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by Ashley Turner
Anchor Bay, 2010
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Jan 18th 2011
This latest introduction to Anchor Bay's Element series features yoga instructor Ashley Turner, who also appeared in Element: Yoga for Weight Loss. Here Turner offers two yoga routines which can be used either together or separately to enhance relaxation, stimulate circulation, and increase agility. Turner practices outdoors in an attractive poolside garden setting with the Pacific ocean in the background. She teaches via voiceover and offers mirrored cuing, sometimes using only Sanskrit names for the postures, sometimes adding in the English translations as well. Other than her yoga mat, Turner does not utilize any props, although she occasionally makes suggestions for how props (e.g., blocks) could be used to modify some of the postures.
The Main Menu of this DVD offers the following options:
*Play Yoga for Stress Relief
*Play Yoga for Flexibility
*Play Complete Program
I have broken down each of the practices in greater detail below.
YOGA FOR STRESS RELIEF
This is the longer of the two practices at just under 36 minutes; virtually the entire routine is performed seated on the floor. Turner begins with instruction on ujjayi breathing, taking time to cultivate this breath. After a few head rolls, she performs a single "ohm" and suggests setting an intention (sankalpa) for the practice. This is followed by a seated side bend, simple seated twist, and a unique seated twist with an emphasis on stretching the upper back/shoulders. After using Lion's breath to promote cleansing, Turner continues the seated postures with head-to-knee pose, half Lord of the fishes, double pigeon, wide-legged seated forward bend, and revolved head-to-knee pose. Finally, Turner begins a series of finishing postures: first, she comes to hands and knees for a cranial massage, and next, she moves to a reclined position for windshield wiper legs and knees-to-chest. After a brief rest in reclined cobbler's pose, Turner comes into savasana with an optional self-massage (4 minutes). She concludes the practice seated with a final ohm.
YOGA FOR FLEXIBILITY
Turner also begins this practice seated with instruction on ujjayi breathing. She moves into a standing forward bend/half forward bend sequence before coming to standing at the front of the mat to set an intention and to chant a single "ohm." (Note: Turner has her mat placed parallel to the mat; placing your mat perpendicular to your TV may make it easier to follow along with this routine.) From here Turner flows into a standing series which moves from low lunge to half split to standing splits. Turner then performs eagle pose on both sides before repeating the lunge series on the opposite side. The next sequence adds in some gentle backbends: Turner starts in down dog and moves into baby cobra, a cat/cow series, a locust variation, and some brief free form work. Coming back to seated for hero's pose, Turner offers the option of moving into reclined hero. She concludes the practice with a lower back release, a reclined twist, and a short (about 2 minutes) relaxation, finishing this 33-minute practice in a seated position with a final ohm.
Overall, this DVD offers two very nice yoga practices providing exactly what the titles suggest--i.e., the opportunity to decrease stress and enhance flexibility. Although Turner does suggest some modifications as well as offers tips on form, her level of instruction is not appropriate for those brand-new to yoga. However, this would be an ideal DVD for anyone with some basic yoga experience looking to enhance their practice and move on to the next level; moreover, intermediate practitioners such as myself are likely to find a place in their home practice for these enjoyable routines.
© 2011 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.