Tara Lee is a London-based yoga instructor well-known for her "Pregnancy Health Yoga" DVD, a best-selling pregnancy video in the UK. In this new Elements of Yoga series, Lee has created three separate DVDs based on the elements, each with a different focus. As she explains in her short introduction to "Air and Water Flow," the purpose here is to create more space in the body while moving fluidly. For all practices on this DVD, Lee is outdoors by a river teaching via voiceover. Her only prop is a mat (with the orientation frequently changing from parallel to the viewer to perpendicular due to shifting camera views), although occasionally an inset is shown with modification options. Lee sometimes notes the names of the postures in English, sometimes in Sanskrit, sometimes not at all.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options: Introduction--Play Workout--Practice 1 (22 mins)--Practice 2 (22 mins)--Practice 3 (24 mins)--Savasana (5 mins)--Bonus Features--Music Options. Music Options includes choices for "Music & Instruction" and "Music Only," but no option for "Instruction Only" (a.k.a. a "Music Off" option). The individual practices work as stand-alone sequences, but they can also be combined together for a full routine of just over an hour. I have provided detailed information on each practice below.
This sequence provides a slow, gradual warm-up. Lee spends the first six minutes or so focusing on the breath, including breathing with the hands at the kidneys, ribs, and collarbone as well as practicing breath retention with root lock. This is followed by a long series of simple seated stretches. Coming to all fours, Lee performs moves such as hip circles, modified side plank, and kneeling half moon. She then moves into elbow plank, elbow down dog, sphinx, and cobra, and she finishes the practice in child's pose.
The second routine involves more flowing movements. From child's pose, Lee comes into a shoulder stretch and then side plank. Next, she flows between lunge and upright lunge for a short vinyasa, ending in pyramid pose. Moving to the front of the mat and lifting onto her toes, Lee comes into a squat position, repeating. This is followed by several rounds of both A and B sun salutations. Lee performs another vinyasa which begins in warrior 1, moves to lifting one knee, and then shifts back to balancing in warrior 3. Next is a standing sequence which includes warrior 2, triangle, side angle, reverse warrior, and side angle with optional bind. After coming back to the front of the mat (Lee frequently transitions between poses with a vinyasa), Lee concludes this practice with a big toe forward bend.
This last routine centers largely around twisting postures. Lee begins with two rounds of sun salutations and moves into twisting chair. Next, she steps back to revolved side angle, adding an optional bind, and moves right into a seated series which includes seated twist and cow face pose. After repeating this sequence on the second side, Lee comes to lying face-down for locust, two repetitions of bow pose, and frog leg lifts. She then flips over to her back for bridge pose, first moving, then holding and adding leg lifts. Following a cross-leg twist, she cues either shoulderstand or legs-up-the-wall for ten breaths. The finishing postures include plow, deaf man's pose, and fish. Lee concludes with several minutes of relaxation and then finishes with a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing in a seated position.
Selecting Bonus Features off the Main Menu brings up a submenu which offers the same options on all three Elements of Yoga DVDs. In addition to three short yoga practices, the bonus submenu includes a Q & A with Lee (11 mins) and Credits. The routines are as follows:
Earth--Balances (9 mins)
For this balanced-focused sequence, Lee begins by rising onto her toes and sinking down into squat, repeating several times. She then performs tree and eagle on both sides. This is followed by a flow between knee-to-chest and warrior 1, then she holds knee-to-chest and moves the knee out to the side. The final balance posture is dancer's pose.
Air and Water--Breathing (10 mins)
For this seated routine, Lee starts by lengthening the length of the exhalation so that it is twice that of the inhalation. She continues with basic breathing, meditating on inhaling a golden light. She performs two rounds of Kapalabhati (skull shining breath) and finishes the practice with three OMs.
Fire--Core (Advanced) (11 mins)
In-this core-centered sequence, Lee starts by moving in and out of boat pose. She then comes fully to a reclined position for leg lowers. Other moves include leg extensions, knee drops, and even some more traditional crunch-type exercises.
Lee has obviously put a lot of thought into this DVD series, combining mostly solid instruction (although not mirrored cuing) with a varied selection of yoga practices. In her "Air and Water Flow"DVD in particular, Lee offers three pleasant routines to foster relaxation as well as to increase flexibility and to decrease stress. Although most of the postures included are geared toward beginning yogis, Lee does not provide enough instruction for those brand-new to yoga, so I would recommend her Elements of Yoga series to experienced beginners and beyond.
© 2013 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.