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by Ana Brett & Ravi Singh (Directors)
White Lion Press, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Nov 28th 2006
The DVD Kundalini Yoga for
Beginners & Beyond is about an hour and five minutes long, and consists
of 2 sets, each of about half an hour. Ana Brett sits on a fuzzy pink circular
rug in a studio, wearing short shorts and a tight fitting top. In the
background is Eastern flavored music, and both Ravi Singh and Brett give
instructions in voice-over. Brett starts off with deep breathing and breath of
fire, and then moves to a short chant. Then she moves to more physical
exercise, sitting cross-legged and rotating her torso. Next she sits with her
legs flat out in front of her, and with arms extended in front and a flat back,
she performs a backward/forward motion; then, kneeling down, she moves her
torso back and forth, bending the spine both ways. Other exercises for the
spine and torso follow. In between each physical movement is a short
meditation, with resting and breathing. The most difficult exercise turned out
to be one involving the least physical movement: Brett holds her hands in front
of her heart, the left hand facing out, and the right hand facing in, and with
the fingers interlaced. The hands pull against each other, and you breathe in
and hold the breath. Then, for a shorter time, you breathe out and hold it.
Then you raise your hands above your head, and do it again, and then take your
hands back down to heart level. This only takes a couple of minutes, but it is
quite a challenge. Breath control is an essential part of this practice, and
there's careful coordination of breath with movement.
Set 2 is more physically demanding.
It starts from sitting with your legs extended in front of you, and then
placing your feet flat on the ground and raising your middle up into bridge
pose with your arms straight under your shoulders, and then sitting back down
again. You repeat this action for several minutes, and it is a relief when you
finally finish and get to lie down. The next exercise is leg lifts, in which
you lift both your legs and head from the ground, keeping the legs straight and
the balls of the heels extended. This really works the abdominals. Following
this, you move between downward dog and upward dog, which again is a challenge
after a couple of minutes. After this, there's another movement between two
familiar poses, camel pose and child's pose, and this gives the spine a good
work out. The set ends with standing up and spinning, and this will probably
make you dizzy. The DVD ends with rest, breathing, and meditation.
Some of the claims of the DVD seem
a little dubious: for example, I am not very willing to believe that standing
up and spinning is good for the liver. Some people will feel self conscious
about the chanting part, and they may also be unconvinced that it is helpful.
However, these elements are not likely to do you any harm, and they may be
helpful. The physical exercise and the breathing control, as well as the
meditation, are quite likely to be beneficial.
The production is rather simple.
The DVD does not have any special features but it is possible to select the
different chapters using the DVD menu. It gives a good yoga workout, and Ana
Brett is attractive. The exercises are quite different from those in most other
yoga DVDs. The instruction is clear and uses English names for the yoga
poses. While the title indicates that it is aimed at beginners, it would be
helpful for those using it to have some familiarity with the basic poses such
as downward dog, upward dog, and camel so that they would have a clear idea of
what those poses are meant to feel like in static form before trying to include
them in a dynamic movement. For people more familiar with hatha yoga, this DVD
should present an interesting and pleasing different approach to strengthening
the mind and body.
Link: Ravi &
Ana web site
© 2006 Christian Perring. All
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main
research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.