By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 07, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Yoga can be intimidating. But keep this in mind: Those incredibly flexible people performing wild contortions with their limbs? Those are the instructors; it's their job to know how to do that without breaking the Zen-like trance on their faces.

The reality is that you, as the student, don't need to be a fully certified yogi to reap the benefits from its practice -- far from it. And that's exactly what Milwaukee yoga instructor Mary Bruck set out to prove with her new locally-produced DVD series, "Yoga and Food For You."

As a yoga practitioner for the last ten years, Bruck has heard them all when it comes to excuses.

"I don't have enough time," "I don't have a body built for yoga," or "Every time I try to eat healthy food, I fall off because it seems like I'm always depriving myself."

She's taken them to heart, and addressed each concern with her latest project. To start, her DVD series is a compilation of relatively short yoga routines -- most yoga DVDs on the market require at least 45 minutes of your time (and can last up to an hour and half.)

She's selected several common ailments -- headaches, fatigue, over stimulation, depression, insomnia, tight shoulders, tight hips, digestive issues -- and put together a 15-minute routine for each one. If you've only got time for one in the morning before work, fine. If you've got an hour to kill in the evening, bundle the routines to create a longer practice.

The over stimulation set, for example, is good for those returning home from work with frazzled nerves. To help you calm your nervous system, Bruck leads you through various gentle folding poses meant for relaxation.

On the end of the spectrum, her depression routine serves as a means for energizing the body through strong, invigorating poses such as sun salutations and warrior.

One thing she makes clear: you certainly do not need to be suffering from any of these ailments to practice the routines. Practicing yoga regularly is a big part of general "wellness" means in Eastern medicine. On the whole, it's more focused on preventative action rather than much of Western medicine's reactionary take. An best of all, any of her routines are doable by anyone, from the novice to theuber flexible guru.

Bruck then takes this concept of wellness a step further by incorporating tips and advice on diet. She introduces Ayurveda -- the sister signs of yoga.

"It's how to heal and balance the body with yoga, nutrition, diet choices and herbs," she says."Basically, you're trying to bring balance back to the body with nutrition."

Her DVD comes with a separate CD that includes several Ayurvedic recipes she's bought the rights to. All the recipes are meat-free, but she says you don't have to be a vegetarian to adhere to her advice. "They work well as side dishes, desserts or snacks -- or you can add meat to many of them."

Others just take the herb and spice recommendations and work them into their own recipes while preparing meals. It's a simple and realistic way to improve balance in your body without having to dedicate more time than you've got in a day.

"Yoga and Food For You" is available at Beans and Barley, Good Harvest in Waukesha and Giraffe Limited, a gift boutique at 527 E. Silver Spring Dr. It's also available via her Web site,

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”