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

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?