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by Rodney Yee
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Jan 28th 2014
This DVD is the latest partnership from veteran yoga instructor Rodney Yee and lifestyle company Gaiam. It is unfortunately titled, as Yee has been featured in several prior Gaiam videos with very similar names, including 2011's Daily Yoga and AM Yoga for Your Week, released in 2008. However, despite Gaiam's tendency to re-package workouts, Yoga for Your Week actually contains all-new footage.
Here Yee offers five different routines, which vary from just under 18 minutes to just over 23 minutes in length. As is typical for him, Yee instructs via voiceover but does not provide mirrored cueing. He appears alone on a somewhat overcast beach, with the only décor being two large green flags (apparently for shade) in the background. I have provided times and broken down each practice in greater detail below.
AM CONNECTION (17:25)
This routine focuses mainly on standing postures which gradually build in intensity. Yee starts standing, moving through large arm circles and then chair pose with arm circles. A second series flows from wide-legged forward bend to side legged stretch to side squat. Next, Yee moves from warrior 2 down to the floor for a half seated twist, repeating twice on each side. The following standing flow starts with side angle pose and moves with Tai Chi arms to warrior 1 on the second side, again repeating twice. Two more standing sequences follow: 1) triangle to half-moon to candy cane pose, and 2) warrior 1 to warrior 3 to wide-legged series. Yee concludes with hero's pose, constructive rest, and a brief relaxation before finishing seated.
PM RELEASE (21:45)
After a brief standing warm-up, this practice centers mainly around seated forward bends. Yee starts standing, moving from a wide-legged forward bend/side leg stretch to a lunge/pyramid sequence. Coming to seated (facing to the side, so away from the TV, which is awkward), Yee begins a sequence that includes a cross-leg forward bend, cobbler's pose, and staff pose. He also performs a seated leg extension, then moves into one-legged seated forward bend variations. The final seated forward bends include double pigeon, cobbler's forward bend, wide-legged forward bend, and full seated forward bend. Yee finishes with constructive rest, a brief relaxation, and finally concludes seated.
This practice begins with what Yee describes as a core sequence. This series includes cobbler's, wide-legged seated pose, and staff pose, as well as twists such as simple seated twist, cross-legged twist, and sage 1 twist. Yee gradually incorporates half- and full-boat, and he ends the sequence with forward bends in cobbler's and wide-legged poses. Coming through down dog to standing, Yee moves through modified sun salutations, including "little hops." He uses a full sun salutation A to move into three-legged dog pose and right into pigeon, holding this posture only briefly before transitioning to a one-legged side stretch, performing this pose twice on either side. Yee concludes this routine with cobbler's pose, wide-legged seated forward bend, and a short seated meditation. As with the other practices, there is a very brief savasana before finishing in a seated position.
This practice centers mainly around backbends. Yee begins standing for a flowing chair sequence; from here, he adds in some mild standing backbends such as crescent lunge and warrior 1. Transitioning to face-down on the floor, he comes into portrait pose (hands under chin) with leg lifts and then moves through locust, cobra, and camel. After another transition through down dog, he performs several repetitions of plank pose and two repetitions of bow pose. Next, he comes to the back, building to upward bow pose. The final seated postures are cobbler's and a seated twist, and then Yee finishes with reclined knees-to-chest, a brief relaxation, and seated Namaste.
This routine opens seated for an approximately 7.5-minute core-focused sequence. (Those familiar with Yee's Yoga: Core Cross Train will recognize many of these exercises.) The series involves a flow between cobbler's pose, wide-legged seated pose, and happy babies pose. Coming to a squatting position, Yee performs arm balance prep work, gradually placing weight on the hands. After standing to perform tree and Shiva's poses, Yee returns to a squat for full crow pose. This is followed by standing half-lotus and single leg extension, then Yee returns to a squatting position for side crow. He concludes this practice with cobbler's pose, a lying arm/leg release, and a brief relaxation, finishing in a seated position.
Yee, who was originally Iyengar-trained but who has developed his own unique combination of alignment and flow over the years, offers some truly masterful sequencing on this DVD. I have never seen such unique transitions (e.g., warrior to seated twist, pigeon to side stretch) and I would have relished in these routines--except that Yee sets a pace which feels rather rushed, failing to allow time to settle into the postures. (This was particularly evident in savasana: Yee cues one to relax/scan the body, and in the very next breath, he is already coming back to seated.) Furthermore, the titles of the practices do not seem to have a specific connection to the actual routines--i.e., "Strength," which was full of backbends, felt more like an energy-based practice, whereas "Flexibility," with its work on arm balances, seemed more like strength work.
Yee himself appears pleased with this DVD--in every routine, he practices with a joyful expression on his face. I highly respect Yee as an instructor, and although he offers some elements of interest here, based on his prior work, I know that he can do even better.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.