Element: Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners

Hatha & Yoga Flow is another Element workout led by Tamal Dodge. It contains two approximately 30 minute yoga workouts. In the intro Tamal shares that he was a co-founder of The Yoga Collective, which I thought was very interesting since I have been subscribing to The Yoga Collective for over a year now and really enjoy it. He says he still teaches there but he doesn’t teach any of the workouts that they stream. Both of the practices on this DVD are done voice over like most Element workouts.

These are both excellent beginner level yoga poses. Hatha Yoga is a flexibility routine that is relaxing. Flow Yoga is a more active, flowing yoga routine.

Hatha Yoga is 32 minutes. The setting is beautiful, just like all of the Element workouts. Set outside with trees and flowering bushes and vines, and a long calm pool beside the deck/platform Tamal is working out on. Equipment: a yoga mat and a yoga strap or towel. You hold most poses for 5 breaths. This is a very gentle and basic yoga practice and it was exactly what I needed today. I have not been able to workout for several days due to radiation side effects (pericarditis which is inflammation/swelling of the sack around my heart, which makes it rub painfully against my ribs and sternum when I breathe) and I am still experiencing shortness of breath and some pain on breathing (though I am better thanks to lots of different drugs my oncologist and (new!) cardiologist are pumping me full of) so I needed something that would not make me sweat or breathe hard. This was perfect. I felt like Tamal stretched me out very well but at no point was I breathing hard or sweating. I actually felt better after the workout was over!

The workout begins in mountain pose. Deep breaths while raising and lowering arms overhead. Hold strap in both hands with about 2 feet between hands and raise strap overhead, twist torso to side. Still holding strap overhead, lean torso to side (side bend). Place strap under feet, still holding ends of strap and bend forward in forward fold, bend the knees while flaring elbows out, then straighten the legs while flattening the back. Remove strap from under feet and stand in a wide stance, drop strap over shoulder and behind back with one hand and grip the strap behind the back with the other hand, walk hands toward each other on the strap until you feel your triceps and shoulders being stretched; in this position, fold forward halfway to floor. Hold strap behind back in both hands with about a foot between hands, forward fold reaching hands/strap to sky. Set strap aside and lower into forward fold with legs/feet together, raise up into flat back, back to forward fold then raise back to standing circling arms overhead then bringing them to prayer. Repeat this series 3x then end in forward fold and step back to plank. Lower to your stomach and grab you strap again, bringing it behind you and hold it with both hands, raise chest and feet, pulling strap/shoulders back toward feet. Set strap aside and raise into downward facing dog. Lift one leg toward ceiling then bring under body and place on floor between hands, lower back knee to floor. Grab strap again and hold in both hands with about a foot between hands and raise strap/arms overhead, pressing hips forward to stretch quads and hip flexor. Return to down dog. Sit on mat with legs together and extended straight in front of you, wrap strap around feet, holding one end of the strap in each hand and do a seated forward fold over legs, feet flexed and pulling strap back. Still seated, open legs into a wide V or splits and place hands behind hips, arching chest and pressing hips forward; next, walk hands out in front of you on mat, leaning forward. Legs still in wide V/splits, wrap the strap around one foot and lean torso toward that thigh, pulling back on strap and keeping back straight. Bring soles of feet together at groin so you are in butterfly pose and wrap strap around feet, fold forward over feet using elbows to push knees down. Still seated on bottom, bend knees and bring legs together, pulling thighs/knees in to chest, feet close to bottom, wrap strap around feet and raise legs into half boat pose; straighten legs into full boat pose. Lay on back w/ one leg extended straight and other leg bent with knee pulled into chest, wrap strap around foot and place other hand on hip to hold it down, using the strap, pull knee with band around foot down towards the floor (half a happy baby pose). Set strap on floor, still on back, one leg still straight and other knee pulled into chest, twist knee to opposite side of body, bringing knee toward floor, other arm is extended straight/flat on the floor (reclining spinal twist). Corpse pose for 5 minutes; during the first minute of corpse pose he has you tighten hands and toes then relax them. Then you just lay there for the next few minutes. About 4:30 minutes in to corpse pose he has you start wiggling your fingers and toes. The practice ends sitting cross-leg w/ hands in prayer.

Flow Yoga is 32:30 minutes. This workout is called flow for a reason. Because you do not hold most of the poses for long if at all; you flow between several poses. This was a great and very active yoga workout. For my current state of health this practice worked me well but I also didn’t find it too challenging–in fact, it was the perfect level of challenge I need at this time in my life. I was perspiring, but not breathing hard. Very nice yoga flow. In reference to what I noted in Hatha Yoga above, I am in a better place physically than I was when I did Hatha Yoga but I am nowhere near 100%–but that will not happen until radiation is over and my body (and lungs) can finally heal. In the breakdown I will not repeat the pose every time you do it, so know that the majority of the poses listed are done multiple times and that you flow between several poses multiple times. This practice is set in the same place as Hatha Yoga (above) but Tamal uses no equipment.

The workout begins sitting on the mat with your legs crossed and doing deep breathing. Still sitting cross-leg, fold torso forward over legs, hands on ground in front of you. Raise onto hands and knees; do cat and cow pose. Still on all 4s, extend one leg straight behind you then bring knee in under body, arching back, bringing knee to nose. Still on all 4s but with one leg extended straight behind you, lower upper body in a tricep push up, bringing chin to mat. One leg is still extended, now extend opposite arm and hold (bird dog pose). Down dog. Plank; while in plank, lower body halfway to floor and hold, then lower body to floor. Cobra. From down dog, step feet forward and raise into flat back then fold forward then raise to standing, circling arms overhead. Chair pose. From chair pose, lower chest to top of thighs while swinging arms behind you. Forward fold. Step back to plank. Lower torso to floor. Cobra. Down dog. Raise one leg while in down dog (3 leg dog) and bend knee, opening hip. Bring leg forward into runner’s lunge. Rise to Warrior 1. Warrior 2. Reverse warrior. Side angle pose. Down dog; raise one leg to sky then bring knee under body to nose (flow back and forth–leg to sky, knee to nose). Place foot between hands so you are in runner’s lunge. Raise into crescent pose; flow from crescent w/ arms reached overhead, then lower chest to front thigh and sweep arms behind you. Lower to all 4s, extend one leg straight behind you and place opposite hand behind your head, bring knee in under body while bringing opposite elbow down to tap knee. Hold bird dog pose; bend leg so toes are reaching to sky and grab foot with opposite hand, lift chest, pulling leg up (sun bird pose). Child’s pose. While still in child’s pose, interlace your fingers behind your back and raise arms to sky; raise glutes and rock onto top of head, still on knees and still extending clasped hands to sky. Camel pose. Sit on bottom, one leg extended straight in front of you and the other leg bent w/ sole of foot on inside of other thigh, forward fold over straight leg. Butterfly stretch. Lay on back, knees bent and feet raised off floor, hands holding shins, circle knees, massaging low back. Still on back w/ knees bent and feet raised, extend arms straight to sides and flat on floor and rotate knees to one side, stretching spine. Still on back, bring knees into chest and hug arms around shins, bringing forehead to knees. Release into corpse pose (remain in corpse pose for 2 minutes). Still in corpse pose, lace fingers overhead and stretch arms while also pointing toes and stretching through the lower body as well. Sit up into cross-legged position, hands in prayer.

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