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, May 31, 2006

on the road again

sometime around this same time tomorrow, i'll be en route to providence, RI to attend the graduation of my older daughter from college (and to those who read my previous post: it was my younger daughter who graduated from high school last weekend. so that makes it two graduations in two different states in two weeks! cue elgar... and don't forget the waterproof mascara!)

anyway, during the four days that i'll be out of town, i plan to take two (!!) yoga classes. and unlike my last trip, where i accompanied my younger one on her "so which college do i really want to go to?" tour and ended up doing absolutely NO yoga at all, i intend to make good on this plan. for one thing, i already know which yoga studios i'll be going to. i've even printed out their class schedules so i that i know exactly where i have to be and when.

it wasn't hard to come up with my short list of two studios. first i consulted yogafinder.com to find a list of studios in providence. of the six that came up, three had no websites listed. of the three that were left, one supposedly had two locations (one in pawtucket and one in providence) but its one schedule neglected to indicate which classes were taught where. so that left me with the two i'm going to visit:

anahata yoga school
191 nashua street, providence, RI
(401) 274-5876
website: www.anahatayogaschool.com

eyes of the world yoga
1 park row, providence, RI
(401) 295-5002
website: www.innerhappiness.com

and just to make sure i wasn't looking at the websites of non-existent studios (it does happen, you know), i emailed them and was happy to receive some very welcoming responses.

i had hoped to take a class with paul jerard at aura yoga in north providence (just a little bit farther away); after all, i have a link to his blog, yoga teacher training, on my blogsite. unfortunately, the only class that fit my schedule was a restorative on thursday evening. and being the obsessive-compulsive yogist that i am, i needed something more strenous to make up for the missing days of yoga :( on second thought, maybe i should print out and take that third schedule with me, just in case?

i'll report back on my experiences when i return...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

new to yoga?

after having to skip two days' worth of yoga classes due to my daughter's high school commencement-related activities (where her graduating summa cum laude made me one proud mom!), i was finally able to resume my daily yoga practice this morning. it was an all-levels class with anya longwell at santa monica power yoga. it seemed to have a higher than usual male-to-female ratio, which made for a testerone-charged workout. yeah!

it started out as usual, with me zoning out so i could concentrate on my own practice. but midway through our first sun salutation, i couldn't help but be distracted; out of the corner of my eye i could see and hear the person beside me flailing around helplessly. her arms and legs were flying (and falling) all over the place, and she kept grunting in disgust. i eventually found myself turning my head in her direction just to see what was going on. i knew there was a problem when i realized that she was wearing jeans to class!

anya, our instructor, made a valiant effort to try and assist this student, but she could only do so much; since it would have been unfair to the 20+ other students in the class if the pace were slowed down to accommodate her, the lost soul eventually found herself struggling to keep up with the rest.

at the end of the class, she turned to me and commented that i was really good (aww pshaw, i'm really not that good, but please tell me more...). she admitted that it was her first yoga class, so she really didn't know what she was supposed to do. i told her to be patient, it'll take some time, she should work at it slowly, etc etc. i probably should have told her that she had no business taking a "power" yoga class as her intro to yoga, but i kept my comments to myself and gave her a few more words of support and encouragement before we parted ways.

as i walked back to my car, i wondered why she had decided to take her first class there. was it because she popped into the studio on a whim (hence the jeans) as she was walking/driving by? was it because it was close to her home? or was the "donation basis" class the only option she could afford? i never got a chance to ask her; i thought it would be too nosy on my part if i did.

so i got to thinking: where would i send someone on a budget who had never taken a yoga class before?

after some research, i came up with these studios that would be great places to get started:

Santa Monica Yoga - 1640 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405; (310) 396-4040
Free Orientation - First Saturday of Each Month, 12:30-2:00pm
Santa Monica Yoga welcomes new students to our studio for a free orientation. Learn about what yoga is, where it came from and basic guidelines for practice. We also help you find classes that suit your needs and answer any questions you may have. A beginning level class will be included. Anyone who attends a free orientation, who has not previously purchased a pass at Santa Monica Yoga, is eligible to purchase a 5, 10, 15, or 20-class pass at a 20% discount that day.

Yoga Works - Larchmont, Montana, and Westwood studios
Free Orientation - schedule varies by location
Format: Discussion and overview of yoga basics plus a chance to experience a mini-yoga practice. The class will be gentle, and will include a sample of basic poses. Students may wear street attire.The free orientation is ideal for brand new students of yoga.
• Learn why yoga is great for everyone (you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga)
• Learn the basic tools/postures of a hatha yoga practice
• Discussion of the benefits of yoga and the healing aspects of yoga
• This is a welcoming and non-intimidating environment to learn yoga basics, descriptions of the different styles of yoga, and to get the opportunity to experience for yourself yoga's beneficial effects.

Karuna Yoga - 1939 1/2 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027; (323) 665-6242
Free Beginners Yoga - Every 1st Saturday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm
If you have been thinking about taking Yoga or know someone who would like to take Yoga - this class is for you. Karuna's owner, Kelly, will gently guide you through vocabulary, postures & breathing techniques while providing insight into basic yogic philosophy.
Once you experience this intro to Yoga, you will be fully prepared to take any class at Karuna. Karuna Yoga is a comforting safe space for all to unite with their great compassion.

BKS Iyengar Institute - 8233 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048; (323) 653-0357
Introductory Course - Six Wednesdays, 6/1 - 7/12, 7:00-8:15pm, $75 for the series
Anyone is welcome to come to the Institute and begin studying at any level one class. Tell the teacher you are new and begin from where you are. However, if you are new to yoga or Iyengar yoga, a good place to begin (if your schedule allows for it) is with an Introductory Course. You are introduced to the fundamentals, such as the language we use, the props and simple relaxation techniques. It is a cumulative series of 6 classes, each building on the one before. No drop-ins. Preregistration and prepayment is required. After completing the course, you'll receive 15% off your next plan to get you started.

Yoga House - 11 West State Street, Pasadena, CA 91105; (626) 403-3961
Yoga 101: A Workshop in the Basics - Saturday or Sunday on selected weekends, 2:00-5:00pm, $25
Starting from Square One. Our monthly beginning workshop provides new students with a grounding in the basics as we break down a level 1 class step by step:
The Dynamics of Yoga:
Pranayama: essential breathing techniques
Asanas: the correct form of basic postures
The Classical Sun Salutation Sequence
Savasana: the pose of deep relaxation
For pre-registration with payment and more information call Yoga House at(626) 403-3961
Students of Yoga 101 graduate fully prepared to enter any level 1 class at Yoga House and are eligible for a 10% discount on their first class series or membership!
Special Offer — Yoga 101 + 3: Includes workshop plus three single classes, $50 (a $70 value!)

Insight Yoga - 95 North Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101; (626) 796-1102
Insight Yoga is the perfect place for anyone completely new to yoga to take their first class! In fact, we specialize in teaching Beginners!
At Insight Yoga, we are committed to providing a warm, inviting, family atmosphere where individuals can be introduced to yoga regardless of age, physical limitations, injuries or even intent. Whether you are interested in trying yoga to relieve stress, get a great workout, stretch your tight muscles, or if you’re looking for a deep path to facilitate inner peace, self-realization and contentment, we have a class that is right for you.
For new students your FIRST CLASS IS ONLY $5! After that, we hope that you will take advantage of our new student special—Purchase a 10 Class Yoga Series (valid for six months, and can be used for any class) and receive a FREE YOGA MAT! (A $30 value!)

and here are some other studios that teach beginner-level classes and/or have more comprehensive (although pricier) intro to yoga workshops:
Sacred Movement - 245 South Main Street, Venice, CA 90291; (310) 450-7676
Forrest Yoga - 1430 Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404; (310) 581-8900
Liberation Yoga - 124 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036; (323) 964-5222
Silver Lake Yoga - 2810 1/2 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039; (323) 953-0496
Black Dog Yoga - 4454 Van Nuys Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; (818) 380-0331
City Yoga - 1067 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046; (323) 654-2125
Mission Street Yoga - 1017 Mission Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030; (626) 441-1144
Yoga Inside Out - 8741 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069; (310) 855-9642

i can only hope that by posting this, i'm preventing another yoga beginner from experiencing the same frustration that poor woman had to endure!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

better living through yoga

at some point in my running career, i subscribed to runner's world magazine to get the scoop on running tips, techniques, and events. now that i've put my marathon running on hold and let my subscription lapse, i still continue to receive e-mails from rodale, the magazine's publisher. their periodic updates remind me that deep down, i'm still a runner, and that i'd better start running longer distances soon before my body forgets that it can do 26.2...

just the other day, i got this message from them:

"Hello, long weekend! When it's over, you want to look and feel refreshed, right? But even with a few days off ahead, a tension headache, sleeplessness, or a toddler tantrum can screw up your downtime. Try this: Use these bite-size yoga and balanced living tips to help you get all you can from today. Then, for more advice to help you live better every day, check out the new YogaLife magazine at your local newsstand..."

so it appears that there's now a similar magazine that talks about yoga tips, techniques, and maybe even events?

anyway, in that same e-mail message, in addition to talking about how yoga helps relieve stress, how a diet based on the ancient ayurveda science can bring back balance to your body, as well as some yoga do's and don'ts, there was a link to how to select the right yoga type for your fitness goals.

here's an excerpt from that article:

Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga
What It Is: Yoga poses in a sauna. Classrooms are heated from 95 to 102 degrees. If it’s called “Bikram” (for inventor Bikram Choudhury), it will be a series of 26 postures, each performed twice.
Best For: Weight loss; you can burn 350 to 600 calories in one class. You’ll build stamina as well. “Tolerating the heat is really an athletic challenge,’’ says Donna Rubin, co-owner of Bikram Yoga New York.
Who’s Gotta Have It: Exert-aholics, ex-jocks, and others who don’t think they’ve worked out unless they leave a puddle.
Need To Know: If touching your toes is a pipe dream, take heart: The steamy air will increase your flexibility. However, this kind of heat can be like lots of martinis—you’re too loose. So don’t overstretch and injure yourself, champ.
Cheat Sheet: Leave the modesty at home. To keep your core temperature down, wear as little as possible. A sports bra and boy shorts will suffice. Stay hydrated.
Famous For: Hollywood students like Goldie Hawn, Choudhury’s flamboyant capitalist shtick (he collects Bentleys and Rolls Royces), and outrageous quotes (“I have balls like atom bombs!’’).

Ashtanga, Power Yoga, and Vinyasa
What It Is: Vinyasa means flow, and each of these three systems links poses together in a long, choreographed, rapidly moving sequence.
Best For: Cardio (no such thing as catching your breath between postures), and strength gains without weights. Devised for young jocks in India, this will get you cut, fast.
Who’s Gotta Have It: CEOs, ESQs, CPAs (anyone with three letters after their name, even if they’re OCD). “Ashtanga appeals to Type A personalities—driven, intense people who like its linear quality,” explains Natasha Rizopoulos, star of the Yoga Step-By-Step DVD series.
Need To Know: The poses, before your first class. You can’t flow if you don’t know up dog from down dog. Get some experience at another, slower studio (see Iyengar) before you come here.
Cheat Sheet: Stick with it—four times a week is ideal, but steady gains come with twice weekly sessions.
Famous For: Kate Hudson’s slamming postbaby body and Zen mamma attitude.

What It Is: Purist yoga named after founder B.K.S. Iyengar. Props—blocks, straps, harnesses, and incline boards—are used to get you more perfectly into positions. That’s why Iyengar’s nicknamed “furniture yoga.”
Best For: Learning the fundamentals, which builds a superior foundation for other styles. Plus it systematically works every part of your body, giving you great muscle definition, not mass.
Best For: Patient perfectionists. Detail-oriented folks who want to “do it right” rather than “just do it” will get the most from it, says Roger Cole, Ph.D., a certified Iyengar teacher in Del Mar, California.
Need To Know: If you’re straining to reach the floor, place one of those Styrofoam or wooden blocks so it meets your hand partway. Remember, there’s no shame in this.
Cheat Sheet: These teachers are sticklers for alignment. Wear fitted clothing so they can check your form.
Famous For: Andie McDowell’s rocking 47-year-old figure and Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, the 1966 bible of this discipline.

What It Is: Iyengar with a sense of humor. Created by the aptly named John Friend, it’s meant to be humorous, heartfelt, and accepting. “Instead of trying to fit everyone into standard cookie-cutter positions, students are guided to express themselves through the poses to their fullest ability,” says Rama Patella, a certified Anusara teacher at Yoga Mandali in New York City.
Best For: Mood enhancement, via upbeat vibe; practicing when out of shape, because you won’t be pushed too far; and learning proper alignment to prevent injuries—in all exercises, not just yoga.
Who’s Gotta Have It: Nervous Newbies. It’s nonthreatening and the workout is less intense than Ashtanga or Bikram.
Need To Know: You may be asked to partner with strangers and clap for your classmates, so if that makes you cringe, better to avoid.
Cheat Sheet: Anusara definitely has a spiritual side. As a class you offer yourself “to the light,” or the goodness inside of you. Just go with it. You do have goodness, right?
Famous For: Being the fastest-growing, trendiest yoga du jour, with over 1,000 teachers worldwide. Plus, the Deadhead-like following on Friend’s Mystical Merry Band Tours of the United States.

Gentle or Restorative Yoga
What It Is: Less work, more relaxation. You’ll spend as many as 20 minutes each in just four to five simple poses (often they’re modifications of standard asanas) using strategically placed props.
Best For: Rehabbing an injury, with blood flow and healing pushed to problem areas without straining them. A bolster under your knees while lying down, for example, supports the leg bones enough to let the muscles stop contracting. There’s also psychic cleansing: The mind goes to mush, then you feel like new. And it’s a great option if you’re simply tired one night and not up for a regular class.
Who’s Gotta Have It: New and expectant moms. This gentle approach can even help with menstrual cramps.
Need To Know: Share what ails you with the teacher in private, before class, so they can pick poses that will lessen the pain of a slipped disk, for example.
Cheat Sheet: Slow-mo doesn’t generate body heat, so bring along a sweatshirt, socks, and even a skull cap to stay warm, cozy, and cute.
Famous For: Too low-key to be famous. Should be.

more info can be found online at their new website, www.iyogalife.com.

considering that there's now yet another magazine devoted to all things yoga, it appears that yoga's quite the hip trend now, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

my practice so far

i really have nothing better to talk about tonight, so since it's been almost two months since i last posted the list of classes i've taken, i may as well do that now. in the interest of space, rather than fill in my usual grid with the dates, teachers, studios, etc., i'll just summarize the styles of yoga i've practiced since that last post and the teachers who've led me along my yogic journey:

hatha / vinyasa flow:
saul david raye (sacred movement)
kishan shah (santa monica yoga)
erich schiffmann (sacred movement)
julian walker (santa monica yoga, yoga groove collective events)
hala khouri (sacred movement, yoga groove collective events)
leslie (self-realization fellowship)
christine burke (liberation yoga)
seane corn (yoga groove collective events)
liza savage-katz (exhale santa monica)
shiva rea (sacred movement)
mela butcher (yogaworks main street) *
kathleen kastner (maha yoga)
brock cahill (yogaworks main street) *
tracy krosnoff (sacred movement)
james brown (yogaworks montana) *
joan hyman (yogaworks larchmont) *
pj haring (sacred movement)

jane alpert (power yoga east)
ashley turner (power yoga west*, yoga groove collective events)
bryan kest (power yoga east)
vytas baskauskas (power yoga east)
kristin (power yoga west) *
andrea marcum (u studio) *
ally hamilton (power yoga west) *
rudy mettia (power yoga west) *
aras baskauskas (maha yoga)

chris stein (iyengar institute) *

guru jagat kaur (yoga west)

light (maha yoga)
matt reyes (yogamatt, lululemon event*)
tom morley (maha yoga)
jennifer galardi (lululemon event) *
eka ekong (lululemon event) *
kourtney kaas (lululemon event) *
missy costello (lululemon event) *
david romanelli (exhale santa monica)

stephen dean (still yoga) *
city yoga teacher trainees (city yoga) *
noah maze (city yoga) *
stuart hanna (mission street yoga) *

aaron reed (sacred movement)
saraswati browne (yogaworks montana) *

jodi blumstein (karuna yoga) *
gary margolin (home simply yoga) *

* FREE classes (work/study or intro offer)

i've logged a total of 36 yoga studios into my platial map, with seven of them added on since the beginning of april. despite that large number, it's hard to believe that i still have many more to visit before i can claim to have visited every yoga studio in LA. for one thing, i haven't even started hitting the south bay sites, nor have i taken a single bikram class at any of the franchise locations. not only that, but TWO more yoga studios will be opening up here on the westside next month -- yogahop in santa monica and progressive power yoga in brentwood!

i still have a long road ahead of me, don't i?

Monday, May 22, 2006

eureka! i have found it!

for some time now, the westside yoga community has been buzzing with the rumors of a new yoga studio. everyone knew that matt reyes, of maha and yogamatt fame, was setting up a place on this side of the 405. problem was, no one knew where it was going to be, who were going to be teaching there, and when it was going to open.

since i'm quickly becoming quite acquainted with the goings-on in the LA yoga community, thanks to all of my local yoga adventures, i'd been able to do some sleuthing of my own. but i had to keep my findings to myself, out of respect to matt and all his cohorts.

that is, until now :)

the new yoga studio that matt's groupies have been waiting for finally has a name and a location (i might be jumping the gun here, but since the website's up and running, i assume that it's no longer a secret):

1612 montana avenue, 2nd floor
santa monica, CA 90403

(310) 829-5000
website: www.yogahop.com

YogaHop is the home of high energy, FUN yoga.

Yoga classes at YogaHop are electrified by a selection of the world's hottest jams. YogaHop's classes have the intimate feel of personalized instruction in an exciting, motivating group environment. Fueled by great music and highly-trained instructors, YogaHop is the most exhilarating and soulful way to experience yoga.

yogahop is in the space where forrest yoga used to be. it's a few blocks east of yoga works montana, just upstairs from barkley hope and the 17th street cafe. you can access the studio via the stairs on the back side of the building.

here's the teaching staff:
Missy Costello
Catherine Cox
Eka Ekong
Nicky Freeland
Jennifer Galardi
Greville Henwood
Carrie Horscovici
Kourtney Kaas
Jennifer Moore
Matthew Reyes
Amber Sealy

according to the website, classes supposedly started today, may 22nd, but since i haven't received an email blast from matt nor anyone associated with the studio, it may just be a test schedule.

*** update: the opening date still has to be announced (and the generic schedule is now listed here)

i'll post more info when i hear more.

let the party begin!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

for it is in giving that we receive

a couple of weeks ago, around the time i first heard about the yoga groove collective's youthAIDS benefit at yogaworks montana, i came across a flyer at sacred movement about a limited edition yoga, tribe and culture shirt for "off the mat into the world", seane corn's youthAIDS fundraising campaign. for every shirt sold, $10 was going to support AIDS education. it sounded like the perfect time for me to dole out some good money for a good cause. after all, i had always wanted to own a YTC tank ever since i first spotted someone wearing one at a maha class (where all yoga fashion trends seem to emanate) but i could never justify its price. not until now.

being the yoga fashionista that i sometimes think i am, i thought it would be cool if i could wear that fundraiser tank to the upcoming benefit. the problem was, none of the studios i had visited carried the shirt. not sacred movement, where seane teaches. not yogaworks, where the benefit was going to be held. in fact, it wasn't even sold at the yogatribeandculture.com online store. with the event date fast approaching, i ended up emailing the YTC folk for information. and they were nice enough to allow me to drop by their office so i could have the shirt right away.

this past saturday, i showed up at the benefit with my eggplant-colored tank... and found out that all the yogaworks employees were dressed in similar shirts. normally, it would be considered a major fashion disaster to be seen wearing the same outfit as anyone else, but in this case, it made me feel like i was part of an elite group. in fact, during seane's opening remarks, she acknowledged and thanked the two of us in the class who were wearing the shirt that evening. hmmm... maybe i crave attention a little too much?

as for the class, it was definitely a more intimate version of the one held at sacred movement the month before. the room was about half the size, so there were about half as many in attendance. the same four yoga instructors team-taught the class -- seane corn, hala khouri, ashley turner, and julian walker -- but this time, the musical contingent was smaller; it was suzanne sterling singing with her harmonium, accompanied by some guy (didn't catch his name) on a digiridoo. compared to the last event, there seemed to be more yoga asanas, less trance dance, and even less chanting. the tag-team yoga was fun, yet so intense that all the windows eventually had to be opened to let out the steam (and fortunately, there was lots of fiji water so we could rehydrate). but while i liked the fact that i didn't have to spend as much time improvising freeform movement, i was very disappointed that there wasn't as much musical entertainment as i had hoped there would be.

when the event came to a close, everyone was handed a goodie bag. mine contained an amazing selection of items: a yogaworks t-shirt (in a size small enough to fit me!), a yogaworks gift certificate for a week's worth of unlimited yoga classes at any location, the latest copy of yogitimes, a $10 dhaba gift certificate, $5 off a $30 purchase at the online hugger mugger store, a clif bar (courtesy of wild oats, perhaps?), and, get this, ANOTHER "off the mat into the world" tank (thankfully, in a different color)! the combined retail value of all the items easily exceeded the suggested donation of $25. and that didn't even include the complimentary wine and cheese that was served to us before and after class! i expected to receive a gift of some sort, but this was way more than i had hoped for!

it sure pays to give, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

mad props

getting older sucks.

this past week, i'd been nursing an achy lower back and a sore shoulder. the back is a chronic on-again-off-again thing that i've had to deal with for some time now; i'm convinced it's due to a combination of bad posture, too much time in front of the computer, and tight hip muscles. as for the shoulder, it's the price i had to pay for whacking golf balls at the driving range last week without having stretched properly beforehand. and it sure didn't help that it was the first time i had picked up a golf club in three months.

i had a massage therapist work on the sore spots last tuesday. despite her best efforts, they were still sore the next day. as well as the next, when i took a power yoga class with rudy mettia, who decided to focus on, wouldn't you know it, shoulders and hips. and no, the pains didn't get worse, but then again, they didn't get any better.

after playing nine holes of golf at a local par-3 course on friday morning, and realizing that i was scheduled to run eight miles with a friend saturday morning, i decided i needed to pamper myself friday evening. so i took a restorative yoga class with saraswati browne at yogaworks montana.

i could tell right away that she was an iyengar-trained teacher. the invocation to patanjali that she had us chant at the start of the class was a dead giveaway.

that evening, we did no push-ups, no chaturangas, no up dogs, no down dogs.

since there were only about half a dozen students in her class, she opted to get REALLY creative that evening. when all was said and done, we had each used SIX blankets, FOUR chairs, TWO bolsters, TWO blocks, and ONE strap. and our yoga mats. not all at the same time, mind you, but it was close.

we did some basic stuff to get warmed up, then it was time to get the show on the road.

1. mad prop pose #1 - supported shoulderstand and halasana

4 metal folding chairs
2 blankets
1 sticky mat

- place all chairs so the seats are facing each other (imagine one at 12 o'clock, another at 6, the others at 4 and 8).
- fold both blankets lengthwise and stack them at the foot of the 12 o'clock chair.
- fold the sticky mat and place it on the seat of that same chair.
- sit on the chair facing backwards, with your legs over the back of the chair, then carefully slide down the front until your shoulders are on the blankets, holding on to the back legs of the chair for support.
- once there, put your legs up in shoulderstand; release the legs and lay your arms to the side if comfortable.
- after a few minutes, push your legs back in halasana, supporting your feet with the 6 o'clock chair.
- after a few more minutes, move your feet apart to the opposite edges of the chair, then carefully move each foot to the 4 and 8 o'clock chairs, assuming a wide-legged shoulderstand.
- when you're ready to come out of the pose, move your legs back to shoulderstand, carefully lower your feet to the chair, then push the chair back until you can bring your legs to the floor.

2. mad prop pose #2 - supported supta badakonasana

2 bolsters
6 blankets
1 strap
1 sticky mat

- with the sticky mat now back on the floor, lay one of the blankets over the mat.
- put both bolsters side-by-side horizontally at the top of the mat, separated by a few inches.
- fold up a blanket into a small square and put it on top of the uppermost bolster. your head is going to end up on this bolster/blanket.
- fold two blankets into long rectangles and place them to the side of the lower bolster. your back is going to be supported by this bolster, your arms are going to lay out to the side over the folded blankets, and your shoulders are going to hang in the space between the two bolsters.
- sit on the mat/blanket just below the lower bolster. get the strap, make a loop, put the loop over your body, sit in badakanasana, then place the strap so that it goes under your feet, over your knees, and behind your lower back. roll up the remaining two blankets and place them under your thighs and shins to support them.
- now slowly lay back, and enjoy.

3. mad prop pose #3 - supported savasana (i was so relaxed at this point that i'm not sure if i'm remembering this correctly)

2 bolsters
4 blankets
1 block

- leave the blanket over the mat. turn one bolster so that it's now lengthwise somewhere in the middle of the mat. this will support your back.
- move the other bolster so that it's laying horizontally below the first bolster. your knees will go over this one.
- fold up one blanket and put it at the top of the mat (or the bolster). your head will go here.
- move the arm blanket rectangles so that they're in the right place for your arms.
- now sit between the two bolsters, lay back over the lengthwise bolster, put your head on the folded blanket, your knees over the horizontal bolster, your arms on the folded blankets to the side, and have someone put a block under your feet (or set it up yourself right before you lie down).
an optional eye pillow is the perfect addition to this pose!

once we came back to a sitting position, we chanted a few oms, exchanged namastes, and were ready for the weekend ahead...

... and when i woke up this morning, both the aches in my lower back and my shoulder were gone! did the class have anything to do with it, or did they eventually resolve themselves?

i'll let you decide...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

feeling generous?

if you're flush with cash (or even if you're not) and would like to help the community in some way, you might want to consider attending and donating to a benefit event or two at these local yoga studios:

bala yoga
145 north la brea, los angeles

On the first Friday of every month Bala Yoga will host its signature LIVE DJ YOGA, featuring well-known DJs whose rhythms will get you moving!
By DONATION. Proceeds to benefit the instructor’s charity of choice.
Meet and mingle with fellow yogis over wine and cheese afterwards!

Friday, June 2
7:30-9:30pm with Peter Barnett

Peter has chosen NextAid as his charity. NextAid is a Los Angeles based non-profit organization dedicated to creating sustainable solutions for African children orphaned as a result of AIDS. NextAid actively links artists, musicians and the global community with some of the most impoverished and vulnerable children on the planet. By partnering with various organizations in the production of music events and other awareness raising activities, NextAid channels emergency and long-term aid to African children in need.
NextAid is committed to represent the international dance community in its effective and practical response to the AIDS pandemic.
For more info, visit: www.nextaid.org

insight yoga
95 north marengo avenue, pasadena

Help us serve the community by joining us for fundraising charity events. Our Kirtan For A Cause program allows you to participate in call and response chanting with some of the best known chanting artists in the country. Get to know the Insight Yoga family, enjoy some singing and fabulous bands, and help out while you do it.

Saturday July 15

Kirtan with Girish to benefit support for Breast Cancer victims.

Friday, August 4

Kirtan with Vaiyasaki Das – this internationally known Kirtan leader and Insight Yoga will raise money for the Children’s Cancer Society - financial assistance for childhood-related cancer.

sacred movement center for yoga (aka exhale venice)
245 south main street, venice

Give what you can, and from your heart. All proceeds from this donation class go to exhalesoul, our non-profit foundation that focuses on community outreach and service. Each month a different teacher will host a class with a special theme that will touch your soul. Check our event calendar for more details. Suggested donation $15.

Sunday, May 21

Vinyasa for Inspiration and Awakening
with Hala Khouri, Micheline Berry, and Shaman's Dream

Join Micheline and Hala for a fluid journey through yoga, live music, dance and ritual.

Sunday, June 18

Spontaneous Pathways: A Musical, Fanciful, All Levels Class
with Jamie Elmer and Sherry Brourman

Based on their instincts and intuition, Jamie Elmer and Sherry Brourman will work together, as they have for years, to unfold a light and delicious sequential class. It will be, of course, spine stabilizing, uplifting and fun: sure to include heart openers, inversions, breath work, musical delights and surprises along the way.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

joyfully challenged

City Yoga
1067 North Fairfax Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 654-2125

City Yoga was created as a refuge from the chaos of city life. No other time in history has presented us with more choices, more speed and more stress. We need a community, a kula in Sanskrit, to feel safe to explore our full potential and what it means to be fully human.

while going over my various posts on yoga studios, i realized that i didn't have one that focused on city yoga in west hollywood. i found it hard to believe, especially since my first class there five months ago was my initial foray into anusara yoga. not only that, but i had been there a few more times since then. i guess it somehow slipped through the cracks, so it's about time i rectified that.

i'm not sure how long city yoga's been around, but it seems like it most of the anusara teachers in town can trace their roots to this wonderful place, which is located on the second and third floors of a brick building at the busy corner of fairfax and santa monica.

the first time i took a class there, i remember having a very happy and energetic teacher, landry matthews, a recent transplant from arizona. my next class was taught by anthony benenati, owner of city yoga, who was equally happy and energetic. then recently, i volunteered to be a "guinea pig" for the teacher training class. and wouldn't you know it, all the teachers-in-training were happy and energetic, too! coincidence? i think not.

as a thank-you gift for my volunteer efforts at that training class, i was given two free class passes which had to be used within a month. not wanting to lose out on a good deal, i quickly scanned the class schedule and the teacher bios and came up with my first class: a monday night advanced class with noah maze, a senior certified teacher who's been working with john friend and anusara practically since the get-go. he leads workshops and retreats almost every other week, so that fact that he was actually in town to teach a class was a special treat.

initially, i was hesitant about taking an advanced class, but the basics class sounded too, well, basic. after all, according to their class descriptions, an advanced class was "comparable to level-2-3, for intermediate and advanced students", and i definitely considered myself an intermediate student. i wanted to be challenged. and challenged i was.

noah started the class by asking us to leave our comfort zones and be open to something different. i was game; after all, with all the teacher-hopping i've been doing, every class for me has been different. he then asked all of us to roll up our yoga mats and set them aside. we were not allowed to use any props nor blankets. and yes, that meant that we were going to practice on the bare hardwood floor. since there were only a dozen of us in the class, he had us form two rows facing inward towards each other. starting in a seated position, we chanted three oms, followed by this opening mantra:

Namah Shivaya Gurave
Satchidananda Murtaye
Nishprapanchaya Shantaya
Niralambaya Tejase

then the fun began.

we did sun salutations on the bare floor, using nothing but the floor planks as alignment aids. from there, we were told to do a wide-legged standing forward bend, then move up to our toes, then slide our feet together, then next thing i knew, he was using me as an example to show how to get to a handstand from there! me, the "i can't do a handstand to save my life" yoga student! i made a valiant effort to stay upright with his help, although every time he let go of my legs, they kept wanting to fall over :( and when he finally let me lower my legs back to the floor, everyone applauded (of course, everyone applauds anyone who's used as a demo, but that's beside the point). we then had to work with a partner and repeat the movement. luckily for me, my partner (whose name i can't remember) was able to do the handstand on her own, so all i did was watch in awe while she made it look effortless.

once that was over, he made us each take a blanket from the closet at the back of the room. he had us go into plank with the blanket underneath our toes, then we had to slide our toes forward until they came to our hands, then back to plank. after spending some time feeling like we were polishing the floor, he instructed us to use that movement to propel our legs up into handstand. again, my partner helped me get my legs up into the air. at this point, i was beginning to get the feel of how to align my chest and my arms and do the ab control thing, so i felt like i had accomplished something, even if i still couldn't do a handstand on my own.

then came blanket exercise number two. with our blankets spread out horizontally, we were told to push in the left and right edges towards the middle. then while standing on the scrunched-up blanket, we had to slide our legs out as far as they would go, then hold them in that position. why for? to demonstrate how we were supposed to isometrically use our thighs to hold an open-legged pose (or something to that effect. i was busy trying to keep my legs from sliding out from under me and didn't hear everything he said).

the most enlightening part of the class was that i found out that i could do quite well without a yoga mat. standing poses and seated poses weren't a problem. and the balance poses like half moon and tree actually seemed easier, mainly because i was able to grip the floor with my toes every time i felt a shift in my balance. i did have some slight problems with the poses that required me to put some weight on my knees, like pigeon and the halfway-to-full-split pose whose name i can't remember, but once i got my weight off my kneecaps, things felt tentative but fine. even the final savasana at the end of the class felt comfortable without the slight cushioning of a yoga mat. which was really amazing, given that my lower back has been feeling tight and achy lately.

now the dilemma: i have one more class freebie to use up in two weeks. do i want to try another teacher, or do i want to take another of noah's classes? since everyone i've worked with at city yoga has been so wonderful, it's going to be a hard decision!

Monday, May 15, 2006

youthAIDS benefit updates

ever since my post last week about the youthAIDS benefit at yoga works montana this saturday, may 20th, i've found out that there have been a few updates to the schedule. for one thing, some of the advertised teachers have been changed; the list of new teachers is now online. also, some of the sponsors will be giving away gifts at selected classes only, so if there's a specific vendor you're interested in, you might want to attend the class it will be sponsoring.

here's the revised schedule as of may 15th:

7:30am-8:55amYoga Works (1)Roberta LombardiWild Oats, Guayaki Yerba Mate
7:30am-9:00amYoga Works (2&3)Sonya CottleWild Oats, Guayaki Yerba Mate
9:00am-10:25amYoga Works (2)Natasha RizopoulosJurlique
9:00am-10:35amIyengar (2&3)Garth McLean (was Paul Cabanis)Jurlique
10:30am-11:55amYoga Works (1&2)Roberta LombardiHugger Mugger
10:45am-12:10pmVinyasa Flow (2&3)Jesse SteinHugger Mugger
12:00pm-1:00pmYoga for Kids (3-7)Greville Henwoodbabystyle, Wild Oats
12:30pm-1:55pmYoga Works (2)Krista Foster (was Joan Hyman)Moonstruck Chocolates, Wild Oats
1:15pm-2:45pmPrenatal YogaAlexandra Lauterio (was Lisa Levitt)babystyle, Homemade Baby
2:00pm-3:30pmIyengar (1&2)Larry Heliker (was Marla Apt)Prana
3:00pm-4:30pmBeginner's YogaRoberta LombardiYoga Works
4:00pm-5:25pmYoga Works (1)Emily MaupinDhaba, Loved Dog
5:15pm-6:45pmYoga Works (1&2)Ambre Lee (was Nate Brewer)Cheese Impresario, Dhaba, Lotion Glow
5:30pm-6:55pmVinyasa Flow (2)Arthur JeonCheese Impresario, Dhaba, Lotion Glow
7:30pm-10:00pmYouthAIDS benefitSeane Corn, Hala Khouri, Ashley Turner, Julian Walker, Suzanne Sterling 

both yogi times and fiji water will be sponsoring the entire day's events.

all classes at the montana location on that day will be FREE, except for the evening benefit event which has a suggested donation of $25.

watch this space for more updates, if i hear of any...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

survivor yoga

the winner of the "survivor - panama exile island" series has just been revealed. aras baskauskas, santa monica resident and westside yoga teacher, has just found himself a million dollars richer (at least until he pays the taxes due on his winnings).

and as i had expected, the hits to my blogsite based on searches for "aras baskauskas" increased tremendously in the last week. so for all of you star-struck yoga practitioners who want to take a class with this new celebrity, here's his schedule:

Shakti's Elements, 717 Broadway, Santa Monica
time: Tues & Thur 10:30am
price: All classes are on a donation basis, $12 suggested per class
parking: metered parking available around the studio (santa monica lives off parking ticket fines, so make sure you feed your meter as needed)

Power Yoga East, 522 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica (above the Radio Shack store)
time: Sat 1:00pm
price: All classes are on a donation basis, $11 suggested per class
parking: besides nearby metered parking on the street and at the library, the closest public parking structures are north and south of santa monica blvd on 4th street (first 2 hours free)

Maha Yoga, 13050 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles (in Brentwood, above the Starbucks store)
time: Mon & Wed & Fri 12:45pm, Sun 4pm
price: Aras's classes are currently at an intro price of $10 per class
parking: besides limited free and metered street parking, validated parking is available underneath the building. DO NOT PARK IN THE BRENTWOOD COUNTRY MART LOT; THEY WILL TOW!

if you watched the final episode, you know that he's currently out of town and won't be back until after he picks up his check on the CBS early show tomorrow. so if you were planning to see him at his maha class this monday, he won't be there, although i'm sure his sub will be more than happy to teach you anyway :)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

another new kid on the block

yesterday, while i was searching the internet for a bio on gary margolin for my LA teacher list, aka the is this what you're looking for? post, i found a message on a bulletin board that said gary taught an ashtanga class at yoga villa in north hollywood. but when i visited the yoga villa website, i found this notice:

Notice -- Yoga Villa is now Closed!!

Shift Happens

To all of our students and friends in the Yoga Villa community;

Some of you may have noticed the "shift" happening in our neighborhood. We are being surrounded by growth and change. The five houses across the street as well as the buildings kitty corner to us have been sold and will soon be torn down to make room for high end condo buildings. With this shift, we will be subjected to over six months of noise, disruption and difficult parking on our quiet little street. Since we opened in 2002 we have weathered many "shifts" together, from the zoning variance challenge, to the more recent demands on my schedule due to the success of Desperate Housewives, which no one could have anticipated when we opened. Like our neighborhood, things are changing and expanding for all of us. Our beloved teacher Claire Hartley, is opening her own studio in April. We are thrilled for her as she embarks on her own yoga adventure as a studio owner and encourage you to practice with her at her studio, Rising Lotus in Sherman Oaks. http://www.risinglotusyoga.com

With all these things happening simultaneously, after long deliberation, soul searching and exhausting the many options at our disposal, Tom and I have decided to close Yoga Villa as of March 31st. As many of you have heard me say in class "the transitions are as important as the poses" and I am confident that we as a community can transition with grace and ease into the next phase of our growth together.

Yoga Villa has truly been a gift. The student and teachers have grown side by side, and I feel in many ways that what we set out to accomplish has been met, mastered, and fulfilled. I knew I wanted to give a gift to our community through Yoga, what I didn't realize was the depth of the gift the community would give to us in return. We hope we have helped facilitate a deeper understanding of Yoga, the unity of all things, and that you are able to practice in life what we encourage you to practice on the mat.

Yoga teaches us that the root to most suffering is in the attachment or the resistance to what is, and so we gratefully receive the opportunities presented to us all to embrace this transition with joy and equanimity.

We encourage you to use up the classes you have left on your series, or to purchase single classes so that you don't have any excess classes left by March 31st. If you have any concerns regarding your series, don't hesitate to speak to Tahni our office manager or myself or Tom and we will address those on a case by case basis. We will be having an evening celebration for the community on March 31st at 6pm to join together to rejoice the rare and beautiful time we have shared together. We invite you to come and celebrate with us. As with every breath, the inhale represents birth and the exhale death, and with each breath we practice this cycle of life. We all have ridden the breath together, and are better for it.

Blessings on you all,

Brenda Strong and Tom Henri

it's sad when a studio has to close, because more often than not, the newly-displaced teachers end up having to scramble for new jobs. and maybe not as financially disruptive but inconvenient nonetheless is that the students have to start searching for new classes to attend; not only do they have to find another conveniently-located studio, but more importantly, they have to find a teacher with a compatible teaching style.

claire hartley's new studio, rising lotus yoga, is only about 4 miles due west of yoga villa. i'm not sure what the traffic patterns are in the san fernando valley, but i would think that the longer/shorter drive time can't be more than 10 minutes. as for her teaching staff, the only teacher i'm familiar with is daniel stewart, the studio co-owner, whose class at santa monica yoga i've taken and loved.

so if you ever find yourself near sherman oaks anytime soon, you might want to give this new yoga space a try. i'm sure both claire and daniel have put a lot of thought into their choice of teachers, so you really have nothing to lose. and if you go to the rising lotus website and add your name to their mailing list, they'll send you a coupon for 15% off any class package (although the coupon i got supposedly expired on may 1st of this year?).

good luck to the newest addition to the yoga community!

Friday, May 12, 2006

progress report

Home Simply Yoga
1547 6th Street

Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 899-1930

We will be using a modern approach to the ancient Ashtanga system, as taught by T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois with individualized instruction being given in a group setting. In this way we can insure that the practice of yoga suits an individual's needs and abilities, providing appropriate physical challenges along with multiple healing benefits.

last february, i had heard about a new yoga studio that had opened just a mile or two down the street from my home. when i checked out its website, i had found out that not only was it primarily an ashtanga studio, but it also charged $20 per class! i couldn't see myself paying a lot of money for a style of yoga that i didn't particularly care for. which really bothered me, because, if you haven't figured it out yet by now, i've been trying to hit every yoga studio in town. and not being able to take a class at this studio was getting in the way of that goal.

anyway, i finally did manage to check off home simply yoga from my to-do list, thanks to jodi and my positive experience in her ashtanga class earlier in the week and the free pass i got from the salesperson at the lucy store. and not only did i enjoy my visit, but i believe i've made another step forward in my ashtanga practice.

when i walked through the sliding glass door, i was greeted by gary margolin, studio owner (or part owner?) and the designated instructor for that evening's class. since i had shown up early, he gave me a quick tour of the place. he explained that everything in the studio was eco-friendly, from the PVC-free yoga mats for sale in the boutique to the relatively paperless way they did business (information is shared via email and phone). the mahogany wood flooring as well as the cabinets were recycled; they were taken from the former AX armani exchange store in santa monica when it was converted into the new planet blue store. even the paper cups for the water and tea were made of recycled materials. and if that weren't enough to show their commitment to the environment, the studio also gives discounts to all students who either walk, bike, or take the bus to class. so since it's only one bus ride away for me, you know how i'm getting there the next time i show up for class!

according to yogajournal.com, home simply yoga is "A modern approach to the ancient Ashtanga practice where individualized attention and therapeutic applications create a private lesson in a group setting." and after taking gary's led ashtanga level one class, i totally agree.

there were five students in our class. two were brand-new to yoga, two had been taking hatha classes and were new to ashtanga, and one was a seasoned practitioner and regular who had brought along two of her friends (one of the beginners and one of the hatha students). during the course of the class, gary explained to us the reasons behind the poses in the series, how one logically led to the next, and the best way to get into each pose. in the interest of time, he skipped over some poses but instructed the "veteran" to follow the series as appropriate and catch up with us whenever possible. i don't think there was any time when any of us felt like we were in over our heads (or likewise, bored while he went over the basics with the newbies). while some of us worked on modified jump-throughs and jump-backs, others just skipped the vinyasa altogether. and that was perfectly okay.

i really don't know how large the classes get, but it seemed, at least for that one class that i took, that we all got personalized attention. gary mentioned that he does the same during the two-hour long led primary series classes on sunday mornings. he gives modifications, he suggests some poses that might be skipped until a student is better prepared for them, and so on. at that point, i was just about to commit myself to showing up at this sunday's class when i realized that it was mother's day and i had already other plans.

since gary's the only one who teaches the led primary series class, it looks like it'll be some time before i can try a class with another teacher. not only do i have to wait until i become more proficient, but i also have to be more financially stable, since there's still the issue of their classes being, unfortunately, more expensive than most...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

overcoming ashtangaphobia

i remember my very first ashtanga class. it was more like "ouch"tanga :(

it was in the philippines, and even if i was in makati (probably one of the most westernized and upscale cities in the metropolitan manila area), yoga studios were very few and far between. my google search efforts produced a bikram yoga studio, a spa yoga studio, a hatha yoga studio that no one i knew seemed to know anything about, and a studio that was owned by bela lipat, who appeared to be the "yoga instructor to the stars". and the rich. and the society page regulars. so of course, one of the places i finally ended up at was her studio, figuring that if she was good enough for the elite, she was worth trying out.

when i showed up for bela's class, i honestly thought that i was showing up for a hatha yoga class. after all, when i called to get her class schedule, i never thought of asking what style she taught. and i don't believe she offered that information either. maybe i was just too yoga-naive for the question to cross my mind at the time...

cutting to the chase (since i've already posted my thoughts on that experience earlier this year), all i remember was pain. pain because the linoleum-on-concrete floor was hard on my knees. pain because i had a hard time figuring out how to do the jump-throughs and the "lift-the-legs-and-the-butt" move (you can tell i'm ashtanga-ignorant) and the binds and the twists and the all the "oh-my-god-what-the-heck-is-this" moves. pain because most of the people in the class were regulars and were following along quite well while i was just lost and feeling out of place. needless to say, it wasn't an experience i wanted to go through again anytime soon.

eventually wanting to conquer the beast, i took my second ashtanga class with bibi mcgill at yoga house in pasadena. at least hers was an intro class, so my fellow students were equally as green as i was. and yes, i did get more out of this class because it was slower-paced and there was more guidance, but i was still frustrated by the end of the class. the idea of doing any more ashtanga would just have to wait until i had a stronger yoga practice.

so when jodi blumstein sent out free passes to her intro to ashtanga classes, i decided it was time to give it another shot. i had nothing to lose; i wanted to try out a class at karuna yoga, and i now had a reason to go.

i don't know if it was her soothing voice, her calm and patient teaching style, or the fact that i had more yoga experience under my belt, but i actually enjoyed taking jodi's class. things seemed more relaxed, more easygoing. if i couldn't do something, it didn't matter. if i didn't understand what she was saying, i'd take a quick peek around to see what the others were doing and follow along (and thanks to harley hahn's ashtanga terminology site and this ashtanga yoga info page, things might make more sense the next time around).

also, thanks to corilee fox's blogsite, i recently found out about the hilarious website, yogabeans, aka "your internet source for plastic action figures demonstrating ashtanga yoga". in the april 27, 2006 post, i am totally comforted by the fact that i'm better at ashtanga yoga than the hulk himself! there's hope for me yet :)

so ashtanga no longer seems as unreachable as it used to be. i might actually be brave enough to cash in my free class pass later this week at home simply yoga. it's probably closer to my home than most of the other yoga studios i frequent, but because it's primarily an ashtanga place, i've been staying away. hmmm... the "led ashtanga level 1" class this thursday sounds about right...

ah, but here's the twist: i'm faced with yet another trip to the philippines next month for another family occasion. while there, i know i'm going to want to take some yoga classes. but unless i find other studios to try, the odds are good that i may end up taking another class at bela's. and now that her sai shanti yoga sanctuary has its schedule posted online, i'll have fair warning of what i'll be getting myself into. so will i have the guts to take an ashtanga class, or will i stick with the familiar hatha class? we'll see!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

the yoga groove collective strikes again

i've just penciled another fundraising yoga event into my calendar. this benefit will be held on saturday, may 20th, at yogaworks montana avenue:

Join us in celebrating good living, good health, and a very good cause.

Do something fantastic for others while having a great time yourself; enjoy classes taught by our premier Yoga Works teachers for free! Or better yet, make a generous donation to the worthy cause of YouthAIDS.

Our Montana Avenue studio is offering amazing yoga classes and giving away fabulous gifts from our partners including: Yogi Times, Fiji Water, Wild Oats, Guayaki Yerba Mate, babystyle, Jurlique, Lotion Glow, Hugger Mugger, Moonstruck Chocolates, Homemade Baby, The Cheese Impresario, Dhaba, The Loved Dog, and Prana.

All proceeds from this event will benefit YouthAIDS.

Tip off your friends to the event so they can share in the goodness and the goodies!

the day's schedule of classes will be the regular saturday lineup, plus a kids' class and a beginners' class. the entire schedule can be found here.

and to cap off the day-long event, the yoga groove collective -- aka seane corn, hala khouri, ashley turner, julian walker, and suzanne sterling -- will be hosting another benefit featuring yoga, dance, and movement from 7:30 to 10pm. if you attended the recent one at sacred movement, you know you won't want to miss this one!

youthAIDS is the beneficiary of seane corn's "off the mat, into the world" campaign. on the outreach page of her website, seane says:

"The HIV/AIDS emergency is a tragic epidemic we need to continue to take very seriously, especially when it is related to our young people. Every minute somewhere in the world a young person dies of HIV/AIDS and in the absence of a cure or a vaccine the immediate solution is education and prevention. More than 12 million people between the ages of 15-24 are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and they make up half of all the new occurring infections. They are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection because of risky sexual behavior, substance abuse and a lack of knowledge about HIV prevention. It is up to us to take initiative to help educate others and ourselves and bring more awareness to this devastating disease.

By aligning with organizations such as PSI/YouthAIDS, we can make a significant difference to these children. With every $10 donated they are able to provide one youth a years worth of health services, products and education. Nine dollars out of every 10 goes directly to programs designed and implemented by young people, helping to improve the lives of kids around the world."

here's more on youthAIDS from their website:

About YouthAIDS - Who We Are
YouthAIDS is a growing global initiative that generates funding and awareness to help fight the spread of the HIV/AIDS among the world’s youth.
YouthAIDS works closely with their Leadership Circle - a group of distinguished leaders who work with YouthAIDS in raising awareness and the fight against HIV /AIDS.

Our Programs - What We Do
YouthAIDS and PSI are working in more than 60 countries around the world to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially among the most vulnerable, young people.

Our Partners - Who We Work With
YouthAIDS partners with corporations and the media industry to create unique, inspiring, and informative vehicles for messages of hope, prevention, and protection from HIV/AIDS.

see you at yogaworks on the 20th!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

the art of the deal

trying to keep up a daily yoga practice can be expensive, especially if it involves taking classes at yoga studios, where the going rate can be anywhere from $12 to $17 per class. it's been taking some creative financing on my part to keep me from emptying out my piggybank to support my habit.

for example, maha yoga recently introduced a "try a new teacher for only $10" discount to entice their regulars to take classes with the three new teachers they have on their spring schedule. as usual, the idea of a discount was something i couldn't possibly turn down...

of the maha newbies -- aras baskauskas, his brother vytas, and kansas-import kathleen kastner -- it was kathleen's class that i chose to take first. after all, i had already taken classes with the brothers at santa monica power yoga. not only that, but i wanted to see what yoga from the heartland was like, especially since yoga at maha was, how should i put it?, very LA.

as i had hoped, kathleen's style was very un-maha. no loud music. no teacher yelling over the music. no long-held poses. no students chatting while holding their poses. instead, our class flowed quickly from asana to asana, accompanied by some mellow background music. the effort didn't come from feeling the burn while straining to hold still; rather, it came from having to constantly move from one pose to another while maintaining balance and alignment. as a whole, her transitions were a bit too fast for me and it took some extra work on my part to keep with the flow. but it was an interesting workout nevertheless, so i'll be back.

besides taking advantage of the maha deal, i've been adding more FREE classes to my yoga bank:

1. earlier this afternoon, i participated in the teacher training program at city yoga in west hollywood. no, i wasn't training to be a yoga instructor. i actually volunteered to be one of the "students" in the demo classes the trainees taught. in exchange for my time, i got two free classes that i can use within the next 30 days. unfortunately, the studio is a long way from home AND i don't have much time before those classes expire. i suppose i need to start figuring out when i'm going to be able to cash in those classes. like soon.

2. tomorrow, may 7th, as well as on wednesday, may 10th, lululemon will be hosting free yoga classes at their store in santa monica. they'll be taught by matthew reyes and his fellow teachers from the new studio which is scheduled to open on the westside later this month. i'm going to make it a point to be there bright and early because i may finally get clued in on the details of the big secret -- like when the studio's going to open, where it's going to be located, and maybe even who the teachers are going to be!

3. i also have a free pass to a class at karuna yoga in los feliz, thanks to jodi blumstein, who just started teaching there. in order to introduce students to her classes, she's offering a free intro to ashtanga class to those who've never been to karuna before. and that would be me.

4. i'm still volunteering at bryan kest's power yoga in santa monica. the classes are taught on a donation basis, so i've been donating my time in lieu of my money. a few hours a week helping out in the west studio store buys me a class or two. not only that, but i'm eligible for the employee discount, too, which means that i can buy yoga clothing and accessories at a reduced rate. not a bad deal.

5. i'm also continuing to volunteer at yoga works main street. i'd like to think that i do publicity for them; truthfully, though, i've been dropping off promo flyers at the houses in the surrounding neighborhood. the beauty of this gig is that i get to walk around on beautiful spring days, get some exercise, and earn one class for every hour that i put in. the downside is that i have to deal with the occasional aggressive watch dog that attempts to bite off my hand as i try to wedge a flyer in the front gate.

6. lastly, i just read in the latest issue of yogi times magazine that mission street yoga in south pasadena will be holding an open house on may 20th and 21st and will offer "free classes and super deals". the details still haven't been posted on their website, so i have to keep checking for updates.

i suppose i can say i'm doing pretty well; if i play my cards right, i may actually be able to take classes for the next few weeks and not have to spend a single dime on any of them!

postscript (5/7/06):
i dropped by the lucy store on montana right after matt's class at lulu today and snagged myself yet another free class pass from a salesperson that i had befriended! this time it's for a complimentary class at home simply yoga, the new ashtanga yoga studio just down the street from my home. i've been wanting to try the place out ever since i heard about them, so now i have no excuse NOT to go!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

community support

U Studio Yoga
5410 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90036
website: www.andreamarcum.com

Yoga is not about impressing anyone. It is not about gymnastic ability or putting your foot behind your head. You are not required to be a woman, a Hollywood star or a chanting vegetarian (though, if you live in L.A., you might find yourself wanting to be any of those for no apparent reason).
Yoga is for all of us.
There is a reason why yoga has stayed with us over thousands of years, and why it is so popular now in the West. The frenetic pace with which we live our lives make us thirst for a place that we can slow down and regroup. Cell phones and email make it possible for us to find each other almost anywhere, yet somehow we have moved farther and farther away from a sense of self and community.

it's amazing what a community working towards a common goal can achieve together.

case in point is andrea marcum's new yoga home, u studio yoga. sometime in late march, she found herself needing to move out of earth's power yoga and into a new space. thanks to the help and support of her friends and students, in barely two weeks, her new studio was up and running. out of the woodwork came offers of aid from designers, lawyers, builders, and suppliers. in the amount of time it would take the normal person to just THINK about opening a studio, she was able to locate a property, sign the lease, renovate the space, and start teaching classes. what transpired was short of miraculous, especially out here in LA where things tend to get bogged down in red tape.

currently, she's the only yoga teacher at u studio, but she does plan to pull in other like-minded yoga instructors in the near future.

andrea's studio occupies two rooms on the fifth floor of an art deco building on the miracle mile. suite 508 is the office/boutique. this is where you sign in, purchase mats, props, books, and her signature "i heart u" clothing line. suite 500 is the yoga studio itself. it's a bright corner room with newly-installed bamboo flooring and freshly-painted walls. the room is somewhat on the small side, yet our class of just under a dozen students had ample room to move freely.

she teaches two classes a day, seven days a week; the evening classes accommodate the 9-to-5 crowd, while the morning sessions are for those with a more flexible schedule. the word has been getting out to her loyal devotees at her former location, so her classes have been fairly well attended. knowing that the evenings tend to fill up (she said she's had as many as 25 students in a class), i decided to avoid the crowds and showed up this morning. besides, today was the first day of her new tuesday/thursday 10:15 class, and you know how i am with inaugural events...

since there was an abundance of estrogen in the class this morning (we were all females in the class, at least until the lone male walked in at the last minute), andrea focused on hip openers: warrior 2, half moon, extended side angle, cobbler, pigeon. she took advantage of the small class size and gave us personalized attention, correcting alignment as needed. in my case, there were times when one hip was higher than the other, or when one was more forward than the other. when she pointed these out and made the necessary adjustments, i found that, at times, the poses actually became easier (yes, it's hard to believe that i would actually find the harder way to do something)!

her class was tough, but not overwhelming. i was able to follow along, yet it was enough of a workout for me that the towel covering my mat was drenched in sweat. and that, for me, is exactly what i was looking for today. i had wrung out the toxins i had accumulated over the week and felt great! not only that, but i learned some tips that i will keep in mind from now on. refresher classes with her are definitely in order...

with the support andrea currently receives from her community, i have no doubt that she will do well. i wish her the very best!

Monday, May 01, 2006

mc yoga

ok, i admit that i'm not the healthiest eater. short on cash and short on time, i drove through my neighborhood mcdonald's last week and had an instant craving for the advertised deal of the day: a double cheeseburger for $1. part of me told me that i had better sense than to eat something that contained 460 calories, 210 from fat, 80mg of cholesterol, and 1140mg of sodium (according to the mc donald's nutritional chart). the other part told me that after the day i'd had, i deserved to eat whatever i felt like eating.

so went ahead and bought the double cheese (hold the onions), some fries, and a diet coke.

while munching on the fries on my way out the driveway, i noticed a sign posted on the store window. something about fitness DVDs with the purchase of an adult happy meal. then my eye caught the word "yoga". since it was too late to return my junk food feast at that point, i kept driving and made a note to drop by again later in the week.

and that "later in the week" was today.

here's the mcdonald's ad for this latest promotion.

and here's the press release:

Portland firm adds fitness DVDs to McDonald's healthy meals

The Portland Business Journal - April 18, 2006

McDonald's Happy Meal for Adults will include fitness DVDs, from April 25 to May 22.
Yourself Fitness, a video game focused on health and fitness, is published by Portland-based ResponDesign.
Four exclusive Yourself Fitness DVDs will be available nationwide at McDonald's with the introduction of the new Go Active Happy Meal for Adults. The DVDs will allow users to customize their workouts by selecting difficulty levels and incorporating exercise equipment. The DVDs will be offered in both English and Spanish.
The DVDs will feature Maya, the Yourself Fitness virtual personal trainer, and offer 15-minute workouts. Each will focus on a specific program: yoga, for relaxation and rejuvenation; cardio, for burning calories and boosting metabolism; core, for strengthening the abs and spine; and strength, for toning and tightening.
A different Yourself Fitness workout DVD will be featured each week.
The new Happy Meal for Adults will pair any premium salad, Dasani water, or medium or larger drink with one of the workout DVDs.

luckily for me, they were still handing out the yoga DVD, the first workout in the series.

so while i sat in my living room and ate my "healthy" caesar salad with grilled chicken and newman's own low-fat balsamic vinaigrette, i watched the DVD to see what the 15-minute workouts were like.

first of all, the teacher is a "virtual personal trainer". in other words, you're supposed to follow along with a stoic computer-generated female, maya, whose lips don't quite match what she's supposedly saying (probably because she can speak either english or spanish) and whose movements are stiff and sometimes jerky (and honestly, she doesn't have the best yoga form) . not only that, but sometimes she isn't even doing what she's telling you to do. as for atmosphere, they've placed her in a meditation garden on a grassy hill overlooking a tranquil pond. the whole look is very CG and artificial, but it's the thought that counts, i suppose.

i have to admit that it's all a bit klugey, but if it gets a couch potato off the couch and into a downward dog, the DVD has served its purpose, to some extent.

as you follow through the movements, you'll find the name of the pose displayed at the bottom of the screen, as well as the workout difficulty (ranging from 1 through 5).

and if you have any questions and/or comments, you can visit the yourself!fitness website at www.forum.yourselffitness.com.

SPOILER ALERT! -- if you don't want to know what's in the DVD until you buy your own adult meal, stop here; i'm about to give you all the sequences for all the workouts:

* note: maya's "monkey" is what most teachers would refer to as a "flat back", "crocodile" is the familiar "chatturanga", and "half knot" is sometimes called "thread the needle"

workout #1 - "ease me into it" + "i want to be more flexible"
- mountain
- sun salutation ii: sweep arms up, forward fold, down dog, child, plank, crocodile*, up dog, down dog, step forward, forward fold, sweep arms up, back to mountain
- repeat sun salutation ii two more times
- forward fold
- monkey*
- down dog
- cat cow
- rest (sit upright with knees bent)
- reclining pigeon, left leg
- reclining pigeon, right leg
- seated forward bend
- seated straddle
- bridge
- lying spinal twist, left knee to right side, right knee to left side
- knees to chest, both knees to right side, both knees to left side
- shivasana

workout #2 - "ease me into it" + "i must find stress relief"
- mountain
- sun salutation ii (see workout #1 for sequence) twice
- cat cow
- rest
- butterfly
- seated straddle
- rest
- child
- half knot*
- rest
- knees to chest, both knees to right side, both knees to left side
- reclining pigeon, left leg
- reclining pigeon, right leg
- knees to chest, both knees to right side, both knees to left side
- lying spinal twist, left knee to right side, right knee to left side
- long shivasana

workout #3 - "i'm up for a challenge" + "i must find stress relief" (this is exactly like workout #2)
- mountain
- sun salutation ii twice
- cat cow
- rest
- butterfly
- seated straddle
- rest
- child
- half knot*
- rest
- knees to chest, both knees to right side, both knees to left side
- reclining pigeon, left leg
- reclining pigeon, right leg
- knees to chest, both knees to right side, both knees to left side
- lying spinal twist, left knee to right side, right knee to left side
- long shivasana

workout #4 - "i'm up for a challenge" + "i want to work on my balance"
- mountain
- sun salutation i: sweep arms up, forward fold, monkey*, forward fold, down dog, plank, crocodile*, cobra, plank, down dog, plank, crocodile*, cobra, plank, down dog, step forward, forward fold, monkey*, forward fold, sweep arms up, back to mountain
- repeat sun salutation i
- chair
- crescent lunge right
- crescent lunge left
- warrior 1 right
- warrior 1 left
- warrior 2 right
- warrior 2 left
- extended angle left
- extended angle right
- warrior 3 right
- warrior 3 left
- dancer right
- dancer left
- tree right
- tree left
- mountain (NO shivasana!)

workout #5 - "i'm up for a challenge" + "please give me strength"
- mountain
- sun salutation ii three times
- sun salutation i
- warrior 3, both hands on floor, half moon left, both hands on floor, warrior 3
- warrior 3, both hands on floor, half moon right, both hands on floor, warrior 3
- rest
- plank on forearms
- side plank right
- side plank left
- plank
- rest
- knees to chest, both knees to right side, both knees to left side
- shivasana

that's it. end of DVD.

now i have to get back to my salad with 220 calories, 60 from fat, 75mg of cholesterol, and 890mg of sodium. plus an additional 40 calories, 25 from fat, 0mg cholesterol, and 730mg of sodium from the low-fat dressing! and i'm supposed to believe that this is healthier than that double cheeseburger???