David Life and Sharon Gannon are two of New York’s most prominent yoga teachers; their Jivamukti Yoga School is practically a mecca for yogis. It hosts dozens of classes per day, attracts celebrity yogis and its instructor training programs churn out fleets of yoga teachers each year — it’s as close to a yoga factory as you can get. But for all their offerings (there’s even a cafe where you can sip vegan smoothies while you watch for Russell Simmons and Christy Turlington to arrive), you’ll hardly catch a glimpse of Sharon or David. They teach occasional classes and workshops, but they visit students in Cape Town and Tokyo as often as they stay in New York, and their focus certainly isn’t on assisting the regular practice of on-again off-again yogis like me. So I was fairly excited to buy their time on DVD, despite the wealth of newer workout DVDs to choose from.
DVD: Transform Yourself With Jivamukti Yoga
Rating: Strong Recommend*
Level: Advanced Beginner
Length: Approx. 60 minutes
Equipment Needed: Yoga Mat; Blanket
David Life and Sharon Gannon created Jivamukti Yoga in 1984, and describe it on their website as “a vigorously physical and intellectually stimulating practice leading to spiritual awareness.” Read: This is not your warm up, work out, and go type of yoga — it involves a lot of oms, a lot of Sanksrit, and meditation practice. If you’re the type to roll your eyes while your instructor talks about compassion, then this DVD is going to give your sockets a great workout.
If you’re open to the oms and spiritual awareness — it’s not that bad, but I have to admit: I was reticent to chant along with Sharon in my living room, for fear of waking up my boyfriend — then you’re also in for a great workout: When Sharon Gannon and David Life aren’t guiding you through meditation, they’re guiding you through a reasonably difficult series of poses and flow.
The DVD is only one hour long, and it’s definitely aimed at advanced beginners, so if you’re an advanced student seeking a challenging, full practice, this isn’t the workout for you. But for those of us who just want a good yoga practice that we can squeeze into a busy day, then this DVD is great. (Plus, at $17.49 on amazon.com, the DVD is cheaper than an actual class at Jivamukti, which is prohibitive even for those of us lucky enough to live and work near the school.) I’m also a fan of the DVD’s multiple narration and music options (you can choose to hear David or Sharon lead the class, or swap out sitars for guitars).
So will it really transform your life? I haven’t been meditating and chanting in my living room for long enough to feel a magical rebirth, but the workout got my heart beating faster, made me breathe harder, and made my arms and back sore the next day. And despite being slightly embarrassed by my Sanksrit chanting (my boyfriend did overhear my chanting, after all), the guided meditation left me feeling a lot more relaxed and happy than most workout DVDs.
*Our Rating System:
- Strong Recommend
- Weak Recommend
- Don’t Recommend