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Monday, July 17, 2006

hybrid yoga

Swerve Studio
8250 West 3rd Street #206
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-0741

website: www.swervestudio.com

The founders of SWERVE find the body a gift. We would love for you, our clients, to discover your bodies more deeply, thoroughly and truly through the classes and private lessons you take here at our happy and productive movement studio. Of course, it feels good to look good, so work consistently and diligently, employ your higher Self and you will improve the way you FEEL and FUNCTION, which will, in turn, improve the way you look. Join the Kula--SWERVE's community of the heart. SPREAD LOVE.

i'm currently facing a dilemma. i took a class at swerve studio today, and despite emerging all sweaty and exhilarated from a long blissful savasana, i wasn't sure if i could give myself credit for having taken a yoga class from a yoga teacher at a yoga studio.

rewind tape to earlier this year...

while scouring magazines and the internet to come up with my list of yoga studios to visit, i somehow kept running into "swerve studio" listed among the more well-known yoga haunts. curious, i checked out their website.

from their list of class offerings, they are clearly a fitness studio: scupt & tone, six-pack abs, world beat tone and stretch, pilates mat, world beat workout, booty-kickin sculpt, cardio core ball, and so on. and to keep up with the fitness craze, they also teach yoga classes. not just the usual hatha yoga, but also anusara, kundalini, and meditation classes. they also offer something no one else does -- their trademark class created by the studio owners, gillian marloth clark and teigh mcdonough: yoga booty ballet.

it's described as follows:

60-90 Minutes Signature class. A hybrid of all the good stuff from ballet--grace, beauty poise, power and lithe lean lovely limbs: the POWER of Yoga. Sun salutes, balancing poses and breathing--enough to bliss you out: the BOOTY aspects of fitness--original moves to enhance your fine muscular ass! Live Drumming as listed.

ok, there was the yoga thing, which i was familiar with. as for the ballet, the last time i attempted anything close to plies and releves was back in the second grade. and i obviously don't think i was particularly good at it because no one encouraged me to keep at it when i wanted to stop (or maybe my mother was just relieved that it was one less class she had to pay for?). and as for the booty, honestly, who couldn't use a well-sculpted ass?

after all, i could easily catch elsie escobar's anusara class at bala or yogaworks larchmont, light's vinyasa flow class at maha, or a kundalini class at either yoga west or golden bridge. no, i had to take something unique to swerve, so yoga booty ballet with gillian clark was going to be it.

after putting it off for months and eventually realizing that i was quickly running out of yoga studio options, i finally decided to pay swerve a visit this morning.

when i got to the mini-mall where the studio was located, i had a sneaky suspicion that the class wasn't going to be your usual yoga class. for one thing, no one was carrying a yoga mat. i felt like i had shown up at a party with a casserole in hand, thinking it was a potluck affair :(

after signing in at the front desk in the gym, i followed the students to the dance studio. those who had arrived earlier were seated on the hardwood floor. there was a stack of mats in the back of the room, but they remained untouched. i also noticed that a few students brought towels with them and had placed them on the floor under their feet. strange. after putting my belongings in one of the cubbies, i thought it best to leave my mat and towel on the floor by the wall because it didn't look like i was going to need them.

gillian soon walked in bearing a stack of hand towels, so i took one and put it on the floor beside me. she acknowledged the students whom she recognized and asked the new students to identify themselves (the look on my face probably pleaded with her to cut me some slack if i ended up looked totally spastic and uncoordinated during the dance part of the session). with all of us seated cross-legged on the floor, she then instructed us newbies to place our towels under our feet, with its sole (no pun intended) purpose appearing to be to cushion our feet against the hard floor. so far, i had no problem following along.

we started out in typical yoga fashion. we started with our eyes closed while she talked about setting our intentions for the practice. then we did some pranayama, followed by some kundalini-esque moves. like side twists and arm-flailing (ok, so i'm no kundalini expert) while inhaling, exhaling, and silently chanting: sat nam. sat nam. sat nam.

somewhere along the line, she welcomed us to the kula, the community of the heart. shades of anusara... this is definitely some odd yoga mix...

then gillian cranked up the music and we started to dance. she told those new to the class that it was perfectly ok if we couldn't get the choreography down; the point was to move and have fun. and true enough, i tried my best to follow along, but i honestly don't know how i looked because i had my eyes glued on gillian the entire time, trying to keep up with her and the group. and maybe i was afraid to see what i really looked like :(

talk about an energy-packed workout! we were jumping, we were swaying, we were kicking, we were moving! i had flashbacks of those 80's aerobics classes i used to take :) every now and then, gillian would slow down the pace so we could catch our breath and take a sip of water (it figures that i would bring the mat, which we didn't need, but not the water, which we did). we would then quickly move on to another sequence of steps. i hate to admit it, but i really didn't care how i looked at this point because i was having fun!

as all good things eventually come to an end, so did the class. we did some glute work, followed by some standing side leg raises, then we each pulled a mat from the pile at the back of the room for some bends and twists. the class ended, as with all yoga classes, with savasana.

so was it a yoga class or was it a dance class? considering that we did more dancing than asanaing, i'm leaning towards the latter. but does it bother me that i didn't get the sun salutes and such that i expected to get? not really. because after all, little surprises every now and then just make life that more interesting...