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Relax into Yoga is a new release from Pranamaya.com featuring very gentle yoga practices. The DVD cover describes this product as offering "safe and simple practices for older adults and people with health challenges," and the two instructors, Kimberly Carson and Carol Krucoff, are co-directors of the "Yoga for Seniors" teacher training program. Furthermore, as noted in the DVD itself, the models featured in the practices all range in age from their 60s to their early 80s.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers an Introduction, Safety Guidelines, Main Practices, Special Practices, and Extra Features. In the brief (1 minute) Introduction, Carson and Krucoff note their experience teaching yoga to older adults and review the various practices available on the DVD. The Safety Guidelines is actually an 11-minute workshop covering the following topics: Principles of Practice, Setting Up Your Practice Space, Getting Up and Down from the Floor Safely, Safe Movement for People with Osteoporosis, and Following the Models. Finally, the Extra Features include Kimberly's Biography, Carol's Biography, The Yoga for Seniors Teacher Training, About Pranamaya, Practice MP3s, DVD Credits, and Subtitles.
Selecting Main Practices opens a submenu which lists the following options:
Bed-Based Sequence (31 min)
Seated Sequence (29 min)
Seated and Standing Sequence (39 min)
Up and Down Sequence (55 min)
Special Practices also opens up its own submenu:
Relaxation Sequence (14 min)
Balance-Building Sequence (18 min)
Core Strengthening Sequence (20 min)
I have provided a general overview for each practice below. For all of the routines, Carson and Krucoff take turns instructing via voiceover. Two different models are featured for each segment, with one always offering easier modifications, often with the aid of a chair. In addition to the chair, yoga mats and blankets are also used.
Appropriately, this section consists of all-lying poses. It opens with 6 minutes of simple breath work, focusing on breathing into the belly, then developing the yogic 3-part breath. This is followed by a 7-minute series which begins with stretching the arms overhead and moves into easy hamstring/leg stretches. Additional leg work follows, including leg lowers and toe dips. The closing sequence features happy babies pose, knee rocks, and a twist; a 5-minute relaxation and self-hug finish this practice.
Again, as the title suggests, this segment is performed entirely seated in a chair. The opening series consists of approximately 7 minutes of breath work, building to the yogic 3-part breath. Next comes seated leg extensions, adding in both ankle and wrist curls. This is followed by an arm stretch flow coordinated with the breath and then a nice series of Figure 8 shoulder rolls. Continuing with the gentle movements, the participants perform stretches for the hands, fingers, and feet. Next comes lion's pose and then a brief series of sternum lifts. The final active posture is a self-hug, adding in a rotational movement. The 4.5 minute relaxation is also performed seated in the chair, with about 2 minutes being completely silent.
SEATED AND STANDING SEQUENCE
This routine uses the same two models as in the "Seated" practice, and much of the footage is the same as well, although the order varies. It begins with the same opening breath work, then moves into the Figure 8 shoulder rolls, the hand/finger/feet stretches, and lion's pose. This is followed by the seated leg extension. At the 16 minute mark, the first new moves are introduced, as the participants practice a hip hinge to come from seated to standing. Moving behind their chairs, they perform arm rotations and arm lifts, and they then use the chairs to assist in more traditional yoga postures including a moving warrior flow and triangle pose. After a standing balance and twist, the participants return to seated in the chair, finishing with the same sternum lifts and relaxation sequence from the Seated practice.
UP AND DOWN SEQUENCE
This longest segment combines moves from all of the other routines. It begins lying with a focus on the 3-part breath, and as with the Bed-Based sequence, it then moves into lying arms and legs stretches. Next is a 6-minute series of cat/cow and bird/dog on hands and knees. After this, the participants come to standing and use the chair to assist for sun breaths, squats to standing, chair sun salutes, and additional chair poses (warrior 2 and tree). Then it's back to the floor, lying on the belly for baby cobra and on the back for bridge, happy babies, windshield wipers, and a twist. This routine concludes with a 5.5 minute relaxation and finishes in a seated position.
This practice begins with a facial massage and then moves into shoulder shrugs/shoulder rolls. This is followed by stretches, including arm over head. The participants then move to the floor for a long (7 minutes) guided relaxation.
For this sequence, one of the models uses a chair to assist with balance and the other does not. They begin by shifting front and back, playing around with balance, gradually adding in a heel raise and then optionally raising the leg. Next, they stand with the two feet in a line, again shifting the weight forward and back. Additional balance work comes in the form of heel raises, tree pose, eagle pose, and warrior 3 pose. There is no relaxation to conclude this practice.
This series begins on the hands and needs for a cat/cow and bird/dog flow. From here, the participants move into a modified plank pose, adding arm circles to increase the challenge. This is followed by a knee-to-chest series lying on the back; the routine concludes with pulling both of the knees into the chest.
As you can see from my breakdowns, this DVD is somewhat repetitive—i.e., the exact same footage is used for multiple practices, and similar sequences (albeit new footage) appear more than once. The routines are also extremely slow-moving. After I initially read the description of this release, I thought that the practices would be appropriate for those who are perhaps injured and in need of a gentler approach, but after trying the sequences myself, I do not think this is the case. Rather, I would only recommend this DVD for older adults with either no or very little yoga experience—for this population, Carson and Krucoff have done an excellent job. Unfortunately, I fear that anyone outside of this limited audience is likely to be bored with these routines.
One final note: this DVD is packaged in 100% Recycled Packaging, including a recycled cardboard folder (full-length but slimmer than a regular DVD case), recycled plastic DVD tray, and vegetable-based dyes.
© 2012 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.