Stretch Yoga Fusion caught my eye on Amazon because it contains 4 yoga workouts on one DVD. The description called them dynamic stretching with yoga inspired sequences. It is done by Linda Wooldridge, the creator of Barlates Body Blitz. I haven’t tried any Barlates workouts until now and I am intrigued by her other offerings. I decided that if I like these workouts, I might give some of her other collections a try. She has quite a few that include multiple workouts on each DVD.
The above intro was written after I had only done one workout on this DVD (Yoga Fusion Flow). After I did the second workout (Yoga Fusion Body Blast), I started to do some research on Linda and Barlates. And I was overwhelmed. So first, I have to inform the reader that these workouts might be available for free on YouTube–she has many, many workouts on YouTube. I have a lot of her collections on my Amazon Wishlist right now because I am so incredibly impressed with this woman. Then I discovered her on YouTube and I am just overwhelmed. I know I keep using the word “overwhelmed”, but it is the truth. It is overwhelming. On the back of one of the DVDs I now own (I own 7 of her DVD collections now) it says she has created over 200 workouts!
Since this is the first DVD review of Linda’s workouts that is going up (I’ve already reviewed several of her YouTube workouts plus I have several DVD reviews in the workouts currently), I need to make some notes about quality. First, Linda is an excellent trainer who puts together very challenging and somewhat fun workouts (some are more fun than others–some are just excruciatingly painful). But these are all done low budget. So the sound isn’t great, you get one camera angle and the music is very generic and sometimes nearly inaudible. It took me doing a few of her workouts to come up with a fix for this. First I turn the sound up pretty high so I can hear her voice, then I use my own music. It does improve the workouts a great deal.
The yoga workouts contained on this DVD are a very nice mix. Yoga Fusion Body Blast is a very challenging bodyweight strength workout. Yoga Fusion Flow combines both bodyweight strength w/ yoga poses. Dynamic Stretch is more of a flowing practice–similar to PiYo but also very different. And finally Extreme Enlogation Stretch is the most traditional yoga practice of the 4.
Yoga Fusion Flow is 29 minutes long. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to this workout, but not what it delivered. First disclaimer, I did not come to it cold. I had just done Tracey Mallet‘s Cardio Kick which gave me a good (but not exhausting) workout. So I was already warm. The first 19 minutes of this workout is bodyweight training and it was challenging. The final 10 minutes is traditional yoga poses. Like I said, I was already warm but the early part of the workout kept my heart slightly elevated from Cardio Kick and I was also dripping sweat onto my mat just from the exertion of the first part of this workout. Especially when she has you in downdog working the lower body. My shoulders were burning and I had to drop to my elbows a few times to rest my shoulders. I’m just going to give an overview of what this workout contains, but first I want to mention that when she is isolating one side of the body, she forgets exercises when she does the other side of the body. My suggestion is, if you do this workout regularly, don’t start with the same side of the body every time so that each side is worked evenly over time. BTW–in the early fast paced part of this workout you do a lot of reps at a pretty quick pace.
You start in wide plie squat and she has you briskly stretch your upper body from side to side. This changes to plie squat to chair pose to one side, back to plie squat then chair pose to other side; you keep doing this for a lot of reps. Next, while in plie squat, raise and lower heels. In chair pose, raise and lower heels. Next you lower hands to floor, bring one leg back into deep lunge, stand up and stretch arms overhead then repeat on other leg; alternate sides at a brisk pace. Get into down dog. This is a long segment. You will raise one leg straight to the ceiling and do a lot of different movements–raising straight leg to ceiling then bringing knee to chin underneath body, pulsing leg while straight up to ceiling, bending leg while opening hip and doing several different moves like that–they are all high reps and it lasts approx 2:30 minutes on first leg. You immediately go into straight arm plank and bring knee to forehead, alternating legs. You do a brief standing stretch then return to down dog to repeat on other leg; this leg is also worked for approx. 2:30 minutes and she doesn’t do all of the same exercises, but they are all similar. You immediately go into straight arm plank again and this time you bring knee to elbow outside of body and alternate sides. Next, lay on your stomach; you will do cobra, repeatedly (so raising and lowering chest). This changes to updog to down dog–again, lots of reps. Next you will go from updog to half tricep push up; this is pretty challenging and I ended up modifying on my knees–so cobra to half tricep push up on knees (she shows this modification). Get into straight arm side plank, bringing bottom leg out in front of you w/ arm raised overhead; keep alternating sides–so side plank to plank to side plank other side, always kicking bottom leg in front of you. Roll over, sitting on bottom w/ hands on mat behind you and knees bent feet on floor; push hips up into crab then swing hips between hands on floor, keeping bottom off floor; alternate between these two moves. Next get into reverse plank (so crab but with straight legs); alternate raising straight legs. This brings us to the last 10 minutes of the workout, which is yoga poses. You start out holding warrior poses; first warrior 1 then warrior 2, then right angle, then triangle, then runners stretch/lunge then lower back knee to ground then shift hips back to stretch hamstring and the sequence ends in pigeon. Do a seated forward fold. Repeat yoga sequence on other side of body starting with warrior 1 and ending with pigeon. Hold down dog.
Yoga Fusion Body Blast is 32 minutes long. After having done Yoga Fusion Flow, I was expecting this to be pretty challenging and it didn’t disappoint. This entire workout is bodyweight strength training. It is also high rep so your heart rate will elevate slightly. She does use yoga inspired moves, but like I said, she does lots of reps at a brisk pace–so this is not a relaxing yoga/flexibility workout. At times, she burned certain muscle groups out just like she did in Yoga Fusion Flow–my shoulders while in down dog and plank for a long time and my lower body from all of the strength work. In fact, this is primarily a lower body strength workout. Had I known that, I might not have done it! Yesterday was leg day, so my legs had recently been worked hard, plus, I used this to finish off another workout. I had just done Tracey Mallet’s Jab, Kick & Burn which had lots of kick drills. So I was feeling this in my lower body big time! ***My hip joints burned for hours afterward. My husband and I went to see a movie in the afternoon–5+ hours after I finished this workout–and my hips were in so much discomfort I had a really hard time focusing on the 2.5 hour movie. As the day went on the joint pain faded only to be replaced w/ DOMS in my hips (not the actual joints). So this workout clearly hit my hips in a new way! Another Barlates workout I need to include into my rotations more frequently.*** And finally, she was pretty consistent in this workout–each leg was worked evenly and no exercise was forgotten (that I noticed at least).
The workout starts with some sun salutations done at a very brisk pace: stretch arms overhead, forward fold, jump feet back to plank, bring one foot forward to same-side hand (lunge stretch), return to plank, bring other foot to hand, return to plank, down dog, chatturunga to cobra, down dog, jump feet forward to forward fold and stand. Repeat this sun salutation several times–fast. End in down dog and hold; start “walking” legs–alternate bending knees fast. In down dog, raise one leg into 3 leg dog then bring knee to nose (so 3 leg dog to knee-to-nose under body); changes to 3 leg dog then bring knee to elbow outside body; this changes to alternating these two moves. Come to crescent pose w/ knee on floor. This changes to a low lunge with knee raised and hands on floor; while in this position push body forward and back using only your back foot; this changes to raising and lowering your back knee. Return to straight arm plank and do hip rotations (circling hips while in plank). Repeat everything starting with 3 leg dog moves on other side of body and end with more hip rotations in plank. End in a nice long down dog stretch. Change to child’s pose. In child’s pose you will come up and circle hips then return to child’s pose; alternate sides. Come into plie squat straddling your mat, hands on ground; pulse hips up and down while rotating feet in and out (so plie to straight feet). In this same position but with feet more straight (not in plie), go from squat to lunge staying low w/ hands on ground the entire time; alternate legs. Come up into crescent lunge; in this position pulse down back knee; hold in crescent and press back knee inward; continue to hold in crescent and press back knee outward. Come up to Warrior 2 and pulse front knee up and down while in warrior 2. Lower arm so you are now in right angle pose; “windmill”–with straight arms go from right angle up to warrior 2; return to right angle and pulse hand toward floor. In straight arm plank, walk both feet up to one hand then walk them back to plank, walk both feet up to other hand then back to plank–keep alternating sides. Repeat entire sequence on other leg, starting with the crescent lunge pulses and ending with the right angle sequence. Down dog to child’s pose. Get onto all 4s and do bird dogs–bring elbow to opposite knee underneath body then both limbs extended out straight–go in and out for a while then hold both limbs extended and pulse them. Place hand on floor but keep leg out straight behind you; sweep straight leg out to side of body, then back behind you and up; this changes to straight leg circles behind you; this changes to straight leg circles out to the side of your body. Repeat entire sequence starting w/ bird dogs on other leg. The final two minutes of this workout stretch your legs out: down dog; 3 leg dog into pigeon; pretzel legs twist spine. End in down dog.
Dynamic Stretch is 41 minutes long. Like all of Linda’s workouts, this was not easy. You do both deep and dynamic (constant flowing movement) stretching. The workout starts with the dynamic stretches. As usual, I came to this workout after doing another one. I had just finished Cathe Live: Cardio Core Circuit, so I had just completed a very good and intense cardio workout. The beginning of Dynamic Stretch workout felt like hard work. It was constant plie squat/stretches and it became very uncomfortable. Part of that could be because I had just done intense cardio/plyometrics, but I think most of it was due to the fact Linda is a machine who feels no pain. This workout did stretch me out well, but it also left my legs weak afterward. I felt pretty wrung out after an hour and a half of Cathe Live + Barlates Yoga Fusion. Any time I write “combo” below–you are flowing between the moves listed. You may need a yoga block for some of these exercises. I did for the last exercise.
The workout starts with deep breaths and swan diving forward folds. Stand and do alternating crescent knees. This turns into a combo: 3 alternating side lunges into a crescent knee; alternate sides. Remain in side lunge and rotate/windmill arms from side to side; place arm on floor next to opposite (bent) leg/foot and raise other arm toward ceiling and hold; swap arms–place other hand on floor next to same side (bent) leg/foot and raise opposite arm to ceiling and hold (right angle pose). Repeat on other side of body. Alternating side lunges tapping the floor with fingers. Combo: alternate side lunges once each side, lower into plie squat with hands on floor, straighten legs keeping hands on floor then lower again into plie squat. Stay in low/deep plie squat and shift legs side to side. Remain in deep plie squat, lowering down as deep as possible and pressing arms against inner thighs. Combo: deep plie squat, rotate feet to front and straighten legs hinging torso toward floor–alternate these two moves, rotating feet in and out. Bring feet together, legs straight, hinged at waist so hands are on floor (or yoga block); alternate raising heels; raise and lower both heels at the same time; rock back onto heels then raise heels (so toes up then heels up). Standing (forward fold) split (hold for a long time). Come into deep runners lunge and hold then lower the knee and hold; raise knee again and push hips back, straightening both legs–alternate between runners lunge and shifting hips back into straight leg stretch. Repeat series on other side of body starting with the runners lunge. Do standing (forward fold) split on other leg (and hold for a long time). Return to forward fold (both feet on ground) and alternate raising heels again w/ hands on floor; raise both heels. Cobra to down dog several times. Come up into warrior 2. Combo: right angle to reverse right angle. Hold in right angle; hold in reverse right angle; straighten legs into triangle and hold; change to reverse triangle and hold. Repeat entire right angle/triangle series on other side of body. Down dog to cobra. Child’s pose. Sit on bottom, legs in V then bend one knee, bringing sole of foot to inside of straight leg; lean torso over straight leg and grab foot–hold stretch. Grab inside of foot and lift straight leg into the air and hold out to side of body (inner thigh stretch). Change hands (grabbing foot w/ opposite hand) and pull straight leg across body (still in the air) and hold. Bend straight leg and place on floor on outside of other (bent) leg and wrap opposite arm around leg, twisting torso and pulling leg in, stretching glute. Open legs out into wide V/split and lower torso, laying elbows on ground if possible and hold. Repeat all of these stretches on other leg but this time end with butterfly pose (not wide V/split). Wide leg camel pose (feet together but knees wide). Child’s pose. Cat and cow. Final move: kneel on both knees, knees together but feet wide and sit bottom between feet, lean back on hands; raise and lower hips in this position. I needed a yoga block under my bottom for this move.
Extreme Enlongation Stretch is 43 minutes long. This workout was the easiest of the 4 but it wasn’t easy. It is the truest yoga/stretch workout of the 4. There is a lot of deep (sometimes uncomfortably deep) yoga stretches that you hold for extended periods of time. A very nice workout that rounds this collection out very well. The first 6 minutes is active/dynamic flowing stretches that serve to warm you body up while also working and stretching it; after the first 6 minutes you actually hold the poses.
The workout starts with deep breaths, reaching/stretching arms overhead; add forward folds. In plie squat you open and close arms, stretching chest and rounding back; this changes to holding arms out wide and rounding shoulders forward (also rounding back) and rounding them back (opening chest). Still in plie, arms still spread wide, reach arms side to side also shifting torso side to side. Still in plie squat, swing arms in an L (so one arm forward and one to the side then alternate) while doing plie squats. Legs still in plie, static side lunge side to side, bringing opposite hand to foot; same move but in between each side round back. Still in plie, lunge to one side and hold, opposite hand on floor by foot and extend other hand to ceiling, twisting spine. Come into Warrior 1 and hold. Hold Warrior 2; rotate hips while in Warrior 2. Lower into a runners lunge and hold then start rotating hips while in runners lunge. Lower back knee onto mat and lower onto your elbows. Hold pigeon stretch. Sit up and cross legs so that one knee is on top of the other, lean forward and hold. Sit on bottom, one leg stretched out straight and the other knee bent w/ the foot as close to your bottom as possible, holding knee (pulling leg close) and lean forward and hold; bring bent leg a little further out from bottom and weave other leg underneath it so it is now laying straight out to the side and your torso is leaning to the other side, pull the bent leg closer in to the body and hold this stretch. End w/ cat and cow. Repeat entire series starting with Warrior 1. Kneel and sit on heels, leaning torso back onto hands (arms straight), and pushing hips up and hold; extend on leg straight (other still bent behind you) and lean back onto your elbows (or onto your back if you are able) and hold. Hold camel pose (lower onto elbows or back if you are able). Child’s pose. Cobra stretch. Next is a series of shoulder stretches which are kind of hard to explain. Still laying on your belly, cross arms underneath body so palms are facing the ceiling (arms are straight) and hold. Release one arm and lean more on one shoulder, bending legs and bringing them behind you so that you are twisting to stretch the shoulder deeper; straight legs again and lay more on the shoulder that is underneath you. Repeat entire shoulder series. Cobra to down dog. Hold down dog. Three leg dog w/ raise knee bent. Pedal feet in down dog. Lay on back, knees raised and feet off floor, arms spread to sides–rotate knees side to side; leave legs to one side and hold, stretching spine. Still on back, raise straight legs to ceiling then let the “fall” out to the side in a V then flex feet and close legs–alternate these two movements (opening and closing legs, toes pointed when the open, and flexed when they close); keeping legs in V, rock hips side to side (like a happy baby but with legs straight and in V). Drop one leg to the floor and twist straight leg over to side of body; grab calf w/ arm and pull it down and towards your shoulder. Still on back, cross your one leg over other thigh and grab tops of feet with hands, pulling knees/legs into body. Figure 4 stretch (she goes extreme w/ this, into a sort of plow w/ figure 4 legs). Lay on straight leg on floor and raise the other straight leg and pull it toward you with hands on calf; drop leg out to side, still holding calf/ankle w/ same side hand; move straight leg across the body holding calf/ankle w/ opposite hand. Bridge pose. Sit on bottom w/ legs straight in front of you, grab bottom of foot w/opposite and and raise leg while twisting other straight arm behind you and looking behind you, too; twist leg over other leg, foot on floor and twist torso around looking behind you (spine stretch).