Must...resist...jokes. Appellate Judge Michael Stailey reviews a disc that delivers everything its title promises.
Basic Training with a Sizzle!
When an exercise DVD opens with three men in thongs, spread eagle on a velvet covered air mattress, in the middle of the desert, underscored by ethereal new age music, you can tell it's not going to be yoga training for the masses.
Swedish producer Petter Ericksson Jr. and his Cool Cactus Studios present Hot Male Yoga, a yoga instruction video framed by the most basic yoga practice and lavished with eye candy.
Narrated by a woman who sounds like she's either had a rough night or one too many cigarettes, the three automatons respond to her raspy commands while practically on top of each other sharing this 6x6 velvet workspace. The handheld camera moves like a ghostly observer, focusing its slow pan on a sweat covered, freshly waxed shoulder, bicep, pectoral, thigh, glute, abs, or groin, while occasionally pulling back to take in the whole picture or a transitional cut to the surrounding landscape.
The 25-minute yoga routine employed here is made up of elementary stretching postures and requires no previous yoga training. Beginning in Shava-asana (Corpse), you relax your mind/body for a brief moment before moving onto deep abdominal breathing. Transitioning into Naga-asana (Cobra), the boys look like they are performing a synchronized swimming routine, with one taking the lead and the others echoing his moves. Warmed up, the remaining 17 minutes advances through Marjari-asana (Cat Stretch), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog), Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle), Virabhadrasana (Extended Warrior), Garuda-asana (Half Spinal Twist), and Setu Bhanda (Bridge), before returning to Shava-asana to complete the routine.
Tacked on is a six-minute bonus stretching session, in which the boys have changed thong colors and now work on a satin sheet. Our raspy guide has stepped out for some much-needed water, so it's all visual from here on out.
Speaking of visuals, Hot Male Yoga is presented in 1.33:1 full frame format. The transfer exhibits a fair amount of grain, even though it appears (at times) to have been shot on DV. Go figure. The colors are all muted earth tones and fluctuate with the position of the sun. The package claims Dolby 5.1 Surround, but the audio is standard 2.0 stereo with a musical underscore that appears to have been lifted from a mid-1980s episode of All My Children. The package also claims a 45-minute run time, which is about 10 minutes off its actual mark.
You probably wouldn't expect much of anything for bonus features, and that's exactly what you get. A Backstage Slide Show contains 30 artistically posed still photos that could have easily been used for a Hot Male Yoga calendar. Not much yoga value there.
This disc obviously has limited appeal. If you're a single woman, stay-at-home mom, or gay male exercise enthusiast looking for a little visual stimulation, this might be just the thing. However, for those truly interested in exploring the health benefits of Yoga, I highly recommend the Living Arts and Yoga Journal DVD series. These will give you the basic foundation you need to incorporate yoga into your daily life.
This court dismisses all charges against Petter Ericksson and Vanguard Cinema, enabling them to go about their business of creating niche market material for the people who enjoy it. Just don't try to market it as something it's not.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vanguard Cinema
• Backstage Slide Show
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