I was supposed to attend an African dance class this afternoon, as I so excitedly gushed about last week, but I ended up on my living room floor doing this instead:

This is what happens when you’re in your 30s. You spend a Saturday shoe shopping–bending down, standing up, lugging a heavy bag around DSW–and the next day your shoulders and back are all f**ked up and you have to decide whether to take the dance class and risk hurting yourself further or stay home and do an hour of therapeutic yoga instead.

While I’m on the subject, let me just say that the above DVDs have my 100% total approval, and if you have any issues with your low/upper back, sacrum, hips, neck, or shoulders, these are most definitely something to have in your media library. My first experience with Gary Kraftstow was about 1.5 years ago, when I was looking for some kind of relief for my bum hip. I was browsing Netflix’s selection of yoga DVDs and read several good reviews about the low back/sacrum/hips workout, and let’s just say that I watched that DVD so many times that I probably have ownership rights to it now. I eventually returned the disc to Netflix and bought the DVD online, later buying the upper body one to complete the collection.

I recommend these DVDs all.the.time. If you tell me you have a back problem, you can bet I will be throwing Gary Kraftstow’s name in your face. The thing about Viniyoga is that it’s designed to be therapeutic, kind of like a physical therapy regimen but with yoga postures. Each of the DVDs has three routines, ranging from 20-something minutes to about 50, and each workout is crafted specifically to help the affected area; the postures are meant to be done in the order they are presented. There is nothing fancy about the workouts, no bells and whistles, no music, no candles, no om’ing in and chanting out, no studio full of yoga models sporting the latest Lulu. It’s either a man or woman doing the postures and Gary’s voiceover giving the instructions. It’s boring as hell…but very effective, just like physical therapy.

If you are diligent about the practice and do the workout(s) regularly, I can almost guarantee you will feel progress/relief (however, I am not a health care practitioner, and this is just my 2 layperson’s cents). I did the low back one almost daily for about a month, because at the time my hips were all kinds of crooked and my sacroiliac joint was always popping one way or the other. I didn’t always feel relief immediately after doing the workout, but throughout the day I would feel things settling into place. Like today, I do a workout anytime I feel “out of sorts,” when my body feels like a car that’s driven over one too many potholes. Nine times out of 10, something in my sacrum/neck/spine always gives a desirable pop or crack of relief when I rise from savasana.

So, no African dancing for me this week but I had a nice, long date with Mr. Kraftstow (did both a low back AND shoulders routine!) and did these dancey-dance things instead:

• Subscribed to Conscious Dancer magazine.

• Discovered Nia and Dharma Dance teacher Susan McCulley’s blog, on which she posts some excellent playlists that have made their way to my Grooveshark menu.

• Discovered the music of Cryptex, which made me dance so much that now I’m certain the floor in our 80-something-year-old house is going to fall through.

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