Review of Elena Brower's Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

At one point while doing Elena Brower's Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga I thought: "hey, this is like what I know as yoga." That seemed like a weird thing to think considering the number of yoga videos I've been doing lately. But Elena Brower's program reminded me of the yoga classes I used to take in New York, in the kids' playroom of our apartment building, with one super-intense and wonderful yoga teacher. It has the same kind of slow, careful movement, with very precise instructions that are sometimes difficult to conceptualize, but work brilliantly once you get what she means. Later, I checked the DVD case and realised Brower does Anusara yoga, which is what we were doing back then. Maybe it's because it's what I'm used to, but there's something about Anusara yoga that really hits the spot for me -- more dynamic than just one position after another, but more measured than vinyasa flow.

Pigeon pose -- brilliant for prenatal back pain
The program itself is short: it's about half an hour, and flies by in what seems like less time. There are subtle modifications for pregnant women, things like very careful twists and gentle backbends and squatting work. That said, it doesn't feel like a prenatal program. It won't get all the kinks out (at least it didn't for me), and it's not so much about relaxing or stretching. Instead, you get warrior poses, some pigeon poses and forward bends and downward dogs and moves in and out of plank, and a final seated relaxation.

While I was doing the video, I felt like I was building strength. It wasn't nearly as tiring as Jennifer Wolfe's Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga, but I could feel it. Then, strangely, when I finished the program, I felt like I hadn't done anything at all! The only difference was that my hips felt looser.

The verdict? I'll wait a bit and see how my body feels. I loved the precision of Brower's instructions, the way focusing on one muscle or breath could enable me to stretch further comfortably. I would happily purchase more of her DVDs, and am certainly looking forward to working with the postnatal part of the program. However, I don't think this video is the complete package for prenatal conditioning or relaxation. Use it in conjunction with other programs.

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