My wife and I have been following yoga instructional videos online for a few years now and we have found 5 Parks Yoga to be a firm favourite.
No matter what your views are on the more touchy-feely spiritual side of yoga, you need it in your life. Hey, if Ryan Giggs can use it to help play professional football into his 40’s, there must be something to it, right?
You don’t even need to go to class every week, there are plenty of options to give yoga a go in the comfort of your own home (although I would recommend going to at least some classes so an instructor can correct your posture / gawp at your lack of flexibility – which for me is alarmingly frequent). What our neighbours must think when then walk past our living room, witnessing two adults topple over while performing the crow (a sort of pretend handstand) is anyone’s guess.
5 Parks Yoga is yoga instructor Erin Sampson. Each video takes place in a sickeningly exotic location, which is surely part of the allure and success of her channel.
Videos can be anything from 20-60 minutes long and are suitable for all levels. I’ve also found there to be a good range of poses, whereas in many yoga videos I tend to find the pattern overly familiar and limiting. Instruction is clear, calm and delivered with the assurance of Mary Poppins – probably with a spoonful of stevia instead of sugar. As with many of the best instructors, there is just enough talking to keep you engaged but not too much to overload you; a crucial skill.
If you think Yoga is all about chanting ohmmmm with your legs cross, think again. Erin’s Vinyasa Flow videos will often take you through a series of movements, at increasing speed, such that by the end you won’t feel far off having done some light cardio. As with all good online instructors, many moves have modified versions for beginners….as well as those long in the tooth who still struggle to touch their toes (ahem).
There’s a vast array of videos available to suit all levels and moods. Yoga for increased flexibility…yoga for stress and anxiety…yoga for athletics cross training. New videos are pumped out at a rate of about one per week. Erin must surely have accumulated enough airmiles to circumnavigate the globe 50 times over by now.
What looks like the best kept park ever is apparently in Colorado. Watch out for stray rabbits bounding across the screen while Erin leads you through a sunrise vinyasa flow.
This luxury retreat is probably my favourite of all locations. There are none of the background distractions of a public park and far less noise than the beach. The only consolation for being stuck at home is the feeling of schadenfreude when Erin gets attacks by insects mid-flow.
The elephant in the room is the climbing rope dangling over the swimming pool. Surely the temptation to go full Tarzan after every session is too great? I expect Erin is one of those weird people who can avoid licking her lips after a sugar doughnut. Actually, I expect she is far too disciplined to eat doughnuts.
Idyllic seaside yoga. Because you can. The only downside here is the background cacophony of wind and sea can get in the way. There’s even one video where Erin’s yoga block and mat get blown away by the wind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBa9tJJHwHA&t=970s.
If it sounds like I’m being a bit mean, know that the real reason is I really find it difficult to find fault with the quality and variety of yoga videos on offer.
The reason I mention the locations is I am convinced they are a key reason we stay motivated to come back to workout with Erin. A yoga class beside my local public swimming pool probably wouldn’t have the same impact as the equivalent in Costa Rica.
The “Downward Dog Glance” Rating – 4.5/5
An inevitable problem with any at-home yoga video is something I call the downward dog glance. You’ve been instructed to manoeuvre into a pose that involves balancing on your head with your legs in the air, or some such.
Is she still in the pose? Has the TV stopped working? Wifi gone kaput? You glance at the TV and crumple into a heap, realising that, of course, you were meant to hold the pose for at least another 30 seconds.
While this problem is never completely eliminated, I’ve found that Erin provides enough encouraging noises to keep you in your downward dog, so you don’t have to look up at the TV…too much.
Where To Start
The “Office Tension Release Yoga Class” is an excellent class for worker drone slouchers everywhere.
If you are feeling truly adventurous, flexible and strong, try “River Flow Yoga Class – Astavakrasana“. I lasted until approximately half way through when things started to get serious, culminating with the prospect of Astavakrasana, a pose so contorted it named after a cursed baby born bent in eight places.
Five Parks Yoga website: http://fiveparksyoga.com/
Five Parks Yoga YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrtTMWDx4u1dVKMpXNhjwpA
Ryan Giggs & Roy Keane: Yoga and Soccer: https://www.soccer-training-info.com/yoga_and_soccer.asp