Bodywisdom Media, (877) 746-8077; about 10 hours; www.bodywisdommedia.com; DVD.
For those not familiar with Pilates mat work, the technique concentrates on fortifying the abdominal area--called the "powerhouse"--which is thought of as the core of the body's support and movement. In this video from Bodywisdom Media, there are many exercises designed to strengthen the belly and the hip flexors, mostly performed prone or supine on the floor (although there are some standing exercises too) and given whimsical names like the Saw, Boomerang, Mermaid, and Teaser.
The basic building blocks are about five dozen "modules" ranging in length from 30 seconds to a few minutes, each demonstrating a different type of exercise. Some of these modules are then arranged into various routines--35 in all00lasting from five to 30 minutes. The routines are grouped into five broad, increasingly strenuous categories: Basics, Beginning, Intermediate, Intermediate/ Advanced, and Challenging.
This is a well-executed and beautifully demonstrated presentation. Garcia is a certified Pilates instructor, a former dancer, and the owner of Studio Body Logic in northern Virginia and Maryland. Her instruction is straightforward but with good awareness of proper body alignment and safe performance. A few things about Pilates work might make more fastidious yoga instructors wince: the recommended balletlike toes-out standing position, for example, or the rather simplistic instructions in a few of the exercises to straighten your spine or squeeze your buttock muscles. But judging from the model's expert performance, there's little doubt that the Pilates system delivers on its promise to develop core strength and flexibility. If you are an athlete, a dancer, or a Pilates--curious yogi looking for a way to augment your asana practice, this DVD--one of the most complete Pilates practice companions I've seen--is well worth checking out.
Richard Rosen, who teaches in Oakland and Berkeley, California, has been writing for Yoga Journal since the 1970s.