Someone asked me what I recommend for someone who is new to yoga by way of dvds and I realized it made sense to create a blog post where I could share the resources I feel are most essential for anyone wanting to explore yoga and begin a home yoga practice.
Yoga For Beginner's Kit
This kit comes with a yoga mat, a yoga strap, a block, and a dvd. I cannot vouch for the dvd but, if you are new to yoga, you will need a mat, trap, and block. You may think you don't but having all three will make your practice a much more pleasant experience. If you already have a mat and don't want to buy a new one (although mats will wear out and you'll need a new one eventually, you can buy yoga blocks and straps separately.
I would also add a yoga blanket. You can buy yoga blankets online. (The ones pictured here are identical to the ones used at Omega and Kripalu. However, I use a blanket I bought at Big Lots which doubles as my meditation shawl on winter days. I would suggest getting two blankets if you don't have a throw blanket you can use. The link is the best price for these blankets I could find so if you can find better, go for it!)
AM/PM Yoga with Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden
Go to any yoga message board and look for the inevitable question "What dvd do you recommend?" and this one is always recommended. It is simply that good! Two practices that last only 20 minutes each, one to be done at the beginning of the day, the other at the end of the day. There is also a bonus section that explains how to use yoga props (you know, like that strap and block I suggested you buy).
Many people say they tend to do only one of the two because of their schedule. It makes sense. In these hectic times it can be challenging to carve out time to exercise once a day let alone twice a day. I suggest, if you buy this dvd and find yourself only doing one practice because you either do your yoga in the morning or in the evening, try doing the other practice whenever you do your practice. It can be interesting to explore the PM yoga practice in the morning and vice versa.
Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss with Suzanne Deason
This is a longer yoga practice lasting 45 minutes but this dvd is formatted brilliantly for a variety of reasons. One, the practice is divided into clear sections so you can, if you choose to do so, skip a section and shorten it to 30 minutes or even less. Two, you can choose your level of practice. There are four women of varying flexibility on this dvd so if you are very new and need to use props, you can select a soundtrack that will walk you through how to modify the various poses. As you become stronger and more flexible, you simply choose a different track to follow. Three, there is a "personal trainer" mode you can select where you can get further clarification on the more subtle details for each pose.
If I were to recommend nothing else for the beginner, these three items--the kit and two dvds--would be all anyone could or should need to start a yoga practice. There are not a lot of standing poses. You won't be asked to hold a pose where you're standing on one foot for long lengths of time. The focus is on moving into a pose and holding it long enough to feel the pose but not so long that you will feel bored.
With that said, there is nothing wrong with holding a pose for a long period of time and much can be learned from not moving from one asana to the next. I have used the 20 minute practices on the former dvd in my daily practice but held each stretch for twice as long as on the dvd, taking the 20 minutes into 40 and more. We live in a society that is constantly pushing for improvement, for perfection, for more. Yoga can be an invitation to just stay for a while, visit where you are, and be in this moment with an openness and acceptance we rarely allow ourselves anywhere else.
I'll write another post of recommendations that build on this foundation, including other yoga dvds, a few yoga books, and other yoga resources that I feel are gentle enough for anyone to enjoy.