I tried a yoga class several years ago and loathed it entirely. I have severe ADHD and a high stress job and I just could not get my brain to turn off. I found the whole exercise mentally exhausting and I had zero interest in trying again. I'm currently in the middle of a year long weight loss plan to lose 100 pounds [25 pounds down, y'all!] and needed a workout to improve my flexibility and strengthen my core, while being low impact. A friend recommended yoga. I laughed at her and then saw her results and shut my mouth. The added bonus to yoga was that it was supposed to help with my stress level - which my friends all agreed was a bit too high - and, although my last experience was not pleasant, I begrudgingly agreed to try it again. I had no interest in participating in a class again and looking like an uncoordinated spastic pigeon in front of other people, so I thought it would be best to find a DVD so I could do all the funny positions in the privacy of my own living room. [Happy baby pose... really?!?! The only person who needs to see me like that is my gynecologist.] I read dozens of reviews and found that the reviews for Jessica Smith were very much what I was looking for - calming voice, nice music, no chanting, attainable poses, etc. I bought this DVD and an accompanying Jessica DVD that was more advanced [I'm an overachiever, what can I say?]
It took me several days to work up the courage to even try my first workout [Did I mention I REALLY hated it last time?]. I started with the relaxation option on the Beginners and Beyond DVD. It started off fairly easy and advanced as the DVD went along. I felt a little stupid with my booty in the air and my shoulders twisted on the mat but I felt it working and so I pushed through. I survived with no bodily injuries and felt incredible afterwards. I was so relaxed by the end I couldn't believe thirty minutes had really passed. The stretches were difficult to start [I'm not the tiniest person in the world and my muscles have never stretched that way] but she found a way to add modifications that I found very helpful and possible. The next day I was sore but in a very good way. I could tell I had used muscles I don't usually utilize.
Speaking of the next day, I had an emergency at work - think community-wide PR nightmare. It was one of the most stressful days EVER. Previously I would turn to chocolate and eat my feelings but all day I found myself thinking about getting home to do yoga. "WHAT?!?!" my brain could not comprehend such nonsense. I even commented to a friend how bizarre it was that after one day it was all I could think about. So, I went home and did it again. During my second attempt I was able to see improvement in my stretches and felt myself gaining better balance and body awareness. I felt all kinds of gooey inside when I finished. I literally sat in the floor for ten minutes and couldn't believe how much better I felt after just two sessions. Then I went to bed and absolutely melted into my pillows. I slept better than I have in months. This all may sound like an exaggeration but it's absolutely true.
I'm hooked. I think I officially have to call myself a yogi now. I cannot wait to go home and do my yoga again tonight! [Life goal: do a handstand! I totally think I'll eventually get there if I keep going!]
I will absolutely continue using Jessica Smith's products and recommend them to anyone who is starting out and feels a little bit too chunky or uncoordinated for yoga. You're not! I promise! So what if your fat rolls keep you from reaching your toes! Mine do, but the whole point is reaching for those toes in the first place! In fact, I have a feeling these DVDs will never become "too easy" as there is always room for improvements and harder modifications - no matter how thin and coordinated you become!
I've been desperately in need of the ideal stretching routine to complement my other workouts and this DVD fit the bill perfectly.
This DVD has two seperate workouts or "practices" if you will, that both lengthen, strengthen and tone the body, and do so gently. No wacky binding moves, hand-stands, or pretzel twists necessary. Perfect for Yoga beginners, or advanced exercisers such as myself, who are looking to lengthen without pain and discomfort.
Both workouts are filmed outdoors in a gorgeous setting complete with sunshine, next to a sparkling pool, and swaying trees. The music is soothing and on cue featuring soothing, gentle classical tunes, as well as relaxing, calypso-style guitar. You don't have to be a "yogi" to do this DVD. Like another reviewer mentioned, there is no chanting or sanskit, which can often invoke negativity in regards to the term "yoga".
AM Yoga is your more "typical" yoga practice, with standing, and floor exercises done on a mat. Jessica shows beginner, as well as more intermediate to advanced moves for all the poses. Familiar poses in this workout include warrior, reverse warrior, childs pose, downward facing dog, bird-dog, cow-cat and several others, done in a flowing sequence that is soothing, yet tones and lengthens the muscles. This practice closes with a quiet, meditation.
PM Yoga is more of a stretching routine, and requires a mat, a small pillow (not necessary on carpet or a thicker yoga mat) and a towel or yoga strap to help stretch and lengthen your muscles. (alternatively, I used a flat resistance band for the same effect). This routine is great for use after a touch, vigourous workout, when you need a little more stretching. There is also a relaxing, quiet meditation at the end of this routine that is very refreshing.
Both routines are great, and can be used seperately, or in complement to other workout programs or routines you may be doing.
This DVD is designed for "beginners and beyond" , but perfectly met me needs as a more advanced exercisor. I am anxious to use it reguarly throughout my fitness journey, and beyond.
I've done both practices on this DVD, and they are quite different (which is a good thing). The evening routine is very stretchy and slow moving, and I really like the way that Smith uses the props to demonstrate and says "if you can reach with your hands, do that"; most instructors will do a short demo with the prop and then go back to being an intimidating pretzel while this beginner thinks, "I'll never be able to do THAT!" The morning routine is a very good workout without being a killer for those working on gaining fitness and flexibility--you will know that you are using your muscles and getting some tone, flexibility, and strength. Smith builds you to more difficult movements by starting small, then letting you know if this is your limit today, repeat that level while she goes on to do slightly more difficult versions of the movements. It's very easy to decide where to stop and repeat or continue depending on your own fitness and flexibility.
I'm new to working out with Jessica Smith, but I just ordered both this Yoga Stretch DVD and her Walk On DVD since I've read wonderful things about her on the Video Fitness forums (where people post about at-home exercise DVDs). This Yoga Stretch DVD is fantastic!
The main menu includes a short Introduction video from Jessica that explains the two workouts, and then the options of selecting either the Energizing Flow (designed for the morning/daytime) practice or the Relaxing Flow (designed for the evenings) practice. Each one comes in at just about thirty minutes long. In the Intro segment, Jessica recommends that you alternate between the two sequences.
To do the practices, you'll want a yoga mat, and, for the Relaxing Flow, a towel or yoga strap and a pillow.
The two sequences are filmed outdoors next to a pool, and it is just Jessica in each workout with some light instrumental music in the background. I love her personality, and how she guides you through each practice. Her cueing is excellent (which is particularly important on a yoga DVD when you can't always see the DVD), and both Flows are a nice combo of yoga and stretching.
In each one, she includes some traditional yoga poses like Warrior 1 and 2, but also mixes in some gentle leg lifts and other stretches. The P.M. workout also includes a lot more stretching of the hamstrings and more hip openers (using the towel or yoga strap), which always feels so nice at the end of the day.
These are also great for many levels. I consider myself to be an intermediate-level yoga practioner, and could see this being perfect for anyone from beginners who don't want something too taxing to more advanced yogis who want a gentler practice.
I can see why everyone loves Jessica, and will definitely be buying more of her DVDs!
I am a beginner and was certainly out of shape, with bad knees to boot. I've been following this DVD for the last three weeks (usually the Energizing Flow 3-4x/week and the Relaxing Flow 2-3x/week) and there is a noticeable difference in the way I feel. I have toned up some of the problem areas (belly and butt) and my knees even feel better. I feel stronger and longer from using this DVD and I continue to improve on the techniques on a daily basis. When I first started I couldn't perform every rep of every exercise and would take a few breaks, but now I can follow along with no problem. Slowly but surely. So, even if you are brand new to yoga, stick with this dvd and you'll feel better and sleep better like I do!
I'm 65 and at first this was a real challenge for me so I just did very modified poses as I followed along. I'm now up to 90% and that just works fine with me. I love the detailed instructions because it means I can follow along without having to look at the TV. This is right up there with my all time favorite stretch/yoga videos. Thanks, Les
This is a really awesome yoga dvd, I would highly recommend it. The relaxing flow is especially effective, but the energizing flow wasn't exactly what I expected. It will definitely help me, though. The dvd isn't totally user friendly for naive people like me; it took awhile to figure out that to make it play, you have to click not on the word, but the little line that pops up underneath it when you hover over it. Overall, great stretch routine for about any level of ability- Jessica gives you a lot of options as to how far to take it (in difficulty), so almost anyone can benefit. I have only tried the AM and PM flows once each, but I already feel like they could be very helpful in improving posture and decreasing some of my neck and back muscle pain (I have mild scoliosis). P.S. It is totally true... no creepy chanting or spiritual component, just a good stretch. The music in the PM flow has an extremely relaxing effect.
I have been sedentary for 10 years, and I am about 60 pounds overweight. I have been using this dvd for 3-4 times per week for the past month, and I cannot even begin to tell you how different I feel! I have lost about 8 pounds, but I feel so much stronger doing these moves. Jessica Smith (instructor) is legit! Wish I had tried yoga years ago...it freaking rocks.
First of all, I love yoga already. But, these 2 routines really help stretch out tension and Jessica gives you time to really breathe into the stretch - which I have found to be annoying with other instructors when they rush to the next move. The energizing flow is perfect to get you moving in the morning or for those days when you're feeling sluggish. It didn't feel like a workout at all but I was actually a little sore the next day from this workout and I would like to consider myself in shape. The relaxing flow is really nice if you want a good stretching session. In the past, I never took the time to stretch or focus on my flexibility, but now it's a part of my routine. The stretches feel nice and if you hold tension in your muscles this is a good way to let it go. When I'm stressed, I tend to get tension headaches and back pain from my tight muscles... these workouts help! I highly recommend. My only suggestion is that I wish there were more routines on this DVD. Otherwise, it's great.
Jessica Smith has made me a believer. 30 minute cycles and a great deep burn. She has a wonderful, calming voice and maintains great pace. As a yoga beginner (and a sporadic exerciser), it's amazing how pumped I am to do this video. I recommend this DVD to anyone who wants to start yoga. This will not be my first Jessica Smith video!