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by Tara Lee
New Shoot, 2013
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Aug 6th 2013
Tara Lee is a London-based yoga instructor well-known for her "Pregnancy Health Yoga" DVD, a best-selling pregnancy video in the UK. In this new Elements of Yoga series, Lee has created three separate DVDs based on the elements, each with a different focus. "Earth Foundations," the first video in the series, is designed to be accessible to all levels and to focus on the Earth element via grounding postures. For all the practices on this DVD, Lee is outdoors by a river teaching via voiceover. Her only prop is a mat (with the orientation frequently changing from parallel to the viewer to perpendicular due to shifting camera views), although occasionally an inset is shown with modification options. Lee sometimes notes the names of the postures in English, sometimes in Sanskrit, sometimes not at all.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options: Introduction--Play All--Practice 1 (22 mins)--Practice 2 (20 mins)--Practice 3 (21 mins)--Savasana (5 mins)--Bonus Features--Music Options. Music Options includes choices for "Music & Instruction" and "Music Only," but no option for "Instruction Only" (a.k.a. a "Music Off" option). The individual practices work as stand-alone sequences, but they can also be combined together for a full routine of just over an hour. I have provided detailed information on each practice below.
For this first routine, Lee begins with a long (about 5 ½ minutes) sequence of seated breath practice, including extending the breath, breath retention, and setting intention (sankalpa). She then moves into several additional minutes of simple seated stretches. Coming to hands and knees, Lee continues to perform gentle stretches such as child's pose, modified cobra, child's pose variations, bird-dog, and hip circles. From an upright kneeling position, she moves through gate pose and reverse gate pose on both sides, then concludes the floor work with more hip circles and downward dog. Lee finishes this practice in standing forward bend.
The second practice is more active, and it includes various vinyasa flows. Starting standing, Lee comes to the toes for a stretch left and right. Next, she moves into a chair/forward bend vinyasa. From here she transitions into a modified sun salutation, then returns to the chair/forward bend sequence. The next vinyasa is a flow between plank and downward facing dog which is repeated several times. This is followed by a following warrior 1 series. Lee performs pigeon and seated twist on each side, and then she returns to standing for goddess pose with heel lifts and a shoulder stretch. The final posture is tree pose, and then Lee concludes this routine with gentle spinning and deep breathing.
This final routine centers mainly around flowing standing postures followed by some floor poses to finish. Lee starts standing in mountain pose and then moves through a vinyasa to a standing pose series which includes warrior 1, warrior 2, and triangle pose, repeating on the second side. She goes through this exact same sequence a total of three times on both sides. Coming to lying face down, she performs locust, sphinx, child's pose, and rabbit. This is followed by staff pose and full seated forward bend. Next, Lee cues legs-up-the-wall pose, but she herself performs the posture with her legs perpendicular in the air (unsupported). However, her instructions assume use of a wall, which I think would be confusing to those unfamiliar with this pose and/or new to yoga. Finishing postures include fish and a short (1 minute) savasana, and then Lee concludes the practice in a seated position.
Selecting Bonus Features off the Main Menu brings up a submenu which offers the same options on all three Elements of Yoga DVDs. In addition to three short yoga practices, the bonus submenu includes a Q & A with Lee (11 mins) and Credits. The routines are as follows:
Earth--Balances (9 mins)
For this balanced-focused sequence, Lee begins by rising onto her toes and sinking down into squat, repeating several times. She then performs tree and eagle on both sides. This is followed by a flow between knee-to-chest and warrior 1, then she holds knee-to-chest and moves the knee out to the side. The final balance posture is dancer's pose.
Air and Water--Breathing (10 mins)
For this seated routine, Lee starts by lengthening the length of the exhalation so that it is twice that of the inhalation. She continues with basic breathing, meditating on inhaling a golden light. She performs two rounds of Kapalabhati (skull shining breath) and finishes the practice with three OMs.
Fire--Core (Advanced) (11 mins)
In-this core-centered sequence, Lee starts by moving in and out of boat pose. She then comes fully to a reclined position for leg lowers. Other moves include leg extensions, knee drops, and even some more traditional crunch-type exercises.
In general, Lee did a nice job with this DVD, combining mostly solid instruction (although not mirrored cuing) with basic yoga practices. However, I found the routines to be somewhat repetitive and Lee's cuing to be a bit uneven--e.g., she often seemed to spend less time on the second side than on the first. Furthermore, although Lee states in her Introduction that "Earth Foundations" is intended for all levels (and most of the postures are at a beginner level), Lee does not provide enough instruction for those brand-new to yoga. Therefore, I would recommend the Elements of Yoga series to experienced beginners and beyond only.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.