by Ana Brett & Ravi Singh raviana productions, 2006 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Feb 6th 2007
The Yoga Beauty Body DVD sets out more Kundalini yoga. Some elements are very similar to those on the two previous DVDs made by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh. Brett sits on a small pink mat that looks more like you would find it on a bathroom floor rather than a yoga studio. She demonstrates an initial meditation with the words "ong namo guri dev namo," long deep breathing with the associated meditative words "sut nam," and the breath of fire which is much quicker breathing. As with the other DVDs, Brett is in a studio with a blank white background, with Eastern-flavored music playing in the background, and both her and Singh giving instructions and information in voice-over. However, the rest of the practice is rather different. The main exercise part lasts about 40 minutes, and ends with some relaxation and meditation. Singh often emphasizes the emotional and physical benefits of different exercises. For example, doing the breath of fire while in child's pose is meant to be a glandular tune up, which he says will help you to be positive, exuberant, and happy. Another exercise, lying on your front and raising your arms behind you, is meant to be good for your lymphatic system and so will protect against breast cancer. The camel pose is meant to have an antidepressant effect. The shoulder stand is meant to help "realign the internal organs," although I've never heard in Western medicine of the internal organs slipping into the wrong positions. More skeptical viewers may reserve judgment as to the truth of these health claims, and I don't know of any evidence for them. However, it's easy to pass over the more implausible claims and just focus on the instructions and obvious benefits of flexibility and strength. A few of the poses require fairly vigorous movement, while others require holding poses for a minute or so, sometimes while doing the breath of fire. The poses and movements include a lunge, kneeling down and bending backwards over your heels, a chair pose where you hold your ankles, backward rolls and spine rocking, moving up and down to a bridge pose, lotus poses, bow poses, abdominal exercises, and plough pose. Brett demonstrates some modified positions for people who have less strength of flexibility and she and Singh also emphasize the importance of using them in their instructions. The breath of fire is hard to do, especially in some postures where you are leaning back, and takes practice. It would be interesting to know if there's any evidence that doing the breath of fire in these postures brings any health benefits. Even without such evidence, it can be worth trying and seeing how it feels. As a long standing practice, with many people advocating for its value, Kundalini yoga as demonstrated by Brett and Singh is distinctively different from Hatha yoga. This is a well-made DVD that people familiar with other forms of yoga may enjoy.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.