Sunday, January 2, 2011

Video Yogi

Hatha Yoga Video Lunge Pose - HanurasanaImage by myyogaonline via FlickrThis morning's practice was guided by a DVD. Most days I let my body and my teaching skills guide my home yoga practice, but some days my "teacher mind" needs a rest and I pull out one of the numerous yoga videos I keep on hand for days like this and for reference and inspiration when planning classes.

Not all yoga videos are created equal, and not every video is suitable for every body. Do you have a pile of videos you brought home or received as gifts, tried once, then decided they were no good because you couldn't do all the poses, they moved too fast (or too slow), or you couldn't follow the instruction and found yourself awkwardly twisting your neck trying to see the television screen under your leg so you could figure out if you had the pose correct?

Me too.

But there are a few tips for using yoga videos that might help you rescue some of those videos from the discard pile.

  1. Use the remote. DVDs give you lots of flexibility (how very yoga-like of them!) when you learn to use the remote. My favorite button is PAUSE. I have a yoga DVD with very nice sequencing, but the instructor rushes through the asanas so fast I barely have time to take a breath. I keep the remote close at hand, and when she heads into a pose I'd like to hold longer, I hit the pause button and watch my breath for awhile. Didn't catch something she said? Scan back and listen again. Need to take a break in child's pose? The STOP button is handy too.
  2. Modify, modify, modify. Very few videos, even the ones called "beginner" videos, offer modifications for the asanas, but you've been to yoga class and you know how to modify or prop some of those poses, so do it. Just because the video instructor isn't sitting on a blanket in her forward fold doesn't mean you can't do it. Tell yourself if she could see you she'd be right there tucking that blanket under your sitting bones.
  3. Look it up. A basic book of yoga asanas is a handy video-watching tool, especially when trying something new. If you follow the instructions on the video and the asana doesn't feel right or you just don't get the directions, pause the video, grab your book, find the pose and start reading. Maybe the book will give you the "ah-ha" you didn't get from the video.
  4. Listen to your body. Remember that the body on the television screen isn't the one you need to be paying attention to. Just because the video goes on for two hours doesn't mean you can't stop after 20 minutes. If an asana isn't right for you, skip it. Use the time between PAUSE and PLAY to feel your way through your body and learn something about that asana.
  5. Don't skip Savasana. Savasana is the hardest pose for me to do at home. Many videos end by putting your on your mat and then rolling the credits, leaving the viewer to decide when Savasana is over. Unless the video has a solid final relaxation segment, as soon as I settle down I start wondering how long it's been and thinking about what else I need to be doing. I find that setting a meditation timer or just the timer on my watch helps me let go of keeping track of the time so I can really relax. Savasana is the most important pose of your practice, so don't cheat yourself and take 5 minutes for bliss.
Some videos will never float your boat, even with these tips. Make space for new ones by donating those to your local library. Who knows? The video that you never liked may be just the thing to inspire someone else's practice. Share the yoga love.
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