by T. Jacob Felder The Breathing Room, 2016 Review by Beth Cholette, Ph.D. on Aug 9th 2016
This DVD is led by Jacob Felder, a registered yoga teacher (ERT-500) with Yoga Alliance. During his 6-minute Introduction, Felder explains that the video is designed for both yoga teachers/other health care professionals who wish to assist their students with balance as well as for yoga students who wish to improve their own balance. He also discusses how balance involves the following three systems (in order of importance): 1) vestibular, 2) proprioception, and 3) vision, and reviews some additional factors which contribute to balance as well.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers three sections:
Part I: Introduction (described above)
Part II: Balance Techniques and Poses
Part III: Putting It All Together – The Entire Routine
The bulk of the DVD is Part II. Here Felder notes that he will be offering many different techniques to work on balance, yet just two yoga poses. At the start of the segment, he suggests an option of using a chair or wall for additional balance support if needed, but he himself uses no props during this section. There are many stops and starts to Felder's instruction, as he will frequently make statements such as "this is a demonstration, so just watch," and he also spends time modeling what can go wrong in the movements. The first several exercises are warm-up in nature and include circling the ankles and shifting the weight on the feet with various foot positions. Next, Felder moves on to training the arms and legs to help with regaining balance. He does this by using a side-to-side step, reaching one arm out to the side and lifting the opposite leg into a "Figure 4" position, eventually taking this movement back and forth in what he calls a "yoga folk dance."
The two yoga poses used are tree pose and warrior 3. Felder starts with tree pose, adding in various arm movements to increase the balance challenge. He then performs the yoga folk dance in switching to tree pose on the opposite side. Felder practices warrior 3 in the same manner, adding the yoga folk dance between sides. He concludes Part II by stretching in leg in turn with a series of straight leg hip circles and Figure 4 kicks, bringing in the total time for this section at about 37 minutes. The final segment, "Putting It All Together," uses all the same exercises as in Part II, but here, Felder performs the movements in a continual flow, with the entire routine lasting approximately six minutes.
As a yoga teacher myself, I found the excruciatingly detailed instruction of Part II unnecessary; I could have easily followed along with the simple routine starting at Part III. That being said, I did glean some helpful balance tips from Felder, although he didn't specifically address how to apply this information to teaching others, which was disappointing. I was also disappointed that he made NO mention of physical factors which might affect balance, such as injuries. In the end, I do think that this DVD provides some helpful information for "Balance Basics," as the title would suggest.