9 Favorite Yoga DVD’s and Programs
I don’t care to spend stupid amounts of money at any of our many local Boulder yoga studios. I’ve checked the prices, and I already know it isn’t worth it. Besides, most of the adherents to the cult of Yoga here in the United States are more interested in designer yoga pants and equipment than in simply doing yoga. They treat yoga as a religious experience, a replacement for independent thinking. They swallow, hook, line and sinker every new-age, metaphysical hoo-ha that comes down the pike. I’d rather not become a part of the silliness. However, I do recognize the value of practicing yoga every day. Not for spiritual enlightenment (I’m either enlightened or I’m not; yoga isn’t my vehicle of choice), but to achieve my fitness goals. Doing yoga is like heating and stirring a pot of cold stew. All the ingredients are already there, but the whole mixture needs a little stirring in order for it to taste good. Our bodies can be stirred up like that too, and that’s what yoga does. It works every part of your body so that by the end of it you’re feeling tingly and alert all over, and you can start the day fresh. I don’t see yoga as a path to spiritual enlightenment. Maybe it is for some very serious Yogis off in India; I accept that. But, I doubt those yogis wear 200 dollar yoga pants, carry 100 dollar yoga mats, and drink from BPA free pink water bottles. They don’t get their hair and nails done before they prance away to their patch of dirt under a tree.
I’ve done many programs, and the following are the ones I’ve kept and use frequently.
Power Yoga: It’s an old one, but it’s complete. In fact, if I could only buy one Yoga DVD, this would be the one. It includes three 50 minute workouts starting with “Energize” and moving to “Tone” and “Sweat”. I would classify the three workouts as beginner, intermediate, and intermediate plus.
Rodney Yee Intermediate Yoga: Rodney Yee has a number of popular Yoga DVDs. His whole Power Yoga series is quite good, too, but I like the Intermediate Yoga the most because it includes inversions (handstands and elbow stands). It’s a single, one hour workout that starts with vinyasas, and goes to inversions, and finally backbends and hip openers. It’s a solid intermediate workout. But, if you’re a beginner you can still do it. Simply modify the inversions and it becomes a nice beginner/intermediate routine.
Yoga Shakti with Shiva Rea: This lady is totally annoying, but she’s pretty awesome at Yoga. She’s one of those who uses Yoga for spiritual growth. I don’t believe her though because she has a huge tramp stamp on her lower back which seems to contradict all the yoga blabber. Anyway, of all the DVD’s, this might be the best conceived. She has 4 workouts, two of which I would classify as beginner and two as advanced (even though she calls them intermediate). In addition, there is a menu where you, the viewer, can mix and match sections of her workouts to create one of your own. It’s very cool, even if she’s obnoxious.
Baron Baptiste Live! - Soul of Strength: Baron Baptiste has produced several quality DVD’s out of live sessions at his yoga studio. They’re filmed as if a camera crew randomly showed up for a class one day (Judging by the title, that seems to be exactly what happened). Thus, the production value isn’t super awesome, but it works well for the video. It’s a solid 60 minute beginner to intermediate program. He also works more thoroughly on the core than either Power Yoga or Rodney Yee. Sometimes I’m in the mood for that.
P90X Yoga: Bear with me on this one. Tony Horton is no Yogi, but the man put together a pretty great Yoga DVD anyway. No, he doesn’t have a smooth, calming voice, and no, he isn’t great at any of the postures. That’s what makes it good. It’s yoga for people who don’t like to mess around. Heck, he even looks goofy in his yoga outfit. I find the whole thing down to earth and real. It’s 90 minutes, and it doesn’t neglect any piece of the body. You can’t buy it apart from the rest of P90X so that makes it pretty expensive, but if you’re going to do P90X anyway you won’t be disappointed by the DVD.
Rodney Yee Advanced Yoga: Again, bear with me. I’ll be honest, I can’t do 75% of the poses in this DVD. I don’t care though because it’s motivational. I do this DVD when I want to test my progress. Also, there are two DVD’s in the box, and the other one contains a complete hip opening routine that’s top notch, and that almost anybody can do. I hurt my leg a few weeks ago, but before that I was doing the hip opening routine every day (it’s only 25 minutes long) and got so I could do full lotus which I could never do before.
Bryan Kest’s Long, Slow and Deep: Can you tell I like Bryan Kest? This is not a DVD; it’s a book and a CD. Still, this program is valuable. It’s 90 minutes of easy yoga and stretching. Every movement is slow, and he holds them for a long time. Actually, one of the last moves in the book is simply touching your toes while sitting. He holds it for 10 minutes! All the poses get ample attention and none of them are difficult. When you’re done with it, you’re limber. That’s it.
Bryan Kest: Spinal Strengthening: Bryan Kest had a car accident that prevented him from doing a lot of poses. He developed this program to focus on the spinal cord and neck. And that’s exactly what it does. 90 minutes long, the whole thing focuses on every muscle and tendon that has anything to do with the back or neck. Highly recommended for those who have back issues. Go slow, and just hang out with it.
Yoga By Viaden for iPod touch and iPhone: Seems weird, right? But for $1.99 (or whatever it costs, I can’t remember) you will not find a better collection of poses and workouts. You can make your own program or pick from 21, 21!, premade routines that range from beginner to guru (stopping at intermediate and expert along the way). It plays a nice, sort of natural, voice, as it turns the pages to show you pictures of each pose. Some programs are short 15 minute deals, and others are full on 90 minute workouts. Really — for just a few bucks, you can’t screw it up.