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by Amy Weintraub
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Jan 19th 2010
Amy Weintraub, the instructor of this DVD, discovered that the practice of Kripalu yoga served to alleviate her own depression. Eventually, she went on to develop what she calls Life Force Yoga, described on her web site as yoga "plain and simple." This is Weintraub's second Life Force Yoga to Beat the Blues offering; in her Introduction, she states that this practice is intended for students with yoga experience. Here she instructs a more challenging sequence of poses than in her previous video, again combining the yoga asanas (postures) with chanting of specific sounds, called Sanskrit mantras, as well as engaging in various forms of breathing exercises or pranayama/kriya. All of the above are designed specifically to stimulate the solar plexus chakra.
In the helpful insert that comes with the DVD, Weintraub reviews the various chants that will be used and suggests that you perform the entire sequence at least once, although the DVD does allow the option of customizing your own practice. [Note: Also in the insert, Weintraub specifically mentions that the practice of the kriya breathing techniques, locks (bhandas), and breath retention (kumbhaka) are not appropriate for those with Bipolar disorder/mania and should also be avoided by those who are pregnant, menstruating, or suffering from unmedicated high blood pressure, glaucoma, digestive distress, or an inflammation of the alimentary track.]
The Main Menu of the DVD lists the following chapter options:
- Introduction, 3:45
- Clearing the Space for Sankalpa, 5:55
- Warm-Ups—Heating the Core, 10:41
- Standing Strengthening Poses, 22:18
- Back Bending Poses, 7:25
- Inversion, 2:20
- Forward Bend & Twists, 11:14
- Flow, 2:56
- Yoga Nidra, 12:45
Weintraub practices alone outdoors in a bright, grassy, park-like setting. She teaches via voiceover and does not mirror-cue. The first segment, Clearing the Space, centers around energy and breathing exercises, including uddiyana bandha, the abdominal lock. Weintraub repeatedly returns to the idea of the sankalpa, generally thought to be one's intention for the practice. She brings the sankalpa into the Warm-Ups, adding chanting to the movements. The sound "mahaha!" which is thought to stimulate the heart chakra, is repeated while moving through a lunge series; cat/cow and down dog also appear in this chapter. The Standing Strengthening Poses consist of a series of postures completed all on one side of the body before moving on to the other; these include warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle, half-moon, standing splits, pyramid pose, and warrior 3. For the Back Bending Poses, Weintraub begins with cobra pose prep, moves in a flow to down dog, and concludes with camel pose.
In the Inversion segment, Weintraub gives you the option of either performing a simple, beginner's level inversion on your knees (kneeling yoga mudra) or practicing a more advanced inversion such as headstand or handstand on your own if you are already proficient in those postures. In either case, this segment is quite brief, and Weintraub quickly moves on to the Forward Bends & Twists. She begins with half Lord of the Fishes pose, coming out of this into a seated extended hand-to-foot posture and then finally head-to-knee pose. She then performs boat pose before repeating the series on the other side. "Flow" is a short free-form segment; Weintraub encourages you to do whatever feels natural for your body during this time. Finally, the practice ends with Yoga Nidra, a lengthy guided relaxation.
Weintraub's joy in filming this DVD is obvious and somewhat infectious. If you open both your heart and mind to practicing in this manner, it is likely that it will boost your mood and your spirit. Finally, this practice is best suited for intermediate and above yoga students.
© 2010 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students