Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Friday, June 23, 2006

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!