Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yoga Meltdown with Jillian Michaels

I've been meaning to post this for about a week, but work has been insane. I was playing around on Amazon about a month ago when I saw a new Jillian Michaels workout dvd for pre-release order: Yoga Meltdown. I love yoga and figured Jillian would provide a kick ass Ashtanga style workout, so I immediately placed my order.

Let me preface my review by saying I've practiced yoga for about 10 years now. I've done lots of different styles, but Ashtanga/Vinyasa style is my favorite. I'm kind of a "purist"...I hate those yoga/pilates (piloga? yogalates?) classes. I believe a class can be tough and still keep the meditative spirit of yoga.

Anyway...I finally got a chance to try out the dvd this week. It was a strength training day, but I was very sore and thought yoga would be just the thing.

The dvd is divided into two 30-minute practices. One is considered "beginner" and the other "advanced." Jillian is joined by two helpers, one who does the most advanced version of poses and the other who does the beginner/intermediate versions. I was a little put off by a yoga workout that's only 30 minutes doesn't burn that many calories; my 90-minute Sunday class only burns about 450 calories. So, 30 minutes just didn't seem like enough going in.

I started with the first workout on the dvd as recommended. The workout started with some warm up movement, slow modified sun salutation variations. I didn't feel like my legs got warm enough from it. When it was time to do a complete vinyasa, I didn't like that she skipped the spinal extension at the beginning of the forward bend. Then the workout started...

The practice did follow a sort of "flow." In each circuit (she just can't get away from those circuits...if there was ever a time to do it, it was for a yoga dvd), we moved into a pose (for example, a lunge) and then "repped it out," meaning we moved deep into the pose, out of it and then back in. After a few reps, we held the pose for 15 seconds. I have to say I didn't think the reps did much good. I didn't feel as much burn as I do when holding a pose for a longer time or the heart rate increase from moving quickly through a variety of poses.

Some of the sequences seemed a little difficult or even dangerous for a beginner. Specifically, there's a sequence where we move in and out of half-camel and then hold full camel for 15 seconds. Camel is notoriously hard on the lower back for the inexperienced, and pulling in and out of the pose seems like a good way to get hurt if you don't know what you're doing. There were also some chaturanga push ups, which I enjoyed, but I'm not sure a beginner would be able to pull those off.

What made the dvd even harder to follow was the fact that camera tended to follow Jillian, who spent most of the session walking around, demonstrating form with the models. It made it difficult to see which version of a pose the other model was doing sometimes.

When the 30 minutes was up, I wasn't the least bit tired. I don't think I even broke a sweat. So, I took a look at the advanced practice. It followed a similar set up but included more core and balance work. I was hoping that I could string both workouts together for a decent workout, but enough of the moves are similar that it doesn't seem worthwhile. Plus, by the time you cut out the cool down in the first session and the warm up of the second session, you still aren't getting a very long workout.

So, as you can see I was disappointed. I was disappointed b/c I have yet to find a yoga dvd that comes anywhere near replicating a class. The closest I've found are the David Farmar podcasts, but those are also difficult b/c you don't get any visual help. I was also disappointed in Jillian...I love my other dvds from her so much. The Shred was what started me out on my weight loss journey, and the Blast Fat Boost Metabolism and No More Trouble Zones have made some great changes in the last few months I've been using them. But, Yoga Meltdown was just lackluster. I appreciate that she was trying to break out of her comfort zone, but Jillian should really stick with what she does best circuit training/cardio and leave yoga to the trained practitioners.


  1. I think Jillian is just trying to reach as far into the fitness industry as she can ... and she's going too far. I think Jillian rocks, but this wouldn't be an area that she has come even close to mastering. Especially since I find she puts very little emphasis on proper warm-up or stretching in her other products. Doesn't surprise me that she shortchanged this one too.

    Thanks for the review. I'm not a yoga fan, but at least I know if I'm going to try it, not to bother with this one.

  2. Sun salutations are not always the easiest poses for me. At least Jillian does a modified sun salutation. I found that Leeann Carey has a great free yoga video on a modified sun salutation. Your readers might want to check it out: