Rodney Yee, a veteran yoga instructor as well as the featured instructor of many yoga videos and DVDs, has recently released this new offering, AM Yoga for Your Week. The intent was to provide five 20-minute practices (but note that the actual practice times vary from 22-26 minutes) which could be used during busy weekday mornings to get the day off to a good start. In reality, these five excellent yoga sessions, each of which has a different focus, are appropriate for use at ANY time of the day. Although each individual practice revolves around a specific body area/group of postures, each are well-rounded, stand-alone yoga sessions. I have described the five practices briefly below.
STANDING, 22.5 minutes
Standing postures include standing forward bend, tree, triangle, side angle pose, warrior 1, and warrior 2; standing forward bend is performed in-between some of these poses. The standing poses conclude with chair and wide-legged standing forward bend before moving to the floor for hero and then finishing in relaxation pose. Yee offers some particularly nice form pointers while holding the standing poses.
TWISTS, 26 minutes
This practice opens with a series of reclined twists (one of which uses a strap). Yee then transitions to standing with down dog and standing forward bend for revolved prayer twist and crazy dog. Coming back to seated in cobbler's pose, he performs a twist in wide-legged seated pose and two variations on Sage 3 posture. This practice finishes with half Lord of the fishes, cobra, and relaxation pose.
BACK BENDS, 25 minutes
Yee starts here by rolling two blankets together to create a bolster for under the upper back; he lies over this for a gentle lying backbend. Coming to standing, he moves through a variation on sun salutations which include standing backbend, chair, down dog, warrior 2, side angle, warrior 1, and crescent lunge. He then moves to the floor for cobra, bow, and camel. After finishing with the backbending work, Yee nicely stretches out the body with cobbler's pose, simple seated twist, reclined leg stretch (using a strap if needed); he finished with relaxation pose.
FORWARD BENDS, 24 minutes
This practice begins in a reclined position for a series of moves that felt more like hip openers than forward bends: reclined leg stretch (using a strap if needed), happy babies pose, and thread-the-needle. Next Yee gradually transitions to standing through child's pose, down dog, standing forward bend, wide angle standing forward bend, and 3-legged down dog. Coming back to the floor for seated forward bends, he performs a simple cross-legged forward bend, head-to-knee pose, full seated forward bend, cobbler's forward bend, and wide-legged forward bend, finishing with a brief rest and then relaxation pose. To my surprise, this segment was probably my favorite, as it had a great mix of postures.
HIP OPENERS, 26 minutes
This segment uses a yoga block. It starts with a seated opening vinyasa in which Yee flows from staff pose to cobbler's to wide-legged seated pose, gradually speeding this up and also adding half-boat pose. He next does a simple cross-legged forward bend before incorporating the block. Keeping one leg stretched straight out in front, he first rests the other knee on the block, then brings the knee out to the side at a right angle. He also uses the block for cobbler's pose with the block between the feet. Additional postures which follow include pigeon, revolved crescent lunge, double pigeon, half Lord of the fishes, wide-legged seated forward bend, and cobbler's forward bend. The practice concludes with lightning pose, hero's pose on the block, and relaxation.
Despite Yee's long history of making yoga videos, he has still managed to offer something that feels fresh and new here. As always, his cueing is impeccable (although mirrored cueing would be even better!), and he offers wonderful form pointers which help you to get into the postures more deeply. Although I wouldn't recommend this DVD for those brand-new to yoga (Yee doesn't give quite that level of instruction), more experienced beginners and beyond should do fine. In conclusion, the practices are amazing, the instructor is extremely skilled, and the scenery is breathtaking--what's not to like? Highly recommended!
on December 8, 2008
Well the scenery is beautiful, but I wasn't thrilled with the presentation. I thought it would be 5 mini-sessions modeled after Gaiam's "AM & PM yoga dvd" that I love and recommend to everyone. That DVD had a 20 minute full body session that warmed you up, had great hip openers, back bends, twists, etc and had a bit of meditation at the end. I thought this DVD would be like that one, having a warm up and a meditation for each, but focusing on different areas/stretches each day. It's not. When you start, say, the "hip openers" selection, Rodney Yee is already warmed up and going super fast for someone who just woke up (it is AM yoga after all, and I get up at 4:45 AM) then he slows down later but by then you are all frazzled and trying to keep up and the whole idea of starting your day with some tranquility and a nice little stretch is out the window. The stretch is there, but I am recovering from an injury so I need the warm up so that I don't re-injure myself. I guess I could do a warm up before the DVD, but I bought the DVD for this purpose so I guess I'm a little disappointed... Plus, they say it is 5 - 20 minute sessions, but they are closer to 30 minutes each, which is nice to get more than you expected, but not when you're trying to get out the door on time! I guess I'm back to the same routine from "AM & PM yoga" every day w/ Rodney.
on October 26, 2009
You won't find many surprises in these five 20-minute yoga sequences, just solid sequencing of bedrock poses--not a bad thing in my book. The pace of each practice is moderate, with medium length holds of poses (a possible exception is the repeated cycles within the hip opener sequence, which some may find a bit quick). Despite the short time frame and leisurely pace, each sequence manages to pack a surprisingly good selection of asanas within its particular theme: standing poses, twists, backbends, forward bends, or hip openers. The standing sequence is fairly standard, but each of the other series is more creative. Twist incorporates reclining, standing, and seated twists. The backbend sequence is dynamic and graceful. The forward bend sequence includes both standing and seated asanas. The hip opener series works repetitively and progressively. Sequences can be strung together for a longer practice, but only manually. The music is pleasant and unobtrusive, mostly wind instruments with some drums. The scenery is typical Gaiam-beautiful.
I don't notice anything especially "A.M." about the sequences--they can each be done at any time. If anything, all but the more fluid backbend sequence could use a warm up, so time permitting, I do a few sun salutations first, or start with backbends when linking multiple sequences. The "full instruction" audio track assumes some knowledge of the asanas, and consists mostly of cues for moving between postures and helpful alignment reminders within each pose. There is also a "minimal instruction" audio track that is nice once the sequence is familiar. Some asanas reappear in a number of sequences, allowing for increased familiarity and progress over time. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Spanish language audio track as well, well translated and cued in a pleasant voice that matched Rodney Yee's own rather nicely.
Overall, this is a decent addition to my yoga library, which I use mostly for quick fixes, lazy days, or as a stretch or cool down after a workout. I am an early intermediate yoga practitioner, but can see this being of use to most levels of practitioners, from slightly advanced beginners (those with basic familiarity of the asanas) on. Here is my best shot at an asana list, not including linking or repeated poses: STANDING SEQUENCE: Mountain, Standing Forward Bend, Down Dog, Lunge, Tree, Triangle, Standing Forward Bend, Side Angle, Warrior 1, Standing Forward Bend, Warrior 2, Wide Angle Standing Forward Bend, Chair, Hero, Relaxation. TWISTS: Reclined Mountain, Reclined Bent Knee Single Leg Twist, Reclined Bent Knee Double Leg Twist, Reclined Single Leg Stretch, Down Dog, Standing Forward Bend, Single Bent Legged Down Dog Twist, Crescent Lunge, Standing Forward Bend, Cobbler's Pose Forward Bend, Seated Wide Angle Forward Bend, Simple Cross-legged Twist, Sage Twist, Half Fish Twist, Cobra, Relaxation. BACKBENDS: Supported Reclined Mountain, Mountain, Sun Salutations, Side Angle Pose, Warrior 1, High Cobra, Bow, Camel, Cobbler's Pose, Bent Knee Twist, Reclined Single Leg Stretch, Relaxation. FORWARD BENDS: Reclined Single Leg Stretch, Happy Baby Pose, Thread the Needle Pose, Rock Up to Sitting, Child Pose, Down Dog, Standing Forward Bend, Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend, Single Leg Down Dog, Simple Cross Legged Forward Bend, Seated Single Leg Forward Bend, Seated Forward Bend, Cobbler's Pose Forward Bend, Seated Wide Angle Forward Bend, Reclined Cobbler's Pose, Relaxation. HIP OPENERS: Cycle Repetitions of Staff, Cobbler's, and Seated Wide Angle Pose, first two also interspersed with Boat, Simple Cross-legged Forward Bend, Hip-Knee Rotations, Cobbler's Pose, Down Dog, Pigeon, Reclined Pigeon, Crescent Lunge, Simple Cross-Legged Forward Bend, Half Fish Twist, Seated Wide Angle Forward Bend, Cobbler's Pose Forward Bend, Hero, Relaxation.