As I am definitely not a morning person, my girlfriends always laugh at me when I ask them how they can work out in the morning-I truly wonder how they can do it before dragging kids to school or racing to the office, while I will my body to get off the bed while longing for a cup of Illey coffee instead of a morning workout.
I have long admired Shiva Rea (one of her students is Katy Appleton who is a wonderfully intuitive yoga instructor based in London, as Shiva is US based) and love her DVDs, which never seem to bore me-well, I have quite a few of them to be fair. But when a copy of Shiva’s latest DVD ‘A.M. Energy’ dropped on my mat I was skeptical-me and morning yoga workout? Well, initially it didn’t seem like a match made in heaven, yet I was curious enough and last week willed myself to do 30 minutes in the morning before breakfast and school run. Before I tell you my opinion, let me tell you more about the DVD.
The tape itself is divided into the following sections:
–meditation core awakening(5 mins)
–body mandala 108( 20 mins )
–shakti flow( 20 mins )
–vira flow( 20 mins )
–shavasana( 6 mins )
–bonus heart salutation from radiant heart ( 20 mins )
Shiva doesn’t seem to change as years go by, she is still blond and beautiful with content luminosity and a fusion of surfer/yogini body. Many of her DVDs have the most amazing cinematography yet the main blocks on this one, i think purposefully, were done in the studio-Shiva guides you through poses or dance moves-yes, you read it correctly- while her blond hair flows and serenity is emitted from her pores as you seem to be falling under her spell.
Each section can be done on its own-you can never predict what type of night you will have or how the weather outside will affect your awakening- but what Shiva’s sequences do, is awake your body and make your energy flow naturally, energising your mind and body simultaneously.
The Meditation Core awakening-don’t be fooled, you will work hard during those 5 minutes but they will fly, not drag. Shiva concentrates on awakening the sluggish morning digestion, while centering your core and aligning your spine. Some of the abdominal work will take time to be properly mastered but Shiva’s instructions are perfectly clear-it’s just that not many of us are blessed with Shiva’s fit abs .) It is amazing to see the difference in one’s tummy when it’s forcefully relaxed and when it is controlled-Shiva takes the time to demonstrate the moves and I promise you that those exercises will do for your gut what a glass of water with lemon and honey might not achieve-combine both and your body will love you for it!
Body Mandala 108 workout concentrates on giving your body strength and toning your muscles and core, integrating rhythmic vyniasa with exercises like triceps dips or lunges. What is important and is reinforced by Shiva is that you listen to your body and try different modifications depending on how your body feels, before moving to another cycle in terms of difficulty-I know I have stable days when my balance is spot on but I also have wobbly days from time to time too.
I particularly enjoy the cobra and downward dog work in this section and interesting modifications of the core work and legs, which develop your strength while toning. You will also do lots of yogic push ups but the essence of it is that you have to concentrate on the movement so that you balance yourself without being rigid. As you practise you will get into the groove and flow through it with a serene smile.
Shakti flow: this section concentrates on awakening your creative energy and I would particularly recommend doing it on a gloomy morning when it will make you glow with inner happiness. Shiva starts with rhythmic dancing but urges you to dance how it feels natural to you, so don’t feel the need to repeat after her and just let go-our lives are controlled enough as they are.
You connect with your inner flow and concentrate on your hip joints initially going into variations of the twists after that and side lunges. This pulsating Vinyasa, as Shiva calls it, generates energy and gently forces you to let go and be you-it is a gentle but forceful section which is really my favourite. I just smile in contentment as a child poses flows into cobra-doing it in the morning isn’t so bad after all.
Vira Flow: this section gets you grounded and for me, it is a quite meditative practise as it seems to be somewhat slower than two of the sections above. I found myself concentrating on poses which in turn relaxed me yet made me more centered and determined-i felt like a steely serene yogi, following Shiva, especially during the side plank variations.
The three main segments above are done in the studio that is draped in yellowy fabric with Shiva doing the work on the rounded platform where her mat lies, but the beauty of the heart salutation segmentis that it is filmed in the dessert during sunrise. You are exposed to amazing shadow and light variations while you do your yoga practise and it fills you with a deep sense of peace while doing the cycles of three primary patterns like back bends, mat work and side way poses.
Shiva herself looks different in this section, with her hair in a tight bun and the beauty of her lines mesmerising in a Goddess like way-if that is not divine inspiration, I don’t know what is-do this section once and you will understand what I mean.
Every morning I tend to do at least two if not three matrixes-my lesson from this DVD is that even morning grouches can do them! I feel energised and ready to face a day ahead and when the day is done,whatever happened, I know that my body had a good start and was ready for challenges that we all face on a daily basis.
”Shiva Rea A.M. Energy morning practise’ ‘by Acacia is released on June 6th 2011 and is available from www.amazon.co.uk