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Sunday, October 15, 2006

yoga for the cure

Yoga at the Village
1306 Sonora Avenue
Glendale, CA 91201
(818) 265-9833
website: www.yogaatthevillage.com

Excerpts from The Anti-Yoga Trilogy, or Why I Can't Do Yoga, by Elyse Briggs:

Excuse #1: I'm not flexible enough to do Yoga!
Not flexible enough to practice Yoga?? Get over yourself. No one in class is watching you. They're all worried about their own problems. It's really all about you and you being okay with where you are right now, today, this minute. Some ask me, "Does Yoga really work?" My answer? "Only if you practice it." Yoga calms my mind and works my body and although I'll never be a "Type B" personality, I'm proud to say that Yoga has made me a solid "A minus". My mind and my body occasionally connect and when that happens, it's magic. Decisions come more easily and are made with clarity. I'm not so mad at people in traffic anymore and my hand gestures, I proud to say, changed from one finger to two. Peace man.

Excuse #2: I don't have time to do Yoga!
If you drag yourself out of bed just once to get there, the effects are so profound and life changing that it's hard to ignore and you just might want to do it again. If you don't do it the first time, you'll never know. "Oh come now," you're saying as you roll your eyes clear to the back of your head. It's true enough though. Students tell me time after time that their whole day or night was different because of what happened to them in class, that they appreciated everything a little more than before. I'm all about appreciating every moment these days. Time does go by so darn fast…too fast. The faster we charge through our lives the faster time rushes by. I happen to like my life. I want to hold on to it for as long as I can.

Excuse #3: My religion does not permit me to practice Yoga.
I've been a student of yoga for 30 years and haven't once felt compromised … but that's me. When I'm in a yoga class, I'm not thinkin' religion, I'm thinkin' mind/body connection and sculpted abs, butt and thighs … but again, that's me.
My yoga class is a time for self-reflection, and connection to "the bigger picture," the universe or why that sperm hit that egg at the precise moment to make me! Why think about such things? Well, when I think large, I no longer sweat the small stuff. It's how I use MY yoga practice.

some time ago, while i was compiling my yoga studio hit list, i came across yoga at the village in glendale. it sounded like a really fun place to practice, thanks to owner elyse briggs and her sense of humor, which is reflected throughout the studio's website. besides, a place that caters to "computer geeks, the yoga challenged, and the skeptical" as well as those more yogically-inclined has to be worth a visit or two. or maybe more.

but my biggest problem was that glendale wasn't exactly in my backyard. plus most of elyse's classes were in the morning, which meant that i'd have to sit with all the worker bees in rush-hour traffic just to get there. of course, i always had the option of taking any of the other classes that were later in the day, but i wanted to hold out for a chance to take one with her.

well, i finally got that chance today, when yoga at the village held its second annual stretch for the cure, a fundraiser for the susan b. komen breast cancer foundation. it was a two-hour yoga class co-taught by elyse briggs and amina ann rosen, a fellow teacher at yoga at the village. besides the fact that i'd finally be able to meet elyse and take a class with her, i chose to make the 45-minute trek to glendale because the event raised funds for a disease that i can't afford to ignore; after all, my mother's a breast cancer survivor (almost 25 years and still going!), which, unfortunately, increases my risk of getting the disease.

yoga at the village is relatively easy to get to. it's near the intersection of the 134 and 5 freeways, at the corner of sonora and kenneth, at the edge of kenneth village in glendale. there is ample FREE parking right beside the studio, a big plus in my book. surrounding the studio are little stores and boutiques -- a flower shop, a bakery, a market, a pharmacy -- a rarity these days in the big city, primarily because they're slowly being overrun by the wal-marts and the costcos. these mom-and-pop shops looked like places i'd like to browse through if i'm ever in the neighborhood again.

elyse went all out for the fundraiser. not only was there an assortment of cheese, fruit, and crackers for all the guests, but there was also a silent auction featuring items donated by businesses in the area. in addition, as participants in the event, our donations to the komen foundation earned us each a thank-you gift from the array of items with the breast cancer logo: t-shirts, camisoles, and bracelets. naturally, i wanted something to wear to a future yoga class, so i chose a pink camisole with the yoga at the village logo and a pink ribbon embroidered on its front. functional, yet stylish. perfect.

amina ann, a breast cancer survivor, started the class with a set of sun salutations, followed by some standing poses. i'm glad the moves were fairly gentle; my legs and lower back were still sore from the 12-mile training run i did the morning before. soon, it was elyse's turn to teach the class. she led us through some pretty intense stretches. i had body parts that were screaming for mercy, but because of her lighthearted demeanor, i tried to laugh along with her even if there were a number of times when i wanted to throw dagger looks in her direction. at the end of the class, amina returned and talked us gently into savasana.

there were about a dozen of us in the mixed-level class. we ranged in ability from those who depended on props to get into some poses, to those who beautifully flowed from asana to asana (it turns out that a couple who were in the latter category also happened to be teachers at the studio, like steven vincent and shari goodhartz) . we also ranged in age from senior citizen all the way down to pre-schooler (it was amusing to watch the four-year old daughter of the florist next door as she did her best to keep up with the rest of us, at least until she decided to re-join her mom at the flower shop). having such a wide variety of students in today's class just emphasized how yoga at the village truly accepts everyone with open arms.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:50 PM  

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