Budokon Beginning Practice DVD

In Japanese, Budokon means "spirit of the warrior" and combines the three elements of yoga, martial arts and meditation. In the first DVD in Gaiam's Budokon series, Cameron Shayne, a black belt in karate and hatha yoga instructor, shows off his lean body and soothing voice to take beginners through this unique mind-body workout that has become quite the craze in Hollywood and among the stars.
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In Japanese, Budokon means "spirit of the warrior" and combines the three elements of yoga, martial arts and meditation. In the first DVD in Gaiam's Budokon series, Cameron Shayne, a black belt in karate and hatha yoga instructor, shows off his lean body and soothing voice to take beginners through this unique mind-body workout that has become quite the craze in Hollywood and among the stars.

The Budokon Beginning Practice DVD consists of three sections: a pose guide, full workout, and short workout. The only piece of equipment DVD users really need is a yoga mat, which is a good thing for those wanting to tinker with something new.

The pose guide is close to 18 minutes long and runs through of all the yoga and martial arts stances users will encounter during the workouts. Shayne demonstrates each move with a narration voice-over explaining how to do each one, pretty much following the order they will appear in the workouts. The pose guide program can be viewed alone or accessed during the full workout. When the on-screen titles appear during the full workout, users can jump to the section in the pose guide for detailed instruction on the titled pose. At the end of the pose, the program automatically returns to the previous place in the full workout. We liked the ability to see the moves in advance, as well as to refer to them during the workout.

Running close to 40 minutes, the full workout takes users through a 20-minute yoga routine, 15-minute martial arts program and cools down with a five-minute meditation. The yoga section has many classic yoga stances, like downward facing dog, plank/pushup, chair pose, warrior and hamstring stretch, among others, so it's familiar if you've done a little yoga before. It's a good warm up for the more active martial arts to follow. The martial arts portion is a lively cycle of explosive moves incorporating various punching styles, as well as kicks like a front kick, round kick and squat kicks. During the cool down session, Shayne, in his calm voice, takes users through a guided meditation meant to develop "power through emptiness." (OK, we're not exactly sure what that means, but we felt relaxed.)

Basically, the short workout is the same as the full workout with minimal verbal instruction and a pace more accurate to what it is supposed to be, that is, faster. Users are encouraged to use it once they get the hang of the yoga and martial arts moves.

We liked the blending of yoga with the faster-paced martial arts moves that got the heart pumping. If some beginners are more familiar with traditional yoga poses, they'll understand the workouts much faster and not need to peek at the TV screen as much. We liked that instructor Shayne had an extra person as part of his workout routine who demonstrated select moves for those who may not have his range of motion. For those not ready for the pushup stance or touching their toes, his workout partner showed the correct, safe and alternative way to do these more difficult stances.

Although the pose guide is very helpful, it covers a lot in 18 minutes and may take some beginners a few tries to get the hang of them. At times, Shayne would explain a new pose and how it related to a past pose meaning well of course, but it could prove frustrating to beginners who may not remember how to do the previous move either! Since the short and full workouts are essentially the same, users may get bored with just the one available workout sequence -- but if they like Budokon, they'll be happy to know there are other advanced DVDs available.

SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $15

For more information:www.gaiam.com

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