Gentle Yoga is my first Jessica Smith workout. I have actually put several Jessica Smith workouts on my Amazon wishlist then I remove them, thinking they are probably too easy. I currently have one of her workouts on my wishlist but not sure I will buy it. I actually follow her on YouTube and have saved quite a few of her YouTube workouts to my various playlists but I have not yet actually done one. So this is my first!
I decided to get this workout because it got a lot of great reviews and I personally love gentle but effective yoga/stretching. This DVD contains four 20 minute yoga sessions so it seemed perfect for my needs. Each 20 minute session focuses on different muscle groups. You can just do one 20 minute segment or you can hit the “play all” option and do a full 84 minute yoga workout. This DVD is also programmable. You go into that menu and chose 2 or 3 or all 4 segments and do them in whatever order works best for you.
It is set outdoors beside a swimming pool with lots of greenery behind Jessica. The music is gentle and appropriate for yoga. I loved this workout and plan to return to it frequently. I also plan to venture more into Jessica Smith workouts. I have one of her 30 minute YouTube workouts worked into my rotation this month and, if I like that, I will buy her workout that is still on my wishlist.
Flow 1: Neck and Shoulders is 19 minutes. You need a mat for this workout and a chair. The chair is only used for modifications so I did not use the chair at all. I was pretty excited about this segment because I hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders and frequently suffer from discomfort and pain. In fact, I spend a lot of time during my normal day stretching my neck. As the title suggests this is a very gentle practice–which is good. If I am already suffering chronic discomfort, the last thing I need is painful stretches. Jessica spends a lot of time on neck stretches. A lot of the shoulder work seemed more like physical therapy type exercises rather than stretches. But again, that is not a bad thing. Overall, I think this was a gentle but effective workout to stretch and work your neck and shoulders in a functional way.
The workout begins with deep breathes, stretching arms overhead then bringing them to your heart. Then she has you massage your jaw with your fingertips. Then you roll your shoulders. Next is neck stretches–nodding then looking over shoulders. Wide shoulder/arm circles. Clasp your elbows behind your back and tilt head to side then chin toward shoulder. Hands change to clasping wrist behind back and pulling down and drop head to side. Next she has you lean forward and do “stir the pot”–letting arm hang from shoulder and circle. Raise both arms overhead and pull them down into goal post. Repeat stir the pot and goal post stretch on other side of body. Get legs into triangle stance but while still standing upright, press left elbow into side of body and open forearm/hand out to side of body then bring back in (open and close arm). Reach left arm overhead and behind head into a tricep stretch then lean torso to side. This transitions into triangle pose with the left hand/arm raised to the sky. Hand position changes to “thumbs up” and you stretch the arm overhead, pointing thumb to ground then raise back to sky. Repeat entire triangle series on other side of body. Come into a crescent lunge stance with arms in goal post and torso leaned forward; rotate goal post arms down, keeping elbows out to side, level with shoulders, rotate goal post arms back up. Get into plie squat and twist arms into eagle; raise arms up slightly, arching back then lower into deeper plie squat while lowering arms and rounding back (arms are in eagle the entire time). Repeat crescent/goal post arms and plie/eagle arms on other side of body. Here is where Jessica uses the chair for modifications. This is a plank/down dog series and she places her hands on the chair rather than the floor. I did not use the chair since I can do a plank and a down dog on the floor without any problems. So know that every move I am describing can be done with hands on a chair or on the floor. Starting in straight arm plank and retract shoulders, lowering torso slightly without bending arms or dipping hips; alternate retracting and rounding shoulders while in straight arm plank. Push back into downward facing dog. Next you flow from down dog to plank to up dog. This flow ends by holding down dog. Roll up to standing. With feet together and hands behind head, elbows out to sides, bring elbows close together while rounding back/shoulders/neck then stretch elbows out to side again, stretching/expanding neck/shoulders/chest open. This workout ends with deep breaths, stretching arms overhead then bringing to heart.
Flow 2: Back and Chest is 21:30 minutes long. All you need is a mat for this workout. Just like the title says, this flow focuses on stretching out your back and chest, but also your shoulders. And “back” actually refers to your whole spine. And it is gentle. I enjoyed this flow. I did it after a tough upper body strength workout with a lot of back and shoulder focus. The workout begins with breaths in which you open the chest and round the back. Then you go into a flow in which you swan dive down to forward fold then roll back up and open arms wide, stretching the chest. This ends with a forward fold in which you hang down, hands holding opposite elbows, releasing lower spine. Next is a standing chest expansion, hands on lower back, arching spine. Place feet in Warrior One position, clasp hands behind back and stretch them back, stretching chest and leaning torso forward until shoulder is beside knee; hold this stretch. Clasp hands in front of you and round spine (counter stretching spine). Repeat Warrior One stretch on other side. Counter stretch again. Next you will do twisting chair poses. Sit on your mat with legs crossed and do spine stretches–rounding your spine and arching your spine. Next you will do spine twists while still sitting w/ legs crossed. With legs still crossed, lean torso back onto forearms and let your head fall back, lifting spine (modified fish pose). Bend knees and place feet on the ground and do some more spine stretches, rounding and arching spine w/ hands behind thighs. Lay on back and do bridges. In same position as bridge but with hips on ground, place arms in goal post of floor; keeping arms touching floor, slide arms overhead then back to goal post. With arms still in goal post, raise bent knees, feet off ground; lower bent legs to ground to one side, keeping arms/shoulders on ground; slowly alternate sides, using abdominals to rotate legs from side to side. Lay on your stomach, propped up on elbows (low cobra) and roll the neck. Lay on stomach and extend one arm out straight to the side; turn away from the straight arm, twisting hips/torso to stretch out the shoulder. Raise up onto all 4s then lower to elbows (knees still on ground); stretch arms out and drop head–like a child’s pose but with hips raised. Cat/cow pose. Roll spine up to standing.
Flow 3: Hips and Knees is 22 minutes. I really liked this workout. You use a chair for balance and it really helped me do poses I normally have problems with because I am balance challenged. Throughout the workout Jessica always gives you the option of releasing the chair and doing the full unmodified pose, but it was nice to have the chair present–I needed it because my balance is terrible. I felt like my hips got stretched very deeply.
Start w/ your chair beside you, hand on the chair back, raise one knee and grab it with your hand; move your knee to the inside (so it crosses your body) then open it to the side. Place your foot on the chair seat and jump back foot out wider; lower down into a deep lunge, stretching hip flexor. Jump back foot back in and straighten leg on chair, pushing hips back and stretching the hamstring. Holding onto back of chair, both feet on floor now, raise one leg in front of you and rotate ankle. Next, lift leg and hold. Lift leg, crossing it over other knee and push hips back. Tree pose. Modified half moon (w/ hand on chair back). Modified eagle (leg wrapped around other leg, push hips back). Face chair and grab ankle behind you, stretching quads and hip flexors; if you want, extend further into modified dancer pose. Lower leg and step it behind you in a high lunge w/ heel flat on floor. Straighten both legs and lower torso (modified pyramid). Set chair aside and come down to mat. Butterfly pose. Open legs into a wide split stretch. Lay on side and do a quad stretch (grabbing ankle and pulling it behind you). Roll onto back and do figure 4 stretch (reclining pigeon). Happy baby pose. Yogi squat (deep frog squat pushing arms against inside of thighs). She ends the workout by sitting on the chair and doing feet exercises. First massaging your feet, then extending leg out in front of you and opening your toes then scrunching them.
Flow 4: Total Body is 21 minutes. This was a very nice and gentle flowing yoga series. I liked it a lot. Jessica does not use the chair for anything in this workout tho she does tell you what moves you can use it to modify. The workout starts with side stretches. Reach arms overhead and arch spine then forward fold and roll back up. Flow from chair pose to standing, pulling arms behind you and opening chest at top. Come into crescent pose and reach arms overhead then flow forward, hinging hips and bringing arms up behind you. Come into Warrior 2 then flow between right angle to reverse warrior. Triangle pose. Repeat series on other side of body starting with crescent and ending with triangle pose. Forward fold into plank. Down dog. Bring right foot between hands into low lunge then lower back knee to floor and lower elbows to ground. Move into half split (leaning hips back with leg straight in front of you). Pigeon pose. Repeat this series on other side of body starting w/ down dog and ending with pigeon. Sit on bottom and bring legs into a Z pose (one leg bent in front of you and the other bent behind you, heel near bottom) and twist torso toward front leg (spinal twist). Legs still in Z, lean back onto elbows. Repeat Z pose stretches on other side of body. Lay on back and lift hips in bridge. Lift feet off floor, knees bent and arms extended out to sides in a T; lower knees to one side (spinal stretch). Kneel on knees and toes, stretching front of thighs. Child’s pose. Pedal heels in down dog.