Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
Click here to view the accidental yogist's map of los angeles yoga studios in a full-size page

Sunday, November 05, 2006

another grand opening

In The Mudra Yoga and Dance Studio
21835 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303
(818) 340-YOGA
website: www.inthemudra.com

Whether you're looking for yoga, weight loss, exercise, fitness, meditation or belly dance, this is the place.
The owner Suzanne Strachan has created a yoga and dance class experience unlike any other. Suzanne has been teaching yoga for over 20 years and she has become well known for personalized attention, custom yoga programs and RESULTS. Students flock to Suzanne to learn how to lose weight with yoga, turn back the clock and stay young.
Yoga has become the fasting growing mind-body exercise sensation America has ever seen. Yoga is an ideal choice for anyone looking for relaxation, mental focus, fitness, stamina, weight loss and overall strength and tone. As a fitness activity and exercise, yoga is unparalleled. Yoga is an excellent way to develop core strength, flexibility and help prevent injury during workouts. Back problems are often alleviated under the guidance of an experienced Yoga Teacher. This ancient discipline helps you to have a joyful outlook on life and relieves stress and promotes inner peace. The breathing exercises, meditation and yoga asana postures help focus the mind and body as one.

i was thumbing through the latest issue of LA Yoga magazine the other day when i spotted a new listing on the yoga studio page: in the mudra yoga and dance. since i had never heard of it before, i checked out the studio website to find out more. their class schedule featured a wide variety of yoga classes -- gentle, mixed level, mommy and me, kids, teen, and even kundalini -- as well as a "cabaret-fusion" belly dancing class. i knew i would definitely want to stop by for the yoga classes; but as for the belly dancing... hmmm. but then again, i suppose i'm more likely to give that a shot than a pole dancing class :)

anyway, it turns out that not only are they located just up the street from where i work, but the studio owner, suzanne strachan, supposedly specializes in sports injuries. according to her bio:

"... As an extreme yoga athlete herself, Suzanne is a highly skilled sports injury therapist. Suzanne has experience working with clients with a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to thoracic outlet syndrome, kyphotic upper thoracic curvature, carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated discs, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis in the elderly, work related injury and rotator cuff injuries. Suzanne uses yogic breathing techniques to help those with respiratory conditions such as emphysema and asthma..."

it definitely sounded like a place i wanted to try out. and once i read that there was going to be a grand opening celebration the next day (yes, talk about perfect timing!) with free classes, free demonstrations, a free concert, and free food, i quickly rearranged my schedule just so i could attend the festivities.

that next morning, i got stuck in traffic en route to the studio (on a saturday morning?!?) and arrived just as the free yoga class was scheduled to start. to my relief, not only wasn't i late, but i was the only student there! half hoping now that i would be lucky enough to end up in a private class, i put my belongings in one of the cubbies at the back of the room and proceeded to lay down my yoga mat. soon, other students started streaming in, many of them holding flyers that suzanne's son was handing out on the sidewalk outside. so much for my hoped-for one-on-one.

it was an eclectic mix that eventually packed the room; a few were garden-variety yoga students, but the majority looked like they'd never set foot in a yoga studio before. a clear sign was the fact that once they entered the premises, they walked across the asana floor, street shoes and all, then stood in the middle of the room, wondering what to do next.

suzanne eventually got the situation under control. while she attended to those still checking in at the front desk, she also managed to hand out yoga mats to the newbies and instruct them to take off their shoes. in the meantime, i sat on my mat, observing the crowd, knowing that there was a good chance this class wasn't going to be the mixed-level class that i was hoping it would be... argh.

and sure enough, i found myself in an intro to yoga class. once everyone was comfortably seated on their mats, suzanne assured the group that they had nothing to worry about. she pointed out that the basic yoga poses are actually familiar moves that we've all done at one time or another, like getting on one's hands and knees (cat pose) and laying on one's back (savasana), to name a few. she then started the class moving into very simple poses. i found myself following along like everyone else, even if i knew that i could easily bump up the difficulty a few notches. after all, i didn't want to be responsible for confusing the person beside me who had a hard enough time just trying to figure out what to do.

when class ended, we were treated to a vegan meal, courtesy of follow your heart and el taco loco, followed by a bellydancing performance by carolina ocando, another instructor at in the mudra. there was also a raffle for class passes and restaurant gift certificates. and as if to give me another reason to return, i won a 5-class pass! looks like i may be giving that belly dancing class a try after all...

in the mudra is located just two doors west of follow your heart, a well-known vegetarian market and cafe on sherman way in canoga park. between the wide selection of items for sale on the store shelves and the long list of mouthwatering offerings on the restaurant menu, you know i'll be dropping by once i start cashing in my free classes!