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A short insight into my rationale for purchasing this particular DVD Yoga class by Gurumkh. I commenced a daily practice of Hatha Yoga some one and a half years prior to discovering Kundalini Yoga and was drawn to this style of Yoga when I saw the title of Maya Fiennes 'Detox and Destress' - in today's society that is certainly a treat. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful practice of Hatha Yoga I always felt that there was 'something' missing for me personally and when I worked with Kundalini Yoga I knew instantly that this was the perfect fit for me. It is different from Hatha Yoga as you spend much more time in a seated posture either cross legged (easy pose) or sat on your heels (rock pose) and you work with short and small movements that coordinate with the breath - most of the class is done with eyes closed so that you get a deeper inner experience (once you have the hang of the exercises) and breathing is done through the nose unless otherwise instructed. So I had developed a good Kundalini Yoga practice of approximately nine months and decided to purchase Gurumkh's class as reviewers had praised her for her teaching style and many years of experience - but they did also make it clear that this class was challenging and not perhaps for the brand new Kundalini student. I felt ready and was really drawn to this class so I ordered and then waited in anticipation and hoped that I had not bitten off more than I could chew!
LETS LOOK AT THE PACKAGE
On arrival I find that the DVD is by Gaiam who I have a lot of respect for in the Mind Body Spirit genre and other Yoga teachers include the superb Rodney Yee with his Power Yoga classes, Nicki Doane who teaches Ashtanga and Seane Corn who has produced some of the best Vinyasa flow classes on DVD. I was suitably reassured by that alone - Gaiam normally means quality assured as regards the Yoga DVD's in my experience. The box is high quality and displays an image of Gurumkh and a quote from Cindy Crawford who is one of her celebrity students. The rear of the cover has a comprehensive but conscise overview of what to expect from this class and the benefits of this age old practice brought to the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan. Inside the box is an information and advertisement page by Gaiam which introduces you to other products and of course there is a disc which looks well produced with a picture lable insitu. I am eager to preview the class in preparation for working with it - this is always recommended so that you don't get any surprises when you get going and you can get a feel of the flow of the class before you begin. As always on any exercise DVD there is advice to check with your GP before beginning any new training program and also precautions and contraindications eg if you are pregnant or menstruating then certain postures are not suitable - normally inverted poses; also you would avoid doing a breathing technique known as 'breath of fire' which is a short sniffing type breath through the nose and the navel pumps in and out as you do it - not suitable when menstruating. Also worth noting is that Yoga should not be done when you have just eaten, you should leave at least 2 hours. I do an early morning practice so that I have a completely empty stomach.
I'M READY FOR LIFT OFF!
I'm all prepared with my mat on the floor, water for a sip should I need it and the room is airy but not cold. Lets begin. The DVD opens with a lovely introduction by Gurumkh all about Kundalini Yoga and it's benefits, I am instantly at ease with this teacher - she has such a gentle manner. There is no chapter section or matrix option on the DVD but you can easily skip this introduction section once you have seen it - sometimes I just allow it to play through whilst I am settling down on the mat as she is so relaxing to listen to.
When class begins I am elated by the delicious surroundings that the setting is in - four students, two girls and two boys, are seated on large mats that are nestled between lots of trees. Birdsong and water can be heard too and this is just a beautiful place to produce a class. Class begins with the mantra 'Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo' this is the way that all Kundalini Yoga classes start and it helps to focus your mind and get you into the zone so to speak - I find that it really does work.
As with any form of exercise it is good to warm up and get flexible and this class is no different as we begin with a good range of exercises that are non stop and really work on releasing and flexing the spine. Gurumkh also introduces breathing techniques along the way and demonstrates the movements clearly and concisely - she is supremely good at keeping you motivated too, she is so gentle and softly spoken but she is also capable of keeping you going and getting you to 'keep up'! Exercises include flexing the spine forward and back whilst seated in easy pose (cross legged) and Sufis grind which is a lovely circular movement of the spine whilst seated in easy pose.
There is not a section of relaxation or mini meditation rests within this class so I just listen to my body and do what I can at any given time and if I feel the need for a short rest period in between then I pause and do just that. This was certainly the case during the first few times of working with this class.
Throughout the rest of the class Gurumkh will have you on your feet and getting the cardiovascular system working. This can be really challenging at times and I can tell you where I really struggle during any class - and that is raised arm movements that last and last and last. Following a set that includes leg raises that cross over from one side to the other, a jumping and boxing type movement and also a rapid alternate arm movement rather like reaching and grabbing a rope and pulling it towards you and a variety of other movements; which also include repeated squats with your arms out to the sides (a toughie) you will then end with an exercise where you have your arms raised above you and moving in and out in a small motion for 2 minutes - doesn't that sound easy? you want to try it - I find it a real challenge! Gurumkh guides you through this class effortlessly and it flows very well indeed. It feels fantastic following each of the exercises and of course some are easier than others but with time and patience they all become achievable - believe me and the breath is the key. The breath will help you keep up especially if you focus on it completely.
The components of this class are devised to stir your spirit, raise your energy and build stamina and endurance and once you have completed Gurumkh's challenge you get rewarded with a beautiful meditation section and finally a deep relaxation that soothes your spirit and is guided by a gong - Gurumkh tells you to 'dive into' the sound currents and initially I wondered if I would be able to do this and of course how I would achieve it - I lay in the relaxation pose on my back in Savasana pose (a really important pose in Yoga and one that heals the body, try not to skip this one as you really will benefit) I emptied my mind and awaited the sound currents of the gong and to my surprise I felt really in tune with the sounds and really relaxed, it was wonderful. I don't know if I do it right or not but whatever I am doing takes me to a place of peace and tranquility so I guess I can't be far off.
Having worked through the class and its varying dimensions, meditated and relaxed Gurumkh will then end the class with the tune out mantra Sat Nam (Truth is my identity) and says a few inspiring words too.
HOW WAS IT FOR YOU?
I was experienced in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga before working with this class so I understood about alignment and foundation, breathing and focusing deeply on what is taking place in every minute area of the body. This class was much more challenging than others that I have worked with but as with anything you can just do what you are comfortable and capable of and work within your own limits, it is fine. I certainly get a sweat on when I do this class and it makes a difference that there are no meditation breaks in between as only 30 seconds can make a big difference. Having said that as you work with the class more and more you will develop in ways that allow for exercises to become more achievable - it is like a journey. My lungs certainly benefit and cardiovascular system too! I am so comfortable with Gurumkh's teaching style and the setting and sounds of wildlife and water add to the relaxing and de stressing qualities of this class. I find that the structure of the class flows incredibly well and I smile an awful lot whilst doing it - Gurumkh says that you need to sweat and laugh everyday to stay healthy! Having done the class and following the relaxation I feel energised whilst totally calm at the same time and this continues through the day - wonderful. I really enjoy this DVD class.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY IT FROM AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
You can normally purchase from Amazon.co.uk and eBay, there are other websites too and if you google Gurumkh Yoga DVD a list will appear.
Surprisingly you can normally pick this DVD up for approximately £6.99 which I think is a steal for this class.
Total running time 60 minutes
There is a short introduction and then the class begins.
No chapters or extra's but in all honesty none are needed in my opinion.
This is a more challenging DVD that is probably more suited to a more experienced Kundalini Yoga student but I would not rule out a healthy individual giving it a go if they had the intention of watching it through first, practising the breathing and intending to rest out as and when needed. As with anything patience is a virtue and you will improve slowly but surely. Yoga is not competitive and you will feel differently each time you come to your mat so just do what you can and be happy with that and you will be fine, in Yoga the less you try to 'push' the more you achieve as things happen when the body is allowed to relax. I like Gurumkh, she teaches in a gentle manner and guides you beautifully through this well structured class. The setting is a bonus and the natural sounds do not distract - no music on this one. I love the gong at the end and I'm getting used to 'diving into it'. The price is fantastic for this class and the DVD is high quality, produced by a leading company in the wellness field - Gaiam. I would recommend this one but advise to take care if you are completely new to Kundalini Yoga.
May I take this opportunity to thank you for reading my review, I hope you found it helpful.
This review will also appear on CIAO under my username Dawnymarie.