by Adrienne Reed Bluewater Media, 2006 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on May 29th 2007
This Core Power yoga DVD hosted by Adrienne Reed has 3 segments, of 20, 40, and 60 minutes. Reed instructs 3 healthy and strong participants, one man and two women -- she mentions that one of the women is a Pilates instructor. The studio is decorated with pleasant Eastern-accented panels with a "new age" feel, and the walls are illuminated in pink, blue and purple lights. Candles are scattered around, and the lighting is fairly soft. The camerawork is professional, with lots of gradual movement and with smooth transitions from one camera angle to another. The background music is varied and pleasant enough.
The 3 workouts focus on the core -- abdominal muscles, lower back, and buttocks. Naturally they involve many other parts of the body. Each session has a short period of relaxation at the end. Reed actively demonstrates the flow of postures and guides the 3 participants as they follow her instructions. She moves around between them, and occasionally helps them or adjusts their postures. Her style is energetic and forthright. She makes small jokes about how much the participants don't want to do difficult postures, and she laughs. Her instructions are nearly always clear and helpful and it is easy to know what she is telling you to do.
The level of the exercises is moderately difficult. She often recommends using an imprinted spine (used mostly in Pilates) when lying on the floor and doing yoga sit ups or other similar exercises. Reed recommends some easier versions of positions in some cases, but they may still be too difficult for some people who are not very flexible or lack strength. However, persistence does tend to make them more achievable, and it is pretty obvious how to practice to try the exercises in easier versions. For example, some people may not be able to sit up slowly from lying down without the help of using hands -- but one can use one's hands as little as possible, and use them less as one gets stronger. Reed also emphasizes for some of the more difficult positions that falling over or struggling with them is normal and even welcome.
Not all the exercises will be appropriate or comfortable for everyone, unless one is both strong in the core and very flexible. I found some of them uncomfortable, so I didn't do them, or I did modified versions. Some will be more useful than others, depending on the person. But on the whole, this series of exercises is nicely designed, and should be very beneficial to those wanting to develop their core. I especially liked the way that Reed avoids repeating the same exercises in the different modules, since this makes them more interesting to do.
One annoying feature of the DVD are the promotional pieces at the start: every time you put in the DVD, they play. It is possible to skip to the end of them, but you have to do this every time before you can get to the main menu. For a DVD that you plan to use on a regular basis, this is excessive use of advertising.
There are not many yoga DVDs focused on core, although most yoga exercises will help core to some extent. This DVD by Reed is very different from Shiva Rea's Creative Core Abs, which has higher production values and places much more emphasis on spontaneous movement. However, Reed's approach is more straightforward and the 3 sessions of different length are more useful, so I would choose Reed's DVD over Rea's.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of 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.