I’ve been curious about this 2-disc package produced by Yoga Journal, and was happy to receive a complementary copy of it for review. The concept is appealing: 3 beginner’s practices on one disc and 360º views of 35 basic poses on the other. The presentation of the body in space in basic poses, all the way around, in conjunction with practices instructing the poses in general sequences is a great idea.
The practices disc includes a long (60 min.) practice and 2 shorter, targeted sequences (energizing and relaxing) featuring Jason Crandall (familiar from previous Yoga Journal DVDs and web-vids) performing the poses by himself, with voice over. The long practice is a general presentation touching on all the elements presented in standard basic classes: sun salutations, standing poses, twists, backbends, forward bends. The baddha konasana/navasana sequence is especially nice. Jason’s instruction is quite good and the poses are held long enough to give the student an opportunity for exploration and muscle differentiation. (Nice change of pace from the many cursory, flingey vinyasa releases I see these days.)
The shorter practices are fine, very brief by necessity, but not rushed. And, although I don’t love them, it’s nice to see that they aren’t simply repeated footage from the longer session. And I like the clear labeling of the poses in Sanskrit and English throughout.
Although I very much like the classes Jason has presented for yogaglo.com I haven’t been that taken with his DVDs. This one is a pleasant surprise for me. I like the depth of instruction and attention to practice detail.
This DVD is appropriate for multi-level students. I’ve been practicing for over 15 years and I found enough to work with in the material. Admittedly I particularly enjoy revisiting more basic practices now and then, finding it easy enough to complicate things when appropriate. I think some previous yoga experience would be helpful – this one is maybe not appropriate for a beginner’s first look at yoga. There are some very helpful cues throughout to keep the student in touch with proprioception (more or less, the sense of parts of the body in relation to each other), which helps the practice disc function as a nice partner for the poses-in-the-round. And practice progressions are shown as the student becomes more proficcient, for example working on chaturanga from the knees toward full chaturanga.
Production Values: The photography is good: clean and crisp. However I’m not fond of the practice disc setting (I’ve seen this set or one like it on other Yoga Journal offerings) or music. We are presented with a diagonal view of what looks like the furniture display of a department store, without the furniture: distracting dark blue decorator wall with white window frame looking onto fake scenery. The over-all effect is more like being cornered than looking at a corner. The music is also not particularly pleasant: an attempt at Bryan Eno without Eno (doesn’t work for me). However those factors are really minor if you’re paying attention to your practice.
The background for the 360º is a pleasant void.
There is chaptering – not between poses, but between short sections. The 35 Poses are separately chaptered.
In short, I’d recommend this package to somewhat experienced beginners and more seasoned students who are revisiting their fundamental sense of practice. In the best of all possible worlds these two discs would function as one unite like Natasha Rizopoulus’s Yoga Journal Step by Step series (which Jason appears in as demonstrator) with its “chalk talk”. But the quantity of material and the capability of packaging the discs separately obviously made that approach unwieldy.