Thursday, September 25, 2008

Element: AM & PM Yoga for Beginners

THE WORKOUT: Element: Am and PM Yoga for Beginners


WHO CAN DO THIS: While this DVD is for beginners, it is a practice not a lesson. If you’ve never downed a dog, you might want a want a grounding in basics first, to get the most out of it.

THE BREAKDOWN: One 30-minute program is reasonably robust workout to charge you up in the morning, the other is a slow, gentle stretch to wind you down at night.

Demi Moore lookalike Elena Brower teaches Anusara yoga, which has to do with “heart opening.” OK. I assume that relates to the interesting physical motion of breathing in this practice; she has you round your spine slightly on inhales and move the heart forward (“fearlessly” in one instance, “radiantly” in another) on exhales. I like it. I also like the periodic instructions to smile slightly.

I don't recommend trying to keep up with Brower's specific instructions to inhale and exhale—I found myself holding my breathe or exhaling to dizziness to try to stay on pace. Next time, I’ll do my own breathing, thank you.

The AM program starts slowly and builds in intensity, with planks and down dogs, a few sun salutations (which could use a little more flow—they get a little choppy while she explains) sidearm planks, warriors and more. The program isn’t athletic, it moves slowly and deliberately, but builds in enough challenge to keep it interesting.

The PM program starts slowly and finishes slowly—it’s just a long pleasant series of gentle twists and folds, including pigeons, to ease out any kinks before bed.

The production is pretty and calming. Filmed outdoors in what looks like a resort, with lawn, flowers, palm trees and water as a background, Brower demonstrates silently along with her own soothing voiceover. Music is unobtrusive.

THE SWEAT FACTOR: You can get a glow from the AM program.

BUT IS IT FUN? Yes, it’s a good DVD that fulfills its promise.

WHEN IT'S OVER: You’ll be either energized or relaxed. Depends.

GEAR AND APPAREL: Just a mat. Maybe a towel.

FINAL WORD: Very nice and a keeper.

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