Element: Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility

yoga4stressAnother 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.

19 thoughts on “Element: Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility

  1. I am still so very overwhelmed with trying to find the just-right yoga DVD. It’s beginning to feel like a chore — browsing DVDs online and cross-referencing reviews and youtube preview clips. I dearly want to get a yoga DVD but I have no idea where to begin. I don’t know anything about yoga but I love the idea of having a nice “relaxing” yet purposeful and effective full body workout/mindful-stretch with an instructor with a soothing voice among beautiful scenery and calming music.

    I keep coming back to this one but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it since I know nothing of yoga…. And I still haven’t fully explored the yoga DVDs by Gaiam or Element. Sigh.

    Any suggestions?

    https://www.totalfitnessdvds.com/Flow-Yoga-Energize-and-Renew-Amy-Schneider-p/177.htm

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    1. That looks like a pretty good DVD. One that will progress you through different levels. And none of the workouts are so long they get boring. I tend to prefer 30 minute yogra practices. Personally, I am a big fan of Element‘s yoga workouts.

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      1. You are kind to reply to my (let’s be honest) a bit whiny-sounding comment 😉

        I have no idea why I am so fixated on the idea of yoga. I ended up ordering a different DVD but I’m excited about it — I think it will be a good introduction to yoga and have more explanation about the poses (at least from this one particular instructor’s point of view). And that sale price, woo-hoo!!!

        https://www.totalfitnessdvds.com/Beginning-Yoga-with-Chrissy-Carter-p/400.htm

        And if I really enjoy that one yoga DVD then I can further explore my options, such as that Amy Schneider DVD produced by New Shoot Pictures and the tons of Element & Gaiam yoga DVDs. Or I might completely skip exploring those two production companies and just look at the yoga DVDs that Jessica Smith has. As you know, many choices overwhelm me and I like that Jessica has maybe just 4 – 6 yoga/stretching DVDs. (Don’t like that they are Amazon only, but oh well. I was reading some reviews on your site yesterday and it seems that one specific yoga DVD was your very first introduction to Jessica.)

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      2. I did a quick search on your site and was surprised that no search results came up for Rodney Yee (Gaiam) or Tara Lee (New Shoot Pictures). Have you acquired any of their DVDs but just not had a chance to review them or, based on preview clips you’ve seen online, just decided that they weren’t a good fit for you because you didn’t feel a connection because you didn’t like their voice, set, music, instruction/cueing, etc….?

        Also, good to know you like all of Jessica’s yoga DVDs…..

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      3. It has more to do with the fact I am not a big yogi. I tend to focus more on strength and cardio workouts. I don’t actually search for yoga workouts. The ones I try and enjoy I tend to discover through happenstance. I check them out from the library and love them so I buy them. Or a trainer I already love for their other workouts (Jessica) has yoga or flexibility and I want to try everything they create. Yoga workouts are not something I actively search for.

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      4. Yeah I’m kind of fixated on yoga right now so while I’ve never done it at all, I’ve been browsing a lot of yoga workout DVDs online and previewing video clips. It got overwhelming so I stopped and plus I found that hopefully gem of a video on sale at TFDVDs. Hopefully I won’t regret the time I’ve spent online looking at yoga DVDs and hopefully I’ll like that beginner yoga workout.

        I did my first pilates workout a few days ago and was so bored, that after about 30 minutes I popped out the DVD and switched to Jillian. I’m not discarding pilates, the trainer was good, but it might have been the way the program was designed/structured — it was a beginner program done in 10 minute segments……..

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  2. Thanks again for reminding me about Jessica Smith and directing me to her special page on your site. I had some time to read your reviews and preview clips on the jessicasmith.fitness site. There’s definitely at least 3 of her videos I want to get. They aren’t stretching/yoga ones (haven’t had time to read up about those.) I dearly hope my library will acquire them — I really want to be able to preview them (and use them) before I commit to purchasing them via Amazon. $15 per video is a bit much — although worth it I’m sure for the production value, Jessica’s personality and expertise, and actual workout(s). I’ve just been spoiled by being able to get some Jillian Michael DVDs (brand new, factory sealed) from Wal-Mart for between $5 – $7. And I totally get that In Wellness LLC is a whole entirely different company from Wal-Mart 😉 and is going to therefore have different price points, overhead, logistics, and things like that.

    In your experience with all the Jessica Smith shopping you’ve done, do her DVDs ever go lower than $14.98??

    Again, thank you so much for all the information you share on your website and for replying to my comments. I really appreciate the time you take to share your expertise, advice, suggestions, and opinions.

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    1. Not exactly. Jessica has coupon codes for some of her systems (which are more expensive then individual DVDs) and you can save 20% but no, brand new they never drop in price. I have bought some of them cheaper used though. Personally, I think they are worth it. I love Jillian, too, and she does give the consumer a good value. However, I find myself returning to Jessica’s workouts far more frequently than Jillian’s. Part of that has to do with the way I workout. 3 things keep me coming back to a trainer more frequently than other trainers. Two of those things are obvious–they have to give me a good solid workout and I have to like them. But the third is the ability to easily categorize their workouts. I plan out my workouts at least a month in advance. Even tho I am flexible and change things, I still have what I am doing planned out in advance. And when I do that planning, I want to make I can easily fit many workouts together into a comprehensive rotation. Jessica’s workouts are much easier to categorize than Jillian’s.

      And you’re welcome! I don’t mind answering questions. I’m not an expert though! I’ve just been working out a long time and I am one of those weirdos that really loves to exercise.

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      1. I can totally see how $15 for a Jessica Smith video is worth it (especially since it seems a lot of her not walking videos have more than one workout on them) — it’s just hard to plunk down $45 for 3 workout DVDs.

        I do love Jillian. I love her tough love and encouragement. I really enjoyed Beginner Shred and am enjoying (although it is hard at times) 30 Day Shred. When I’m done with both programs, I’m not sure if I would return to them or not… I’m at the point now where I would prefer a workout that lasts more than 20 minutes so I might look into Ripped in 30 (don’t have it but my library does). But after 30 Day Shred I might just move into her No More Trouble Zones DVD (one of my Wal-mart bargains) which is at least 40 minutes, not including warm-up and cool-down.

        Or after 30-day Shred I might just try something else entirely, something not Jillian. I spontaneously bought a pilates DVD online. From the 10-Minute Solution program folks that you praised in a couple of reviews that you did. I was really surprised at my spontaneous purchase, but I really liked what I saw on the video preview clip and the $9 price tag (brand new) was hard to pass-up. (And I have a long wishlist of other workout DVDs. Ilaria is at the top of that list.)

        So yes, getting back to Jessica Smith, I can see why you would go back to her more than Jillian. She comes across as so likeable and personable in the video clips that I watched. Speaking of which, how does Walk Strong: Boost Metabolism + Muscle compare to Walk On: Get Strong? Is BM+M more challenging?

        You’re definitely not a weirdo! I love exercising too. There are truly much weirder hobbies/activities to love and enjoy doing.

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      2. I’m looking forward to eventually doing NMTZ — I think it’s going to be a great intense 40 minute work-out, hopefully not too much jumping, I’ll have to check your break down of the circuits later. And I’ll definitely have to check out your dedicated Jillian page — love her. I got introduced to Jillian when I was watching an episode (probably a re-run) of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress (a guilty indulgence but I don’t watch it that much anymore) and she was there as a guest of one of the brides-to-be, a bride-to-be named Tuni (possibly misspelled her name) who also had been on The Biggest Loser with Jillian who I assume was her coach and who Jillian said become her life-long friend. I didn’t really think much of it, had only vaguely heard of The Biggest Loser, but just that little bit of Jillian was so warm and genuine. And fast forward to now and Jillian is still just as warm and genuine and tough and bada$$ on DVD. She’s awesome.

        I know I type a lot so you may have missed my question, but could you also let me know how Walk Strong: Boost Metabolism + Muscle compares to Walk On: Get Strong? Is BM+M more challenging? Is Get Strong just more straight up strength without any cardio breaks/recovery?

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      3. Sorry! I did see your question and meant to answer it. I get distracted easily! Walk On: Get Strong is more challenging than BM+M. However, they are both excellent. BM+M is more fun. WO/GS is more advanced. However, in the end it comes down to the weight of your dumbbells. You can always make a workout more challenging by increasing the weight of dumbbells that you use.

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      4. Thanks for the info. I assume is WO/GS more challenging because it’s a longer workout and heavy weights are encouraged to be used? And maybe perhaps the specific exercises too?

        I do remember when I was watching the clips that BM+M did seem to have more fun movements and Jessica’s personality shone through more. I’m surprised that I’m leaning more toward BM+M as I strongly prefer total body workouts….

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  3. I feel like some days in the early to late evening I’d just like to do a nice 15 – 30 minute stretch. It just seems like it would feel nice and relaxing and maybe also have some benefits to my muscles too.

    I really don’t know anything about yoga (I assume there are different types of yoga that have different philosophies and body movements and breathing techniques) and have never taken a class.

    Do you think I should go for a yoga DVD or a stretching DVD? If so, do you have any recommendations? I do see that you’ve reviewed the Classical Stretch programs but I’m wondering if you’ve done other stretching programs……

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    1. I just spent a bunch of time answering this and somehow deleted it before posting it. So I guess I will start over. Cathe has a great flexibility collection called Total Body Stretch. It contains three 10-15 minute stretches. You do need a stability ball. Jessica Smith has some excellent ones. Here is my Jessica page if you’re interested (I know you avoid her workouts because she sells through Amazon)–scroll down to her non-series workouts. She has lots of relatively short flexibility collections. Element has lots of excellent yoga programs.

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      1. I’ve been doing some DVD browsing online since I left my comment….. I came across an old FIRM video, 5-day stretch, where I assume 5 different FIRM instructors present 5 different stretching routines (perhaps these were pulled from full-length workouts) But oh my what an old video and those leotards. Clip below.

        Then I found a Tamilee video called Total Stretch for Beginners, shocking that Amazon is selling it brand new for just $3.99. If I had Amazon prime I would have already clicked the ‘buy it now’ button.

        And yes, I even came across Jessica’s Total Stretch DVD too…

        Cathe sounds good, but I have no where to store a large stability ball…..

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