P90X Yoga by Tony Horton

What You Should Know About This Popular Practice

P90X DVDs
P90X. Amazon

P90X is a home exercise system developed by trainer Tony Horton. It comes as a set of 12 DVDs, each devoted to a different type of exercise. The idea is that the most effective way to work out is to do a variety of different kinds of activities regularly. This way you're less likely to hit a plateau as your body becomes stronger and more accustomed to a particular workout. You're also less likely to get bored.

Among the workouts in the P90X system is a yoga practice that's gotten a reputation for being one of the hardest of the dozen. Whether you're an experienced yogi or you've never rolled out a mat before in your life, here are some things you should know before you give P90X yoga a whirl.

It's a Power Thing

If you're familiar with power yoga, much of the practice Horton has created will seem familiar. The 90-minute class gets underway with a pep talk from Horton. From here he guides the viewer, as well as four on-screen students, through a series of sun salutations, a sequence of poses, or asanas, that typically are done one after the other without stopping—what's known as flow, or vinyasa, yoga. Horton makes his sun salutations especially challenging by adding an extra chaturanga to each repetition of the vinyasa. A chaturanga is something like a push-up position in which the elbows are bent 90 degrees and the body is briefly suspended above the mat.

After the sun salutations, Horton leads the class through the same types of asanas offered in most typical yoga classes, but for the most part, he focuses on the more challenging and advanced versions of poses. For example, the standing sequence includes revolved triangle, twisting chair, and bound side angle asanas and the balancing poses include crow, none of which are likely to be part of a beginners' class.

Pros and Cons of P90X Yoga

Each of the four students on the DVD is at a different level of strength and flexibility, which is great because it gives Horton a chance to encourage using props and modifications to make sure alignment in each asana is safe and correct. It's a good message for yogis who hesitate to do either because they feel it means they aren't really doing yoga "right" or they're being wimpy for needing the aid of a block or strap.

At the same time, Horton encourages students to push themselves, something most yoga teachers don't do—and for good reason. This is how injuries happen. And even though he spends a lot of time moving among the students on the screen, he allows some potentially dangerous alignment issues to go unnoticed. For instance, in shoulder stand, which is an important pose to get right since it places the neck in a vulnerable position, he allows unsafe arm positioning to go by.

Horton ends the practice with Savasana, or corpse pose, which is how most yoga classes wind down, but it lasts for only a minute, when at least five to 10 are ideal to allow the mind and body to calm down.

The Bottomline

For an experienced yoga student who has a command of alignment and who knows about and is able to accept his physical limitations in order to stay safe, P90X yoga is fine but it's probably not a smart start for a beginning yogi.

Plus, if all you're interested in is yoga, it probably isn't the most financially sound place to begin: You have to buy the entire P90X set of DVDs to get the yoga one, and that will set you back nearly $140.

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