As someone who has been doing yoga for over ten years (or as I like to say, back before it was cool), when I had the opportunity to review three new yoga videos from Gaiam’s line of exercise videos, I jumped at the chance. The DVDs reviewed are from: Gwen Lawrence, Trudie Styler and Seane Corn. Each teacher had a different approach, but all the videos have a great balance of strength building, increasing flexibility and relaxation. All of the videos are also split into different segments (practices), which make it easy to select the practice that is right for the amount of time you have or your energy level on any given day.
Any (or all) of these would make great stocking stuffers for that yoga lover on your gift list, or if you are that yoga lover—hey the holidays are stressful and involve lots of food. What better way to de-stress than with a yoga practice that helps you stay fit while lightening your mood?
Gwen Lawrence's Fit Body Yoga
I didn’t know much about Gwen Lawrence before watching this video, and was interested to find out that in addition to yoga, she has a background in sports, dance and massage therapy. It isn’t surprising then, that she developed her style of yoga while focusing on the training needs of athletes. Currently, she runs a yoga school as well as a sport-specific yoga program, Power Yoga for Sports, which includes private yoga training and class instruction.
This video is structured into three parts, each about 20 minutes, which makes it easy to fit in a workout into any schedule.The practices reviewed here are:
- Upper Body Blast, which opens and elongates the shoulders and arms, while toning and sculpting a strong upper body.
- Lower Body Tone, increase flexibility in the hips and legs, while toning the thighs and glutes.
- Core Definition develops lean, firm abdominals, while also strengthening the back, a critical component to overall core fitness.
Each part can be done separately and is a decent workout on its own, but you can also do two or all three one after the other. You can work on one area if you don’t have a lot of time, or more if you do. For example, you could do the Upper Body Blast in the morning, and Lower Body Tone or Core Definition in the evening.
Gwen was careful in teaching the class to explain modifications to poses for those who might not be as advanced, as well as showing the pose they are ultimately aiming for. There are many flowing motions incorporated into the poses. In one pose, you sweep your arms in wide circles, in another you move your legs in figure eights while in Downward Dog. Yoga poses can sometimes feel a bit static, and these moves gave the poses a feeling of openness.
Gwen also held some poses for a longer period of time, which is great for strengthening connective tissue around joints—and is a benefit to athletes or anyone who is active. After taking the series, I felt like I’d worked hard, but wasn’t sore. My shoulders and hips felt looser.
This is a great video to use as a day-to-day home practice, both for athletes and anyone that wants to increase flexibility, strength and muscle tone.
Trudie Styler's Strengthen & Restore Yoga DVD and mobile app
I knew Trudie Styler was into yoga, but didn’t know that she’d started a line of yoga videos. According to the press release, the three practices in this DVD are:” designed to strengthen the body while calming the mind, creating the ultimate balance in life.”
Trudie Styler’s Strengthen & Restore DVD contains three unique yoga practices and bonus downloadable Restorative yoga practice. The practices reviewed here are:
- Strong Body & Mind (45 minutes) A Vinyasa Flow sequence that builds heat (for weight loss) while increasing strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Trudie’s Toning Practice (20 minutes) Lengthens and stretches the muscles through a gentle toning process.
- Calming Meditation (6 minutes) A process of visualizing and focusing to achieve both inner and outer strength.
Strong Body & Mind is the first practice on the DVD. The style is not one I've experienced before, and I found it a very good workout, especially for the hips and thighs. The “base” for the first section is Horse, so it right away it feels like you are working. From Horse, you work into various poses. This is a very fluid style, there is almost continual movement from one pose to the next, and the sequences build on each other, with each sequence adding a pose two and going a little further than the one before. So, for example, you build from simple right and left lunges, to a Warrior 1—Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior – Open Angle Triangle – Triangle pose sequence. This makes it easy to flow through the sequences as they became more difficult. There is also an emphasis on breath, with each pose linked to breathing, and eventually I started to follow the breathing without realizing I was doing it.
The chants used as a background were very relaxing, so by the end of this practice, I felt both that I’d had an excellent workout, and yet very calm at the same time at the same time.
Trudie’s Toning Practice is shorter yet still rigorous practice that is done mostly seated or from hand and knees pose. Repetitions of stretches are then done from these poses. For each stretch, there is also an opposition stretch, which give a nice balance. This had good stretching for the upper part of the body, as well as more of a workout for the hips and thighs. This practice stands on its own, and is also a good complement for Strong Body & Mind.
Calming Meditation is a short sequence focusing on breath. It can be done sitting down. This would be a great sequence to do at work, or any time there is a stressful situation. It immediately brings you to the breath, and has a very centering affect.
Seane Corn’s Detox Flow Yoga
Seane Corn is well known in the yoga community, and is a master of the Vinyasa practice. Seane’s approach is holistic, and she focuses both on the physical aspect of the practice, as well as yoga as how yoga impacts your everyday life.
Detox Flow Yoga is a practice designed to improve circulation and digestion, build strength, and help lose weight. The practices reviewed here are:
- Twist and Flow (30 minutes)
Seane’s inspirational instruction takes the user through a practice of bending, twisting and stretching in order to build strength and improve circulation.
- Purify (60 minutes)
This intermediate practice increases flexibility while also removing tension through focused movement and breathing.
Purify is a practice that will be familiar to anyone who has done Vinyasa practice. After a few twists on the mat, the practice starts with Sun A and Sun B Salutations, and includes poses which most yoga practitioners are familiar with: Downward Dog, Triangle Pose, Revolved Triangle, and so on. What is really unique about Seane is how perfect her technique is, and how well she explains how to correctly do a pose. For example, when describing how to correctly do Downward Dog, she explains to press against the bones under the index finger, to press the thighs back and to pull the hips off the shoulders. Her motions are extremely precise, and simply watching her is a good lesson in how to and how to get into and out of a pose. She is also very good with linking each pose to a breath.
Twist and Flow is similar to the Purify practice, but a bit shorter. This is a good practice for when there is less time or on a low-energy day.
Core Energy, A ten-minute bonus practice to strengthen, tone, and energize the core, is available as a download with purchase of the disk.
Purchase these videos
Gwen Lawrence’s Fit Body Yoga is available at Target stores and wherever DVDs are sold.
Trudie Styler’s Strengthen & Restore DVD and mobile app is available online and in retail stores wherever DVDs are sold.
Seane Corn's Detox Flow Yoga is available in stores and online.
You can also link to a free trial of Gaiam TV for access to yoga and other videos.
To access a ten-day sample, link to www.gaiamtv.com/offer, and click Start Your FREE 10-Day Trial in the orange box at the top right.