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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!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are soooo lucky to have all these yoga choices in LA. And I know these are just a drop in the bucket!

6:45 PM  
Blogger joni said...

yes, living in a major metropolitan area like LA has its advantages, one of which is being able to take a yoga class almost anywhere at any time with a great teacher!

8:46 PM  
Blogger kat@ohmtastic said...

hi Joni, excellent post! i would love to see your recommendations for a good yoga video for those of us that can't always make it to the studio.

11:41 AM  
Blogger joni said...

hi kat -- i would love to find one, too, for the next time i can't make it to the last class of the day!
hmmm... that could be the next goal for me: to try out every yoga video currently out on the market... something to think about...

1:35 PM  
Blogger joni said...

hi alyson -- glad to be of service to you (and others, i hope)!

10:35 PM  

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