Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

J. Brown: Simple Perfection

By Healingyoga

Years ago, a teacher I was studying with spoke about the need to practice a style of yoga that didn't reinforce your current tendencies. The idea was to have a practice that pushes you outside of your norm, for in that space of unfamiliar, perspectives -- and behavior -- shift. Interestingly enough, I came to this teacher and this style of yoga after years of practicing a style of yoga that was in perfect alignment with my way of living. Ironically, at the time, I wanted to make changes in my life. How appropriate that I would find a style to take me out of my comfort zone.

The thing is, most of us have some strong opinions about yoga -- what it is, what it's not, the "best" style, what it means to have a yoga practice, what it means to bring yoga off the mat and into our daily life, etc. I have some strong opinions and preferences myself. And when I step on my mat, I'm often practicing in a way that can sometimes be uncomfortable to me (no physically but emotionally). I notice wanting to speed up or rush through...but I don't. 

I realize that not rushing isn't all that popular these days. On a daily basis my inbox overflows with products pitches. Rarely am I interested enough to review something. Those opinions and preferences of mine often leave me unimpressed with the bulk of yoga-related products out there. But every now and again, I find something that intrigues and/or delights me. The latest rare gem of amazingness that has warranted a review on this blog is J. Brown's yoga DVD. Buckle up, because while this should be a review, it's going to be more like a love letter to J. Brown.

First off, there's the title: J. Brown's Yoga DVD. Huh...where's the spiritual, difficult to pronounce Sanskrit words? How about the fancy adjectives or the hip words -- why aren't they in the title? Nope, J. goes with simple. As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't need all of the marketing flash, sexy spin, or endless promises of peace, balance, and enlightenment because he offers quality. Dare I say his simple yoga DVD offers "real yoga?" 

That means if you're looking to learn neat tricks that you can show off to your family and fellow students in yoga class or if you're looking for physical feats that rival Cirque du Soleil or if you're looking for faster, more hard core, hip, and sexy, you might find this video to be boring. I call it profound. The video offers a brief intro in which J. walks you through what to expect during the practices, an interesting extra in the form of a 16-minute interview with J, and 10 yoga practices offering a variety of lengths and variation of poses.

In the extra interview offered on the DVD, J. describes the practices on the DVD as "measured, patient, slower" and invites us to see how a practice such as this brings about an "inner poise" and serves us in other important life situations. I couldn't agree more with his logic. I've been on both sides of that yoga coin -- the fast-paced, physically challenging practice and the slower, more measured practice -- and I can say that while the latter can sometimes feel like more a stretch for me, it is by far, the most rewarding (and the one that affects me on a deeper level which leads to changes in way of being in daily life). 

As if that didn't win me over, J. talks about yoga in a way that you don't often hear -- rather than discuss rigor and physical perfection, he uses phrases such as "pleasurable endeavor" and "intimate engagement with yourself." Rather than having a do as much as you can (push yourself) mentality, J. encourages us to practice so that we can "feel better and enjoy our lives." It's like a breath of fresh air. With his background in the Krishnamacharya lineage, it's not all that surprising that this is his philosophy and practice style.

In the introduction, J. mentions the importance of Ujjayi breath, which is practiced throughout the DVD (I must say that the breathing cues here are excellent -- loud enough to keep the practitioner engaged but not loud enough to be obnoxious). He explains that the mind must be engaged in order to maintain Ujjayi and that regulation of the breath soothes the nervous system. The other point he makes before sending you off to practice is the mentality behind it. Rather than a gym mentality (push it, more is better, no pain no gain), J. encourages the practitioner to practice in an even and measured way, which will offer insight into patterns of thoughts and behavior. I can't tell you how lovely it is to hear a yoga teacher frame practice this way. For once it's not about pushing the body and advancing your practice but about slowing down, noticing, and moving with awareness.

There are 5 main practices offered: a 7-minute practice (the I Don't Have Time Practice), a 15-minute practice (the Quarter Practice), a 30-minute practice (the Half Practice), a 60-minute practice (the Full Practice), and a 75-minute practice (the Extended Practice). There is also an extra audio version of each for those looking for more instruction, which brings the total up to 10 complete yoga practices offering about 3 hours of yoga goodness. Each practice includes the one before it, so the 7-minute practice is included in the 15-minute, and so on. The 7-minute practice -- which is done completely on the floor -- is a perfect full-body wake-up that can fit into even the busiest of schedules. There's no need to worry about the typical beginner, intermediate, advanced classifications, as this video offers something for everyone. 

The video production is just like the title and the practices themselves -- simple perfection. There's nothing fancy here to take away from the teachings or distract the practitioner. J's voice is strong but soothing and doesn't pull you from your practice. In the longer practices that include a savasana, there is some fabulous chanting that's sure to delight your whole body. 

In a word this yoga video is, in my humble opinion, perfection. You can learn more about it, and view a preview, here. Yes, I'm a J. Brown fan, and after practicing with this DVD, I have no doubt that you'll be one too. This is the yoga that causes that shift I mentioned at the start of this post. It's the yoga that will transform you and offer you something beyond mere exercise and physical challenge. And that's what keeps me coming back to my mat day in and day out. 



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