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by Laura Hawes
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Sep 16th 2008
This comprehensive yoga DVD offers an extensive selection of yoga sequences for many different conditions, from physical issues as diverse as acne, asthma, high blood pressure, and menopause to mental health problems such as anorexia and bulimia, depression, and alcoholism, to more common concerns including colds, indigestion, mental or physical fatigue, and stress. (A complete list of all sequences can be found on the web site MyYogaVideo.com.) There are also general practices geared to those without physical limitations; these are grouped into three categories, Energizer, Fitness, and Health & Beauty, with each category offering three separate practices of varying durations. The DVD case incorrectly states that the classes are between 20 and 70 minutes in length; in actuality, the practices range from 30 to almost 90 minutes (unfortunately, with the exception of the nine general sequences, the practice length times aren’t listed on the Main Menu of the DVD). One final note about the DVD itself: it is available in DVD-R format only, although the product appears to be of high quality.
Each yoga asana (posture) on this DVD is filmed as a discrete, stand-alone chapter, complete with on-screen information about benefits and contraindications of the pose. These individual postures are then arranged in varying combinations to form the many different practices available. Instructor Laura Hawes leads a small class of four outdoor participants via voiceover (the participants change with for each pose). Hawes speaks in a measured, soothing voice, emphasizing breath as well as softening into the postures. The majority of the poses are restorative in nature, and given this, many props are used, including one or more bolsters, blankets, and a yoga strap. However, most practices include at least some standing postures, and many of the sequences also feature more challenging inverted poses such as headstand, shoulderstand, and plow (backbending postures such as camel, bow, and wheel appear as well, but less often). Whereas the restorative postures are held at length, the practice of the more difficult poses tends to be fairly brief. Here is a sample asana list for one of the sequences, Headache/Eyestrain (42 minutes): Supported Hero’s Pose, Head-to-Knee Pose, Seated Forward Fold, Extended Leg Stretch, Downward Facing Dog, Standing Forward Bend, Plow, Supported Bound Angle, Reclining Hero’s Pose, Supported Bridge Pose, Legs Up the Wall Pose, and Savasana. Every practice on the DVD ends with the nice, extended Savasana segment (7 minutes), and all of the practices include soft, new age-y music playing in the background.
For experienced yogis who are looking for a video which offers them a large number of options, particularly for longer practices, this DVD may be ideal. However, there are a few caveats to mention. First of all, as noted above, information appears on-screen at the start of each new pose, which some might find disruptive to the flow. Secondly, Hawes does not use traditional sequencing in formulating these practices; postures sometimes appear twice within the same sequence, and the pacing sometimes feels a bit odd. Finally—and most importantly—this DVD is not appropriate for those who are new to yoga. Hawes’s instruction, while adequate overall, simply does not provide enough detailed information about form and alignment for those who are approaching these practices without prior experience in the practice of yoga asana. Hawes does suggest modifications throughout, and the participants are shown practicing the postures at varying levels, which is helpful. An additional beneficial feature is that the DVD is extremely well-chaptered, allowing the user to simply skip forward past any pose if needed.
Yoga Therapy Prescriptions has much to offer the continuing yoga student, and I would definitely recommend it.
© 2008 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo. She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com.