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Sunday, September 24, 2006

cramming it all in

... at least that was my original plan for this week. a sort of do-all-the-yoga-i-can-while-i-can before i start calling myself, once again, a full-time employee.

i had started out the week with a very ambitious schedule. two yoga classes a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with time set aside for errands at lunchtime and in the evening. some of the classes would be at studios i'd never been to (so i could continue to add places to my list of studios visited). some of the classes would be specialized ones that i could only take during the day. and as always, i had to mix it all up so that no class was like any other.

and as i had somewhat expected, none of it came to pass. well, at least not as much as i had hoped.

for one thing, it quickly dawned on me as i lay in supta baddha konasana in lisa l.'s yoga for relaxation class last sunday at planet yoga (studio #57 on my list) that the half marathon i had just finished that morning had totally wiped me out. it had been a long time since i had run that distance in race mode, and my body wasn't too happy about it. trying to attempt two classes a day while half of my body was all stiff and sore didn't seem like a smart nor realistic idea.

on monday, i drove out to yummy yoga (studio #58, and counting) in los feliz and was happy to see ducky punch, who had taken over the studio when matthew reyes decided to close down yogamatt and move to the westside. it was the first time i had been to the studio since the takeover, and except for the few pieces of furniture that were moved around and the new artwork on the walls, it was pretty much the same place i had remembered. ducky continues to teach her classes in the yogamatt tradition; that is, they're the familiar hip-hop yoga classes, complete with cranked-up music and poses held for long periods of time. there were only two of us in her class that afternoon, so she gave each of us personalized attention, including delicious back and shoulder massages. yummy!

on tuesday, i had to sit around and wait for the repair guy to come and fix my washing machine that had gone kaput over the weekend. unfortunately, he didn't show up during the appointed time slot (and i ended up having to reschedule because he was so late), so i missed shiva rea's afternoon class at exhale venice and ended up taking missy costello's class at yogahop instead. again, it was another strength-based hip-hop flow class, much like the one i took the day before at yummy. the similarity (including the back rubs) was no coincidence, since yogahop is matt reyes's new home and all the teachers there have also been trained in his style. while i have nothing against hip-hop yoga, i probably should have taken a totally different kind of class just to add to the variety. oh well.

on wednesday, it was to be repair attempt #2. according to the sears dispatch desk, i was close to last on the list and shouldn't expect to see the repair guy until the end of the day. not great news, but good to know anyway. so i headed out that morning to the yoga center in redondo beach, just to find out that i was trying to catch a class that didn't exist. my precious morning, wasted. the repair guy eventually showed up at 6:30 that evening and left an hour later. thank goodness i live in a yoga-rich city, because i was still able to catch kia miller's late-night candlelight flow class at yoga works westwood. before the hour-long class started, she placed candles in the middle of the room and asked us to arrange our mats around the candles so we were facing the light. i found myself practicing in an almost trance-like state while gazing into the flickering flames. since it was pretty late in the evening, she made sure that we got a vigorous enough workout without getting us all overly worked up before bedtime. nice.

by thursday, most of the soreness was gone from my legs, so i decided to go for a doubleheader. i took erich schiffmann's morning hatha class at exhale venice, which, despite the level 2/3 designation, is usually a nice and easy class. we meditated, we breathed, we liquified, we amplified. the whole point was not to muscle through the poses but to surrender into them so we could reach farther, stretch more, twist better. you know a teacher's good when you spot people who teach at other studios in the class.

that afternoon, i headed over to santa monica yoga, where i took nancy goodstein's ashtanga class. instead of the usual led format that i was used to, nancy taught in the mysore style, which according to her, meant that the students went through the sequences on their own and her role was merely to assist and correct as needed. since i'm definitely an ashtanga newbie, she pretty much stood by me and led me through the asana sequence, leaving my side every now and then whenever one of the three other students in the class needed help. i loved the way she gave me all these pointers which seemed minor at first but ended up making a world of difference. the one thing she said that made perfect sense was when she likened ashtanga to a marathon -- it's all about staying relaxed and pacing yourself so you can make it to the finish without running out of steam. which just reminded me of the reason why i bonked at mile 10 when i ran the half :( you'd think i'd have learned my lesson by now.

on friday, i managed to find a miraculous opening at the massage place with my favorite massage therapist. it was just what i needed; a good sports massage to knead out the last remaining kinks in my muscles plus the usual TLC to put a spring in my step and a smile on my face :) reenergized, i headed over to power yoga santa monica, where i was scheduled to put in a volunteer shift in exchange for bryan kest's level 3-4 power class. once there, i found out that bryan was out of town at a workshop and that anaswara would be subbing for him. while i was initially disappointed that bryan wasn't going to be teaching his "authorized students only" class, i knew that anaswara often filled in for bryan, so i was going to be in good hands. and it did turn out to be a great class. it was challenging, but not to point of being frustrating. luckily for me, anaswara teaches some late-night classes at power yoga east, so i'll be able to catch her every now and then.

on saturday, the highlight of my day (or rather, night) was to be the kirtan with dave stringer and miles shrewbery at exhale venice. what better way to celebrate the start of my reentry into the working world than to chant my lungs out? but first things first; i had to meet my running group for our early morning training run. it was my first time with my usual pace group since my hiatus from long distance running, and as i had feared, i had a hard time keeping up with them for the entire 9 miles. i bailed out after 5 miles and did just 2 more on my own at a slower pace. exhausted, i drove home for a quick nap.

i had the rest of the afternoon all planned out; cashing in the invitation from exhale santa monica that i had picked up last month at lululemon, i was going to take a complimentary music yoga flow class with meaghan townsend, relax in the jacuzzi, then take a luxurious shower before heading out to the venice location for the kirtan. but what wasn't included in the plan was my oversleeping and missing getting to class on time! so instead, i went straight to exhale venice, took john sahakian's vigorous vinyasa flow class (for which i barely had enough energy to get through), then hopped in the shower (thankfully, they had one) to rinse off before the evening's event.

as for the kirtan, all i can say is: if you've never been to a dave stringer performance, you don't know what you're missing! he had a fantastic group of musicians and singers with him, including girish, who was sitting in for miles shrewsbery. as usual, i didn't catch their names, especially since it was a fairly large group, at least compared to the few other kirtans i'd been to. i also have to give credit to the seasoned chanters in the crowd who lent their voices and their energy into making the experience that more enjoyable. it seemed like things were just getting started when the performance came to its neighborhood-mandated end at 10pm. i suppose there's always a next time. like chanting with krishna das at the ford, perhaps?

and finally, today, sunday, instead of running the 5 mile race that my running group was participating in, i opted to take an iyengar class at yoga garden studios (studio #59!). ida unger was scheduled to teach the class, but due to the rosh hashanah holiday, it was taught instead by jeff perlman. since it was the end of the month, he said he was going to teach a restorative class, which was more than ok with me. after all, it was about time i listened to my aching body! besides standing, sittting, and lying in the usual supported poses, the ahhh! moment of the class was when i found myself hanging upside down. up until today, i had only been able to stare at the wall-mounted ropes in some yoga studios, wondering what kind of magic they wielded. well, now i know. getting onto the ropes and flipping over was a bit scary at first, but once i found myself hanging with my legs above my head, i wanted to stay there forever! it was like being weightless. even my cranky back loved it. i think i've turned into a rope junkie :)

so looking back at the week, i did manage to get some new studios and some new teachers in. and while i may have missed out on some of the other things i had planned, like being able to take an anusara and/or a kundalini class, or maybe even visiting studio #60, it was, all in all, an eventful week. i hope i continue to have many more of them even after i return to the evening- and weekend-only yoga world...