A Tale of Two Yoga DVDs

I have been collecting yoga DVDs. Some are better than others. Some are great. Some are not so great.

But recently, on successive days, I tried out two DVDs that each stood out to me for very different reasons, so I thought I’d share my thoughts about them with you.


I’ve only been doing yoga for a couple years now, and not daily, so I always do the beginner routines, and if I need to make the poses more advanced during the workout, I do that.

Power Yoga For Every Body is pretty nicely set up, because it allows you to select not only a level — Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced — but it also allows you to select how much time you have. I selected the 60-minute program for Beginners.

Okay. Wow. When they say “Beginner” during this program, they really mean “Beginner”.

If you are out of shape and have not done yoga before, this is the DVD for you! Many of the poses are demonstrated with a chair for modification, so you don’t need to bend as far. That’s a good thing, because you can hurt yourself doing yoga.

I only got halfway through this slow flow program, though, before I switched over to a Rodney Yee workout to finish up.

However, as I said, for out-of-shape people who have no idea about yoga and want to try it safely, this is the best DVD I’ve seen. Plus, it has Intermediate and Advanced programs, so you can move on up as you get more into it. I may try those out in the future.


Bob Harper introduces this workout as being like nothing we’ve ever done before, so tough we won’t believe it. Sorry, Bob. While I really like this workout, you are overstating the case for the Tony Horton yoga lovers out there. Tony Horton yoga (look for the One-on-One titles “Yoga – Fountain of Youth” and “Patience Hummingbird”) is tough.

Despite the hyperbole of this grown-up-Doogie-Howser-with-a-beard-looking dude, Yoga For The Warrior is definitely near the top of my list of yoga workouts.

It’s about 60 minutes long and includes, among all the standard yoga poses, pushups, shoulder presses, and ab work. Traditional yogis might not like adding pushups and shoulder presses into a yoga practice. Fine. They don’t need to buy this DVD. But for my money, Yoga For The Warrior does a pretty good job as a full body workout.

And, yeah, it’s tough. I had to take a break or two along the way, but that is exactly what will keep me coming back to this workout!

Other differences between Power Yoga For Every Body and Yoga For The Warrior:

  • Every Body has onscreen a single guy with a separate unseen narrator. Warrior included three attractive participants (2 women, 1 man) and Bob walking around coaching.
  • Every Body was in a pretty plain studio. I don’t recall hearing music, although it may have been there. Warrior was in a gym type setting and had a music track behind Bob.
  • Both are ranked 4+ (out of 5) stars at Amazon.

That is my tale of those two very different yoga DVDs. I recommend them both, but you should be sure to select the correct one for your fitness level and yoga goals.

In the Yoga Zone

I have been in the yoga zone for more than 2 months now.

How’d I get there? I hurt myself. Tweaked my back, so I thought I’d do yoga for a few days while it healed. Problem is — and this is a good problem to have — after a few days, my back felt so good, I decided to stick with only yoga for a while. Now, more than 2 months later, my back feels better than it has felt in years.

My lower back had always been pretty decent. No pain. Then — and I don’t recall this happening, but I kinda assume this happened — I strained my lower right back picking up a dumbbell. I’ve had pain there ever since. Not the kind of pain that causes me to stop working out or lifting things and it doesn’t restrict my movement, but it’s more of a dull I’m-just-here-to-remind-you-that-you-are-old kind of pain.

I really figured that pain was just going to be there always, because it had not become worse or better.

But, now, it’s almost gone.

I say “almost”. It’s gone, but I can’t believe it, so I’m going to stick with “almost”. When it’s gone for 2 months, I’ll believe it.

Yoga seems to have cured my back.

What kind of yoga am I doing? All power yoga, mostly as led by Rodney Yee and Bryan Kest.

Here’s a list of the DVDs I have been using and highly recommend:

  1. Rodney Yee: Flexibility (25 minutes)
  2. Rodney Yee: Strength (25 minutes)
  3. Rodney Yee: Energy Balance (60 minutes)
  4. Bryan Kest: Power Yoga (#1 and #2 — I haven’t tried #3 yet — 60 minutes each)

While I’m at it, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tony Horton’s two One on One yoga DVDs. They are entitled “Yoga: Fountain of Youth” and “Patience Hummingbird”. (NOTE: Do not buy “Yoga: MC2”. Unless they’ve added more verbal instruction to it since it was first published, it’s pretty useless, as far as I’m concerned.) Tony really got me rolling in yoga, and I pull those DVDs out from time to time, because they are still a lot of fun.

I own and use other yoga DVDs, but the above are the ones I’ve really liked over the past couple months, while I’ve been trying to strengthen my lower back. As I said, it seems to be working.

If you haven’t tried yoga before, 1 & 2 above are good beginner workouts. 3 & 4 are also good for beginners, with Kest’s DVD progressing from the first workout being easiest to the last being most difficult. Regardless of your experience level and which DVD you choose, if you just focus on doing your best and not trying to overdo it, you’ll be fine.

Yoga can be a bit overwhelming for beginners, because there is a learning curve, for sure. If you are totally new to yoga, you may want to get Tony Horton’s two One on One yoga DVDs, because they are what got me started, and I never felt left behind. Tony made it pretty easy to pick up on.

Yoga. Give it a shot and join me in the zone. I am diggin’ it so much and feeling so good, I don’t see myself leaving it for a while.

Ouch, I tweaked my back. Now what?

I tweaked my back last Wednesday, right at the end of the workout. During the last move, rep 2 of 4. Tweak. DAMMIT!

I don’t really know if “tweak” has any medical validity — perhaps my friend Donna can chime in on that — but I use it to talk about an injury that seems minor, one that’s not debilitating, but which does cause me some concern.

So what did that tweak do to my workout routine?

Well, when it comes to my back, I always choose to err on the side of caution, and I was headed into my recovery week anyway, so the timing was almost perfect.

The injury occurred, by the way, during a jump up from wide pushups. Do 4 pushups with wide hands and feet, then jump the feet forward, standing to a squat.

I felt it in my left side, lower back, at the rear point of the hip. A twinge of pain. I am actually accustomed to minor pain in the same area, but on the right side. Been there for years. This left side, though, is new pain, and it was a pretty sharp, so I quit right there. I probably should have put some ice on it, but I didn’t.

The injury felt better the next morning, but only by about 50%, so I swapped the heavier planned workout for a lighter yoga workout — #1 and #5 from Ultimate Power Yoga, which put a lot of emphasis on the lower back.

I did that same yoga routine the next two days, then took Sunday off.

Then, on Monday, I did Rodney Yee Total Body Workout from his Power Yoga Collection. Yesterday it was back to #1 and #5 from Ultimate Power Yoga, and today will be Patience Yoga from Tony Horton’s One on One collection.

Can I tell you something? My back feels great! Seriously, not this good in quite some time.

In fact, my back feels so good, I am going to continue this yoga routine through the next few weeks, just to see what happens. Yeah, I know, I was in the middle of my Insanity with weekends off program, but I like to roll with the flow. I’ll sprinkle some Insanity or other cardio workouts into the mix starting next week.

(And, yes, I am still on my high-fat diet, but I’ll write more on that in a few days.)

What I’ve learned about fitness and nutrition over the past few years

I’ve been on my fitness quest for about four years now. I went in with with an open mind, wanting to find out as much as I could, experiment on myself, see what works and what doesn’t.

Here are a few of the things I think I know, subject to change as I learn more:

  • It’s more about what you eat than what you do. You can lose a lot of weight by eating properly. Without exercise, though, you will lose muscle along with the fat. You have to work out to build that muscle. Still, if your only goal is to lose weight, know that how you eat is responsible for about 80% of how your body looks.
  • Carbs are not evil, but sugar is, and grains are not far behind. Fruits, vegetables, those are carbs. Eat ’em up. Anything with added sugar in it, though, is just asking for trouble. Then if you add grains, wow, you are really packing a caloric punch. By removing sweets from your diet, you can much more easily find your way to healthy eating habits. Not only that, but when you get used to eating less sugar, naturally sweet foods like fruits will taste sweeter to you.
  • P90X is a great way to dive into a fitness-oriented lifestyle. It got me motivated, took me from a terrible diet to a pretty good one, and from walking/pushups/crunches to real, structured workouts. The main thing P90X did was show me that even people over-40 can get into shape. I’d just about given up, but now I am in the best shape of my adult life.
  • Insanity is a great way to continue that fitness-oriented lifestyle. I lost some of the muscle I’d built with P90X when I went through Insanity, but did I really need all that muscle? The only part I regret is that I lost a lot of pullup (back) strength, so when I am doing a round of Insanity, I add pullups. Insanity doesn’t focus enough on the back muscles and I think the body needs that balance. I add yoga, too, just because I like starting the day with yoga.
  • Insanity: The Asylum is just too much. Maybe I feel that way because I don’t have enough space to do all the moves conveniently, but….
  • You have to warm up first, no matter what it is you are going to do. Unless you are going for a walk, which is not really a workout, you gotta warm up. I have hurt myself doing impromptu pullups. True story.
  • Insanity is good for my knees! I was shocked by this. Before I started P90X, my knees were okay, presenting minor problems when I tried to run, but they didn’t pain me much. A couple months into P90X, my left knee started bothering me. Not enough to make me stop, and the pain was not there when I exercised, but it was there from time to time. The pain was bothersome enough that I mentioned it to my doctor. He took a look and told me I had arthritis in that knee. I continued on with my P90X and One-On-One workouts. I didn’t start Insanity, because I figured if my knee was bad now, Insanity would put it over the top, right? So I put Insanity off for a few months. Then I took some time off to just do yoga and walking, give my body a rest, and my knee pain subsided considerably. When I went back to working out, it came back. At that point I said to myself, “If the pain can go away, then come back, that probably means it can go away again, so I’m going to go ahead and dive into Insanity.” After I started Insanity, my knee pain gradually diminished and has now disappeared. So … I stay away from Tony Horton (P90X) leg routines and stick with Shaun T (Insanity) ones.
  • Yoga is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It is so all-around fitness-increasing, affecting breathing, balance, and strength. Your whole body is engaged in yoga moves. It inspires discipline. And, you know what? It ain’t for pussies. Yoga is hard. Don’t skip it. In fact, I added more.
  • I much prefer body weight or band resistance training to working out with weights. Weight training is cool and I know it helps build strength and balance, but it’s a hassle. I guess that’s another reason to really like Insanity. I am not about building too much muscle, preferring a lean look, so it’s all good.
  • If you can perform a fitness routine completely without breaks the first time through, it’s not a very useful fitness routine. You need something that challenges you. Any of the aerobic workouts in P90X and Insanity definitely qualify as useful, by that definition. Plus, here’s the thing, take, for example, the P90X Plyometrics routine. Man, that is a monster. I was stopping the DVD for extra breaks a lot when I first started it. Then not so much. Then, on the day I was able to get all the way through it without stopping, I had such a feeling of accomplishment. Rightly so! As for Insanity, I still have not got all the way through any of those routines. Close. But not quite. But I will.
  • With that in mind, accept the fact that Insanity is (almost) impossible.  I say “almost” because, I suppose, anything is possible. For Insanity, unlike for P90X, I say take breaks without pausing the DVD, but don’t dog it. Get back in as soon as possible.
  • You can build great abs without doing any crunches. That is a fact, and Shaun T (Insanity) knows how to do that. Insanity is great for abs.

I’m sure I’ve learned more than that, but those are a few good lessons that came to mind pretty quickly.

Ain’t that a pain in the glutes!

I woke up this morning with soreness in my glutes. I expected to wake up that way, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I would have been disappointed if I were not sore.

What is the physiological/biological cause of soreness in the muscles? I’ve searched for a definitive answer and haven’t found one. If you find the answer, please post it here or let me know.

But I do know what activity causes soreness in the muscles. Simple. All I have to do is work the muscles out in a way they have not been worked out in a while, either by doing a new exercise, or doing a usual exercise slightly differently or more intensely.

And that’s what happened yesterday.

I did “Back & Base” from Volume 3 of Tony Horton’s One on One, which was the precursor to the soon-to-be-released P90X2. It’s a good series of exercises that alternates between pullups and plyo lower body moves, and it’s one of those routines where I do every move to exhaustion, until I can’t do any more.

Going to exhaustion virtually ensures that I’ll be sore the next day. Think about it. If every move ends because you can’t do any more than you’ve done, that means that you are taking your muscles to their absolute limit, breaking them down, getting them ready to rebuild themselves even stronger.

And, therefore, they are sore the next day.

I’ve written about muscle soreness before, and how I enjoy it, because the soreness lets me know I didn’t dog it during the workout, and also that I’ll be stronger when the soreness subsides.

Soreness can be annoying, though. Like, for example, when earlier this week I did my “Steve’s Chest & Back” routine on Monday, and the next day tried to do jumping jacks along with a Shaun T Insanity cardio workout. I was barely able to make my hands meet above my head!

I suppose I could take some Advil or something, but I really don’t like to put that stuff into my body, so I’ll just live with it, and write the occasional article, when I’m particularly sore, to remind myself — and you — that muscle soreness is a good thing.