Too many sweets left you feeling soft and gooey? New Year resolutions dropped off the radar? You’re not alone. Many of us are thinking about warmer days ahead and wondering how to prepare mind and body for the great un-layering. Yoga for weight loss sometimes raises a few eyebrows. But there’s no denying that yoga builds muscle tone and brings us into more harmonious relationship with the body. As we start to tune in to body and breath, we become more likely to make other positive lifestyle choices such as good nutrition. To quote Ivanhoe, "Here’s the honest truth: we cannot resolve to lose weight. It is actually not within our power. But what we can do is make healthy choices consistently." Five days of yoga Sara Ivanhoe’s program includes five days of yoga practice to kick-start your commitment to health and wellness. This master teacher understands that small, steady steps are the way to go. They’re more attainable than lofty goals so we’re more likely to feel successful. Day One Day One’s "Declaration Day" provides a solid introduction to the foundations of vinyasa practice. Ivanhoe demonstrates appropriate modifications for a beginner while her student models more advanced options for those who want a little more challenge.
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Day Two features "Clean Slate Cleanse," a detoxifying practice including twists and breath work to release toxins and prepare the body for rejuvenation.
Day Three’s "Cardio Commitment" ramps up the energy with a flowing practice designed to increase the heart rate and get the blood pumping.
Day Four’s practice is entitled "Hot Mess." This routine is designed to build strength and transformative heat by holding poses a bit longer.
The series concludes with Day Five’s cutely-named "Disco Nap," a restorative practice including a long savasana, or resting pose. We all need a break sometimes; this class fulfills that need.
Ivanhoe recommends that Days Six and Seven be "Mix and Match Programs." Choose from among the previous practices, or combine them, depending on what your body wants.
A kinder, gentler approach
As a seasoned yoga student and teacher, I enjoyed these practices because they were short, sweet and fun. There were plenty of familiar poses mixed with enough creative variation to keep it interesting.
I also appreciated the emphasis on offering healthy adaptations and modifications for the newer or less fit student throughout the classes. Too often, these are only mentioned at the start of class before the instructor takes off, leaving the beginning student far behind. But Ivanhoe stays there with us the whole time, ensuring that the practice remains safe, accessible and rewarding.
Sara Ivanhoe shows that it doesn't take a drill sergeant approach to get results. Her gentle, affirming style will appeal to those who find encouraging words help them make a commitment to a regular fitness practice.
Each of these classes lasts less than 30 minutes so they can be slipped easily into the busiest of schedules. The regular work will pay off and soon students may feel ready to explore longer, more rigorous classes. Still, you may decide to stick with Ivanhoe, a beaming, positive guide to the ancient art of yoga. You’ll be in good hands. Amy Taylor is a freelance writer for GaiamTV.com, a columnist for Elephant Journal and a yoga teacher.