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Friday, September 29, 2006

lofty expectations

The Yoga Loft
21228 Ventura Boulevard
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 710-9057
website: http://www.yogaloftla.com/

For many people, the body and mind are at war and the mind has very definite ideas about the body. The practice of Yoga trains the mind to let go of its preconceptions and discover the deep underlying harmony between the body and the mind. The art of Yoga is both a philosophy and a science for developing a healthy body and mind and becomes a poetic expression of our inner most self.

We have been told that the rational mind is the only worthwhile mind. And that what does not appeal to the rational mind is worthless. Yet there is something instinctive in our nature, crying out to expand. We have to re-learn what is instinctual as we are not sensitive to what is natural in us. When we practice Hatha Yoga (physical practice) we reestablished a relationship between the instinctive and the intellectual.

The asanas (postures) when properly practiced promote the full and natural range of movement, improved breathing, efficient functioning of the internal organs, balance of the nervous systems and an optimistic state of health and well being. The practice of asanas creates a meditative state of mind and from there comes a firmness of mind, firmness of emotion and a firmness of life. However something else emerges: the sense that while this is a very desirable state of affairs, there is more. We begin to get a glimpse of an aspect of self beyond the physical, mental and emotional parts of ourselves, a glimpse of the truth about this entity called "self".

i sat in a comfortable cross-legged position, closed my eyes, and started to focus on my breath. and soon, the chatter in my brain commenced...

... so here i am at the yoga loft in woodland hills... which doesn't appear to be related to the yoga loft in manhattan beach... let's see... that one is yogaloftMB.com on the web... but this one is yogaloftLA.com... wait, that's not right... what if someone wants to open up a yoga loft in los angeles?... hey, that would be cool... yoga in one of those lofts downtown... well, maybe they should just open one up in west hollywood so they can use yogaloftWH.com..... hmmmmm...... ommmmmm....

admit it. when your yoga instructor tells you to clear your mind of all thoughts, there are times when you just can't. you keep thinking about that guy that just cut you off as you were driving to class. or the project you have to finish when you get back to work. or what you're going to write about this studio when you get home (ok, so that's just me).

the yoga loft in woodland hills is just that. the students practice yoga in a loft. a loft which is perched above and overlooking the entrance/boutique/lounge area. so while it is true that neither of the yoga loft studios in LA county are connected in any way, it could be argued that the woodland hills location has more rights to the name because the one in manhattan beach is NOT in a loft; it's on the second floor. so maybe it should be called yoga upstairs? don't mind me; i'm just blabbering.

when i first accepted the job i'm now at, i had no clue that the office was surrounded by so many yoga studios. while it doesn't come even close to the yoga studio density on the westside or in west hollywood (see? there's still room for that yoga loft west hollywood), there's a surprising number of places to practice yoga in the west san fernando valley.

the yoga loft in woodland hills is located in a small strip mall on ventura boulevard, right off the 101 freeway, between the de soto and canoga off-ramps. the purpose of my visit on that particular day and time was to take steven vincent's pranayoga class. i had read about him while scanning the schedules of various yoga studios. he teaches at a good number of places around town -- angel city yoga, inner power yoga, progressive power yoga, yoga house, yoga at the village, yoga loft WH -- but i couldn't seem to time my visits to those studios with the times of his classes.

that is, until the other day.

i succeeded in getting to his class without much stress (it's a quick 5 minute drive from work), and i looked forward to finally finding out what pranayoga was all about. according to steven,

Pranayoga is an approach to the practice of Yoga which derives from the Raja Yoga of Patanjali in combination with Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Tantric and other wisdom teachings, principles and methods. It takes as its fundamental bases the cultivation of Strength, Ease, Mindfulness and Spiritual Awakening. These fundamentals are developed as a Yoga—a unity. The student of Pranayoga benefits from a complete practice which supports life and growth.

i had no clue what i was in for. maybe we would spend a lot of time meditating. or listening to pearls of wisdom from sacred writings. or moving through some intense asanas.

whatever it was, i somehow found myself in a beginning yoga class. unfortunately, while the yoga loft has the class listed as a "mixed/pranayoga" class, steven's website calls it a "gentle beginner yoga" class. and obviously, he won the coin toss. not only that, but i was also disappointed that we really didn't spend much time meditating nor absorbing wisdom. i had to remind myself that i was still getting my yoga fix, even if it was less demanding than i had wanted it to be, and i was finally meeting the guy who's the driving force behind the peace is every step movement in LA. at least i satisfied some of my goals for the day.

and because the class was a bit slower and gentler than i was hoping for, my mind kept wandering. i kept second-guessing what i was doing. are my thighs far back enough? are my hips level enough? are my shoulders back and down enough? i kept fidgeting and tweaking instead of settling into each pose. i really think i should stick to classes that keep me working so hard that i don't have the time to get distracted!

so now it looks like i have to add another item to my yoga wish list: steven's pranayoga intermediate class at yoga at the village (all the way out in glendale!) on a sunday morning. the things i have to do to build a firm body and a firm mind...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With you being so into yoga I thought I would let you know I bought some address labels from www.expressionery.com they come with several girls on them, one of the girls is a yoga girl. They also have lots of other cute stationery .

12:52 PM  
Blogger joni said...

cool! i'll go check that out right away...

12:56 PM  

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