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Qi Yoga seems to be a form of
movement unique to Dawn Holst, who practices in Ohio. She describes it as an
integration of hatha yoga and Qi Gong, which is a form of Chinese medicine
technique. This Introduction to Qi Yoga DVD has almost no explanation of the
theory behind it, and is completely devoted to demonstrating movement
exercises. There are three chapters: first an hour long "vinyasa,"
second a twelve minute instruction to Qi Burst, and then a four minute
demonstration of Qi Burst. While I'm somewhat familiar with hatha yoga, I know
nothing about Qi Gong, so I can't say how well Qi Yoga integrates the two.
All three chapters are performed
outside. Dawn Holst uses a yoga mat on an open space next to a river, during
the fall. Leaves fall from the trees as Holst demonstrates the yoga practice
and the river flows by slowly. She gives instructions in a voice-over, with a
variety of different kinds of music in the background. She has a pleasant
voice and her instructions are generally helpful. The music is pleasant: some
of it is new age, while other parts are more electronic. Most of the camera
work is done from just one angle, giving the impression that just one camera
was used in making this DVD. Apart from the 3 chapters, there are no DVD
extras. The DVD I received was a printable DVD-R, and the photography on the
front seems a little amateurish. Nevertheless, the picture and sound quality
on the DVD itself were fine.
The "Qi Yoga Vinyasa" at
first looks fairly simple for those who are familiar with hatha yoga, but it is
surprisingly demanding; after an hour you will probably be quite worn out. The
pace is slower than most yoga flows, but this does not necessarily make it
easier, since holding some of the positions can be very challenging. Many of
the postures will be familiar to yoga practitioners, but the emphasis tends to
be rather different from most hatha yoga. For example, a much more time is
spent holding in a low lunge position, and doing a variety of postures from
that position. Some of these require an ability to balance that is not
generally used in hatha yoga, and it may take some practice to get used to it.
About 35 minutes into the practice, Holst demonstrates a series called
"Iron cross expansion," that is very distinctive: from an initial Warrior 1 pose, you move your
two arms out in front of you, pressing your palms together, and rise onto the
heel of your front foot, lifting your toes up. Then you lunge forward,
bringing your arms out and spreading them wide, putting your full front foot
onto the ground. You move between these two positions several times. This may
be excellent exercise, but when I first tried it, I found it very hard on my
heel. I also found that my front foot gradually slipped forward with each
repetition, making it more difficult every time, and eventually I needed to
bring my front foot back a bit or I would simply have fallen over. The DVD
doesn't address those sorts of problems, and this means that it is helpful to
have some experience with yoga already to know what feels right and what is too
much. There are similar issues with other postures.
The tutorial for the Qi Burst is
more unusual, since it focuses especially on the Qi Gong movements. All of the
movements in this are included in the hour long practice, but in this chapter
they are on their own. Holst gives instructions about how to do them in a
voice over. Then in the final short Qi Burst chapter, she performs with
Mfundishi Bakari, with just music and no instruction. The music is mainly
drumming, and the two of them face each other on two mats placed close to each
other. It is energetic and very dramatic. This burst presents a side of
exercising that is rarely presented on DVD: the beauty of the performance. The
Qi Burst is as much a dance as it is an exercise.
So Introduction to Qi Yoga
gives a good workout, even if the DVD production is a bit technically basic. I
would not recommend it to complete novices, but those who already have
experience with other forms of yoga may well find it interesting and
© 2006 Christian Perring. All
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.
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