In Search of a Great Yoga DVD

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor and was surprised to learn that I’ve gained over 10 lbs in the past year.  I would have expected that switching to a mostly vegetarian diet would have had an opposite effect, but I was wrong.  I guess it is true that after marriage the weight gain begins.  Or maybe it was all the white rice?  Satya heard someplace that we are supposed to eat what our grandparents ate.  White rice was definitely not on their plates.  So now, I’ve decided to become more physically active and to pay more attention to what I eat.  My current plan involves yoga and walking.  In college I took a semester long yoga class that I loved.  It gave me a great workout that I could also do on my own in my dorm room and that was easy on my knees and shins, unlike running.  With that in mind, last week I tried two yoga dvds.  They are very different, but both give a good workout. 


The first is Ease into Ashtanga.  Ashtanga yoga is very vigorous and is where Power Yoga came from.  I took a few classes at a yoga studio and one of its greatest positives and drawbacks is that it is always the same routine.  I liked that the dvd was divided into segments.  If you want to just do the routine, you can.  If you’d like the postures explained, they are.  The scenery is beautiful-Hawai’i with all the beaches and flowers you associate with Hawai’i.  They also explain basic modifications for beginners like me.  My quibbles are that I don’t think they hold the “down dog” position very long and that the insert says that one of the producer’s goals was to show a variety of different body types.  There is a large group of people doing the flow routine together, but I didn’t think they had a very wide range of bodytypes.  I think this dvd does a great job and I will continue to use it.



The second DVD is Yoga Weight Loss Workout for Dummies.  While this will get you sweating and keep your heat rate up, it is not “for dummies”.  She does not fully explain some of the poses.  For example, you must either know what “chair pose” is or pick it up from watching her.  Some poses I don’t think really exist-I’d never heard of “five point star” before.  The instructor is also fond of “pulses”.  In chair pose for example, you are supposed to raise your arms above your head and then “pulse” them forward and backward.  I liked that she included some balance poses-those have always been among my favorites.  She does not include another of my favorites, shavasana or corpse pose.  Don’t buy this one if you want yoga, but if you want a workout it is perfectly fine.  Overall, it is an enjoyable workout that will burn calories. 


A few years ago I bought a Shiva Rea yoga dvd so I’ll be trying that one next.  Also, Satya’s sister found a good one so I will have to ask her about it one of these days.  Yoga dvds are easy to find in Indian video stores and in the temple shop.  I’m eager to try some of those as well to see the similarities and differences. 


It is funny that some schools objected to yoga being taught in schools on religious grounds.  Both yoga dvds did not have anything religious in them-in fact that is one of Satya’s critiques of them-that they have taken all the spirituality out of them and turned yoga into a workout, nothing more.  He says of the dvds, “I miss the om.”  He also thinks that yoga should not include background music, but I don’t see Americans being very comfortable with that.  Myself, I don’t mind the background music.  The only sounds he thinks are appropriate are breathing, movement, and chanting. 


One thing that surprised me a little about his family is that they actually do yoga.  I thought that it was only a stereotype and not part of modern Indian life.  His dad has been doing it all his life.  Satya and his two cousins went to “yoga camp” for a few summers when they were teenagers and his sister and her husband still do it.  Satya’s mother gives him suggestions about which leaders she likes and which she thinks would be worthwhile for him to find on dvd.  They do place a lot of emphasis on breathing and on yoga to bring peace of mind and balance. 


Does anybody have any suggestions of yoga dvds?  Do you prefer the American style of yoga or the Indian style?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 20:42:17

    I got an email from the people over at Acacia (who sponsored the Bollywood Workout DVD giveaway on my blog) and Hemalayaa is coming out with a new release soon – this one is yoga. Acacia’s website is: I think they also have some other yoga stuff, as well…

    I agree with you that yoga has been American-ized – we were just having that conversation with friends last night. Still not quite sure if it is good, bad or just different…

    I don’t think it is bad. It probably isn’t ideal, but few things are. I’m glad yoga in the U.S. offers at least a good workout and motivates some people to be more active. Also, maybe these more commercialized versions will grab the interest of some and motivate them to dig deeper into the Indian-style of yoga.


  2. Andrea
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 15:07:52

    If you find a good DVD let me know! I brought my mat over here to France with me because I loved doing yoga so much back home… but it’s hard without something to lead me. I found one cheap DVD at borders, but it was awful so I didn’t bring it with me.

    Personally, I like the “americanized” versions – simply because I want a workout, not a relaxation exercise. I guess it just depends on what you want to get out of it?

    I agree-it is all about what your goals.

    Out of the two, I think the beginning Ashtanga one is the better of the two because there are more ways to personalize it and because for me, it would take at least a few weeks and maybe even a few months to get through the whole series. It has a high challenge factor!


  3. Gori Girl
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 16:03:33

    I personally think it’s better to take yoga in a class setting because the form is so important, and it can be very easy to get it wrong. Of course, if you have some background (and it sounds like you do), then videos can be a good motivation to keep up with the work.

    Really, though, if you’re looking for weight loss, there’s nothing better than aerobic exercise. While yoga can be a great workout – and really strengthen muscles – it won’t lead to weight loss the way getting your heart beating via exercise will. Unless you have a specific medical condition, you should be able to take up running if you work up to it slowly. There’s a really great guide to running here. Even if you do have some medical problems, it might still be possible to slowly start running – I have major issues with my right leg that I thought would prevent me from running again, but I’ve been going at it really slowly, and over the past year have worked up to my pre “leg issues” running level.

    Thanks for the link!

    I’d love to start running again. My leg issues were knee and shin problems.

    You’re right-yoga classes are much better than dvds. In the future I hope to take classes again, but for now dvds will be it.


  4. Ann Z
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 21:57:24

    Good post! You’re like me with the walking and yoga for weightloss. I’ve tried yoga on dvd (and also on the Xbox, I think, with Yourself Fitness), but I’ve found that I really need to have an instructor or leader there in person – and one that’s willing to come over and correct your form. I was just at a yoga class on Wednesday that did chanting – it was the first time I’d been to a class where they chanted, and it definitely added to it. I loved that class for a lot of reasons, including the chanting. I’d love to hear more reviews of any other dvds yo u find and try.

    Glad your class went so well!

    Will you write more about the chanting? What kind of yoga class was it?

    I’ll try to post more reviews of yoga dvds as I try them.


  5. La Vida Loca
    Jan 24, 2009 @ 02:42:26

    I used to take yoga classes at the local YMCA. Loved them. Especially the power yoga stuff.

    I’ll have to try classes at the YMCA sometime. Did you read the “Power Yoga” book by Beryl Bender Birch? I have that book, but I think classes and dvds make it so much easier to follow along.


  6. Di
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 19:52:05

    I’ve tried so many yoga dvds and by far the absolute best one in my opinion is ‘Namaste Yoga’ which is based on the yoga style of Hatha Vinyasa. (…My sister and I used to get together for yoga via fitTV Namaste episodes, and we finally bought the dvds. The dvds are kind of pricey but worth it if you do not get the Fittv channel/don’t have cable/satellite tv – which I don’t anymore.
    Hope you find the right one for you !

    Thanks! I’ll have to try that one sometime.


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