Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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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.