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Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Sacred Movement Center for Yoga and Healing
245 South Main Street
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-7676

Abandon the competitive mind-set.
Yoga is absolutely non-competitive. It is not just a "work out" it is not just "cross-training" it is a spiritual practice which makes the body stronger, more flexible, and generally much healthier. But the aim is to calm the mind, open the heart, and accelerate our spiritual evolution.

Keep your eyes on your own practice.
We practice from the inside-out. When you can finish your practice without knowing what the person next to you was wearing or even who else was in the room, you'll know you were truly focused.

Be kind and loving to yourself by accepting where you are.
Rest sometimes. "Do what you can, with what you have, with where you are." Remember: Wherever, whenever in our life we begin yoga is perfect. No experience or flexibility required.

when i pushed open the glass doors and walked into the lobby, i knew i was in a special place. after all, this was where revered yoga instructors such as shiva rea, erich schiffmann, and max strom held court. the space was beautiful -- a tiled entryway, high ceilings, light walls, dark cabinetry, polished wood studio floors, and an abundance of indian sculpture and artwork. a hindu mantra was playing faintly from the overhead speakers, and from behind one of the closed studio doors came the sound of "om" being chanted by the students. ah... a truly sacred experience.

i was here because i was lured by an introductory deal that sounded too good to be true: 30 days of unlimited yoga for only $30. that's a dollar a day, assuming of course that i could practice everyday. unfortunately, i did have a daily 9-5 job plus two late afternoons of physical therapy a week, so i was limited to taking classes on the weekends and maybe two other nights a week. however, if i just showed up once a week, i would more than break even compared to the single class rate, so i handed over my credit card and signed up.

by this time, i was armed with my own yoga equipment: a manduka purple lite mat and a barefoot canvas yoga mat bag (both of which i had spent seemingly endless hours researching on the internet, first to decide on which brand/models to get, then to find online vendors who could beat the regular retail prices), and was also clothed appropriately in a pair of yoga pants and a stretchy camisole top that i picked up at the local american apparel store. i now looked like an honest-to-goodness yoga student, but would i be able to keep up with the rest of them?

it seemed appropriate that my first class at sacred movement would be a level 1 class. after all, i had just completed the fargo marathon the weekend before and was still a bit sore from my 6+ hour walk. my knee wasn't particularly happy about it (and neither was my physical therapist, steve paulseth, who just groaned, knowing that not even he could knock any sense into my stubborn head). just like the teacher at santa monica yoga, this first teacher asked around if anyone had any injuries (again, my hand went up as i explained my knee problem) and she continually monitored me as we progressed through the class. very nice. i was getting used to being a special-ed student...

for the 30-day period, i tried to take as many classes as i could with as many different teachers as possible. and they were all wonderful. by the time the pass expired, i had "graduated" to level 2 classes. there were students like me who were still learning the ropes, so to speak, but many looked like they had been practicing for years. they were the ones who made everything look effortless; not only could they touch their hands to their toes, but they could also touch their noses to their knees... while smiling serenely. as for me, i was finally gaining back the flexibility in my knee. my right-sided poses almost mirrored my left-sided poses. and best of all, i was contentedly "doing what i could, with what i had, with where i was."

a big selling point (pardon the pun) was their in-house boutique. they sold CD's (complete with listening stations), DVD's, books, yoga mats and bags, yoga props, jewelry, artwork, and clothing. at least once a week, i would stop by the sale bin and check what new items were marked down 50%. and more often than not, i would end up with a new top or bottom by OMgirl, prana, hardtail, or be present. this yoga thing was quickly becoming an expensive habit!

the sacred movement vibe was right and i felt that i had found my yoga home, but it made sense for me to check out more places before settling down. whenever i'd tell people that i was taking a yoga class in santa monica, they'd almost always ask if i was going to yoga works, so i figured, what the heck, i'd give it a shot:

studio - yoga works
class - with four studios alone in the los angeles area, the possibilities were unlimited!
cost - a new student deal almost as good: $40 for 30 days of unlimited classes, with a 20% KCRW discount on individual classes (but sadly, not on a series pass)

more adventures through the yoga frontier were looming ahead...