Back in Action: Yoga for a Healthy Back is the latest offering from yoga instructor Mimi Solaire, whose previous DVDs have included Deep Stretch Yin Yoga as well as another back-focused video, Back in Shape. Solaire, who has a background in dance performance, is both a registered experienced yoga teacher (E-RYT) and a registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT) with Yoga Alliance, and she has had training as a Trauma Release Yoga Instructor as well.
On her web site, Solaire explains that this video is designed not only for maintaining back health but also for overall body conditioning. It is broken into three segments, which are chaptered and listed on the Main Menu as follows: Warming Up, Part I – Core Conditioning, Part II – Stretching, Part III. Solaire is featured alone in an outdoor patio-like setting, and she teaches via voiceover. I have provided a brief overview of each segment below.
Warming Up (9:07 minutes)
Solaire begins this section lying on the back. She brings one knee alternately into the chest, flowing with moving the arms overhead. Bringing both knees in, she then places the feet on the floor for some gentle pelvic tilts, eventually moving in bridge pose. This is followed by a reclined twist, continuing to flow from one side to the other. Next, Solaire comes to hands and knees for cat/cow and spinal rotations. From here, she moves into sphinx (adding a leg raise), seal pose, and cobra. She pushes back into child's pose, pounding the back briefly, adds a lateral stretch to the child's pose, and then finishes back in child's pose.
Core Conditioning (9:46 minutes)
For the core segment, Solaire also starts lying on the back. She again performs bridge pose, adding in variations. Next, she moves into several types of crunches, including a basic crunch and a butterfly crunch. Coming to lying on her side, Solaire begins a sequence of Pilates-like moves: front-back kicks, front-back touches, and then swimming (on belly) before repeating on the second side. Returning to lying face-down, Solaire performs a locust series, folding the hands behind the head and then at low back. This section also concludes in child's pose.
Stretching (17:47 minutes)
Solaire explains that this segment is a combination of resistance stretching and yin yoga. Again, she begins lying on her back. The resistance stretching work comes first, starting with tensing the hamstrings, then releasing, attempting to go a little deeper each time. She does the same with a bent leg, face-down hamstring stretch. Coming to the knees, Solaire continues the resistance stretching with a moving lunge, dropping back into a runner's lunge. Next, she returns to a prone position for a single-leg quad stretch. This is followed by stretching both quads at the same time, or bow pose, which is held for ten breaths--this brings the routine more into the yin stretches. Solaire returns to her knees for a deeper, longer held lunge targeting the psoas muscle. Following this, she comes back to lying for a Figure 4 stretch (aka reclined pigeon pose), also held longer, and then a reclined twist. This practice concludes with shavasana, which Solaire states is the "most important" pose, yet in less than 30 seconds, the credits start to roll, and the music quickly comes to an end.
I have never had the opportunity to try Solaire's other back DVD, Back in Shape, although I am aware that it is just 30 minutes long and features only two segments. I do, however, own Solaire's Deep Stretch Yin Yoga, which has three 20-minute segments, including a section on "Back Stretches." In comparison, Solaire moves at much more of a slow, measured pace on the Yin Yoga DVD, and I felt like I got more out of the stretches as a result. The final section of Back in Action, "Stretching, Part III," was probably the most similar to this, and I'm sure that's why I enjoyed it the most; in addition to being helpful for the back, I think it would make a great post-workout stretch. In contrast, Parts 1 and II felt a bit rushed to me. Still, this is a likeable DVD overall--made more so by the pleasant guitar music provided by Kurt Kleinhans--and I would recommend it.
© 2016 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.