Yoga Zone Ultimate Collection


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Disc 1 - Evening Stress Release for Beginners
Filmed in Jamaica, Yoga Zone: Evening Stress Relief offers lovely scenery and intensive relaxation for anyone who needs to unwind at the end of the day. This workout is divided into two 20-minute practices that can be done together or separately. The first of these two sessions starts slowly by introducing breathing techniques and yoga terminology. A series of limbering stretches are taught to increase flexibility and allow optimum extension into postures. Cueing is great here, as participants are frequently reminded to breathe in and exhale with each movement. Poses that strengthen the abdominal muscles and a sequence of back bends are performed with modifications offered throughout these postures. Meditation closes out the first session with attention to eliminating tension and increasing breathing capacity. The second set is staged on a sandy beach with greater attention to body alignment and active limbs. The major muscles of the legs and arms are trained through downward facing dog and deep lunges. Postures that lengthen the abdominal wall (like the cobra) are performed as the perfect complement to the preceding abdominal work (in the first session). Breathing is also imperative here. Participants are reminded that each exhale has the ability to move one deeper into a pose (participants are also encouraged not to force their flexibility limits). This fine workout program is ideal for beginners and intermediates who are looking to reduce tension and become more limber. --Olivia Voigts

Disc 2 - Fat Burning

Disc 3 - Introduction to Power Yoga
"Power Yoga" has gradually become the aerobics of the new millennium, driven by a no-pain-no-gain ethos that emphasizes sweat and strengthening over yoga's more subtle benefits. But this two-part, 40-minute Yoga Zone program takes a more mild approach, hewing to the philosophy that the power of power yoga depends less on aggressive, strenuous poses than on conscious awareness of oneself and the vital link between breath and movement. Both parts rely on brisk, flowing repetitions of several vinyasas (connected series of poses). The first includes some standing positions (mountain, warrior I and II, etc.), lunges, twists, side stretches, and the camel backbend; those new to yoga will find the sequence alternating between the downward dog and plank positions to be fairly demanding, but there's nothing outrageously hard here. The second part again concentrates on the downward dog, one of the essential poses in yoga, along with twists, stretches (like the "blown palm," a standing side stretch), forward bends, lunges and so on. The virtue of repeating vinyasas -- i.e., moving in and out of several poses, one breath at a time--is that it reinforces proper breathing patterns, and the instructors do a good job of reminding you when to inhale and exhale, which is not so simple as it might sound. More warm-up time would be helpful--beginners and experienced yogis alike should do some stretching before starting--but once you get going, the DVD menu allows for easy selection of either part, or the various series within them. You can also do the practice without the instruction, accompanied only by the music. --Sam Graham

Disc 4 - Stretching for Flexibility

Disc 5 - Total Body Conditioning
Set in the beautiful landscapes of Jamaica, Yoga Zone's Total Body Conditioning delivers the intensive mind and body experience that has made Yoga Zone so popular. Divided into two distinct 20-minute workouts, the programs can be done individually for the time-pressed exerciser or together for an extended challenge. The first of these contains an informal approach to breathing and lengthening exercises. Isometric abdominal work is coupled with pelvic tilts and meditation. Some familiar postures are seen within this first session, with warrior, triangle, and mountain poses. The second session includes some deeper lunges and forward bends with the same focus on body alignment and posture. Total Body Conditioning illustrates a plausible beginning format because of its practical and approachable postures with a minimal risk of injury. In fact, programs like this can actually lengthen and strengthen the core muscles, which may aid in injury prevention. Meditation closes out both sessions and mats are necessary throughout all phases of this workout. The instruction and content here are so solid that beginners and intermediates alike will feel at home. --Olivia Voigts

Disc 6 - Yoga for Abs
Looking to develop those six-pack abs to show off on the beach? Then yoga is not for you. If, however, you want to strengthen both your abdominals and your lower back, while keeping your stomach muscles supple but not rock hard, then yoga's the way to go. This two-part, 40-minute program from Yoga Zone uses a variety of poses (some of them joined together in flowing sequences known as vinyasas) that are obviously directed at the abs; the scale pose (also known as the boat), for instance, will certainly work those muscles hard, as will the table pose, the "forearm plank" (the upward pushup position, but with elbows on the floor), and others. But both parts of the practice also incorporate a variety of other asanas, such as standing positions and side stretches, that develop abdominal strength more subtly, as the instructors frequently remind you to tilt your pelvis forward and tuck your stomach muscles in, thus gently but firmly engaging your abs throughout your entire yoga routine. You'll work reasonably hard, but you won't endure endless series of crunches as you relentlessly "go for the burn." With a selectable DVD menu, you can sequence the poses any way you like, or jump to any particular section. You can also turn off the instruction and do the practice accompanied only by the music track. This is a peculiar option; the point of practicing yoga is to take your awareness inside, not stare at a TV screen, and the teacher's vocal guidance is usually an essential part of that process. But if it works, go for it. --Sam Graham