Review of "Yoga & Pilates Workouts for Dummies"

By Andrea Ambandos (Director)
Anchor Bay, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Apr 18th 2006
Yoga & Pilates Workouts for Dummies

One DVD in this set is devoted to Pilates, and the other is devoted to yoga.  Each has a basic and an intermediate workout.  As part of the "for Dummies" series, they explain ideas in simple terms with exercises that are easy to follow.  On each DVD, as the presenter demonstrates the workouts, boxes pop up with hints about how to do them, or with variations for more or less challenging versions of the exercises.  Jargon is kept to a minimum and is also explained via the pop-up boxes.  Several myths about yoga and Pilates are debunked through these boxes too.  The production qualities are high, with the presenter giving instructions while demonstrating the exercises and also in voice-over.  The voice is always clear and distinct.  The studio is very neutral, with a wooden floor and a combination of wooden and black and white walls.  The lighting is from above with studio lights, keeping the presenter well illuminated.  The camera work is professional, highlighting important features of the exercises, and generally on the move, either slowly zooming in or moving around.  It looks like two cameras were used, one showing the instructor from the side, and the other showing her from above.  In the background, bland new age music plays, and when watching, it is hardly noticeable.  It is possible to turn off the music with the audio set up.

Michelle Duzois is the presenter for the Pilates DVD, which was originally made in 2001.  She starts off the basic workout with a brief introduction about Pilates, explaining the concept of the "powerhouse" and the "box."  Pilates focuses more on fitness than mind/body connections, and is especially aimed at strengthening abdominal muscles.  It shares some postures with yoga and many of these also aim to promote flexibility via stretching.  The basic workout about half an hour long, and includes 18 exercises.  The intermediate workout has 18 exercises and lasts about 24 minutes.  For each exercise, Duzois shows how to do it first, and then leads the viewer through a number of repetitions.  The basic exercises are fairly straightforward -- obviously different people will find some easier than others, and some may be quite challenging.  However, this is an excellent introduction to Pilates.  My only reservation concerns the regular use of the DVD, since once you have become accustomed to the exercises, you will not need them explained every time you do them, and you may want to skip those initial demonstrations.  Yet the DVD does not provide any way to just have a workout, so you can either rest while Duzois explains the exercises, or you can follow her as she demonstrates them.  The intermediate workout is a little more challenging, going through a similar list of exercises, but making them more difficult.  It is possible to do both workouts in one session taking about an hour. 

The yoga DVD workouts, made in 2000, are presented by Sara Ivanhoe, and are structured in a very similar way to the Pilates DVD.    She calls her basic workout a "daily dozen," and it proceeds quite slowly, taking about 45 minutes.  It goes through some basic yoga postures, including mountain pose, foreward bend, a standing side stretch, the downward facing dog, the cobra, child's pose and a seated spinal twist.  Most people who have done yoga previously will be familiar with these and will find them fairly easy.  The instruction includes some guide as to when to breathe in or out, which is useful.  The intermediate workout is about 20 minutes long, and goes through the movements in a sun salutation, or "sun salute" as Ivanhoe calls it.  Again, it is quite simple compared to most yoga DVDs, and is not advanced as other yoga DVDs that label themselves as at the "intermediate" level.  Nevertheless, the professional quality of the production makes it a helpful guide, especially for people who want a thoroughly westernized version of yoga. 

On the whole, the Pilates part of this DVD package is the more distinctive of the two, because fewer Pilates DVDs are available on the market.  It is good to have a choice of yoga and Pilates to suit one's mood and needs on a particular occasion, especially with the choice between basic and intermediate levels for each workout.  Neither DVD spends much time on the mental benefits of the exercise, being more practically oriented on how to perform the exercises.  Nevertheless, these yoga and Pilates workouts provide a good way to get oneself into an exercise routine that will benefit both mind and body. 


© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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