Yoga Saturday Feed

Yoga Saturday: Yoga for the Neck and Upper Back, With Erin Motz (on Grokker)

image from erinmotz.files.wordpress.comI kept seeing the ads pop up wherever I went online, so I finally clicked on Wow -- very cool! The site is in beta but it's a repository of cooking, fitness and yoga videos. Perfect! 

While many of the videos can also be found on YouTube, the great thing about Grokker is that you can filter down the type of workout (or cuisine) you're looking for. I'm always interested in neck and upper back videos, because DUH

This one is an 18-minute video led by Erin Motz, who has a friendly, helpful demeanor. This isn't a fancy video -- it's basically one static camera -- but it's clear and concise (except for that common "my left your right" stuff that doesn't translate) and I really felt some good stretching in my neck and shoulders.

The video is part of a 30-day challenge, but you can jump in to any video you want.

I'm embedding the YouTube video, but I greatly encourage you to check out the Grokker site because there are a load of videos you can watch and save for later (after you sign up).

Yoga Saturday: Baladea Calm, with Holly Perkins

Yes, it's technically Sunday on the East Coast and I am up way too late, but wanted to get in the review of my workout, which actually wasn't a workout at all. 

Some months back I bought the very lovely and expansive Baladea fitness and wellness system. I don't even remember how I found out about it but I was entranced by its orange and pink color scheme and its "girls day at the spa" vibe.

The set consists of 8 DVDs, which includes interval training, strength training, aerobic dance, another slower dance DVD, power yoga, yoga and relaxation. It also comes with an eating plan, recipes and a resistance band.

I thought I popped in the yoga DVD, but it was actually Calm -- which is done flat on your back, eyes closed in corpse pose.

But I needed it, since I worked out hard the past two days and was sore as heck. I took the opportunity to slowly stretch my wound-up neck muscles to the left and right during the 20-minute DVD. 

I also did what you're not supposed to do and opened my eyes so I could see what was going on. The images in the DVD are lovely -- women in coordinating yoga outfits on orange yoga mats beside an outdoor pool with a firepit and flickering candles. Very spa-like. But you'll never know since your eyes are supposed to be closed during the practice. So now you know.

There was lots of deep breathing, lots of exultations to "let it go" (and not in the shrieking Disney way) and lots of visualizations, which I really liked. 

Holly Perkins leads all the workouts and her friendly, calm persona was nice to follow while my eyes were shut.

I really need to explore the whole Baladea set.

Yoga Saturday: Yoga for Surfers Presents Baby on Board

Prenatal-yogavideo-coverYes, I know it's a prenatal yoga DVD, and no, I'm not pregnant. But Baby on Board Prenatal Yoga (Yoga for Surfers, $29.95) has been sitting in my office awhile and the cover was so darn cute I just wanted to give it a try. 

And I'm glad I did. Aside from the pregnant belly stuff that totally did not pertain to me, the 25-minute Energizing Sequence was a nice and easy practice that was practically all done standing. Most of the moves come out of mountain pose, and there's even a little aerobic action -- mind you just a little.

Yoga for Surfers creator Peggy Hall does the intro and the voiceover instruction as fellow instructor Melinda Ferriera does the actual yoga. 

Melinda uses a pile of beach towels for a couple of moves, but if you're not pregnant, you probably won't need them, as it's OK for us non preggos to lie on our backs.

You can't beat the scenery on the DVD -- it's all palm trees and beachy structures, and it's nicely shot.

In addition to the Energizing Sequence, there's also a 25-minute Soothing Sequence that's done on the floor, as well as yoga breathing to ease discomfort, and a meditation sequence that's geared toward moms-to-be.

The last (and only time) I was pregnant was in the late 1990s, and I wish I had something like this when I was carrying the kid. It's a nice little vacation for the body and mind.

Yoga Saturday: PiYo, with Chalene Johnson

PiyoOur 24 Hour Fitness has had PiYo classes forever but I never got around to taking one, so I was psyched to see that Beachbody was releasing a DVD system for the home. PiYo was developed by Chalene Johnson as a high-energy Pilates-yoga hybrid workout, so there are no weights or gizmos involved.

I just got the set in the mail yesterday so I barely have had any time to check it out, but I did pop in and do the Align: The Fundamentals DVD. 

It's around 40 minutes and like the title says, it's all about alignment, which I really appreciate. Chalene, with her background exercisers, shows the right way to hold poses and also points out people's different levels of flexibility -- so if you can't bend like the person on screen, it's OK. Just bend like the other person or bend to the best of your ability. Since my upper spine is a little on the straight and unbendy side, I have to deliberately put my head in the correct place to line everything up head to toe.

I'm a little intimidated by some of the moves in the other DVDs -- I don't know whether I'll get my body parts near where the exercisers have theirs (you want me to put my arm around what and where?) but I like that the system encourages people go progress at their own pace. 

Maybe if I get up the nerve, I'll take one of those live classes one day.


Yoga Saturday: Yoga for Inflexible People

Yoga for inflexible people"Relax your gums."

Hearing that command, I burst into a fit of laughter.

I finally got around to doing one of the practices on the DVD "Yoga for Inflexible People" (Bodywisdom Media). I've had it for a couple of years, but actually, the DVD has been around since 2002. Because of that, it may not be the prettiest DVD you've ever done but when you think about it, you're not All really watching the TV much when doing yoga. Either your eyes are closed or you're twisted away from the TV.

All that said, I really liked the 15-minute energizing practice. I had a lot to do today and not a lot of time, so I needed quick and energizing. The voiceover guidance is clear and friendly and not too woo-woo. 

There are 20 different practices on the DVD -- some focus on body parts, like shoulders, while others are energizing or relaxing. The one I did had a lot of down dogs and had me standing and lying down. The practice called for yoga blocks, a chair and a strap, although I never saw the person on screen use the strap. The blocks came in handy for side poses but I didn't need the chair (I'm more flexible in some places, not so much in others). 

That "relax your gums" command came at the end, when I was on the floor in corpse pose. There were also other relaxing commands I had never thought of before, like letting your eyeballs rest at the back of your sockets. OK, I chuckled a bit at that, too, but it was also a good reminder to let EVERYTHING release tension -- even your eyeballs.

Yoga Saturday: Tara Stiles' YouTube channel

I had turned on my DVD player to pop in a yoga DVD but instead ended up perusing the video features on my Sony Blu-Ray player (different makers feature different channels). It's one of those "smart" players that has Internet access, so it has the usual, like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but it also has a bunch of other channels, including fitness ones.

I found the Yoga for Everyone by Tara Stiles channel, which actually is a collection of videos from her YouTube channel -- so, yay! Free yoga for everyone!

There are loads of videos on her channel. I did a couple of them -- Yoga to De-Stress: 

... and Yoga for a Stiff Neck and Back (hello!):

This is also a great reminder that as long as you have a laptop or a tablet, you can exercise pretty much anywhere. It's mostly a great reminder for me, because this time next week, I'll be in Savannah, knee-deep in blogger pals at FitBloggin' -- and I'm bringing my yoga mat but probably not my laptop so next week's Yoga Saturday will not be in real time -- or it might, who knows?

Yoga Saturday: Fun with my foam roller

Yikes, almost missed this today but, c'mon, "Orange Is the New Black" is back! Between that and putting away a mountain of laundry, I and the TV were busy today, so today I took out the foam roller, which is not really yoga but it's still all stretchy. 

And painful as hell.

Foam roller

But look at that cute foam roller -- it's pink and purple for crying out loud! How could this be such a torturous device? I guess I really need to use it more often. I rolled and winced while watching TV -- sitting on it, rolling my legs over it and rolling over it on my sides -- really painful.

Here's a little foam roller tip: There are a couple types of foam rollers -- open cell and closed cell foam. At first I bought an open-cell foam roller and I literally crushed it. The closed-cell rollers are much more sturdy.

So today was one of those "do what you can when you can" kinds of days, but all the laundry's put away (there was a LOT0 and I pummelled every side of my body!

Yoga Saturday: Shiva Rea Meditations

Shiva rea meditationsEvery time I do one of these DVDs, I realize something about myself. Today it was "Wow, am I a shallow breather!"

I really didn't know what to expect when I put in Shiva Rea Meditations (Acacia, $19.99), which comes out on June 3. I figured it was a bunch of lying on your back and chanting stuff, but I was wrong. The DVD is a compilation of meditations from Shiva's previous DVDs, all gathered up on one disc that gives you over 100 minutes to choose from.

You can either do the two preset Solar and Lunar meditations or you can make a custom practice with the matrix. I hopped around the matrix, which doesn't seem meditative at all, but the more mini meditations I did, the more I wanted to do.

I started with a meditation for women, which has you doing some self massage and basically basking in the awesomeness of your womanhood (arms raised to the sky and all). Then I did one of the solar meditations, which was nicely energizing, and I ended with a savasana, which is what I first had expected -- lying on the floor in corpse pose and deeply relaxing. 

That's when I realized that I was barely breathing. When I forced the air deep into my lungs, my head swam for a second. (I think I need more oxygen in my life.)

I loved this DVD -- it's a great little vacation for the mind, whether for just 5 minutes or a half hour.

Yoga Saturday: Element Yoga for Strength & Flexibility, With Ashley Turner

Yoga for strength and flexibility ashley turnerHoly moly, am I inflexible! 

That's usually the first thing that goes through my mind when I fire up any yoga DVD. That's why I chose this workout today. Element Yoga for Strength & Flexibility (Anchor Bay Entertaiment, $14.98) called out to me because of the second workout, which promises to release tension and improve range of motion. It also features Ashley Turner, and she's one of my favorite instructors.

Today I did the flexibility workout (because STIFF!) and this is one that I'll be coming back to again and again. If you're a super bendy yoga pretzel you won't be impressed, but for people made of rebar, like me, it's a great practice and a reminder that there is no perfect yoga pose -- something that Turner reiterates throughout the 30 minutes. I tend to forget that and crane my neck up to see if I'm "doing it right." I finally stopped doing that after I listened to her a time or two.

Perhaps that's because in addition to being a yoga instructor, she's also a psychotherapist!

There are no full-blown sun salutations in this one -- there is a modified one, which I was able to do without one bit of cursing. In fact, I could do pretty much everything in this workout. But that's the point of her explaining that there is no "right" way to do the poses. Every now and then I'd peek up at the screen and see her with her shoulder all the way on the ground after threading the needle, and instead of beating myself up for not being able to do that, I'd just think "Yowza, good for you!"

Maybe one day.

Since I've been adding in yoga and using the Precor stretching thingie at the gym, I haven't had one neck-tension headache and I've been feeling great after my workouts. So, hooray for stretching!

See ya next week for another Yoga Saturday!

Introducing ... Yoga Saturday! First up, 21-Day Fix Yoga Fix

Since I've been pushing my bedtime back to a more normal hour (more on that next week) I have found that I have more energy during the day. Even though I was getting 8 hours of sleep before, these 8 hours feel better. 

So today, even though I take weekends off for exercise, I just felt like exercising. (Really! I swear!)

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but I love watching infomercials (Really! I swear!), and today I happened upon the new informercial for Beachbody's 21-Day Fix workout program. I preordered it when I first heard about it because I love Beachbody's workouts (HASHTAG I AM NOT A COACH. I was but I am not MLM material so I quit). 

Anywhooo... Beachbody went the fake talkshow route with Montel Williams on this workout infomercial, which is a little cheesy but it featured some great success stories from people of all ages who did the program.

The set consists of cardio, strength, Pilates and yoga workouts and also includes an eating plan, a shaker container for smoothies and a set of colorful plastic containers for portion control. You don't have to go the coach/infomercial route if you buy it through Amazon (that's my affiliate link). 

I hadn't touched the stuff since I received it so I figured I'd give one of the workouts a try. I was going to do a cardio workout but I saw the yoga workout and did that instead, because STIFF!

Seriously, I am super inflexible, except for the fact that I can forward fold and touch my palms to the ground LIKE A BOSS. Everything else is made of rebar.

The Yoga Fix workout is 30 minutes long, like most of the set's workouts. There's nothing fancy to the workout. It starts with sun salutations, or as I like to call them f*****g sun salutations. (I swear like a truck driver during yoga, which is why I've given up doing it with others.) I have a wonky wrist from a broken arm, an arthritic big toe and a military neck, so certain moves are more challenging than they should be.

Autumn Calabrese is the instructor in the set, and I really like her. She's not gimmicky, but instead she's encouraging, provides modifications, makes sure your form is good and does a lot of the workout herself along with you.

About 10 minutes in, I thought to myself "THIS. I need to do this every Saturday because I'll get better at it the more I do it."

So Yoga Saturday is born!

I previewed a couple of the other workouts in the set and like those as well so I may do the full program one day, but I am a freaking libertine when it comes to structured workout programs. I get a few days in and my eye starts to wander to other workouts. Next thing I know, I'm "cheating" on my workout.

I don't think I'll be able to squeeze in a Yoga Saturday next week because I'm a BlogHer Food volunteer, so I'll be in Miami from sunup to sundown. But after that, look for a yoga DVD review from me every Saturday. The next review will be the highly apropos Yoga for Inflexible People DVD series. I bought it awhile ago and never used it.