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Duncan Wong Yogic Arts - Awakening Level
Duncan Wong Yogic Arts - Awakening Level
Actor: Duncan Wong
Director: James Wvinner
Genres: Exercise & Fitness
NR     2006     2hr 1min

Celebrities train with him and take him on tour. Now you can experience Duncan Wong’s exhilarating mind-body workout no matter what your fitness level. Yogic Arts? blends science, spirit, and art—celebrating tenets of the ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Duncan Wong
Director: James Wvinner
Genres: Exercise & Fitness
Sub-Genres: Yoga
Studio: Acorn Media Pub Inc
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 05/16/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 1min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Is "Awakening Level" worth getting up for?
Erik Olson | Ridgefield, WA United States | 07/08/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"As a black-belt karate practitioner, I enjoyed the fusion of hard-style martial arts and yoga in Cameron Shayne's excellent "Budokon for Beginners" workout. So when I saw "Awakening Level," I hoped for another quality routine along the same lines, but with the flow of a soft martial arts style. Unfortunately, despite some highlights, I was disappointed.

The "Yoga Journal" DVD cover blurb trumpeting the workout's martial arts aspect is possibly accurate on some esoteric level. But in a practical sense, "Awakening Level" doesn't contain much of what I'd consider to be martial arts techniques (hand strikes, standard kicks, blocks, etc.). Instead, it's mainly a flowing form of yoga with some gung-fuish hand positions and a stance or two. Indeed, the gung fu demonstration is about as much martial arts as you'll see on the DVD. That left a sour taste in my mouth.

I did the two thirty-minute workouts, and overall they are decent yoga routines (I merely watched the hour-long one - it contains parts from the other two, as well as unique segments like "Wrist Therapy" and "Shoulder Session," plus one instance of generic kicking while kneeling). On the plus side, Mr. Wong calls with a soothing voice, a number of familiar poses like Warrior have some intriguing modifications, and I discovered some new hip openers that I liked.

But the flaws of the routine detract from its benefits. For example, the black and white photography was interesting, but the funky lighting and side camera angle made it tough to see hand and foot placement. In addition, Mr. Wong moves so fast through some of the poses that I found it difficult to keep up, especially with the added minutia of his "yogic arts" style. Sometimes he would already be in a pose, or moving into it, by the time he called out what it was. Finally, the workouts are broken down into segments. When a segment completes, the screen goes black, and then the title of the next segment appears. This detracted from the flowing theme I was looking for.

The back of the DVD claims that this workout is for beginner to intermediate level practitioners. However, a beginner would become quickly discouraged (and possibly injured) trying to deal with Mr. Wong's fast pace and more advanced poses. I'm in pretty good shape, and I've done a number of yoga workouts at home and in the classroom. But neck-bending poses like the Reverse Tripod still make me nervous, especially after I tweaked my upper back trying it once during a Baron Baptiste DVD workout. Mr. Wong has no assistants to demonstrate modifications, so having the experience to improvise your own (unless he suggests one, which isn't often) is probably beyond most beginners.

I may revisit "Awakening Level" to break up my exercise routine, but it'll never be on my go-to DVD workout stack. The gold standard of martial arts and yoga fusion is still "Budokon for Beginners." Mr. Wong is a graceful and talented yogi, and I'm hoping his next release will incorporate more martial arts and have less of the issues listed above. Namaste!"
Interesting meld of yoga and martial arts
Talie | Northern CA | 06/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"background about me - I consider myself at an advanced beginner level for yoga. I tend to like medium paced flow practices along with relaxation/restorative practices. Favorites include: Total Yoga the Original, Yoga Shakti, Pure Tranquility, and Yoga in the Garden of Serenity.

setting - The practice is filmed in black and white in what I assume is a yoga studio. The overall background has a buddhist theme.

The DVD includes one full length practice as well as two shorter practices. The DVD is well chaptered and is filmed in widescreen. Set up is similar to Yoga Shakti where each chapter is titled and makes up a separate part into itself. There is no yoga matrix however.

Chapters are:

Prana Prep
Bandha Basics
Energy Practice
Wrist Therapy
Shoulder Session
Warrior Salutation
Standing Set
Gluteal Ground Work
Hip Opening and Core Floor Flow Series
Backbends and Finishing Poses

The practice begins with breathing exercises. Duncan does an excellent job with this, going through a number of different breathing techniques. Since he is not wearing a shirt you are really able to see what he is doing with his body to deepen his breath. From there he precedes into a variety of different poses.

The practice is a flowing routine, but not in the classical sense. There are no typical sun salutations, and Duncan seems to give a martial arts feel to the standard yoga poses. There are very few down dogs but many kneeling dogs to upward dogs (I'm not sure that is the correct term.)

The practice involves a lot of elements that I have not seen in other practices. The wrist therapy section was excellent and the Gluteal Ground Work reminded me of Billy Blanks meets iballet (I appreciated the uniqueness of it).

Truthfully I'm having a hard time describing the practice because the routine is very different from the norm. My overall impression is that I really enjoyed it. It is completely different from anything else I have and definitely fills a void. I've discovered a new favorite yoga move, the scorpion. =)

gripes - My one big quibble with the practice is that at times it feels like Duncan is trying to accomplish too much and doesn't give you time to enjoy this wonderful pose he has just shown. Also since the practice is geared towards beginners, intermediates, there are portions where you are just begging him to go into crow or a full down dog, but it just doesn't go there.

summary - This is a unique practice that I really enjoy. I really look forward to trying his more advanced routine.

Energizing yoga, qi gong, body awarness & healing
Lena, LMT | Nassau, NY | 06/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The entire DVD is played in B&W in a beautiful studio w/Eastern sculptures & art. Duncan is on a simple hardwood floor with a natural mat & narrating the movements with simple, beautiful Eastern fused music. It has an artsy feel, beautiful use of lighting, very beautiful. The menu selections are: Full Workout, Awareness Level workout, Enlightening level workout, Chapter Index, Bonus Fatures.

Intro: 2 min
Parana Prep: kneeling & deep abdominl breathing or kundalini breathing & other very deep breathing w/crossed legs for 2 min. Bandha Basics: More beathing while standing & torso to knees for 3 min.
Energy Practice: while standing, matching a myraid of arm movements w/breath. QI gong like. Some squats, cat stance for a second, partial arm eagle yoga poses, great arm/shoulder stretches & spinal/side stretches for 4 min.
Wrist Therapy: Using child's pose, downard dog, kneeling, hands/knees & finger & wrist movments to help rid of tension & stiffness from wrists for 5 min.
Shoulder Session: modified lungeshands/knees w/shoulder stretches, great idea of partially standing on foot to gently pull the shoulder, w/elbows/hands on floor, on knees, lift knee to stretch shoulder & etc. for 6 min.
Warrior Series: chair pose, crouching tiger, crow pose prep (but full crow is very hard to actualy execute), downward dog, warrior 1, shoulder stretching, cobra, lifting leg in downward dog, moutain, etc. for 5 min.
Standing Set: moutain, child, cobra, warrior 1, warrior 2, side angle, triangle, leg stretch, twisted kneeling side angle, side angle, lifted leg on hands/knees, etc., repeated on other side for 5 min.
Gluteal Ground Work: hands/knees, kicking straight leg out & towards head, side kicks, stretching hips, then other side for 3 min.
Hip Opening & Core Flow Series: knee to chest stretching in many directions, supine & straight legs raised w/arm movements & then crunches & other ab strengtheners, spinal stretches, plow, etc. & repeated on other side for 8 min.
Back Bends & Finishing Poses: knee to chest, plow, rocking, bridge, almost half wheel, plow, fish, downard dog, cobra, etc. etc., breathing & breathing while holding body up, reclined butterfly/cobler's pose for 7 min.
Savasana: corpse pose relaxation & guided meditation & breathing & being aware of your body.

Awareness Level 30 min: has Energy Exercises, Warrior Series, Standing Set, Back bends & finishing poses & Savasana.

Enlightening Level 30 min: Parana Prep, Bandha Basics, Warrior Series, Hip Opening, Back Bends & Finishing touches & Savasana for 5 min.

Gung Fu Demonstration: awesome kicks, balance & strength with him talking over about philosophy, community, what martial arts gives you for 2 & 1/2 min.
What are Mudras: the old definition & new term about hand placement to help pose & body awarness, that healing pressure points & striking points are the same, it's the intention that decides how the body is effected, etc. for 2 min while showing some hard yoga poses.
What is a Bandha: old definition & core muscle contraction, he explains it beautifully while showing some very hard yoga poses for 2 min.
Downward Scorpion Adjustments: Same studio, a female, with her trying to get the right aliment of the move which looks kinda like downward dog w/raised bent knee & him helping to adjust her.

Beautiful pictures seperating each portion, he is great w/body awareness, knowing muscles to stretch & best way before moving on. There are many stretches I've never seen before that felt great. This is best for people who are somewhat active & basic knowledge of yoga & not too many limitations in joints. Other then muscle tiredness, I had no trouble keeping up or doing the positions or exercises.

The only part I was disapointed in was the Energy exercises since there are so many arm movements & very few cues & all done normal speed 2x. Other stretches also could use more cues to make sure you stretch right, if you don't fel it, you're in the wrong position. I do not in any way recommend this for people who've never done yoga before.
I felt much more energized, calm, centered & grounded whenver doing this workout. I recommend this to anyone with decent flexibility, into increasing their body awareness & finding a way to feel more positive throughtout the day/week.

You can get idea of this DVD with very beautiful video clips on his site at yogicarts for wrist therapy, warrior series building, etc. that look similar, but not exactly to this dvd."
My two cents
Julie H. Rose | 02/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I'm tempted to give this DVD a 4 star review. I do agree with other reviewers that it moves a bit too quickly, not because it's too fast to do, but because one simply can't learn what Duncan Wong is doing at such a pace.

However, I've watched the DVD a few times without doing anything and because of that, I've come to be able to do it along with him, and it's got a good flow (for me, subjectively speaking, of course). I wish it was longer and I would like it if the poses were held longer, but that's my taste.

I like that it's in black and white because it's "different" and it IS quite aesthetically beautiful. I find Duncan Wong's love of his own body to be quite amusing. I would be in love with myself, too, if I had a body like his! But there is something rather funny about it; I can imagine the Madonna of her earlier years (think "Vogue") presenting a workout like this!

I would recommend this DVD just for it's being different. And in spite of my making fun of Wong's "vogueing", I actually find his finely honed body quite inspiring."