July 17, 2011

Review: David Moreno DVDs offer Authentic, Specialized Yoga Flows

“If you really understand yoga, you know the physical practice is a minute part of the total practice. You don’t take your abs with you when you die.” ~David Moreno

Just a few months after my failed attempt at yoga teacher training in the summer of 2001, I was blessed to find a local 200-hour hatha yoga teacher training program at a burgeoning studio called Yoga Yoga in Austin. One of my teachers was David Moreno, and he was (and is) a lean, mean vinyasa-teachin’ machine.

I’m happy to have stayed in touch with David for the past decade, even though he moved to northern California to become a senior teacher at Yoga Mandala. When I lived in the San Francisco Bay area in 2004, I’d trek to Berkeley every month to learn from him. I took his class last month during a visit to the West Coast and picked up his two recently-released DVDs, which are also available as an iPhone/iPod/iPad app.

These puppies are the antithesis to MTV yoga workout videos. David is a humorous teacher, but a serious yogi and initiated student of Ayurvedic & Tantric Teacher Dharmanidhi Sarasvati, studying the primordial tantric roots of the yogic tradition.

Even though his physical form is awesome due to decades of dance, pilates and yoga, David’s humility disarms even the most skeptical or fearful yoga students. Throughout both DVDs, he brings our focus back to the breath and body, reminding us to breathe into the back body — the back of the heart, the rib cage, shoulder blades, back of the neck — whenever appropriate. For all the asymmetrical poses, he has us pause between the two sides to notice difference and integrate the new flow of energy. The only thing missing is his intuitive hilarity that translates into light, situational comments throughout his yoga classes. (Obviously and unfortunately, the prerecorded DVD medium does not allow for improvisational jokes.)

Deep Flow Yoga Lateral Sequence

The introductory voiceover of this DVD tells us:  “This particular practice is designed to bring about the immediate and profound release of physical and mental tension, balance lunar and solar channels, and bring ourselves into greater awareness of subtle movement internally, as well as strengthen the oblique abdominals and organs.”

This 75-minute practice focuses on sensation, pulsation and inner rhythm. It is immensely engaging for all levels of practitioners, challenging participants to go beyond mindless and automatic yoga asana routines. This is a practice that can be done over and over again, with something new and innovative discovered in the physical and subtle body each time.

As the practice begins, David advises us to “let go of the shore. Let go of expectation and conditioning. Let the poses take you.” Okay, I’m sold!

Wheel of Yoga for Cyclists

I am by no means a cyclist, but as a yoga practitioner and teacher, I enjoyed the pre- and post-ride practices presented on this DVD immensely. The pre-ride warm up is adapted from the teachings of Paramahamsa Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of Yoga and includes half an hour of movement to open the joints and stretch ligaments, a 7-minute Core Abdominal sequence, and a fun, 6-minute dynamic energy section that includes twists and lateral stretches.

The post-ride stretch and restoration section features brief (2-4 minute) stretches for the thigh and iliopsoas, variations of standing forward bend, reclining stretches for the hamstring and peroneus, and an inversion (shoulderstand). There are modifications given throughout the DVD, both in the voice over and in demonstrations.

The DVD also includes two short sections of breathing practices, energizing pre-ride pranayama and cooling and soothing post-ride breathing. To my non-cyclist self, the most interesting bonus feature was the section on Ayurvedic Oil Massage (Abhyanga), though for cyclists especially, there is good information on symmetry in hips and hydration “facts, myths and remedies.”

I highly recommend David Moreno’s DVDs or iPad applications for serious yoga practitioners of all ages and all levels of experience. The practices he shares are graceful, subtle, highly adaptable, and potentially transformative.


From The Wheel of Yoga DVD:

In Tantra philosophy the “wheel,” as both symbol and image appears repeatedly throughout this science. The twelve primary powers of the Divine are visualized as a blazing, 12-spoked wheel of fire called the anākhya-chakra, or ‘the indescribable vortex wheel of Consciousness.’ Another name for it is the akhanda-mandala or ‘unbroken circle’.  Thus, the interconnections and balanced holism of the spoked wheel make it a perfect symbol for the unbroken fullness of Divine Consciousness.

Most contemporary yogis are more familiar with the 7 energy wheels known as chakras that are found along the central axis of the body.  Chakras(72,000 of them in total!) are described as wheels of energy – a kind of portal – that spin, support, nourish, animate, and sustain life. They do this by broadcasting universal energy to the individual – each with its own unique signature.

In this philosophical sense, the Sanskrit word for “bicycle” divchakra (two wheels) can be considered as our Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (manifestation) nature – spinning in perfect harmony – or union (Yoga.)

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