Rodney Yee’s AM & PM Yoga for Beginners (DVD)

Author: Rodney Yee
Publisher: Gaiam Inc.
Book Publication: 2012

It is not unusual for many of us to wake up stiff and groggy after spending the night worrying and full of tension. Thankfully, adding gentle yoga moves to your morning and evening routines has proven to provide relief. The best way to begin any yoga practice is with a knowledgeable and inspiring teacher. When that isn’t possible, a good alternative would be to start and end your day practising with Rodney Yee’s AM & PM Yoga for Beginners DVD.

Yee teams up with his wife, Colleen Saidman, for this presentation. The DVD includes two complete workouts. Yee, who takes the morning slot – ‘Energize,’ intends for this practice to help you “move from sleep to awakeness gradually… to center… become fully present, [making] a beautiful, smooth transition into your day.”

The morning practice is set at dawn on a gorgeous  Hawaiian beach, with gently lapping waves and music in the background. You begin the session lying down in constructive rest (reclined mountain). The main focus here is to watch and listen to the ebb and flow of your breath. It is this rhythmical breathing that Yee quietly encourages us to follow as he takes us through some basic yoga stretches and poses: knee to chest, cross legged stretch, reclined twist, cobblers, staff, down dog, forward bend, and mountain.

During a standing sequence, Yee demonstrates some moves for shoulders, chest, and sides that are sure to gently and effectively open and stretch the upper body.

The morning section ends as it begins in reclined mountain, followed by a simple twist and a cross-legged reclined pose which allows you to truly experience your breath opening, expanding and waking you up head to toe.

The second workout – ‘Unwind’ – was designed to “transition you from the busy chaos of the day into the sweet calm surrender of the evening,” resulting in a “relaxing evening and a great night’s sleep.”

In a grassy field with mountains in the background, Saidman takes the viewer through a series of poses similar to the AM segment; however, she has added some interesting variations. There is a high lunge twist which helps wring out the tensions of the day (possibly a little too advanced for true beginners). Another interesting variation of a reclined twist is one that begins on your side in a fetal position. From here we are instructed to reach the outside arm up and over stretched out on the floor – a terrific way to release tension in the neck, shoulders, and chest that many of us store up while sitting at our desks all day.

The end phase of this practice is in relaxation pose. In this sequence, we learn to use our hands with focused awareness on the face and head to engage energy channels to unblock stagnation and totally release from “the duties of the day.”

Both Yee and Saidman are admired and acknowledged experts in the yoga community. And there is much to appreciate and learn from their work in this particular video. If there are any criticisms to be directed, it is that poses are somewhat rushed, and there is not enough quiet time. Admittedly a lot of instruction is usually necessary for beginners, and the movement and breathing cues employed in both segments are soothing and helpful; still there is perhaps a bit too much talking (in fact it is continuous during the PM workout). It would have been more appealing if Saidman had occasionally stopped cuing after she directs to hold the pose for three breaths. That aside, if you are looking to begin and end your day with a calm nervous system and an uncluttered mind you won’t go wrong using this DVD.

 

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Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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