Hot Yoga for Beginners DVD Review

Is Buying a Hot Yoga DVD Worth It?

Gaiam Hot Yoga DVD

 Buying a hot yoga DVD for a home-based routine may seem like a mistake. Who's really going to do hot yoga at home—is that even possible? Given that hot yoga studios crank up their thermostats to a whopping 105 degrees, it seems unlikely that the average yogi could effectively mimic the conditions for such a specialized practice.  

So when I was given the opportunity to test-drive Gaiam's Hot Yoga for Beginners DVD (also available for streaming on YouTube), I asked the question, "What's the point?" The response was actually helpful. You see, the DVD isn't intended to be used in a toasty-hot room (although if you have access to one, more power to you), but rather, it's supposed to provide home practitioners with sequences and poses that are commonly used in hot yoga classes. This enables viewers to get a feel for the hot yoga experience, whether or not the practice is performed in a hot environment.

With that explanation in mind, I went ahead and accepted a review copy of the DVD, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still skeptical. You see, I've been to a real-life Bikram Yoga class. And while I could have done without the overpowering stench of sweaty bodies, the workout itself was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. I just didn't see how a DVD could deliver in the same way. 

I was right.

And I was wrong.

Hot Yoga for Beginners Overview

The DVD is led by one of Gaiam's go-to instructors, The Yogi Matt, Matt Giordano. It offers three, 20-minute sequences, each of which can be done individually or can be paired together for a full, 60-minute workout. The first video offers a steady warm up, the second provides a dynamic flow including a variety of twists, and the third includes a hip-opening cool down to leave you relaxed and energized.

The Pros

Truly, this is a phenomenal beginner's yoga DVD. It only took the first, 20-minute sequence for me to become a die-hard fan of the program and instruction. The poses themselves are fairly standard, including basics like cat-cow, downward dog, upward dog, forward fold, warrior 1, and so forth, but what makes this DVD stand out to me is its sequencing. The slow and steady progression from one pose to the next completely transformed my life.

I know, I know, that sounds like a gross exaggeration, but it's not.

As a chronic low back pain sufferer, I'm always looking for natural ways to help relieve my pain. Yoga does wonders for my back, but it's hard for me to make time for a regular, 60-minute practice. That's what's so amazing about the sequencing of this DVD. There's something about the first 20-minute section that effectively loosens, stretches, and strengthens my low back, helping relieve my pain in a fraction of the time it typically takes. That, alone, is enough to earn my approval.

And just as the first video is phenomenal, the additional sections are equally nice. That said, I rarely bother to move past the first video, given that 20-minutes are all I seem to need to relieve my pain and improve my day. In fact, it's become a habit. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I carve out 20 minutes to do this practice, knowing it'll leave me feeling limber and flexible, with a lot less pain I experience without it.

The Considerations

While I can't say enough good things about this DVD, it's still hard to justify calling it a "hot yoga" workout. A true hot yoga class is intense—you sweat buckets, your muscles get incredibly warm, enabling you to move in ways you didn't think possible, and you end up feeling like you're soaring at the end of class. Unless you're doing this DVD outside in the desert sun, there's no way it can deliver the same kind of experience. I'd feel more comfortable calling it something along the lines of, "Beginner's Yoga for Back Pain," or simply "Daily Yoga for Beginners." These altered titles are a more genuine reflection of what the DVD provides, and would be less likely to leave consumers feeling disappointed or confused by the contents.