Friday, May 3, 2013

My Favorite Yoga Workout: Yoga Fitness Plus with Elise Gulan

For the past few weeks I've been nursing some back pain so I've steered clear from agressive workouts like any of Bob Harper's strength training or cardio workouts like Jillian Michaels kick boxing DVD. Instead I've steered toward modified yoga and pilates, modified meaning if my back starts hurting I quickly move to down dog which greatly stretches out my back. And so in my hiatus from rigorous cardio, I've found solace in one of my older yoga workouts I used to do when ExerciseTV was still in existence, Elise Gulan's Yoga Fitness Plus.

I came across the workout on ExerciseTV On Demand when I was just venturing into yoga and trying out different workouts. I must say, of all the yoga workouts I have done at this point, this specific workout truly takes the cake for being the most intense yoga workout. More so than Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior workout and even workouts I've done from YogaWorks! But in true yoga fashion, the intensity of the workout is masked by Elise's joy. Yes, joy. There's even one part of the workout where she's in goddess pose (Holding a pliet squat) and spreading her arms instructing us to pretend like we're collecting joy with our hands.

Lady, my legs are burning by holding this squat, we are not riding unicorns sliding down a rainbow catching joy, you're making me hold a squat. I don't understand where joy fits into this equation!

When I think of yoga, this is really what I think of. Intensively soft strength training using your body weight, but never pushing yourself beyond your capabilities. Elise does an amazing job of explaining every pose and holds each pose for a couple of breaths, which I appreciate. It doesn't feel like I'm doing an intense workout with Bob Harper yelling at me to keep pushing. It's not until you do a sun salutation for the hundredth time that you realize that this workout is intense because your arms are burning! And the balance poses! Holding a standing split while on tip toe of the stabilizing leg with the leg in the air going up an inch and holding, up an inch and holding for five reps will leave your calves burning in soreness the next day. Trust me, happens every time I do the workout, granted I do more of a standing perpendicular, but it still hurts!

And if you haven't done yoga before, don't feel intimidated and not do this workout. If anything, Elise is the perfect instructor for you. While she tells you intermediate moves she also shows plenty of modifications and if you can't float your arm while in a half moon pose, it's ok and Elise lets you know it's ok. She'll tell you how she struggled to get some of these poses and that if you can't do a pose, it's ok, try it on another day.

When I first re-started doing this workout a few weeks ago I realized how inflexible I was, but after doing this routine pretty regularly I've seen myself gain flexibility and strength. My body has become more limber and I'm able to roll through the moves with more grace rather than looking like a defensive lineman flapping his wings around.

So if you're an experienced yogi or just beginning your practice, this really is a great workout. And if you're hesitant as to whether yoga really will workout your body and leave you sore, I challenge you to try out this DVD.  It may just turn out that I'm not that in shape and it is easy for you, but come on, I doubt that.


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