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

Friday, June 30, 2006

an interesting development

in a recent post, after having taken a few bikram classes and deciding that i didn't particularly care for the heat nor being yelled at, i mentioned something about wanting to take maybe just one more bikram class with choudhury himself, just to find out what it was like. while it may have been tricky trying to find out exactly when he would be teaching a class at his world headquarters, it wouldn't have been impossible because that studio was located right here in los angeles.

based on this article in today's los angeles times, it may take more than just a car ride for me to get to his class if i keep putting it off:

L.A. Accuses Yoga Guru of Safety Violations
Officials target Bikram Choudhury's studio. The magnate accuses the city of harassing him.

By Andrew Blankstein and Jessica Garrison, Times Staff Writers
June 30, 2006

Over the last 20 years, controversial Los Angeles yoga magnate Bikram Choudhury has turned his signature brand of "hot" yoga into a worldwide, multimillion-dollar industry.But it was Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo who turned up the heat Thursday, charging the popular yogi with 10 criminal safety violations at his La Cienega Boulevard studio.

Delgadillo said Choudhury repeatedly flouted notices from the city's fire and building and safety departments that his converted warehouse studio had insufficient fire exits for the number of its students.

Inspectors in April found 160 people squeezed into a space with a maximum capacity of 49, said Deputy City Atty. Eric Rosenblatt, who is handling the case.

"Los Angeles is not known as a place that has fires in warehouses and we would like to keep it that way," Delgadillo said.

Choudhury, in a phone interview from Bangkok, Thailand, where he is opening a studio, said he was the victim of a five-year campaign of harassment by employees of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. He also said that he had had it with Los Angeles and was moving the world headquarters of his Yoga College of India to Honolulu.

"Thanks a lot, L.A.," he said. "I've made up my mind."

(the rest of the article can be found at:


well, it doesn't look like it's going to be anytime soon, because the next teacher training program's already scheduled to be held here in LA in september:

The Training will take place at Bikram Yoga College of India - International Headquarters in Los Angeles, California. We are currently accepting applications for the Fall Session 2006 which begins on September 17 to November 18, 2006.

Enrollment in the training is limited. We urge you to apply early. Tuition is $6,000.00 plus an additional $100.00 for student fees. Dormitory housing and transportation to the Yoga College are available for $2,100.00. A deposit of $3,100.00 is required for your application. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Your full tuition amount must be paid in full by August 15, 2006.

maybe i should look into taking that bikram class as soon as he gets back from thailand...

Thursday, June 29, 2006


i suppose you could say that i had nothing better to do last tuesday afternoon. the only thing i had on my schedule was a 7:00pm class at crenshaw yoga (see previous post).

there were so many things i could have done that day, like:
- hang out on the beach
- read one of the books from the "summer reading" pile by my bed
- do the crossword and sudoku puzzles in the LA times
- watch one of the videos on my must-see list
- spend some time on the driving range

you know, something productive.

instead, i dropped by the coffee bean and tea leaf on wilshire to claim my free coffee, courtesy of the upcoming movie "the devil wears prada" and their "national coffee break day" promo. and after i got through half of my large iced coffee, i was so wired that i got into my car and kept driving. and driving. and driving.

and somehow in my heavily-caffeinated state of mind, i decided to drop by a bunch of yoga studios that were "on the way" to crenshaw yoga so that i could pick up yoga schedules, see what events were coming up, and check out their sale bins.

now that i think about it, none of those studios were really on the way to my final destination. in fact, crenshaw yoga was probably closer to my home than any of the places i visited. but my wayward journey wasn't for naught; i found a mari dade tank top for $20 in bala's sale basket and a yogamonk capri bottom for $23 on liberation's sale rack. needless to say, i bought them (again, i blame the caffeine for letting me succumb to the temptation). i also found out that golden bridge had a facialist who was highly recommended by the ladies working the front desk (and if i had the rest of the day free, i might have gone for that, too).

still having time on my hands, i decided to swing by los feliz to get to yummy yoga. ever since its transition from yogamatt, i had been planning to drop by, pick up a schedule, and maybe even say hi to ducky (and if you've been following my path so far, you'll see that at this point i've now gone way out of my way. go figure).

unfortunately, i had gotten there between scheduled classes; the gate was closed and no one was there. the only visible clue that it was still a yoga studio was the sign "YOGA" on the front of the building and a class schedule taped onto the front gate. not wanting to write off the visit as a waste of time, i walked back to my car, got my old yogamatt schedule and a pen, and proceeded to write in the schedule updates.

so while yummy yoga's website is still being worked on (which means you have no way of getting their schedule unless you physically go there like i did), here's what i scribbled down... and you can blame any errors on that large iced coffee!

Yummy Yoga
1717 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz, CA / 323-953-8449

Class Schedule

4:15-5:45pm -- level 1/2 -- amber sealey
6:00-7:25pm -- level 2/3 -- amber sealey
7:30-9:00pm -- all levels -- ducky punch

9:15-10:45am -- all levels -- carrie herscovici
1:00-2:00pm -- level 1/2 -- ducky punch
6:00-7:25pm -- level 2/3 -- matthew reyes
7:30-9:00pm -- all levels -- ducky punch

6:30-7:45am -- all levels -- ducky punch
4:15-5:45pm -- level 1/2 -- ducky punch
6:00-7:25pm -- level 2/3 -- ducky punch
7:30-9:00pm -- all levels -- carrie herscovici

9:15-10:45am -- all levels -- ducky punch
1:00-2:00pm -- level 1/2 -- ducky punch
6:00-7:25pm -- level 2/3 -- matthew reyes
7:30-9:00pm -- all levels -- ducky punch

6:30-7:45am -- all levels -- ducky punch
4:15-5:45pm -- level 1/2 -- ducky punch
6:00-7:30pm -- level 2/3 -- ducky punch

9:00-10:25am -- level 2/3 -- ducky punch
10:30-12noon -- all levels -- ducky punch
2:30-3:30pm -- level 1/2 -- carrie herscovici
4:00-5:30pm -- all levels -- TBD
5:30-7:00pm -- level 2/3 -- TBD

9:00-10:25am -- level 2/3 -- ducky punch
10:30-12noon -- all levels -- ducky punch
4:00-5:30pm -- all levels -- amber sealey
5:30-7:00pm -- level 2/3 -- matthew reyes

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

yoga in the 'hood

Crenshaw Yoga and Dance
5426 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90043
(323) 294-7148
website: www.crenshawyogaanddance.com

The atmosphere creates a warm relaxing sanctuary where students can feel peaceful and at ease as they engage in their yoga practice... However, the true uniqueness and unmistakable beauty that lies in this company grows more each day as it continues to make serving the local community its number one priority. Each year CYD outreaches to local businesses, schools, and centers with the goal of bringing yoga directly to these facilities and making yoga more accessible to everyone in the inner-city community. Part of the mission of CYD is to encourage people to value and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The company does its part in making this task more obtainable by vowing to provide yoga and dance at the most affordable price possible.

let's face it... if you look at the platial map at the top of this web page, you'll notice that most of the yoga studios in LA are located in affluent neighborhoods: venice, santa monica, brentwood, pasadena, sherman oaks, and the south bay (ok, so many of the south bay studios aren't on my map yet, but i'm getting there). and why is that? it's because most of those who can afford to practice yoga live or work in those neighborhoods. either they have the money, or the time or, if they're really lucky, both.

for the most part, the students at these upscale studios are the beautiful people -- the young, the slim, the athletic. honestly, if you were new to los angeles and wanted to see the gorgeous california girls that you've heard so much about, don't bother going to the fabled corner of hollywood and vine; instead, hang around the lobbies of yogaworks, sacred movement, and maha yoga -- they're all there.

so what if you want to take a yoga class, but thought of flexing and chanting with the rich and famous intimidates you? or maybe you just don't want to have to drive for miles just to plunk down good money for yoga guidance?

you can tune in to a yoga class on TV. for example, steve ross from maha yoga has his monday-thru-friday inhale show on oxygen TV. you can follow along from the privacy of your home for free. that assumes, of course, that you get the oxygen channel on cable TV.

you can also rent or buy any one of the numerous yoga videos online or in the stores. reading a review could help you pick out the one that'll work the best for you. there are many review sites on the internet; here's one for starters: www.yourexercisedvds.com/yoga

or you can buy a yoga instruction book and try to follow along. the only problem might be trying to keep the page open to the pose you're trying to imitate while both of your hands and feet are on the floor and your cat's decided to make the book its new plaything.

either way, you're missing out on the posture corrections that only a trained teacher can give you in a yoga class. so what to do now?

if you live in or near south central los angeles, you're in luck. you won't have to go far to get to crenshaw yoga and dance. they invite you to come as you are. and are happy when you do.

their students are regular folk. they're male, they're female. they're young, they're old. they come in all shapes and sizes. they're dressed for comfort rather than fashion trend (forget investing in prana and lululemon; your favorite sweats will do just fine). and like you, they weren't able to touch their toes their first time. and they still may not be able to.

not only that, but it won't cost you an arm and a leg. your first class will set you back only $2. every class after that will cost you $10 (about 30% cheaper than the going studio class rate). and it gets cheaper if you're willing to make the commitment and buy a class series; it works out to $7 a class if you buy a package of 20 classes. and if you're a really dedicated yogi, $70 buys you a month of unlimited yoga. with the cheapest monthly rate being $90 at yogaworks (good at the larchmont location only), crenshaw yoga's the best deal in town!

crenshaw yoga is located on crenshaw boulevard, just south of 54th street. there was ample street parking when i got there. i was a bit leery of my surroundings as i walked the half block to the studio; after all, a wikipedia entry described the neighborhood thusly:

"... the growth of the gang-dominated crack cocaine trade in the 1980s made Crenshaw district one of the most violent neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with the stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard between Slauson Avenue and Adams Boulevard remaining a virtual free-fire zone for years..."

and that's exactly where i was. thugs don't attack peace-loving, mat-carrying yogis, or do they?

as i walked up to the place, the fact that there were no bars on windows nor buzzers on gates was a comforting sight. instead, the glass doors were left wide open to allow the stream of smiling students to enter the premises. i was greeted by karlee young, the owner of crenshaw yoga. she handed me the registration form and collected my $2 fee. i told her that i was there to take a class with her daughter melissa, but she told me that melissa was on sabbatical and that theresa brown would be teaching the all-level class. since theresa also happens to teach the power yoga classes, i was fine with the change.

unlike most classes where i'm usually the only non-white in the room, this time i was the only non-black. by now, i'm used to being the odd (wo)man out; come to think of it, even when i was in manila i was "different" because i spoke with a different accent... i guess you could say there's no one like me :)

there were about a dozen students in the room. everyone had blankets and blocks and straps, so i followed their lead and picked some up from the back of the room. since i knew nothing about the teacher's background nor the level of the students in the class, i was just going to have to go with the flow and play it by ear. i sat down on my mat and waited for the class to start.

theresa taught a slow, deliberate class. we set our intentions and got centered. then we went through the sun salutations step-by-step, with her describing how we were supposed to be breathing, where each limb was supposed to be, how everything was supposed to line up. instead of crescent poses, we did knee-to-the-floor lunges; instead of upward dogs, we did low cobras. once again i found myself in a basics class, but as is often the case, this teacher's focus was different from that of my last teacher.

i noticed that i was getting corrected a lot. was it because she knew i was new and was watching me a bit more closely? or maybe she believes in doing the postures a different way? or could it be... that i had actually gotten careless in my form and needed the adjustments? so much for my thinking that i was close to perfection... in my dreams!

here are excerpts from an article from the los angeles wave, published in 2004, right before crenshaw yoga opened its doors to the public:

"Kar Lee and Melissa Young are taking a big risk that has already cost them an estimated $60,000 and countless hours out of their lives.
The mother-and-daughter entrepreneurial team will hold the grand opening Saturday for a business that is rare if not unheard of for the Crenshaw community -- a yoga studio.
"We didn't do any market research," admits Melissa, a economics major at UCLA. Instead they're stepping out on faith that African-Americans in the community who've never had the opportunity to experience the healing properties of yoga will at least take one class to see what it's all about. They're also hoping to snag those tuned in folks who typically drive to Hollywood or the Westside for a class.
So far the entrepreneurs' initial enthusiasm has been buoyed by the 20 to 30 people who have dropped by the studio daily to inquire about what's going on.
"We've got kids from Crenshaw High coming in, and people from the gym next door (Black Diamond)," Melissa said.
But the key, she points out is whether that interest will actually translate into follow-through.
Kar Lee believes persistence and sticking to their dream will be the key to success."

the fact that they're still around after two years proves that they've succeeded, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

music to feed the soul

after realizing that my collection of yoga schedules were outdated (it doesn't help to have the spring class lists when everyone's changed over to their summer offerings), i've been slowly making my way around the yoga circuit to get the latest versions. i know, i know... it's more eco-friendly to save trees and refer to class times online, but since i don't spend my entire day sitting in front of a computer, it's easier for me to whip out my yoga folder wherever i happen to be to figure out my next yoga stop.

anyway, i've run across a number of music/yoga/dance events at the different yoga studios; some are free, some are fundraisers, and some will hopefully subsidize someone's rent.

here's what i've found so far (and i may add to this list as i find more):

saturday, july 1st, 8:00pm - 1:00am
power yoga west, santa monica
donation basis

Feed People - Chanting for Charity

An Evening of Service and Celebration!

Come join forces with local kirtan singers to feed the hungry locally and internationally. Bring a pillow or blanket to "camp" on.

Govindas and Radha
Chris Morro
Joey Lugassy
Terra Green Gold
Mike Hannum
Travis Elliot
Shiva Baum
Randall Reel
Dharma and Maria Butterfly

friday, july 7th, 7:30pm
bala yoga, los angeles
$20 (presale available at

bass chakra 7-7

7 Chakras
*Root: Kundalini Yoga with Jesse (Bklyn Yogi)
*Sacral: Tai Chi with Arpod & DJ Maggie
*Solar: Tamer (Tribe Talent)
*Heart: Lotus Fire - Satchi & Ferron (Ritual Recordings, eyeawaken.com)
*Throat : Imagika (Imagi-Nation, people.tribe.net/imagika)
*3rd Eye: David Starfire (Space Island, davidstarfire.com)
*Crown: Dandelion (Space Island, people.tribe.net/djdandelion)

Midnight Chakra Goddess Ritual by Imagi-Nation
Cyber-Shamanic Chakra Visuals by Arcane Realities arcanerealities.com
Crystal Bowl Chakra Activation by Nicole (trinitihealing.com),
Live Sound Healing by Mystic Pete (tonehenge.com), & Satchi

Beautiful Large Yoga Studio
Barefoot Dancing
Bui Gourmet Natural Foods
Elvenstarr Designs
and more...

saturday, july 8th (other dates: oct 14th, nov 11th, dec 9th), 8:00-10:00pm
exhale, venice (aka sacred movement)
tickets $15 in advance / $20 at the door

Zen Dancing® presents… The Rhythm of Ecstasy

A Ritual World Concert with Micheline Berry & Shaman’s Dream

Rotating Artists Include:
• Craig Kohland/ Bougarabou, African Percussion & Musical Director
• Micheline Berry/ Vocals, Ecstatic Dance & Creative Director
• Marty Allen/ Sitar
• Rara Avis/ Programming, Vocals, Guitar
• Antoine Bonsorte/ Bass
• Domonic Dean Breaux/ Woodwinds & Flute
• Donna DeLory/ Vocals & Harmonium• Phillipo Franchini/ Oud, Guitar
• Denise Kaufman/ Bass
• Tony Khalife/ Vocals, Guitar & Tabla
• Joey Lugassy/ Harmonium & Vocals• Jason Hann/ Djembe & Drum kit
• Javier Otero/ Guitar
• Jamie Papish/ Middle Eastern Percussion
• Avi Sills/ Drum Kit & World Percussion
• Alex Spurkel/ Dumbek & Middle Eastern Percussion
• Martin St. Pierre/ Violin & Eastern Strings
• Dave Stringer/ Vocals & Harmonium
• Paul Tchounga/ Drum Kit
• Carlos Torres/ Latin Percussion

for more info:

saturday, july 8th, 8:00pm
golden bridge yoga, hollywood
tickets $20 in advance / $25 at the door

Bhagavan Das in concert

Join us for an ecstatic evening of kirtan and dance with internationally renowned Bhagavan Das! Quoted as being the “the Jimi Hendrix of kirtan masters,” Bhagavan Das is a devotional singer and master of Nada Yoga, who serves as a guide to identify and celebrate the sacred in our own lives.

Set your spirit free!

thursday, july 13th, 7:30 - 11:00pm
exhale, santa monica

Yoga Bash 1 with David Romanelli and Matthew Moon

Exhale’s Santa Monica location is one of the most beautiful yoga studios in the world. The yoga room offers a stunning view of the ocean and a gong whose vibration will soothe your soul…but on July 13th…the gong will rock your world!

Join yoga teacher David Romanelli, rock star Matthew Moon and the talented exhale massage therapists for an evening of flowing yoga, great live music, FREE food from I Cugini and late night rubdowns.

For more info, meditate on this mantra: AMAZING SUMMER NIGHT OF YOGA, MUSIC AND GOOD TIMES FOR FREE!!!! Sample a variety of our spa therapies from acupunture to massage and mini facials.

for more on david:

friday, july 14th (also friday, july 28th), 8:00pm
maha yoga, brentwood
donation basis

Chanting with Steve Ross and Darshan with Mirabai Devi

Enjoy a magical evening. Chant with Steve as Mirabai gives shaktipat (the touch of divine light). Wear comfortable clothing and bring a cushion to sit on.

for more info on mirabai devi: www.mirabaidevi.org

saturday, july 15th (also saturday, july 22nd), 8:00-10:00pm
exhale, venice (aka sacred movement)

Kirtan with Bhagavan Das

Join us for an evening of ecstatic chanting to the Divine Mother with world renowned kirtan wallah Bhagavan Das.

saturday, july 15th, 7:00pm
insight yoga, pasadena
tickets $15 in advance / $20 at the door

Kirtan for a cause with Girish

This concert is to benefit Pink-Link.org, a breast cancer support network.

Hear the music live...sing, chant, dance, groove. Sing your way to a state of bliss...come out and chant, sing, dance, or just be still...celebrate life and love with us...if you can talk you can sing, if you can walk you can dance, if you can sit you can meditate...no experience necessary.

for more info: Girish Shiva Machine tour

saturday, august 5th, 6:00pm - 1:00am
golden bridge yoga, hollywood
tickets $25 in advance ($35 with DVD) / $35 at the door

Nataraja Mela - Dance for Life: Benefit for Trees for the Future

A mela (festival) of yoga, yoga trance dance, world-class DJ alchemy and Kirtan, Bharta Natyam dance, Bhangra, puja, film, interactive art and ritual, celebrating the dancing universe.

• World renown DJ Cheb i Sabbah spinning
• Yoga Trance Dance with Shiva Rea
• Ecstatic Kirtan with Wah!
• Dave Stringer and Miles Shrewsbery
• Govindas
• Joey Lugassey
• Daphne Tse
• Yoga with Gurmukh and Shiva Rea
• Bharata Natayam Offering by celebrated artists Ramaa and Swetha Bharadvaj
• Puja and collective alter by Sreedevi Bringi
• Rara Avis of Shaman's Dream
• Anand art exhibit with Lynda Carre
• Jasper Johal's photographic exhibit of India: Jouneys to Sacred Places

for more info:

saturday, sept 9th, 8:00-10:00pm
exhale, venice (aka sacred movement)

Yoga Trance Dance

"Since we live where everything is music, everything is dancing." - Rumi

Yoga Trance Dance™ is an exploration of the eternal flow of natural movement through yoga. Beginning with sahaja prana yoga or the experience of prana initiating yogasanas, yoga trance dance flows into an exploration of free-form, breath driven movement to liberate one's creative life-force and cultivate embodied freedom. . Experience the latest spin of meditative and high-energy world music.

for more info:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

valley girl

Angel City Yoga
12408 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 788-9642

my plans for saturday's yoga adventure in the san fernando valley were set in motion when i received an email invite from rising lotus yoga, a new studio in sherman oaks, for their grand opening celebration:

We've been open for over 2 months and we're inviting you to celebrate with us as a thank you for your support!
Our Grand Opening Celebration in this Saturday, June 24 @ 7pm

Shaman's Dream will be playing so we hope you'll come by to say hello, dance, and meet other yogis in the Rising Lotus community.

according to their website, besides the live performance by shaman's dream, that evening's celebration was to include food, an elixir bar, luscious bath products, foot massages, and a 5-class package giveaway. the moment i heard about the food, massages, and freebies, i immediately added their party to my calendar. all i needed now was a yoga class to fulfill my daily yoga requirement.

unfortunately, the only yoga class rising lotus had that immediately preceded the event was a workshop at 2pm, so i checked the schedules of nearby yoga studios -- angel city yoga, annie's yoga, and black dog yoga -- so i didn't have to spend three hours trying to find ways to kill time before the party. also, in the interest of trying to stay aesthetically pleasing (and socially acceptable, if you know what i mean), i looked for something that was gentle enough so that i wouldn't need to hose myself down afterwards. in other words, no sweaty power/advanced yoga.

i ended up going with marie besso's "hatha yoga for everyone" class at angel city yoga. it was perfect for many reasons: the studio was just down the street from rising lotus, i had never been there before (so i'd be able to add another studio to my list), the class ended about an hour before party time, and it seemed to be exactly what i was looking for:

All Levels And Conditions Welcome
Hatha Yoga Including: Breath Work / Deep stretches / Floor work / Wall work and of course use of props to modify postures if you need.
Leave the class energized, with a clear mind and a profound sense of relaxation and harmony.

Beginners are welcome!
Advanced, come and work in depth.

so on saturday afternoon, i hopped onto the 405 freeway to make my way to the valley from the westside. and true to form, traffic was at a standstill (can someone please tell me where everyone seems to be headed at 3:30 in the afternoon on a saturday?!?).

by the time i got to angel city yoga, marie's class had already started. luckily, she still had the door open to allow latecomers (like me) to join the class. she instructed the students to lie on bolsters and blankets in reclined cobbler pose and motioned for me to wait for her outside so that she could sign me in.

back in the classroom, we slowly went through a series of standing and seated poses. the postures were held long enough for marie to help the beginners get into the proper position and for the more advanced students to analyze themselves in the mirror and make the necessary corrections. i found it particularly helpful since i could finally see all the little adjustments my teachers had been reminding me to do: bend my knee, straighten my leg, drop my shoulders, and so on. there's nothing like a good basics class to keep yogis from getting sloppy in their asanas...

after class, marie and i chatted at length about the classes and teachers at angel city yoga. we also compared notes about hip, back, and sciatic nerve pain and what yoga poses were good for relaxing all the tight muscles that cause the pain. before i left, she strongly recommended that i take a class with shosha bottoms, who supposedly does wonders for students' aches and pains.

as for the celebration at rising lotus yoga later that evening, it was everything the owners, claire hartley and daniel stewart, had promised it would be. plus more. the newly-refurbished studio (previously home to yoga for every body) was filled with music from shaman's dream, of micheline berry and zen dancing fame, who entertained the captive crowd with their improvised world beats. we all shared in the sumptuous food buffet (wraps from leaf cuisine, thai food from siam cabin, and drinks from elixir tonics), and received bath salt sachet samples and foot massages from the nice ladies at luscious bath products. and at the end of the evening, i was lucky enough to win one of the raffle prizes: a tower of gourmet chocolates from valerie confections worth $150 (which i immediately started sampling the moment i got home)!

i know i'll paying rising lotus another visit sometime in the near future; i picked up a coupon for a free class, and i intend to cash it in as soon as i can...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

where to take the kids

while scanning yoga studio websites to see what's new, i came across what sounded like a bizarre-sounding yoga class at jiva yoga in the palisades:

Animal Yoga and Break Dance

... i started to imagine paris hilton, britney spears, and the like doing yoga poses with their tiny yap-yap dogs, dressed in matching yoga tops and diamond-studded collars...

until i read the class description:
A “Kid friendly” version of YOGA combining music, dance and fun yoga poses!! ANIMAL YOGA is a pro-active way to exercise and learn. Geared for children ages 5-10, ANIMAL YOGA provides an entertaining and constructive outlet for children in a non-competitive atmosphere, while watching real-life Yoga instructors in a one-of-a-kind interactive YOGA safari!

thank goodness the LA yoga scene hasn't lost its mind. yet.

which got me thinking about kids yoga in LA. while my own kids are now old enough to join in the adult-level classes (and still have no interest in joining their mother in a yoga-bonding session), i know there are people out there who are trying to figure out how to keep their kids busy this summer.

so here are some places to try. i've included the kids' class price when it varies from the adult class price... (note: i've added two studios, insight yoga and mukti yoga, to the original list)

at jiva yoga in pacific palisades ($12):

Kids Yoga 4-7: Monday 3:30-4:15pm
Kids Yoga 8-12: Wednesday 3:30-4:15pm
Increases focus, coordination and flexibility in a noncompetitive environment. Kids will learn poses through the use of playful imagery and games.

Animal Yoga and Break Dance: Saturday 1:00-2:30pm
A “Kid friendly” version of YOGA combining music, dance and fun yoga poses!! ANIMAL YOGA is a pro-active way to exercise and learn. Geared for children ages 5-10, ANIMAL YOGA provides an entertaining and constructive outlet for children in a non-competitive atmosphere, while watching real-life Yoga instructors in a one-of-a-kind interactive YOGA safari!

at santa monica yoga in santa monica ($10):

Kids Yoga: Monday 3:45-4:45pm
Ages 7 and up (ages combined for summer)
6 week series July 10 to August 14, $48 all 6 or $10 each
Kids may join a session in progress for a pro-rated price.

Parents, please join us for level 1 yoga Monday and Wednesday 3:45-4:45pm while your kids take class.

Yoga Playdate (parent and toddler): Friday 10:35-11:50am

at mission street yoga in south pasadena ($12):

Kids Yoga (6-8 years): Monday 3:30-4:30pm
Kids Yoga (3-5 years): Wednesday 3:30-4:30pm
Kids Yoga (9-12 years): Wednesday 4:30-5:45pm
Stretch, strengthen and improve coordination and posture in a nurturing, fun environment. Three different age groups: 3-5, 6-8 and 9-13 years.

at golden bridge yoga in hollywood ($10):

Walking Toddler and Parent: Monday/Friday 10:30am-noon, Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm

Children's Yoga Ages 3-7: Saturday 9:30-11:00am, Sunday 9:30-11:00am
Children's Yoga Ages 8-12: Saturday 9:30-11:00am, Sunday 9:30-11:00am
Children's Yoga is fun! It sets your child for a lifetime of good health, radiance and happiness! By using nature and animal-themed games, dance and song to stimulate the mind, the creative spirit and enhance the health, our program is a safe and fun environment for children ages 3-12 years of age to expand, explore and express their unique physical, emotional, mental and spiritual gifts. Classes follow a flexible structure based on the age, interest, and ability of the child. Stories and music accompany our fun and educational "journeys" to exotic lands. The children use their imaginations and Animal Yoga postures to learn new vocabulary, develop motor and movement skills, and to understand balance and relaxation through meditation and breath. Partner poses and group meditations give children the experience of teamwork and trust with others; naming and teaching their very own yoga poses provides children with leadership and confidence-building skills. Our Children's Yoga Classes combine yoga postures and meditation to help transform the body, mind and spirit of our young ones, building the foundation for a bright tomorrow for all of us!

at maha yoga in brentwood ($10):

Groovy Kids Yoga: Tuesday 3:30-4:15pm
A fun, playful and expressive yoga class for kids ages 3 to 6 years old.

at yoga works on montana in santa monica ($12):

Yoga Kids Ages 7 and up: Tuesday 3:30-4:25pm
Yoga Kids Ages 3-6: Thursday 3:30-4:25pm

at yoga works in larchmont village ($12):

Yoga Kids Ages 4-6: Tuesday 4:00-5:00pm

at silver lake yoga in silverlake:

Kids (8-11 years): Tuesday 3:45-5:15pm
4 class summer series July 11th - Aug 1st: $50
Come join us for an hour of mindful play. Yoga helps to develop strength, flexibility and self-awareness, while reinforcing values such as truthfulness, kindness and being a good friend. Did we mention it's great fun!

at yogahop in santa monica:

Kids Yoga: Tuesday and Thursday 1:00-2:00pm
A fun, playful yoga class for kids ages 4 to 10. While the kids have fun, join us in the All Levels class in the East Coast room at the same time!

at yoga house in pasadena ($10):

Yoga for Kids (ages 4-7): Tuesday 4:00-5:15pm
Yoga for Kids (ages 8-12): Friday 4:00-5:15pm
Strengthens children's growing bodies, develops excellent posture and balance while building self-confidence and teaching relaxation and breathing skills that last a lifetime. And, it's fun!

at black dog yoga in sherman oaks ($10):

Black Puppy Yoga Ages 3-5: Wednesday 3:30-4:00pm
Black Puppy Yoga Ages 6-12: Wednesday 4:15-5:00pm
Fun and age-appropriate. Siblings can always take together.

at insight yoga in pasadena ($75 for the series, pre-registration is suggested):

Yoga for Kids 6-11 years: Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm (June 28th-Aug 2nd)
Designed for kids 6-11 years, this fun-filled session will provide your child the opportunity to learn valuable life skills through dynamic, interactive yoga explorations.

at karuna yoga in los feliz ($10, babies and tots series is $120):

Itsy Bitsy Yoga (babies): Thursday 1:30-2:30pm
Itsy Bitsy Yoga (tots): Thursday 2:30-3:30pm
6 weeks ongoing series for babies and toddlers. A calming, nurturing and fun yoga class where parents help their babies unfold motorskills, sleep better, digest easier and feel happier. Pre-registration required. Please call Khefri at 323-549-5383.

Children's Yoga: Friday 4:30-5:30pm
Children LOVE yoga! Balancing focus & play, children learn coordination, physical and mental flexibility, stillness and relaxation. Yoga greatly helps your child understand self appreciation and contributing to the benefit of the group. This class will spark their imagination and alight their hearts!

at mukti yoga in manhattan beach (by donation only):

Kids yoga: Thursday 3:00-4:10pm, starting July 13th
Kids will learn:
- Different breathing techniques
- Hatha and kundalini yogic exercises
- Various meditations
- Chanting, singing, and celestial communication
- Yoga games to increase intuition
- How to transform the energy centers (chakras) in the body
- Most importantly, how to relax, have fun, and be yourself!
If you have any further questions, call Jessie at (310) 798-2768

at liberation yoga in los angeles ($10):

Kids Yoga (ages 5 & up): Thursday 4:30-5:45pm
Kids Yoga (ages 7-12): Friday 4:30-5:45pm
A class to provide a safe, fun way for children to explore movement and creativity while calming their restless minds in a non-competitive environment. They will learn the yoga postures, sun-salutations, play games, and discover ways to channel their energy and celebrate their spirit.

Family Yoga: Sunday 10:00-11:00am
A one-hour all levels Hatha Yoga class for the whole family to enjoy!
The class will explore standing poses, sun salutations, breathing and relaxation techniques and fun interactive yoga games. It's an opportunity for bonding with family while sharing the health and well being that yoga brings. Ages 4 to infinity!

at exhale in santa monica ($10, using student rate):

Kids Yoga for 4-10 year olds: Friday 3:30-4:25pm
Our kids yoga playfully guides children through postures that are selected to appeal to children and are inspired by nature and animals, such as the mountain, tree, fish and dog. By stimulating children's creativity and imagination we explore a world where movement and breath are linked and become a part of every day living.

and for your teenage daughters -- they may not think of themselves as children, but deep down inside, you know they're still your babies:

at shakti's elements in santa monica:

YogaTEEN Goddess - One Session: $210, Two Sessions $395

Session 1: Trust Your Inner Goddess
Monday 4:15-5:45pm (June 12th - July 24th)
or Wednesday 4:15-5:45pm (June 14th - July 26th)

Session 2: Confident and Beautiful Goddess
Monday 4:15-5:45pm (July 31st - Sept 11th)
or Wednesday 4:15-5:45pm (Aug 2nd - Sept 13th)

Create, play, connect, discover your inner-goddess in our 6-12 week program designed specifically for Teenage Goddesses. Learn about yourself and others through yoga, "Mind Loosening" techniques, "Circle Chats", acting exercises, creative projects, jewelry making and loads more!

at insight yoga in pasadena ($75 for the series, pre-registration is suggested):

Yoga for Teens: Thursday 2:30-4:00pm (June 29th-Aug 3rd)
Teenagers face a very special set of challenges-- and Yoga can help! Through postures, meditations, breathing exercises and reflection, teens will learn strategies and techniques applicable to real life situations.

at karuna yoga in los feliz ($10):

Teen Yoga: Friday 6:00-7:30pm
Whether you're into athletics, dance, or just want to experience a new way to move and challenge your body, yoga will work for you. In TEENS YOGA you practice in an hour long class that is fun, always different, and never gets boring. It's a great way to exercise, have fun with friends and flow right into your weekend!

at mission street yoga in south pasadena ($12):

Teen Girls: Saturday 11:00am-12:15pm
A fun, supportive yoga practice encouraging awareness and empowerment for teenage girls 13 to 17.

Friday, June 23, 2006

the case of the missing yoga studio

at first glance, it looked like a case of "now you see it, now you don't". but upon further investigation, it turned out to be "you think you don't, but it's really still there". confusing? just a bit.

you see, while checking my site meter stats earlier this week, i noticed that my blog was getting a higher than usual number of hits based on the search strings "yogamatt", "ducky yogamatt", "matthew reyes yoga", "yoga los feliz", and so on. curious, i decided to see what was going on in the world of yogamatt los feliz...

and to my surprise, i got the dreaded:

The page cannot be displayed
The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. The Web site might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your browser settings.

maybe the website was being updated with the new schedule, now that matt's spending more time at yogahop in santa monica?

so i called the yogamatt phone. and instead of hearing matt's usual recording, i heard:

we're sorry, you've reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service...

now i was worried. what happened to yogamatt? i could've sworn that matt had just sent out an email that said:

I'm at YogaMATT - Los Feliz too...
Tuesday 6pm
Thursday 6pm
Sunday 5:30pm...for all you East Siders.

so i quickly shot out an email to matt reyes to ask him for details, and this is what he sent back:

... my favorite teacher Ducky has taken over... So, it’ll look essentially the same and for now I’m teaching the same 3 classes. The studio name will be Yummy Yoga...

and sure enough, when i called directory assistance, yummy yoga was listed -- good news :)
but when i called it, no one answered, not even a recording -- bad news :(

i tried again later in the day, and ducky answered the phone. finally, signs of life!

we chatted a while and she explained that the change happened just over the weekend and everything is still being worked on. in the meantime, the yoga schedule is pretty much the same as it has been, with a little tweaking here and there.

so basically, here are the changes:

- ducky punch is now running the los feliz studio so that matt can devote all of his attention to yogahop in santa monica.
- the studio name has been changed from yogamatt to yummy yoga.
- the phone number is now (323) 953-8449.
- the new website, when it's finally up and running, will be www.yummyoga.com.
- the yogamatt sign on the building has come down, which means that the building will be signless until the new one goes up. but sign or no sign, the studio's still open.

so there you have it. another mystery solved.

it's summer!

Mukti Yoga Studio
2405 Sepulveda Boulevard
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 546-6727
website: www.muktiyogastudio.com

Donation-Based Yoga - In the spirit of yoga, Mukti Yoga is pleased to offer classes on a donation basis. Donation means the act of giving. Our studio runs solely on your donations; they pay our teachers, rent, and other expenses. It is our commitment to making the joy of yoga available to all.

there's nothing like spending the first day of summer (ok, so it's the second, but who's counting?) on the beach... and getting my daily yoga fix at the same time.

yes, my friends, it was southern california yoga at its best -- warm sunshine, cool breezes, a pod of dolphins frolicking in the ocean just off the shore (i kid you not), the soft sand supporting my back during savasana while the sun was setting below the horizon... ahh... one can't help but be thankful to be alive!

our sunset beach yoga class was taught by julie rader of mukti yoga studio in manhattan beach. i had happened upon her class through a google search of south bay yoga studios. i wasn't exactly sure how to find the group on the beach ("26th street and sand", according to the online schedule), so i dropped by the studio on my way to the beach, hoping to get more specific directions. but the door was locked; no one was home. since it was such a beautiful day anyway, i figured that i could head out to the beach and still enjoy the day, yoga or no yoga.

with half an hour to spare before class was scheduled to start, i spread out my towel and sat on the sand right at the foot of 26th street. i watched people as they went by, hoping to find people who looked like they were headed to a beach yoga class (whatever that's supposed to look like). instead, i saw mommy-and-me groups, the volleyball crowd, the boogie boarders, the triathletes out for their training swims. then someone dressed in capri tights and a tank top walked by -- yup, she definitely had the look -- but i somehow lost track of her when i called a friend to double-check mukti's website for me. i continued to scan the beach. still no sign of a yoga group.

ten minutes after class was supposed to have begun, i headed out towards the water to get a better look. out of the corner of my eye, right by the lifeguard tower, i spotted two females holding in downward dog. and sure enough, the woman who walked past me earlier was one of them. we exchanged introductions. shortly after i lay my towel down on the sand, another woman joined our small group.

we eased through some sun salutations, then some standing poses (try doing a half moon while your hand's slowly sinking into the sand!), with the usual vinyasas in between poses, followed by some seated twists and a couple of inversions, including a headstand, where julie helped spot me :) nothing too complicated, but it was a wonderful workout, nonetheless.

unlike the two classes that i had taken in the previous days, julie's class was more mellow and relaxed. after all, it was about sensing the wind and the sun and the sand and the various sounds coming from all around us. it took a little bit more coordination and balance than usual because of the soft surface below, but then again, it made for more cushioned headstands and knee-to-ground poses.

during final meditation, julie told us to feel warm blessings raining down upon us. and at that moment i knew that i was absorbing nothing but pure peace and joy. what a wonderful way to end the day!

julie teaches her beach yoga classes every thursday at 6pm in manhattan beach, right between where 26th and 27th streets meet the sand. metered parking as well as free street parking (if you're lucky) is available nearby. there's also a public restroom in the lifeguard headquarters building at the base of 27th street if you need to change before or after class.

all mukti yoga classes (including those held in the studio just over a mile away) are taught on a donation basis.

with the evenings as beautiful as they've been, if you live or work anywhere in the south bay, you just have to try it out!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

losing it

so far, i've taken two level 2/3 vinyasa flow classes since i got back, and in both classes, my arms couldn't keep up with all the push-ups and planks and chaturangas that were thrown my way :(

i can come up with a number of reasons why:
1. i'm still terribly jet-lagged
2. the classes were harder than usual
3. i'm carrying more weight because of all the food i'd eaten while on vacation
4. i've lost arm strength because i haven't been practicing much yoga lately

but are any of these reasons valid? let's see...

1. i'm still terribly jet-lagged

i suppose when my body clock has me forcing myself to fall asleep at 4am, then struggling to get out of bed at 10am (thank goodness i don't have a job to get to -- yet), it MAY have an effect on my stamina. but then again, i usually survive on around 6 hours of sleep anyway, so the time shift shouldn't be a problem. at least i wouldn't think so.

2. the classes were harder than usual

on tuesday, the day after i got back my from latest trip, i chose to take a class with jeanine del carlo at the new yogahop studio based entirely on matt's glowing review on the studio website. it went something like this: "When I took Jeanine's class I was taken away. Between her spiritual ideas woven into the movements, her use of great music, and her genuine love of teaching, I was on a high all day long. The very next day I invited her to teach at YogaHop and was thrilled when she said 'yes'. I'm sure you'll be brightened & transformed by what Jeanine brings to your yoga practice."

it turned out that i ended up being the only student in jeanine's class. the good news was that i had a private class for the price of a group class. the bad news is that she watched my every move, made sure that i did everything properly, and pushed me to my limit. there was no slacking allowed on my part because there was no one else in the room to whom she could refocus her attention. she observed my every push up, every crunch, every side stretch, every knee bend. and to think i thought that bikram teacher was tough! jeanine did sympathize with my sleep-deprived state, but kept pushing anyway. did i just say in my last post that i needed more power and strength? can i take that back?

the next day, wednesday, i took seane corn's class at sacred movement. after feeling like i had gotten my butt majorly kicked the day before, i hoped that i'd do better with a familiar teacher at a familiar place. wrong. the old moves seemed hard and the new ones were even harder. what had happened to me???

3. i'm carrying more weight because of all the food i'd eaten while on vacation

i couldn't help but eat while i was in the philippines. there were full breakfasts with family, lunch buffets with friends, multi-course dinners with relatives, and impromptu meriendas (mid-day meals) with friends of friends/relatives of friends/friends of relatives. there was even a time when, over lunch, my mom asked me what i wanted to eat for dinner. argh!!!

4. i've lost arm strength because i haven't been practicing much yoga lately

with all the graduations and award ceremonies and the traveling (and meals) that went along with them, yoga had to, unfortunately, take a back seat. looking at my calendar, for the first 21 days of june, i managed to take a whopping NINE classes -- two in providence, three in manila, and four in LA. and to think that i usually take classes everyday!

i think i'm finally on to something...

i'll give it a week and see if things improve. in the meantime, i need to work on my sleep habits, because it's now past 4am and i'm still wide awake!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

hot bodies in a hot city

Bikram Yoga Manila
88 Corporate Center, Suite 1503
141 Valero corner Sedeño Streets
Salcedo Village, Makati City
(632) 889–1011

Welcome to the first and only officially sanctioned Bikram Yoga studio in the Philippines!

By visiting our site, you have – without realizing it – begun a journey. It is a voyage whose sole purpose is to allow you to meet yourself in a totally different way for the very first time. Certain luggage are not allowed on this trip. Leave behind your judgments, views, opinions and criticisms. You are only meant to observe . . . . yourself.

one of the reasons why i'd never taken a bikram yoga class here in LA, despite the fact that the bikram world headquarters is only a few miles from my home, was because it's been referred to as "hot yoga"; in other words, as the bikram yoga website states: "The recommended temperature is minimum 105F degrees and about 40% humidity." even if i did spend many of my growing years in a warm tropical climate, anything over 80 degrees has me searching for the nearest fan or air conditioner to cool down. knowing that, why would i want to subject myself to temps higher than that AND throw in some strenuous exercise?

well, it looks like i've finally lost my mind. not only did i end up taking my first bikram class while i was on vacation, but it was while i was in the philippines, where the average temperature during the summer hovers around 90 degrees, and the relative humidity reaches as high as 80%! but curiosity eventually got the best of me, and since tristan choa's snazzy studio in makati seemed to be the talk of the town while i was there, i figured i had to give it a shot.

here are some recent articles in the philippine press:
How A Corporate Hotshot Sweated It Out To Find Himself
A yoga-guided, purpose-driven life

luckily, the relatively new bikram yoga studio in makati was close to where i was staying (a definitely plus in a city notorious for gridlocked traffic). not only that, but it actually has a pretty comprehensive website that includes the class schedule, the class rates, the studio policies, and for the uninitiated like me, what bikram yoga is all about. very professional, very organized. i was sold.

so the first chance i had to escape from my family duties, i dropped by the 15th floor studio located smack in the middle of the makati business district. as i entered the bright and spacious lobby, i was greeted by marc mead, one of the bikram teachers. he was a friendly enough guy with a british accent who handed me a registration form. a few minutes and less than $19 later (P990 for the "3 classes for P900" new student promotion, a bottle of water, plus the rental of a towel and a mat), he was handing me the key to a locker in the women's dressing room. knowing that i didn't have to leave the premises covered in sweat was a comforting thought. thank goodness i brought along a dry change of clothes!

i browsed through the items for sale on the shelves; after leafing through the bikram manual and contemplating whether or not to buy one of the "hot body by bikram" short-sleeved t-shirts, i realized that i really didn't need another yoga book nor yoga shirt (although if the shirt came in a tank, i may have forked over the cash).

by the time i had returned to the lobby after stashing my stuff in a spacious locker (and checking out the showers, which passed with flying colors), marc had been joined by christina stathis, another apparent import (whose accent i couldn't place at the time -- i later found out that she's originally from arizona but had moved around so much that she sounded like a mishmash of wherever she'd been) who was going to teach the class i was about to take. she was equally friendly and welcoming, and in the short introductory session she gave the two of us who were new to bikram that morning, she explained that it was a set sequence of 26 poses, each done twice, with instructions called out according to a set script (she also mentioned that if it sounded like pidgin english, it's because it was written by bikram himself). she also demonstrated the breathing exercises that bookended the sequence: pranayama breathing with the head/neck/hand/elbow positions and kapalbhati breathing with the diaphragm-controlled exhalations. keeping all of that in mind, we entered the heated classroom, and i prayed that i wouldn't pass out from the heat (where the room thermostat is supposedly kept at around 36C, or 96.8F, to compensate for the high humidity).

for the most part, i was able to keep up with the poses. obviously, i wasn't the most flexible nor balanced person in the room, but it wasn't for lack of trying. for some of the poses, i had to look around to see how others were doing them. for others, i had to figure out whether i was supposed to arch my back, round my back, or keep my back straight. many positions seemed contrary to what i'd been taught in my regular hatha yoga classes. i had to decide whether to do what i normally did or to follow along with what christina was telling us to do. in some cases, her instructions caused pain (ouch!), and noting the grimaces on our faces, she instructed us to keep holding through the pain because the poses were good for us (really?). whenever she noticed someone doing something incorrectly, she would call out their name and what they needed to do. she kept calling out the same names. i wondered what they were doing wrong...

after 90 minutes of being commanded to "kick", "lift", "push", and "go back", i was glad to lay in final savasana on my towel-covered mat, even if it was drenched in sweat. i had survived my first bikram class! yay!

one class down, two to go. that is, if i decided to use up my remaining bikram class credits. after all, there were other non-bikram yoga studios in the vicinity that i wanted to try out, too...

back at my parents' home, i managed to wrest the computer and its precious internet connection from my daughter just long enough to check the other studio websites.

there was bela lipat's sai shanti yoga sanctuary, the studio i had visited earlier this year where i had my first brush with ashtanga yoga. someone told me that bela was planning to relocate her classes to another island, so i thought i'd give her another shot and try one of her sivananda classes. unfortunately, they were all in the evening, and i already had dinners lined up for every day of my stay (if you didn't know it, filipinos seem to revolve their entire lives around food).

then there was soma yoga, another studio in makati. they had morning classes that fit into my schedule, but since the class descriptions were somehow left off the schedule and i didn't want to find myself in a class where everyone was twisted into some contorted pose while i looked on helplessly, i decided to pass. looking back, i probably should've taken the risk; after all, what damage could one class do?

i also heard that there were various private yoga classes held at homes nearby, but since i really didn't have the time to do the research, i passed on all of those, too.

long story short, i ended up returning to the bikram studio the next day for my second class, which was taught once again by christina. i was hoping that marc would be on deck that day, just to get another teacher's style (if that's possible in bikram yoga), but he supposedly begged off and asked her to teach in his stead. darn.

i don't know if it was my imagination or my mental state, but christina seemed more militaristic this time around. and i finally realized that the "joonee" that she kept calling out to the day before was me! annoyed that someone from the US was mispronouncing my name, i finally broke down and corrected her. after all, if someone's going to repeatedly call out my name in front of everyone to tell me what i was doing wrong, at least they should call me by my correct name (you can tell that the heat was making me awfully bitchy by then)!

tired of being told to do everything just so -- "put your right ear on the floor and look left", "put your left ear on the floor and look right", "your forehead must touch your knee", "keep your eyes open", "lock your knees", and so on -- i eventually felt the need to rebel and do my own thing. after all, what was she going to do? kick me out of class?

so when she had us do a seated pose, then spin around and lie down with our heads towards the front of the room, then spin around to do another seated pose, then spin around and lie down again, i got tired of all the spinning around and decided to do what made sense to me (and waste less energy): i lay down with my head towards the back of the room, knowing full well that she would point out that i was facing the wrong way. and she did. so i mumbled something about not wanting to put my head in the soggy wet spot at the front of my mat. and she stopped correcting me for the rest of the class. i had to spend an extra couple of minutes in that last savasana just to clear my mind and calm my nerves...

after that experience, i was tempted to skip my third, and last, class, but i found out that i was guaranteed to have a new teacher if i showed up later that week; the studio owner, tristan choa, was going to be back from his visit to bikram central in los angeles and both marc and christina were leaving town for a week-long vacation.

so on saturday morning, the last yoga-possible day of my vacation, i finally met tristan, who was still slightly jet-lagged from his trip. he explained that he had visited LA to recruit a new batch of bikram teachers since marc and christina's one-year tour of duty, so to speak, was coming up soon. there were a few bites, but no firm commitments. he also brought back with him the video of a recent bikram competition which he had loaded on his laptop so he could show us the winners demonstrating their compulsory and optional poses. ah, bikram and the need for perfection...

this time i behaved myself. i did what i was told (or at least tried to). i kept my eyes open. i looked at myself in the mirror. i kicked. i pushed. i fell back. i even lay facing the correct direction. i liked tristan's lighthearted, yet firm, demeanor. maybe there was another bikram class in the future for me? i kept wishing that i could stay in manila long enough to give marc's class a try. but it was not to be. oh well.

so what's the verdict? i wouldn't go as far as writing bikram yoga off completely, maybe not until i finally get a chance to take a class with bikram choudhury himself at his studio on la cienega. but honestly, all it stresses is balance and flexibility. i need power, i need strength. i need my up dogs and my down dogs. and more dogged attempts at headstands and arm balances. and depending on the mood i'm in, i need to be able to chant and/or sing along to the music. and maybe even meditate. and luckily, i can do all those right here in my back yard. i love LA...

postscript: obviously, i'm going to pass on this opportunity, but if you're committed to the bikram gospel and would like to try something just a little bit out of the ordinary, you might want to check out this job posting:

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: Bikram Yoga Manila is looking for full time teachers who can teach strong dialogue-based classes. The Bikram yoga community is growing here in Manila -- as a result, we are building more studios -- and we are looking for adventurous spirits to come out to Asia and share in this experience. We are offering an extremely generous package with a one (1) year commitment and we will pay for your housing, utilities and any travel to and from the studio. A paid vacation within the country is also a part of your compensation. If you are interested, please contact the studio director Tristan Choa at bikramyogamanila@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

writer's block

i'm finally back in town! i've just returned from an event-filled eleven days in the philippines, where i juggled what little time i had among family, friends, sightseeing, shopping, and of course, yoga.

i was so busy running around that i barely had enough time to read email (last i checked, my unread message count hovered around 200!). so as far as yogablogging, all i could do was make copious mental notes of each class i took, with the intent of putting them all together in one big post when i returned. now that i'm back home though, all those snippets seem to be lost (temporarily, i hope) in a mental haze. after all, it's been just over 12 hours since i cleared customs at LAX after a 27 HOUR flight from manila (which included a 12 hour layover in seoul). is it any wonder why my brain refuses to function?

anyway, after failing that task, i decided to focus my attention instead on planning the classes i was going to take for the coming week. and just when i'd thought i was starting to make headway, i somehow happened across the website of anahata yoga school, one of the yoga studios i had visited during my recent trip to providence. to my surprise, i found this message:

I'm sorry to announce that Anahata is closing permanently.
There is an Amrit Yoga School open at 14 Bartlett St in Cranston called Santosha Yoga School. To speak with them about schedule information call 465-8865.
Or check out Sun Salutations Yoga Studio in Lincoln at 840 Smithfield Ave. You can speak to Amy at 632-7254.
For Divya's classes call 273-3883.
Or to speak with former director Megan Tanuja Stone call 401-954-3429.
Thanks for your patience and please accept my sincerest apologies!

was this the same place i'd been to? i could've sworn that just a mere two weeks ago, their website announced:

Anahata Yoga School is pleased to announce that we are moving!
As of June 12th we will start classes in our beautiful new location: 14 Bartlett St (at the corner of Broad St and Warwick Ave in Cranston, a mere 10 minutes from the Point St Bridge!) To encourage you to join us in our new adventure we are offering a special discounted package of 6 classes in 6 weeks for $60 or 7 classes in 10 weeks for $99!

what happened?!?!?

i think i need to get some sleep. hopefully, in the morning, i'll find out that this was all just a bad dream...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

there's no place like home

arriving home past midnight last night after an eight-hour trip from PVD back to LAX, i managed to catch a decent amount of shut-eye before getting dressed to make the first class today at the newly-opened yogahop studio in santa monica (after many delays, yogahop finally opened its doors on june 3rd. and it was just my luck that it happened while i was out of town!)

as i pulled into the parking lot, i could tell that the day was quickly turning into a warm and sunny one. i walked up the back stairs to the freshly remodeled studio (previously the home of forrest yoga), where greville henwood was eagerly greeting all of us who showed up for his inaugural class at this new place. after exchanging pleasantries, we laid out our yoga mats, he cued the music, and the high-energy high-sweat class began...

... and for the next ninety minutes, all i could think about was how different it was from the yoga classes i had taken in providence just a few days before...

first of all, it rained almost the entire time i was in rhode island. not that the yoga studios had anything to do with the unwelcome precipitation, but it made getting to the studios a bit inconvenient. luckily, i found parking right outside their front doors, so i was able to go from door (of car) to door (of studio) and back without getting drenched.

Anahata Yoga School
191 Nashua Street
Providence, RI 02904
(401) 274-5876
website: www.anahatayogaschool.com

Anahata Yoga School has recently been designated one of 4 national Amrit Yoga Institutes by Yogi Amrit Desai. Yogi Desai is an internationally recognized authority on yoga and holistic living. He is a descendent of one of the most esoteric and ancient yogic traditions of India - the path of Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga.

Anahata offers comprehensive and authentic training in the ways of yoga and meditation. Through our therapies, you will learn to recognize & release physical & mental tensions, move with greater efficiency & ease, break through the barriers to change, and feel more comfortable & expressive in total body/mind/spirit. You’ll also help your body be more flexible & your “monkey mind” be more relaxed by breathing more efficiently. You’ll learn the ancient ways of yoga, stress management, breath control, stretching, toning & exercise.

my first class was on thursday evening at the anahata yoga school. i had originally hoped to take a class with tanuja, the owner of the studio, but since the class level (beginner) and time (5:30pm) on that day didn't work for me, i ended up taking the last class of the day with adriana carvalho. she started her mixed level class with pranams, and since i was totally unfamiliar with what she and the class were chanting, all i could do was sit quietly and listen. i was hoping that whatever followed would give me some insight into the amrit style of yoga, which this studio supposedly taught.

we started out with a very slow and gentle version of sun salutations, stopping after each pose to meditate, contemplate, and/or rest (all i know is that we would hold in a restful state before proceeding to the next pose). some of the things we were instructed to do were new to me, so i had to keep looking around to see what the others were doing. i don't remember doing anything particularly strenuous; come to think of it, i really don't remember the specifics of what we did at all. could it be that i released so much stress that i lost all memory of what we did in class? what a scary thought.

anyway, after taking the class, i still can't say i know what makes amrit amrit. maybe i would have learned more had i taken the beginner level class? it's hard to say.

i checked the amrit yoga institute website and found this:

"Amrit Yoga cultivates inward focus and meditative awareness along with the practice of postures and pranayams. This internal focus is the single most powerful tool to prevent chronic, stress-producing, mental dialogues and emotional reactions. These unconscious habits accompany us through every activity; the yoga mat is not an exception."

i suppose that explains why i was able to stay calm during my daughter's outdoor graduation ceremony that weekend. it was bad enough that there was a light drizzle that continued to fall as the crowd jockeyed for seats, but when a torrential downpour began just minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to start, i calmly opened up my umbrella, helped myself to one of the ponchos that was being handed out by the school staff, and continued to expect that things would be ok. and miraculously, they were. the rain let up right as the graduates started their procession, and while the threat of another deluge literally hung over our heads throughout the ceremony, everything went along as scheduled. speeches were made, names were announced, hands were shaken, pictures were taken, and diplomas were awarded. at that point, i really didn't care if it started to pour again. my daughter had her moment on stage, marking her last day as a college student, and we, her father, her sister, and myself, were there to witness it...

Eyes of the World Yoga
1 Park Row
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 295-5002
website: www.innerhappiness.com

Wake up to find out
that you are the eyes of the world
but the heart has its beaches
its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you
are the song that the morning brings
but the heart has its seasons
its evenings and songs of its own -- "Eyes of the World", by Robert Hunter

when i showed up sunday morning for class at the eyes of the world studio, i was looking forward to taking an open vinyasa class with tom gillette, the studio director. according to a quote from one of his students:
"Tom's classes are fantastic. They are vigorous, challenging and exciting within a well explained intellectual and spiritual context. They are a perfect blend of a physical workout and a spiritual encounter."

after the meditative class i took three days earlier, i wanted desperately to work up a sweat and be challenged.

instead, i found out that due to his busy teacher training schedule, tom had decided to take the day off; julia smith was going to teach the class instead. all i could do at that point was hope that her class would give me what i was looking for.

but it didn't. in fairness to julia, i must say that she was very descriptive and helpful in her instructions to the class. had i wanted to take a gentler class like the mellow vinyasa class that she usually teaches, i would have gotten exactly what i had signed up for. however, in this case, even if she had upped her difficulty level, i didn't find the class vigorous enough.

so as far as trying to find a yoga class in providence that was exactly what i was looking for, i was 0 for 2. i'd like to be able to try other classes and other teachers at both studios on a subsequent visit, but since my daughter will probably end up moving to another city once she finds a job, i may not get that second (or third) chance. too bad...

all i can say is that since i have such a wide diversity of yoga styles, yoga studios, and yoga teachers available to me here in los angeles, i've become quite spoiled. i expect to get what i want, when i want it, at a location convenient to wherever i happen to be. and i usually do.

maybe i'm lucky enough to live in a city that has a large enough population and, therefore, large enough student base to support all the different yoga studios that continue to open around town. like yogahop. as well as the new branch of mark blanchard's power yoga studio that's scheduled to open in mid-june.

anyway, i have to leave this yoga wonderland yet again and will be trying out new yoga studios in another city, another country. this time, i'll be traveling back to the philippines to reunite once more with my family as my father is officially named a national artist for his achievement in the field of architecture. so in between the family gatherings and the celebrations and a visit to the presidential palace and madame president herself, i'll see what i can do to continue my quest for yoga enlightenment...

i'm leaving tomorrow and will be back in about 12 days. don't miss me too much :)