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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 :)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

safe travels Joni! Wonderful about your father. My son is getting married in LA in August. As soon as Char and I figure out where we are staying I'm going to ask you for a recommendation for yoga classes! Be well!

7:48 PM  
Blogger joni said...

hi richard -- definitely! maybe we can even meet up while you're in town :)

5:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on both of your daughters graduations. I also have two daughters, my youngest just graduated High School last week. She will be attending UCLA in September and would like to find a good yoga studio nearby. Any suggestions?

1:21 PM  
Blogger joni said...

hi ann -- congratulations to your daughter as well, especially since she was successful in getting into UCLA, a highly selective college (and my alma mater, to boot)!
the closest yoga studio to UCLA is yogaworks on westwood blvd, just south of wilshire. it's a quick bus ride from the campus. there are many other westside studios; you might want to check the platial map at the top of my blogsite to see what's out there :)

7:34 PM  

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