Friday, July 12, 2013

More Yoga Recommendations for the Beginner

In a previous post I shared some resources I feel are ideal for anyone wanting to explore yoga in their home but overwhelmed by the many choices out there.  Yoga practice can be an intimidating experience and when faced with choices like ashtanga or hatha when you don't even know what either means is understandably overwhelming.  Because I have a balance disorder, I come to my recommendations from a unique position, seeking to find resources that are gentle and will not be too challenging.  This does not mean I avoid balancing poses.  It does, however, mean that I prefer practices that move slowly, hold poses rather than move swiftly from one to the next.  I find there is as much power to be found in holding a downward dog as there is in the aggressive demands of a "power yoga" practice.  Neither is a better choice but one is clearly and absolutely a better choice for me.  My recommendations are rooted in this and I share them because others have asked before and will continue asking, I'm sure.

Gentle Yoga Kit with Stephen Cope

Unfortunately, this kit is no longer being produced so you'll have to buy it second hand or on ebay or something.  I hate that because this really is a very good practice.  I hesitate to recommend it but if you can find this, it's worth having.  The kit comes with 2 cds, flash cards, and a 72 page book.  The practice on the one cd is 70 minutes long.  The second cd is relaxing music which, I confess, I haven't really listened to because I have my favorite meditation cds already.  The book explores some of the spiritual underpinnings of the physical yoga practice while explaining each of the asanas, their benefits and contraindications.  The flashcards give you a visual reference for the various poses.  There is something about being able to focus on your practice, without looking at a teacher on a dvd that is wonderful.  It heightens the experience of being in the present moment with your body.  I really love being able to just close my eyes and follow along.

Candlelight Yoga with Sara Ivanhoe

I don't even own this dvd but I recommend it because I have done the practice several times and every time I found it lovely.  Ivanhoe's voice is sweet and the practice is very simple.  She has one person showing modifications so even a beginner can enjoy this very gentle practice.  I like the practice enough to recommend it but not enough to buy the dvd, mostly because, by the time I tried it, I was already exploring my own yoga practice and did not want to add to my dvd collection because it might have distracted me from developing a practice of my own.  However, had I found it sooner, I have no doubt I would have eagerly bought a copy.  The practice is about 40 minutes long and it is very relaxing.

AM Yoga for Your Week with Rodney Yee

This dvd offers five 20 minute yoga practices, each with a different emphasis.  Standing, forward bends, back bends, hip openers, and twists.  These practices are short enough to be done on even the busiest day and the instructions are clear, easy to follow, and somewhat more challenging than the practices on AM/PM Yoga.  Working through all five in a week, you will explore a variety of poses. It can also be interesting to do the same practice for an entire week, to see how it feels from one day to the next.  It is amazing how sometimes what is easy one day is difficult on another day and how what seemed impossible a month ago suddenly becomes possible if you just stay with it.

Yoga: The Poetry of the Body by Rodney Yee

While I'm recommending things from Rodney Yee, I think this book is accessible for anyone who is still new to yoga but curious to explore more fully.  Yee doesn't get too deep into the spiritual practice but does share some lovely insights into the different poses drawn on his years of practice and teaching.  There are several practices outlined in the book so, when you are ready to no longer watch a dvd but maybe not quite ambitious enough to design your own yoga practice, this book can be a wonderful way to bridge the gap.  With 8 different sequences, you can easily explore this book by doing one practice a day or using it once a week in addition to using the dvds I've already suggested.  You will, however, need one of those folding metal chairs for one or more of the sequences, if I remember correctly.  Nonetheless, this yoga book is a pleasure to read and the practices are only as challenging as you choose to make them.

Yoga in Bed: 20 Asanas to Do in Pajamas by Edward Vilga

And since I'm on the topic of books, this book is just adorable.  But don't let the cuteness of it fool you.  This is just as serious a yoga practice as any other.  You will do spinal twists, forward bends, and all of the things you would do in a traditional yoga class, only you'll be doing them in bed, surrounded by pillows (or yoga props, as those pillows are used to prop your knees or back, as needed).  The pictures are colorful and the text joyful.  Whenever I start feeling like I am taking myself or my yoga practice too seriously, I grab this book which I otherwise keep in my guest room.

In my next post with recommendations, I'll offer some more traditional and less traditional choices, including more dvds and more books.


  1. The yoga in bed grabs me. I'll be for sure searching that one out.

    1. It's an adorable book which might make some not take it as a serious yoga practice but I've done many dvds and been in classes and there is nothing in that book I haven't seen done on a yoga mat. You might also want to look at this book: