One of my birthday gifts was an Ashtanga DVD by Mark Darby and Nicole Bordeleau, called “Ashtanga Yoga”. It arrived the day before my Ladies' Holiday and because I wasn't in the mood for any more 'newness' this week, so I put it aside. Today, lazy Sunday, seemed like a good day to try it out.
The DVD was produced in Quebec so French is offered as the first choice in the language selection, though there is English too. The whole thing has a bit of an artsty-fartsy look to it with lamps and dark colours (reds and blacks), matching outfits and quasi-synchronised yoga - very Montreal. There are three programme selections: a full 90 minute Primary Series practice (and it really does last 90 minutes), a Primary Series Short Form and a short practice comprised of the sun salutations only. Each programme is proceeded by the opening invocation. I thought this was a nice touch.
The instruction on this DVD is very detailed and clear and, as far as I can tell, it follows the standard vinyasa sequence of traditional Ashtanga. I didn't like the sun salutations - they were paced much too slowly and methodicaly for my taste (though this might actually be an asset for a beginner to the practice). There were also not as many as I am used to - 3 and 3 as opposed to 5 and 5.
I liked the instruction for the postures, but in a few instances the poses were held far too long. There was too much Navasana! Navasana is a favourite of mine, but after five repetitions, even I was saying “Enough Navasana already!”. The holds in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, on the other hand, were far too short (a complaint I also have about the Bender Beryl Birch's 'Power Yoga' DVD). I found that the voices of the teachers - particularly with their accents, began to grate on my nerves after awhile. Because they alternated the instruction it was sometimes jarring.
I very much liked the presentation of modified versions of the poses and the emphasis on alignment in this DVD. I specifically enjoyed the timing of the hold in Sirsasana - I felt challenged. Ditto for Urdhva Dhanurasana. I also quite enjoyed the quiet yoga-y music in Savasana and the absence of annoying commentary.
Overall, I think this is a good DVD, particularly for anyone brand-new to Ashtanga. Advanced practitioners may find it a tad ponderous.