Review of "Introduction to Qi Yoga"

By Dawn Holst
Qu Yoga Enterprises, 2006
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 3rd 2006
Introduction to Qi Yoga

Qi Yoga seems to be a form of movement unique to Dawn Holst, who practices in Ohio.  She describes it as an integration of hatha yoga and Qi Gong, which is a form of Chinese medicine technique.  This Introduction to Qi Yoga DVD has almost no explanation of the theory behind it, and is completely devoted to demonstrating movement exercises.  There are three chapters: first an hour long "vinyasa," second a twelve minute instruction to Qi Burst, and then a four minute demonstration of Qi Burst.  While I'm somewhat familiar with hatha yoga, I know nothing about Qi Gong, so I can't say how well Qi Yoga integrates the two. 

All three chapters are performed outside.  Dawn Holst uses a yoga mat on an open space  next to a river, during the fall.  Leaves fall from the trees as Holst demonstrates the yoga  practice and the river flows by slowly.  She gives instructions in a voice-over, with a variety of different kinds of music in the background.  She has a pleasant voice and her instructions are generally helpful.  The music is pleasant: some of it is new age, while other parts are more electronic.  Most of the camera work is done from just one angle, giving the impression that just one camera was used in making this DVD.  Apart from the 3 chapters, there are no DVD extras.  The DVD I received was a printable DVD-R, and the photography on the front seems a little amateurish.  Nevertheless, the picture and sound quality on the DVD itself were fine. 

The "Qi Yoga Vinyasa" at first looks fairly simple for those who are familiar with hatha yoga, but it is surprisingly demanding; after an hour you will probably be quite worn out.  The pace is slower than most yoga flows, but this does not necessarily make it easier, since holding some of the positions can be very challenging.  Many of the postures will be familiar to yoga practitioners, but the emphasis tends to be rather different from most hatha yoga.  For example, a much more time is spent holding in a low lunge position, and doing a variety of postures from that position.  Some of these require an ability to balance that is not generally used in hatha yoga, and it may take some practice to get used to it.  About 35 minutes into the practice, Holst demonstrates a series called "Iron cross expansion," that is very distinctive: from an initial Warrior 1 pose, you move your two arms out in front of you, pressing your palms together, and rise onto the heel of your front foot, lifting your toes up.  Then you lunge forward, bringing your arms out and spreading them wide, putting your full front foot onto the ground.  You move between these two positions several times.  This may be excellent exercise, but when I first tried it, I found it very hard on my heel.  I also found that my front foot gradually slipped forward with each repetition, making it more difficult every time, and eventually I needed to bring my front foot back a bit or I would simply have fallen over.  The DVD doesn't address those sorts of problems, and this means that it is helpful to have some experience with yoga already to know what feels right and what is too much.  There are similar issues with other postures.

The tutorial for the Qi Burst is more unusual, since it focuses especially on the Qi Gong movements.  All of the movements in this are included in the hour long practice, but in this chapter they are on their own.  Holst gives instructions about how to do them in a voice over.  Then in the final short Qi Burst chapter, she performs with Mfundishi Bakari, with just music and no instruction.  The music is mainly drumming, and the two of them face each other on two mats placed close to each other.  It is energetic and very dramatic.  This burst presents a side of exercising that is rarely presented on DVD: the beauty of the performance.  The Qi Burst is as much a dance as it is an exercise. 

So Introduction to Qi Yoga gives a good workout, even if the DVD production is a bit technically basic.  I would not recommend it to complete novices, but those who already have experience with other forms of yoga may well find it interesting and worthwhile. 



Link: Qi Yoga website


© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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