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This DVD is presented by Anusara-trained yoga instructor Desirée Rumbaugh. In interest of full disclosure, I should note that I took a yoga workshop with Rumbaugh last fall on the exact same subject as she is instructing here, neck and shoulders. Rumbaugh in person is joyful and radiant, and the workshop was an amazing experience. However, I have also tried both of Rumbaugh's prior DVD offerings, Yoga to the Rescue and Yoga to the Rescue for Back Pain, and unfortunately, I found them to be disappointing, mainly related to the choppy nature of the productions. Still, I looked forward to this new release, which, according to the DVD case, would "relieve[s] aches, pains, and stiffness" as well as "release, refresh, rejuvenate."
One important change which Rumbaugh made for this DVD is that there are two separate 30-minute practice segments: the "Tutorial" offers more comprehensive instruction plus a detailed review of modifications for most of the postures, whereas the "Flow Sequence" is a faster-moving, more dynamic session based on the postures introduced during the tutorial. For both segments, Rumbaugh has an assistant, Andrew Riven, who displays the modified versions of the poses. Props used include a yoga mat, a block, a strap, several blankets, and an optional chair for plow pose. The Main Menu of the DVD appears as follows: Introduction (brief overview by Rumbaugh) -- Play Tutorial -- Play Flow Sequence -- Bonus Features (wrist stretch segment; seated twist from Yoga to the Rescue for Back Pain) -- Audio Options (Music+Instruction or Instruction Only) -- Tutorial Index -- Also from Acacia (previews of other workouts) -- Credits.
Rumbaugh instructs the Tutorial segment via voiceover, although a few of the segments are preceded by brief live introductions. The chapters of the Tutorial (as outlined in the Index) are listed below:
*Wall Shoulder Stretch & Chair Pose
*Sphinx & Cobra
*Side-to-Side Leg Lifts
*Lunge with Twist
*Bridge, Plow & Shoulder Stand
For several of the postures, including push-ups, cobra, and down dog, Rumbaugh shows a non-weight-bearing variation performed at the wall. Other modifications are included as well, usually displayed by Riven--for example, he shows the lunge with twist, which is a kneeling lunge combined with a shoulder stretch, with the aid of both a block and a strap. Shoulder stand, which Rumbaugh takes a bit of time to set up before attempting, is performed using several blankets. The brief final relaxation is practiced over either a rolled blanket or two blocks to allow for an additional stretch to the upper back and shoulders.
As the title suggests, the Flow Sequence moves along at a significantly quicker pace. Rumbaugh again teaches via voiceover, but there are no chapter breakdowns and no pauses between segments. While Riven continues to display modifications, these are not referred to in the narrative. Furthermore, although the flow practice is derived from the postures in the tutorial, not all of the stretches from the tutorial are included. For example, Rumbaugh begins the Flow Sequence with chair pose, skipping the opening wall stretch offered in the tutorial; next, she leaves out the neck strengthening exercise and moves right into the push-ups, performing several sets with brief rests in-between. The entire practice continues in this vigorous manner before concluding with the short (approximately 4 minutes) relaxation.
Overall, I am pleased to report that this DVD is a definite improvement over Rumbaugh's prior two media offerings. It seems that by separating the Tutorial from the Flow Sequence, she finally got it right this time: as a result, she has created two viable practices, one providing users with stretching and strength-building at a slower pace, the other offering the option of a more active practice sequence. I would, however, offer a few cautions. The DVD case states "For beginners & beyond," which I think is misleading. I would recommend these practices for experienced yoga students only, or advanced beginners and above. The case description also suggests that the practices will help to "alleviate pain and stiffness," and I do think the DVD would be valuable for this purpose--that is, in terms of normal, everyday aches and pains. I would be much more hesitant to recommend this DVD to someone with any type of injury or other special condition which might require a more therapeutic approach.
© 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