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132 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great ashtanga dvd
I've practiced yoga for many years and Ashtanga yoga, specifically, for about two years. I still go to class at a studio once or twice per week, as a DVD cannot substitute for an actual teacher. However, classes are pricey, so I purchased this DVD to motivate myself and friends to do the practice at home. This DVD has been perfect.

The beauty of this DVD is...
Published on July 17, 2008 by RS

versus
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Instruction is great, DVD of poor quality
David Swenson's instruction is clear, the pace is a little bit fast to follow. But the quality of the video is far from satisfactory. The pixel is too large, you can not see clearly the fine features on the screen. To me, it looks like they copy it from a poor VHS to make a DVD. Though I bought it new from Amazon, the first time I follow it, some places are not even...
Published on December 9, 2010 by Sam


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132 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great ashtanga dvd, July 17, 2008
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I've practiced yoga for many years and Ashtanga yoga, specifically, for about two years. I still go to class at a studio once or twice per week, as a DVD cannot substitute for an actual teacher. However, classes are pricey, so I purchased this DVD to motivate myself and friends to do the practice at home. This DVD has been perfect.

The beauty of this DVD is that you don't have to be familiar with the Ashtanga practice to follow it. Prior yoga practice is recommended, however. A friend participated who had never practiced yoga, and he joined in and followed through the entire primary series. However, he thought it was difficult and would have preferred starting out at an easier level. That said though, you can watch the intro which explains the poses before doing the practice itself, which is a separate video on this same DVD.

Also, beginners and advanced Ashtanga practitioners can practice TOGETHER using this DVD since advanced and beginning poses are cued throughout the practice. This is wonderful because my friends and I are all at different levels but can follow the DVD together each week at my house. I LOVE THIS!! Typically, this is not possible in a class; I notice that when new students show up for class, the teacher tones the class way down, leaves out poses, etc. Now the option to do beginning and advanced versions of each pose is available.

One reviewer mentioned that this DVD gets hard at the end. Yes, the primary series is a difficult practice. But, the great thing is that you can do just the sun salutations at the beginning and consider that a full practice as long as you follow it up with corpse pose. So don't be intimated! Just stop the DVD and fast forward to the finishing sequences if you get to the point where the practice is too difficult. This is how Ashtanga is traditionally taught - you begin by adding one or two poses in the sequence at a time until you've memorized it and are able to do it.. then move on. So this DVD lets you do that, too.

In addition, the instructor is very encouraging and doesn't push the student beyond his/her limits. Alternative poses are always offered and he encourages you to sit out the vinyasas if you become tired, etc., not intimidating or making you feel bad at all if you are not in tip top shape or at top performance that day.

I highly recommend this for beginner and advanced ashtanga folks. This has really allowed me to deepen my practice without having to spend a ton of money at the studio.
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Ashtanga, the original Power Yoga, February 23, 2008
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This is a DVD of the Ashtanga Primary Series targeted to those who already do, or are already in the process of studying, the practice. (If you are unfamiliar with Ashtanga don't let the word "primary" fool you: this is a serious and challenging workout).

Ashtanga is a set series of poses (ie the same poses every time). It is an active, moving type of yoga. You get very hot and sweaty as you simultaniously build strength and flexiblity.

Ashtanga is a daily practice and should be learned from a competent teacher. If you are studying Ashtanga and can't make it to class every day this DVD is an excellent way to practice at home to supplement your time in class. But a live teacher is essential to make sure you are doing the practice correctly.

IF YOU ARE A YOGA BEGINNER OR NOVICE THIS DVD IS NOT TARGETED TO YOU (so please don't complain that it is too hard, too fast or lacks explanation). This is NOT meant to be a step-by-step intro to yoga in general or Ashtanga specifically.

It is an excellent DVD for those with Ashtanga experience who want to do a "led primary series". Or for those who are wondering what a full-fledged Ashtanga practice looks like.

But, if you are starting out, this is not a detailed instructional video on how to do each pose. It is a quickly moving, "led primary series" (and if you don't know what that means this DVD is probably not for you...yet anyway).
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's so good it may be discouraging, April 10, 2008
By 
yep (austin, tx) - See all my reviews
Although this is the first series, it's probably not the best video for a beginner. The first half of the video is simple enough, but many poses toward the end of the session seem impossible. If you've done yoga at least a few times and are looking to push yourself, then Swenson is the man to watch. If you get discouraged by watching exceptionally talented people, then you should go to a local yoga studio and not get this video. I like the video because Swenson is amazing and I can see exactly how postures should be done.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Instruction is great, DVD of poor quality, December 9, 2010
By 
Sam (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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David Swenson's instruction is clear, the pace is a little bit fast to follow. But the quality of the video is far from satisfactory. The pixel is too large, you can not see clearly the fine features on the screen. To me, it looks like they copy it from a poor VHS to make a DVD. Though I bought it new from Amazon, the first time I follow it, some places are not even continuous, there are sound breaks. The different sections showing in the main menu are basically continuous, after I chose to jump to a certain chapter, the DVD show doesn't run smoothly.

Overall, I really like David Swenson's instruction. It is like taking a led-class, helping me pace myself. But it is a poorly made DVD.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, January 16, 2012
By 
Dancing Shakti (Guayaquil, Ecuador) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice--First Series With David Swenson (DVD)
This is a great ashtanga dvd. Swenson is a delight to watch and is a great teacher. I love how he keeps his pace throughout the whole practice. Keeps the breath count and the calmness. This, along with Richard Freeman's dvd, are my favorite dvds on the primary series. Where Freeman is (even!) calmer and allows you to slip into the moving meditation that is ashtanga, Swenson is gentler. He is very compassionate. For all the poses he gives variations, while constantly reminding the student to be happy at the stage he/she is -and that with practice all will come.
Before the practice begins there is also a 24 minute introduction given by Swenson. He explains the bandhas, the ujjayi breathing that is to be used during the session, how to execute or modify the jump backs and jump throughs, etc.
The whole practice is about 1hr and 40 minutes long. The primary series is the first of the six series taught in this lineage. It is called 'yoga chikitsa', which apparently means 'yoga therapy'. It is designed to cleanse the body, strengthen it and make it supple. It is the very base to get the body ready for the next practices. In this series the emphasis is in forward bending and twisting -both actions cleanse the inner organs, specially the digestive system, according to the book Yoga Mala, written by the asthanga guru Pattabhi Jois. And it develops the strength of the abs through the jump throughs and jump backs, the occasional handstands and navasana. It also introduces one backbend at the end of the practice: urdva dhanurasana (the second series focus is backbending and inversions).
This video starts with sun salutes (5 of the A series and 5 of the B series) to get the body warm. Then is time for the standing poses like padangushthasana, pada hastasana, triangle, reverse triangle, side angle, reverse side angle, the four prasarita padottanasana, parshvottanasana, utthita hasta padangusttasana variations, ardha baddha padmottasana, utkatasana and warriors.
The seating postures follow (dandasana, paschimottanasana, janu sirsasanas, marichasanas, navasana, bhuja pidasana, kurmasana, supta kurmasana, garbha pindasana, kukkutasana and a bunch of other poses that can be googled if one types 'the primary series of ashtanga') and finally it closes with the finishing poses. Among the finishing poses are shoulder stand variations, fish pose, headstand and lotus variations.
Although once mastered the series is designed to be performed complete every day, at the beginning it is not necessary to do so. As a matter of fact it is recommended -and Swenson stresses this- to build up the practice day by day. Adding on poses as one becomes proficient in the preceding pose. At the beginning one may only go as far as, say, janu sirsasana B. Maybe janu sirsanasa c is yet out of reach. Then it is a good time to practice up to B and skip to the finishing poses. Or the poses may be modified.
Practicing the whole thing requires lots of stamina and strength. It is a very demanding style with constant movement. The good news is that with practice it gets easier and easier. And before one knows it, one has all the poses of the primary series (after 4 years of practicing yoga I am still working on getting those jump throughs and jump backs. And both legs behind the head at the same time... Oh, well, I'll get there, little by little, day by day...)
This dvd may be an excellent choice for someone that is beginning their ashtanga practice, because of the modifications shown and Swenson's compassionate guidance.
I read that some reviewer found these dvds (Freeman, Swenson's) too slow. I love that they are slow. Freeman and Swenson are wonderfully calm and they allow one the time to move consciously from one pose to the next -while concentrating on the drishti, bandhas and breath. But, that is me, and I recognize I am more the meditative type... So, those that want a faster paced practice can find it in John Scott or Kino MacGregor's dvds (she is awesome to watch, so strong!)
This video is great. After practicing one feels centered and at peace. Enjoy
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Ashtanga video, June 3, 2008
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If you have done an Ashtanga class before and are looking to continue your practice at home, this is a great DVD. It is much better that the Gaiam Ahstanga Yoga DVD. David Swenson is a much better instructor and the full Primary Series is on here. David includes options for modification and he also includes a lot of reminders for engaging the core, using proper form, etc. While it cannot replace taking a class with an instructor, I highly recommend this DVD to use at home to supplement your practice, or to use on vacation, etc. I am very pleased with this dvd, worth every penny.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ashtanga yoga with david swenson, March 4, 2009
Having taken a class with David Swenson, I was really looking forward to his DVD and wasn't dissappointed! Although I wouldn't recommend this particular DVD for a beginner, it certainly exemplifies David's style and capabilities as a teacher. I am new to Ashtanga yoga and was able to complete the DVD using some of his modifications for the more challening poses. I also purchased his Short Forms and find that I am practicing more with that DVD, for the moment. I am gradually working up to being able to do the First Series when I have more confidence and time, as it is lengthy. His book is the perfect compliment to all his DVDs and is a great reference. My yoga background is Kripalu yoga which has quite a different approach from Ashtanga, but for me the two really compliment each other. If you enjoy Ashtanga yoga and appreciate David's approach then I would highly recommend you attend one of David's workshops as he is very down to earth and has genuine concern for all his students. Namaste
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite DVDs, July 6, 2010
Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice, First Series by David Swenson is one of my favorite DVDs. I think I actually view it more often than any of the movies / tv series I have purchased!

David leads you through the sequences with detailed explanations and flawless movements. It feels very meditative to follow his instructions and work through the Ashtanga series. And, his practice is so beautiful you almost wonder if he is using wires or computer graphics to move so well. It is a quality DVD that is well worth the investment.

You might want to also think about purchasing his book to go along with the DVD (ASHTANGA YOGA: THE PRACTICE MANUAL ; AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO PERSONAL PRACTICE. The Primary & Intermediate Series plus Three Short Forms). It's certainly not necessary, but there are lots of explanations in it, and because it is spiral-bound, you can use it during your practice.

I have several yoga DVDs, but this one and John Scott's Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series with John Scott DVD are the two that I keep coming back to. The DVDs are probably best used to supplement practice in classes with a trained instructor, but I think even a beginner without any knowledge of yoga could enjoy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD, January 18, 2012
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This review is from: Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice--First Series With David Swenson (DVD)
Im new to yoga and my instructor suggested this as an in home DVD to become more familiar with the moves and flow. I have really enjoyed it! It has several options from 15 minute sessions to a 2 hour session so you can get a quick workout or go through the entire series. I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good starting point or a compliment to class room sessions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, March 12, 2013
By 
snowbird567 (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice--First Series With David Swenson (DVD)
I love this DVD. David's pace is quick but not impossible and his prompts are minimal but adequate and helpful. He offers encouragement and prompts to rest that are great reminders to check in with oneself.

My only complaint is that there aren't vinyasas between all of the seated postures, as I'm used to. I'm not sure if this was just something my shala did or a traditional part of the practice, but I don't feel that my body temperature stays as high--which is unfortunate for a home practice in the cold months. Very good DVD for those working on First Series!
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Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice--First Series With David Swenson
Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice--First Series With David Swenson by Ashtanga Yoga Productions (DVD - 2004)
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