I’m a huge fan of yoga postures. Especially as I hit my mid forties. Maintaining a level of flexibility has done more to prevent me from injury than anything as mid-life drags me screaming into an alleyway. So with that in mind it was an easy sell to get me to review Travis Eliot’s Ultimate Yogi.
What you get:
12 DVD’s, a calendar and fitness guide. The program timeline is a 108 day schedule.
Time: 65 Minutes
Despite the title, there will be no throwing tires and jumping on plyo-boxes. This is straight up salutations and balance postures with occasional changes in tempo. If you’ve ever done P90X Yoga then this has many similarities and the benefits of both would probably be identical. I guess I expected a little more considering the aggressive “Cross Training” title.
One thing is obvious, this is not for beginners. Also, Travis never…and I do quite literally mean never…stops talking. Down dog, updog, warrior one, inhale, exhale, now fold yourself in half…finding that mental calm gets pretty hard when you’re concerned about falling behind.
Time: 63 Minutes
Yoga at the speed of light. If you had a hard time keeping up with Cross Training, this is not going to be a good day for you. Still, if you give yourself some time and tune Travis out when necessary, you will have a pretty sweet cardio-core routine to start your day.
Time: 65 minutes
I’m starting to see a pattern here. Modern yoga by nature has a very limited set of moves. Vinyasas, warrior postures, balance postures and general all around stretching. That’s really about it. So whereas the Cardio workout moves at a fast pace, Strength goes slower and has longer isometric holds. Planks are held longer and ab work is slow and controlled. Just don’t expect weight training results.
Time: 72 minutes
If P90X YogaX feels long to you, this might seem an eternity but that doesn’t mean you should bail. The deliberate focus on slow, stretching and flexibility will be crucial for us older folks.
Time: 61 minutes
As the name implies, more focus is spent on maintaining balance postures.
You will be told often..about 1,056,872 times per workout...to inhale/exhale. Sorry, I meant IIIIIIIIINHALE. EEEEEEEEEXHALE. It was getting to the point where my lungs were starting to develop a complex.
Time: 73 minutes
Toxins are in you, therefore we shall wring your body like a soaked towel and squish them out. Don’t ask me whether this will actually work as I’m only a fitness columnist, but I at least like the muscular benefits. Think of this as a very aggressive form of Twister.
Time: 70 minutes
The intro to this is freaking hilarious, as Travis tells us we’re going to restore energy to earth ( although I’m sure he’s being facetious…right? ). The poses remain the same except there’s a lot of expanding the chest out as if to imply energy release. My volt-meter didn’t register squat, but it felt nice.
It’s just Travis today as the cast is away getting their herbal tea colonics. This is designed to focus on the abdominal area and is unquestionably one of the harder ab workouts I have done.
Time: 65 minutes
Long and slow. To be honest, this one is a lot easier to follow due to the reduced pace and the fact you’ll be on the floor for the entire time. No warrior postures today.
Time: 55 minutes
We cut the cast down to 4 today. The moves are back to the more traditional yoga with salutations and forward bends, with the last half focusing more on ground work. The pace slows compared to most other workouts which makes this one a fine choice overall for most people.
MOUNTAIN POSE SERIES
Time: 30 minutes
While the outdoors does indeed make for a good set, this reminds me when my karate Sensei would make us run outside in bare feet. So sure, you could practice your yoga in the sandbox, but I would argue getting sand in your crotch is an inevitability.
Breathing, calmness and the quest to become the ultimate human being. Wait…what? Like an X-Man? That makes no damn sense at all. Think before you speak Travis.
The moves here are reaching high and bending forward, so a lot of hamstring action will be taking place. It is actually a very nice series that allows one to get a fair bit done in with a short runtime.
Time: 37 minutes
While I’m certainly a fan of relaxing the mind, I try to keep it online enough that my grey matter doesn’t ooze out of my ears. I mean, we can meditate on giving gratitude for the good things in our life, but who are we giving the gratitude too? Travis and the kids would like to thank the impersonal “universe”. Take it from a theological junkie, you don’t want to get me started…
Time: 50 minutes
The intro implies I’m a different human being if I made it this far. Cool. The outdoor set also looks great, but that jagged stone floor has got to be murder on the casts feet, even with a mat. Poor saps.
This workout is a non-stop sequence of 108 sun salutations. No queuing from Travis at and to be honest it is rather nice as any constant advice during this time would be distracting.
If you want advanced yoga then you have unquestionably come to the right place. Travis Eliot delivers a program that is high on skill, if not somewhat lacking in variety.
I do have some gripes with this program though. For example, Travis specifies that this is good for people with injuries. I would advise people to have more realistic expectations. The pace in Ultimate Yogi moves far too fast and there is not much opportunity to settle in. Anyone with knee or joint issues should find a beginner program and move past this until they are ready. It will only lead to further injury.
So what’s the trainer like?
This is a very subjective thing. Personally, I doubt me and Travis are going to be long term workout buddies. Not lying, there are times this can feel like a goofy hipster-cult initiation ritual. Travis has a somewhat unique way of talking that will either comfort you or make you throw a brick at the screen. Everything is slow…damn slow…and monotone to a ludicrous extent ( think 60’s hippie maaaaaan ). He has less voice intonation than Siri. What compounds the issue is that every sentence Travis speaks you know he feels in his heart it is brilliant even though it is usually pretentious, convoluted nonsense.
Like most yoga practitioners you have to be prepared for a hefty truckload of bullshit and in my opinion, Travis delivers a little too much of it at times. No matter how much you stretch or calm yourself, you will not ‘find yourself‘, create a better life out of nothing, nor gain the wisdom of the universe. Can you fold yourself in half and with ninja like skill calm your heart-rate to near zero? Great…but you are not a better human for doing so. Sorry kids, being a better person comes with age, values and experience, not on a rubber mat in a room with east-Indian decor. Therefore, every time Travis had some meaningless Yoda-advice such as “moving with compassion”, I would politely yell ‘shut up’ and tell him to go back to making my non-fat latte.
There is also the perpetuated myth that this form of yoga is thousands of years old. Perhaps parts are, but those sun salutations and stretch techniques have more in common with Indian gymnastics. While I am a huge fan of the health benefits of modern yoga postures, I just don’t believe yoga teachers when they say their art has been passed down through the ancients…unless they are referring to 60’s stoners.
All that nitpicking aside, Travis has created something for the masses craving a dedicated yoga program. The sets are attractive and the audio/music is very appropriate. It would be nice to have a timer bar for those of us on a schedule but that might run counter to the goal of losing yourself in the moment which Travis was aiming for,
If you’re a hardcore yoga buff then I highly recommend Ultimate Yogi. It never strays from its premise even though the workouts don’t have a lot to distinguish themselves. If you like variety or prefer to have trainers with a more pragmatic worldview, there’s a good chance Travis will get on that last nerve. Newcomers especially may wish to first consider more lightweight options or they will be left in the dust.