Thursday, November 19, 2009

There's a Yogi On My T.V.!: A Review

I am a big fan of the yoga podcast classes available from YogaDownload. They offer all different levels, styles, and even have a few cardio classes (hello, running intervals, you always kick my butt so beautifully!). Customers can try out their many free 20 minute classes, or download others that range from 30 to 90 minutes. Classes can be purchased one at a time, but it's much thriftier to take advantage of the site's subscriptions. I own a year-long subscription, meaning that I can download as many podcast classes as I want in the space of that year, and then keep them even after that year is up.

Recently, YogaDownload has changed things up. Not only did they upgrade to a spiffy new web design, but they've also gone visual. Until now, all of their classes have been audio-only, coming bundled with a PDF pose guide. Now you can try out one of their five new classes in audio -- or in video! I, of course, downloaded all of the new classes in various formats and lengths. The new offerings are:
  • Jivamukti yoga, a new style for the site that I'm excited to try
  • another Baptiste power vinyasa flow from one of my favorite instructors, Dave Farmar
  • Yoga for strength
  • a second yoga flow with weights, making for a mega burn session on the mat
  • an addition to the site's collection of core yoga classes

The first new video class that I tested out was the 30 minute version of Yoga Sculpt #1, which is the class that incorporates hand weights. I've done completed the site's other weighted class, and it was hard. This new selection did not disappoint. The instructor leads the viewer through a flow, then picks up light weights (I used five pounds, but you can go lighter or heavier) and does the same flow with the weights, adding in some lifting as well. I also tried Dave Farmar's 60 minute power yoga class and loved it. He's a chaturanga machine!

In the video versions of the new classes, the instructor hops on and off the mat. She (or he!) switches between doing the poses, demonstrating more advanced postures, or using an example "student" as the object of a mini-lesson on form. There is background music that I find to be just okay -- I like the audio-only classes' soundtracks better.

I have mixed feelings about the video class options on YogaDownload. For me, video and audio both have their positives and negatives. Since I have poor vision without my glasses, I get a lot out of the audio-only classes. With any yoga video or DVD, I find myself distracted, or that I'm missing out on something if I don't wear my glasses during the practice. If I do wear my glasses, they irritate me to no end through the more inverted poses, as they flop up (down?) to my forehead. I have contact lenses, but they don't treat my astigmatism so my balance is jeopardized and I usually forgo them and practice yoga "blind."

However, there have been occasions during the audio-only classes when I wished for a complementary visual. In a few of Dave Farmar's power yoga classes, I have found myself at a loss when he calls for a certain pose. This occurs most often at the end of a practice, so I'm loathe to disrupt the flow by searching Yoga Journal's online database. With the video classes, now I simply have to squint up at the television screen to get a better idea of what my body is supposed to be doing without leaving the mat.

There are aspects of both the audio and video classes that I found valuable. Mostly, however, I enjoy being able to do a vigorous yoga class in my living room. Or bedroom. Or spare room. Plus, what's not to like about five brandy-new practices? It's like Christmas in . . . well, in near-winter, but that doesn't make YogaDownload's new offerings any less exciting.

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