This DVD features Mimi Solaire, a dancer and yoga instructor who previously released a popular yoga routine for back care, Back in Shape. In this latest release, Solaire offers Deep Stretch, what she subtitles as a yin yoga practice. The video consists of three 20-minute stretching segments, each focused on a different area of the body, plus a 10-minute more challenging “bonus” sequence. When you play the Main Menu of the DVD, Solaire's voice comes on explaining that you will need a towel and a strap for the practices; a mat is helpful as well. Solaire herself is lying on a fuzzy white rug against an all-white backdrop--although she is wearing white as well, her tank top and capri bottoms allow her movements to be seen clearly.
The Main Menu offers the following options: Full Program – Back Stretches – Hips & Legs – Neck & Shoulders – Bonus Super Stretch. For each of the above, Solaire provides voiceover instruction. Throughout the practices, the individual poses are generally held for approximately 2 minutes each. With the exception of the bonus segment, Solaire generally does not name the postures; rather, she simply describes the movements. Also, although Solaire ends each of the practices with relaxation pose (savasana), she does not allow time to stay in this pose, instead encouraging you to continue relaxing as long as desired.
I have broken down each segment in greater detail below.
This entire sequence is performed on the floor in either a reclined or seated position Solaire begins with a lying stretch, then moves into reclined knee-to-chest pose. Flipping onto her stomach, she performs several repetitions of a gentle cobra pose, and then she comes to hands and knees for cat/cow stretches. A seated twist follows, and then it is back to the floor for bridge pose, finishing with a reclined twist and relaxation.
HIPS & LEGS
Solaire begins here with reclined cobbler's pose. This is followed by a thread-the-needle stretch and a thread-the-needle twist. She then uses a strap for an extended reclined leg series, stretching the hamstrings from several different angles. Next, Solaire comes to seated for head-to-knee pose, and she concludes the practice with relaxation.
NECK & SHOULDERS
This practice begins by using a rolled towel under the neck as a “jelly roll.” Solaire relaxes here with the arms out to the sides as well as with the hands on the forehead. Removing the towel, she performs a stretch with one arm moving underneath and across the back; this is followed by a reclined twist. Additional stretches include child's pose with one arm stretched across the body and eagle arms performed on each side. This sequence concludes in a lying position with the rolled towel placed under the shoulder blades as a bolster.
BONUS SUPER STRETCH
Solaire cautions that you should not attempt this segment unless you have warmed up with the other sections of the DVD first. She begins with a backbend, bow pose, and then moves into a very intense stretch, reclined hero's pose (no modifications are shown). This is followed by downward-facing dog, full seated forward bend, and an eagle legs reclined twist. A slightly longer relaxation ends this sequence.
In general, I believe this DVD definitely does deliver what it promises on the case, “a gentle and effective stretching practice that will leave you feeling relaxed...great for beginners and all levels of ability.” I do think that the three 20-minute routines would be appropriate for those new to yoga; not only are they accessible practices comprised of moves that are likely to be attainable to most people, but also Solaire's style is very approachable and non-intimidating. I would, however, caution beginners from attempting the bonus practice. I feel that it was a poor choice to be included on this DVD at all, especially given that the first two postures (bow pose and reclined hero) are significantly more advanced than anything else on the video.
Finally, I believe it is important to address Solaire's calling this a yin yoga practice. According to her web site, Solaire studied with Yin Yoga instructors Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers (amongst many others). Grilley's teachings (from his web site) are that yin poses are held from three to five to ten minutes at a time; on this DVD, no postures are held for longer than two minutes. Solaire definitely has drawn her own unique style from her various teachers, and I see no need to confuse things by labeling her program “yin.” With that in mind, I would definitely recommend this DVD to both beginners and more experienced yoga practitioners who are interested in short, focused yoga stretching practices targeted to different areas of the body.
© 2009 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo. She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com