Yoga Transformation: Weight Loss and Balance with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles ($8.99, Lionsgate)
Watching this DVD feels like being in a real-life yoga class with Tara Stiles:
Rather than do all the moves herself, she spends much of the workout correcting and offering feedback to a small group of women featured in the video. You can learn from her narration as well as the adjustments she’s making to others. Vinyasa, or “flow” yoga, moves along at a speedier pace than more meditative styles, and Tara occasionally seems to be rushing to get her words out. But in all, this is a thorough yoga workout that will get your blood pumping, and the addition of a 15-minute guided meditation with Deepak adds balance. If you like the format, also try Yoga Transformation: Strength and Energy with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles.
Shiva Rea: More Daily Energy Vinyasa Flow Yoga (Acacia)
It would be temping to just sit and watch Shiva Rea perform the moves in this DVD — her grace as she moves through a seemingly endless series of poses is a thing of beauty, not unlike watching a bare-bones ballet. But that may also be intimidating to beginners, and though she verbally offers modifications for some advanced moves, there are no other practitioners in the video to actually demonstrate them. Still, there’s no question this DVD offers a lot of bang for your buck: There are more than two hours of yoga sessions to choose from, and you have the ability to combine them in endless variations. Try a different practice every day, and you may be surprised how quickly you begin to look like your teacher.
Elements Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners ($11.99, Anchor Bay)
As the name implies, this DVD is a terrific introduction to yoga for anyone curious about the practice but intimidated by learning the ropes in a class. Tamal Dodge discusses the fundamentals of yoga poses and their effects, offering a comprehensive array of information without overwhelming viewers with complicated explanations or a lot of unfamiliar words. The two 30-minute segments, Hatha and Flow, offer exposure to two popular but different styles of yoga, which may help beginners decide what better suits their lifestyle and needs. The DVD comes packaged with a yoga strap to help modify and ease into poses.
Bethenny’s Skinnygirl Workout ($9.49, Acacia)
It’s not clear from the title, but this workout—which Bethenny promises is what keeps her in terrific shape—is all yoga, led by NYC instructor Mike McArdle. There are three separate segments that you can mix and match. At times it feels like you’re spying on a private training session between Bethenny and Mike, as they discuss how the moves are making her feel, and he makes suggestions and modifications on the spot. It’s doubtful that this 50-minute yoga regimen (even done daily) alone will give you a hot bod like Bethenny’s. But it is a great strength workout and an appealing approach to yoga — especially you prefer to practice in an urban studio rather than on a remote mountaintop.
Christine Felstad’s Yoga for Runners: Intermediate Program ($14.99, Stingbabe Productions)
It’s rare nowadays to find a yoga instructor who circulates among the class, helping adjust her students as they try to find the proper form for a pose. But a video instructor who allows her “cast” to demonstrate while she takes a hands-on approach to teaching is even rarer. While unique, this technique used by Christine Felstad in this follow-up to her basic Yoga for Runners DVD is the next best thing to having someone give you a push here or a pull there to get your body to that place of “ahhh.” You’ll get over the slight echo in the cavernous (but beautiful) room, and Felstad’s odd pronunciations (inhale rhymes with the name Hal, for example) when you see that she clearly knows both running and yoga, and that her program will help strengthen and stretch key areas to improve recovery and performance.
Ellen Barrett Live: Power Fusion ($11.99, Buff Girl Fitness)
Yoga purists may not appreciate this take on the practice, which combines poses with elements of a low-impact dance workout. There’s a lot of moving in and out of poses rhythmically, then repeating the sequence, or pulsing the moves to a beat. But if you’re looking more for a strengthening calisthenics workout than a spiritual practice, you’ll find much to like. There are no fancy camera angles or elaborate set here — the video is literally shot in Ellen’s studio with regular students in one take. But her innovative twist on yoga is worth checking out. Also try the DVD featuring Ellen’s mix of ballet and Pilates: Grace and Gusto.
Kimberly Fowler’s Yoga + Weights ($14.95, YAS Productions)
Another fitness-themed variation, this DVD offers a combination of yoga and weight training by incorporating light dumbbell work — tricep dips, bicep curls, upright rows and more — into a series of poses. The camera cuts between instructor Kimberly Fowler alone in a studio and a class full of regular folks, but there’s no interaction between teacher and students. The lack of music may be a blessing, considering how irritating fitness DVD soundtracks can be, but at times it’s almost eerily quiet. Still, if a no-frills production and different approach to yoga appeals to you, give it a try.