Working with Prenatal Yoga Complete

I'm not ready to do a review of Prenatal Yoga Complete yet, since I've only worked with one program. This is more of a preliminary report!

I wasn't sure whether to spring for this video, since quite a few people on Amazon did not like it. There are so many options out there, why go for something poorly rated? However, when I realised that it's basically Iyengar yoga, I was too tempted, and finding a cheap copy in the Amazon Marketplace, decided to go for it.

I don't have a lot of experience with Iyengar yoga in general. I went to one class at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Studio of Dallas a while ago, and keep meaning to go back. My recollection of the experience was this: I did not feel that drug-like relaxation that I usually get from a yoga practice, nor did it feel like a strain at any point, so I was at first disappointed. However, a little later I felt great, and since that one single class, I've found myself recalling the careful, precise instructions for the poses we did even when I'm doing other yoga programs.

That's my way of saying that I suspect there's something to this whole Iyengar thing, even if it's not immediately satisfying the way a more active form of yoga is. And let's face it, when you want the relaxation and release of yoga, setting up a million different props is probably not what you're looking to do.

Prenatal Yoga Complete is a modular DVD, which I think is pretty cool. Basically, you choose a trimester and then you get a menu offering practices of varying lengths addressing different pregnancy issues and goals: things like dealing with morning sickness, back pain, or aiming for relaxation. The pregnancy sciatica has been cruel to me lately, so I chose a second-trimester back and hip workout.

The modular construction of the video means that there isn't flow from one asana to another -- each is essentially a different clip. Set up often takes a bit of time, and even though the descriptions are detailed and long enough to allow you to get everything in place, sometimes you will have to pause the video. You need quite a few blankets, bolsters, blocks, etc., but Mary Pappas-Sandonas does suggest substitutions in the introductory clip on props. And a lot of poses are done against a wall, which was a challenge for me since I did not have a free wall handy, but I was able to do most poses just fine without it.

Little did you know that a grand piano is a useful yoga prop!
What I loved is that this program gives you time. If you enjoy that aspect of yoga that is about paying really close attention to every single muscle, aiming towards best alignment, and breathing through a challenging pose, this is the video for you. The props made many of the poses easier to achieve than what I'm used to doing in other prenatal yoga DVDs, but I made up for that ease with attentiveness. And some of the asanas, done carefully, were much harder.

I also loved that this program included a beautiful, ridiculously relaxing, supported shavasana. Instead of a guided visualization or instructions to "relax" different body parts, Pappas-Sandonas leads you through a deep breath relaxation. I found this much more effective. And -- the best part -- after the clip for the shavasana is over, the video goes to silence. (There is nothing worse than wanting to stay in corpse pose a bit longer but having some ridiculous DVD intro music play on infinite loop.) My sciatica pain isn't completely gone, but out of all the stretches and programs I've done lately for it, this one has been the most effective. I'm looking forward to trying out the other workouts.

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