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by Desirée Rumbaugh
Acacia, 2008
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Apr 1st 2008

Yoga to the Rescue for Back Pain

In this DVD, Anusara-trained yoga instructor Desirée Rumbaugh offers a yoga practice designed to ease pressure and tightness in the back, improve posture, and increase strength and flexibility to the core of the body.  She works with another Anusara teacher, Andrew Riven, who provides modifications and alternatives; for some of the postures, a block or blanket is used.  The Main Menu of the DVD is as follows:  Introduction (brief overview by Desirée) - Play Workout - Chapter Index – Biography - Music Options (Music Only or Music + Instruction) - Also from Acacia (trailers of other workouts).

Oddly, the chapter menu presents only the first 12 chapters of the practice; there are actually an additional 24 chapters, for a total of 36.  Desirée mostly leads the workout using voiceover instruction, although she breaks in live at times to provide more specific tips.  The first six chapters (about 8 minutes) focus mainly on the fundamentals of good standing posture.  Desirée explains how to stand in alignment, to correctly position the feet, and to engage both the sacrum and an inward spiral of the thighs, all concepts central to Anusara.  She then moves through a series of basic standing postures to warm up the back, including chair pose, cat/cow, downward dog, spinx/cobra, and locust.  The lower back in particular is targeted through several lunge variations as well as a seated twist.  Because weak abdominal muscles can contribute to lower back problems, Desirée also works on strengthening the abdominal core through exercises performed in a reclined position such as crunches, leg lifts, and pendulum; this section was fairly challenging, especially the pendulum move, which Desirée moved through at quite a fast pace. 

Next, Desirée returns to some additional backbending postures, upping the intensity level with bow, camel, and bridge.  Following this, the practice begins to wind down through a series of stretches, including lying hamstring stretch, outer hip stretch, and windshield wipers.  Desirée offers some final postural tips in the reclined position, as she provides instruction on preserving the lumbar curve as well as presents the use of lying over a blanket to restore proper alignment.  The practice concludes with a savasana (relaxation) that is just under four minutes long, bringing in the total time at approximately 65.5. minutes.

Although video this is presented as a complete yoga practice, the mixture of independent short chapters (most are around 2 minutes in length), interruptions for live instruction, occasional lack of parity between voiceover and onscreen demonstrations, and brief "Tip" segments which show the right versus wrong way to perform some of the postures all contributed to an overall choppy feel.  The information presented here is certainly valuable, but the stop-and-go nature made it feel more like a physical therapy session or yoga workshop than an actual yoga practice.  Given this, I think it would be difficult to use the DVD on a regular basis unless you were to have your remote handy in order to skip over the instructional statements, which are sure to become increasingly repetitious over time.  Finally, the DVD case recommends this practice "For Beginners & beyond," but personally, I would limit the audience to those with some prior familiarity with yoga.  If you are looking for some specific tips and strategies to address back pain, you might find this DVD useful, but you won't find a flowing practice experience here.

© 2008 Beth Cholette

Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo. She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com.