Learn to Breathe

Max Strom
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Instructional / How To Videos

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I recently picked up this DVD at a used book sale. As a yoga practitioner/new yoga instructor, I was familiar with Max Strom, the instructor on this video, and I knew that his DVDs were well-regarded. I thought that his breath instruction might be beneficial for my own teaching.

The Main Menu includes segments for Talk on Breathing - Learning & Practicing - Practice Only. In the talk (just over 7 mins), Strom provides a discussion of why the breath is important and how it affects us. The Learning & Practicing section contains five separate breath segments. In each, Strom first introduces the breath technique and explains how to perform it, and this is followed by a group of students practicing for several minutes based on Strom's voiceover. I have broken these segments down further below, including offering times.

This breath is very similar to the ujjayi breath in yoga, except that Strom takes audible breaths in and out through an open mouth. He stands in horse stance to perform this breath, but for the group practice, an alternative is shown in a chair.

This is a four-part lateral breath that adds a slight breath retention. Again, Strom performs the breath standing, but a seated alternate is demonstrated in the group session.

RISING & FALLING (6:02 mins)
Here Strorm begins by practicing the Ocean breath, but on the out breath, he adds a wide-legged forward bend from the hips. Several modifications are shown in the group practice, including being seated and using blocks.

Strom states that this is his favorite breath. It involves breathing in as the hands rise to the heart and then exhaling forceful as the hands burst overhead, like a fountain. Strom gives a bit more lecture at the start of this segment, stressing the importance of "affecting" versus "infecting" others. The group practice again shows a chair option.

For this practice, Storm is seated with a straight spine. The instruction is simply to take deep breaths for a timed (three-minute) period and to count the number of breaths during this interval. The goal is that over time, the breaths will deepen, and there will be a lower number of total breaths per period.

This is a well-done DVD, although as someone experienced in yoga, there wasn't much here that was new to me. I did like the Opening the Ribcage segment and will probably try to incorporate this into my classes. Otherwise, I think this DVD would be best suited either to those who are very new to yoga or those who are not interested in yoga at all but who still want to derive the benefit of breathing strategies.

Instructor Comments:
Max was calm, supportive, and soft-spoken during his teaching/instructional statements. During the short practice segments, he provides voiceover and is not on screen.

Beth C (aka toaster)