(No, really. The DVD title does include the exclamation point.)
PS — This DVD will not be up for giveaway.
I realized with the last DVD I reviewed, one of the reasons I didn’t like it was because it felt like too much physical workout packed into too short a time frame. I’d like to contrast that with this DVD, a practice that gives a more-appropriate-for-me level of physical intensity inside a similar time frame.
Specs for Baron Baptiste Core Power Live!
Yoga Style: Power vinyasa, with a specific focus on developing core strength.
Suited To: People interested in developing abdominal and back strength. Yogis who are essentially familiar with sun salute positions and safe back bending technique — as well as whose bodies are safe with asanas like down dog, (modified) chaturanga, and upward table.
Props: Blanket suggested for padding under knees, if that’s your thing. I don’t believe there are other places where props are suggested, nor do I find myself wanting them when I use this DVD.
Run Time: Amazon tells me 30 minutes start to finish. However, there’s a verbal introduction and opening credits that take up a couple of minutes. (On the DVD menu, it is possible to skip that introduction after the first time through.) For the actual asana practice, I get closer to 25 minutes.
Woo Disclaimer: There is some woo going on in this here video. Baron Baptiste sort of reminds me of most every summer camp counselor I’ve ever had. He’s very warmly, sincerely enthusiastic, but it’s sometimes a little too enthusiastic for my skeptical self. That said, the woo does remain inside my levels of tolerance.
Part of that is because Baptiste takes some active steps toward making the practice accessible to more people. In the introduction, Baptiste offers instructions like “listen to your body” and — this one is my favorite — that you may need to go at “fifty percent of your maximum” while you’re getting used to the practice. It’s easy for me to read that as blanket permission to modify — not that I feel I need said permission, but it’s nice when instructors articulate it. He goes on to offer a number of modifications for poses — bent knees in down dog and forward folds, knees on the ground in chaturanga, holding the legs in half navasana — that back up this idea.
The basic sequencing, by the way, looks like this:
Sun Salutes — After a quick integration in uttanasana, there are 4 basic sun salutes. The first one moves slowly as it’s where most of the modifications are initially offered. While the other three move comparatively faster, none of them are what I’d call “fast” — which is good for me, as Baptiste mentions them as being “warm ups,” and I am a creaky old woman at the beginning of my practice.
Back Bending — Consisting of bow, camel, and bridge. It does feel a bit weird to me to go into these back bends so early in a practice. The focus, however, is more on stretching the front side of the body than it is on strengthening the back, particularly for the first two. In that spirit, I only go until I feel a stretch along my abdomen and hips, stopping before I’m going into what would be a deep (for me) back bend. Still, I’d have liked to see some explicit modifications here, like teaching bow pose with a strap [links to video] or letting the hands stay at the sacrum during camel.
Abdominal Work — Mostly consisting of a number of navasana variations, with some bicycle crunches and other reclining ab work thrown in for good measure. There are some explicit modifications here, such as supporting the head or the legs with the arms. Additionally, the reclined position of a number of the poses lend themselves toward being supported by the ground; that is, the most likely “trouble” a person is to have with these poses is that they won’t be able to lift as high off the ground, which doesn’t affect safety and — as far as I am concerned — is totally still “doing” the pose.
Floor Work — Some forward folds and some twists. Namely, diamond, paschimottanasana, a revolved paschimottanasana, and a lying spinal twist. Savasana is on the shorter side, though it’s structured here so that if you want, you can remain in it through the closing credits.
I remain perturbed by body representation in yoga videos, though this one does better than most. The “Live!” part of the title is to signify that it’s filmed in front of a live, fairly large studio class. As such, the people demonstrating the poses are students in the class rather than folks who’ve rehearsed this as a routine. While most everybody pictured seems to fit cultural norms for “fit” bodies — women without fat, men without fat and with visibly defined muscle — there is definitely more body shape and size variety in this DVD than in most others I’ve seen. And it helps because differently shaped and sized people… wait for it… do the poses differently, either consciously taking different variations or organically by virtue of bodies being unique. It’s nice to see it here, even in what is still a relatively narrow range of body types. How much more would we be able to see that variation if more different bodies were represented?