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by Ana Brett & Ravi Singh (Directors)
White Lion Press, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Nov 28th 2006

Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond

The DVD Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond is about an hour and five minutes long, and consists of 2 sets, each of about half an hour. Ana Brett sits on a fuzzy pink circular rug in a studio, wearing short shorts and a tight fitting top. In the background is Eastern flavored music, and both Ravi Singh and Brett give instructions in voice-over. Brett starts off with deep breathing and breath of fire, and then moves to a short chant. Then she moves to more physical exercise, sitting cross-legged and rotating her torso. Next she sits with her legs flat out in front of her, and with arms extended in front and a flat back, she performs a backward/forward motion; then, kneeling down, she moves her torso back and forth, bending the spine both ways. Other exercises for the spine and torso follow. In between each physical movement is a short meditation, with resting and breathing. The most difficult exercise turned out to be one involving the least physical movement: Brett holds her hands in front of her heart, the left hand facing out, and the right hand facing in, and with the fingers interlaced. The hands pull against each other, and you breathe in and hold the breath. Then, for a shorter time, you breathe out and hold it. Then you raise your hands above your head, and do it again, and then take your hands back down to heart level. This only takes a couple of minutes, but it is quite a challenge. Breath control is an essential part of this practice, and there's careful coordination of breath with movement.

Set 2 is more physically demanding. It starts from sitting with your legs extended in front of you, and then placing your feet flat on the ground and raising your middle up into bridge pose with your arms straight under your shoulders, and then sitting back down again. You repeat this action for several minutes, and it is a relief when you finally finish and get to lie down. The next exercise is leg lifts, in which you lift both your legs and head from the ground, keeping the legs straight and the balls of the heels extended. This really works the abdominals. Following this, you move between downward dog and upward dog, which again is a challenge after a couple of minutes. After this, there's another movement between two familiar poses, camel pose and child's pose, and this gives the spine a good work out. The set ends with standing up and spinning, and this will probably make you dizzy. The DVD ends with rest, breathing, and meditation.

Some of the claims of the DVD seem a little dubious: for example, I am not very willing to believe that standing up and spinning is good for the liver. Some people will feel self conscious about the chanting part, and they may also be unconvinced that it is helpful. However, these elements are not likely to do you any harm, and they may be helpful. The physical exercise and the breathing control, as well as the meditation, are quite likely to be beneficial.

The production is rather simple. The DVD does not have any special features but it is possible to select the different chapters using the DVD menu. It gives a good yoga workout, and Ana Brett is attractive. The exercises are quite different from those in most other yoga DVDs. The instruction is clear and uses English names for the yoga poses. While the title indicates that it is aimed at beginners, it would be helpful for those using it to have some familiarity with the basic poses such as downward dog, upward dog, and camel so that they would have a clear idea of what those poses are meant to feel like in static form before trying to include them in a dynamic movement. For people more familiar with hatha yoga, this DVD should present an interesting and pleasing different approach to strengthening the mind and body.

 

 

Link: Ravi & Ana web site

 

© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.




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