Saturday, July 7, 2012

A tale of two yoga videos

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

Flashback to high school English lit class!  The famous opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities suggest that good and evil, wisdom and folly, and light and darkness all stand equally matched in their challenges spanning humankind.

Somewhere within the spectrum of humankind's challenges includes yours truly struggling to hold downward dog pose. 

They don't call it downward dog pose for nothing.

Ah yes, the practice of yoga.

I used to consider yoga to just be something fitness-related to do when I didn't feel like doing anything high-impact.  Now, with my ongoing struggles with knee and hip problems, I've come to appreciate that yoga is very important in helping to prevent or reduce injury. 

I've heard it said that to get the most benefits out of yoga, you should practice it every day - but that any yoga is better than none.  I've also heard that it's better to do a little yoga every day versus doing one enormous yoga session once a week.  My current goal is to do yoga at least twice a week, although more would probably be better.

I do yoga at home using one of two yoga DVDs, which I'll review here.

Here's the first:

Crunch - The Perfect Yoga Workout: The Joy of Yoga & Fat-Burning Yoga

The Crunch Yoga DVD includes two workouts, the Fat Burning Yoga and the Joy of Yoga.  The Fat Burning Yoga workout, which is the more challenging of the two, is approximately 45 minutes and includes an abdominal section.  The Joy of Yoga workout is approximately 35 minutes.  I usually alternate between the two workouts depending on how I feel that day.

I think this DVD is an excellent choice for yoga beginners, although it can certainly challenge more advanced yoga folks.  Sara Ivanhoe, the instructor for both videos, is excellent.  She is clear and easy to follow, and she is careful to explain proper form.  She is unpretentious and uses easy-to-follow terms like "if your knee is in front of your foot, scootch your foot up and give it a nice graceful clunk forward."  You are given options to adapt the yoga to your level of comfort in both videos, which is a nice touch.

The music used in the workouts isn't great.  However, the DVD gives you the option to mute just the music on the Fat Burning Yoga workout so you can use your own music while still listening to the instructor.

All in all, I like this DVD a lot and have been using it for many years.

Here is the second yoga video that I use:

Bryan Kest Power Yoga Complete Collection

This Bryan Kest Power Yoga DVD includes three yoga workouts: Energize, Tone, and Sweat.  The Energy portion is the "beginner" portion, the Tone portion is intermediate, and the Sweat portion is advanced.  I've only done the Energize portion, though, which is approximately 50 minutes, and find it very challenging!  I am usually sore for days after doing the Energize workout.  Therefore, I only use this video on occasions when I am really prepared to feel the burn.

The instructor, Bryan Kest, is solid, compassionate, and genuinely encouraging.  He understands how truly tough some of the poses are, so he reminds us that "If you're doing the best you can, you're doing this class perfectly."  Some of the students in his class are insanely advanced in demonstrating the poses, but he provides ways to adapt the poses to your level of practice (which I gladly utilize). 

Bottom line, this DVD is intense!  It dispelled all notions I ever had of yoga being an "easy" workout.  I do think you need to have some background in yoga before doing it.  But if you are able to do this workout regularly (not me), I am sure you'd see amazing results!

On a postscript note - there is one yoga DVD I used to own, but no longer use.  Here it is:

A.M. and P.M. Yoga
The A.M. and P.M. Yoga DVD includes two 20-minute workouts, one to be done in the morning before starting your day and the other to be done at night before going to bed.  I liked the concept of this DVD and had heard good things about the instructor, Rodney Yee.  However, in practice I found the workouts to be too easy.  Also, the DVD includes an annoying commercial for all of their other products that you have to go through before you can start your workout.  I wasn't a fan.  As a result, I traded this DVD away at a swap meet with friends.

So there you have it - a tale of my two yoga videos, plus one yoga video that is no longer with me!  If anyone has other suggestions for great yoga DVDs, I'd love to hear them so please do share!


  1. I loved reading your post. I haven't been doing yoga with DVDs for quite a while, however, when I did, I liked Seane Corn's Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Also, anything by Shiva Ray is usually really good. Other ways of checking out DVDs is through streaming videos on Netflix. That's actually a great way to check out the videos.

    Podcasts are another great way to do yoga. Some podcasts like YogaAmazing have videos and others just have audio classes. I have a lot of experience with yoga so I am able to also just listen to audio podcasts instead of needing to see the teachers demonstrate the poses. So it would just depend on the student.

    So cool that you're exploring yoga :D I can't imagine my life without it today!!

    1. Michelle! Thank you so much for your thoughts and suggestions, they are so helpful! I think you had mentioned before that you were trying to become a licensed yoga instructor yourself, was that right? In that case, then you would really have great expertise in good yoga sources! In any event - I can't wait to try out Seane Corn and Shiva Ray and the podcasts per your recommendation. Thanks again!!!