Another major winner from Element and yogi Ashley Turner. Before I even get started, I have to preface this by stating that I have always tried to incorporate more yoga into my rotations. I know it is necessary and I even like and enjoy a lot of the yoga workouts I own. However, I have never loved yoga until I discovered Element and Ashley. I look forward to my yoga sessions so much now! I have to add that even tho I love everything Ashley has put out there with Element (that I have sampled so far) I felt the same way about Element’s Daily Yoga led by Mia Togo. I love and look forward to that one, too. I am crazy about Element’s offerings and some of their trainers.
Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility is a very relaxing yoga practice and I loved it. It contains two approximately 30 minute yoga workouts with the option of playing them both back to back (which is how I sampled them the first time), which is a 69 minute yoga workout. When played back to back, the workout actually begins with Flexibility and ends with Stress Relief which is an appropriate way to combine them (but that is not how they are listed on the menu when you play them individually). Flexibility actually had some moderately strenuous poses tho overall it was relaxing. Stress Relief had some very effective and deep stretching but overall was just a relaxing workout. I found the combined workout effective, relaxing and rejuvenating. A wonderful way to start my day.
These workouts are led by Ashley Turner who is a yoga instructor and holds a masters degree in psychology/counseling. Currently I have checked out 4 of her Element workouts from the library. One of them is already posted (Yoga for Strength & Flexibility) and the other two will be going up within the next two weeks. Like all Element workouts, these are set in a beautiful location–green with flowered trees, a reflecting pool, the Pacific Ocean. Just the setting is rejuvenating and relaxing. Also, like all of the Element workouts I’ve done so far, this workout is done voice over. Ashley cues very well, but I also find her so relaxing, even when I am challenged by a pose. Maybe it is her psychology background, but she has a very calming effect on me. Her voice, what she says, the way she says it–even the way she looks. There is something very likable about her. For instance, during Yoga for Stress Relief you do something called lion’s breath which is a kind of silly-seeming facial exercise. She demonstrates it very well, but also seems amused, as if she knows the exerciser might find it silly. She’s just a very beautiful and cute woman. I feel yoga, even when it is challenging you, should be relaxing and somehow Ashley encompasses all of this and makes it happen for me.
Yoga for Stress Relief is 36 minutes long. The workout starts sitting cross-legged on the mat with several minutes of deep breathing. Head rolls. Stretch arms overhead. Deep side stretch. Lace hands and reach them overhead then turn body to side; lower hands and move deeper into spinal twist, one hand on the ground behind you and one on knee. Place feet flat on floor in front of you, knees bent, and round and flatten back. Open the feet/legs out wider, raising feet so heels are on ground and feet are turned outward. Reach one arm and grab opposite foot, placing other arm behind you; round back/shoulders and tuck chin down; roll head side to side. Sit cross-legged again. Next is lion’s breath; for this you will take a deep breath and when you exhale, you open mouth and eyes wide and stick the tongue out, exhaling loudly. Straighten one leg in front of you and bend the other leg, bringing the bottom of the foot against the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Bend forward over straight leg. Keep leg straight, but bring other leg up, still bent, but now foot is flat on floor next to opposite thigh. Wrap opposite arm around bent leg and twist torso, placing other arm behind you, stretching the spine. Cross legs, but place one foot on top of opposite knee and other foot beneath opposite knee (ankles and knees are aligned). Fold forward over legs (this is double pigeon pose). Open legs into V shape and lean forward. Keep one leg extended in V and bring the other foot in to crotch; stretch arms and torso over toward straight leg, reaching for foot and opening chest to sky. Next is alternate nostril breathing; you close one nostril with your finger and inhale through the other, close the other nostril and exhale; keep alternating. Get on all 4s and lower top of head to ground for a cranial massage–literally roll your head around, pressing it into mat. Lay on back and bring knees to chest, circling knees/legs out and in. Place feet on ground and windshield wiper knees side to side. Open knees to side, feet touching, for lying butterfly pose. 2:30 minutes of corpse pose. End sitting cross-legged again with eyes closed.
Yoga for Flexibility is 33 minutes long. The workout begins sitting cross-legged on the mat with approx. 2 minutes of focused breathing. Stand and forward fold. Still bent over, interlace fingers behind back and stretch them to ceiling. Lower hands, returning to forward fold. Alternate coming up with flat back, hands on shins, and deep forward fold, hands on ground. Stand, stretching arms over head. Swan dive to forward fold. Step left leg back into runners lunge. Alternate rounding back and coming up a bit in runners lunge, then lowering deeper into runners lunge while arching spine. Drop back knee to floor and place hands on front thigh; push hips forward, stretching the hip flexor. Circle straight arms, as if in back stroke. Place hands on floor next to front foot and lean hips back, straightening front leg for hamstring stretch (half-splits). Push up into standing splits (stand on one leg with other raised in air, hands on ground). Lower leg to forward fold and stand. Eagle pose. Step right leg back into runners lunge. Alternate rounding back and coming up a bit in runners lunge, then lowering deeper into runners lunge while arching spine. Drop back knee to floor and place hands on front thigh; push hip forward, stretching the hip flexor. Open arms wide to sides of body, then close arms, rounding back and wrapping arms around you. Place hands on floor next to front foot and lean hips back, straightening front leg for hamstring stretch (half-splits). Push up into standing splits (stand on one leg with other raised in air, hands on ground). Plank then lay flat on floor. Cobra. Down Dog. Lower to knees, place hands under shoulders, chest and chin on ground and butt in air; hold. Lower body to ground. Raise chest, neck and head and do a breath stroke with arms. Clasp hands behind you at small of back and rotate chest to one side of body, hands still clasped and hips planted in ground. Child’s pose. Come to all 4s and roll hips around (lowering bottom almost to floor behind you and coming back up to almost an up dog on knees–so big hip rolls). Sit on knees with bottom between open feet and knees close together; lean torso back (Ashley went all the way to the ground, back flat on ground–this is impossible for me; I was supporting myself on my hands). Lay on stomach and bend knees (feet toward ceiling) and circling feet/legs around. Roll onto back and bring knees and forehead together, rounding back. Twist both knees to one side of body, reaching torso in opposite direction, stretching spine. 2 minutes of corpse pose. End sitting cross-legged and deep breathing.