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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

back friendly yoga

Samata Yoga Center
4150 Tivoli Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 306-8845
website: www.samata.com

The Samata Yoga Center was established in 1981 by Larry Payne, Ph.D. The word Samata in Sanskrit means "balance." The style of Yoga taught at Samata is inspired by the teachings of T.K.V. Desikachar, son of the late professor Sri T. Krishnamacharya of Mysore, India who was perhaps the most knowledgeable Yoga teacher of the 20th century. Krishnamacharya taught that Yoga postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama) should be adapted to respect individual differences in age, physical and mental health, culture, religion, philosophy and occupation. Some of Krishnamacharya's other popular Yoga students in America include B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, and A.G. Mohan.

my back's been bothering me for some time now. there are days when it's just a minor annoyance, and there are days when it hurts so much that i keep fidgeting, hoping if that if i twist around enough, i'll be able to snap things back into place. and usually the harder i work at it, the worse it gets :(

yesterday, i received an email update from insight yoga in pasadena. it announced that all their regular classes were cancelled this sunday because of an all-day workshop:

Introduction to Yoga Therapy Rx with Larry Payne
Sunday, July 30th 9am-5pm
For Yoga students of all levels!
Larry Payne’s Yoga Rx Wellness Plan is a synthesis of the ageless wisdom of Yoga from the East with the most recent knowledge incomplementary health from the West.
Join us for a day-long immersion into Larry's 8-Step Wellness Plan where students will learn poses, breathing techniques, good food choices, positive mindsets, biomechanical re-education and much, much more to help achieved a healthier body and more balanced life. Click
here for more information.

a healthy body and a balanced life? it sounded like something i wanted to learn more about, but not only are higher-priced workshops out of my budget right now, but taking a class in pasadena this sunday is impossible if i'm supposed to be in orange county that same day (my baby sister's in town and i want to see her before she takes off again).

ok, so i couldn't afford to do larry's all-day workshop on sunday. but i could take one of his yoga classes; in fact, i had seen larry's name on the jiva yoga schedule, where he teaches a class called "user friendly yoga". according to his bio posted on the jiva website:

Larry Payne, Ph.D, is an internationally respected Yoga teacher and back pain specialist. Dr. Payne is director of the International Association of Yoga Therapist; co-founder of the Yoga curriculum at the UCLA Medical School; founder of the Yoga program at the J. Paul Getty Museum; and director of the Samata Yoga Center in Los Angeles since 1981. Dr. Payne is co-author of Yoga for Dummies with Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., and is featured in two new "User Friendly Yoga videos, released in 1999. Larry focuses on function over form, safety for backs and necks, breath, and decompression of the spine and 25 of the safest Yoga poses.

i was sold, until i realized that his class at jiva was only held on wednesdays, and i already had another class planned for tomorrow :(

as usual, google search came to my rescue. i found out that larry also taught at other locations, including his home near marina del rey. at 7pm tonight, tuesday. bingo!

i got there somewhat early, so i had a chance to chat with some of the other students before class started. when larry walked into the room, he greeted us all, then had us introduce ourselves to each other. there were two who were new to the group; i was one of them, and the other was a friend of one of the regulars. his sister and his two nieces had also joined us.

larry reminded us that it was a mixed level class, so we were to move at our own pace, at our own ability, and not try to compete against everyone else in the class. fair enough, since i wanted to take it easy anyway.

the poses he led us through were simple enough, yet with the options he gave us, we were free to make them as challenging as we wanted them to be.

as usual, one side of me kept urging me to push harder, while the other kept telling me to hold back and stay within my comfort zone. i must have negotiated a peaceful truce between the two, because by the end of the class, i had worked up a bit of a sweat yet i felt relaxed and nicely stretched. and yes, my back was happy, too.

after savasana, larry asked all of us to sit in a circle and hold hands and think about what we had left to do that week. i suppose it could have been considered a goal-setting exercise, but then again, given all the things that i have on my plate between now and the weekend, i decided to just clear my brain and enjoy the moment. larry then poured tea for the students, which we drank before we said our goodbyes and left the room.

a very friendly class, indeed.