by Trudie Styler & James D'Silva
Gaiam Americas, 2009
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Feb 23rd 2010
This DVD is one of three new releases from lifestyle company Gaiam which features Trudie Styler, wife of the musician Sting, in a workout led by James D'Silva (sometimes known as a "fitness trainer to the stars" due to his previous work with Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and others). Warrior Yoga is set outdoors against the backdrop of Styler's and Sting's beautiful Tuscan villa. The music (as one might guess) is provided by Sting: soft, instrumental selections from his Songs from the Labyrinth album—well-suited to the mood of this slowly flowing yoga practice. The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options: Full 50 Minute Practice -- Express 25 Minute Practice -- Trudie Styler Meditation -- James D'Silva Meditation -- Bonus Materials. The Bonus Materials section includes interviews with Styler, Sting, and D'Silva (each about 6 minutes long), a segment entitled "Growing Energy" which reviews Styler's and Sting's efforts to create an environmentally friendly home, and finally, the Making of Sting's Album, If On a Winter's Night....
The actual yoga routine is taught by D'Silva via voiceover, and as noted above, he and Styler are shown practicing together outdoors. Both the Full 50 Minute Practice and the Express 25 Minute Practice contain the exact same footage; the only differences are that the former includes repetitions of the posture flows, whereas the latter eliminates these as well as one short sequence in order to offer a more abbreviated practice. The "Warrior" title of this DVD seems to be a bit of a misnomer, as this is by no means a power yoga workout. Rather, D'Silva guides the viewer through a gently flowing series of yoga postures. In his brief introduction, he states that the practice emphasizes breath, flow, movement, and silence while holding still poses, but in truth, there is little focus on the last of these. In fact, the practice nearly has the feel of a dance, as you are almost continuously moving within mini pose sequences, often repeating a posture several times (in the full-length workout). Another unique aspect of this practice is that you will move through a long progression of poses entirely on one side of the body (about 25 minutes total in the longer practice) before switching to the other side and repeating.
The following overview of the pose flows provides some insight into D'Silva's unusual sequencing. He and Styler begin at the front of their mats, where D'Silva spends a few moments setting up proper standing posture. (Note: D'Silva does not mirror-cue.) The opening sequence starts with chair pose, raising the hands to the front in an offering, and then standing and bringing the hands overhead, touching the palms to the forehead, the lips, and the heart. The second series is a high lunge, revolves the arm back in a circle, and move into pyramid posture (later in the practice, D'Silva calls this pose "mountain"). Next comes the first down dog. From here, D'Silva guides you forward into mini-cobra, cobra, and finally upward-facing dog. You'll then flow back into a camel variation; this series concludes with half-camel. (Note: The cobra-camel series is not included in the shorter practice.) The following sequence again opens with down dog, this time stretching into crazy dog and then pigeon pose.
Now D'Silva begins standing postures. The first series starts in warrior 1: you then pull the arm back into a bow to move into reverse warrior, rise back up and forward into triangle pose and then side angle posture. Transitioning to the side for wide-legged standing forward bend, D'Silva performs several stretches and twists in this position. He then turns the opposite direction on the mat (as a viewer, you are now facing away from the television, which makes it a bit difficult to follow along) for a low lunge (knee on floor) series, again moving the hand in a bow position to reverse warrior. From here, you will turn back to the side for another (shorter) wide-legged standing pose series. Coming back into down dog, you'll step forward into standing splits, lowering down into a seated twist (half Lord of the fishes pose). Additional seated postures include Sage 3 forward bend (with bind), Sage 3 twist, and head-to-knee pose. D'Silva and Styler then perform a wide-legged seated forward bend as well as a wide-legged seated balance. They move through a vinyasa flow to come to standing, where they perform tree pose and then return to a simple standing posture. This concludes the entire cycle on the first side; as mentioned above, the same series of poses are then repeated on the second side in their entirety. Neither the 50-Minute nor the 25-Minute practice includes relaxation posture. However, the DVD offers two meditation practices which can be selected directly from the Main Menu. Each one is just over 5 minutes in length, with the first showing Styler seated while D'Silva provides voiceover instruction, and the second displaying D'Silva alone with Styler's voice featured.
Overall, this is a beautifully filmed, fluid, graceful yoga practice. D'Silva's approach to the routine is unique and clearly influenced by his dance background. The practice is very accessible and should be doable to most with some prior yoga experience. It is important to note that because D'Silva is constantly moving you one from pose to the next, he spends little time providing form or alignment information. In addition, he does not suggest modifications for the few more challenging postures which are included (e.g., no alternate is given to binding in Sage 3 pose). However, for yoga practitioners who have reached at least an advanced beginning level, this DVD provides a lovely, distinctive practice experience.
© 2010 Beth Cholette
Link: Gaiam Yoga
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students