A superb introduction to one of the most beneficial and rewarding forms of yoga
Flow yoga, also called vinyasa yoga, combines flowing movement with rhythmic breathing for a dynamic mind-body workout. Like a moving meditation, flow yoga unites mind, body, and breath. Your mind clears, your body calms, even as your pulse quickens.
Renowned and innovative flow yoga teacher Shiva Rea leads this introductory practice, filmed amid breathtaking scenery on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. She begins with a seated mediation that teaches you how to link breath with movement. Three more segments introduce her flowing approach to classic poses. Transitions from pose to pose are graceful and easy. You may not have Shiva's flexibility (yet), but you can follow her lead in ways that work for you. Feel yourself becoming stronger and more supple. Sense your new energy and find the fluidity that has always been yours.
The title, Flow Yoga for Beginners
, is slightly oxymoronic, as "flow" yoga, at least as practiced by many yogis and yoginis, is by its very nature more aerobic, vigorous, and difficult than the yoga undertaken by most beginning students. But leave it to Shiva Rea, whose growing series of home videos is arguably the best on the market, to reconcile those two disparate factors--for the most part, anyway. Rea defines the flow concept as "the ability to move freely in an unbroken string of awareness"; in more pedestrian terms, its a continuous sequence of poses, one moving freely and naturally to the next, which tends to generate heat and deepen control of the breath. The breath, specifically ujjayi pranayama
, is the centerpiece of Reas introduction to this 70-minute program; her instructions in the use of this basic but hard-to-explain technique are excellent. Thereafter, she spends about 20 minutes on backbends (from simple standing and lunging backbends to poses like cobra, bow, locust, and camel, which can be very challenging for inexperienced students); this segment also includes a few twists. Next, the "Relaxing Flexibility Flow" sequence consists mostly of counterposes such as the "happy baby" and badakonasana
(cobblers pose), while the "Standing Pose Flow," the longest and best of the lot, focuses on poses including and derived from virabadrasana II
(aka warrior II), one of the common standing positions. Its all good, but while Rea provides detailed instruction and simpler variations for many poses, genuine beginners would do well to study the program closely before attempting it; and even then, poses like chaturanga dandasana
(a lowered pushup) are rarely taught in beginners classes, even in their easier versions. As for the lush Hawaiian scenery, well, great, but the practice of hatha yoga ultimately depends on going inside
, even to the point of doing it with eyes closed. Still and all, while its not quite up to the standards of Shiva Reas other videos, Flow Yoga for Beginners
is a winner. --Sam Graham