The practice of yoga is sometimes referred to as a "moving meditation," a physical but still inwardly-directed undertaking in which the breath takes the place of a spoken or chanted mantra. By offering separate instruction in those two disciplines, Cyndi Lee and David Nichtern's Om Yoga and Meditation obviously eliminates the need for any such distinction.
The program is divided into for parts (with titles like "Making Friends with Yourself" and "Obstacles as Path"), each with a meditation and yoga section presented side by side. Nichtern, whom some will recognize as the songwriter responsible for Maria Muldaur's '70s hit "Midnight at the Oasis" (this package also contains a music CD featuring his and other musicians' work), handles the former; he's clearly very experienced, but while his talks offer a plenty of valuable guidelines into the shamatha (mindfulness) practice, it isn't until the simple but very effective "guided meditation" segment in Part Four that students actually get to try the practice themselves. Lee, meanwhile, leads users through the four yoga segments, each about fifteen minutes long.
While Lee's attention to the breath (also a central component of meditation) is commendable, the pace is way too quick for inexperienced users; what's more, difficult asanas like chaturanga (the lowered push-up position), ardha chandrasana (balancing half-moon pose), vasisthasana (side-slant pose), and a variety of others that are challenging even for veteran yogis are presented with precious little instruction at all. To her credit, Lee advises newcomers to watch these segments before attempting them, but even that won't do much good in the absence of thorough, detailed coaching. All in all, Om Yoga and Meditation is a good idea that's hampered by less than scintillating execution.
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