Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yoga to the Rescue for Neck & Shoulders

THE WORKOUT: Yoga to the Rescue for Neck & Shoulders

WHO CAN DO THIS: The box says “For beginners & beyond” but I think you would want to be at least a pretty advanced beginner to feel comfortable with this unusual series.

THE BREAKDOWN: I expected a series of stretches to release my computer-cramped neck and shoulder muscles, but this series of poses are designed to also build strength in the back, shoulders and neck.

The DVD is has a long tutorial that is a good workout on its own, or you can use it to learn the poses to bring into your own practice. A number of these poses are new to me. In one, long, strong and flexible Desiree Rumbaugh has you hold your bent arms up, “like a saguaro cactus,” bend your knees, bring your shoulder blades together and lift your heart to the sky. I tell you what... not that easy. She also has you lie on your back, bend your arms so your elbows are on the floor and, pressing on your elbows and head, lift your heart. It’s like an isometric push-up for your neck. There are familiar poses too, of course—cobra, bow, down dog and a particularly insane side-arm plank/backbend. “Enjoy your freedom,” she says. Oy, I say.

The DVD also has a 30-minute flow sequence that I mostly found annoying because the cueing is so haphazard. Sometimes poses change and she never mentions it, so I had to keep peering under my armpit or whatever to see if she’d moved on to another pose. Also, in the push-ups, there was an awful lot of exhaling going on, but not so much inhaling. That confused me.

I do like the bonus wrist stretch, since my hands and arms get more of a workout during the work week than any other part of me.

I've done a few Desiree Rumbaugh DVDs and my impression is that she's a great teacher who doesn't quite have a grip what makes a great DVD workout.

THE SWEAT FACTOR: Yep, I did sweat. It’s kinda weirdly hard.

BUT IS IT FUN? Not so much fun. Kinda broccoli yoga. Good for you.

WHEN IT'S OVER: I definitely felt my neck and shoulders the next day. They were tired and a little sore. In a good way, I think.

GEAR AND APPAREL: Desiree uses blankets and blocks and suggests a strap here and there, although she doesn’t demonstrate its use.

FINAL WORD: I’m more likely to incorporate a couple of these poses into my practice than do the DVD again.

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