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Thursday, September 07, 2006

just another ordinary day...

when i got out of bed this morning, i had no real commitments for the day, other than to take a bikram class (yes, you read that correctly) at the new bikram studio in downtown la. al galang, one of the instructors on staff, had invited me to take one of his evening classes. it turns out that he had read my post about my recent visit to tristan choa's bikram studio in the philippines, and since he had just accepted tristan's offer to teach all the way out in the land of our people (he's a kababayan, a fellow filipino), he thought it would be cool to meet. and so did i.

it also being a thursday, it was classical night at the hollywood bowl, which meant that i would be able to sit in and listen to the morning rehearsal of this evening's performance. tonight's program was called "french delights" and included bizet's carmen, ravel's la valse, and saint-saens' cello concerto no.1, featuring soloist han-na chang. ooh la la.

with a good six hours between the bowl and bikram, i still needed to find things to do to fill in the time, but since i seem to have mastered the art of keeping myself busy even when i don't have much to do, i knew i'd end up with a full day anyway.

i packed a bag with my "hot yoga" gear, i.e., flipflops, shorts, and a camisole top, grabbed the stack of new yoga magazines that were sitting in my living room, and headed out the door.

once at the bowl, i went straight for one of the box seats, opened up the september issue of yogi times, and started to read. and as the familiar strains of carmen's opening act began to echo through the canyon, my eyes landed on the full-page yoga west ad, which featured this month's special events. first on the list was:

thursday, september 7th 7:00pm
snatam & guru singh
snatam joins guru singh for his regular 7pm class, followed by snatam and her peace band in concert

wait a minute... today was the 7th! and not only would i be able to take a class with guru singh, one of the more senior instructors at yoga west, but i'd also get a chance to hear snatam sing! she was performing in concert at golden bridge the next day to promote her newest CD, anand, so maybe tonight's performance at yoga west would be a sampling of her newest songs? i didn't want to miss out on the opportunity.

oh, but i did have those bikram plans... not a problem; al would still be teaching the rest of the month, so i had a few more chances to catch up with him before he left for manila...

so i sat through the rest of the la phil's rehearsal, knowing that i would be listening to even more music later that evening. lucky me.

from the bowl, i drove out to burbank to check out the new branch of porto's bakery, a popular cuban eatery known for its pastries and sandwiches (and potato balls!). i ordered my usual medianoche sandwich, and as i started to thumb through yet another yoga magazine, i was overcome by the sudden realization -- that the skimpy outfit i had stashed away in my car was totally inappropriate for a kundalini class at yoga west! and that it would make no sense to go all the way back home to get a change of clothes, then turn around and head back towards beverly hills to get to class. or maybe i was just trying to find an excuse to go clothes shopping? :)

anyway, thanks to my sister, who happened to be slaving away on her office computer, i located the nearest american apparel store and bought a pair of inexpensive drawstring capri pants and a lightweight shirt that i could throw over the cami i had with me. problem solved.

after taking care of a few errands, i decided to beat the rush-hour traffic and made my way directly to yoga west.

and got there two hours too early.

with nothing better to do, i somehow got talked into taking guru meher's 5:30pm "happy hour yoga" class. it was either that, or sit around the lobby drinking endless cups of yogi tea. and reading more yoga magazines.

it turned out that instead of the more physical workout i was told guru meher's classes tend to be, he decided to have us work on pranayams. we did all kinds of breathing exercises to work on all of our chakras, from the bottoms of our feet all the way up to the tops of our heads. there was lots of long deep breathing. lots of breaths of fire. lots of inhaling through pursed lips. and lots of frustration on my part when i started losing focus and my breathing techniques started to get sloppy.

thankfully, the class lasted only an hour, so i was able to return to normal breathing before i completely lost my mind.

once our class ended, the doors to the room opened and a flood of students started streaming in for guru singh's class. i hung on to my spot for dear life, knowing that i had a perfect view of the stage from where i was. i patted myself on the back for having chosen to take the earlier class and get there before everyone else did.

with almost everyone settled in, guru singh, snatam, guru ganesha and krishan (aka the peace band) took their places on the stage. guru singh then spent some time on the yogic philosophy portion of his class; tonight's theme was getting rid of our weaknesses. to do that, we were to embrace them, displace them, and replace them. pretty catchy, don't you think?

long story short, while we concentrated on embracing our weaknesses, we chanted along with snatam and the band, with snatam on lead vocals, guru ganesha and guru singh on guitar, and krishan on percussion. and although the songs came from guru ganesha singh's latest album, pure ganesh, rather than snatam's anand, we were nevertheless inspired and guided by their melodic voices.

the class ended with us chanting "guru ram das" for thirty minutes (i kid you not) , followed by us holding hands and chanting even more (unfortunately, after almost three and a half hours of moving and chanting, i'm too wiped out to be able to repeat what it was that we were singing!).

there was a small reception after class where the students had a chance to mingle with their fellow students as well as the performers. as for myself, i grabbed a handful of food and made a quick getaway, knowing that it was finally time for my long, eventful day to come to an end.