Despite being slightly put off by its grandiloquent name, I was prepared to take The Ultimate Yogi seriously. If you have the same intention, do yourself a favor and never, ever watch the short film included on disc 1, for herein is the creation myth of The Ultimate Yogi. [Spoiler Alert! Skip the next paragraph if you want to preserve your innocence!]
Travis Eliot, the teacher in whom you are placing your trust for the next 108 days, is shown following the smile of an exotic beauty into a mystical bookstore, where he discovers a book with a golden cover. When he opens it, he is transported in a flash of light to a windy mountain top. Biceps bulging, he scrambles up to the peak, where he enters a temple and is greeted by Gandalf, gone slightly Hindu. Hindu Gandalf becomes Eliot's teacher, directing him to perform yoga poses shirtless on a dais and blowing his mind with images from deep meditation. Gandalf then proclaims Eliot to be the ultimate yogi, implying he has reached a state of enlightenment and should now share his great wisdom with others. Come again?
Ok, let's say you have taken my advice and skipped right over this bizarre dream sequence. What, then, can your expect from The Ultimate Yogi program? The basic elements are 108 consecutive days of yoga practice using the 12 included DVDs, daily meditation, and the Common Sense Food Program, which eliminates processed foods, preservatives, bad fats, refined sugars, flour, and alcohol. I should say right now that I haven't completed this 108 day program, so if you want to discount my analysis on that basis, here is your chance. However, I have done a lot of yoga in my time. I've looked at a lot of yoga DVDs, including several in the same vein as The Ultimate Yogi. It is on these grounds that I make my evaluation.
When compared to the competition, which I'm going to classify as Power Yoga/lifestyle transformation, there are a lot of advantages to The UY, particularly if you come from a yoga background. Take P90X Yoga
, for instance. Though it's a good DVD, it's only one part of a package with many other types of exercise (which is the system's selling point for many). DDP Yoga
also has its proponents, but it is definitely a hybrid of yoga asana and other fitness techniques. Travis Eliot's yoga will be recognizable to anyone who has taken more than a few yoga classes, and that is really for whom this program is intended. Yoga beginners will not find much explanation of poses and the pace of the workouts is brisk. If you are a home practitioner of power yoga
, this 12 DVD set offers some excellent sequences. Though they have names like cross-training, strength, and balance, all are essentially the same type of vinyasa-heavy power yoga flow, with the exception of a few mellower options. If you want to do the 108 days, the included calendar lays out a schedule for you, telling you which workouts to use each day, which helps you stay motivated. The Ultimate Yogi website offers a supportive community of other folks doing the program, the requisite success stories, and a bunch of branded merch, which Eliot describes as essential in the introductory DVD.
I have no doubt that Travis Eliot is a highly competent, inspiring yoga teacher. I have no trouble recommending the power yoga workouts offered here, or even the full 108-day cycle if that suits you (though what happens on day 109?). I'm less comfortable with the sloganeering that is being wrapped around the asanas, undoubtedly in the name of branding. To quote one Amazon.com reviewer, it's corny, and it cheapens the overall effect of this product. Even the idea of "the ultimate yogi" is fraught with question marks, since I don't associate yoga practice with the concepts of quality, perfection, or even finality. Mine is clearly not a vision that sells transformational DVDs, however.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy