Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

as one door opens, another closes

is it possible that the number of yoga studios in los angeles has reached a saturation point? in other words, given the current population of practicing yogis in town, is there a maximum number of studios that can remain profitable, and have we already reached that maximum?

it seems like every time i hear about a studio opening somewhere around town, i turn around and read about another one closing down because it can't attract enough students to pay the bills.

this is from an email i received today from rick colella, owner of insight yoga in pasadena, who fought the good fight for as long as he could.

note that there's a possibility of the studio remaining open only if someone steps forward and purchases it ASAP:

Insight Yoga says farewell
February 11th 2007...

To sum up and contain the value of the last three years of Insight Yoga in a few short paragraphs is beyond my capability as a writer. And yet, I must try to express the depth of my feeling in this crucial time. So here it goes . . .

Four years ago, I decided with my business partner, Roberto Blain, to create a very special place for healing. Our vision was a yoga studio that contained an active community support network while presenting a wide range of healing practices. Healing practices, which are not merely physical, but rather the type that could help a person begin a lifelong spiritual journey by facilitating balance, wholeness, and deep inner peace.

In many ways, our dream has come true and we have been hugely successful. I have heard from so many of our students about how Insight Yoga has changed their lives for the better. How much they love it. How they will treasure it forever. Personally, it has been an incredible learning journey for me. I have grown a lot. I have learned how to communicate better and to work with all types of personalities. I have grown in my meditation and yoga practice through the teachings of our fabulous guest teachers, and I have been touched by the personal relationships with all of you that are a part of the community. Heck, I have even learned to play a little harmonium through being inspired by our Kirtans.

Needless to say, it was a very tough decision for me to list with a broker and try to sell the place as I did in September 2006. But there were tough facts to face. Due to our small class sizes, we have not been able to keep up with the rental payments and a lot of our other bills that keep this beautiful sanctuary alive. And now, even though we have yet to find a buyer to keep it going, our landlords, who have been genuinely understanding and patient for a very long time, have asked us to pay them large sums of back rent or to leave the premises in mid- February.

And so, unless there is a miracle and one of our community members steps forward to start the Escrow process and buy Insight Yoga (if you're interested call our broker Rich Schammel at 626-449-1500), we have decided that our last day of classes and our last workshops will be on Sunday February 11th 2007.

We will end our time together with one of David Elliott’s powerful healing breathing circles. And, at 8pm on Saturday February 10th we invite the whole community to gather for a little pot luck party to say goodbye to our space and to view Bindu’s incredible paintings.

As I tell more and more people about the situation, there are certain questions that keep arising. One common one is: “What can I do to help?” Well, the first thing that would help us is for you to keep coming to classes until the very end. Continue enjoying our beautiful yoga sanctuary by soaking up the atmosphere and good vibes for the next two weeks.

Another thing you can do is to consider if there is anything around the studio that you want to buy. For example, yoga props such as bolsters, blocks, mats, or straps. Perhaps CDs, or a zabuton, furniture, lighting fixtures, fax or computer- everything must be liquidated and will go for very reasonable prices. We have a reservation list at the desk and items can be picked up on Monday February 12th.

The greatest thing you can do is be understanding of our situation. We are currently making arrangements for unused series classes so that you can redeem your unused yoga classes at one of the best yoga studios in Pasadena after we close. We will provide more information as soon as the details are worked out. Another possibility is that you can exchange leftover classes for our final workshops or retail items you've been wanting.

Through February 11th, we will be selling single classes at a discounted price of $12 per class (the same price you would get if you bought a 10 class series) and offering a $50 pass good for unlimited classes until February 11th since we know you all will want to come every day to take your favorite teachers classes.

Finally, I would like to express gratitude for how all of you have enriched my life. You have touched me in so many ways. I experience heartfelt gratefulness for all the staff, teachers, teacher trainees, investors, and mentors who have given deeply and selflessly for our benefit. Words cannot convey this so when I see you I will give you hugs to express it! Also, please remember that a community is not bound by a place. That we can still be together as we keep in touch, keep our practices going, and keep our hearts open.


Rick Colella
Insight Yoga

Thursday, January 25, 2007

are you on the list?

with all the new yoga studios that have opened up recently in the los angeles area, i have one word of advice for them: KCRW fringe benefits (ok, so that was three).

to the owners of in the mudra, revive, rising lotus, sacred energy arts, truyoga, urth, and your neighborhood studio, as well as many other studios, please read on:

you see, all yoga studios who sign up to be a fringe benefits provider, that is, who offer discounts to all KCRW fringe benefit cardholders, will not only get a free plug in the fringe benefits directory, but they will be doing the yoga community a service by making yoga classes a little more affordable. so not only is the added exposure good for the studios, but the extra savings is good for us students. it's a win-win situation, don't you think?

after all, it was because of the KCRW discount card that i got my start on my yogic journey. starting with santa monica yoga, i moved on to sacred movement (now exhale venice), then yogaworks, then maha... and it was because of their inclusion in the directory that i decided to try them out. the way i looked at it, if they showed their support for KCRW and the community by being on the list, they were worth trying out.

there are many well-established studios who are already listed in the directory, like bala, black dog, city, golden bridge, and liberation, as well as some lesser-known places such as dancing shiva, earth's, goda, karuna, and still. and believe me, every little discount helps. a dollar here, two dollars there... through the course of a year, it quickly adds up!

on a related note, here's my chance to squeeze in my shameless plug:

the KCRW winter pledge drive starts tomorrow, january 26th and runs through february 5th. i know i've talked about KCRW many times in the past, but for those unfamiliar with our local public radio station and NPR affiliate, here's some info from their website:

KCRW, a community service of Santa Monica College, is Southern California's leading National Public Radio affiliate, featuring an eclectic mix of music, news, information and cultural programming.

KCRW is a recognized tastemaker for new music from around the world, with trendsetting hosts such as Music Director Nic Harcourt, who features live in-studio sessions and interviews with established and emerging artists on Morning Becomes Eclectic and the nationally syndicated Sounds Eclectic; music supervisor and electronica music champion Jason Bentley with Metropolis; indie and alternative rock on The Open Road with music supervisor Gary Calamar. Other programs include nu-soul and funk on Chocolate City with Garth Trinidad; Nocturna with Raul Campos features dance rhythms and Latin beats; New Ground with Chris Douridas spotlights the latest singer-songwriters and music in all genres; and more.

KCRWMusic.com is the station's Internet radio station featuring original programming by the station's top DJs, in a 24/7 back-to-back line-up, plus a 24-hour-only downloadable song, "Today's Top Tune."

KCRW airs NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and America Public Media's daily news program, Marketplace. Plus the station's own locally produced interview, talk & public affairs shows including Which Way, L.A.?, and the national programs To the Point with Warren Olney and the political week in review show, Left, Right & Center with Robert Scheer, Matt Miller, Arianna Huffington and Tony Blankley.

Local programs include The Politics of Culture, DnA: Design and Architecture, and Good Food with restaurateur and cookbook author Evan Kleiman. A line up of weekly commentaries ranges from Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern's film reviews; veteran TV writer/producer Rob Long's Martini Shot, a unique take on life in the real Hollywood, and music business insights from Celia Hirschman's On the Beat, among others.

so not only am i urging studios to join the fringe benefits program, but i'm also urging everyone to pledge their support to this wonderful radio station.

as usual, i'll be volunteering to answer phones and take pledges during the subscription drive. will you be one of those callers? i'm looking forward to talking with you soon!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

yoga swapping

just when it started to look like big yoga was taking over all the little yoga studios in town, a band of merry yogis and yoginis decided to form an alliance of their own: Yoga S.W.A.P.!

here's what i found on the black dog yoga site:

Yoga S.W.A.P (Studios With Access Privileges)™
Special Feature for those with an Annual Pass. Just an additional $17/month gets you unlimited access to the following studios:
Bala Yoga
Mission Street Yoga
Santa Monica Yoga
Silverlake Yoga
and of course, Black Dog Yoga

and considering that bala and yoga inside out just merged recently, that's almost like getting access to six studios for the price of one!

just think -- if you live in santa monica and want a weekend class, you can go to santa monica yoga. and if you work in the valley and want to practice after work, you can go to black dog in sherman oaks. and if you have friends and relatives to visit across town, you can go to bala/yio on la brea, silverlake in silverlake (duh), and mission street in south pas. hey wait... that's me :)

none of the other studios have posted their rates on their websites; i'll keep checking and get back to you when they do...

according to a news item in the february issue of LA yoga,
"... Students with a monthly pass for any of these four (sic) studios will be part of a reciprocal program with access privileges at any of the other studios in the program. Can't get across town or home from work with traffic? A monthly unlimited at Santa Monica Yoga will allow students to drop into classes at Black Dog when they're in the Valley, or at Mission Street in Pasadena. Bala Yoga's Ginny Beal (btw, it's Biddle) said the idea's been percolating for a while; the new year brings new fruition to the concept..."

a kickoff event will be at bala on february 24th; here's more info i found on Fontain's M.U.S.E. calendar page:

Feb. 24th, Saturday, 8:45 pm-midnight + HOLLYWOOD BABY!
tickets: http://www.beatmagic.org/balatickets.htm

Who: Spirit Moves and Bala Yoga hosts a launch party for YOGA SWAP & the association of Ross Rayburn and Bala Yoga
What: Spirit Moves: Barefoot Dancing, Performance and Sound Meditation
When: Saturday, February 24, 2007 9:00 p.m. - midnight (doors open at 8:45pm)
Where: BALA YOGA, 145 N. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (west Hollywood)
Cost: $10 ~snacks and beverages included

More Information:
Spirit Moves: www.Tonehenge.com, or Peter at (310) 399-6784
Bala Yoga: (323)939-6424/Balayoga.net

Free Parking (enter from alley behind studio and up the ramp)
dress~ casual, inspire with your attire
All ages welcome

YOGA SWAP: independent yoga studios (Black Dog, Santa Monica Yoga, Bala Yoga, Mission Street Yoga and Silverlake Yoga) launch an alliance offering reciprocal membership privileges. ROSS RAYBURN and BALA YOGA form an association at Bala Yoga on La Brea, Hollywood

Music, Art, and Dance Lineup:
8:45 pm - Doors Open
9:00 - Energy Awareness Chi Gong with Aaron (www.Zaadz.com)
9:45 - Mesmerizing Bellydance with MESMERA (www.Mesmera.com)
10:15 - Fontain's M.U.S.E. Bay Area trance formational dance band (www.beatmagic.org)
11:00 - Jeff Stott - 6 Degrees recording artist (Jefstott.com) Midnight - Mystic Pete, Profound Sound Meditation (www.MysticPete.com)

Also featured: Vanesa Martinelli - Visionary Artist (www.Vanesamartinelli.com)
And more to come!!!

Sponsored by www.Zaadz.com

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the hybridization of yoga

Sacred Energy Arts
220 Pier Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 403-3124
website: www.sacredenergyarts.com

We offer Yoga, Martial Arts, Tai Chi, Chi Kung and more - over 20 classes weekly!

in what seems to be an attempt to draw more people to yoga studios, many yoga instructors are creating yoga hybrid classes, blending elements of two or more physical activities which complement each other.

for example, if you have a background in dance, a yoga booty ballet class at swerve might be what you're looking for: "Yoga Booty Ballet is a dynamic fusion of yoga, booty sculpting, and dance that will make you feel strong, confident, and beautiful! The workouts are so fun, you won't believe you're also losing weight and sculpting long, lean muscles."

if you can't decide between taking a pilates mat class or a yoga class, a yogalates class at glendale yoga will let you do both at the same time: "Pilates mat work designed to strengthen, stretch and tone the entire body combined with complimentary yoga sequences and stretches."

if you're a obsessive ab-cruncher, you might find the core yoga flow class at your neighborhood studio worth a look-see: "Yoga postures specifically sequenced for strengthening your core muscles. Learn specific techniques for decreasing back pain while strengthening the abdominal wall. Improve posture as you increase total body strength, joint mobility, and flexibility."

and if the thought of furiously pedalling away to burn off calories excites you, you'll be able to do that plus a post-cycle stretch at a yoga and spinning class at YAS: "The YAS class is a Yoga hybrid combination of the intense cardio of Spinning and the more relaxing and meditative element of Yoga, which was developed by YAS's founder kimberly fowler. The YAS classes consist of 1/2 hour of Spinning and a 1/2 hour of Yoga."

and now there's another yoga hybrid in town, this time for martial arts enthusiasts: sacred energy arts yoga flow with matthew cohen at his new studio, sacred energy arts. according to the studio's website: "This practice builds strength, flexibility, and increased awareness. Experience a greater sense of inner peace, calm, and vitality. This practice integrates Hatha Vinyasa Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Martial Arts and Healing in a way that is once accessible and powerful."

thanks to evan kopelson, aka yogiev, i heard about this new space just in time for the king day holiday. i had that monday off from work, and since matthew wasn't teaching his martial arts-inpired class that day, i ended up taking what turned out to be a private (yay!) vinyasa flow class with jo tastula. jo and aaron reed (another sacred energy arts instructor) also teach a few blocks away at sacred movement (aka exhale venice), a yoga studio where matthew used to teach his signature classes before this new venture.

sacred energy arts is located at the corner of pier and 2nd street in santa monica, just a few doors down from the novel cafe, a great place to grab a post-class steaming hot cappuccino, iced blended green tea, or fresh lemonade. while the studio's high ceiling makes the small space feel much larger than it actually is, it also made it difficult to heat up the room on the unusually cold and windy morning i was there. this minor issue can easily be addressed, however, by either adding more space heaters or more bodies. i'm sure, though, that once word starts getting around about this studio that's been open only about a month, the bodies will come. problem solved.

besides yoga, sacred energy also offers chi kung, tai chi, kung fu, and circuit workout classes. classes are held monday thru friday; the weekends are pretty much reserved for martial arts and yoga workshops -- including an upcoming kirtan night with dave stringer -- as well as meditation and taoist yoga philosophy classes.

so what's next in the yoga hybrid world? how about yogolf, where you mindfully walk the course and do a sun salutation (a or b, your choice) every time you complete a hole? sounds like a great way to get fit and toned while you work off your frustration from missed shots!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

the SYTAR conference, days three and four

with the registration activity pretty much completed by saturday, the third day of the conference, the majority of the volunteer tasks had us either working the SYTAR information desk, selling books and CD's at the exhibit hall, or standing by the doors of the function rooms to check badges and answer questions. the last assignment was the most desirable, at least to me, because it afforded the opportunity to listen to the panel discussions and/or the practice sessions with featured yoga instructors.

since i had my usual saturday marathon training commitments, i had to miss the morning's sessions, which were:

main session #6:
  • abstract presentations - moderated by karen sherman and calvin hobel

  • main session #7:
  • communication and collaboration between researchers and practitioners - david shapiro
  • an overview of clinical trials for yoga - david riley
  • the role of stress in preterm birth - calvin hobel
  • neural dynamics of emotional reactivity, mindful breathing and anxiety - philippe goldin

  • main session #8:
  • yoga as a complementary treatment for depression - ian cook, david shapiro, marla apt
  • chanting and an integrative approach to yoga therapy - swami ramananda
  • current research on yoga nidra - richard miller
  • yoga, meditation, and the psychology of health recovery - shanti shanti kaur khalsa

  • lunch break:
  • more abstract presentations - moderated by matthew taylor

  • when i checked in at the volunteer desk that afternoon, i found out that my assignments for the day were to help out at the speaker presentation in the main ballroom, then check badges at one of the practice sessions. this meant that i could look forward to getting involved in one or more of the following activities:

    main session #9:
  • yoga sutras for the health of the heart - nischala joy devi
  • respiratory conditions - richard usatine, larry payne
  • adaptive yoga for multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases - eric small
  • overcoming insomnia and inertia - gyandev mccord

  • practice sessions:
  • the therapeutic application of yoga nidra - richard miller
  • yoga therapy for a healthy circulatory system - joseph le page
  • yoga therapy and serious illness: primary practices for self-care - gary kraftsow
  • lifeforce yoga for people with depression - amy weintraub
  • yoga for people with multiple sclerosis - eric small
  • yoga for stress-related psychosomatic disorders - rajashree choudhury

  • i managed to get assigned to the practice session with gary kraftsow, someone whose viniyoga style of yoga i've been wanting to try out. and not only was i lucky enough to listen to what he had to say, but there was also enough room for me to lay out my yoga mat and practice with the rest of the attendees. finally, the benefits of my volunteer efforts were starting to pay off!

    saturday evening's entertainment was a screening of the 3+ hour (!) documentary, yoga unveiled. it was very informative, especially for someone like me who really hadn't studied the origins of yoga and its different branches before. despite its being very educational, however, i found myself fighting to stay awake by the second hour, so i ended up bailing just as they were cueing up the movie's second disk.

    early the next morning, sunday, i had to make a mad dash back out to the LAX hilton at 7:30am. no, it wasn't because i had to help out once again; with my volunteer stint over, i was finally free to do whatever i wanted to do. with the rare chance of being able to take a class with someone non-LA based for FREE, i scanned this list:

    practice sessions:
  • the healing path of yoga - nischala joy devi
  • a breath-centered practice - leslie kaminoff
  • patanjali's stages of transformation in healing HIV infection - lisa walford
  • balance and surrender in yoga - sherry brourman
  • gross to subtle, healing all levels of being - swami ramananda, gyandev mccord
  • greeting the day in a sacred way - lilias folan

  • i decided to attend leslie kaminoff's class, not only because he was blogging about the conference on his own blogsite, e-sutra, but because i had heard lots of good stuff about this teacher from new york. and i wasn't disappointed; leslie's one of the funniest yet most knowledgeable yoga teachers that i've ever met.

    after taking a quick break for breakfast after the practice session, i dropped by the exhibit hall to check for last-day deals. i did manage to score the last demo hugger mugger restorative mat for almost 30% off retail :) not really finding anything else that i wanted to buy, i moved on to the ballroom to attend the closing session:

    main session #10:
  • classical yoga and the roots of yoga therapy - christopher key chapple
  • ancient insights for modern healing, a vision for the future of yoga therapy in the west, its scope and relevance for the modern living - gary kraftsow
  • who are we and where are we going? - open forum
  • meditation and closing - eleanor criswell, janice green

  • looking back, i got to know many people in the yoga world during those four days at SYTAR that i wouldn't have met otherwise. this network of yogis and yoginis will prove to be more valuable to me in the long run than much of the information in the sessions themselves. so all in all, i'm thankful for this enriching experience and will mark my calendar for the next SYTAR conference on march 6-9, 2008!

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    the SYTAR conference, day two

    back in september of last year, hoping to learn something about yoga therapy, i signed up to volunteer at the first-ever SYTAR event. what exactly that something was, i wasn't sure, but i figured that i could learn a tip or two that would help me in my own practice. after all, i had my surgically-repaired knee and my troublesome sacroiliac joint to contend with. if i could find out how yoga could make the pain and/or stiffness go away, then all the time i put into helping out would be more than worth it.

    back then, my plan was that i would put in however many hours i needed for my volunteer shift(s), then spend the rest of the time listening to speakers, interacting in workshops, and maybe even participating in a practice session or two. and i'd be able to do this because i was going to take time off from work.

    well, there was a definite mismatch between what i planned to do and what i actually ended up doing. unfortunately, right after i put in my requisite hours at the registration desk this morning, i had to leave the conference so i could put in my requisite hours at the office. there was a last-minute project that was dropped on my lap, and it had to be turned in before the weekend. so much for being able to listen, practice, and learn.

    so what did i miss today?

    main session #1:
  • welcome address and invocation - veronica zador, john kepner, lilias folan, amy gage, jnani chapman
  • who we are and how we got here - larry payne and richard miller

  • main session #2:
    what is yoga therapy?
    speaker panel: shanti shanti khalsa, gary kraftsow, joseph le page, michael lee, larry payne, swami ramananda, mukunda stiles, lisa walford

    main session #3:
    clinical trials on yoga for chronic low back pain - karen sherman, bradly jacobs

    main session #4:
  • accountability and soul: the journey of emerging health professions - pamela snider
  • yoga and emerging complementary and alternative medicine disciplines in perspective - john weeks

  • main session #5:
  • how a medical diagnosis can inform the yoga therapist and how the yoga therapist can inform the physician: sciatica - loren fishman
  • ahimsa in your practice: when to consult with other professionals - matthew taylor
  • how chiropractics can inform the yoga therapist: a case study on the cervical spine - rick morris
  • what yoga therapists should know about the anatomy of the breath - leslie kaminoff

  • practice sessions:
  • low back pain: addressing individual needs in a group class setting - robin rothenberg
  • structural yoga therapy (SYT) - mukunda stiles
  • the phoenix rising approach to yoga: addressing symptoms and life issues - michael lee
  • the healing power of forgiveness - max strom
  • how to work one-on-one using the yoga therapy rx model to address the whole person - larry payne
  • the use of props for therapeutic purposes in iyengar yoga - marla apt

  • all was not lost, however. through the course of the morning, i did manage to talk with many yoga teachers who were volunteering along with me (although now that i think about it, almost all of them were teachers except me...).

    there was one who flew in from canada and another who drove in from arizona. there was a kundalini teacher, a restorative teacher, and many hatha yoga teachers, all from the LA area. some i'd recognized by name, others i'd actually taken classes with. and their teaching experience ran the gamut from a seasoned teacher trainer to a fresh teacher training grad.

    as expected, we talked about all things yoga. about students and teachers, group lessons and private sessions, how they teach students with injuries and how they deal with their own injuries.

    so oddly enough, while i really haven't learned anything from the featured speakers at the conference (so far), i've gleaned many tidbits of information from my fellow volunteers. it appears then that i've gotten something out of this conference after all, doesn't it?

    on tap for tomorrow: more conference proceedings plus another volunteer shift...

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    the SYTAR conference, day one

    after months of planning and preparation, the big event is finally here! the symposium on yoga therapy and research (SYTAR) started its four-day run today, january 18, 2007.

    hundreds of yoga teachers, yoga practitioners, and medical professionals from around the country (and the world) have already arrived to attend the conference at the LAX hilton. registration started today; there were also some pre-conference workshops that were held earlier this afternoon.

    my first volunteer shift is scheduled for tomorrow morning, from 6am (argh!) to 11am. i'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as maybe even getting a chance to meet some of the featured speakers.

    even though i wasn't scheduled to volunteer today, i suffered through an hour and a half of freeway crawling, aka rush hour traffic, to get to the conference site after work today. the reason: i wanted to attend the kirtan with david newman, aka durga das. no matter how painful the drive was, it was worth it; not only did i chant along with david and his fellow musicians -- singer mira, guitarist philippo franchini, and a percussionist whose name escapes me at the moment (it's late, and my brain seems to have gone to sleep before me) -- but i was also able to purchase a copy of his latest CD/DVD, into the bliss, and even get david to autograph it for me. another addition to my kirtan chant groupie collection :)

    sadly, the kirtan itself only lasted about an hour, which was about the extent of the attention span of the majority of the audience since many of them had flown in that day and wanted to get some much-needed rest. i suppose if i want to hear more of his music, i can always attend his concert at insight yoga friday night or at rising lotus sunday night. we'll see.

    speaking of much-needed rest, i have to get up in a few hours for my early morning shift tomorrow, so i'm going to have to cut this short... good night!

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    work exchange opportunities

    if you find the cost of attending regular yoga classes somewhat prohibitive, you may want to consider putting in some volunteer hours in exchange for free classes. here are some recent want ads that i've found in my inbox:

    rising lotus (posted 1/18):

    Rising Lotus is looking for a few good Yogis to help behind the desk in exchange for Yoga classes.
    We need help at various times in the week. Please enquire at the desk or email info@risinglotusyoga.com for more details.

    liberation yoga

    before you read on, note this follow-up message from christine (posted 1/18):

    We are overwhelmed and grateful for your speedy and heartfelt responses. The fact that so many of you are looking to improve your lives with more yoga is wonderful and inspiring and in addition that you would want to be part of Liberation in that way truly touches us. Due to the volume of responses and the fact that every one of you sounds perfect our job is difficult. By early next week we should have it sorted out. Please know that we will keep all of your information for future work exchange opportunities should this one pass you by at this time. Again thank you so much and we will be in contact soon~

    now here's the original want ad (posted 1/17):

    Hello friends! We have a few positions open and are actively seeking a few very energetic, committed, responsible yogis in need in need of yoga in exchange for work. Our preference is someone who has some experience with Liberation in that they are already an ongoing student or wish to become one. People applying must be practicing yoga already or beginning a regular practice. We are hiring ASAP so please respond quickly!

    Please read on for details and contact Christine via email at christine@liberationyoga.com.

    Mat Washer Needed!
    This position, which is essential to the hygenic functioning of Liberation, to which we are very committed, is one that is simple but physical in nature. It would require approximately 3 hours a week of your choosing and is for someone who enjoys being outside! When inquiring please say "Mat Washer" in the subject line. Thank you!!

    Zen Maintenance~
    Another wonderful position that is available is that of Zen Maintenance. It is very important that the studio be tucked in each night in an orderly way and this an important position at Liberation. This job consists of coming in 3 nights a week to help with the closing work. That is sweeping the floor, folding the blankets, organizing props (in and out) etc. We need someone who doesn't mind physical work and can commit to 3 nights at 1 1/2 hours. Please write "Zen Maintenance" in the subject line when you apply for this position. Thank You!

    Front Desk Position~
    We are looking for someone who is available on Mondays from 11:00am-6:00pm to work at the front desk. We need someone who is comfortable discussing yoga and has 6 months experience in practice, is comfortable with computers and phones and people and who truly feels passionate about yoga and Liberation! When you apply please put "Front Desk Position" in the subject line. Thank You!

    insight yoga (posted 1/15)

    Work Exchange @ IY involves the exchange of unlimited free yoga classes for working at the studio 4-6 hours per week. A few time slots are still available.

    If you would enjoy participating, please contact info@insightyoga.com or call (626) 796-1102.

    city yoga (posted 1/10)

    Work for your yoga classes!

    We are looking for Handyman, Marketing/PR

    If you or someone you know is interested, please call Stephanie at (323) 654-2125 or stop by the front desk.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    coming full circle

    2425 Colorado Avenue
    Santa Monica, CA 90404
    (310) 829-2420
    website: www.truyogala.com

    TRÜYOGA'S approach to yoga instruction has been designed to accommodate a wide spectrum of students, including both casual and competitive athletes, serious yoga practitioners, office dwellers and professionals, householders and those who just want less stress in their lives.

    Our classes are taught at levels I, II and III, and employ techniques which help create a realistic balance of strength, mental focus, and renewed body awareness. These classes prepare students to function better in all aspects of life.

    Our goal in creating the TRÜYOGA program is to blend the wisdom of the ancient yoga traditions with the contemporary advances in healthy lifestyle integration. In our dynamic, stressful living environments, TRÜYOGA was created as a place where physical and mental rejuvenation can occur, within the confines of an urban environment. TRÜYOGA is for those that seek respite from their daily lives.

    the first time i walked into the new truyoga studio in santa monica, i felt like i had come full circle in my yogic journey; it was in that same space that i had taken my first yoga class almost ten years ago.

    at the time, i took the class mainly out of curiosity. i was a runner, and i had heard that all the stretching that one did in a yoga class made one's muscles more flexible and pliable and therefore less susceptible to injury. luckily, i happened to belong to a gym that included yoga on its list of class choices, so it wasn't going to cost me anything to give it a shot. it was also very convenient -- the gym was in the same complex as my office, which was walking distance from home. so in theory, i could drag myself out of bed in the morning, stagger half-awake to class, get stretched and energized, then shower and get dressed in the gym locker room before walking over to my desk at the other end of the complex.

    unfortunately, after taking just a few classes, i realized that i valued my sleep too much; i dropped the yoga and went back to relishing that extra hour or so of shut-eye.

    but how my attitude towards yoga has changed since then! while i still cringe at the thought of trying to take a yoga class before work, i now find that i've been giving up most everything else (including eating out, shopping, going to the gym, and even running) just to be able to go to yoga class after work.

    ... methinks i need to get a life, but i digress...

    so as soon as i heard about truyoga's grand opening and the media previews they were holding, i wrote in, hoping that my credentials as a hardcore yoga blogger would be enough to score me entry to this VIP event. and within a few days, a personal invite landed in my inbox. my visiting 70+ studios over the span of a year and being crazy enough to write about each and every one of them had finally paid off! :)

    so last thursday, preview day, i excitedly showed up at truyoga's door. we were first given a tour of the eco-friendly facilities, including the reception area and lobby, the retail boutique, the massage rooms, the bathroom and shower (which scores them extra bonus points in my book), and of course, the classroom. it was all very upscale, very well constructed. and it was no surprise, given that the studio's designer and yogi-in-residence is peter sterios, architect and manduka CEO.

    our class was taught by peter himself, and all i can say is that his class was like no other class i'd ever taken. we spent a good amount of time warming up and stretching, but even doing just that was pretty challenging; we were pushed to our limits, almost to the point of pain, and were told that if we relaxed, we could get deeper into the stretch (at that point, i think i instinctively switched from ujjayi breathing to lamaze breathing). we progressed to standing and sitting poses which were familiar, but somehow different. peter said that his style of yoga is influenced by his qigong (or chi kung) training; it is all about controlled movements and controlled breathing. his new DVD, gravity & grace, gives some idea of what yoga ala peter is like (and no, we didn't have to do all those arm balances; thank goodness!).

    the next day, truyoga held its grand opening celebration in grand style, starting with a yoga blessing class taught by shiva rea -- featuring 18 surya namaskar A's and a handful of B's! -- and ending with a performance by singer tina malia. outside, there was a fantastic food spread featuring sushi from houston's, dessert from leaf cuisine, and bubble teas from zen zoo tea (there was also a table pouring wine for the guests, but i somehow never got around to stopping by). in each of the two massage rooms, therapists were giving sample massages to the guests who managed to pull themselves away from the food and the entertainment. i lucked out and received a wonderful post-yoga massage from michael, who spent more than the allotted 10 minutes kneading out the kinks in my back!

    by the time i left three hours after i arrived, the party was still going strong, with a group of music enthusiasts in the asana room and an even bigger crowd socializing outside. surely a good sign of good things to come...

    speaking of good things, truyoga's offering FREE classes this entire week as well as a 10% discount on all class package and retail merchandise purchases! and you know i'll be there to take as many classes as i can before the promotion ends :)

    i truly hope truyoga becomes a permanent fixture here on the westside, not only because so much time and effort was lovingly poured into creating the studio, but because it gives me a second chance to take advantage of a yoga studio that's within walking distance from home!

    so far, i've taken dhyana tse's (subbing for her sister, daphne) 7:15pm class on monday, kishan shah's 7:30pm class on tuesday, but i overslept for peter's 6:30AM class on wednesday -- which proves that my need to sleep still wins out over yoga...

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    a visit to an ashram in malibu

    Kali Ray TriYoga
    6449 Merritt Drive
    Malibu, CA 90265
    (310) 589-0600
    website: www.triyoga.com

    TriYoga is a complete and revolutionary system based in ancient Yoga.

    Experience the kundalini-inspired sequenced flow of yogasana (postures) synchronized with pranayama (rhythmic breath) and mudra (focus).

    The result is increased energy ... physically, mentally, and spiritually. This gives the mental clarity to manifest one's life with greater awareness.

    when i first started looking into the triyoga/tryoga/truyoga issue, i happened upon the website of kali ray triyoga, a style of yoga that was founded in 1980 by kali ray, or kaliji as she is called by her followers, and which continues to be developed and guided by kriyavati siddhi, or kundalini-inspired hatha yoga.

    according to their literature,
    TriYoga Flows (Prasara), a complete hatha yoga method, is the union of posture, breath and focus -- that is, asana, pranayama, and mudra. The art and science of yogaflow, TriYoga fundamentals include relaxation-in-action, wavelike spinal movements and economy of motion. With the systematic approach, students can remain with Basics or continue to Level 1 and subsequent levels. Within each level, students increase their knowledge of posture and flow, as well as strength, flexibility, endurance, and breath control. Through sustained awareness on all aspects of the practice, the movement of body, breath and mudra harmonize and the inner flow naturally emerges.

    hence, the "tri" in triyoga stands for the three important facets of the triyoga practice: asana, or physical postures, pranayama, or breathing techniques, and mudra, or hand gestures. students focus on all three during the course of their practice.

    triyoga is a recognized style of hatha yoga, according to many sources, including the ABC-of-yoga website which lists it among other styles such as ananda, anusara, ashtanga, bharata, bikram, integral, iyengar, jivamukti, kripalu, kundalini, sivananda, svaroopa, viniyoga, and yes, even nude yoga (!).

    with triyoga having centers all over the US and even in other countries such as denmark, germany, india, and the ukraine, it was surprising that they had only one in southern california -- their ashram in malibu. and there was going to be a level 2 class that evening with kaliji herself.

    on whim, since i didn't have any plans for the evening, i decided to give triyoga a try. a level 2 class with kaliji? i could handle that. or could i? i left the office and started on my 15 mile journey through malibu canyon to the ocean. once i reached pepperdine university (right around the site of the recent malibu fire), i turned up pacific coast highway and followed the coast up another 7 miles to zuma beach, where the triyoga ashram is located.

    if, according to the website of siddha yoga meditation in india, an ashram is "The dwelling place of a Guru or saint; a monastic retreat site where seekers engage in spiritual practices and study the sacred teachings of yoga," then i was on my way to a sacred space, a place where i was going to meet the guru and the students who follow her yogic path. it was a long drive out along a dark and isolated road, and i had lots of time to worry. after all, i hadn't done much research on triyoga, and here i was, skipping past the basics and level 1 classes to attend a level 2 class! how much of my current knowledge of yoga asana, pranayama, and mudra would i be able to draw from to get through the class without feeling totally lost?

    when i turned onto morning view drive, i immediately spotted the brightly-lit home perched on the hill. i drove up the steep driveway and easily found a spot in the parking lot. i followed the walkway lights that guided me through the darkness to the house's front door.

    there were a few students in the office who greeted me when i arrived. i was asked to wait there while the classroom was being readied. i spent the time trying to learn as much as i could about triyoga, wanting to find out what made it different from any other form of yoga. it was a crash course, in some way, not that i expected it to help me any at that point.

    once the space was ready, i was allowed to make my way to class. i walked past a room with an altar, where candles were burning in front of the different statues of deities that were in the room. moving along, after catching a glimpse of the kitchen and the living room, i made my way down the stairs to the asana room. someone in the room pointed out the available spots; i picked one right beside where kaliji would teach, just to make sure that i would be able to see and hear her.

    once the class was settled in, someone walked in and told us to practice infinity breathing (or something to that effect) while we waited for class to begin. i obviously had no idea what she was talking about, so i watched the students around me and still couldn't figure out what they were doing. instead, i just sat there with my eyes closed, trying to concentrate on my breathing, trying to convince myself that things were going to be OK.

    when kaliji walked into the room, she walked directly to me, called me by name, and said that she had been told that it was my first triyoga class. she said that while most students follow the basics-to-level1-to-level2 sequence, i was free to watch the other students and follow along as best as i could. this was going to be a different experience for me, because while i tend to ignore everyone else and focus on my own practice, now i had to keep looking around to figure out what i needed to do.

    and while many of the moves were familiar, the names that were given them as well as the hand movements and breathing that went along with them were not. for example, "earth touch" is a standing forward bend, "mountain" is downward dog, "natural seat" is sitting on your heels, and so on. most of the time was spent in a very slow flow; we moved from one pose to another, integrating our breathing and the proper hand gestures. there were many times when i would sit back and watch kaliji as she moved, just to realize that i was being left behind as she transitioned to the next flow sequence.

    besides the different terminology, i noticed that this form of yoga was quite prop-dependent. the idea was to keep the alignment as correct as possible, so if you had to raise your torso with blocks or level off your hips with blankets, you did so. at one point, the man in front of me had a tower of blankets, blocks, and bolsters under his hips as he held in monkey pose (or whatever the triyoga terminology for the pose is).

    kaliji was especially attentive to me, at times leaving her spot in the middle of the room to put a block under my back or to give me more specialized instruction.

    i emerged from class, not only a bit more knowledgeable about the triyoga style itself, but also a bit more curious about learning more about what i didn't do and/or what i did incorrectly. i'd like to drop by again to try out the basics class, although i should probably wait until the summer, when i'll actually be able to enjoy the coastal view during that long drive instead of being barely able to make out the distant lights along the horizon.

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    a yoga must-read

    i attended a yoga blessing class earlier this evening at a brand-new yoga studio near me (more on that in a future post) and, as i tend to do at a new place, i sat quietly at the back of the room and observed the students around me while we were waiting for class to start.

    and while i couldn't help but notice the yoga newbies who showed up for class in their baggy 5K race tshirts and fleece sweatpants (which might be typical attire elsewhere, but not here in LA, at least not on the "hip" westside), my eye was drawn to the students who were supposedly warming up before the featured teacher showed up. yes, they were all young, blond yoginis who were wearing the latest in body-hugging yoga wear. one was holding in headstand, making it look effortless. another was in wheel, with her back arched perfectly. and yet another was in a seated straddle stretch, with her nose practically touching the floor.

    and the first thing that came to my mind was: whom are they trying to impress?

    anyway, once i got home and checked my email, i found a comment from yogadawg regarding my post about swami ramdev: Exactly the kind of claims regarding Yoga that I parody on my blog and website. I have to work this guy into my act.

    with my curiosity now piqued, i checked yogadawg's website, my third eye itches. and i couldn't help but laugh as i read page after page, especially when i found this listed under "yoga students":

    The Spoiler

    Inner Dialog: Damn I'm good. Look at me go. I am the greatest. Check out all the students looking at me. They know I am the greatest. Watch me do this pose while everyone else is in Child pose. I'll get the teacher's attention now. Hot dog, she's looking at me. I'm bitchin' today. Ah, screw it that everyone else is doing a forward bend, check out my headstand everybody. Damn, I'm the greatest...

    is yogadawg right on, or what?

    so if you find yourself taking your yoga practice a bit too seriously, you owe it to yourself to check out this hilarious website!

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    does yoga cure all ills?

    so while you may think that the best that can come out of your consistent yoga practice is a clearer mind, a firmer body, and a happier disposition, there's a swami in india who would like you to believe that his form of yoga can also cure almost all so-called incurable diseases like AIDS and cancer. all you have to do, he says, is practice pranayama yoga. in other words, just breathe.

    too good to be true? that's what everyone else says, which is why swami ramdev has been such a controversial figure.

    this is an excerpt from BBC news:

    Re-inventing yoga for the masses
    Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007

    The BBC's Hindi Service is running a series of interviews to discover the unknown side of India's newsmakers. Here, the service's India editor Sanjeev Srivastava talks to yoga guru, Swami Ramdev.

    He is hardly the kind of icon one would associate with a new, vibrant and technology savvy India.

    But for millions across the country, there can be no bigger trendsetter in recent years than Swami Ramdev, also known as Baba Ramdev.

    The maverick yoga guru and practitioner of India's ancient medical science, Ayurveda, commands a tremendous hold over public imagination.

    So how come Swami Ramdev has made it so big in a country where maniacal fan following is usually the exclusive preserve of Bollywood and cricket superstars?

    The truth is - nobody really has a clue.

    Against dogma

    So what has he done that has bestowed this unlikely stardom on him?

    In a country full of religious gurus and saints, Swami Ramdev does not even claim to be God's messenger or a God man.

    If anything, he condemns all superstition and retrogressive beliefs.

    "I don't believe in destiny. Palmistry and all this talk about the lines on your hands deciding your future is nothing but nonsense. So is this talk of sun signs and auspicious and inauspicious time and place," he says.

    "Can you identify any moment or place where God is not there? He is everywhere and all the time. So how can any place or time be less or more auspicious?" he asks.


    Perhaps it is his unique way of logical reasoning which attracts millions to him.

    Maybe it is his enigmatic persona - he is quite secretive and refuses to divulge his age or any other details about his background.

    "There should be an element of mystery. If everything is known about me, people will be less interested. Till the time they know little about me, they are always curious to know more. It's human nature," he explains.

    I think it is his lack of spirituality which attracts his legion of followers most.

    After all, there is no shortage of conmen and God men in India who promise to deliver a better after-life, salvation and a life in heaven.

    But for all of these you have to be dead first.

    Baba Ramdev offers you something more immediate - you do not have to die to benefit from him.

    That is why he is modern India's material guru.

    He promises you a stress-free, disease-free and healthy life.

    He even assures cures for several diseases like asthma, blood pressure disorders, heart ailments and even cancer.

    All these claims are debatable, but his millions of disciples do not seem to care.

    After all, there is nothing to lose as yoga has no harmful side effects.

    Simple and easy

    So thousands throng the early morning yoga camps of Baba Ramdev, now organised almost all through the year in different corners of India.

    Some television channels also decided to cash in on the Baba's popularity and a couple of years ago, they started beaming live his yoga training sessions.

    Soon enough the popularity rating of the TV channel patronised by the Baba went up sharply as hundreds of thousands of yoga enthusiasts started their day with Baba Ramdev's lessons on breathing exercises.

    There is perhaps another reason behind his popularity.

    Yoga may be ancient, but he has certainly re-invented it by making it very simple and easy to practise.

    One need not have an acrobatic, supple and flexible body to practice the Ramdev brand of yoga.

    "Earlier I also used to try the really difficult asans [postures]. But gradually I understood there is no need to push and punish oneself needlessly. So now I practise and teach simple breathing exercises which keep one healthy and stress-free," he says.

    "Life is not for doing yoga. Yoga is for making life better," he adds.

    "It was about 20 years ago that I turned to Pranayam [a yogic exercise largely guided by breathing techniques]. Then I also met my yoga guru who asked me to concentrate more on breathing exercises. That's been my life since then," he adds.

    Baba Ramdev lives a simple life. He dresses in the saffron robes of Hindu ascetics and is a frugal eater, who has not eaten any grains for over 10 years now.

    Not Gandhian

    He loves a good fight and never shies away from controversy.

    Only last month he was in the news for a public spat he had with the federal health minister who asked Baba Ramdev to only concentrate on yoga and not run down Western or allopathic medicine without reason.

    "I am not against the Western system of medicine. But why should the minister get so upset if I say that yoga has a beneficial impact on those suffering from heart problems or even cancer? Why does he want me to play down the benefits of yoga when people have benefited from them," he asks?

    "In any case what can these governments do? A Saddam can be hanged for killing 142 people. Tobacco companies manufacture death for millions every year. Has one person ever been punished," he wants to know?

    the article can be read in its entirety at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6240681.stm

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    a studio by any other name...

    naming a new yoga studio can be almost as difficult as naming a baby. you want to make sure the name's pleasant to the ear, it (hopefully) reflects the studio's (or baby's) personality, and it's not a name that people can easily mangle nor make fun of (and i'm sure we're all guilty of mercilessly teasing a playmate about his/her name at one time or another).

    so i can only imagine the thought process that went on when the trifit people were trying to name their new yoga studio. since they already had the name "tricycling" for their indoor cycling classes (and no, it doesn't involve riding around indoors on three-wheeled cycles), it made sense to call their yoga studio "triyoga". right?

    wrong. you see, there's already a triyoga studio in LA. and while it's perfectly legal for you to give your kid the exact same name as someone else, maybe even someone you know, you just can't do that when it comes to setting up a business name. people can be very protective (and possessive) of their identity and their name. not only that, but it could prove to be quite confusing to their customers, especially when they're trying to google studio information.

    so the minds behind trifit must have decided to solve their naming problem by just dropping the "i" altogether, because by the time i started hearing about the studio's opening, the chosen name was officially "tryoga". and teaser information for the new studio was made available online at www.tryogala.com (probably adding in the "la" in an attempt to match www.trifitla.com, trifit's website).

    (note that i said "teaser" because as of this morning -- only a couple of days before the studio's grand opening on january 12th -- there still was no class schedule to be found anywhere on their website. with free classes being offered all opening week (jan 13th-20th), i wanted to know which classes i could fit into my busy work/play schedule. and COMING SOON didn't help much.)

    having this need to know something i couldn't find anywhere online, i moseyed over to the yet-to-be-opened eco-studio. i walked in, picked up a class schedule, and started to read what was printed on it.

    to my surprise, the name on the top of the schedule read "truyoga". a typo? no, it looked pretty intentional, especially when there were two dots over the new "U", making it look like a smiley face grinning at me.

    after tracking down an employee at the trifit gym next door, i found out that, with just days to go before the studio's grand opening celebration, they had to change the name of the studio. she wouldn't go into why they had to, but i have my theories. like maybe because it still sounds like "triyoga"?

    talk about having to rename your baby after you've sent out all the birth announcements! let's see... there were the press releases that went out to the media, the website URL that bears the (now) incorrect name, and all the studio merchandise that has the wrong name emblazoned on each and every piece... are we having fun yet?

    it'll be interesting to see what name will be on the studio's signs during their grand opening celebration this friday...

    ... by the way, do the people at true yoga in westlake village know that there's a new studio in LA that has a name that sounds just like theirs? they'd better speak now, or forever hold their peace :)

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    alive and well in the south bay

    Alive & Well
    528 Pacific Coast Highway
    Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
    (310) 318-8449
    website: www.aliveandwell.info

    Our Mission at Alive & Well is to create a space where you have the freedom to explore the process of your well being.

    Our Promise: to provide a variety of quality well being services and products at affordable prices.

    just when i thought i'd tracked down every yoga studio in los angeles (but not necessarily visited, at least not yet), a random internet search unearthed yet another one.

    while i was at the physical therapist's office a few weeks ago, i ran into maria, a long-time running friend of mine. we were both being treated for our recent maladies -- she was rehabbing from a bunionectomy and i was trying to release my stuck sacroiliac joint (the cause of my lower back problems). we talked about her exercise options until she was allowed to run again; the next thing i knew, i was telling her all about my obsession with checking out all the yoga studios in town.

    our appointment schedules were such that our meetings became a weekly habit. and each time, the topic of yoga came up, pretty much because i was always headed to a yoga class afterwards.

    last week, while maria and i were chatting in the waiting room, she said she had given it some thought and decided to give yoga a try. apparently, another friend of hers, another ex-runner, had replaced running with yoga and was in her best physical shape ever. so would i be willing to accompany her to a class this sunday?, she asked. always game for yoga, especially with a friend, i agreed to join her.

    she left it up to me to come up with the place and the time. it had been years since she last attempted to take a yoga class; it was my job to pick the perfect beginner level class for her.

    so i mentally went through the list of studios in the south bay:
    mukti yoga in manhattan beach had just closed down. scratch that.
    yoga loft manhattan beach was just down the street from maria's place.
    planet yoga, where julie rader of mukti now teaches, was close by in hermosa beach.
    yogasofia, also in hermosa beach, was equally close by.
    and harmony yoga, though a bit farther south in redondo beach, was another possibility.

    with all those choices, there was bound to be a class that would work for her.

    as far as the early sunday morning offerings, harmony had chappy's level 2/3 class music flow class, a fun challenge for experienced yogis but totally inappropriate for beginners, so i had to rule that out. yoga loft and yogasofia had level 1/2 classes, and planet yoga had a level 1/2 slow flow. while many beginners would be OK in most level 1/2 classes, i really wanted her first class to be a non-intimidating level 1 class, especially since her foot was still healing from the surgery. a nice easy class covering just the basics would be perfect.

    on a whim, i typed www.yogafinder.com into my browser just to see if any other studios came up.

    there was the bikram studio in manhattan beach. i wasn't too crazy about practicing in a sauna, although i was willing to give it a shot if she was. luckily, she passed.

    there was also the yoga center in redondo beach. since i had two unsuccessful visits last year, i didn't want to drag her along for a possible third failed attempt.

    but wait... what's this... alive & well in hermosa beach? how was it that i had never heard about that studio? i checked out their sunday schedule, and sure enough, they had the class i'd been searching for: a level 1 (not 1/2, not all levels) at 9:30am. and to make it even sweeter, they had a new student intro: 3 classes for $15 with coupon. sold!

    so last sunday morning, we drove down PCH and found the strip mall that housed alive & well, just a few blocks north of the redondo beach king harbor sign. with combined offerings of yoga as well as therapeutic massage, the premises, though small, were almost spa-like. not only was there a nice reception area and boutique by the entrance, but even the bathroom was a bit more upscale than most, providing its guests the use of rolled up hand towels instead of the usual stack of paper towels. after filling out the new student info forms and handing over our discount coupons and payment, we walked down the hall to the classroom. along the prop wall was a bin with complimentary rental mats; maria selected one from the bunch and laid it out on the floor beside mine.

    we were joined by five other students; two of them were also new to yoga. soon after, our teacher, ebony price, walked in, cued up her music, and began our 75-minute long practice session.

    after sitting quietly to rid ourselves of the residual tension from the week's activities, we started with stretches -- tabletop, cat, cow, child -- then transitioned to a slow sun salutation sequence. ebony roamed around the room, checking to make sure everyone was doing each pose correctly. i kept glancing at my reflection in the mirrored wall beside me to see what my own alignment looked like (sadly, not yoga journal-ready yet. sigh). and because ebony was doing a great job of being very meticulous, i found that i was holding poses for much longer than i usually would in other classes. this supposedly basic class was turning into quite the workout for me!

    as with other yoga classes, the standing sequences were followed by seated and reclined poses, with some ab work and an optional shoulderstand thrown in to make things more interesting. after a slow twist this way and then that, we ended in savasana.

    as for maria's verdict: not only did she like the class, but she's planning to use up her two remaining class credits this week! she's also looking forward to visiting the new branch of harmony yoga studio that's scheduled to open in manhattan beach sometime next week (more on that when they finally post the details on their website)!

    another convert... i think i've just earned my wings in yoga heaven :)

    Friday, January 05, 2007

    singing in the new year

    hmmm... what would yoga class be like without music? pretty quiet, i'd say, unless you find yourself practicing to the soothing ocean sounds being made by your fellow yogis and their ujjayi breathing.

    while there are many yoga instructors who feel that music is merely a distraction (either that, or they just don't have the time to put together a compilation of songs on a regular basis), i honestly believe that the right music -- be it classical, easy listening, gospel, alternative, or even hip-hop -- if properly selected and sequenced, can provide inspiration to one's practice.

    on most yoga teachers' playlists are the devotional chants which are usually played during savasana. while the music may eventually become familiar to most students, the artists behind the music may not. and what's more, these artists frequently go on tour and perform at kirtans around the country... and they actually have groupies! yes, i originally thought the same thing you might be thinking -- why would i want to hang around with a bunch of yoga nerds? the way i look at it, you either like kirtan chanting or you don't (it's kinda like listening to country music). and in my case, i do (both kirtan and country, that is).

    so here are the studios where you can be musically inspired and/or have a chance to join your voice with others' (and maybe even mine) in january:

    saturday, january 6th:

    Invocations of the Ecstatic: Empowered Intentions for the New Year with Seane Corn
    12:45pm - 3:45pm
    exhale Venice
    $45; $40 by 12/31

    Join Seane Corn and Suzanne Sterling in this special event to explore the art of invocation and conscious intention and plant seeds for this New Year. Using the tools of asana, ritual, singing and prayer we will connect with our deep essence and begin to create intentions that can support us in living authentically in our lives and in the world today. Taking the time to connect within, we can release old patterns that are familiar- but no longer relevant- and begin to cultivate clarity of vision and purpose. When combined with strong intention our daily yoga practice becomes a living prayer and a calling forth of our "souls code", or our unique contribution to the world. Together, in community, we can be inspired and supported to step forward and embody these intentions, and as we invoke the ecstasy that comes from self-knowledge, we can actively ignite these intentions to create positive change within ourselves and, ultimately, in the world in which we live.

    Chanting with Steve Ross
    8:00 pm
    Maha Yoga
    By Donation

    Begin 2007 in a state of divine bliss. Please join us as Steve Ross leads us through a magical evening of chanting.
    Bring a cushion to sit on, wear comfortable clothes and enjoy.

    Kirtan Chanting with Govindas & Radha
    8:00 - 10:00pm
    Santa Monica Power Yoga West
    By Donation

    Come sing from the deepest corner of your heart!
    Bring meditation cushions or blanket (no yoga mat). Wear comfy clothes.
    Govindas and Radha are California-based Bhakti yogis and kirtan singers. They are a husband and wife team with great love and devotion for the Divine, their Guru, each other, and life itself. This is the essence which is reflected and transmitted through their music. Through the sacred practice of kirtan, repetitiously chanting the names of God/Goddess from ancient India, they will guide you on a musical meditation and yogic adventure deep into the essence of Bhakti - the yoga of the Heart, the yoga of Love! Through the grace of their teachers, they have uniquely melded ancient Indian mantras with western melodies, yet still playing traditional Indian instruments. Their music has been described as a trance inducing mandala, where organic ambiance, meditation, art, and prayer merge together as One. Their first album "Endless Surrender Kirtan Experience" was released late last year and they are currently working on their second album. They lead evenings of kirtan, Bhakti yoga workshops, and transformative retreats throughout the world.

    sunday, january 7th:

    Full Moon Flow with Mark Blanchard and Donna De Lory (1/7: does not appear on today's studio schedule; not sure if it's been cancelled)
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
    Progressive Power Yoga Brentwood
    $22 in advance or $25 at the door

    Please join us for our monthly full moon Power Yoga class with Mark Blanchard and special guest Donna De Lory for a melodic savasana. Go with the universal flow, and ground yourself with the gravitational pull. This is an experience not to be missed, so reserve your spot early!

    Donna De Lory is a singer and songwriter whose voice and lyrics transcend time and genre. Her voice can be heard on albums by Dave Stringer, Carly Simon, Kim Carnes, Santana, Belinda Carlisle, Bette Midler, and is currently a featured vocalist for Madonna's worldwide Confessions tour.

    YOGA UNPLUGGED: Flow Yoga with Live Acoustic Music
    With Kelly McAndrews and Paul Lemire
    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm (Please note special time for January: one hour earlier due to Yoga Challenge meeting)

    Join Kelly for a challenging, all levels flow class accompanied by local singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Lemire. Paul performs his own material, as well as covers of tunes by the likes of Jack Johnson, Ray LaMontagne, Oasis, James Blunt, etc. The perfect way to wind down your week.

    Golden Bridge Community Choir, led by Maggie Wheeler and Emile Hassan Dyer
    11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
    Golden Bridge Yoga
    $12/drop-in or $120 for all 12 sessions

    Join us in the ancient tradition of community building through song as we explore rhythms, harmonies, chants and songs from around the world.
    You will learn songs from Asia, West Africa, Australia (Aboriginal), Russia, South Africa, along with Spirituals, Gospel, along with various forms of vocal percussion, in a fun and non-threatening environment.
    The energy that comes from making music together will stay with you! The harmonies we create will echo in your hearts.
    Come raise your voices with us, you will be amazed at the beauty of our song!
    Newcomers and beginners are welcome! No sight reading is necessary. This is an Inclusive, Non-Auditioned choir.

    friday, january 12th:

    Universal Peace Chant + Kirtan with Saul David Raye
    8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
    exhale Venice

    Happy New Year! Now let's Sing, Dance and Pray for Peace.
    Join Saul David Raye and special musical guests for an evening gathering of chanting and meditation. We will chant different mantras for healing, peace and spiritual awakening. Including the Sacred Gayatri mantra "108" times for Universal Peace and personal healing.
    50% of the proceeds will go to feeding people in our community.

    saturday, january 13th:

    Zen Dancing: New Year Celebration & Ritual Meditation with Micheline Berry, Craig Kohland & Shaman's Dream
    8:30 pm - 10:00 pm
    exhale Venice
    $15 in advance; $20 at the door

    Where ecstatic dance and live world music meet, Zen Dancing® induces peak states of ecstatic embodiment and deep union with the pranic "flow" between dancer and drum, breath and beat. The language of dance is universal and since 1996 Micheline Berry, Craig Kohland and their world ensemble Shaman's Dream have been resurrecting and defining the ritual world dance in Los Angeles, CA. Their live concerts are akin to a world ethnotronica odyssey that will sweep you up in a wave of trance dance marked by the evocative indigenous sounds and deep visionary grooves that have become the signature of their music.
    No experience necessary...simply come prepared to move and let the music take you where it will.

    Kirtan with David Stringer
    8:00 pm
    City Yoga

    The intention of Kirtan is consciousness transformation~ directing the singers to vanish into the song as rain drops merge into the ocean. The singing of mantras quiet the mind and the music frees the heart. As Dave says, at a kirtan “you’re not just listening to the music, you are the music.“ Dave’s sound marries the transcendent mysticism of traditional Indian instruments with the exuberant, groove-oriented sound of American gospel music.Bring the family. Kids FREE!

    friday, january 19th:

    Kirtan Chanting With David Newman, aka Durga Das
    8:00 pm
    Insight Yoga
    $15 in advance; $20 at the door

    Don’t miss this inspired evening of call and response chanting with renown Kirtan Chant Artist David Newman joined by devotional singer and percussionist MIRA.
    David Newman or Durga Das, as he is also known, is a Kirtan Chant Artist and a practitioner and educator of Bhakti Yoga – the yoga of love. David, a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba, travels extensively singing Kirtan (Indian devotional chanting) and sharing the spiritual, devotional, meditative and musical aspects of yoga. David’s music, rooted in the ancient yogic tradition of sound as a healing path toward self discovery (Nada Yoga), embodies a devotional mysticism, distinctive musicality, poetic intimacy and a deep respect for India’s ancient chant tradition. His recordings expand the traditional kirtan medium by incorporating a wide range of musical and lyrical elements and by exploring a vast palette of progressive production influences. David has released three CDs, and his latest CD/DVD set “Into the Bliss.” His live kirtans and concerts are joyous, ecstatic, uplifting and exploding with energy. A dedicated Kirtan Troubadour, David tours througout the world with Mira, a celebrated devotional singer, recording artist and percussionist. He is also the author of a book on medication entitled Merging with Grace and the founder of Yoga On Main in Philadelphia.

    Soul Flow: Creative Dance with Basia/Haridass Kaur
    7:30 pm -9:30 pm
    The Awareness Center
    $15 or $25/couple

    Join Basia for a wholesome and soulful evening! Call forth your playful nature, gain confidence for new adventures with freedom and joy. Move gracefully toward your personal intention.
    This fun evening includes creative dancing with a healing journey through the chakras, flowing music to connect you with Universal love, group interaction and playfulness, and a meditative closing circle. A wonderful way to spend an uplifting Friday night!
    Basia/Haridass is a Reiki/Sekhem energy practitioner, teaching Kundalini Yoga since 1999. She tunes into you energy, guiding you with visualizations that lift your vibrational field. In effect, you lovingly create your ultimate dreams from the heart.

    sunday, january 21st:

    CD Release Kirtan with David Newman, aka Durga Das
    7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
    Rising Lotus Yoga
    $18 in advance, $20 at the door

    Join David Newman for an evening of Ecstatic Kirtan and and help celebrate his release of his new CD/DVD project "Into the Bliss". Kirtan is a group gathering where sacred mantras are sung together in a call and response style. It is a unique concert setting where music and singing are treated as meditation and the audience is as much a part of the band as the band members themselves. All throughout the country the awareness of this ancient practice is growing. David Newman or Durga Das, as he is also known, is a Kirtan Chant Artist, singer songwriter and a practitioner and educator of Bhakti Yoga - the yoga of love. David travels extensively singing Kirtan (Indian devotional chanting) and sharing the spiritual, devotional, meditative and musical aspects of yoga. David's music embodies a devotional mysticism, distinctive musicality, poetic intimacy and a deep respect for India's ancient chant tradition. His recordings expand the traditional Kirtan medium by incorporating a wide range of musical and lyrical elements and by exploring a vast palette of progressive production influences.

    Golden Bridge Community Choir, led by Maggie Wheeler and Emile Hassan Dyer
    11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
    Golden Bridge Yoga
    $12/drop-in or $120 for all 12 sessions

    Join us in the ancient tradition of community building through song as we explore rhythms, harmonies, chants and songs from around the world.
    You will learn songs from Asia, West Africa, Australia (Aboriginal), Russia, South Africa, along with Spirituals, Gospel, along with various forms of vocal percussion, in a fun and non-threatening environment.
    The energy that comes from making music together will stay with you! The harmonies we create will echo in your hearts.
    Come raise your voices with us, you will be amazed at the beauty of our song!
    Newcomers and beginners are welcome! No sight reading is necessary. This is an Inclusive, Non-Auditioned choir.

    sunday, january 28th:

    Golden Bridge Community Choir, led by Maggie Wheeler and Emile Hassan Dyer
    11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
    Golden Bridge Yoga
    $12/drop-in or $120 for all 12 sessions

    Join us in the ancient tradition of community building through song as we explore rhythms, harmonies, chants and songs from around the world.
    You will learn songs from Asia, West Africa, Australia (Aboriginal), Russia, South Africa, along with Spirituals, Gospel, along with various forms of vocal percussion, in a fun and non-threatening environment.
    The energy that comes from making music together will stay with you! The harmonies we create will echo in your hearts.
    Come raise your voices with us, you will be amazed at the beauty of our song!
    Newcomers and beginners are welcome! No sight reading is necessary. This is an Inclusive, Non-Auditioned choir.

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    if at first you don't succeed, try tryoga...

    i was checking my website stats earlier today and noticed a good number of hits from the same IP address using the same search string: los angeles TRYOGA.

    out of curiosity, i decided to look into it further, and found out that the poor person kept trying to access the website of a new studio opening up next week -- tryoga at the yahoo! center in santa monica -- but it turned out that i had a typo in the link i had in my post. ooops!

    so here's the link to that post, and yes, i've corrected the url to: www.tryogala.com.

    by the way, here's the press release i received from the tryoga folk about their upcoming studio opening on january 12th. note that it features discounts and FREE yoga classes from jan 13th thru 20th:

    One of Los Angeles’ first eco-friendly yoga studios, TRYOGA is designed by Manduka founder Peter Sterios

    Los Angeles, CA (December, 2006)— TRYOGA Studio, one of Los Angeles’ first eco-friendly yoga studios, is set to launch in January 2007. The Studio was designed by Manduka yoga mats founder and architect Peter Sterios, who consulted with TRIFIT Club & Studios owners Gina and Bernard Baski to create its environmentally friendly design.

    TRYOGA utilizes recycled building materials such as eco-resin panels on the walls and doors, stainless steel for the reception desk, aluminum retail display panels, cellulose fiber ceiling panels, fiber floor carpet tiles and glass wall panels. Other eco-friendly materials include Brazilian sustainable harvest hardwood floors, low Voc emissions paint and countertops made from pressed recycled newspaper pulp. “Green” yoga equipment includes Manduka eco-mats, cork blocks and organic cotton straps.

    The Studio encompasses 2,100 square feet of space, including two massage rooms, a Pilates Reformer and Pilates mat space, shower and changing area and retail boutique. The studio is adjacent to a private park landscaped by award-winning designer Pamela Burton, which incorporates drought-resistant plants and a meditative reflecting pool.

    Peter Sterios’ unique style of hatha yoga reflects over 30 years of training and practice in the U.S. and India. He will serve as TRYOGA’s Yogi-in-Residence for 2007, personally teaching classes while overseeing a roster of Los Angeles’ most celebrated yoga teachers and designing classes to appeal to yogis and yoga novices alike. This will be Peter’s first yoga tenure in Southern California.

    From December 2006 through February 2007, TRYOGA launch events include:

  • VIP Classes taught by Peter Sterios on Thursday, December 14th and Thursday, January 11th from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. These classes are open to VIPs and editors only, will include a special TRYOGA yoga gift bag featuring TRYOGA, Manduka, Lululemon and Korres Spa products. Class space is booked through Sugar Public Relations.

  • The TRYOGA studio will open officially on Friday, January 12th, with a Private Party open to VIPs, editors and guests. The event will feature a Yoga Blessing class with Shiva Rea from 5:30 to 6:30, followed by a spring preview trunk show by Lululemon, and then a concert by Tina Malia at 8 p.m. Parking is free. RSVPs are through Sugar Public Relations.

  • The opening event will kick off a Free Week of classes in the studio and 10% off for all class packages as well as in the TRYOGA retail store (Lululemon, Prana, Be Present, Manduka, Lumi, and more) from Saturday, January 13th through Saturday, January 20th (open to the public).

  • In February, as a Valentine’s Day gift to the area, TRYOGA will host a Free Workshop “Gravity and Grace: Finding the Voice of Your Inner Teacher,” Peter Sterios’ first Yoga Workshop ever to be offered in the Los Angeles area. The two Workshops will be free to the public with preregistration through TRIFIT (310-829-2227) and will take place on Saturday, February 17th and Sunday, February 18th from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • For more information, please visit TRIFITLA.com and TRYOGALA.com.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    pssst... wanna buy a yoga studio?

    it's gotten to the point where i now dread opening up email from yoga studios, fearing bad news. just in the last few days, i've read heartfelt goodbyes from studio owners who've had to close their doors. and today, i just received another one. this one came from joa and crina of illumination yoga, who have to shut down their studio because they're moving out of town:

    We are so sorry to inform you that we are going out of business at the end of this month. We have landed new work opportunities in Northern California, where we really want to live. While the studio business had been growing steadily, the rate was not fast enough to keep us here.
    You have been wonderful to us. Thank you for sharing this journey with us homeward. We will remember you, and if we are fortunate to get the Illumination Business transferred, we hope to visit for occasional special events.

    and this where you (or someone you know) comes in to "save" the studio:

    We are committed to doing everything in our power to find new owners to replace us, those who truly are committed to the Spirit of Yoga. If you want Illumination Yoga to continue, you can help pass the word by cutting and pasting the following blurb into some e-mails to your yoga friends who might like to have this business. Thanks!

    Illumination yoga in Tarzana is closing its doors, unless you want this business for free. You get the rental of a beautiful 1400 square foot studio with bamboo floors and lots of natural light, over 100 clients, a beautiful website (www.illuminationyoga.com), Newsletter, mailing list, logo, and complete ownership of the corporation. We have dissolved all debt. This 8 month old business is on the growth path, but we unexpectedly landed other opportunities in Northern California. In return, we get back our rent deposit from the property owner, and the satisfaction of keeping yoga alive in an area that needs it. To learn more please call us at 818-758-9808 or 323-632-9213.

    i'd been to illumination just once during its brief existence. i had taken crina's hatha flow class, then stayed to attend the concert with girish later that evening.

    the studio is truly a lovely space. it sits on the second floor of a strip mall, away from the street noise, and high enough that lots of light streams in through the windows during the day. it's conveniently located on ventura blvd in tarzana, between woodland hills and encino. if i remember correctly, there was ample parking in the lots in front of and behind the building.

    if you're interested in setting up a yoga studio in the san fernando valley, look no further. i've heard too many horror stories of studio renovation projects that had gone way over budget. if illumination still looks the way i remember it to be, this place is in mint move-in condition. you could literally open for business the day after you're handed the keys.

    and for those of you who still have classes left on your passes, you have until the end of this month to use them; they are non-refundable, and unless a new owner chooses to honor them, they are also non-transferable.

    so please tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on...

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    new studio changes for the new year

    after i first posted the latest studio openings and closings last december 16th, i've found out about a few more changes in the yoga world:

    a new studio in culver city - your neighborhood studio
    the merger between two studios in hermosa beach - yogasofia and body mind & soul
    and an acquisition in pacific palisades - jiva yoga is now yoga works pacific palisades
    the closing of a studio in manhattan beach - mukti yoga
    and another one in santa monica - forrest yoga institute

    to keep all the recent changes in one place, i've decided to add the details to my original post. click here to read the updated version...