This is part of the review and giveaway series, but with a twist.
So this might be a bit convoluted, but the DVD I’m reviewing is Shiva Rea: Daily Energy — Vinyasa Flow Yoga. However, the DVD that’s up for giveaway is her (previously reviewed) Creative Core and Upper Body.
The reasoning, though, is pretty simple: The Daily Energy DVD is a rather long one with multiple practices on it. One of those practices is a close enough duplicate of Creative Core and Upper Body as to make it basically redundant for me. Since I really like the versatility of Daily Energy, I’m keeping that and giving away the shorter DVD.
Daily Energy Specs:
Yoga Style: Vinyasa, some fairly traditional, some decidedly less so.
Suited To: People already somewhat familiar with vinyasa yoga. Even the slower flows still move, and there’s not a whole lot of direct instruction inside any of the poses. Additionally, folks who have knee or wrist issues might want to approach some of the more vigorous segments (anything with “fire” in the name) carefully.
Props: None suggested, though there were definitely some places where I could have used a strap and others where I wanted a folded bum blanket. Additionally, since there are a number of twisting lunges throughout the segments, I can see where someone might want a block.
Run Time: Amazon tells me 168 minutes total, though that is easily broken up into much smaller chunks of time.
Let’s get this out of the way first: With Shiva Rea DVDs comes a certain amount of woo. You know, channeling your inner goddess, tapping into your sacred strength, moving in your own divine rhythms, that sort of thing. I say this now because I know that it is, for some people, a deal breaker. Me, I have built up a tolerance. I can handle woo as long as it comes with the opportunity for my own mindfulness and meditation along with a safe and appropriate asana sequence. Moreover, I am not above tossing out a sacred “fuck you” when an on-screen instructor wants me to hold chair pose for approximately one million minutes or to set myself up in plank for yet another round of prostration push-ups.
Okay, so I have actually developed targeted sarcasm as a woo defense mechanism. It works for me. Don’t judge.
Second: If you’re curious but concerned about the woo factor, it might still be worth it to enter in for the Upper Body and Creative Core DVD. Either due to the shorter length or the more physically intense practice, I hear a lot less woo in it. At any rate, the 35 minutes might make it a nice explorer practice.
Third: The actual review of the DVD I’m actually reviewing. Finally.
The basic premise of this DVD is that practicing a little bit every day is better than practicing for a lot of minutes only once a week or so. As such, there are seven 20-minute practices, along with a few extras, customizable by using the matrix menu. There are also some pre-set combinations — all in the 35-50 minute range — but I’ve found I prefer to combine them my own way. The segments look like this:
Solar Meditation & Lunar Meditation: (separate segments, 5 minutes each) — I’ve not tried either of these, to be honest. My perception of the woo factor gets in my way.
Earth: (20 minutes) — A medium-paced, grounding flow with fairly common variations on sun salutes. It gently gets into both my hip flexors and my outer hips. I like this one a lot and use it often, whether on its own or in combination with another segment or two.
Fire: (20 minutes) — A vigorous, active practice involving pushups and…. things?… that look like leap-frogging from malasana to plank. I definitely prefer to combine this one with a cool-down sequence afterward.
Heart + Air: (20 minutes) — A backbending vinyasa sequence, mostly focused on variations of bow pose. It contains some modifications for when bow is not a good option — though again, here is where I wanted the strap. My spine likes backbends as a general thing, and while I can safely do this as a stand-alone practice, I much prefer to use it as the second 20 minutes after I’ve warmed up a bit.
Water: (20 minutes) — A moderately paced, fluid vinyasa, this one incorporates a lot of “organic movement” and “finding your own rhythm.” Not really my thing for times when I’m using a DVD to sequence my practice, so I probably won’t use this one much.
Shanti: (20 minutes) — A slow, restorative sequence. I like it a lot as a companion to the Fire segment, but it would also be nice on its own for a lower energy sort of day.
Fire + Water: (20 minutes) — This is a playful, active sequence that incorporates core work, backbends, and arm balances. While the pace of this one isn’t as intense as the Fire segment, some of the individual postures are more physically challenging. This is one I’d recommend watching first before deciding whether or not to try it.
Chakra: (20 minutes) — A well-rounded flow that tries to incorporate elements of earth, water, fire, and air. (Woo.) Physically, it ends up being a nice progression of a basic sun salutation with different variations on the lunge segment: one getting into the hips, one using more fluid movement, one building heat in the thighs and core, one working toward a backbend. To me, this feels like a very balanced practice.
Core: (7 minutes) — A short add-on of reclining core work. An active segment, though because it’s reclining, users can adjust the specific intensity to their bodies and needs. I like to tack it on the beginning of some of the more restorative segments, especially when I don’t have time for a full 40 minute practice.
Forward Bends: (6 minutes) — A short add-on of seated forward folds. I like to use this as a quick cool down segment for more active practices and/or the backbending (where I don’t so much need a cool down as I do some counter poses).
Savasana: (6 minutes) — Never tried this. Same reason as the opening meditations.
Overall, I think this DVD’s strength lies in its versatility. I don’t like everything on this DVD, and of the things I do like, I don’t like everything for everyday. But for most days, I can find or create some sort of practice that meets my needs.
In terms of modifications, some are offered — but not always. In the Earth segment, Shiva Rea tells viewers that they’re welcome to skip any of the vinyasas during the practice. Since she also specifies that the Earth segment is the foundation for the rest of the segments, I took that to mean she was instructing that one could skip any vinyasas in the DVD. She routinely offers degrees of backbending options (for example, low cobra, high cobra, up dog) and specifies that knees down for chaturanga and/or prostration pushups is okay. However, for the forward folds, some of the twists, and some of the lunges, I created my own modifications. The ability to do that — as well as having enough experience and body awareness to know which poses you need to modify for yourself — is pretty crucial here.
Finally, as far as being fat-friendly, it’s where a lot of DVDs in my current collection are: It talks about the body in supportive rather than attacking terms. While there is sometimes talk of building strength, there is no corresponding talk of, say, “blasting fat.” There is zero diet or weight loss talk. And the idea that modifying poses is okay is built into the practice. On the other hand, the explicit modifications are often not the ones I need to make the pose accessible for my body’s shape rather than for my body’s strength. Similarly, the person demonstrating the asanas (Shiva Rea) is thin and flexible; I can’t look to the DVD itself to give me ideas on how to modify for a larger body.
This is disappointing; it is also par for the course. Also, it is disappointing that this is par for the course.
Grr. I actually don’t mean to end pessimistically about this DVD because, really? It’s a pretty good value for the money, and one could do much worse.
If you’re interested in the DVD up for giveaway — which is actually Shiva Rea’s Creative Core and Upper Body, please comment here or on my Facebook Page (or both for two entries) by Thursday, May 31st. I will announce a winner on Friday the 1st.