Ashtanga Yoga: The Primary Series with Mark Darby and Nicole Bordeleau

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Yoga Monde; VHS and DVD; 140 minutes.

The question that arises when you first behold this video is: Does the yoga world need another practice companion for the Ashtanga vinyasa primary series? After all, once you’ve seen the Freemans, Swensons, and Scotts of this school do their thing, there’s not much left that can impress you. But Mark Darby’s performance is a real eye-opener; he’s as strong and smooth as anyone I’ve seen on video in the past 10 years.

Two things really set this video apart. First, Darby’s verbal instructions include lots of detailed information about physical alignment, usually absent in Ashtanga programs because of the style’s comparatively rapid pace. Second, Nicole Bordeleau, Darby’s assistant teacher and model, demonstrates a modified series for relative beginners. So while the typical Ashtanga program at some point leaves many of us gasping in the dust, this one allows even the average practitioner to remain part of the action.Darby, a K. Pattabhi Jois–certified teacher, is codirector of the Ashtanga Yoga Studio of Montreal; Bordeleau, a longtime student of his, is cofounder of the Yoga Monde studio (near Montreal). Together they’ve produced what is without a doubt the most widely useful of the dozen or so Ashtanga vinyasa and Power Yoga videos I’ve reviewed over the years. Whether you’re a skilled aficionado of this school, a novice, or just someone who wants to marvel at the art of yoga asana, you’ll want to watch this performance—and practice along with it—over and over again.

Contributing Editor Richard Rosen teaches public yoga classes in Northern California. He is the author of The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama.