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by Rodney Yee
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Feb 4th 2014
This DVD was a Fall 2013 release from lifestyle company Gaiam and one of their star yoga instructors (or "yoga talent," as he is referred to on the video), Rodney Yee. Although this is similar to many of Yee's prior offerings with Gaiam in that it features several different yoga routines, each about 20 minutes in length, Yoga for Energy & Stretch Relief does have something a bit new to offer: its three main practices all incorporate use of a chair. (There is also a "bonus" routine which does not use the chair as well as short meditation segment which does.)
Yee instructs the four yoga practices outdoors in a pretty wooded setting; as is typical for him, he provides non-mirrored cueing via voiceover. For the meditation segment, the setting shifts to an indoor studio with a fake nature background, and Yee is joined by his wife, Colleen Saidman, who provides the voiceover instruction. I have given times and broken down each practice (as listed on the Main Menu) in greater detail below. (Note: The Main Menu of the DVD also includes an "Audio Setup" option which allows users to select "Full Instruction" or "Music Only.")
AWAKEN & ENERGIZE (20:29)
This routine focuses on hip/hamstring stretches using the chair. Yee begins seated on the chair for seated cat/cow, twist, and wide-legged forward bend. Coming to standing, he places one foot on the chair for a half forward bend, performing full forward bend between sides. Remaining standing, he also performs one-leg hamstring stretch on the chair followed by pyramid pose, head resting on the chair. The final standing pose is wide-legged forward bend, head on the chair. Yee then comes to seated with the chair resting behind his back and the hands in a meditation mudra. The practice concludes with an approximately one minute relaxation (calves on chair) before finishing seated.
GENTLE RELAXATION (23:15)
This segment revolves mainly around a series of seated forward bends assisted by the chair. Yee sets up seated with the chair in front of him; for each seated forward bend, he bends at the hips and rests his head on the chair. The postures include cross-legged seated forward bend, cobbler's seated forward bend, one-legged seated forward bend, wide-legged seated forward bend, and full seated forward bend. This routine ends with a lengthy (5.5 mins.) relaxation, resting the calves on the chair, several minutes in constructive rest pose, and very slowly coming back up to finish seated.
RESTORE & REJUVENATE (19:23)
This routine is an extended guided relaxation, using the chair to assist. Yee begins by briefly sitting with the back to the chair in cobbler's pose. Lying in front of the chair in cross-legged reclined pose, he performs a shoulder stretch/release. Next, he rests with the calves on the chair and moves through about five minutes of guided relaxation. He continues with several more minutes of constructive rest, and then the practice concludes with several minutes of seated meditation, placing the hands in the traditional meditation mudra.
SOOTH & STRETCH (20:18) ~bonus
This routine also centers around hamstring openers, this time without use of the chair. Yee opens with a standing forward bend and then moves right into a lunge/pyramid pose flow on either side. He finishes the standing work with two variations of wide-legged standing forward bend. Halfway through the practice, Yee moves to the floor for cobbler's pose, staff pose, one-legged forward bend, full forward bend, and wide-legged forward bend. He comes briefly into constructive rest before concluding with a short (about 1 min.) savasana and final seated pose.
MEDITATION (5:28) ~bonus
As noted, this segment is led by Yee's wife, Colleen Saidman. Saidman and Yee start the practice with relaxation, resting their calves on the chair. After about 2 ½ minutes, Saidman cues to come seated on the chair, shifting from relaxation to more of a body scan for the remainder of the routine.
Overall, I found this to be a well-done DVD. Yee establishes a slow, methodical pace throughout these routines, fitting for a release aimed at "stress relief." (A note about the title: Yee had a prior video release titled "Yoga for Stress Relief" that also incorporated use of a chair; it is unfortunate that Gaiam has not done a better job at differentiating the titles of their offerings.) Both "Awaken & Energize" and "Restore & Rejuvenate," with their many wonderful hip and hamstring stretches, would make great post-workout routines, and "Gentle Relaxation," which is full of forward bends, would be perfect to facilitate restful sleep. I found Saidman's meditation to be a bit of a weak link: the short relaxation and brief meditation felt like not enough of either.
Although some might not enjoy the addition of a chair as prop to their yoga practice, it can be used to great advantage, and for the most part, Yee definitely does so here. For this reason, I would recommend this DVD.
© 2014 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.