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by Ashley Turner
Anchor Bay, 2013
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Sep 24th 2013
Yoga instructor Ashley Turner has been featured in several of Anchor Bay's Element yoga videos, including Element: Yoga for Weight Loss and another DVD with a title very similar to this one, Element: Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility. Each release in this series offers two routines of approximately 30 minutes in length, with Turner practicing alone in an attractive poolside garden setting showcasing the Pacific ocean in the background.
Turner teaches via voiceover and provides mirrored cuing, using a combination of Sanskrit and English terminology. Her only prop is her yoga mat, and throughout each practice, she mentions modifications for some of the postures (sometimes shown in inset).
The Main Menu of this DVD offers the following options:
*Play Yoga for Strength
*Play Yoga for Flexibility
I have broken down each of the practices in greater detail below (times are approximate).
YOGA FOR STRENGTH (33.5m)
Turner begins this practice standing, with a focus on breath and setting an intention (sankalpa). For a warm-up, she performs some neck rolls. Coming to the head of the mat, she moves from a forward bend to plank to side plank, with long holds of the latter on either side. Transitioning through low cobra and down dog, Turner comes to a lying position for core work, including several variations of crunch/leg lower moves with the legs in the air. Following the core work, Turner rocks up to a squat position and then into a standing forward bend. Next is a crescent lunge series where Turner moves in and out of the lunge, adding arm movements, and then continuing into warrior 3 and standing splits. She performs a chair sequence before repeating the crescent series on the second side. Turner concludes the standing work with warrior 2 and side angle postures. She then returns to the floor for what she calls "bow" pose (actually a version of locust) and more abdominal work, lowering and lifting into boat pose. Returning to the back, she performs boat pose with the option of going up into wheel "if you are familiar with the pose." The final posture is a cross-leg twist, and Turner concludes the practice with a short (1 minute) savasana before returning to seated for an affirmation and single "ohm."
YOGA FOR FLEXIBILITY (31.5m)
Turner again opens the routine by initiating ujjayi breathing and engaging in a few stretches, including neck rolls, arm rolls, and side bends. She then encourages setting a sankalpa that focuses on flexibility, and she chants a single "ohm." Continuing the standing warm-ups, she moves from standing to a squat position to generate some heat, then performs hip circles. Using a half sun salutation, she transitions to hands and knees. From this position, Turner moves through thread-the-needle, cat/cow, leg extensions, and hydrant hip circles. Next she starts with runner's lunge, comes up to pyramid pose, and then opens up into triangle pose. For the second side, she takes these postures in reverse order, and the transitions felt awkward to me. Wide-legged stretches follow, including an inner thigh stretch and a twist; Turner then gradually moves into lateral splits. The final postures include revolved head-to-knee and twisting forward bend. This time, the affirmation is included as part of the savasana (1.5 minutes) before concluding seated.
This is a guided, mindfulness-based meditation practice. Turner provides instruction for finding a comfortable seated position and arranging the hands comfortably as well. She encourages use of a "witness mind" throughout the practice. Turner recommends engaging in meditation on a daily basis.
As an instructor, Turner is pleasant and encouraging. While her practices do not provide a level of teaching that would be sufficient for those completely new to yoga, these routines are likely to appeal to yoga students within a wide range of experience levels. Personally, I did not enjoy the overall flow of the practices on this DVD, which was disappointing since I do particularly like Turner's Element: Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility. However, this may be an idiosyncratic preference--other users may find that they prefer this newer release.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.