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Monday, October 02, 2006

an inspired practice

The Absolute Yoga and Pilates Studio
20855 Ventura Boulevard
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 226-0695

Welcome to The Absolute, an inspired Center for Absolute Wellness, promoting vibrant health, healing and empowerment of the individual. At The Absolute, we offer mindful classes and workshops in a variety of yoga and meditation styles including Hatha, Kundalini, Anusara, TriYoga, Flow, Gentle, Intro To Yoga, Prenatal, Post-natal/Parent & Me, Kids’ Yoga and Qi Gong. We also specialize in individualized exercise programs, including The Pilates Method, Pilates Mat, and The Gyrotonic Expansion System® .

Our unique environment is designed to enhance body, mind and spirit, regardless of age, fitness level, flexibility, prior experience or specific physical challenges. All are welcome to come and experience increased feelings of health and well being!

Come visit our store featuring favorite yoga books, videos, music, yoga clothing, candles and supplies! Thank you for choosing The Absolute. We look forward to serving you.

if you've been following my blog, you'd know that there's a soft spot in my heart for anusara yoga. don't get me wrong; while i still consider vinyasa flow and music flow classes the meat-and-potatoes of my yoga practice, i like to think of anusara classes as an occasional treat. something like an exotic fruit salad, the kind with pineapple and mangoes and kiwi. yum! not only is it good, but it's also good for you. although depending on where you live, it may not be easy to come by.

so i was excited to find out that there was a yoga studio near where i work that teaches anusara classes. correct that -- anusara-style classes. yes, apparently there's a difference between the two.

it seems that it all depends on the certification level of the instructor. according to the anusara website:

Certified teachers have earned their elite status by completing a comprehensive evaluation process of their teaching skills and knowledge. Certified Anusara Yoga teachers are among the most highly trained and skilled yoga teachers in the world.

sounds impressive, doesn't it? the requirements must be pretty stringent because there are only a dozen of these certified "experts" (at least according to the anusara website) in los angeles county. another twenty LA-based teachers are considered affiliated, i.e., they have the requisite training but just haven't gotten around to getting certified. and lastly, there's the next tier down: those who are considered anusara-inspired. they've successfully passed their anusara training and are on their way to building up their teaching hours to get to the next level.

and that's where the anusara vs. the anusara-style (aka anusara-influenced) difference lies. anusara classes are taught by anusara certified and affiliated teachers. anusara style classes are taught by the anusara-inspired, as well as the teacher-training grads.

up to this point, being the yoga gourmet that i am (!?!), i've only taken anusara classes with teachers at the affiliated and certified levels. after all, it makes perfect sense to me. if i want to learn anusara the way john friend intended it to be taught, i should be learning from those who've proven themselves to him. you see, it's like learning skiing or golf. my first lessons have always been with a pro. sure, i probably could have learned either sport from a friend, but then again, i may not have been taught the little pointers that only an expert knows. or worse yet, that weekend warrior could have taught me his bad habits (and i prefer to develop them on my own, thank you).

but it's gotten to the point where i felt it was time for me to broaden my horizons, so to speak, and open myself up to the experience of taking classes with teachers who are just getting started on their road to anusara certification. or at least that what i told myself when i chose to take georgina purple's mixed anusara style class at the absolute.

the absolute yoga and pilates studio is one of those places that teaches more than just yoga in order to attract a wider student audience. others are exhale, which teaches yoga and core fusion, and swerve, which offers yoga, dance, and weight training. the absolute has facilities for yoga, pilates, and gyrotonic. two of the their three rooms house the pilates and gyrotonic machines, and the third (located across the parking lot) is where the yoga classes are held. there aren't many yoga classes offered at this studio; during the course of the typical day, there's one class in the morning and two in the evening.

georgina taught the only mixed level yoga class of the day, so i had to sneak out of the office early just to make her 5:30pm class. if you ask me, given the choice of taking a yoga class or sitting at my desk trying to look busy, yoga seemed like the better choice :)

we started out following the prescribed anusara sequence. the class selected a page at random from the book she brought to class, and after she read the passage on that page, she tied it in to what our focus was going to be that day. something about dispelling clouds to clear our outlook on life. then came the three oms followed by three rounds of the anusara invocation (and georgina was nice enough to hand out copies of the invocation to us who still hadn't committed the words to memory). then we started moving... to dispel those clouds that were hovering over our heads...

since our class was smaller than most of the other anusara classes i'd taken, i got more hands-on time than usual. georgina pointed out that my shoulders weren't pulled back far enough while i was in downward dog. and that my tailbone wasn't tucked in enough while i was in triangle. it's always good to have your bad habits pointed out before they become hard to break!

i'd take more of georgina's classes if they were held later in the day. but if i want to continue taking classes at the absolute after work, my choices are limited to either a beginner anusara class or a mixed kundalini class. so for now, i'll keep scouting out the neighborhood to see what else is out there...

by the way, the $10 new student deal mentioned on their website is no longer available; in fact, all the prices have gone up. so be prepared to pay a bit more when you visit.