by Jeffrey Hewitt (Director) Yoga for the Young at Heart, 2005 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 20th 2005
In Basic Series 3 for Yoga for the Young at Heart
DVD, Susan Winter Ward continues her classes for people in midlife and
beyond. She starts with standing poses
and moves to some floor positions. The
pace is reasonably slow, but some of the positions are challenging. She leads four people with their mats
arranged in a semi-circle, on a set with white sheets hanging around and
pleasing lighting. In the background is
unobtrusive music with a new-age flavor.
I found this DVD less useful than the Basic Series
2, for a number of reasons. First, some
of the instructions Ward gives are rather confusing. For example, when she says, "Draw your kidneys up to your
shoulder blades," I'm at a loss to know how to do that, since I have no
direct control over my kidneys and if I am going to bring my kidneys and my
shoulder blades together, I'll do it my moving my shoulders. Often she says "inner spiral your upper
thighs," and again it is hard to know what that means. On occasion she clarifies by saying,
"bring your upper thighs back behind you," but unfortunately that
doesn't help. At another point she says
raise your arm in the air, without saying which arm. It would be possible to
work out which arm by looking at the TV screen, but the pose may be requiring
you to look away from the TV, so that solution is not always possible.
A second problem stems from the camera work, which
often focuses on the man on the far left of the group, who unfortunately seems
to be following the instructions in different ways from the rest of the
group. For example, sometimes his toes
are curled up when he is on his hands and knees when others have them flat on
the ground, and so it is confusing as to how the pose is meant to be
performed. When you are contorted in a
yoga pose and you are trying to make sure you are getting it right by getting a
glimpse of the people doing the class, it not helpful to see someone doing it
in the wrong way. It seems that the
class could have done more practice before going to filming.
A third reason I am less enthusiastic about this DVD
is that I don't like some of the poses.
That's partly because of some of my own inflexibility but Ward has a
preference for some poses where legs are crossed or stretched behind you while
sitting, and then leaning forward to stretch the back. I find this drastically reduces blood flow
in the legs and causes pins and needles, which does not seem very
rejuvenating. Furthermore, often she is
not very clear about the positioning of body parts when doing some standing
poses. For example, in doing triangle
poses, she does not say much about how the legs should be aligned with respect
to each other or how much of a leg stretch you should aim for. Of course, all yoga requires that you
experiment and see what is comfortable, but it would be helpful to know which
compromises are good to make and which should be avoided.
This DVD does have some good stretches and may suit
some people who want to do a 50 minute session (not 58 minutes as stated on the
box), especially if they liked the previous two DVDs in this series. However, I'd recommend that those who are
somewhat new to yoga or who are searching for a single DVD to help them with
their practice should look elsewhere.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is
Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor
of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.