Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Friday, April 28, 2006

the ripple effect

after looking at the recent updates to a couple of yoga studio schedules, i've noticed that there are new names where familiar names used to be. out of curiosity, i've been scanning other schedules to figure out who went where. after all, when one leaves, another one replaces that person. and the replacement, in most cases, comes from yet another studio, leaving another void that has to be filled. it's the yoga ripple effect, so to speak.

of course, the busybody in me also wants to know why all this moving around is going on, but if it has anything to do with studio politics, i know i'll never get the real answer from anyone :(

so from what i've seen in the schedules, this is as close as i could get to where everyone has moved to/from:

  • andrea marcum left earth's power yoga and now has her own studio, u studio

  • christine navarro left both bala yoga and karuna yoga and now teaches at earth's, at times team-teaching with steven earth

  • daniella devarnay seems to have picked up christine's evening classes at bala, with no replacement for christine's morning classes

  • jodi blumstein (a recent transplant from chicago) has taken over christine's ashtanga intro classes at karuna

  • jeff wells left maha yoga and now teaches at jiva yoga

  • kathleen kastner (imported from kansas!) and aras baskauskas have divvied up jeff's lunchtime classes at maha

  • missy costello also left maha

  • greville henwood gave up everything but the kids classes at maha and yogaworks westwood

  • vytas baskauskas has taken over the openings left by missy and greville at maha

  • both aras and vytas will continue to teach at santa monica power yoga (by the way, as of the last survivor episode, aras has survived yet another tribal council vote)

  • and i'm still trying to find out where missy went and if greville is teaching anything else besides those kids classes (but then again, there's that new studio opening up soon on the westside... hmmm... you think?)

  • and the changes just keep on coming...

    moral of the story: if you are an avid student of certain teachers, make sure you're on their mailing lists so you don't lose track of them if and when they move!

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    a yoga history lesson

    earlier today, i picked up the may 2006 issue of LA YOGA magazine and leafed through the pages while i ate my lunch. i had just enough time to skim the interview with john friend, the founder (developer/creator?) of the anusara style of yoga.

    for those unfamiliar with anusara yoga, according to the anusara website:

    Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara Yoga® is a powerful hatha yoga system that unifies a Tantric philosophy of intrinsic Goodness with Universal Principles of Alignment™. Anusara's remarkable popularity is due in large part to its uplifting philosophy, epitomized by a "celebration of the heart," that looks for the good in all people and all things. Consequently, students of all levels of ability and yoga experience are honored for their unique differences, limitations, and talents.

    anusara yoga is taught at many studios in the los angeles area, including city yoga, yoga inside out, still yoga, mission street yoga, and yoga at the village.

    at some point in the article, john friend mentioned that he was influenced by the well-known yoga gurus iyengar, pattabhi jois, desikachar, and krishnamacharya, among others. except for iyengar, however, i couldn't remember what the others were known for. thanks to google and yogajournal.com, here's the abridged version of how they fit into the yoga history books:

    T. Krishnamacharya

    The man who deserves the most credit for creating, or at least influencing, the type of physical yoga that Americans, Western Europeans, and many Asians embrace today never set foot on Western soil. Sometime in the early 1930s Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, took it upon himself to champion the beauty and the benefits of yoga asana. (In a biography, Krishnamacharya says asana practice was so little known in India that he had to go all the way to Tibet to find a guru to teach him.) Of course, like all serious yogis, his training began with Patanjali's Yoga Sutra—he was five years old when his father began teaching him in 1893.

    No one really knows Krishnamacharya's true yoga journey, not even his family. His life remains shrouded in a fog of myth, fable, fact, and contradictory memories. Despite this, Krishnamacharya has become the undisputed father of modern-day hatha yoga. Whether it came from the Yogarahasya, a lost ancient text that appeared to him in a dream, or from a palm-leaf manuscript called the Yoga Korunta (supposedly devoured by ants), or from a blend of asana, pranayama, Indian wrestling, and British gymnastics, Krishnamacharya's yoga represents a uniquely twentieth-century incarnation of a rich and ever-evolving tradition.

    Like so many of today's yoga students, Krishnamacharya's students—mostly able-bodied, athletic, young men—were more interested in building strength and fitness and performing near impossible feats than in any spiritual dimensions of practice. So Krishnamacharya created sequences that focused on athleticism by incorporating the power of the breath and the element of meditative gaze (drishti) in a dynamic flow of poses called vinyasa, using all the props and disciplines at his disposal. To keep his students challenged and focused, Krishnamacharya developed increasingly more difficult sequences, allowing his students to progress to the next level only after they had mastered the first one.

    Pattabhi Jois

    Pattabhi Jois, who still teaches and practices in Mysore, was just a young boy when he met Krishnamacharya at one of his yoga demonstrations. Jois studied with Krishnamacharya for several years before leaving for college. Guru and student reunited in Mysore at the Sanskrit College, and Jois became a faithful follower of Krishnamacharya's methods. Jois credits his teacher with perfecting the Ashtanga vinyasa system, a tradition that he says draws inspiration from the classics—the Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika—as well as from modern Western disciplines. Just as Krishnamacharya did in Mysore, Pattabhi Jois and his disciples continue to teach a set sequence of poses (linked by the breath), the purpose of which is to create tapas, or heat in the body, in order to cleanse and purify.

    Ashtanga-style classes vary from first-series, the beginning level, which focuses on forward bends, to second, third, or fourth-series classes, which offer increasingly more difficult backbends, standing poses, twists, and arm balances. All classes include a vinyasa of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), in which students jump from one pose to the next as a way of linking a variety of asanas together. Just like in the practice of yoga in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, combining the physical poses with attention to the breath brings the modern-day ashtangi steadiness and ease in the body, increased awareness in the mind, and more openness in the heart.

    B.K.S. Iyengar

    Iyengar grew up in Krishnamacharya's household as his brother-in-law — a scrawny, sickly child who, by all odds, had very little chance of ever becoming a yogi. When Krishnamacharya's star pupil vanished from the household only days before an important asana demonstration, Krishnamacharya had no choice but to teach this puny pupil in hopes he would rise to the occasion. And rise he did — Iyengar not only performed very difficult asanas admirably at the demonstration, but he went on to assist Krishnamacharya in his classes and other demonstrations throughout the area. His brief tenure with this "harsh taskmaster" ended when Krishnamacharya asked him to take over a women-only class in the northern province of Karnataka Pradesh—not exactly a plum assignment—which Iyengar agreed to do. From that point on he remained, happily it seems, hundreds of miles away from his guru.

    Partly because of this distance, Iyengar had to explore Krishnamacharya's poses on his own. He used his own body as his laboratory, concentrating on precision and internal and external alignment, as he tried to figure out what effects a pose had on the internal organs as well as the skeletal system. Once Iyengar clearly understood the way an asana worked, he would then modify it to fit his students' bodies and health concerns.

    Just as Krishnamacharya adapted his sequences to the competitive nature of his able-bodied young athletes, Iyengar customized the poses, and even offered props for his less flexible, older clientele. This emphasis on the physical body became a signature of Iyengar Yoga, and Iyengar's intuitive, almost uncanny ability to heal through asana practice has become legendary. When performed correctly, asana practice synchronizes the rhythms of the body's physical, physiological, psychological, and spiritual components. Unlike Krishnamacharya, Iyengar does not link the poses together in the same way. He chooses poses that work together, but his concern is how they achieve balance within the body rather than how they link together.

    T.K.V. Desikachar

    By the time Desikachar asked his father to teach him, Krishnamacharya's own work had changed. To survive as a teacher, Krishnamacharya had to open his doors to all kinds of students, including those with physical limitations and non-Hindus. Working one-on-one, Krishnamacharya devised specific practices for each student. Krishnamacharya would refine or alter his or her "prescription" to enable the student to grow further in the practice and to introduce the spiritual aspects of the tradition. This technique laid the groundwork for Desikachar's own interpretation of Krishnamacharya's work, which he called Viniyoga.

    Desikachar has devoted his life to spreading Krishnamacharya's message of yoga to the West and increasing its connection to science and medicine. Like Iyengar, Desikachar's Viniyoga concentrates on tailoring the yoga sequences to the needs of the individual, and, like Pattabhi Jois, he emphasizes the power of the breath. However, Viniyoga's focus lies somewhere between Iyengar's precision and Pattabhi Jois's vigorous movements. A Viniyoga class is slower than Ashtanga, though it coordinates the breath with the movement. Like Iyengar Yoga, it is known for its therapeutic applications, though Viniyoga concentrates less on alignment and more on varying the length and tempo of the inhalations and exhalations.

    and now that i've finally figured out who's who, i need to go back and finish reading that article...

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    525,600 minutes...

    "... how do you measure a year in the life?" - lyrics from the broadway musical, "rent"

    i've just passed a milestone in my yoga journey. saturday, april 23rd 2005, was the day i took my first yoga class after undergoing ACL surgery in january of that year. i had spent four months of quality time with my physical therapist to strengthen the muscles surrounding my reconstructed knee, and i decided that it was time to work on regaining the flexibility that i had lost. i wanted so badly to get my knee back to normal, because at that time, it felt anything but.

    prior to that wonderful knee incident, i took yoga classes very infrequently, usually only when the gym had a promotion going on or when a friend invited me to tag along. yes, i was stretching. yes, i was relaxing. but no, i wasn't really burning the calories i wanted to burn. so i'd go back to the treadmill or the weight machines and work out until i felt the burn. and the sweat. hmmm... me one tough cookie!

    that was then.

    and look where i am now -- yoga every day! and not only am i burning the calories, but i'm also in better shape than i ever was! who would've guessed?

    i am of the belief that bad things happen for a reason. now i'm not saying that i'm glad that i tore my ACL because it got me eventually obsessed with all things yoga; however, it was my need to move past feeling crippled that ultimately led me down the yoga path. i've had the chance to interact with many students and teachers along the way, and my life is richer from the experience.

    earlier this evening, i took shiva rea's vinyasa flow class at sacred movement. i remember the first time i took her class -- she was calling out poses in sanskrit and i had no idea what they were. what was a parivrtta trikonasana? an utthita parsvakonasana? an ardha chandrasana? and how was i supposed to flow from one pose to another if i had to keep looking around to figure out what i had to do? i was one frustrated student.

    this time, i was able to keep up with the class, but after watching her and many of her regulars flow smoothly and effortlessly through the poses, i kept being reminded that i still have a long way to go in my yoga practice. i have to continue to work on becoming more flexible. on balancing for longer periods of time. and on being able to do a handstand (among other things).

    so where will i be another 525,600 minutes from now? being finally able to do handstands, splits, and more advanced twists and binds? at the rate i'm going, if i keep at it, who knows?

    Monday, April 24, 2006


    the LA yoga scene is truly a very dynamic one. while i was checking out yoga schedules recently, i came across these changes:

    1. andrea marcum no longer teaches at earth's power yoga; she now has her own studio near LACMA and the la brea tar pits. here's the latest from her about her new space (i've merged the original announcement with her recent update). you can keep abreast of the developments at her website, www.andreamarcum.com :

    What was a purple and yellow pilates studio less than a month ago has become U Studio in record breaking time... I am SO excited, for all of you to come and see your new home.

    It is U Studio, because it is all of U, this incredible commUnity who are the inspiration. Your emails and support have seen me through this rapid and challenging transition, and I can't tell you how much that means to me. You will not be disappointed by what we have created--I think it is something really special.

    Here are directions, my schedule and other info -- this will also be posted on my website in the coming days...

    Mon/Wed/Fri 8:15am
    Tues/Thurs 10:15am <-- starting May 1st
    Monday-Friday 6pm
    Saturday and Sunday 10:30am and 4pm

    Class Pricing:
    13.00 single class
    55.00 series of 5
    100.00 series of 10
    120.00 monthly unlimited

    U Studio
    5410 Wilshire Blvd. suite 500
    (two blocks west of La Brea, between Cochran and Cloverdale on the south side of the street)

    Parking street parking as well as 2 public lots (one behind the building, and one a block away on the north east corner of Detroit and Wilshire). I have made a deal with the private lot directly behind the building for the 8:15 am and the 6pm classes. They will let you park for $1.50 while you are in class during those times--(their regular rates apply at all others). The way it will work is that you will pay after class for the 8:15am (the attendant isn't there yet when we start) and you will pay before class for the 6pm. It is important that you leave the lot before 8pm, as the Conga Room seems to have control of the kingdom after that (ah, the subterranean world of the valet parking people...).

    Again, I thank you all for your incredible sense of Unity. I really look forward to seeing all of you, as i have missed you so much!! I am happy to answer any of you questions.

    2. i found this on mark blanchard's progressive power yoga website, www.marksyoga.com. from what's shown in the photo, it looks like his new studio's located where the old brentwood yoga used to be at the corner of san vicente and gorham:

    New Studio to Open in Brentwood on June 12th

    We are proud to announce the opening of our new location in Brentwood Village! After looking for months around the city, we have finally chosen this location in Brentwood for our next studio. Unlike any studio we have created in the past, this one will have the most comprehensive progressive power yoga program in the city. Outstanding instruction for students as well as training certification for teachers. In addition, we are opening the PRANA WIND GALLERY which features exquisite, unique and unexpected artwork from some of the world's most talented artisans and craftspeople. Progressive Power Yoga will open new studios along the coast of California and across the United States in the months ahead. Please contact us directly for franchise opportunities. Now accepting reservations for yoga series in the new studio. Contact us directly at info@progressivepoweryoga.com.

    3. and wouldn't you know it - even before i had a chance to visit city yoga's new toluca lake studio, anthony and rebecca benenati posted this on their website, www.cityyoga.com :

    Dear Friends:

    As the owners of City Yoga West Hollywood, we regretfully announce the closing of City Yoga Toluca Lake.

    We have barely been open 3 months, and in that time we have made deep connections with many of you and have tried to provide you with excellent yoga. However, many unfortunate things have occurred and we are unable to stay open.

    When this first came to our attention, we decided to stop selling series so as not to leave you, our beloved students, with classes to use up. We are very sorry if this was inconvenient to you at the time, we did not feel it was appropriate or ethical to do so.

    Those of you with classes left on your series have two options: you may use them at our beautiful West Hollywood location or, through a special arrangement with Christy Marsden at Yoga Blend in Burbank, you may use your series there. She has generously agreed to honor your outstanding classes. Here is their information:

    Yoga Blend
    2918 1/2 Magnolia Blvd
    Burbank, CA 91505

    4. finally, the rumors about yet another new westside yoga studio are close to becoming reality. the opening date will supposedly be around mid-may. stay tuned...

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    getting back in the groove

    i'm finally back in town. and just as i had expected, during my recent five-day cross-country trip with my daughter, i had absolutely NO time to do any kind of yoga. i was up at 6am everyday, spent the rest of the day in constant motion, then would get back to the hotel shortly before midnight. after taking some time to plan out the logistics of the next day, i'd barely have enough energy left to get ready for bed before plopping down and calling it a night. too bad i couldn't listen to the yoga CD i'd brought along (see the previous post) so that i could get the benefits of a yoga class while i slept. after all, it supposedly works with things you have to memorize, doesn't it?

    i did manage to get a good cardio workout while i was gone, though. i spent most of the time walking around college campuses, going uphill and downhill, and making my way up and down stairs. so while i didn't get a chance to stretch, i did a pretty good job of burning calories. in fact, i actually lost weight while i was gone (ok, so i'm down only two pounds, but considering all our all-you-can-eat cafeteria lunch buffets, that's an amazing feat in itself!)

    so when my plane landed at midnight this morning, i was already trying to figure out which class i was going to take later in the day. after i got a good night's (or rather, morning's) sleep, of course.

    i needed something tough yet doable, and maybe even inspiring and fun. naturally, the first teacher to come to mind was my buddy matt reyes. it had been a while since i had paid a visit to his studio, yogamatt, so i headed eastbound to los feliz and got there just as his evening hip-hop yoga class was starting.

    there was a brand-new yoga student in the room, despite the fact that the class was labeled a level 2/3. the newbie was brought along by his female friend, who clearly appeared to have had some yoga experience under her belt. but what was she thinking??? i liken it to someone trying to teach someone to ski for the first time from the top of a black diamond run. or having someone drive on the freeway before they've even spent time on surface streets. if you start with the basics, you're less likely to get hurt and more likely to enjoy the experience. in other words, she should have brought him to either an introductory class or a level 1. ahhh... but what do i know?

    anyway, matt gamely spent extra time with the new student, showing him the proper way to do a warrior 1, warrior 2, and so on, while making sure that the rest of us weren't held back. and honestly, if it weren't for the fact that the new guy was right in front of me, i probably wouldn't have noticed that he was the reason why we were holding poses a bit longer than usual.

    because matt did such a great balancing act during class, i was able to get the yoga workout i wanted/needed while moving along to some good music. and after class, i was able to catch up on his latest goings-on. it feels great to be back!

    so now that my yoga dry spell, so to speak, has come to an end, i wonder what interesting classes i'll be able to round up for the coming week. we shall see...

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    kicking butt

    there's nothing like a good kick-butt yoga class to kick off the start of a week-long trip across the country. i'm flying out later today for what i've been referring to as the "college selection" tour; now that my daughter's received all her college acceptances, we're going to visit all the schools she never got a chance to check out when we started this whole college search process a few years back. three cities in five days, starting in chicago and ending in providence.

    knowing that it was going to be hard for me to find the time to take a scheduled yoga class while running around cities, i took one last yoga class this morning. i'd also invested in a new audio CD so that i could try to do some yoga in my hotel room while on the road. i'm taking bryan kest and his advanced yoga workout with me, knowing that on the two evenings (wishful thinking on my part?) that i'll find time to practice, i'll be working hard and getting my butt kicked.

    speaking of getting my butt kicked, the class i took this morning was with a new teacher. no, john sahakian is not a new yoga teacher, although he does have some new time slots in the sacred movement schedule. at one time he used to assist and sub for other teachers; earlier this year he started teaching some evening classes. but when the studio printed up their latest class list, there he was, on monday and tuesday mornings. since i needed to get my yoga fix out of the way before heading out of town, i decided to give his class a try.

    according to his bio:

    John Sahakian believes that how we breathe reveals how we live. By linking breath with movement and asana, a great personal transformation can be experienced. "As our breath begins to flow, our lives begin to flow. The more we value our breath, the more we value life." John's approach to Hatha yoga sharply focuses on becoming more conscious of breath to feel one's natural state of peace, cultivating a practice that will enable one to respond to life's challenges in a healthier way, and integrating breath -- presence -- practice -- into every aspect of life.

    since my legs were still tired from the running i did saturday morning, and my arms were tired from the push-ups that light had us do sunday morning at maha yoga, and my entire self was just plain tired from driving home late last night from spending easter with my sister in the OC, i honestly was hoping for a class that had us doing nothing more than breathe. ok, and maybe some gentle moves.

    but what i had hoped for and what i got were two entirely different things :(

    john had us breathing all right, but while we breathed, we moved back and forth, from one pose to another, stretching this way then that, then holding a pose and making small adjustments, and while changing the balance point, trying to stay upright and not fall over. it was tough! or could it be that i was just too tired? all i know is that i was doing sequences in his class that i hadn't done anywhere else, and considering the number of teachers i've practiced with, that's pretty impressive. i have in my mind now that if i can get through his class without feeling like a basket case, i've won the yoga war! that, and being able to do those handstands, too, of course...

    the guy's good. and he's pretty good-looking too (here, see for yourself). it goes without saying that i'll be back soon :)

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    community service

    Seva is the spiritual practice of selfless service. Seva, a Sanskrit word, springs from two forms of yoga, Karma Yoga which is yoga of action and Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of worship inspired by divine love. Seva is one of the simplest and yet most profound and life changing ways that we can put our spiritual knowledge into action. Seva is asking “How may I serve you?” Or ask “Can I help you?” Another way of doing service is to roll up your sleeves and help where you notice that you are needed. We can share our resources and energy with those in need and respond positively when a person asks for help. "Being there as the need arises” is a simple definition of Seva by Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation. When you consider work as divine service, you can do it anywhere, at any time. Doing Seva is uplifting your own self, your own people and your world. Offering our Seva is a way to make a significant contribution to the spiritual community of fellow beings on earth. It is a practice that feeds us spiritually and a spiritual discipline that awakens us to the greater truth of our own being. - shannon brophy, yoga.com

    last night, four yoga teachers (seane corn, hala khouri, ashley turner, and julian walker) from three different westside yoga studios (sacred movement, santa monica power yoga, and santa monica yoga) plus a group of kirtan musicians led by suzanne sterling put their collective efforts together for a memorable yoga event: seva - a night of celebration and activation to benefit our community

    the evening was to be the beginning of a series of events organized by the yoga groove collective, made up of this group of teachers, to support local artists and healers. for this kick-off effort, their goal was to introduce the music of suzanne sterling to the community and to raise money to produce her upcoming album.

    prior to the event, i had decided to take a refresher class with each of the teachers to get a feel for what the evening was going to be like (see my benefit preview post). and sure enough, with all those classes still fresh in my head, it was everything i had expected it to be. we started out with some of seane's prayerful meditation, mixed in hala's flowing movement, added a touch of ashley's power moves, then wrapped it all up in julian's trance dance mixes. and before we ended it all with calming savasana, suzanne sterling, dave stringer, and two other musicians (whose names i didn't catch) led us through a marvelous kirtan chanting session. it was two and a half hours of pure bliss.

    there was an interesting and diverse mix of people waiting in the lobby while the group got the room ready. there were some who came alone and either listened to the music at the listening station or browsed through the clothing in the boutique. there were others who were animatedly conversing with familiar faces in the group. i chatted with a woman i had never met before, and we talked about kids and learning and about how school is much more sophisticated these days than we were their age (nothing like a now vs. then conversation to make one realize how old one's getting!)

    once the doors opened, the room filled up quickly. those who had never been there before stood and surveyed the space before deciding where to set up camp. others headed directly for their favorite spots. some attempted to squeeze in beside friends, while some just found the first opening and laid down their mats.

    trying to do a yoga class where four teachers are tag-team teaching can get quite interesting. you start out with one voice calling out poses and reminding you to breathe, then when you find yourself holding in dog pose, all of a sudden another voice starts calling out another series of poses and reminds you to expand and amplify your practice. then dog pose again, and next thing you know you're swaying and flowing and moving to your ability. and all the while, all four teachers are roaming the room and gently tapping people on shoulders, straightening legs, and aligning hips. the groupies were definitely there; while julian had the floor, i could've sworn i heard that same female who was orgasmically moaning in his class last week! those who were unfamiliar with a teacher's sequencing hesitated a bit when they didn't quite get what they were supposed to do. and there were others, like me, who had taken classes with all four and just kept moving along and enjoying the ride.

    as for the call-and-response chanting part of the evening, i just kept singing along, even if i had just a vague idea of what the lyrics and the notes were supposed to be. it seemed like everything harmonized so well and that unless you were totally tone-deaf (which luckily, i'm not), you really couldn't go wrong even if you made up your own music (which i definitely did).

    they plan to have more sessions in the near future, possibly at yoga works and/or sacred movement. if they're all as much fun as this one was, i intend to attend each and every one of them!

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    it's a good friday

    according to the christian calendar, today is good friday.

    i was raised catholic, and i remember my grandmother telling me when i was little: "on good friday, between noon and three in the afternoon, you're supposed to stay home and pray because that's when jesus was suffering on the cross for you." so on the holy weeks when i visited my grandparents, that's what we did. my cousins and i had to sit quietly in front of the tv and listen to the pope (or some other religious figure) talk about christ's last words and his subsequent death.

    cut to today. many years have passed, and i am now a lapsed catholic. but after taking a yoga class this morning, i found myself sitting quietly at home, staring at a screen. this time, though, it wasn't a tv screen, it was my computer monitor. and i wasn't meditating on the life of christ; i was logging the places where i'd spent time meditating to better understand my own life.

    actually, i had a number of errands planned for today. i was going to drop by REI and pick up something i ordered, then stop by the drugstore to buy some necessities, and if i had time, maybe even squeeze in a movie. but it rained today, and being the weather wimp that many of us southern californians are, i decided to stay indoors and stay dry. and blog.

    while trying to come up with today's topic, i had remembered hearing a piece on NPR about people using google earth to generate maps of all kinds -- maps of hiking trails, maps of pizza parlors, maps where people had vacationed, and so on. i'd always had a fascination with maps, as evidenced by my map-on-a-postcard collection. so when google earth was introduced, i was in heaven! who wouldn't want to know what their home looks like from space? or the last national park they visited? or a foreign country they're saving up to visit? i know i do!

    so given the relative abundance of yoga studios in the los angeles area, i'd always wondered where they were located in relation to each other. are they only concentrated in the more affluent areas? or are they scattered all about? given any random point in the city, how far would i have to drive to feed my yoga habit? since i had nothing better to do this afternoon, i decided to create a map that would answer my questions.

    i found this NPR piece online:

    Digital Culture
    Personal Maps Emerge as Visual Mix Tapes
    by Elizabeth Blair
    All Things Considered, April 7, 2006 - For some people, hearing a particular song immediately conjures up thoughts of an old boyfriend or girlfriend. For others, it's a place -- a park, a street corner or a restaurant. So instead of making mix tapes, they're making personal maps, using the friendly technology that Google uses for its mapping feature.
    At platial.com, a new Web site founded by "psychogeography hobbyists," the result is something like Wikipedia crossed with Rand McNally. Hundreds of "platial explorers" are contributing maps that trace everything from their first heartbreak to good birding spots. Venture capitalists like it, too.

    after spending a couple of hours with the beta version of platial.com (which is, unfortunately, still quite buggy), the resulting interactive map can now be seen in the sidebar to your right. if you want to find out which studios are close to you, click on the map (or until i figure out how to get rid of the text box underneath the map, click on the link in the phrase "click here for entire listing" to get a larger map) and zoom in, move around, and position your cursor over any of the markers to get the yoga studio's name. if you then click on the marker itself, you will get the studio's address, phone number, and a link to its website. you also get its latitude and longitude, if you somehow want to use your GPS device to direct you there.

    i'm still playing with it, so expect more stuff in the near future.

    it's all good... enjoy!

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    celebrating on a shoestring

    yoga classes for two: $11
    dinner for two, plus tip: $11
    gifts for the birthday boy: $35
    celebrating a special occasion with a special friend: priceless

    my dear friend in running and yoga crime, BDB, recently marked a birthday milestone. to spare him the embarrassment of having his true age revealed, i'm just going to say that he's reached a new decade; in the running world, that also means he's now in a new age division. it should be easier for him to qualify for the boston marathon, and given that he missed the cut-off last year by a mere minute, if he gets his butt in gear and starts training in earnest, he may just find himself on an airplane bound for beantown next april.

    it had been a while since i had last seen him. due to his heavy work load at the office, our schedules never seemed to intersect. so i told him that in order for me to give him a proper birthday bash, he needed to clear an evening on his calendar. he found the time, so i went to work planning the celebration.

    ... and no, it did not involve stopping by the nearest mickey d's for two extra value meals...

    despite my shoestring budget, i was able to put together a decent gift package, thanks to KCRW and the various yoga studios that i practice at.

    we met at liberation yoga on la brea for christine burke's 6:30pm level 2/3 flow class. my class cost me $11 (with my KCRW discount); BDB's was FREE since it was his first class there (and don't think i didn't factor that in when i came up with the plan). he enjoyed christine's lighthearted teaching style, although he admitted that he struggled at times to keep up because all that sitting at his desk didn't exactly keep him in top physical form (he also insisted that it wasn't him who kept groaning during class; it was the guy next to him. yeah, right).

    after class, after dropping off our gear at our cars, we took a leisurely stroll down la brea to luna park. i had a $50 gift certificate, a premium i received from the recent KCRW pledge drive. for this special occasion, i was able to snag one of the curtained booths, which allowed us to carry on a conversation without having to yell over everyone else's voices. our dinner, including tax and tip, came to $61, so the net cost to me was $11. considering that the price covered our salads, entrees, and a shared dessert, it was a great deal.

    as for BDB's birthday gifts, i had gotten him a running/yoga top at the recent lululemon warehouse sale so he could be a fashion trendsetter at his next yoga class (thanks to our mutual friend, matt reyes, one of lululemon santa monica's ambassadors, i was able to hit the sale before the public and get first dibs at the half-priced merchandise). i also got him a bryan kest power yoga workout CD so that he could squeeze in a yoga workout at home on the evenings he had to work late (and thanks to my volunteer efforts at the power yoga studio, i was able to buy the audio CD at a discounted rate). and those were in addition to the jamie cullum concert that i invited him to last month as a pre-birthday gift; our tickets were FREE, thanks to KCRW again and their call-in ticket giveaways. call it gifting on an installment plan...

    all in all, it was a great price for a wonderful evening spent sharing things we both enjoy -- a challenging yoga class, followed by hearty comfort food, accompanied by witty and stimulating conversation.

    a very happy ?0th birthday to you, BDB, with many, many more to come!

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    women don't sweat

    Yoga West
    1535 South Robertson Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    (310) 552-4647

    Kundalini Yoga combines the science of movement, posture, breath, sound, and meditation to balance the glandular system, strengthen the nerves, expand the lung capacity, and purify the bloodstream, bringing balance to the body, mind, and spirit.

    It is, in other words, a science of self-mastery through health, joy, and understanding. As you continue in your practice, you become more capable, more confident, and more efficient in whatever you’re doing in your external life.

    Kundalini Yoga was taught only to a selected few until 1969, when Yogi Bhajan challenged the ages-old tradition of secrecy and taught the sacred science, in its entirety, to everyone.

    Yoga West is in fact Yogi Bhajan’s premier studio, and the very first studio in the world, anywhere, to hold an open teaching of this now widespread technology.

    it's been said that women don't sweat, they glow. or glisten. or worst case, they perspire.

    and i'm convinced that as far as women's yoga classes go, that's definitely true. i've taken three women's yoga classes so far this week (iyengar on sunday, hatha on monday, and kundalini this morning), and each time, i'd taken my pink yogitoes towel with me and laid it at the top of my mat at the start of each class. and by the end of class, my towel was sitting in the same spot, still neatly folded and unused.

    in the more vigorous yoga classes, i usually find myself having to spread out my towel over my mat early on; not only does it absorb the sweat that i generate during sun salutations, but it also keeps my hands from slilding forward while i'm holding a downward dog.

    in these women's sessions, however, not only did i not break into a sweat, but i actually felt cold during the classes. even during today's kundalini class, where we were in constant motion, i suppose i could say i glistened after we ran in place for about five minutes, but no, there was no sweat.

    not that there's anything wrong with that.

    our group of seven or so students was led by guru jagat kaur (aka katie day). the class started interestingly enough; we talked about a student's experience with her mother in their pole dancing class at the S factor in los angeles. then we talked about erica jong's book, witches. you know, girl talk. so being in a women-only class has its advantages, after all...

    according to the 3HO.org website (as in happy, healthy, holy organization, the home of kundalini yoga):

    Kundalini yoga is based on kriyas, or specially formulated sets of exercises. This allows you to target specific benefits and work on exactly those aspects of yourself that need work at the current time. Any amount of time spent practicing – whether three minutes or an hour a day – produces significant benefits, and in turn, motivate individuals to dedicate more time to its practice.

    guru jagat led us through an exercise set that was supposedly good for increasing prosperity (something i definitely need right now). it involved twisting right and left, bending forward and back, bouncing on our bottoms, running in place, and other moves that would not be done in any other type of yoga class. i've always thought that kundalini was bizarre, and this just reinforced what i had been thinking.

    in many cases, we were supposed to go through the motions while also doing "breath of fire" breathing, which goes something like this:

    Breath of Fire is a rapid, rhythmic, and continuous breath that sounds like powerful sniffing. The breath is forcefully exhaled by rapidly contracting the diaphragm and pulling the navel point toward the spine. The inhale occurs naturally as the diaphragm relaxes and air flows effortlessly back in without a sharp intake or effort. The inhale and exhale are equal length and usually occur 2 to 3 times per second. This breath is great as "pick-me-up" if you are feeling lethargic or unfocused. It can be done throughout your day- for 30 seconds to 3 minutes- if you need to increase your energy.

    luckily, i had some practice with that during rick colella's class at insight and also at sivananda yoga. so all i had to do was focus on the motion and try to keep myself from getting dizzy from all the movement!

    we ended the class with some chanting and were assigned savasana as homework because we ran out of time. i wonder if that's why i felt out of sorts when i walked out of the room?

    yoga west is currently undergoing some renovation of its interior. not knowing what it used to look like, i can only assume that it's going to be a big improvement, given the comments i heard from students who had shown up for the next class.

    by the way, yoga west also happens to be the main distributor of yogi tea, so there was free hot chai tea "on tap" in the lobby, plus free sample packets of their other tea varieties. they sold their tea at the studio; a box of 16 tea bags costs $4. while i was trying to figure out which one to try, i was offered a deal: 2 boxes for $6. plus i could also exchange the unused packs if i didn't like what i bought. have i ever been known to pass up on a deal?

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    the energy within

    Self-Realization Fellowship, Hollywood Temple
    4860 Sunset Boulevard

    Hollywood, CA 90027
    (323) 661-8006

    "It is said in the Bible: "Be still, and know that I am God." In these few words lies the key to Self-realization. The science of Yoga offers a direct means of stilling the natural turbulence of thoughts and restlessness of body that prevent us from knowing what we really are. By practicing the step-by-step methods of Yoga -- taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds or through blind faith -- we come to know our oneness with the Infinite Intelligence, Power, and Joy which gives life to all and which is the essence of our own Self...
    Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception -- no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth." - from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda

    before i set foot into the hall of the self-realization fellowship temple, i already knew that i would experience a form of yoga that i had never encountered before. after all, this is supposedly the hatha yoga paramahansa yogananda, the founder of the self-realization fellowship, brought with him from india when he arrived in the united states in the 1920's.

    i had heard about the SRF a long time ago through friends who live in the mount washington area in los angeles. the international headquarters, or the "mother center", is located in what used to be a luxury hotel perched atop a mountain with spectacular views of the city. paramahansa yogananda purchased the property in 1925 when the original resort declared bankruptcy and shut its doors. ever since his death in 1952, his followers have been trying to move his remains, currently interred at forest lawn in nearby glendale, to the grand shrine they've planned to build on this location. needless to say, the neighbors weren't happy with the expected increase in foot and vehicle traffic that would befall their quiet and idyllic neighborhood. so the shrine remains in the planning stage. and both sides are still battling it out.

    to the relief of the mount washington neighbors, all the SRF devotees attend services elsewhere. in los angeles county alone, there are three locations: the pasadena temple, the pacific palisades lake shrine, and the hollywood temple, the latter being the only location of the three where hatha yoga is taught (although there are conflicting stories about how there may also be classes at the pacific palisades site).

    when i arrived half an hour early for the women's hatha yoga class, there was already one student, chris, resting on her mat on the carpeted floor. turns out that she was one of the three teachers who rotate teaching the women's evening classes on mondays and tuesdays. while i changed into "something appropriate and comfortable" in the bathroom, two more showed up. two more teachers, that is. phyllis was there to take the class, and leslie was there to teach the class. and then there was me. talk about feeling like the odd (wo)man out. contrary to what i had half expected to find, they were perfectly "normal". they weren't dressed in robes nor turbans, nor did they act like mystics who were going to "show me the way". they taught classes on a volunteer basis, a selfless donation of their time to the SRF, of which they were members.

    just before class started, another student (i didn't catch her name), joined our small group.

    we started with an invocation, then moved into breathing exercises. these exercises were unique; we clasped our hands, and while holding our knuckles under our chin, we would spread our elbows while we inhaled, then tilt our heads back and bring our elbows back together as we exhaled (i told you it was unique!). then we did some double breathing exercises (luckily for me, this webpage describes it so i don't have to).

    if we hardly did any poses in the iyengar class i took yesterday, we did even less at this SRF hatha yoga class. every time we did a pose that could be considered strenuous, we would follow it with a couple of minutes lying in savasana. we balanced, we lay down. we stretched, we lay down. we arched, we lay down. we twisted, we lay down. we tensed up our bodies, then we relaxed. and when we came to our final savasana 60 minutes after the class started, i felt that i was truly relaxed, but only because felt like i really hadn't done anything at all.

    so i didn't get the physical workout that i was hoping to get, but i did leave feeling a bit more curious about the SRF movement itself. on a clear post-rainstorm spring day, i plan to drive up the winding road to the mother house and see if i can tour the grounds to admire the view and maybe even learn more about this thing called self-realization.

    by the way, i did ask leslie about the difference between the women's and the men's hatha yoga classes. other than that the women's class is taught by a woman and the men's class is taught by a man, there really is no difference. it's not because of any religious beliefs nor any difference in anatomical focus. it started that way, and that's the way it's been ever since.

    coming up next: women's kundalini yoga at yoga west...

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    it's a girly thing

    B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga
    8233 West 3rd Street

    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    (323) 653-0357
    website: www.iyogala.org

    The B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association of Southern California and IYILA are dedicated to the study, teaching and dissemination of the art, science and philosophy of Yoga according to the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. All teachers at the Institute are certified in accordance with the assessment process set forth by B.K.S. Iyengar.

    i had taken a couple of iyengar classes in the past, so when i heard about the iyengar institute here in LA, i naturally was curious to see if their iyengar teachings were any "purer" or "unadulterated" than those taught at the more mainstream studios such as yoga works, for example.

    while scanning their website, i noticed this:

    We’ve started a new class: Yoga for Women. It is taught by Chris Stein. Chris is the perfect person to teach this class. She’s been studying every year with Geeta Iyengar in India (where they have 3 women’s classes a week) and is in touch with Geetaji on a regular basis. She is a Jr. Intermediate II certified Iyengar teacher and known for her gentle wisdom.

    realizing that there probably wasn't any other studio in town that taught this kind of class, and that it might be interesting to see what makes iyengar yoga for women any different from iyengar coed yoga, i dropped by chris stein's sunday 2:30pm class at their location near the beverly center.

    as i walked into the studio, i was met by a mad rush of students leaving the premises. it turns out that there was a three-day workshop led by manouso manos, a senior iyengar teacher trained by BKS himself. all these iyengar diehards! it took a while for them to put all the props back in the right cubbies and straighten up the place, so while they were doing that, i filled out my registration card and looked around.

    once the class of about 10 students got settled down, chris walked into the room and greeted us. many of them appeared to be regulars because she knew most by name. chris told us that she was still in a post-savasana trance-like state; she had just come from the workshop, and after a full day of twists and bends, the class was "rewarded" with 30 minutes of corpse pose. i call that a much-needed nap :)

    as is the custom before all of their classes, we started with a chant, an invocation to patanjali:

    Yogena cittasya padena vacam
    Malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
    Yopakarottam pravaram muninam
    Patanjalim pranjaliranato'smi
    Abahu purusakaram
    Sankha cakrasi dharinam
    Sahasra sirasam svetam
    Pranamami patanjalim

    which, translated into english, is:

    Let us bow before the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind, grammar for clarity and purity of speech, and medicine for perfection of health. Let us prostrate before Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, whose upper body has a human form, whose arms hold a conch and a disc, and who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra.

    today's focus was the shoulders and the arms. chris told us that due to hormonal changes as we age, our shoulders tend to want to droop forward, eventually causing our chest cavity to compress, possibly leading to heart problems. so she was going to make us work on keeping our shoulders back. i was hoping for some hip openers or maybe even some breast lifters (if there's such a thing!), but since i've always had problems with my posture, some extra work to keep myself from slouching was ok by me.

    so we worked on tadasana (mountain), urdhava hastasana (mountain with arms raised overhead), uttanasana (forward bend), prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend), utthita hasta pandangusthasana (standing big toe pull), utthita trikonasana (extended triangle), utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle), and adho mukha svanasana (down dog), ending with supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle) before final savasana (my favorite, corpse).

    true to iyengar reputation, most of chris's time was spent describing a pose and what the proper alignment was (rotate triceps towards nose, fingers together, shoulders down, deltoids flat, and so on), then actually making us do the pose to practice what we were told. in some cases, we were instructed to work with a partner. every now and then, she would either walk around the room to correct our poses or call out to us by name to suggest something we should do.

    it was a class with minimal poses, minimal sweat (actually, none at all for me), and maximum use of props (six blankets plus a strap for reclining bound angle!). and best of all, it was FREE since it was my first class at the institute!

    this is a great place for iyengar junkies. but since my taste for iyengar tends towards "infrequent, please", it'll probably be some time before i return. then again, you never know.

    while i'm on this "yoga for women" kick, i found out that there's a "women's hatha yoga" class at the self-realization fellowship temple in hollywood and a "women for women" kundalini class at yoga west in los angeles. i'm still trying to figure out what i'm going to take and when, but it'll definitely be this week, so more on the outcome of those classes coming soon...

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    a yoga benefit preview

    i don't usually sign up for yoga workshops, mainly because they cost more than my yoga budget will allow (at least until i land a decent-paying job). but this one caught my eye, and since the proceeds will be going to a good cause, i'm making an exception and have penciled it into my calendar. besides, it seems like a good deal for two and a half hours of yoga flow, ecstatic dancing, and kirtan chanting:

    Saturday, April 15
    7:30pm - 10:00pm

    exhale venice, 245 south main street
    310.450.7676 / info@exhalespa.com / www.exhalespa.com

    $25 Suggested Donation to Benefit exhalesoul

    Yoga Groove Collective
    Seva - A Night of Celebration + Activation to Benefit Our Community

    Join Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, Ashley Turner, Julian Walker, + Suzanne Sterling
    for a playful, musical and devotional yoga celebration.

    Seane, Hala, Ashley and Julian will tag-team teach a 90 minute yoga class followed by kirtan with Suzanne and possibly other surprise guests. Be prepared to move, dance and sweat. This is the beginning of a series of events aimed at supporting local artists and healers in our community. The proceeds from this first event will be going towards Suzanne's next CD. We hope you'll join us!

    the four yoga teachers all teach at westside yoga studios -- seane and hala at sacred movement, ashley at power yoga, and julian at santa monica yoga. their classes are so popular that the rooms fill up with students as soon as the doors open.

    in the past year, i'd taken just a couple of classes with each teacher, so i thought it would be a good idea to take a class with each of them before the 15th to refresh my memory and maybe get a preview of the big event.

    march 29th - seane corn
    in my opinion, seane's classes are the perfect mix of spiritual and physical yoga. what she says is always inspirational, and her yoga moves are challenging enough to make one sweat yet not feel overwhelmed. she teaches a challenging level 2/3 class, so beginning students need to get their basics down before trying her out. all i can say is that i love her classes, and if she's involved in any fundraiser, i'll definitely be there!

    april 5th - julian walker
    ah... julian. to me, taking his classes is like going through childbirth. as i'm going through the experience, i feel totally uncomfortable and swear off ever doing it ever again. however, the memory quickly subsides, and next thing i know, i'm going through it once more (please note that i only have TWO kids; i'm not a serial babymaker!)
    so what makes his classes uncomfortable?, you ask. maybe it's my repressed catholic school upbringing, but being in a class where students are encouraged to vent (loudly, i must add) what they're feeling at the moment bothers me. i have a hard enough time concentrating on what i'm doing without having to listen to others moan, groan, grunt, and yes, even scream and cry during class. julian makes the students hold poses for a very extended period of time, so i'm convinced that all the noise is a result of everyone straining themselves and expressing the pain they're feeling. honestly, i could have sworn that the woman beside me the other night was in the throes of agony, and was damned proud of it! his friday night trance dance classes at santa monica yoga draw the most dedicated of his devotees. he offers 90 minutes of total release to a loud primal beat; it's the students' chance for freeform physical and vocal expression without judgement. who needs a shrink when they have julian?

    april 6th - hala khouri
    the classes i've taken with hala have always been level 1/2 classes, so there's always a beginner or two in the group. she leads nice, easy flow classes where you move at your own pace, to your own ability. hala gives out the basic instructions and suggests more difficult variations that the more advanced students can do. since everyone pretty much does their own thing, i never feel the need to push for the harder alternatives (unless, of course, i think i'm up to it). she solicits special requests from the students and does her best to accommodate their wishes. she's a great teacher for people who are either new to yoga or take classes infrequently.

    IOU - ashley turner
    i took one of ashley's classes barely three weeks ago, but since i've committed myself to revisiting everyone, i need to take another one. it should be easy because she teaches almost everyday. not only that, but i can trade in a power yoga karma credit, too. watch this space for an update...

    ... and here it is...

    april 13th - ashley turner
    ashley was featured in the april 2006 issue of yogi times los angeles (and so was hala khouri, see above). the title of the article was dhyana, which in simplest terms, means meditation. of the four teachers who will be participating in this saturday's event, ashley's students probably spend the most time in meditation. i remember one class where she started the class by playing an excerpt from a ram dass lecture. she had been so inspired by the man that she felt we would be, too (unfortunately, it had been the end of a long day for me, and the last thing i wanted to do was concentrate on what some faceless person was saying).
    ashley's classes are flow classes; the students flow from one asana to another, gently stretching and easing into position, then holding there just long enough to reap the benefits of the pose.

    so given the varying styles of the four instructors, the seva night at sacred movement on the 15th should make for some very interesting yoga!

    as for suzanne sterling, here's her bio as listed on her website www.suzannesterling.com:

    "Suzanne Sterling is an ecstatic vocalist and songwriter whose devotional music has been called a "groove-loving and seductive journey into Spirit."
    She has received critical acclaim both as a performer and as a recording artist. Her debut album "Bhakti" reached #5 on the New Age/World radio charts; and her music has been commissioned for film, theatre and video - including "Gifting It", an award winning documentary film about Burning Man Festival. She also recently completed the music for the bestselling yoga DVD "Vinyasa Flow Yoga with Seane Corn" produced by Gaiam Inc.
    She also works extensively in the yoga and wellness communities, bringing a special blend of music, yoga, kirtan and sacred ceremony to a wide range of nationwide events such as retreats, emerging culture conferences, large festivals, dance parties and sacred gatherings."

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    free advertising

    it's interesting how a small sign led me to a new discovery.

    on sunday, as i was leaving saul's class, i happened to check the notice board at the back of the room.

    "please check with the front desk..."

    since there were at least 60 students in the filled-to-capacity class, it was no surprise to see that there were around 10 students who still needed to pay for the class. i'm sure it was innocent enough; they probably showed up late and decided to take care of the financials after class. still, to be considered a "delinquent" can't be good for one's reputation, so i try to avoid it at all costs (although i know my name has shown up on that board at least once, pretty much because i thought i had classes left on my series pass and actually had used them all up).

    i scanned the list to see if i recognized any of the names. and one stood out: kishan shah. where had i seen that name before? aha!... there was his name in the santa monica yoga schedule! not having taken a class with him before, it looked like the perfect reason to find out more about him.

    that afternoon, when i got home, i looked up his bio on the santa monica yoga website:

    Kishan Shah teaches Hatha vinyasa yoga with a dynamic synthesis of solar and lunar energetics, encompassing asana, pranayama, bandha, mantra and mudra. His classes are a challenge to the body, a practice for the breath, a focus for the mind, and a delight to the soul. For more information visit www.kishanshah.com.

    then i googled him and found this:

    Kishan Shah's introduction to yoga came from his father through the ritual practices of Bhakti Yoga. His passion for learning has taken him to India many times studying with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Sharath Rangaswamy, and Lino Miele. He completed his teacher training in the Himalayas with Swami Govindananda at the Sivananda Yoga & Vedanta Ashram, and advanced studies with Shiva Rea at Sacred Movement. He is one of Shiva's primary assistants for workshops and retreats worldwide.

    intrigued, i decided i needed to give his class a shot. and wouldn't you know it, he was teaching a lunchtime community class at santa monica yoga the next day. the time fit in perfectly with my schedule and the cost was a deal (sm yoga community classes are half-price). perfect!

    i had always thought that so-called "community" classes were taught by newly-trained teachers who were still honing their teaching skills while trying to build up a student following. and that they were attended by little old ladies who wanted to take gentler yoga classes, didn't want to spend the money, and didn't want to compete (so to speak) with the younger, more nubile yoga students (but then again, i could be describing myself -- i'm petite and getting older. and definitely trying to penny-pinch. sigh).

    anyway, after taking kishan's class, i now know that i was dead wrong. his class was just about as tough as any other full-priced class i'd taken, and he definitely was no rookie! not only that, but my fellow students didn't look like they qualified for AARP membership (ok, so maybe there were a couple that probably did).

    from beginning to end, it was like he was channeling shiva rea. yes, it was kishan's voice, but the sequencing was very shiva-like. we were flowing from one asana to the next -- bending, stretching, pushing, balancing. what we were doing required balance, strength, and most of all, coordination. there were some poses that i had never done before: twistandsquatthiswayasana, followed by twistandsquatthatwayasana, then balancewithbackbendasana, and so on. holding in down dog seemed to be the most relaxing pose we did.

    since i've been accused of suffering from YADD (yoga attention deficit disorder), all this new stuff was very exciting (although initially confusing) to me! i've just found myself another challenge that i need to conquer...

    so whether kishan planned it or not, his neglecting to pay for his class sunday ended up earning him some free advertising space on the board. which landed him a new student -- me :)

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    heee's baaack!

    as far as i know, by the time i took my first class at sacred movement in venice, saul david raye was no longer teaching there. he had co-founded the studio in 2002 with max strom; it eventually became the home studio for other renowned yogis such as shiva rea, erich schiffmann and micheline berry. but sometime in late 2004 / early 2005, saul moved on. i had heard "the veterans" talk about the small studio where saul taught classes on a donation-only basis and where the lines went out the door. determined to find out what he was all about, i did some googling and found him ensconced at shakti's elements, a small yoga studio/boutique in santa monica.

    since then, i'd taken a few of saul's classes, and as far as i'm concerned, the draw has been the smaller class size, the individualized attention (he usually has an assistant working the room with him), and the pay-what-you-can-afford pricing. the supposed lines were never an issue for me because i took his 10:30am monday/wednesday classes while most working folk were doing just that -- working.

    in the meantime, there were many comings and goings at sacred movement (now known as exhale venice to almost everyone but me), including max strom's move TO oregon and seane corn's move FROM yoga works.

    so when i picked up the latest spring schedule and noticed that saul was going to resume teaching at sacred movement, i knew that his return would be a big event.

    his first class back was scheduled for sunday, april 2nd, at 10:30am. i made sure i got there early and planted myself right by the door to the sun room, the larger of the studio's two rooms. by 10:20am, the lobby was full of so many excited students that the resulting noise level caused the teacher of the earlier class to stick her head out to ask us to please keep our voices down.

    during class transitions, the normal procedure is for the incoming students to make way for the outgoing students at the doorways. this time, there were so many bodies standing by the main door that special traffic control was needed; the exiting students had to be instructed to leave via the side doors only.

    once the floodgates opened, so to speak, there was a mad rush for spots. by the time i put my towel on my mat and sat down, the room was packed to capacity. all this excitement, and the class hadn't even started!

    other than the much-larger class size, saul's class at sacred movement was fairly similar to his shakti version. a harmonium was played, saul spoke, the group chanted, then the yoga asanas began. saul and his two assistants roamed the room as he led us through the usual sun salutations and standing poses. probably because the time allotted to this class was less than his usual "just under 2 hours", saul left out the usual shoulderstand sequence and gave us five minutes of yogi's choice before we relaxed in savasana.

    since saul's time is now divided between shakti and sacred movement, his new schedule looks like this:

    monday: 10:30am - 12:15pm (shakti) / 6:00pm - 7:30pm (sacred movement)

    tuesday: 7:35pm - 9:00pm (sacred movement)

    wednesday: 10:30am - 12:15pm (shakti)

    thursday: 7:35pm - 9:00pm (sacred movement)

    sunday: 10:30am - 12:00pm (sacred movement)

    i'm hoping that his subsequent classes at sacred movement are less crowded. honestly, i didn't appreciate having someone else's bottom in front of my face as i did a forward bend from a standing straddle, or someone else's feet by my nose as i did a bow pose.

    maybe i'll stick to the smaller shakti classes until the initial excitement wears off...

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    go bruins!

    what do college athletics have to do with yoga, you ask?


    except that because the UCLA bruins vs. the LSU tigers basketball semifinal match is being aired during the only time i could take a yoga class today, i have to take a bye, so to speak, and resume my daily yoga practice tomorrow.

    i sure hope my skipping class today was worth it...

    so far, at half time we're ahead, 39-24 :)

    so while i'm waiting for the commercial break to end, here's a recap of the classes i've taken since the last list i posted:

    3/16anaswarapower yoga
    3/17heath houseyoga works
    karma credit(see mar 21st
    3/18knekoh frugeyoga circle
    3/19off  los angeles
    3/20david romanelliexhale
    santa monica
    3/21peter barnettblack dog
    $13 KCRW(see mar 21st
    3/22mothergolden bridge
    $15(see mar 22nd
    3/23ginny biddlebala yoga$15(see mar 23rd
    3/24matt reyesyogamattpass 
    3/25greville henwoodyoga works
    karma credit 
    3/26william asadjiva yoga$16(see mar 26th
    3/27liz hageliberation
    $14(see mar 28th
    3/28krysta closegolden bridge
    $15(see mar 28th
    3/29seane cornsacred
    3/30sam grahamsilver lake
    $14(see mar 30th
    3/31annie carpenteryoga works
    main street
    karma credit 
    4/1off  UCLA-LSU semifinal

    it looks like i have to cut back on my yoga spending; i actually paid FULL PRICE for many classes in this latest batch :(

    i suppose i could say that i just saved myself some money by not taking a class today...

    good news: i just found out that liberation yoga charges only $10 for weekday classes before 6pm PLUS they offer a 20% KCRW discount on all other classes. i somehow missed that... now if everyone honored a KCRW discount, i'd be saving even more!

    even better news: it's final; UCLA just beat LSU, 59-45! i'd better figure out what class i'm going to take on monday, because the finals are on at 6pm pacific DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME!