Yoga practice in the United States continues to grow exponentially, with more and more people discovering the benefits of increased flexibility, strength and stress reduction. According to a 2008 market study conducted by Yoga Journal, Americans spend nearly $6 billion a year on yoga classes, yoga videos, yoga mats and accessories. At that time, close to 16 million adults in the U.S. said they practiced yoga.
Thanks to hundreds of fitness DVDs, yoga is increasingly accessible to at-home exercisers. You can find yoga titles for beginners, advanced practitioners, pregnant women and everyone in between. Some of the most common disciplines include Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Anusara yoga. In Vinyasa, a current favorite, poses flow together in one fluid movement with a focus on breathing. Ashtanga is a highly athletic style of yoga that follows a series of poses; it's also the basis for power yoga, which focuses on building strength and generating heat. Also featured in many yoga videos, Anusara takes a spiritual approach and includes flowing poses.
In addition to traditional yoga titles, many popular DVDs combine yoga with other fitness routines such as Pilates, kickboxing or dance. These videos can provide a good workout, but they're far removed from a traditional yoga practice. We focus strictly on yoga DVDs for this comprehensive review.
Just as yoga methods can vary, so can instructors' expertise and style. Many practitioners, including Shiva Rea, Rodney Yee and Bryan Kest, have achieved celebrity status in the fitness world, and each one is unique. Some instructors include lots of chanting and meditation between poses, while others downplay the spirituality aspects. Previewing a yoga video online can ensure that an instruction style will mesh with your own outlook on yoga. Although most yoga DVDs don't go into detail about the instructor's qualifications, you can usually find information on their personal websites.
While the majority of instructors are certified within a certain school of yoga, plenty of personal trainers lead videos without certification. Either way, the best yoga titles will feature a knowledgeable instructor who can give insightful guidance on the correct body form and accompanying breathing technique of each move. Plus, they'll provide modifications for each pose so the workout can be adjusted for participants of various fitness levels.
We select the best yoga DVDs based on three criteria: the actual workout or program, the quality and long-term likeability of the instructor, and the quality and production of the video.
For the third criteria -- the title's quality and production -- we consider several factors. Many yoga videos are filmed in a tranquil environment such as on a cliff overlooking the ocean or in a bright garden. Others take a more workout-oriented approach, filming indoors in a studio. In addition, the quality of the music and general feel can greatly impact a video's long-term likeability; users prefer something with a fresh and modern look. The best yoga DVDs will also feature multiple routines or mix-and-match video segments, and easy-to-navigate menus for customizing workouts. More options typically mean you'll get more use out of the video before getting bored.