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by Jessica James
We Heart Yoga, 2013
Review by Beth Cholette, Ph.D. on Feb 18th 2014
This DVD is offered by "celebrity trainer" Jessica James, whose web site does in fact feature endorsements from the likes of Jessica Alba and Kate Beckinsale. In We Heart Yoga: Prenatal Flow, James is eight months pregnant. She explains in her Intro that as a yoga instructor pregnant with her second child, she wanted to design a program appropriate for those who practice yoga prior to their pregnancy. She reviews modifications, describing how she created three levels of flows to allow for choice depending on energy levels. Finally, she recommends having props on hand to use with this DVD, including a yoga block, strap, and blanket.
In addition to the Intro, the Main Menu offers options for a 20, 40, or 60-minute routine. There is also an "Extras" selection which brings up music only options for each practice, a 10-minute meditation (which James says is meant to help prepare for labor and delivery), and a 7-minute interview with James. I have described each of the three main routines below. They feature James teaching alone via voiceover, with classical-type music in the background. Names of some of the specific flows as well as countdowns sometimes appear on-screen.
James starts this shortest practice in child's pose, then moves into cat/cow. She uses her "Flow 2" as a warm-up for this routine; this is followed by "Warrior Sprint," a fast-paced warrior flow series which includes vinyasas between every pose and which gradually picks up even more speed. Additional sequences include Frogs, seated Hips (e.g., forward bends), and a brief (about 1 minute) side-lying relaxation.
This routine begins kneeling with cat/cow; James again uses the Flow 2 series as a warm-up. Next is the "Dancing Warrior" sequence followed by "Kali Squat," performed on either side. Additional standing flows include Tree balance and then the Frog series from the first practice. Coming to kneeling, James performs Hamstring work and "Cat Pounce." The Hips work on the floor includes pigeon and butterfly, and then the practice again concludes with about a 1-minute side-lying relaxation.
In this longest practice, James begins with a brief seated meditation. She then moves into the flows, gradually working her way up to Flow 3 (although she suggests staying with Flow 1 or 2 if appropriate). The opening series is followed by the Warrior Sprint from the first practice, adding in the Frogs and Hamstrings, and then the Dancing Warrior from the second routine. Next is a new sequence, a seated "Arms Up" meditation; James then moves into the floor Hips work (pigeon and butterfly). There is a nice sequence of bridge with a block under the sacrum for support, and then this practice ends with a long (5 minute) side-lying relaxation.
James's web site states "Many prenatal yoga DVD's are soothing and gentle, but they really don't meet the needs of the pregnant woman who is serious about working with her body." For sure, this DVD does not offer gentle routines, and as James notes in her Intro, it is intended for those who already practice yoga. Although James goes on to suggest that beginners could use this DVD as well, I find that hard to imagine, especially mothers-to-be who are new to yoga—I am an experienced yoga practitioner who has never been pregnant, and I had a hard time keeping up with James in these routines! She sets a rapid pace, often moving on to the next posture before I was finished taking a full breath. Therefore, I would recommend this DVD only for extremely fit pregnant women looking to maintain their activity level.
© 2014 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.