Many of my friends are into yoga. Sister cancer survivor Linda DuPre says it's very calming. And after we practiced poses at our last Betty's Bunch cancer support group meeting, I had to agree. My neighbor Mary Schreder loves yoga's toning benefits. EVERYBODY at our Bunco Christmas party wanted that girl's slimming secret. Next thing you know, she's on the floor demonstrating the plank in sequins and heels!
Talk about getting your attention. I had approached yoga in my Wii Fit and Kathy Smith sessions, but maybe it was time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H even more. So I jumped at the chance to try these two new yoga DVDs from the folks at Acacia.
Author and reality TV star Bethenny Frankel shares three quick, full-body-toning yoga routines on Bethenny's Skinnygirl Workout (AcaciaLifestyle.com; Sept. 12, 2011). The star of Bravo's Bethenny Getting Married? and New York Times bestselling author of Naturally Thin, The Skinnygirl Dish and A Place of Yes began making exercise DVDs because, like my friend Mary, she's always asked how she stays in shape.
Skinny Girl Workout includes two, 15-minute and one, 20-minute session with Bethenny and New York City instructor Mike McArdle, who has taught yoga for more than 12 years. Together, they step you through floor and standing poses that can help improve your flexibility, strength and balance.
Working out with these two offers the comfort of being part of a class without the pressure. When Mike gives Bethenny tips for perfecting poses, I say "Ah-ha!" But neither of them knows when I screw up! The routines work for both first timers and experienced yogis, but speaking as a newbee it helps to look before you leap because it's hard to watch them while stretching in certain directions.
You can tackle the full, 50-minute workout or, when pressed for time (like always), pick individual segments. Whatever your choice, you'll feel more relaxed, refreshed and on your way to being toned afterwards. Plus, there's a bonus, 12-minute stretching routine for days when you want to go all out and a booklet with sample recipes from Bethenny's The Skinnygirl Dish (like Boo Boo Banana Bread and Simply Irresistible Blue Cheese Dip).
Bethenny's Skinnygirl Workout follows the 2010 release of Body by Bethenny.
On the Shelf: $16.99 at AcaciaLifestyle.com.
An overriding sense of calm permeates the seven, 20-minute sessions on yoga visionary Shiva Rea's More Daily Energy (AcaciaLifestyle.com; Nov. 15, 2011), which advises "live long and flow." This follow-up to Shea's award-winning Daily Energy workout includes three beginner (lunar) and four intermediate (solar) sequences that provide a nice framework for moving from you-want-me-to-do-what astonishment to advanced poses.
Doing yoga daily - even for 20 minutes - can improve your posture, build the upper body strength which is so critical as we age, and help you escape stress. Perfect for Boomers with busy lifestyles, these practices put you in the driver's seat.
A handy Yoga Matrix lets you create your own routine by selecting from an 11-minute opening meditation; seven, 20-minute yoga routines; and seven minutes of closing relaxation called savasana. Worried about rumored layoffs or a troublesome mammogram? Try a calming meditation followed by a lunar series. Have to keep up with all three grandkids today? Opt for a stimulating solar workout punctuated by savasana to release some energy. Not feeling creative? Skip the Yoga Matrix and go for one of the six preset practices including 47 to 58 minutes of yoga inspirations.
Whichever you choose, Shiva shows the way to sculpting long, lean muscles while revitalizing your spirit. It's easy to follow this flower-child-like goddess because she talks you through each step. But don't be surprised if you can't duplicate some of the how-does-she-bend-like-that moves exactly because after practicing for about 20 years (Shiva started at 14), she's more limber than Gumby.
Shiva is the creator of several top-selling workouts, including her innovative Creative Core series, Fluid Power-Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Flow Yoga for Beginners, Surf Yoga Soul, Yogini, Power Flow Yoga and AM Energy.
On the Shelf: $19.99 at AcaciaLifestyle.com.