DVD Video: Ashtanga Yoga, First Series
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Amazon.com Editorial Review
Ashtanga yoga is a practice that utilizes poses in succession to create an overall physical workout and meditative calm. In Ashtanga Yoga, First Series DVD, veteran yoga practitioner David Swenson presents postures and breathing control in an approachable style. The routine that opens this two-hour video is somewhat overwhelming, and participants should not be deterred because of the high difficulty level that Swenson illustrates. This intro displays the potential, possibilities, and merits of this practice and participants are not expected to achieve these postures (at least not on the first try). The first set teaches breathing and the importance of the "ujjayi" breath, which creates a sound at the back of the throat (like a swirling). Each breath is to be held for five counts and enables concentration and flexibility to be at their optimum. Spirituality is described as the one thing that sets yoga practitioners apart from other athletes because it connects the inner self to the outer self. Swenson captures this spirituality through focus and meditation within the sun salutations. A series of poses are explained with directional cueing about body alignment and proper form. This first section is essential for beginners, and a wealth of information is given not only about breathing, concentration, and movement, but also about the history and applicability of Ashtanga yoga. Postures are slowly taught, layer upon layer, and finally put together to create one fluid sequence of poses. Within the second practice session, additional postures are taught and linked together to make one cohesive routine. It may take some rehearsal to grasp the headstands, back bends, and inverted poses, and a great amount of flexibility is required to execute some of these moves. However, this is a stellar program that would be inspiring to a wide range of fitness levels while delivering a complete yoga experience.