I've tried out yoga in the past but just simple sort of moves learnt from the television or from the internet, obvious things like cobra, tree, lotus, cat, cow, etc.. I've always yearned to learn more, however I felt embarrassed to go to a class without knowing anything, as I didn't want to be the wobbly fool that turned up knowing absolutely nothing! I looked around on eBay and Amazon, and decided to buy this from Amazon for £3.00, which I thought was V. cheap.
The package arrived swiftly and although customer service was not needed, I know that Amazon does have brilliant customer service anyhow. It was packaged well, in a padded envelope that fit perfectly through my front door - no need to sign for parcels! The DVD arrived intact and with all parts in perfect condition. The DVD cover is pink and white and has a picture of Barbara Currie doing some sort of lunge to the side, and 7 secrets of yoga written in purple. It also has bonus features such as diet tips and menu options, and claims to help you achieve your perfect weight and shape, but I don't haven't used those.
It is easy to navigate throughout the DVD. Simply use your remote control and you'll find your way. I have found however that there is the same annoying muzak playing throughout the whole of the footage, irrelevant of what you are doing or whether or not she is talking.
I must admit I'd never really heard of Barbara Currie before this, simply a familiar name from television, but I thought since she was rather old, she can't be doing anything too difficult. Lord help me I was wrong! That woman must be made of rubber, I'm way more than half her age, and I wasn't able to do the things she was doing! I thought it would be a good DVD for beginners, but honestly I couldn't do most of it. It also doesn't really explain how to make yourself more supple, how to get yourself flexible enough to perform Currie's tricks and stunts. The woman must be in her early 70's now, and she's putting her legs behind her head and bending over backwards like it's nothing.
Also, the women next to her who are apparently demonstrating 'beginner and intermediate' levels, are not given enough time to demonstrate what they are actually doing, and you feel like you've got to attempt Barbara's difficult version straight away. It all moves very fast and I don't feel relaxed at all.
Next time I will be buying a DVD that is more focused on teaching beginners, as the beginners section of this DVD was very short and seemed to move on very swiftly to intermediate and difficult level.
Many people will tell you that yoga should only be done with a qualified instructor. For many of us it isn't that simple to get out of the house for an hour or two to attend a class, especially not on a regular basis, so DVDs have to suffice! I'd always fancied having a go at yoga, but since my flexibility was so poor I couldn't dream of even touching my toes, I wasn't sure that I was going to get on with it.
I'd never heard of Barbara Currie before I bought this '7 Secrets of Yoga' DVD, but some of you might have since I believe she has been on TV in her role as an expert on all things yoga. This was the first yoga DVD I'd ever done and since then I've added a couple of her other DVDs to my collection, plus some by other instructors.
I like Barbara Currie's style generally - she has a very 'secular, Western' approach without any mention of chakras, karma or spiritual energy. She uses the word 'pose' instead of 'asana', and she refers to the quiet time at the end of her routines as relaxation rather than meditation. Since New Age references tend to get up my nose, this suited me perfectly when I was first getting started. I can live with those things now that I'm more comfortable with yoga, but I think it would have put me off at the beginning. She does come out with some bunkum sometimes though - on her 'Power of Yoga' DVD she gives us a piece of advice which is apparently an 'old saying' in yoga: 'if you don't use it, you lose it'. This made me burst out laughing the first time I heard this, and it conjures up a wonderful image of wizened old yogi masters instructing their followers to 'use it or lose it'.
Barbara also tends to latch onto pet phrases on any DVD that she will repeat endlessly. On '7 Secrets' this is 'Never strain'. This becomes irritating very quickly, however it fades into the background when you get used to it.
'7 Secrets' is made up of eight 10 minute workouts, and I would say that this is the most suitable DVD for beginners out of three of hers that I have (other two are Power of Yoga and Fabulous Shape Forever). You can mix and match what you want to do, and add more than one workout together for a longer session.
Barbara is joined by two women in the background, and one of these will be showing you the beginner's version of a pose.
10 Minute Miracle - this is aimed at the beginner, and the idea is that you do this every morning as a good all over toning and stretch routine. It's a great introduction to yoga, especially if your idea of it is that yoga is just stretching exercises. Barbara takes us through the triangle pose, forward and backward bends and other poses that show that yoga is great for building strength and balance as well.
Advanced 10 Minute Miracle - Same idea as the first workout, but slightly more advanced. If you've done the first workout a few times and eased the stiffness out of your muscles and joints, this is a nice one to move on to. She starts with the 'Sun Salutation', a series of poses that flow into each other which will be familiar to most people who've tried yoga. A more advanced triangle series here, and more forward and backward bends. These poses are great for lower body strength!
Power Shaping: Yoga Balances - I'm not sure why this one is referred to as a 'shaping' workout, because I see the purpose of balance poses as being to clear your mind (since you have to focus to hold the pose) and obviously working on the little muscles that help you to balance. These are good things to do, but I don't see how much 'shaping' they'll actually achieve. You'll find things like Dancer and Tree pose in this workout, as well as the killer 'Little Toe Balance' which always makes me fall over.
Power Shaping: Bottoms and Thighs - I haven't really done this workout much because I don't have the space for the 'Maltese Cross' series which makes up probably half the workout. To see if you have, do this: lie on the floor with your arms out to the sides so you're in the shape of a cross. Slide your left leg up to touch your left hand (if you're like me, you won't actually get very far). Bring that leg back to straight and do the same on the right side. If you've got room for this, you should have room for this workout.
Power Shaping: Tums - Great workout that really makes you feel it the next day without the neck-straining agony of endless crunches! The first couple of exercises must be done first thing in the morning with an empty stomach (otherwise I imagine you'll make yourself sick). Please, please, please go at your own pace with yoga tummy poses - if you feel it in your back, ease up or stop. Barbara assures us that it is possible to regain a flat tum after pregnancy, and points to her two background girls as examples - and they do indeed have lovely figures.
Power Shaping: Arms and Bust - One of my favourite things about yoga is the way it approaches upper body strength, with lots of stamina type exercises. This particular workout though is quite gentle and focuses quite a lot on releasing tension from the neck and shoulders. This workout is all done on the floor and it's perfectly suited to fitting in a quick relaxing session in your pyjamas at the end of the day.
Power Stretching - Lovely, lovely workout. Again all done on the floor, with the Wide Angle Leg Stretch, Back Stretch, a gentle seated backwards bend and spinal twist. I love doing the Arms and Bust workout followed by this one in the evening to ease the tension out, stretch out and just relax.
If you're totally new to yoga (which I was when I got this), the Power Stretching workout plus the first '10 Minute Miracle' are a great way to see what your limits are, where your tight spots are and just be a non-intimidating introduction with plenty of room to grow.
Finally, Stay Young With Yoga - Given how sensible the rest of this DVD is, I am somewhat aghast that Barbara decided to include this workout, which is made up of inverted postures, including a long headstand sequence. I wouldn't even attempt this at home - these movements are something where I would take the advice to only do it in the presence of someone qualified. If you're already an advanced yoga student and are confident with these poses, fair enough, but it's not for me!
In summary, a great yoga workout for total beginners and more advanced students. After doing sessions from this DVD a few times a week, I was able to touch my toes after about two or three months, and my flexibility, posture and strength has continued to improve. I do other types of workout as well, but yoga - and the '7 Secrets' DVD - is most definitely a regular part of my routine.