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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

need advice?

Yoga Works Los Angeles

Larchmont Village
230 1/2 N. Larchmont Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 464-1276

1426 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 393-5150

Main St
2215 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 664-6470

1256 Westwood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 234-1200

website: www.yogaworks.com

The Yoga Works story began back in 1987, when in a sunlit studio on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, Maty Ezraty and Alan Finger decided they could change the way Yoga was being taught in America. For the first time, students would sample a range of different styles of Yoga under one roof. They would meet experienced teachers from a myriad of disciplines. They would show up unschooled, pick up a mat, and get started on their first day...
Chuck Miller soon joined with Finger and Ezraty and the trio’s vision - to make a home for all the various yoga systems - heralded a new era for the practice in the U.S. and contributed to its evolution from the esoteric to the mainstream. With a charter to make yoga accessible to all, they set about combining styles and systems and even opened an in-studio store, where students unfamiliar with the ways of yoga could purchase props and clothes they never knew they needed...
In 2003, yoga aficionados Rob Wrubel and George Lichter, the men behind Internet success story Ask Jeeves, came in to refinance Yoga Works and establish a national yoga school specializing in high-quality yoga in a variety of styles. Yoga Works now comprises fourteen studios that, together, offer more than a thousand yoga classes a week.

the attraction of having a yoga works series of classes is that their four los angeles studio locations were all convenient to me: the montana location was only 2 miles northwest of my home, main street was 2 miles southwest, larchmont was 3 miles from work, and westwood was just about halfway between work and home. i could practically be anywhere at anytime and find a suitable class nearby. so their intro special of $40 for a 30-day unlimited class pass sounded well worth it. not only that, but the first class was free.

i checked out their class schedules posted on the internet and came across a sunday evening level 2 candlelight flow class at the main street location. it sounded interesting enough, so i drove down and signed in.

i was assigned a yoga adviser, whose role was described thusly: "The work of a yoga adviser extends from helping students find the right class to explaining the history and science of Yoga. The adviser can match you with the teacher, class or system of yoga that’s right for you; provide answers that can make your first class less foreign; or discuss a physical or emotional experience that may have surprised you during class." seems to me that i was able to do that just fine on my own at the other two yoga studios with the assistance of the people at the front desk. is this what happens when yoga goes corporate?

i walked into the windowless room with the rest of the students while the teacher went around lighting votive candles on the floor. it was quite dim, and maybe that was a good thing, because once the class got going, i realized that i was in over my head. like the energizer bunny, we kept moving and moving and moving. just as i got into one pose, we were transitioning into another. so this was what flow was all about? hmm... while i wasn't at that level yet in my practice, i figured it was something i could aim for. in the meantime, i struggled to keep up. maybe i should have consulted with that adviser...

despite that iffy start, i did end up signing up for a month of unlimited yoga. bumping the difficulty down a notch, my next class was a level 1 class at the montana location. it was a chance to check out the location surrounded by multi-million dollar homes. not a bad place to be. maybe i would run into a celeb or two? not this time. oh well.

the teacher was a highly-regarded instructor, so i felt i was in good hands. the problem was that the class was TOO basic for my taste. she went into excruciating detail as she explained how to get into each pose; it seemed like this was a class for first-time yoga students. i gamely followed along, but kept thinking: if a level 2 class was too hard, but a level 1 was too easy, was there such a thing as a level 1.5? goldilocks (that would be me) would have to continue her search for something that was just right...

after consulting the handful of printed class schedules (one for montana/main, one for westwood, and one for larchmont), i kept trying out various classes at various locations at various times. i even consulted with my yoga adviser (who pretty much looked at the class schedules like i did to suggest classes i should take). i finally settled on a class that worked for me: amy lafond's tuesday/thursday level 1&2 hatha blend class at the larchmont location. getting to class, though, was a pain and a half since i had to fight rush hour traffic to get there after work (it's amazing how it took an hour to drive THREE miles, find a parking spot, and get to the studio ten minutes before class started!) her class was small enough so she could give us personalized attention, and she covered a variety of poses from the most basic to some that were quite challenging. and whenever my form wasn't quite up to par, she was always there to give me an adjustment or to offer advice.

as much as i enjoyed learning from amy, i couldn't see continuing with a class that wasn't very easy to get to nor easy to get home from (larchmont was east of the office and i lived west). it was ironic that with all the locations that were literally a stone's throw away from home, i ended up at a place that was the farthest out. so when the pass expired, i didn't bother renewing it. maybe again in the future, but not now.

with no other introductory specials readily available, i decided to put a hold on the search and spend more time getting settled in my practice.