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