Several months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with an inspiration. I had been considering whether to sign up for a yoga class -- a practice I have always enjoyed but often found hard to squeeze into my schedule and budget -- but hadn't quite taken the leap yet. And then I figured why not try yoga DVDs at home? They're readily available at my public library in many varieties, can be done on my schedule, and don't require schlepping exercise clothes or dealing with unfamiliar locker rooms. I never thought of myself as someone with the discipline to exercise at home, but I decided to experiment with setting aside 30 minutes in the quiet of the early morning to stretch and sweat (just a bit), and have found that it has paid off in general well being, expense (free!), and convenience. Here are some of my DVD recommendations:
Yoga For Inflexible People. Since it had been several years since I had done yoga in any sort of consistent fashion, I started with this gentle DVD. Without any glitz or fancy lighting, it offers many different programs of different lengths, each focusing on a different part of the body or a different state of mind. Each pose receives quiet focus, and there is an emphasis on maintaining proper form and support, often with props. The atmosphere of the DVD is mellow, with low lighting and a woman's voice quietly guiding you through the moves.
Mari Winsor: Pilates. I had never tried Pilates before, so I decided to give it a try with this DVD. It took me a few viewings to keep up with the faster pace, but I then found that I enjoyed the more intense workout and more upbeat vibe. The bright lights and jazzy music were a little startling so early in the morning -- as were the leotarded women behind Mari Winsor, who seemed never to break a sweat or let their smiles falter -- but I got into it and appreciated the well-exercised feeling I had after the DVD was done.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Body Slimming Yoga. I confess to having been dubious about this one (it was the only DVD available at the library on the day I had to, sadly, return Mari Winsor), but it turned out to be much better than I expected. Led by a yoga instructor who emphasizes the exercise elements of yoga while also reminding us about breath and awareness and calm, the moves are a good combination of yoga stretches and some cardio moves. And unlike the Mari girls, the cheerleaders seem to be working it, with several actually looking tired at different times.
Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners. This is my current favorite, offering two alternative programs (one standing, one lying) and a good combination of stretching and cardio. The instructor offers excellent and easy-to-follow instructions, and I simply feel awesome after completing the routine. The instructor is solo throughout -- no backup girls -- and the DVD is filmed on a beautiful piece of southern California coastline.
Time alone for exercise and quiet thought are rare in our busy lives, but this new experiment has worked really well for me. I hope you enjoy these recommendations!