Sunday, May 31, 2009

Exercise DVD review: Yoga for Everyone

Yoga for Everyone, by yoga and Indian dance instructor Hemalayaa, offers a more lighthearted and open approach to yoga, an opportunity to “practice joyfully.” The DVD has two workouts of only twenty minutes each, since Hemalayaa believes that practicing yoga every day for twenty minutes is more beneficial in the long run than taking a ninety-minute class once or twice a week.

The first workout is designed to get participants out of their heads and into their bodies, moving through lunges and basic poses (cobra, down dog, child’s pose, cat/cow). The second session focuses on strengthening the core and grounding oneself: utilizing the same basic poses plus tree and modified warrior, and some deeper stretching. You can choose to have both music and Hemalayaa’s instruction playing during the workouts or select music only.

I didn’t think either workout was particularly rigorous at first. I’m middling fit, running 3-3.5 miles three or four times a week, and I didn’t break a sweat even though I did both sessions back to back. But I did feel de-stressed for the rest of the day, plus two days later I noticed that my quadriceps were sore. Clearly something was working!

Hemalayaa is a good instructor, warm and relaxed. Several times she returns to her point that yoga can (and should) be fun, making goofy faces as a method to release tension. She is gorgeous, of course, but has a realistically fit body – unlike so many other overwhelmingly stringy exercise instructors.

The bonus features include a fun five minute excerpt of the “Playful Dance” routine from Hemalayaa’s The Bollywood Dance Workout DVD; a thirteen minute “Backbend Flow” from Shiva Rea Flow Yoga (not Hemalayaa); and short bios for the instructor and the music composers.

Yoga for Everyone is a great introduction to yoga for folks who might otherwise be too intimidated to try a class. Practicing the short workouts will give novices a sense of what to expect and a comfort in moving through basic poses, although more advanced yoga practitioners may not get much out of the DVD. I thought the workouts were excellent targeted sessions, a way to stretch, strengthen and de-stress without taking up too much time.

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