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by Donna Helm-Yost
The Karma Yoga Project, 2006
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Nov 14th 2006

Flow and Yin

This yoga DVD consists of two parts, one a 50 minute yoga flow and the other a 68 minute slow yin practice.  Donna Helm-Yost leads a class of 9 women and men through these.  The room is quite large, with white walls and a brown wood floor, candles and plants and decorations around the side.  The acoustics are good so it is easy to hear what she is saying, and she uses simple language and has a pleasant encouraging manner.  (The only term that left me confused was "psoas," which turns out to be a major muscle linking the spine to the front of the thigh that is used to lift the leg.)  In post production, some Indian music has been added to the background.  There are no DVD extras or features aside from the ability to choose between different chapters -- the disk is sectioned into 13 chapters.  It is filmed in widescreen.  The DVD seems to have been filmed with two cameras, and occasionally there are cuts from one perspective to the other.  Both cameras are quite active, moving around the room and zooming in and out to show individual postures or the whole room.  Although the features are rather basic, the production quality is good, and this is a pleasing DVD to use.

One of the advantages of watching a yoga class go through a practice is that you can watch the variation in the different participants, and this can give you a better sense about whether you have got the right idea.  It is also reassuring to see other people having a hard time keeping poses, shaking a little, or just not being very flexible.  When watching just one yoga practitioner go through a series of poses, it can be daunting to see how much more strong and flexible that person is than oneself.   Helm-Yost gives clear advice and emphasizes that yoga is not about perfection, so one should not worry too much about getting in exactly the right posture, but should instead find what works best for you.

The yoga flow part is moderately difficult.  It is probably not ideal for complete yoga novices, and is more suited to people who have been doing yoga for a few months at least.  Helm-Yost allows for plenty of variation, so it is appropriate for people with all sorts of abilities.  It mainly consists of standing poses and sun salutations, at a calm pace, and is quite refreshing.  The yin sequence consists of holding postures that stretch hip, leg, and back muscles.  They are performed sitting down or lying on one's back.  The poses are held for several minutes at a time, which why this is a longer sequence.  This practice is both aimed at physical health and emotional healing -- staying in the same position for some time, focusing on one's breathing, is in itself a meditative experience.   She explicitly links relaxing one's muscles with releasing one's emotions that are held in the body, and she talks often about the stilling the mind as one is staying in one position.  Not everyone will accept such ideas or agree that they are helpful, but as someone who does not take well to the better known modes of meditation, I can report that I found this yin yoga practice calming and even emotionally healing.   I recommend this DVD to those who are looking for a yoga practice that is beneficial to both mind and body.

 

 

Link: The Karma Yoga Project

 

© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.