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This kit is a new offering from lifestyle company Gaiam and yoga instructor Jill Miller. Although Miller's name may not yet be immediately recognizable, she has quickly developed a strong fan base built on both her personally-produced DVD series, Yoga Tune-Up, and her subsequent collaboration with Pranamaya.com. Miller is known for her knowledge of anatomy and movement and her ability to impart this knowledge while teaching yoga. Here she takes her teachings a step further than ever before by adding a strength training component designed to facilitate weight loss.
The Yoga for Weight Loss Workout Kit includes three components: the workout DVD (in a simple cardboard sleeve), two 3-pound purple handled "push-up" weights, and a round purple 8" x 3" foam yoga block (Gaiam calls this a "bolster," but Miller refers to it as the "disk" during the workouts). The DVD contains two workouts, each just over 30 minutes in length. Miller describes the first workout, Functional Strengthening, as a session to focus on toning the buttocks, core, and arms. For the second workout, Kinetic Conditioning, she states that you will be "consciously sweating." Finally, the DVD also includes "Core Connect," a bonus abs segment. All three sessions are filmed outdoors, and Miller is teaching in bare feet, with the only other equipment needed being a yoga mat. I have broken down each of the workouts in greater detail below.
Functional Strengthening, 32 minutes
Miller begins with four basic warm-up moves: trapezius shrugs, pectoral press (with disk), wood chop chair, and sunflower salutes. She then moves to the mat for core work, including a few challenging bicycle variations. Coming back to standing, she uses the weights to perform squats with a shoulder press and then with a biceps/triceps move. The next series of exercises are a sort of variation on dead lifts involving both balance and upper body weights work. Finally, Miller returns to the floor for a few finishing postures, including upward plank, cobbler's pose, and seated twist; a short (3 minute) savasana concludes the practice.
Kinetic Conditioning, 34.5 minutes
This workout begins with the same four warm-up moves as in Functional Strengthening, but this time using the weights. Plank walks follow, progressively picking up the pace and ending with a stretch. Next is a series of skier squats, first repeated three times with the disk, then three times with the weights. Upright frog (plies) and triangle chops are performed the same way—i.e., first without the weights, then with weights. Other unique exercises in this session include flamingo swings, which are designed to strengthen the ankles, and tree pose with the weights. Miller finishes on the floor with what she calls "face up pigeon" (more commonly known as thread-the-needle) and a short (3 minute) savasana.
Core Connect, 15 minutes
In this segment, Miller begins by developing conscious awareness of the abdominals through use of a crunch with an "ssss" sound. She also incorporates the props, performing a twisting crunch with the disk and plank knee-ins with the hands on the push-up weights. Finally, she does a series of challenging leg lowers while seated on the disk, ending with half-boat pose. Miller finishes with a few stretches, including revolved abdominal pose (using the disk), sphinx pose, and a brief savasana.
This kit definitely offers something from Jill Miller that we haven't seen before. She does an excellent job of staying true to her yoga roots while still providing challenging, strength-focused workouts. I'm not convinced that these workouts would be likely to produce weight loss per se, but they could certainly be the foundation of a beginning strength program. Furthermore, even more advanced exercisers will likely benefit from Miller's skill in taking the body through unique ranges of motion and providing superb functional training. Although some of the moves in these workouts are probably a bit too demanding for new exercisers, overall, Miller is quite accessible, and I would recommend the Yoga for Weight Loss Kit to a fairly wide audience.
Link: Gaiam website
© 2009 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo. She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com.