this dvd is a delightful presentation of a fluid and yes, radiant, practice of yoga. it is less an instructional dvd and more an offering of yoga practice--strong, serene, and beautiful.
the practice is divided into sequences based on the four seasons plus a lunar segment. creation of the sequences is credited to two male instructors we don't see on the dvd. one of three graceful and beautiful yoginis, instructors in their own right, performs each segment. the cues are few, but accurate, and narrated by a fourth woman with a voice made of honey, against lovely atmospheric music. both the narration and score seemed to be weaved through the practice and are an integral part of it without being in the least bit intrusive. the set is simple and warm looking--either a bare room with wood floors and white walls or a studio with wood floors and olive backdrop. the lunar segment has tealight candles encircling the practice space. the photography is rich and inviting. the end result is actually a yoga film--a delight to practice to be sure, but also a joy just to watch or even listen to. you really can learn from watching these women go through the practice--they are strong and know their stuff, and you can clearly see them consciously place themselves in and work with each pose.
as for style, this is a strong vinyasa practice, building from basic to more challenging asanas, all interlaced with vinyasas (flowing sequence based on plank, upward dog, and downward dog between major asanas). vinyasas are particularly prominent in the summer and autumn sequences, but are also present in the others, in subtler form. none of the poses are modified or explained in much detail, so if you are beginner or prefer precise instruction on breathing, alignment, and movement into and out of the poses, this is not the dvd for you. the cues are more in the nature of reminders than instruction. for practitioners with a foundation in the asanas, however, it is a great complement to yoga instruction from live teachers and other more alignment focused dvds. that incredible voice accompanies you unobtrusively through a gorgeous looking, creatively designed, deeply satisfying practice. intermediate practitioners will find a good mix of familiar poses to work oneself into more deeply and more challenging poses to stretch the boundaries of practice. advanced yogins will welcome a moving meditation practice more in line with their level than the norm.
i am an intermediate practitioner, and find the practice itself powerful and challenging but not overly taxing. some poses are currently beyond my reach, but i appreciate the opportunity to either work towards them or modify them as i have been taught elsewhere, depending on where i am that day. the warming repetition of vinyasas leaves my muscles far more flexible and supple than more static practices, so i am able to work more deeply into the backbends and forward bends of the winter and lunar segments. when doing the full practice, i end up feeling as though someone had buttered my muscles and gently but deeply massaged my spine. i also like the option to do one or two segments (especially the spring and lunar sequences) if i lack time or want to add them to my personal practice sequences. my quibbles: you can select any one or all of the segments, but cannot string them together to form a customized practice. the winter segment has a short Shavasana, and the lunar segment a longer one, so you are on your own if you want to do just one of the others, but this is hardly a tragedy. while i am fine with the minimalist voiceover cuing, it is sometimes out of sync with the actual practice, or even just plain missing. this should have been attended to more carefully. overall a great addition to a personal yoga dvd library.
for those who like a detail of the asanas, here's a summary of each segment, not including the vinyasas connecting the poses. SPRING [Genevieve Fischer, 11 minutes]. Child's Pose, Seated Side Stretches, Alternate Arm and Leg Balance, Standing Forward Bend, Modified Sun Salute B. SUMMER [Esther Hillebrand, 16 minutes]. Sun Salute A, Single Legged Down Dog with Alternate Arm Balance, Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior, Triangle, Side Arm Balance Right Angle Pose, Half Moon, Squat Twist, Revolved Right Angle with Hands in Prayer, Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend, Tripod Headstand, Revolved Triangle, Revolved Half Moon, Standing Split, Side Crow, Bird of Paradise. AUTUMN [Esther Hillebrand, 7 minutes]. Tree, Standing Hand to Foot Pose, Warrior 3, Standing Splits, Dancer's Pose, Standing Forward Bend. WINTER [Caroline Vivas, 15 minutes]. Side Lunge, Tortoise, Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend, Child's Pose, Hero with toes tucked, Camel, Down Dog, Single Legged Reclined Hero, Bridge, Upward Bow, Single Legged Upward Bow, Happy Baby, Shoulderstand series (including Plow, Shoulderstand, Single Legged Shoulderstand, Shoulderstand in Cobbler or Lotus, Upward Facing Padmasana, Knee to Ear Pose), Fish, Knees to Chest, Reclined Knee over Leg Twist, Reclined Cobbler's Pose, Shavasana. LUNAR [Caroline Vivas, 25 minutes]. Child's Pose, Cat, Threading the Needle, Down Dog, Hero, Twist, Modified Lunge Salutes, Hero Pose with back bend and forward bend, Shoulder stretch in Cat Pose with arms clasped behind back, Pigeon, Double Pigeon, Open Squat, Seated Forward Bend, Head to Knee Single Legged Forward Bend, Knees to Chest, Reclined Leg Stretch series, Half Shoulderstand, Reclined Knee over Leg Twist, Head to Knee Pose, Reclined Cobbler, Shavasana.