720 of 726 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2004
This is a lovely yoga video in so many ways. I, like most reviewers, cannot rave enough about the "yoga matrix", the feature of this DVD that allows you to choose which poses you want to do. Wonderful, wonderful feature. I went through each of the four pre-set workouts first though to get familiar with the poses, and that was an interesting experience because the two "solar flows" contain much harder poses than the other two.
There really is great variety in the level of difficulty on this tape- some of the poses I just couldn't do, and some I had to do at the first level. That was a bit humbling (and reminded me that working with where you are is important in yoga!) It's nice now that I've moved on to using the custom practice feature that I can add in a new difficult one each time to work on.
I recommend having 1-2 blocks and a strap handy before getting started with this DVD. Some of the poses use them regardless of your skill level. A blanket to roll up is also a good friend on occasion.
The music and the scenery were lovely, but here are my (relatively minor) gripes:
1. Sometimes Shiva moves too quickly and it's hard to follow her when learning the poses. Some of these poses were new to me and I was lost trying to follow the instructions. This DVD seems to assume familiarity with all poses in advance- in fact there are some it advises against doing unless you've learned them with an instructor. I admit to cheating on that front.
2. The poses are almost always called by their Sanskrit name. This is fairly useful and educational, except for the fact that when doing a home routine it's easier to not have to look at the TV in the middle of a pose, and some users may not be able to consistently match names with poses. Just a head's up if you're in that camp!
3. The poses are not organized in the booklet in the same order that they are in the matrix, so if you need to look one up it can be confusing.
3a. Also, it''d be nice when adding segments to your custom routine if the DVD would tell you how long each of the segments is instead of just the name. Sometimes I only have an hour for yoga and want to make sure I haven't just chosen a sequence that will take ninety minutes.
4. Sometimes the camera doesn't pan quickly enough to the part of the body you need to see in order to assume a pose. As a result, I think a beginner would need to be careful about what poses s/he attempted, and to read the book carefully or stick to the first basic workout or the lunar flow for a while.
I'd say to get the most out of this a practitioner probably would want to be advanced beginner/intermediate level at a minimum, and able to keep some perspective on not being able to manage all of the intense bends Shiva does. This is a DVD that will grow with you as you progress in your yoga practice.
p.s I was so glad to find that this contained different breathing exercises as well as a wonderful, calming forward bend sequence. Yay!
461 of 471 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2004
I officially renounce all my previous five star ratings. This DVD brings my expectations to a whole new level.
First off, it has 4 workouts that are completely unique from each other (two that are about 40 mins, and two that are 90). Thats quite a bit to begin with.
But the DVD does not stop there. The "customize the routine" matrix has each of the possible elements from routines (for example "standing poses") down the left side of the screen. Then it has each of the four routines across the top of the screen, with the pose sequence that fulfills the element below (there are 10 to 15 per routine). Thus, you can choose the sequences that you like from each routine, skipping elements you don't like, mixing and matching, etc. The only restriction, which is a good one, is that the poses still have to be performed in the correct order. I love this feature! You can create a different routine everyday to suit your mood.
There are definitely poses I have never seen before (as you can imagine having to fill up so much time). You can make the routine as challenging or easy as you want (well, maybe not super easy). Most of the stuff is beginning-intermediate to intermediate-intermediate, but there is also some beginning and intermediate-advanced stuff.
I just can't get over having a completely customizable routine. Anyway...
The whole thing is filmed on an island off the coast of India. The beach she is on has the surreal quality of having the tide come in from both sides. It's beautiful, when you do get a chance to look at the screen.
Her teaching is serene, and not overdone. She doe NOT make annoying comments that are supposed to be inspirational. She DOES say things that are helpful either to physically do the pose or to think about the purpose of the pose. These comments are NOT excessive or chatty.
Not only are there many poses that I have never seen before (and I have a large collection of yoga DVDs), she also does the poses in a more dynamic way than is traditional. Don't get turned off by it not being totally traditional: it is not overdone or too quick, just a bit less stiff and more flowing (and pretty challenging).
Another thing I like, as a side note, are her reminders of when and how to breath. (Some videos seem to skip these to chat about silly things...)
In summary: BEST YOGA DVD EVER! Worth at least $45, but costs much less. If you don't buy it, you are missing out on a one-of-a-kind DVD experience.
185 of 195 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2006
I was very sad to read that another reviewer had injured themselves while using this DVD. I know that this was certainly not Shiva Rea's intention when making this DVD, nor is it a part of the Path of Yoga, I'm not talking about just the workout or excercise part but the entire way of life while following this path, of which the very first teaching is "Ahimsa" or non-violence, not only to others but to ourselves and our own bodies.
That being said, as a yoga teacher, I must recomnmend that unless you have been doing yoga for many years, or you are just very fit and flexible, DO Not do the Standing pose 2/Solar Flow 2 part of this DVD, there are quite a few poses on here that can injure the knees, the back and the shoulders if attempted by someone with any physical issues or someone who does not have at least a intermediate/advanced level in Yoga. Also, this section requires alot of upper body strength and balance that really only an intermediate/advanced to advanced practitioner should attempt. Many reviewers have written that they are working up slowly in this practice, that is a very wise thing to do. Unfortunately human nature causes many people to push them selves to do more than their bodies are ready for.
Shiva Rea is an International Yoga star, even though she is nearing the age of 40, she has been doing Yoga and little else for at least 20 years! The rest of us have a 9-5 job and we cannot do as much yoga as she can, therefore we shouldn't try! Also she naturally has very open hips and shoulders and a flexible back, this is great for her but most of the rest of us don't have this natural athleticism and should not feel badly because we do not. This is truly the lesson that the path of yoga teaches us ~ to honor our bodies in the state we are in and mindfully move forward from there.
Having also said that, I agree with the rest of the reviewers, the music, the scenery and the Matrix are phenomenal, I think all practitioners will love these features. The Basic flow is appropriate for beginners, so is the Lunar Flow, however, there are a couple of poses in the Forward Bend section of Lunar Flow that would be inappropriate for beginners, but Shiva does offer modifications.
Alot of features for under $20.00 makes this a good deal for a workout DVD, Shiva's voice and mannerisms are very soothing, real and not condescending. I highly recommend this DVD with the only precaution that beginners should move forward in this with extreme caution and mindfulness.
85 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
I have been using Shiva Rea's audio-only cd's for some time and I absolutely LOVE them, so I was really looking forward to the dvd. The cd's are divided into sequences so that one can devise one's own routine by selecting some of the tracks, or it can be followed it all the way through, for a pre-fab session. I think Shiva Rea was the first to do this type of recording, and it is truly wonderful. The matrix on this dvd is a natural extension of this, and I do like that aspect of things very much.
Another plus is the wide variety of mini-sequences that appear in the matrix, so it is easy to fine tune your session each time and keep it from getting stale. The problem, as other reviewers have noted, is that there are so many mini-sequences to choose from, it can be very hard to formulate a session without doing alot of previewing. It is a mixed bag.
Now for the reasons I am disappointed: first and formost, the verbal descriptions of the poses on the dvd are really lacking. I am rather shocked by this as Ms. Rea is SO detailed and thorough in her descriptions of what you should be doing on the cd's! I know that we can theoretically check the visuals on the screen with the dvd, but in many poses, it is somewhat dangerous if not impossible to get a glimpse without leaving the pose, looking at the tv, and starting over. I think dvd's are highly overrated for yoga, for this very reason. I was really disappointed with this aspect of things.
My other beef is with the quality of the dvd itself. This may sound shallow, but the camera work is THE WORST I have seen. The camera shakes, the view adjusts clumsily to get the subject centered, etc. Really amateur work. Sound quality is ok. It is frustrating as Shiva Rea is not a newbie instructor on the scene here - she should (I hope) have the resources to back a reasonably polished production. I am not talking high swank like a gaiam production, but at least competant.
In general, this is definitely not for beginners due to lack of verbal instruction and confusion over which sequences to choose from the matrix. Experienced users will find more to enjoy with the promise of adding more variety and customization to each session, and less need to look at the tv with the bad camera work and all.
I myself will probably stick to Shiva Rea's excellent cd's
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Yoga Shakti is a beautifully filmed, extremely well put-together yoga DVD with virtually unlimited options. As she did with her yoga CD, Yoga Sanctuary, instructor Shiva Rea has broken down the practice into a series of segments of varying lengths. These segments form the "Yoga Matrix," a mix-and-match option which allows you to complete customize your yoga practice. But that's not all: if you prefer a pre-designed practice, Shiva has done that for you as well, offering four unique practices to choose from.
Here is a summary of the selections available: 4 opening meditations (these generally combine breathing with flowing, almost dance-y movements); 5 sun/moon salutation series (although once of these, Rhythmic Vinyasa 2, is only available via the pre-programmed practices and is not on the matrix); 4 dancing warrior series (3 to 6 minutes in length); 2 transitional series (breathing and core work); 3 standing pose flows (moving from basic to much more challenging postures such as arm balances); 3 backbend prep series; 1 handstand and 3 backbend flow series; 2 counter pose sequences; 3 closing series (including 1 on inversions); and finally, shavasana or final relaxation. If you add that all up, you will see that you have a choice of THIRTY different segments to choose from, which allows you to customize both the posture focus and the length of your practice (the segments vary anywhere from about 2.5 minutes to almost 25 minutes for the longest standing series). In the very helpful booklet that accompanies the DVD set, Shiva talks in detail about how to use the Yoga Matrix to best suit your needs.
As I mentioned above, Shiva has also included four complete practices pre-designed from the matrix offerings. The first is a 36 minute "Basic Flow" which leads you through simple sun salutations, basic standing poses, and easy backbends/counterposes. There are also two "Solar Flow" practices, each over an hour in length (86 minutes and 92 minutes). Both include the more challenging standing and backbend sequences, with the shorter adding core/handstand and the longer adding inversions. The final pre-programmed sequence is a 1-hour "Lunar Flow," a gentle, flowing practice which could also be considered a more basic or beginning level.
I would not recommend this DVD for those completely new to yoga; although Shiva is an excellent instructor, she seems to assume some prior familiarly with yoga, as she does not always go into detail about form. Furthermore, she often moves quickly, especially in the standing flow sequences, and it can be difficult to see the television as you are trying to follow along, especially if you are inexperienced. In fact, I consider myself to be at about an intermediate level, and I found that Shiva sometimes moved too fast for my liking. I much preferred her more gentle flows; some of my favorite segments of the DVD were the Prana yoga (one of the opening meditations), the first two backbend flows, the counter poses, and the inversions. I also enjoyed the final pranayama (breathing) and meditation, both of which I found very relaxing.
In addition to all of the above, there is a second DVD in this set which contains interviews with various yogis and similar footage, certainly a worthwhile bonus. And it must be said that the scenery in this DVD is absolutely gorgeous: most of the segments are filmed on beautiful beaches in the Maldives, sometimes in daytime, sometimes at dusk. I would not hesitate to recommend this DVD set to anyone who is at least at the experienced beginner level, who enjoys fast-paced, flowing vinyasa sequences, and who thrives on variety in their yoga practice.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2005
This is an awesome DVD if you are into flowing ashtanga/power yoga type workouts. The flow is fast, but not as fast as ashtanga, but there are pauses between workout segments (may help you catch your breath/regain your composure). This DVD is broken down into four workouts. The first is the basic workout last for about 45 minutes, it is good for an experienced beginner (1+ year of experience), the second and third are closer to 90 minutes each and have alot of intermediate to advanced arm balances in them (e.g. crow pose, forearm balance, handstands, arm pressure pose, and many others). The first 90 minute series is geared towards hip and should opening, while second is geared towards back bending. Both are very challenging, but Shiva does a nice job of demonstrating modifications/stages for difficult poses. There is also a lunar flow which has more restorative poses (about 75 minutes long) and is great when you don't feel up to either of the 90 minute flows, but want something more challenging than the basic flow. You also can create your own workout. The DVD includes 30 different vinyasa flow workouts and you can arrange into your own workout to last from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours.
This DVD compares well in terms of level of difficulty and amount of sweat as it relates to ashtanga. Shiva Rea has an ashtanga background and it shows, when she performs jump throughs and jump backs (for you ashtanga folks out there, her jumps are very floaty), as well as her ability to perform a lot of the poses I've seen in the various ashtanga series. Almost anyone (barring with either more than 5 years of experience or a flat out contortionist) would find doing either of the 90 minute segments with the full versions of advanced poses difficult. Before practicing with this DVD, please watch it first. You need to be able to anticipate a little bit what comes next, because some of the poses are advanced, and you don't want to miss the modification or break the flow. With that said, this is an excellent DVD. A person could use this DVD for a long while by rotating these workouts to work on different things on different days, and that's before you start creating your own workouts. If you are looking to go to take your yoga practice to the intermediate or advanced level, then this is the DVD to buy. This is the first DVD I have purchased by Shiva Rea, but it won't be the last.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2004
A wonderfully realized yoga DVD in which an ancient creative art form meets beautifully with modern technology.
Feature-film-quality photography and a chilled out music track allow you to escape with the delightful Shiva Rea to the Maldives and to Kerala, India -- as well as into your practice. A great motivating tool for anyone with a home practice organized around their furniture!
Very clearly recorded and narrated, this DVD offers four different practices and/or the option of mixing elements from each depending on your practice level or mood and what you feel like emphasizing. Cleverly, the "yoga matrix" menu is carefully designed so that you sequence your practice safely and intelligently. You can isolate individual postures/sequences, but if you create a sequence using more than one section you can't place your "dessert" before your "appetizer", as it were!
A great tool for vinyasa yoga teachers looking for choreographic inspiration, too, with plenty of mellow stuff to offer beginners aspiring to work within yoga's more fluid form. Nice to see the often neglected abs (uddiyana region, i.e. core) given a special whirl, as well.
Disc Two has more of a "magazine" format, containing some brief yogi interviews, bios of people behind the scenes involved with the DVD, travel footage -- and even a couple of promos (dare I say ads?) for yoga facilities/facilitators which I couldn't seem to fast forward through. But hardly obnoxious, and you can always *choose* what to start up!
Very user-friendly and highly recommended.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2005
This video is not just a workout or two that you will pop into your DVD player now and again. Instead, it is a DVD that allows your practice to grow and evolve, and could easily be the only yoga DVD you own. It offers several options for each part of a practice session, so you can modify your session to your level, time constraints, and interest. The "Yoga Matrix" is not a gimic, but a terrific tool that makes this DVD much more valuable than most.
I also find the tone of this DVD to be perfect, striking a balance between the extremely spiritual and the strictly athletic. Poses are presented with their sanskrit names, and there is a sense that yoga is more than a physical workout. On the other hand, the spiritual side won't overwhelm or intimidate. It offers a gentle suggestion that there might be more to yoga than excellent abs, without feeling pushy or "out there".
Shiva Rea is someone who taught and wrote on yoga long before it became fashionable. She is one of the big names in yoga without having that Yoga Star air that I've found annoying on some other DVDs. She knows her stuff, presents it gently and accurately, and seems to have made it a priority to create a DVD useful to people who want to develop a strong yoga practice.
Truly, if you buy one DVD, this is the one. It will keep you busy and interested for months.
An addendum, after several more uses: Every time I use this DVD, I want to add a couple stars to my review. I even want to buy it again because it's so good, at the same time that I resent the other yoga DVDs I bought in my last binge, because this is the only one I'll need for some time. I tried the longer, harder sessions, and found the whole session was a bit beyond my abilities (now). So I program my workout to include one or two element from the harder sessions, so I can work my way up. This is just fabulous, and several stars over any other video on this site.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2004
Anyone who thinks yoga is for wussies should try doing one of the "solar flow" routines on this dvd. It will make you sweat! What's cool about this dvd is that you get 4 different preset guided routines to choose from. The "basic"-30min., the "solar flows 1 & 2" -90 min. Ea. , both of which will kick your butt, and the "lunar flow"-45 min. -a gentle yoga routine (that's what I do). There is some pranayama ("breath control") to go along with these practices. In the solar flow routines there is "breath of fire" , and in the lunar flow routine there is "equal nostril breathing". Enjoy.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2004
I own so many yoga videos and DVD's. I usually do them once or twice and then I stop because I don't feel like doing a 90 minute class. This DVD is almost perfect. There is a yoga matrix where you can pick segments that you want to do. I especially love the Prana Yoga segment which is almost like a "yoga dance" class. The rhythmic vinyasas are great also! I did however notice that there is a problem on the matrix in accessing rhythmic vinyasa 2. The matrix does not list them separtely (1 & 2) and when you select the vinyasa, you only get rhythmic vinyasa 1. To get to "2" you need to go to Lunar Flow 2 and 'next' thru the segments to get to it. I am not sure whether I just happened to get a faulty DVD or if this is a flaw of the early release DVD's which will be fixed in later issues. Anyway, it's not a real biggy. The DVD also has some great arm balances that you never see on yoga video tapes. The great thing is that she does them in stages so that you can work up to it. The abs section is great and you can see that she was influenced by Ana Forrest. There are also breathing (alternate nostril, kabalabati and ha kriya)and meditation sections. Shiva did a great job at giving the home practitioner a complete menu of yoga appetizers to choose from. My only complaint is the programming error on the matrix and that not all of the segments are on the matrix. But I can live with this and I expect to use this DVD for a long time.