It's another New Year and the age-old business of resolutions is at hand. One of the most common is to get fit! The thought of a new exercise regime can sound boring and hard to carry out, but yoga is a gentle place to start. It's surprisingly simple and non-competitive, along with being a good strengthener for the body. It's quieting for the mind. Yoga teachers always encourage students to get into position only as far as you can go comfortably, and avoid any pain. If you give your all in a yoga session, in a class, or watching a DVD, the end result often feels like you just had a massage.
"Oak Park Public Library has a good selection of yoga videos!" says Neil DiLauro, frequent library user, yoga enthusiast and author. DiLauro is a fan of yoga teacher Rodney Yee (see below). DVDs can offer different styles and paces of yoga, some more formal than others. Some of our yoga films offer a beautiful, classical approach to yoga, teaching the historical Sanskrit names, as well as English names for poses; and the library has some funkier, trendier films on yoga too. Among them:
Yoga Journal's "Pose Encyclopedia: 360 Degree View of 35 Essential Poses" is good for an initial reference. Jason Crandell, contributing editor for Yoga Journal, narrates while a model gets into yoga poses (or Asanas, the Indian Sanskrit word). A camera rolls smoothly around her, showing just how the body and limbs are placed for the Mountain pose (Tadasana), Triangle (Trikasana), Cobra (Bhujangasana) , Relaxation or Corpse (Savasana), Tree pose (Vrksasana), and so on. You can observe the poses, learn the names both in traditional Sanskrit and English, and then get into the poses at your own pace.
Rodney Yee, one of the most visible and sought after yoga teachers today, teaches a combination of Iyengar Yoga and his own invented style. (Iyengar yoga is widely revered, founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, who still teaches in India today at age 94.) Yee instructs in seven yoga videos found at Oak Park Public Library: "AM and PM Yoga for Beginners," "Strength Building Yoga," "Power Yoga. Flexibility," "Strength Building Yoga," "Yoga Journal's Yoga Practice for Energy," and "Yoga Intermediate." Yee and his family are featured in "Yoga Journal's Family Yoga," a great tool for including children any age beyond three in your yoga practice. The Yees go through very basic poses, at times assisting each other, and they have some laughs during the session. Many of Rodney Yee's lovely videos, like this one, are shot in Maui with the ocean as backdrop.
"Yoga for Beginners" featuring Patricia Walden, who was also taught by B. K. S. Iyengar in India, is a thorough guide to the basic poses, set in the arid desert. Walden stresses how yoga gives one "increased poise, bodies are stronger and more flexible with a deep sense of relaxation. Benefits have been proven over centuries." This film, like many, uses yoga props consisting of a chair, blocks and a rope. If you don't want to invest in the yoga blocks or rope just yet, books and a belt will do. One thing to note about this video: Walden does a couple of backbends, not often found in beginning yoga videos. You may just want to watch the backbends.
Another beginning yoga video is "AM & PM Yoga for Beginners" with Elena Brower, a Certified Anusara yoga teacher. Anusara is a new branch of yoga founded in 1997, also with roots in the Iyengar style. Brower's segment for the morning is more invigorating, and the evening segment more relaxing, all the while with the Pacific Ocean in background. Brower is known for her relaxing voice and is a yogi to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts.
This writer especially enjoyed "Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility" by Element; it's meant for all levels of yoga enthusiasts. The Stress Relief half of it is slower and the Flexibility more of a continual flow in movement. Ashley Turner, a California yoga instructor, is trained in Ashtanga Yoga. She does a great job of going through the motions beautifully and uses her own instructional voice as voiceover. She doesn't give much credence to Indian or Western names for poses, as is often typical of Ashtanga yoga, or Power Yoga. It incorporates more constant movement.
"Total Yoga" is a straightforward, lengthy workout presented by husband and wife team Tracey Rich and Ganga White. They present emphasis on correct, stress relieving breathing, called Ujjayi breathing throughout the video. This is a good Vinyasa flow workout, another form of yoga with a lot of movement.
"Yoga for the Rest of Us" by Peggy Cappy could really be called "Yoga for Those of Us Who Are Really Out of Shape and Have Never Done Yoga Before!" Cappy is an instructor who has been leading the charge for 30 years. She has put out a number of good videos under this title, with moderations including "Yoga for the Rest of Us & More," "Heart Healthy Yoga," "Essentials for Every Body" and "Easy Yoga for Arthritis."
MTV has some more funky, fun musical videos, and Oak Park Public Library has two: "MTV Yoga" and "MTV Power Yoga." Both are led by Kristin McGee of "Sex and the City" fame, in which she played herself as yoga instructor. Both films are trendy, the first in New York City's nightclub Man Ray (now closed) with a disco background, the second outside in the dry Arizona mountains, music by "Blue Six." Both videos include a "position breakdown" segment to study positions better, and both videos have an "instructor only" audio track without music. Enjoy these videos and many more when seeking your favorite style of yoga. Happy New Year and Namaste!
written by Karen Stoner, Library Assistant, Customer Service