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Under Review: Surf Yoga Soul

Posted Jun 18 2009 11:51am
I think it would be cool to learn to surf. I love the laid-back, beachy vibe and the Hawaiian prints. I’m also sure that surfing is a killer full-body workout. There’s just two minor problems for me: 1) Northern California’s water is a bit chilly, and even with a wet suit I’m pretty sure I would get hypothermia and 2) I don’t like being in water, ocean water especially, where I can’t see my feet (I can trace this phobia back to my youth).

I tried the workout DVD Surf Yoga Soul in the hopes that I would feel like I was getting a surfing lesson on land. While some of the poses are geared to strengthen you for surfing, some of them you could actually do on your board in the water while waiting for the next big wave, which had never occurred to me.

Set on a beach with surf boards sticking out of the sand, it definitely had that laid-back vibe I expected. With a mix-and-match setup of seven total segments of varying lengths and difficulty, you can customize a yoga workout that fits your mood—or if you want to go all out, you can do 75 minutes straight. I chose to break up the segments over a couple of days. Thank goodness I did because one of them in particular chewed me up like a massive wave and spit me out on the sand.

Wave Meditation
This 9-minute segment is different from some of the more traditional yoga workouts I've tried. It focused on deep breathing, matching your breaths and movements to the rhythm of the waves. It’s a bit touchy-feely-new-agey, which some love and some hate. After some deep breaths, you go down to the mat and practice paddle moves before popping up to your “board” (aka your mat). The pop-up didn’t feel great on my lower back, but the free-form waves from a pseudo-squat got my thighs warm.

Mandala Namaskar
This 12-minute segment was one of my favorites on the disc, with moves flowing from one to the next. This section included a series of sun salutations that hit a lot of basic yoga poses—plank, boat, downward dog—but you change direction so you end up being guided through a full circle throughout the cycles. It’s an active segment that had me sweating while being relaxing and enjoyable.

Breath Wave
This 5-minute segment would be great to pop in when you’re having a rushed day and just need to clear your mind and de-stress. Instructor Shiva Rea leads you through rhythmic breathing before she does long six-count inhale/exhale cycles. Then she guides three-part inhales, which increases lung capacity and had me feeling my breath in my upper back (not a common feeling for me). This segment will give you tools to take with you anywhere for instant stress relief.

Agini Namaskar
Phew. This 17-minute segment was quite the challenge, let me tell you. Shiva guides you through nine sun salutations, incorporating both upper-body work and lower-body strengthening poses. In each of the nine cycles, you do “up to 12 push-ups.” I had to get the full effect, so I did the full 108 push-ups. You read that right: 108 push-ups. Even doing modified push-ups, it was like WHOA. She does tell you that the mind fatigues before the body, which gave me the mental strength I needed to push through. Her helpful pointers on focusing energy helped, too, but I felt every one of those push-ups the next day. This section of the DVD is killer.

Balance Flow
“Balance Flow.” That sounds harmless, right? Ha! You’d be wrong! I actually wrote “Holy schnikies” in my notes for this one. Beginners should do this segment for inspiration. Advanced yogis will be in good company. There are some great balance poses in this segment—twisting lunges, side planks—but then there are crow poses, side crow poses and crow-in-impossible-position poses. Awesome to watch; hilarious to attempt.

Flexibility Flow
Another one of my favorites, at 11 minutes, Flexibility Flow had me stretching longer and harder than my usual three-minute cool downs. Shiva gives you yoga-inspired twists on traditional shoulder and tricep stretches. It’s surprising how being so mindful of your body really helps you get a deep stretch. Planks are always a challenge, but pigeon pose, sitting forward bends and twists balance this stretch portion out nicely.

Shavasana
In this final 2-minute segment, Shiva walks you through two minutes of pure relaxation, just lying in corpse pose while breathing. Always a crowd pleaser.

With great instructions and cuing throughout, this DVD will guide you through challenges and relaxation alike. While it may not suit just anybody’s skill level, Shiva does mention modifications for difficult moves.

FBG Rating (Out of 5)
Instruction: ★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★

Fit Bottom line: While beginners can benefit from this DVD, this surf-inspired yoga workout is well-suited for intermediate to advanced yogis. A great combination of relaxation, flexibility work, balance and strength. — Erin


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