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by Gabrielle Pelicci, Ph.D.
Peaceful Tiger, 2009
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Jun 2nd 2009

Healthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini Yoga

The DVD case describes this as a rigorous, one-hour total body workout which helps produce emotional balance, mental clarity, and stress relief.  It is broken up into four 15 minute segments:  Part 1, the Warm-Up, is intended to stretch and lengthen the back, neck, legs, and torso; Part 2, Energize, is to work the legs, hips, thighs, and butt; Strengthen, Part 3, is said to define the abs, arms, shoulders, and back; and finally, Part 4 is the Meditation/Relaxation component. 

The program is led by Dr. Gabrielle Pelicci, Ph.D.  The only information about Pelicci's credentials included with the DVD itself noted that she was one of LA's "premier" yoga instructors.  Upon visiting her web site, enerje.com, I learned that "Dr. Gabrielle" earned her doctorate degree in humanities, is also licensed as a massage therapist, and offers "transformational" counseling sessions both face-to-face and by phone.  During this workout, Pelicci teaches via live instruction in a bright studio; she does not provide mirrored cueing.  As she performs the exercises, the camera flashes to scenes of her in several other settings, including an alternate studio, a daytime/dusk beach, and a city scene (other exercise videos which have used a similar approach include Cindy Crawford's A New Dimension and Karen Voight's Streamline Fitness).

In her brief introduction, Pelicci suggests that the exercises are appropriate for beginners, who can simply practice for a shorter amount of time, yet also challenging for more experienced Kundalini practitioners.  The Warm-Up (17 minutes) begins in a seated position with the traditional Kundalini yoga chant of Ong Namu Guru Dev Namu repeated three times.  Following this, Pelicci introduces the Breath of Fire (BOF), performed holding the arms at a 60-degree angle.  Next follows of series of seated poses, mostly moving the body back and forth over the legs in various directions.  The second half of the warm-up section focuses more on the upper body with shoulder shrugs, neck rolls, and a spinal twist, concluding with the stomach grind.  Part 2 begins on hands and knees for cat/cow; this moves into knee to nose on each side.  Pelicci then comes to standing, moving slowly and methodically through squats, arm circles, toe touches, side reaches, torso twists, reach up/forward bend, and finally, what she calls "dancing"—simply kicking the feet out in front of you rapidly for about half a minute.  This segment is about 14 minutes total.

Whereas the first two sections of the workout are fairly basic—Pelicci generally moves at a pace that's easy to follow, and most of the exercises are appropriate for all levels--Part 3 raises the difficulty level quite a bit.  Pelicci starts in immediately with some very challenging core work, holding the arms and legs raised while performing BOF.  She continues with core work which is quite reminiscent of Pilates, including single and double leg lifts, bicycle, reverse plank lift, and a held plank.  This segment finishes with a few more traditional hatha yoga postures, down dog, cobra, and child's pose, coming in at just under 14 minutes.  In the final 14-minute section, Pelicci sets you up for meditation, introducing the phrase "Sat Nam" but providing little other verbal instruction for the 6.5 minute seated session (and unfortunately, the music played during this segment includes drums that are quite jarring rather than relaxing).  This is followed by a 5-minute lying relaxation, and then Pelicci concludes the practice with a reclined twist and a brief prayer to finish.

Kundalini is still a relatively new school of yoga to enter the DVD market, although the very popular videos of husband/wife team Ravi Singh and Ana Brett have made this discipline more well-known.  In some ways, this DVD offers consumers a nice alternative option, especially with its fairly down-to-earth instructor and short mix-and-match segments.  The main drawback of this practice, however, is that although the first, second, and last segment are all extremely accessible to beginners, the difficulty level of Part 3 is completely out of sync with the rest of the video, which I fear might be discouraging to some.  Therefore, I would caution anyone interested in trying this DVD and recommend viewing the clips available on Pelicci's website, enerje.com.

© 2009 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.