which is repeated several times. This is followed by a following warrior 1 series. Lee performs pigeon and seated twist on each side, and then she returns to standing for goddess pose with heel lifts and a shoulder stretch. The final posture is tree pose, and then Lee concludes this routine with gentle spinning and deep breathing.

PRACTICE 3
This final routine centers mainly around flowing standing postures followed by some floor poses to finish. Lee starts standing in mountain pose and then moves through a vinyasa to a standing pose series which includes warrior 1, warrior 2, and triangle pose, repeating on the second side. She goes through this exact same sequence a total of three times on both sides. Coming to lying face down, she performs locust, sphinx, child’s pose, and rabbit. This is followed by staff pose and full seated forward bend. Next, Lee cues legs-up-the-wall pose, but she herself performs the posture with her legs perpendicular in the air (unsupported). However, her instructions assume use of a wall, which I think would be confusing to those unfamiliar with this pose and/or new to yoga. Finishing postures include fish and a short (1 minute) savasana, and then Lee concludes the practice in a seated position.

Selecting Bonus Features off the Main Menu brings up a submenu which offers the same options on all three Elements of Yoga DVDs. In addition to three short yoga practices, the bonus submenu includes a Q & A with Lee (11 mins) and Credits. The routines are as follows:

Earth—Balances (9 mins)
For this balanced-focused sequence, Lee begins by rising onto her toes and sinking down into squat, repeating several times. She then performs tree and eagle on both sides. This is followed by a flow between knee-to-chest and warrior 1, then she holds knee-to-chest and moves the knee out to the side. The final balance posture is dancer’s pose.

Air and Water—Breathing (10 mins)
For this seated routine, Lee starts by lengthening the length of the exhalation so that it is twice that of the inhalation. She continues with basic breathing, meditating on inhaling a golden light. She performs two rounds of Kapalabhati (skull shining breath) and finishes the practice with three OMs.

Fire—Core (Advanced) (11 mins)
In-this core-centered sequence, Lee starts by moving in and out of boat pose. She then comes fully to a reclined position for leg lowers. Other moves include leg extensions, knee drops, and even some more traditional crunch-type exercises.

In general, Lee did a nice job with this DVD, combining mostly solid instruction (although not mirrored cuing) with basic yoga practices. However, I found the routines to be somewhat repetitive and Lee’s cuing to be a bit uneven—e.g., she often seemed to spend less time on the second side than on the first. Furthermore, although Lee states in her Introduction that “Earth Foundations” is intended for all levels (and most of the postures are at a beginner level), Lee does not provide enough instruction for those brand-new to yoga. Therefore, I would recommended the Elements of Yoga series to experienced beginners and beyond only.

Instructor Comments:
As noted, I found Lee's cuing to be somewhat uneven. Also, the fact that the camera sometimes showed her mat head on and sometimes from the side made the routines even more difficult to follow.

Beth C (aka toaster)

07/18/2013

Tara leads this routine in a gorgeous outdoor setting with lots of greenery in front of a lake. This is done in voiceover and you wont need any equipment. The dvd Includes bonus sections of balances, core workout and breathing, and is divided into three 20 minute sequences that will build strength and stability in your body and mind.

The routine is based on the Earth Element this yoga DVD is designed to build the foundations of a yoga practice suitable for beginners and all levels. Tara teaches us yoga postures in a well paced routine that will keep us engaged and learning proper form. The dvd also contains bonus routines: 10 minute balancing series, 10 minute breathing exercise, 10 minute core workout, and a 5 minute relaxation.

I rate this a beginner routine. This is a wonderful introduction to yoga for those of us who want to start incorporating more yoga into our fitness routines. I like Tara, she is informative and has a pleasant demeanor. I received this dvd to review.

lindseylu

06/09/2013

I received this DVD as a preview copy. There are three yoga practices on the DVD, all roughly 20 minutes each. Each of the practices is done beside a lovely lake; very peaceful. The first practice begins in seated meditation, rubbing our hands together and covering our eyes (I don’t know why, but I always feel silly doing this.) We open our eyes and begin by dropping the left shoulder to the right knee, then the right shoulder to the left knee. (Right away, I noticed that Tara does NOT mirror cue.) These stretches transition to seated torso circles (I always like doing these!) We move to our hands and knees and begin a vinyasa where we push forward into our hands, then sink back into child’s pose; we do this a few times and end in child’s pose. We sit back on heels, then reach back to grab our heels and lift our buttocks for a gentle backbend. We return to our hands and knees for what I call bird-dog pose (alternate lifting left arm/right leg, right arm/left leg.) From here, we transition to downward-facing dog and forward fold, then end in mountain pose.

The second practice begins in mountain pose (so you could continue from the previous practice) with overhead arms, then we turn to twist the torso from side to side. Next is a vinyasa from chair pose to forward fold, back to chair then mountain pose, back to chair then lunge into plank, and finally child’s pose to upward dog. Returning to downward-facing dog, we repeat the vinyasa on the other side. After rolling up into mountain pose, we do another quick vinyasa: Forward fold to lunge to plank to cobra to child pose, all done in one very fluid motion. Next we go from downward-facing dog to forward fold, lift to mountain pose, exhale to chair pose, and return to forward fold. We then transition from plank to downward-facing dog; we do this a few times before returning to downward-facing dog. From here, we lift one leg high behind up (dog splits) then step the foot forward into a lunge, lift up into warrior one, float down to plank, then press into lift into updog. We push back to downdog and repeat the vinyasa on the other side, after which we transition to pigeon and a few spinal twists. Our last few moves are mountain pose to forward fold, back to mountain pose, and ending in tree pose. This was a very fluid practice.

The third practice begins with sun salutations and moves into forward folds, then we step into plank, lift into updog, and push into downdog. We transition from warrior one to warrior two, then triangle pose. Then it’s back to warrior two, warrior one, updog, downdog, warrior one, warrior two, triangle pose, warrior two, then warrior one. Whew, this is a fast, fluid vinyasa! Next, we move from plank to updog, downdog to forward fold, plank to downdog, warrior one to warrior two, then triangle – this vinyasa is repeated several times. We return to plank, then kneel and lean back for a seated backbend and forward for seated forward fold. We move into bridge pose, do a few spinal twists on the floor, then lie on our backs with our legs in the air, soles of the feet to the ceiling. Push legs out to the walls, then lift legs again with toes pointed at the ceiling. We do one more backbend before relaxing into corpse pose. This was another fast, fluid practice.

This was a decent yoga practice with beautiful scenery, quiet music, and gentle-voiced instruction. There were times when I thought the practice dragged a bit, but I’ve never been big on the “spiritual” side of yoga. On the other hand, some of the poses were challenging (i.e., the backbends), so perhaps slow and easy was the smart way to go.

Instructor Comments:
Tara has a pleasant, soothing voice and the music she selected for these practives was calm and relaxing; perfect for this practice.

Debbie J

06/04/2013