If you're bored with your current collection of yoga DVDs, let Jillian Michaels inject her fiery tough love into your next workout. In her newest offering, Jillian Michaels Yoga Inferno ($15), this Biggest Loser trainer promises, and certainly delivers, two "intense" workouts.
Yoga and Jillian seem like incongruent concepts, but surprisingly, the Jillian Michaels brand of no-nonsense motivation translates well to these two 30-minute sequences. For those seeking traditional yoga, look elsewhere, but if you want to bring some spice and extra cardio to your home practice, keep reading to learn what to expect from each challenging workout.
Workout No. 1: HIIT
When the segment began, I was a little put off by Jillian and her students rocking big designer sunglasses, looking a little "too cool for school." Jillian immediately apologizes for their very antiyoga appearance. She thought that filming in the desert would be beautiful, but no one could see anything on set. I'm glad we cleared that up from the get-go; now on to the yoga!
The workout kicks things off with a move Jillian calls "Sun Swings" instead of traditional Sun Salutations. This move flows from Chair Pose, a narrow-stance squat stance with your arms up, to a move Jillian refers to as "Phoenix Pose," a similar stance where your arms swing back behind your body, that really brought the heat to my core and hips. From here, it moves on to Mountain Pose "crunches," a move that is indicative of what the rest of the workout looks like. Jillian calls out a traditional yoga pose, and soon you're transitioning into 30-second intervals incorporating cardio moves you would never see in a yoga class — think pulsing in a standing balance or a plank flowing into a series of twisted mountain climbers. While it's all challenging, Jillian's sequencing is smart; there is plenty of time for recovery in Standing Forward Bend and Downward Dog.
Many times I find yoga DVDs to feel a little lethargic, but it's impossible to ignore Jillian on screen. I also appreciated that with every instruction or new move, Jillian gives an equal number of modifications for beginners and more advanced students — something I rarely see in yoga or fitness DVDs. This is where all that Biggest Loser energy and experience serve her so well. The workouts are challenging, but they feel accessible to all, regardless of your level. By the end of this quick and effective workout, I was feeling warm, open, and relaxed.
Workout No. 2: Light Weights
For the second workout, Jillian incorporates light hand weights for extra strength training power. If you're an absolute beginner, Jillian does suggest to forgo the weights altogether (smart move!) but says that intermediate yogis should use three-pound weights or, if you're "completely out-of-your-mind insane," use five-pounders. (Jillian and the advanced student in the video use threes.)
Both workouts have similar moves and sequencing, but the second sequence is absolutely more advanced. Even the warmup has twice as many vinyasas and Chaturangas (challenging yoga push-ups) as the first sequence. At the eight-minute mark, we picked up the weights and the real fun began. I wasn't sure how I was feeling at first, but then Jillian shouted out the move that changed my perspective: a Half-Bound Lotus (she calls Figure 4) with bicep curls. You curl up in the Half-Bound Lotus, then sit back and press the weights forward for a challenging squat variation. This move required a lot of balance, but it was well-designed and, strangely, fun. From this point on, I stayed enthused for the rest of the workout — if only to see what Jillian would throw my way next.
Both workouts are similar in nature, but Jillian never says whether the two should only be performed on their own or if you could combine them together for an hour-long workout. I would have liked to know if this was an option, but each certainly stood strong on its own.
I'll be honest: I am a Jillian Michaels fan. I like her tone and her energy, and I was thrilled when she came back on The Biggest Loser last year. But I'm also a yogi. I love a relaxing and luxurious class as much as the next woman, but sometimes you want to sweat, move, and push yourself. This DVD somehow manages to toe the line in order to find that perfect sweet spot for an effective and quick yoga-inspired workout.