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Yoga: Flow is an intermediate level vinyasa yoga DVD offering routines of varying lengths. In her Introduction, instructor Zyrka Landwijt explains that the Saraswati River Tradition combines hatha, jnana, and bhakti yogas with various wisdom traditions. The style is flowing, linking the postures with breath, and incorporates chanting, pranayama (breathwork), and meditation. To make these practices more accessible, Landwijt has divided the DVD into two separate series of three routines, A and B. The practice which form Series A move at a slightly slower pace, but they remain dynamic. Each of the Series B sequences begins with chanting and pranayama; these practices also incorporate a few more challenging postures. In addition, the DVD includes two supplementary practices, Surya Yoga and Yoga Nidra (described below). All of the practices are filmed outdoors, with the A sequences and the Yoga Nidra set on an oceanside beach, and the B practices and the Surya Yoga located by a tranquil riverfront. Landwijt utilizes voiceover cuing throughout. The music is described on the DVD case as "traditional Indian grooves and modern ambient tones."
The lengths for the A routines are 24, 45 (actually 42), and 60 minutes. Landwijt begins each of these practices seated on the mat, moving into cat/cow and cobra flows before coming up to standing for the sun salutations. Standing postures for all three practices include warrior 1, warrior 2, reverse warrior, and triangle pose. Each longer practice adds in additional postures--for example, the 45-minute practice includes more standing poses, such as crescent pose, twisting low lunge, and side angle, as well as extra floor postures such as bridge, shoulderstand, plow, and fish pose. The most challenging postures included in the 60-minute practice are probably half-moon, standing spits, and plow pose; there are no backbends (other than the cobras performed as part of the vinyasas) in any of the Series A routines.
As mentioned above, the Series B practices include chanting and pranayama. In fact, each of the three Series B routines begins with the same 8 ½ minute breathwork segment; as noted on-screen, you can choose to skip over this section if you prefer. After chanting ohm three times, Landwijt uses the following mantra: "Ambea Tambea Nadi Tambea Devi Tambea Namah Om Namami," which she repeats for several minutes. This is followed by three rounds of kapalabhati (skull-shining breath). As with the A routines, the B sequences continue from an opening seated position into cat/cow, but Landwijt then moves into down dog, and transitions directly to standing to begin the sun salutations. The three B practices, which are 30, 50, and 75 minutes in length, are quite similar to the A practices in terms of the postures included. However, Landwijt slightly increases the difficultly level of the B routines by inserting additional elements such as binds and more vinyasa flows (the latter of which continue even into the floor portion of the practice). Some of the postures which appear in the 75-minute practice that are unique to the B series include pyramid pose, side plank, bow pose, wheel, and happy babies pose.
The Surya Yoga sequence has its own submenu, providing options for guided instruction or music and sounds only. There is also an Introduction to this segment. Here Landwijt explains that the Surya practice combines sound vibrations with Bija Mantras in order to stimulate the chakras. She begins the routine with three rounds of kapalabhati. Then, coming to standing, she commences lunging sun salutations. For the guided instruction, Landwijt chants the mantras for each chakra live, while at the same time, her voiceover instruction cues each position in the sun salutes. In addition, a figure appears on the left-hand side of the screen, and each chakra--along with its corresponding color--is highlighted on this figure as Landwijt continues on for many repetitions. That is all there is to this 37-minute practice, which ends only with a brief moment in tadasana. The Yoga Nidra practice is 25 minutes long. This is a guided meditation to promote deep relaxation. Throughout the practice, Landwijt frequently encourages you to remind yourself "I am not sleeping; I am practicing yoga nidra." She guides you to relax each muscle of the body, to set an intention (sankalpa), to feel opposites in the body, and to then to direct your attention each of the chakras in turn, visualizing lotus flowers of specific colors as you do so. The Yoga Nidra concludes with a repetition of the sankalpa and a gradual reawakening of the body, finishing in a seated position for a final meditation.
This DVD is probably best suited to those who prefer a flowing, vinyasa style practice but who are not fans of faster-moving, "power" yoga routines. I also think that the Saraswati River style is likely to appeal more to practitioners who are comfortable with the idea of practicing chanting and pranayama even though these segments can be skipped. Overall, the routines are solidly intermediate in level, although well-experienced beginners might feel comfortable with the A series practices. One thing that I found slightly disappointing about this DVD is that I did not think there was much variety amongst the six main practices--i.e., although the duration of these routines fluctuated, I did not find much difference in actual content. For more information on deciding whether this DVD is right for you, view a clip at http://www.realbodywork.com/yoga.
© 2010 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.