Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
Click here to view the accidental yogist's map of los angeles yoga studios in a full-size page

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

this practice is partially funded by KCRW

it's winter pledge drive time again at KCRW, the local NPR radio station. for the past four or five years now, i've volunteered to answer the phone lines at the studio in the basement of nearby santa monica college. and it's been a very rewarding experience, not only because i've been donating my time to help them raise funds to keep the station on the air, but because i continue to get more out of it than i put in. or so it seems.

if you've been following my posts, you'll know that i've been getting great discounts on my yoga classes, courtesy of the KCRW fringe benefits card. everyone who donates $50 or more to the station gets the card which entitles them to discounts at stores and restaurants throughout the LA area. if you want to be considered a savvy angeleno, you MUST carry one of these in your wallet! you'll end up paying less for food, clothing, books, music, and yes, even yoga. and if you add up all the money you've saved throughout the year, you'll find that you've more than recovered the cost of your $50 investment.

for example, here are my yoga savings so far:

center for yoga (aka yogaworks larchmont) - $2 off individual classes
city yoga - 15% off individual classes
forrest yoga - 20% off individual classes and series
liberation yoga - 20% off individual classes and series
maha yoga - 15% off individual classes, 10% off series
sacred movement/exhale yoga - 15% off individual classes and series
santa monica yoga - $2 off individual classes, 10% off series
yas - 20% off individual classes, 10% off series
yoga works - 20% off individual classes and series

i recently landed a fantastic deal, thanks to my KCRW discount. for christmas, my sister chose to give me a series of 5 classes at sacred movement. the regular price was $70 for 5 ($14 per class). subtracting the KCRW 15% discount knocked it down to $59.50 ($11.90 per class). after throwing in the "buy a series, get 2 free classes" exhale coupon i got in the mail, i ended up with a total per-class cost of $8.50, almost half of what a class purchased singly would cost!

the pledge drive continues through monday, the 6th. i'll be working almost every evening between now and then, and while i'm there, i'll be enjoying even more benefits accorded to all pledge drive volunteers: free food courtesy of local restaurants (it's akin to being on a cruise ship, with an endless supply of food), free CD's and station stuff, discount coupons to stores and restaurants... the list goes on. i've worked a variety of shifts and have had a chance to meet almost all the station DJ's (and it's true what they say about DJ's looking nowhere like their on-air voices). i've also met an eclectic variety of volunteers, from entertainment types in-between gigs to retired people trying keeping themselves occupied to those who somehow manage to find time in their busy schedules to help out.

i may be putting in a lot of volunteer hours, but i'm really just giving back to them what they've given to me. sounds like a fair exchange, doesn't it?

Friday, January 27, 2006

a humbling experience

Yoga House
11 West State Street
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 403-3961

A tranquil space; the gleam of hardwood floors; a place to breathe again, to nourish and strengthen your body and mind, to lift your spirit.

A rich variety of yoga traditions - beginning to advanced, gentle to challenging. To guide you, a certified staff of knowledgeable, experienced instructors. Yoga mats and props, clothing, books and media: everything you need to practice.
A quiet moment to sit after class and sip a cup of tea. Renewed, relaxed, alive.
Welcome to Yoga House.

there's nothing like taking an ashtanga class to remind one's self of what it was once like to be a novice yoga practitioner.

yesterday evening, i chose to take an ashtanga prep class instead of the level 1-2 hatha yoga class i had driven all the way to pasadena to take. ok, so maybe i was missing out on taking that class with yoga works trainer jeanne heileman, but then again, since i was so overwhelmed in bela lipat's ashtanga class while i was in manila, i had hoped that taking the "prep" class might help me ease into the poses so that i wouldn't appear so clueless the next time i took an ashtanga class. whenever that next time might be.

since it was a last-minute swap, i had no idea who the teacher was nor what her background was all about. i trusted that since the yoga house had a highly-qualified group of instructors on staff, i would be in good hands. and i probably was, although from the way it went for me, i really wouldn't have known it.

our instructor for the evening was bibi mcgill, a young rocker-type with BIG hair, tattoos running up and down her arms, and a silver stud on her chin. bibi introduced herself to the three students who made up the class (which meant for very personalized instruction that evening) and asked us about our yoga experience. all of us had been practicing yoga for a while, but none of us had really done ashtanga before (two of us had taken just ONE class prior).

after getting us centered with our breathing, she started us off with an om, followed by a call-and-response chant. when she realized that we weren't responding to her call, she offered to sing the entire chant solo so we could hear it in its entirety. at least i didn't have to make a fool of myself. yet.

we were supposed to cover the primary ashtanga sequence as illustrated in these handy-dandy cheat sheets:
Primary Series Page1
Primary Series Page2

we went through the opening sets of sun salutations: surya namaskar A and B. so far, so good. although when she said "jump or float to chaturanga", i would neither jump nor float but merely stepped back; since she didn't seem to mind, neither did i.

then we did some bending and balancing through the standing series of poses, followed by some twisting and binding through the seated series. i've been told many times that i shouldn't compare myself to others in the class, but when the female to my right was bending and binding so effortlessly and the male to my left was tirelessly moving from one arm balance to another, i began to feel totally inadequate. so maybe she DID have balance problems and he sometimes had flexibility problems, but i still felt out of their league. or was i just being too hard on myself?

realizing that we were short on time, bibi had us skip the second half of the seated series and go straight to the finishing series of poses. luckily for me, these last poses were familiar (and doable), except when we had to go into lotus then lift our entire torsos off the ground with our arms, and all i could do was lift my butt; i couldn't seem to get my knees off the ground. argh.

bibi was very upbeat, positive, and helpful. she emphathized with us and told us that it really does take some time to get good at the ashtanga poses. i guess it's something i can aim to be proficient at eventually, but for now, i think i'll keep working on my strength and flexibility before trying to contort my body into weird and unusual poses.

by the way, i found bibi mcgill's website. turns out she's a guitarist who teaches yoga on the side. maybe she should promote her day job by playing some of her music in class? she could start a new trend!

as for the yoga house itself, i thought it was a wonderful space in a wonderful city. in fact, earlier that day, i had visited the norton simon museum in pasadena to view the Durga: Avenging Goddess, Nurturing Mother exhibit. i found it a great tie-in to my yoga class field trip, especially since it featured artwork from india, tibet, and nepal that depicted the great hindu goddess.

the yoga house is freeway-close and very easy to get to, although parking in the residential area can be difficult. the yoga house does have its own parking lot; just make sure you pick up a parking permit from the front desk and place it on your dashboard before you leave your car.

i can now add another yoga studio to my list...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

one last push

i spent some time this morning trying to figure out my yoga schedule for the next week or so. even if there is an over-abundance of yoga studios in los angeles, there are only so many that i can or will visit. and since i know that all my free weekdays will eventually come to an end, i've decided to make one last push to try to hit as many studios and instructors as possible... as soon as possible.

here's my planned hit list:

1/25missy costello
(sub for
tom morley)
maha yogapass 
1/26jeanne heilemanyoga houseFREE first class 
1/28meaghan townsendmaha yoga$20arm balance
1/29will dupreysanta monica
1/30saul david rayeshakti's elementsdonation 
1/31julian walkersanta monica
2/1steven earthearth's power yogadonation 
2/2peter barnettblack dog
20% KCRW
2/3ross rayburnyoga inside out15% KCRW discount 
2/5rick colellainsight yogapassnew student
$15 for 3 classes!
2/6matthew reyeslululemon athleticaFREEhip hop
yoga night 

by the way, this saturday, january 28th, is yoga day USA 2006.

here's the reason for yoga day, according to the website:

Those of us who practice yoga regularly don't need to be convinced of its benefits. We have learned that it helps to keep us focused on the present and have discovered the power of the heightened connection it fosters between mind and body.

We know it helps to melt stress away, relax tight muscles and ease pain. We know that because we practice, our bodies function better; we breathe more deeply and deliver more oxygen to our cells; we are stronger, fitter, and more flexible. We know it even can help us manage our weight.

We know it can do the same for the millions of Americans who have thought about giving yoga a try. That's why Yoga Alliance created Yoga Day USA in 1999. The annual nationwide celebration is designed to raise awareness about yoga's benefits by offering free or low cost workshops in communities all across the country. Many events also are benefits for charitable organizations so you have two great reasons to participate. Just click on the "Locate a Workshop Near You" to find a Yoga Day USA Participant.

the website has a list of yoga studios with special workshops on that day, but what's puzzling to me is that NONE of the studios i've ever been to are on that list. considering that the owners and/or teachers at the studios are big names in the yoga scene, i can't believe that they aren't joining the group in promoting the yoga cause. hmmm...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

it's all in the mix

it's been almost two weeks since i got back from vacation, and i've continued with the yoga sampling i started during the holidays. the resulting mix was excellent; i got my fair share of stretching and sweating as well as sacred chanting and hip-hop grooves.

here's where i've been recently:

1/14chappy footeexhale
santa monica
1/16matthew reyesyogamattpass 
1/17venezia carotenutoforrest yogaFREEgrand opening week
1/18ally hamiltonpower yoga westdonation 
1/19heather onoriforrest yogaFREEgrand opening week
1/20rie katagiriforrest yogaFREEgrand opening week
1/21daniel stewartsanta monica yogapassentertainment
card coupon:
50% off
3 classes!
1/22matthew reyesmaha yogapasssubbing for
steve ross
all month
1/23bryan kestpower yoga eastdonation 
1/24erich schiffmannsacred movementpass 

on the new year's resolution front, i've inched closer to my arm balance goals. it's helped that many of those teachers had us working on my problem poses: daniel stewart spent a good amount of time helping us get into crow pose (i actually managed to get BOTH feet off the ground for a couple of seconds!) and erich schiffmann showed us different ways of getting into handstand (he spotted me as i flung my legs and tentatively held them up. yay!). i also plan to take an arm balance and headstand workshop this saturday with meaghan townsend at maha yoga.

there's hope for me yet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

a yoga fashionista

it was bound to happen.

looking back at my sporting goods shopping habits, i'm convinced that my need to buy equipment and apparel has been my way of committing myself to a new sport. in other words, the more i buy, the more committed i am to getting better at the sport.

take for example the time i decided i was going to take up running. not only was i going to learn how to run around the block without getting winded, but i was going to train to run a MARATHON. my first investment was a pair of good running shoes, purchased from a reputable running shoe store. the salesperson made me run around in various shoe models, and when we agreed we had found the perfect pair, i handed over my credit card and he handed me my shoes. i was now an honest-to-goodness runner and had the shoes to prove it.

then i started accumulating running clothes. first it was a basic pair of shorts, a singlet, and some sweat-wicking socks. sensible stuff. then i started "rewarding" myself whenever i'd sign up to run a race; i'd buy coordinating tops and bottoms, thinking that if i looked good, i'd probably run good, too. eventually, as i traveled around the country to run marathons, i found i needed more stuff. energy gels, water carriers, and anti-blister goop when i had to go the distance. tights, long-sleeved shirts, jackets, gloves, and headgear when it was cold. lightweight shirts, shorts, and visors when it was hot. and one must never forget the coordinating sports bras and socks!

the same thing happened when i took up skiing, although this time there were more things i needed to buy before my first trip up the slopes: parka, ski pants, thermal underwear, turtleneck shirts, ski socks, goggles, ski hat. after several trips using rented equipment, i decided to buy my own skis, boots, and poles. ta-da... now i was a skiier! in time, i bought more tops, more bottoms, and more accessories as ski conditions (and fashion trends) dictated. i wore form-fitting lycra pants when they were trendy, then baggy insulated pants when everyone went grunge. my neck gaiters matched my knit hats, which matched my turtlenecks. i was finding it harder and harder to store all these acquisitions in my already cramped closet.

or take the time when i decided to get scuba-certified. again, this required that i purchase the bare necessities: a dive mask, snorkel, booties, and fins. i'd be able to rent the rest of the stuff i needed, but when i heard about what divers do inside their wetsuits, especially when it gets cold, i decided to buy my own. after going on a few dive trips, i'd accumulated a waterproof camera, a dive knife, a waterproof flashlight, ankle weights, and all kinds of doodads that i could conveniently hook on to myself while i swam around with the fishies. thank goodness, however, that diving hadn't become another regular habit. otherwise, i'd probably have a BC, regulator, dive computer, and even more dive paraphernalia sitting in a bin in my garage!

as if that weren't enough, i took up yet another sport a few months ago: golf! when i started taking lessons, my first few sessions with the instructor were with rented clubs, a pair of walking shorts, and a golf shirt that i bought from the pro shop (heaven forbid i wear a shirt that was intended for another sport!). once i decided that golf and i got along well enough together, i headed for the equipment rack to buy golf clubs, again trying to get the biggest bang for my hard-earned buck. i steered clear of the popular callaway and titleist clubs and settled on a decent wilson women's beginner set from wal-mart (it was the same set a women's golf association was promoting, but at a lower price. so there!). and while i was at it, i got some golf shoes, shorts, pants, and shirts. it's all about the look, you know...

so that brings me back to my obsession with all things yoga. again, i started by investing in the basic needs: a mat, plus a couple of yoga pants and yoga tops. decent quality stuff at a decent price. then i started adding on more stuff. a mat bag, a microfiber mat towel, more clothes, even matching flipflops. my practice was looking better, so i wanted to make sure that i looked better, too.

while i did laundry this past weekend, i noticed that the majority of my yoga stuff had brand-name labels on them: hardtail, prana, be present, omgirl, puma nuala, yogitoes. so much for spending only on the basics.

and as of yesterday, i've just added another "name" to that list: lululemon, a brand i've been poo-pooing as overly high-end. i dropped by their santa monica store which happens to be just around the corner from bryan kest's power yoga studio. and now i'm the proud owner of their water-repellent yoga mat bag (it was inexpensive, but it wasn't on sale. not only that, but how often does it rain in southern california anyway?). what's even more pathetic is that i've actually marked their upcoming sale on my calendar! what has become of me? have i finally become a slave to yoga fashion?

all i can say is that it's a good thing i'm on a tight budget, otherwise, shiva only knows how far this will go...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

new beginnings

Forrest Yoga Institute
1430 Olympic Boulevard
2nd Floor
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 581-8900
website: www.forrestyoga.com

The pillars of Forrest Yoga are Breath, Strength, Integrity and Spirit. Our mission is to create in each of us a sense of freedom, a connection to our spirit and the courage to walk as our spirit dictates; thus, doing our part in "Mending the Hoop of the People". Forrest Yoga will teach you to Go Deeper, finding your Truth. Then, you to take these gifts you have earned Beyond the Mat into the rest of your life.
Forrest Yoga honors and celebrates the beauty of life and the power of Spirit. It is an inspiring yoga practice that builds flexibility, intelligence and strength while helping deepen the relationship with your authentic self. Accessing your intuition, the voice of your Spirit, builds personal strength and ushers integrity into your daily interactions with all beings. Forrest Yoga challenges you to heal, grow and welcome your Spirit home.

forrest yoga circle was another santa monica-based yoga studio that i had heard about in the past, had always wanted to visit, but never seemed to have the time to get to. at least not until i took a class with gianna carotenuto for my "holiday sampler" series (see 30 dec post). by registering for the class, i ended up on their email list, which turned out to be fortuitous timing on my part. the very next week, i received an email from them not only announcing their upcoming grand opening celebration on january 18th, but also offering FREE yoga classes for the entire week! i bet you can guess where i'll be practicing the next few days...

as i've probably said before, unemployment does have its benefits. because i'm not currently wedded to a 9-5 (or later) job, not only was i able to attend the opening festivities at their new studio on olympic boulevard, but i was also able to get there early enough to find a nearby parking spot without having to leave my keys with their valet parkers. more savings for moi!

here's what was scheduled for that evening, according to the email invite:

Help us awaken and enliven our new studio! See Ana Forrest live celebrating the awesome Dance of Spirit in a beautiful and breathtaking advanced Forrest Yoga demonstration. Participate in our Native American blessing and pipe ceremony with Heyoka Merrifield. Laugh and delight in Ana & Jonathan’s playful partner yoga exchange, and join your voice and intent with ours as we end this portion of the evening with traditional Zen and Native American chanting.

Our celebration continues with music, hors d’oeuvres, gifts, raffle/silent auction, dancing, and valet parking. All proceeds from the raffle and silent auction will benefit our Yoga in the Hood program at A Place Called Home, a non-profit organization in South Central Los Angeles near and dear to the Forrest Yoga Institute.

ana's yoga demonstration was the highlight of the evening. i know that i could never hope to reach her level of yoga strength and flexibility, but it was inspiring nonetheless. people usually pay good money to see her in action, so i was thrilled to have witnessed it for free (there's that magic word again). she also did some amazing partner poses with her husband, jonathan bowra. i wonder if the saying also goes that the couple that practices yoga together stays together. if so, they're going to be sharing a good number of years with each other!

the performances were followed by the actual blessing ceremony by heyoka merrifield, a native american ceremonialist whom ana consults with regularly. he circled the room to bless it and everyone in it, then performed a pipe ceremony with ana, jonathan, and venetia carotenuto, the studio manager. i don't know if the resulting smoke or my continuing bout with jet lag had anything to do with my nodding off halfway through, but once they opened the doors after the ceremony to set up for the hors d'oeuvres and entertainment, i was once again wide awake (could it perhaps have had anything to do with the fact that they were about to serve FREE food?).

long story short, i stayed just long enough to get my fill of finger food and conversation. i also bought some raffle tickets and am still hoping that i won something (i've been checking the website for the list of winning tickets, but so far, nada).

as for the free yoga, i've already taken two classes this week: one with venetia carotenuto and another with heather onori. both were excellent teachers who were able to cater to the needs of beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. since the forrest method is slightly different from the yoga taught at other hatha yoga studios, it helped me a lot when they both took the time to describe the poses that were unique to their practice.

forrest yoga does offer a 20% KCRW discount, so not only am i going to return for more free classes this week, but i'll definitely be taking more classes at FYI in the near future.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

yoga, manila style

i just got back from a week-long vacation in the philippines. the primary reason for my trip was to meet up with my 500+ relatives (i'm not even going to try to explain that), but while i was there i was determined to take some yoga classes AND pamper myself with some visits to the spa (yes, it may sound extravagant and hedonistic, especially for someone on a tight budget like me, but when you consider that an hour-long full body massage set me back only $15 and a mani-pedi less than $5, i'd be nuts if i passed up on the luxury!). i guess you could say that it was my own version of a yoga retreat...

before leaving for my trip, an internet search resulted in two yoga studios that were within 15 minutes of my parents' home. unfortunately, all i had were their addresses and phone numbers, so i had to either call or drop by each studio to get their schedule of classes.

prakash singh bisht
pure yoga studio
mandarin oriental hotel
makati avenue, makati city 1226
metro manila, philippines
(632) 750-8888 extension 2105
website: www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/511000028.asp

right before visiting the mandarin hotel spa for my first (!) massage appointment, i paid a visit to their yoga studio. my timing couldn't have been any better; the 7:30am class was letting out and i had just enough time before the next class to get the resident yoga instructor to scribble his class schedule on the back of his business card (each class was an hour long):

monday / wednesday / friday

thursday / saturday

with my next few days already planned out, the first class i was able to fit in wasn't until three days later -- the monday 8:30am class.

when i showed up that morning, i noticed that the room had thick exercise mats neatly lined up in rows on the dark polished wood floor, with two spa towels stacked at the edge of each mat. all one had to do was show up and claim a spot; i can only assume that once all the mats are spoken for, no more students are allowed in the class (given the overcrowding and last-minute squeezing in that goes in on some of the classes i've attended, this sounded like a great idea). as for me, i happened to bring along a yogitoes skidless towel, so i covered my mat to protect myself from having to lay face down on someone else's sweat (ewww!)

there were only about 6 students in the room. from the sound of it, many of them were regulars who had been taking prakash's class but were still quite new to yoga. after some initial bends and stretches, prakash led us through the lesson for the day: sun salutations. we did them over and over and over again, with him making posture adjustments as needed. finally, some time in savasana, followed by a short lecture on hydration and digestion: "drink a liter of water first thing in the morning. drink just enough fluid while eating to wash your food down. it's best to drink lukewarm water while eating; ice water puts out the digestive fire in your belly. eat your largest meals while the sun is up because the sun gives you energy to digest your food efficiently." and so on.

prakash was a nice enough guy who really seemed to care about advancing his students' yoga practice and improve their overall health. however, if i lived in manila, i probably wouldn't take his classes on a regular basis; at P500 a pop (about $10 for 60 minutes' worth of yoga), it's pretty expensive. but then again, it's the yoga-within-a-spa experience that you're paying for...

bela lipat
sai shanti yoga sanctuary
40 rocha street
san lorenzo village, makati city
metro manila, philippines
(632) 817-0299

my sister always makes sure she has the latest edition of Metro Society magazine on hand. i don't know if she reads them to keep track of the latest food and fashion trends in manila or to see which of her friends were spotted at one of THE parties, but i made it a point to browse through her collection of previous months' issues to reorient myself with the goings-on back home, especially since it had been over a year since i was last there. in one of the more recent editions, i noticed an article about a socialite couple who had flown to a resort island for some biking and hiking, dining and diving, and yes, even some private yoga instruction from bela lipat, yoga guru to the stars.

it just so happened that bela's studio was one of the two studios that had popped up during my pre-trip research, so i was even more determined to pay her a visit. a description of bela's yoga retreat on that island reveals this about her background:

"Bela will guide guests through a daily one-and-a-half hour yoga session drawing on her knowledge of Sivananda, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Kundalini and lyengar styles.
Having studied under the aegis of teachers in Thailand, Nepal and India she combines these approaches in her focus upon the yoga asanas, pranayama, kriyas, chanting and Tibetan Buddhist meditation."

figuring that she was somewhat like the shiva rea of the philippines, i decided to give bela's classes a try. googling her produced only an address and a phone number. since there was no answering machine on the other end of the line, i had to keep calling until someone was able to personally answer the phone (maybe i'm just spoiled from the way things are professionally run in L.A.?). i was told that for the next few days, her 90-minute classes would be held daily at 7:30am and 6:30pm, so i planned on attending the tuesday 6:30pm class.

when i got there, i found out that i had shown up for her led mysore class. on one hand, i had always wanted to take an ashtanga class back home, so i was thrilled with my choice. on the other hand, all i knew is that it involved a set sequence of poses, and i had no clue what that sequence was. so if i made a fool of myself, my only consolation was that i would never see those people again...

i picked up a copy of the printed schedule from the stack that was sitting beside the sign-in sheet. here's the class schedule for that week (the schedule changes from week to week since there are no classes when she's out of town):

monday - friday, 7:30am: mysore
monday / wednesday, 6:30pm: sivananda
tuesday / thursday, 6:30pm: mysore
(the usual saturday 10:00am mysore class was cancelled due to the full moon)

besides the fact that the classes were held in a private home in an exclusive gated village, i could tell immediately that i was in high-class company. the two women on either side of me were wearing lululemon yoga attire (if it's already considered pricey back in the states, one can only imagine how much more it costs with the usual import markup in the philippines) and the guy in front of me had brought his own manduka black mat (again, probably costing one week's salary for the typical worker bee). bela herself was dressed quite stylishly, but then again, given her celeb status, one would expect nothing less.

i borrowed a mat from the pile that was sitting by the front door. it was a thin mat, unlike my nicely-padded personal yoga mat back home. it was so thin that when i unrolled it on the linoleum-tiled concrete floor, covered it with my skidless towel, then knelt down, my knees weren't very happy. it was at that point that i had wished i had made room for my yoga mat in my suitcase instead of packing yet another pair of shoes...

bela began the class with some chanting, then led us ten students through the ashtanga sequence of sun salutations, vinyasas, arm balances, twists and binds, and so on. there were many frustrating times where i had to stop and watch what she and the class were doing, but then again, i fully expected that to happen. just like in prakash's class the day before, the students in her class were regulars; but unlike the students in prakash's class, this group was composed of intermediate and advanced level students. there were times when i felt woefully inexperienced, like when the majority breezed through the arm balance sequences and the headstands (reminder to self: i have to learn those PRONTO!).

she skipped savasana and led us through more chanting, followed by the usual namaste from her to the class. just when i thought the class was over, she THEN had us all do savasana. odd -- i've never had any instructor do that before. what was even more odd was that she didn't signal when savasana was over; students just got up and walked out of the room once they felt they had enough.

bela's an attractive and personable yoga instructor who visits india annually (or at least i thought i heard her mention that she did) and is quite proficient in her practice. if i lived in manila, i probably would continue to take classes with her; the P400 charge (around $8) per 90-minute class, while costly by manila standards, seemed worth it for the quality of class. bela also had a month's worth of yoga for P3000 (around $60), which is an even better deal, assuming one practices at least twice a week.

i was hoping to squeeze in yet another class at another studio before i left manila, but shopping and a much-coveted facial appointment at the office of dr. vicki belo, the dermatologist to the stars, got in the way. there ARE things more important than yoga, you know...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

crossing the finish line

my holiday yogathon has finally come to an end.

it officially started on dec 19th, when i took shiva rea's flow class for the first time after trying for months to work ANY of her classes into my schedule (see 12/30 post for yogathon details).

thinking back, though, the yoga mania actually started two days earlier, when i took TWO classes on the same day -- i took matthew reyes's class at yogamatt that saturday morning, then took max strom's last class at sacred movement later that afternoon. you would think that two classes in one day should have satisfied my weekend yoga requirement, but no, i also ended up taking matt's class at maha on sunday morning.

it seemed appropriate that since i had started the cycle of madness with one of matt's classes, i needed to end it with one more. so i did. (and have just proven without a shadow of a doubt that i'm compulsive!)

anyway, my leaving town for a week will probably do my sanity a world of good, mainly because all my family commitments will probably get in the way of my being able to take a yoga class or two. or three...

my vacation starts tomorrow morning. let's hope i get through yoga withdrawal in one piece!

Monday, January 02, 2006

yoga and travel

i've been noticing a lot of ads being posted for yoga retreats. i find them everywhere i turn -- on studio walls, in yoga magazines, on yoga instructors' websites. and they do look enticing, i must say. tahiti, mexico, hawaii, costa rica, greece... it would be magical.

when you go on a yoga trip, you know you're going to get your yoga needs met. you also know that you're going to travel and do some sightseeing, maybe even participate in some other outdoor (and/or indoor) activity.

however, i usually find myself in the reverse situation. most of my travel has been marathon-related. on these trips, i definitely get the travel and sightseeing, but i don't necessarily get the yoga.

take the time i ran the maui marathon last september. i googled "yoga maui" and found some places, but they were either too far away from where i was staying or the class schedules didn't fit in with mine. so i ended up snorkeling and playing golf (which were actually quite enjoyable, so i didn't feel too bad about missing out on the yoga).

a month later, i traveled to bar harbor, maine for the mount desert island marathon. and despite the fact that there were far fewer things to do in bar harbor than there were in maui, i managed to find a studio called cattitude yoga tucked above a souvenir store a few blocks from my hotel.

the place was small; the room pictured on their website is pretty much all there was. plus a bathroom, thankfully. there was no reception area, no boutique, no office, a far cry from the large yoga studios we have out here in LA. the teachers and my fellow students were very low-key, also unlike the "scene" at some places i've been to. it was rainy and around 40 degrees outside when i showed up for an iyengar yoga class. surprisingly enough, the students asked that the windows be left open to keep the room comfortable (not realizing that me, the weather wimp, was used to warm and airless rooms in warm and airless southern california). so i had to put up with the chill because, as they say, when in rome...

on wednesday, i'll be leaving town once again, this time for a family reunion. destination: makati, philippines. since i'll be dependent on others to drive me around (have you ever tried driving in a country where drivers make up right-of-way rules as they go?), my choice of yoga studios could be extremely limited. in fact, i've been googling like crazy, and all i've come up with are a few places with very sketchy information. no schedules to browse, no email addresses to ask for information. i guess i'll have to figure things out once i get there.

in the meantime, i'm working towards OD'ing on yoga, just in case i end up with a week-long dry spell...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

a sneak peek at 2006

it's said that whatever you're doing at midnight on january first is what you'll be doing the rest of the year. i'd like to change that to "whatever you're doing the first day of the year", because my entire day was filled with my favorite people and my favorite things. i hope it's a reflection of what my upcoming year will be like...

shortly before midnight, i was surrounded by friends -- some i see on a fairly regular basis, some i hadn't seen in years -- while we stood at the santa monica pier, waiting for the clock to strike twelve. when the countdown finally reached zero, amidst shouts of "happy new year!", we took off on a short three-mile run along the path overlooking the ocean (my sister insists that anyone who chooses to run in the dark "for fun" has to be nuts. she obviously isn't a die-hard runner). once everyone got back, we took some group pictures, hugged each other goodbye, then went our separate ways. many returned to the parties they excused themselves from; i ended up going back home to be with my family.

with the exception of the hour or so that i was out running along ocean avenue, i spent new year's eve with both of my daughters. together, we called my sister and her husband to wish them a happy new year. we also called my parents and siblings in manila to greet them and to go over the plans for my upcoming visit.

after a short four-hour nap, i was off to a morning yoga class taught by seane corn at sacred movement. it was a very inspiring vinyasa flow session where we spent a good amount of time meditating on our new year's resolutions. and rather than have the studio charge the usual fee, seane requested that the class be on a donation basis, with the proceeds going to her off the mat, into the world campaign. very nice.

after a short apres-class snooze, i spent the evening with one of my closest friends; we did the movie-and-dinner thing and had a great time together.

and when that was all over, i went straight to bed and finally caught up on my much-needed sleep.

so if i were to put that all together, my year will look something like this:

1. i will be running and practicing yoga,
2. i will be spending time with my family and friends,
3. i will be having fun, and
3. i will be sleep-deprived (like i am right now)

i'm already looking forward to the next 12 months!