This DVD is presented by Iyengar yoga instructor Lillah Schwartz and produced by her studio, Lighten Up Yoga and Healing Arts. It is designed to provide a self-help approach to relieving back pain through strengthening the muscles and improving alignment. There are two main parts to this 90-minute DVD. Schwartz provides detailed teaching for at total of twelve exercises in the 60-minute instructional segment. She covers not only proper execution of the yoga postures but also common mistakes and how to avoid them in each pose. Then, Schwartz offers a more flowing practice session of just under 30 minutes. Here she guides you through the same poses as in the instructional segment, but she spends less time on setup and moves seamlessly from pose to pose.
The Main Menu of the DVD is a bit cumbersome, as it includes a list of each exercise in the instructional segment. Other options off this menu include the Introduction, which features Kevin McGee, who identifies himself as a friend of Schwartz’s and who shows some brief interview clips with Schwartz; The Exercises, a short (<2 minutes) overview in which Schwartz reviews the props that will be needed (these include blankets, a towel, a strap, and a chair); and finally, at the very end of the menu on the next screen, an option to directly select the Practice Sequence. The chapters of the instructional segment which appear on the Main Menu are as follows (my own notes appear in parentheses):
*Strap Stretch 1
*Strap Stretch 1 & 2
*Front Thigh Stretch
*Bound Angle Pose (performed at the wall)
*Lateral Leg Lift
*Kneeling Groin Stretch
*Stomach Strengthening (curl-up with calves on chair)
*Suspended Relaxation (5-minute rest using several props, including two blankets and a bolster)
Schwartz teaches both the tutorial and the practice via voiceover in a relatively bare indoor studio. The Practice Sequence features harp music playing, which was pleasant enough, but there was a constant low hissing noise in the background that the music could not cover; I wondered whether the DVD may have suffered from a poor VHS conversion. Included inside the DVD case is a “Travel Pamphlet,” a tri-fold card which lists the exercises in the practice session, providing a brief description of each as well as a simple figure drawing. The pamphlet also recommends using the 30-minute practice twice a week for three weeks, increasing to three times per week after that.
In summary, this DVD offers a very gentle approach to treating back pain. Personally, I found the Practice Sequence to be very mild and did not feel particularly stretched by it, but that may well be because 1) I am not someone who suffers from back pain, and 2) I was already quite experienced with the yoga postures which Schwartz presented here. However, prior yoga experience is definitely not needed to perform the exercises on this DVD; in addition, Schwartz does a nice job in the DVD insert of suggesting options for working your way up to the full program of twelve exercises if needed. Although there are several other good yoga DVDs designed to address back pain currently on the market, this one clearly has a place among them, and I would definitely recommend it.
© 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