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This DVD focuses on issues of the upper body, specifically the upper back, neck, and shoulders (the other DVD in this series focuses on the lower body). It differs from other yoga DVDs in that it contains a strong educational component in addition to the practice element. Also, the practices on the DVD are designed for rehabilitation and strengthening, and thus they are more similar in feel to a physical therapy session than to a yoga class.

The main menu of this DVD consists of four separate segments: 1) Understanding Back Pain, 2) Technique Workshop, 3) Therapeutic Practices, and 4) Special Features. The Technique Workshop provides the opportunity to study individual postures in greater depth. The Viniyoga Therapeutic Practices offer three complete practice segments tailored to meet different needs as described below. (Note: the DVD also provides bonus MP3 audio versions of each practice.)

1. Upper Back and Neck Therapy (22 minutes). This is the most gentle of the three practices, and it is designed to address misalignment or instability by strengthening and mobilizing the upper back and neck. In consists mainly of movements which serve to lengthen the upper spine.
2. Neck and Shoulder Therapy (32 minutes). This practice is more specifically geared to releasing pain or restricted movement in the neck and shoulders via stretching, aligning, and balancing work. Many of the postures here involve moving one arm as you twist your neck to the opposite side.
3. Strength and Stability (41 minutes). This longer practice is intend to build sustained, long-term health in the upper back, neck, and shoulders. It is a bit more intense than the previous two, containing many of the same posture sequences but adding some stronger work as well.

The practices feature a single student working on a mat against a rather sparse white set, with Gary providing instruction via voiceover. Most people are likely to find the practices rather dry--Gary's voice is a big monotone and repetitive, and there's little "fun factor" here. However, these are therapeutic in nature, and as such, they are quite effective. I found the twisting motions from the Neck and Shoulder Therapy practice in particular to be extremely beneficial for my nagging neck soreness and frequently tight upper back and shoulders. This DVD would be useful for virtually anyone who is at risk for upper back issues, from those who work at a desk daily to those with more chronic conditions. I definitely recommend Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck, and Shoulders as an excellent tool for alleviating pain and promoting health in the upper back, neck, and shoulders.
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on June 26, 2008
This is an excellent DVD, a book could never match the step by step instructions. As you are doing the yoga exercises Gary describes the different areas you should be focusing on stretching and does an excellent job of it. It contains very slow and stress free moves. The DVD contains a segment on Understanding Back Pain, an instructional Technique workshop to learn the practices, there are 2 different Practices for the initial stages and a longer Strengthening & Stability practice to use when you are feel better and improve. You don't have to be Gumby to do these poses. There is no need to try and stretch further than your ability, your flexibility increases over time. I suffer from chronic upper back and neck pain from car accident many years ago. It is especially bad between my shoulder blades, traveling up through my neck. It is tissue damage, I have nothing wrong with any bones. I've tried it all Chiropractor, Acupuncture, and went to the gym for a while. I found that the best thing you can do for an injury with chronic pain is to continually stretch and slowly work on re-strengthening the muscles. I went online searching for a Yoga Video as a last resort. I get so much relief from many of these poses, I even have my favorites from the video that I do any time I feel like it. I live with pain every day of my life and can say that this video has helped me out a lot. It is an excellent way to unwind after a long day of sitting in front of a computer at work.
I don't usually write reviews, but I had to on this one.. I definitely would recommend this DVD for someone who is looking for therapeutic viniyoga therapy. The specific poses/stretches target the upper back, shoulders, and neck. I think it is even good for everyday stress relief, which can cause tension in the shoulders and neck.

I commend Gary Kraftsow for making this DVD. I am so glad I found it! I have even been considering becoming a Yoga instructor to help people with chronic pain like me.
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on December 6, 2007
I bought this and the "Lower Back" DVD because I spend way too many hours at the computer, and I was having back pain and foot pain from a pinched nerve. The DVDs are great. I love the anatomy overview, and the way you can progress at your own pace. I lent my copy of this upper back video to my chiropractor, and he thought it was fantastic and said he plans to buy both lower and upper back to show his other patients.
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on September 23, 2008
I have struggled with neck and shoulder pain for years due to daily computer work. This video is more helpful than any physical therapy, chiropratic session and massage therapy I have tried. My back feels relaxed and rejuvenated every time I do it and the reduction in discomfort lasts far longer than any other treatment.
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on May 4, 2008
I rarely write reviews, but had to for this video. I am an artist and have a hard time with stiff muscles from spending hours painting. I noticed an improvement in my back and shoulders after using this video one time. A must to help strengthen the back. Easy to do and in about 20 minutes. I get more relief from this video than with pain relievers.

Just had to share!
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on February 23, 2012
This will be a long review, but the short version is--this DVD is darn near magic. Buy it. Really. Now here's why I recommend it, and have recommended it a dozen times plus bought it and the lower back version for my father.

I have scoliosis with a curvature in two planes and no curve in my neck, which makes for chronic, daily back pain. One of my doctors told me once he never expected me to be pain free with all the twists and turns I've got. Now, don't get me wrong. Scoliosis can't kill you, and it's not nearly as serious as what a lot of my friends are dealing with. But it can just make your life painful and inconvenient, so it's worth working to improve it. About two years ago I started seeing a chronic pain doctor who gave me pain killers and recommended steroid/painkiller shots in my back (facette injections). I've been thinking about the shots, but it makes me uncomfortable (they do them under x-ray to make sure they don't hit an important nerve--eek!), and while the pills work well, I don't want to be on narcotics the rest of my life, and it's a life of slowly increasing doses, plus the very real risk of addition. Not something to screw around with.

About four months ago, with too much time at the desk, it got to the point where I would either have to get the shots or increase my pain medication, and I didn't want to do either. I had been given exercises from a physical therapist, but they were terrible hand-drawn handouts on a sheet of paper, and I was too lazy to do them. So I thought a DVD might help, someone to follow along with, nice music. My goal was to just not have to get the shots or increase the meds.

So, I went looking for a DVD and came across this one. The reviews were amazing, almost unbelievable. I thought the DVD couldn't possibly work that well for everyone. However, I figured even if it helps a little, that's all I need. The DVD arrived and I did the 22-minute practice (there are three--the first two are to get you out of pain, the third is to strengthen your back so you don't go back there).

I felt a little better *immediately.* Better pain relief than with any chiropractic or physical therapy appointment. Only thing it didn't outperform was hydrocodone, and well, that makes sense. I then did it three times a day for two days and noticed an immediate, amazing difference. I no longer had to increase my pain meds, and I even started reducing what I took. After two days. I slacked off a bit, and I still felt better, so it wasn't just a have-to-do-it for the effect--it must actually help healing. Now, I'm trying to get on a regular, non-lazy routine with it and then reduce my medication. I might be able to get off it entirely. The pain is under the pain level, so now I get to figure out where it is. As you may have noticed, this way, way outdid my goal of just not having to take a more aggressive treatment step.

There are also other things I love about the DVD. Gary Kraftsow's voice is very calming and relaxing. The person demonstrating the DVD isn't a size 0 22-year old woman who can put her leg next to her ear. It's a middle-aged guy (not Gary), on a white screen and a yoga mat, and he's a little chubby, a little balding, and not terribly flexible. In other words, a normal person. I found him very likable, and that's not something I ever thought about before. It's relaxing enough to do right before bed, in the morning, etc. I love it. You can even download MP3s from the DVD so you can do the practice via a player/phone if the visuals are inconvenient.

My dad had complained about back pain, so after I felt better after one workout, I sent him the DVD plus the one for lower back. I've seen some folks complain that the two DVDs aren't different enough, but what did they expect? Upper back and lower back are inches away from each other, so they probably have similar exercises. I thought it was nice that the two DVDs were available, because so many folks have trouble primarily with one or the other. I felt good about getting the upper back because that's exactly my problem. Anyway.

Here's another thing I noticed. I woke up one morning very stiff and did the DVD. The DVD did not make me feel better immediately--I was stiff in a slightly different way, but by the end of the day it had gotten better, and I know I was better faster than if I hadn't done the DVD. I mention this in case someone does the DVD, doesn't feel immediately better, and gets frustrated. It might just be one of those days when the body needs more than twenty minutes to get things going in the right way. Don't get discouraged.

I had just hoped for feeling a little better, not magic on a DVD. I give it my highest recommendation. Here's another way to think about it: my co-pay on my pills is $10. The DVD is $17. You can't even go to one chiropractic or physical therapist's appointment for $17 on most health plans. Even if it helps a little, it's worth it. And you can return it if it doesn't work--so no excuses! Get it! Sending you good wishes for good health (of course, wishes aren't enough. Action is sort of required.) ~WT Rose
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VINE VOICEon July 26, 2008
I bought this DVD and its companion for the lower back shortly after having a debilitating back spasm that put me out of commission for several weeks. I went to physiotherapy, and although it did help, I find the exercises excruciatingly boring, which of course means I don't do them as often as I should.

So, what was the result? These DVDs are quite simply a godsend. (I'm only writing a review of this one now because I haven't yet used all three segments of the lower back DVD.) Kraftsow says in his introduction that doing the yoga exercises should be like brushing your teeth, and I find that the program is designed to make it just as easy to keep the stretching going as brushing teeth would be! Knowing that I have a choice between segments of different lengths, and that I can do just 20 minutes in the morning (before I get too hungry!) and still be doing something for my back, makes it so much more realistic to keep up a yoga program.

That, and the fact that the exercises work. I am sometimes so tense that the neck & shoulders movements don't relax me completely, but they do help, and I generally feel the difference the following morning: they can be better described as preventing future, worse pain than easing current pain. I might add that several of the exercises are similar to what I learned in physiotherapy, which gave me some confidence in the system.

I spent more on these DVDs than I usually do on exercise videos, but I also use them several times a week, much more than I use anything else. They offer variety in type of exercise and duration of program, and they're set up so that I can do a light program when I'm suffering from pain and a harder one when I want to build strength. I've also noticed a difference in my core abdominal strength from using the two videos. Finally, I should add that the DVDs also include mp3 files of the practices, in case you just want to work out with the sound and don't need the video any more.
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on June 24, 2008
This is an effective program for eradicating back pain. After one twenty minute session I was able to sleep through the night without being awakened by the back pain that has plagued me for months.

While this DVD does not have the fantastic music and interesting back drops as some of my favorite yoga DVDs it, along with Viniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and Hips, has exactly what I need: a comprehensive back pain relieving program. And, really, that matters more than anything else!

I was pleased to see easily accessible technique instructions for each pose. I didn't find it necessary for most poses, but was very thankful to have it for the few poses I felt I wasn't doing 100% correctly. At the end of the technique instructions I was taken back to where I'd left off in the program. It would be fantastic if more yoga DVDs had this feature!

The DVD comes with an MP3 for each of the three practices on the DVD with the verbal instructions for each pose, making it simple to do the yoga practices when you're away from a DVD player.
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on February 20, 2009
I recently purchased the Viniyoga Therapy DVDs for upper and lower back by Gary Kraftsow because I have suffered with severe back and arthritis pain for years. I have read books by Gary and I know that he is very well respected in his field. I felt confident that these DVDs would be excellent because of that and they did not disappoint. The instruction and the information in the DVDs is excellent and easy to follow. After trying many other instructional DVDs, these by Gary Kraftsow are by far the best DVDs for back and shoulder pain that I have found. My back and shoulders felt better after the first time I used these. As both a student and teacher of yoga,I am truly impressed
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on August 8, 2008
I am a former client and student of Gary's. His methodology and sequencing is timeless, effective, and motivational. Originally, I studied with Gary for low back. When faced with Neck Rehab for multiple neck problems related to aging, I remembered Gary had done this DVD. I chose to fore go Neck Rehab and resume Viniyoga .This DVD is the best investment in myself I could have made. I have progressed further in 1 week of doing the sequences Gary presents than I did in several weeks of PT prior to a cervical epidural. The integrity of Viniyoga shines brightly in this well-done DVD. Mahalo to Gary and the production staff.
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