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Monday, December 26, 2005

hour of power

YAS (Yoga and Spinning)
1101 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 396-6993

website: www.go2yas.com

no chanting - no granola - no sanskrit

in the past, i had driven by the building with the big YAS sign quite frequently, so when i heard that my friend nathan (another sidelined runner) was taking yoga classes there, i decided to see what it was all about. according to him, it was exactly what he wanted: the stretching and the strengthening without the chanting and the meditation. i guess there are people out there who get creeped out by all that spiritual stuff...

i checked out their website and found some background info on kimberly fowler, the founder of yoga and spinning:

kimberly’s decades of yoga practice and competitive experience as a triathlete were the foundation of a studio with a focus on yoga for athletes. YAS Yoga and Spinning Center, in Venice, California, has yoga and Spinning® classes daily. Additionally, kimberly has created a class specifically for athletes that reduces the risk of injury and enhances athletic performance. YOGA for ATHLETES® is a practice combining elements of Iyengar, Ashtanga and Power Yoga. Selected poses are sequenced to benefit the athletic body by focusing on the hips, hamstrings, core abdominals and upper body. “These are the areas that need special attention in athletes. They are used and abused in sports,” she says.

i keyed on the words athletes, injury, and performance and continued to click on the site links. and lo and behold, there was an offer for a free class!

i printed out the coupon, and the first chance i got, i drove out to YAS and traded it in for one of kimberly's evening classes.

unlike the other yoga studios that made you feel yoga when you walked in, you couldn't help but think gym when you saw the roomful of spinning bikes by the entrance. i could see how athletes would feel perfectly at home here.

since i had dropped by right after getting off work, i looked for the bathroom so i could change. and wouldn't you know it -- it was co-ed, with frosted glass doors on the stalls! shades of ally mcbeal! i could see how men would feel perfectly at home here...

long story short, the 60-minute yoga class was just that -- short. we went through the usual yoga moves: plank, up dog, down dog, warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle. and it seemed to me that most of the students had the routine memorized because they were moving into the next pose even before kimberly called it out.

this comment from kimberly's website explains her philosophy:

I used to go to classes and the teacher would be wrapping her foot around her head, describing the pose in Sanskrit, while the class just sat around and watched. I didn’t relate – as an athlete I wasn’t going to have that flexible a body. I wanted to practice yoga, not just watch it. I wanted to keep my body strong and injury free.

I also used to go to classes that were 90 minutes. They often stretched into two-hour classes in which the instructor would spend too much time talking about how to live my life. My time is precious and I asked myself – How can I make this better? How can I get everything I need in an hour? How can I modernize the practice of yoga? How can I have fun while doing it?

And out of this experience I developed YOGA for ATHLETES, a one-hour class geared toward the muscle groups that tend to be the tightest and most frequently strained by athletes. These poses are specifically designed for the strong, athletic body. The class is designed for beginners as well as more advanced students with the option of a more challenging component to each pose. YOGA for ATHLETES will strengthen your body and increase flexibility in tight muscles.

honestly, this class didn't do it for me. it was too sterile; it didn't give me the spiritual uplifting that i got from sacred movement classes, nor the "let's try a new pose" experience that i'd get at santa monica yoga, and it definitely was not the high-energy, high-sweat class that i relished at maha yoga.

the yoga for athletes class at YAS does have a strong following, including my friend nathan who still attends spin and yoga classes every now and then. but then again, being the type A personality that he is, he isn't the kind to sit and meditate; he wants to get things over with quickly and move on to the next task. this place is perfect for him.