Breathing Lessons

Yoga DVD

When I was very young, I used to watch my mother doing yoga in the living room along with Lilias, courtesy of PBS. I’ve got friends and net-friends who practice, and a yoga center just opened in the local shopping center I like to visit, but I’m not ready for a formal class yet.

I was pretty excited, therefore, when I got the chance to review a yoga dvd. It’s the “Gentle Practice” disc from, and I’ve just finished my first half-hour session. I had to wait til I could breathe without coughing before I could try it.

Tonight, as a gentle rain fell beyond the window, I dimmed the lights and popped in the disc.

I was greeted by the teacher, a woman named Zyrka, whose manner and appearance reminded me very strongly of Donna Murphy’s character in Star Trek: Insurrection – very centered and serene, and with a sense of stillness that was extremely comfortable. Some exercise DVDs are intimidating; this one is not. From the moment Zyrka appeared on my screen, I was on board. She spends several minutes explaining how to dress (comfortable, movable, layers), and what equipment you need (a mat and yoga block are fine, but all you really need is a carpeted floor and a blanket). She stresses that you shouldn’t drink water (unless you’re pregnant) during the session, but MUST hydrate before and after, and she also goes through information like not to do inversion exercises if you have high blood pressure or during your period.

As I’ve been sick for a couple weeks, and, as posted earlier, am pretty tired today, and because I’ve never done yoga before, I chose to try the easiest shortest practice session, a 33 minute gentle workout for beginners. I’m a little too stiff in the knees for a couple of the poses, but I didn’t feel like I was straining. In fact, I feel pleasantly warm, and calm, but not tired, twenty minutes after completion.

Before actually doing a session I explored the DVD. There are six practice sessions available, a beginning series of roughly half, three-quarters, and a whole hour each, and a more challenging series of roughly the same lengths of time. The first one is mainly sitting poses.

There is also a pose guide, where you can work through the different poses at your own pace, to get a feel for how they should, well, feel. I explored that feature a little bit, and will look at it again before I do another session.

I’m really excited by this disc, and I think I’ll be adding a Sunday session to my week from now on. It just seems like the perfect calming/centering/stretching thing to cap a weekend and transition back into Monday.

I should add, that while I’m open to experiencing different spiritual traditions, some people are not. There is nothing of mysticism in this DVD. It’s all just being in tune with your body and breath.

Of course, now I’m hyper-conscious of my breathing, but that will pass.

The company that produces this yoga dvd, RealBodyWork, also makes a Tai Chi disc. I’m curious to see what that’s like.

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