Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Monday, April 30, 2007

old hippies don't die, they move to eugene

... or so they say. and from my recent trip to eugene, oregon to run in the inaugural eugene marathon, i can see why.

while making my way around town, i noticed:

the high percentage of older men and women whose hair is left au naturel, i.e., long and grey
the plethora of tie-dye shirts for sale at the saturday farmers market
the array of organic grocery stores and restaurants
the easy availability of all things hemp (well, sort of).

and can you blame them? with clear blue skies, lush green foliage, and the relative absence of skyscrapers and freeway interchanges, why wouldn't the flower children want to retire in eugene?

while preparing for my trip, i did some preliminary research on eugene yoga studios. with the marathon falling on sunday, i was free to take a class or two on friday and/or saturday. but where? so i google searched. i even checked yogafinder. the pickings were slim. maybe hippies just aren't into yoga?

there was south hills yoga, but the only class i could take was the saturday morning "yoga for arthritis and fibromyalgia" class. i chose to pass.

the yoga studio of eugene only had classes on mondays, tuesdays, and wednesdays.

dharmalaya yoga center wasn't any better; the classes were on mondays, tuesdays, and thursdays.

there was a bikram studio within walking distance from my hotel, but since i'm not really an avid fan of hot yoga, i put it on my standby list and kept looking.

then i found yoga west, eugene. kundalini yoga. there were two saturday morning classes: saturday wake-up call at 8:30am and especially for women at 10:30am. hmmm...

and finally, i came across the four winds center, which offered a varied assortment of yoga styles -- hatha, anusara, ashtanga, viniyoga, and so on -- throughout the day. including friday and saturday. at last, i had choices!

i continued to search for studios, but could find no more.

so late last thursday evening, after flying in from LAX, i arrived in eugene, home of the university of oregon and notables such as track star steve prefontaine, coach bill bowerman, and nike founder phil knight. it was the first marathon in track town, USA since the 1980's, so the whole city was abuzz over the big event.

by friday morning, i was off to a core awareness class at 9:30am.

Four Winds Yoga in the Tamarack Wellness Center
3575 Donald Street
Eugene, OR 97405
(541) 484-6100
website: www.fourwindsyoga.org

Yoga truly does bring about healing and transformation. The practice itself, which works by bringing us fully into present-moment awareness, creates a simple shift in point of view. This shift creates the space for the flow of the magical elixir we may call the Energy of Transformation, Chi, or simply, Grace. Its this shift in mind and body that keeps us coming back to yoga. It’s definitely more than a set of exercises -- it’s magic!

The magic has even transformed this old building, the old Easter Seals School which is now Tamarack Wellness Center. A nurturing quality of wholeness permeates these tranquil rooms that we have now occupied for a full year. It's a healing place to do yoga.

the tamarack wellness center is located in a quiet residential area a few miles south of the downtown area where i was staying. i parked my car beside the aquatic center which has a unique feature: a therapeutic salt water pool that is kept at a constant 92 degrees. the salinated water supposedly reduces the need for chlorination, which then reduces eye and skin irritation. it's also friendlier to the environment. i later found out that there's a pool yoga class that's taught on thursday evenings. maybe if i had caught an earlier flight... darn.

i walked over to the main building and found the office. after filling out the requisite paperwork, i handed over $10 and was told that the class would be in the classroom at the end of the hall. on my way there, thoughts of ab crunches and navasanas (boy, do i love them... not!) made me reconsider taking that core awareness class, but since i knew that strengthening my abs would do my weak back a world of good, i forced myself to go. and i'm glad i did.

honestly, it wasn't a hardcore "core" class. our teacher, donna o'neil, had us working on a series of asanas that had us working the transversus abdominus, or TA, by engaging mula bandha. besides the usual ab-centric asanas, we focused on firing the TA muscles as we did bridge, dolphin, bow, downward-facing dog, and handstand poses. it was a nice level 1/2 class, perfect for someone who was supposed to be tapering for a race. like me.

here's donna's bio:
A natural and lifelong teacher, Donna was certified to teach hatha yoga in 1995 through Ananda Yoga. She is also certified to teach Meditation, Therapeutic, Cardiac Rehabilitative and Restorative Yoga, and continues her studies in Anusara yoga. In her practice of yoga she feels a joy and freedom she loves to share with others. Her classes guide the student in a deep experience of the body and into the heart of our Highest Self. A perpetual student as well as teacher, Donna is grateful to the teachers who have guided her.

on saturday morning, since i had taken care of most of my race-related errands by then, i decided to take back-to-back classes: an anusara class at four winds at 8am, followed by a kundalini class at yoga west at 10:30am. after all, it was good training for my upcoming yogathon in june :)

the anusara-inspired level 2-4 class with tom clark was taught in the familiar anusara format, complete with an intro to the class theme, the invocation, asana demonstrations, and yes, inversions. headstands and handstands. both with and without the aid of the wall. we worked with partners, and for some reason, my partner looked strangely familiar. but since she showed no signs of recognition, i didn't give it a second thought.

later, while we were chatting with tom after class, this familiar face mentioned that she was from LA. and that she had been practicing forrest yoga for 15 years (15? did i hear her correctly?). i asked her if she practiced at the forrest institute in santa monica, and it was at that point that she mentioned that she also recognized me; turns out she was gianna carotenuto, former instructor at forrest santa monica. small world! i don't know if she intends to teach yoga during her stay in eugene, but if i remember correctly, she said she was teaching art history at the U of O through july. so if you need to get hold of her, you might be able to find her while she's in town...

as for tom's background:
Tom started his practice of yoga in the Ashtanga vinyasa style in 1995 and is now completing his training in Anusara Yoga. Grateful to experience masterful teachers, he sees yoga as a path for optimizing our own evolution as spiritual beings. Using clear explanations and visualizations, he guides the yoga practitioner to explore not only the body but the essential nature of the heart.

i hopped in the car and drove the short distance to yoga west for the women's yoga class with lexy wellman.

Yoga West, Eugene
3635 Hilyard Street
Eugene, OR 97405
(541) 686-0432
website: www.yogawesteugene.com

No matter what we achieve, what success in the world we have, it ends up being hollow unless we fulfill the soul's yearning to bring higher consciousness into our daily lives. Kundalini Yoga is much more than just a system of physical exercise. It is a dynamic, powerful, tool for expanding awareness. Approach it with respect, with reverence, and openness.

yoga west is housed in a simple one-story building across the street from tugman park. classes cost $8 and are held in a spartan room with beige wall-to-wall carpet. it reminded me of the kundalini places back in LA, like yoga west LA and the awareness center.

according to the class description:
The Saturday Women's Class encourages us to nourish our Selves FIRST in order to more effectively nurture our significant others and our own creativity.

i yet have to understand the concept behind kundalini exercise sets. supposedly, doing something rapidly and repetitively while chanting increases energy. all i know is that while there were times when i felt ridiculous doing what i was doing, there was consolation in knowing that everyone else was doing exactly the same thing -- at least i felt i was in a nurturing environment with happy, friendly people :)

here's what the yoga west website has to say about lexy:
Lexy rediscovered her love for Kundalini Yoga in 1994, completed the Northwest Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training in 1996, and has been teaching weekly classes at Yoga West ever since. Lexy provides basic explanations and thorough guidance for tuning into one's body from the inside. She enjoys teaching beginning students, women's classes, as well as fellow rowers-in-cross-training, and encourages a synthesis of nurturing self and connection to like-minded others.

three yoga classes at two studios in two days. and since none of the classes were particularly strenuous, they served as a good warm-up... and they made me less guilty about eating all those treats i found at the sweet life patisserie :)

and yes, i ran and completed the marathon. the weather on race day was perfect. the scenery was stunning. and the volunteers along the course were extremely enthusiastic and helpful. best of all, i beat my LA marathon time by almost 40 minutes!

before leaving eugene, i made sure i sampled "the hippie life". i ate at vegetarian places such as cafe yumm! and the laughing planet. i bought artisan bread that was baked in a recycled wood-fired oven at the hideaway bakery. i had a hempnut shake at the saturday farmers market. and -- get this -- i even bought a pair of birkenstock sandals :) i just regret that i didn't stop to buy a tie-dye shirt... that definitely would have been SO eugene!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

to harbor the harborless

"Closer to God... Can Building a House Get You There?"

so goes the teaser on the cover of the may 2007 issue of LA yoga i picked up today. the subheading, "Habitat for Humanity and Rumi-er Homes Too!" gives the casual browser a better idea of the content of the cover article, which, coincidentally, ties in with the topic of my post yesterday, i.e., my participation in city yoga's upcoming fundraiser for H4H.

according to the article, gimme shelter, the author highlights one of the many proud owners of a habitat home, nicolas enriquez.

with his meager earnings, enriquez could only afford a one-bedroom mobile home, which was tight quarters for him, his wife, and their twin daughters. however, once he heard about the habitat for humanity project going up in his neighborhood, he filled out an application and was approved for one of the houses. this new home was no handout, by any means. besides having to qualify for a nominal mortgage loan, enriquez was also expected to put in at least 500 hours of sweat equity. in other words, he had to help with tasks such as foundation laying, framing, and painting of his home as well as of other homes in the project. by the time the enriquez family had moved into their new three-bedroom home, nicolas had voluntarily put in over 3,000 hours of manual labor; by doing so, not only did he make his own dream come true, but also that of other families just like his.

the thought of joining a habitat for humanity work group has always sounded appealing to me. even if the thought of my wielding a saw, a nail gun, or a hammer sounds like an accident waiting to happen, i know there must be something i can do. like install doorknobs or paint a wall. i know that someday i'll get the chance to test my construction skills, but until then, the best i can do right now is to help raise funds to keep these projects going. hence, the yogathon in june.

besides, my trying to do a series of sun salutations at sunrise after being up all night sounds less hazardous than my falling off a ladder or having a mishap with a power tool!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

this yogini needs your help

i drove out to west hollywood last week to join my friend barbara at her usual sunday afternoon restorative class at city yoga. i walked up the stairs, and as i turned towards the reception desk, something posted on the bulletin board caught my eye:

Yogathon! 2007

8am. Saturday. June 30th. The summer morning sun beams triumphantly through the beautiful arched windows. 60 inspired yogis have rolled out their mats for an amazing cause. For 24 hours. To celebrate the heart. To share an unprecedented yoga journey that will include asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, restorative, and more! All to support the ongoing good work of Habitat for Humanity - Los Angeles. Are you with us?

i could be, i thought; if i have enough stamina and endurance to run a marathon, i suppose that same stamina and endurance could get me through a 24-hour yogathon... or could it?

100% of the proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity - Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that builds homes and then sells them to deserving families at no profit with 0% interest loans. A great opportunity for our yoga kula to make a difference!

Our collective goal is $100,000

This is the amount needed to build one more home for one more deserving family. What an incredible offering to make to the local community. What a great way to use our practice in service to others. The extraordinary journey begins now! With a dedicated fundraising effort. If we reach our goal, H4H-LA will officially designate a house:

"This is the house that City Yoga built"

maybe i was just being impulsive, maybe i was even a bit insane, but by the time i had reached the reception desk, not only did i find myself paying for the restorative class i was about to take, but i also was forking over the additional amount needed to register for the yogathon.

hmmm... saturday, june 30th. i didn't have my calendar on me, and i couldn't think of anything that i had scheduled for that day. and night. as well as the next morning. all i knew is that i had a marathon to run on june 3rd, and that i should be all recovered by then. whatever it was that i had to do, i thought, it couldn't have been that important...

of course, by the time i got home later that evening, i realized that i did have something planned for the 30th: the sing-a-long sound of music night at the hollywood bowl. in fact, i had even organized a large group of fellow officemates so we could all have fun warbling our way through "my favorite things", "climb ev'ry mountain", and "edelweiss". and yes, our tickets were all paid for; we were just waiting for the bowl to mail them to us.

what to do now? attend the singathon and give up my spot at city yoga, or join the yogathon and forfeit the cost of my ticket at the bowl?

and this is where i need your help -- if i can get enough pledges to reach or exceed the minimum stipulated donation goal of $500, i'll honor my commitment to city yoga and give up my bowl ticket. heck, i may even give it to anyone who wants it and pledges the largest amount (the event is expected to be a sell-out, so it may end up being a hot ticket). on the other hand, if i find that i can barely raise half of that amount without having to twist arms, i'll cancel my yogathon registration, let city keep what i've paid as a donation, and join my friends in an event that's become a bowl tradition. i know that sounds cold, but i unless i can pull my weight, i really should give the chance to someone else who can raise more money and make a bigger difference.

in other words: will you please sponsor me by pledging an amount, any amount, so that we can help provide a home for a family that can't afford to put roof over their heads? you don't have to send in your payment right away; all i need is a commitment from you that you'll be able to write a check for the amount you've pledged. you can email your pledge to me at the email address listed on my blogger profile page. and i'll make my decision by mid-may, depending on the response i get from this plea.

... to think i wondered how i could ever be a yogic activist...

thank you ever so much for your support!

Monday, April 23, 2007

an earth-centric weekend

continuing with my theme for the past week, i spent time this weekend attending earth day events, some of which were held at yoga studios in town...

earth-friendly yoga, day seven:
earth day celebration at home simply yoga

i recently received the following invite for home simply yoga's first anniversary / earth day party:

Earth Day Celebration, Friday April 20, 2007 7:00pm

Raffle items provided by: Discovery Communications, Patagonia, One Life, Real Food Daily, Lululemon, Tara Home, Organic Interior Design, Earth Accents, Natural High Life Style, Abbot's Pizza, Santa Monica Toyota, Wild Oats, and more

Suggested donation $20
For the benefit of the Natural Resources Defense Council

a chance to win something in exchange for a donation to a worthy cause? it sounded like a very rewarding way to celebrate earth day, so i made it a point to show up at their eco-friendly studio in santa monica friday evening.

while it caused me to skip my usual after-work yoga practice, it gave me a chance to visit HSY once again and meet their students and teachers in the process.

and eat some fantastic vegetarian indian food, catered by govinda's (at the hare krishna temple in culver city).

and listen to talented members of the HSY community as they told stories, read poetry, sang songs, and talked about living green.

and, as a perfect ending to the celebration, join in the kirtan led by joey lugassy and friends.

the only thing that would have made the evening even more perfect is to have found out that i had won one of the must-have prizes. but since they were going to draw the winners after the event, i have to continue to wait patiently and hope they draw my name!

earth-friendly yoga, day eight:
celebrate earth day! yogic activism with hala khouri at exhale venice

saturday afternoon's workshop was described as follows:

This workshop is an embodied exploration of how we can extend the principles of yoga beyond ourselves and into our families and communities. Through meditation, asana, partner work, visualization, journaling and discussion we will explore the questions about and begin a process of becoming Yogic Activists in the most authentic sense.

in my mind, the terms "yogic" and "activist" were polar opposites. after all, yogis are supposed to practice ahimsa (non-violence). and activists, at least from my experience when i lived in marcos-era manila, were the force behind many of the violent student demonstrations in the '70s.

read this:


Student protests on the prevailing conditions of the country saddled the second term of Marcos in office. Large throngs of students went out into the street of Manila and other urban centers to denounce the rampant graft and corruption, human rights violations, high tuition fees, militarization and abuses of the military, the presence of the U.S. Military bases and the subservience of the Marcos Administration to U.S. interests and policies.
The most violent student demonstration took place on January 1970 when thousands of student demonstrators tried to storm the gates of Malacañang. Six students were killed and many were wounded. This event came to be know as the "Battle of Mendiola".

even if i believed in what they were fighting for, i was too non-confrontational to be an activist.

so what would it take for me to become a "yogic activist"? would i walk away from the workshop with a strong determination to preserve the environment? feed the hungry? eradicate all injustice? end all wars? would i turn into the next angelina jolie (complete with drop-dead looks and handsome beau at my side)?

we discussed, we contemplated, we wrote, we shared. then spent some time flowing through yoga asanas.

three and a half hours later, all i managed to get out of the class was that many in the group were already activists in their own right; whether they were teaching yoga to juvenile inmates and unwed mothers, spreading awareness about animal cruelty, or volunteering at homeless shelters, it sounded like they were truly driven in their quest to right the wrongs in the world.

as for me, all i want to do is find peace and happiness for myself and for all the people i love. i feel like such a slacker...

earth-friendly yoga, day nine:
flow 2/3 with heather camp at revive studios

first of all, i have to thank revive studios for including a link to my writeup about them on their website. every time i check my blog stats, i see a number of referrals from their site. and now that their studio's been featured in the april issue of whole life times, i'm getting hits through them almost on a daily basis :)

of course, that makes me feel even more guilty that i'm not visiting this ecologically-conscious studio often enough :(

despite the distance, i have to say that driving out to revive on a sunday morning can be a joy. even if it took me almost 45 minutes to get there from the westside (since it's practically over the hill and through the woods), just being able to sail up the 405 without ever having to go below the speed limit was a rare treat. unlike the last time when i drove in the dark to get there, this time it was easy to spot the rocky formations off topanga canyon, the estate-like homes along plummer, the reservoir (aka the "lake") off valley circle, and the other businesses that surround the revive property. it's amazing what you can see on a clear sunny day in LA!

it’s been months since i was last at revive, yet everything was just as i had remembered it to be. it was still the tranquil, friendly place in the middle of nowhere (or at least it seems like it for a city girl like me). after i parked my car, i had the urge to just skip the class and go for a walk around the neighborhood. i wanted to get a closer look at the reservoir. i wanted to browse through what looked to be a quaint grocery store. i wanted to check out the menu at the restaurant next door. but since i was there on a mission, i.e., to take a yoga class, i restrained those urges and headed off to the studio.

and once again, heather's class didn't disappoint. it was a nice and easy flow class, and even if it was listed as a level 2/3 on the schedule, heather kept it gentle enough to accomodate the injured, yet challenging enough to satisfy the obsessives (like me).

since all classes at revive were free that day (in honor of earth day), i headed over to their cafe after class to splurge on something for the road. from the long list of teas, coffees, and juices, i ended up selecting an iced matcha tea. yum!

finally, as a fitting end to my week-long earth day celebration, i dropped by the lululemon store in santa monica sunday evening for a free screening of the oh-so timely an inconvenient truth with free food (from RFD, aka real food daily) and free goodies (from jurlique, co-opportunity, vegin' out, sustainable works, greenopia, la weekly, plenty magazine, and exhale santa monica).

in an effort to assuage my guilt about my having driven all those miles around town for the past week, i left my car at home and took the bus to/from the lulu store (even if there was a good chance that it would rain that evening -- and it did!). it's a small step, but at least it's in the right direction...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

my eco tour continues...

after making some changes to my prior post on still yoga, i've decided to split this day off so that it wouldn't get lost in that long write-up. so if it looks familiar, it is. but keep reading, because more studios follow...

earth-friendly yoga, day four:
vinyasa flow 2/3 with kishan shah at truyoga

there's been enough press in the yoga journals about the recent opening of truyoga, a studio with sustainable-harvest floors, recycled ceilings and walls, and pressed newspaper pulp countertops. and yes, even i wrote about truyoga after i visited it for the first time.

the strange thing is that, just like still yoga, you could drive right past the building where truyoga is located and not know that it's there. in fact, i drive by the building everyday, and if it weren't for all the ads and articles that i find in the magazines, i wouldn't have known that there was a great yoga studio just around the corner from where i live.

truyoga's in the yahoo! center, right at the corner of colorado ave and 26th st in santa monica. if you're driving to it, enter from the colorado side and drive into the underground parking, where you can valet park for FREE. find the elevator for the 2425 colorado building and take the elevator up to the street level (ground? plaza? i can't remember...). the yoga studio is located right across from the food court.

since it's located in an office complex, i can only assume that most of their students come from the surrounding offices, either on their way to work, during their lunch break, or before they head home. it also draws gymrats from the trifit club next door; although even if truyoga and trifit are related, members still have to pay to take a yoga class. but then again, they do get free parking :)

then on wednesday...

earth-friendly yoga, day five:
level 1/2 class with sasha papovich at home simply yoga
tristan and isolde at the disney concert hall

i had it all planned out. i was going to visit home simply yoga and take sasha's class after my physical therapy appointment. but before i could leave for that appointment, i received a phone call from my good friend BDB with an offer i couldn't refuse: how would i like to be his guest at the concert hall for LA phil's performance of tristan and isolde, parts I, II, AND III? of course i would, i quickly responded, especially since i tried to buy tickets earlier this month and they were already sold out!

so did i make the right decision, choosing to spend over FIVE hours listening to a tragic love story instead of following through with my original plan? you bet i did! besides, while i'll always be able to take another class at home simply yoga, i may not ever get a chance to listen to this multimedia version (complete with full frontal nudity -- in the video, not the live performers) of wagner's opera in its entirety again!

like i've said before, i have my priorities :)

on thursday, it was out to the silverlake area once again for...

earth-friendly yoga, day six:
all-levels yoga with keric morinaga at urth yoga

while i know i'm doing a good thing this week by supporting and helping to promote the "greener" yoga studios in town, i also know that i'm doing the environment itself a disservice by driving twenty miles or so just to take a yoga class :(

i considered taking the bus from the office to silverlake, but not only would it take an hour longer to get there than by car, but assuming i could even catch a bus back to the office after class ended, i would then have to drive 20 more minutes from there to get home. which means that i would be walking through my front door at almost midnight.

now you know why people just don't take public transportation around here.

anyway, it had been almost four months since my last visit to urth, and like still yoga less than two miles up the street, it primarily caters to locals, but since sunset blvd is a busy thoroughfare for commuters to/from downtown, there are probably some from outlying areas who've spotted it while they were inching along in traffic. after all, a big red building is bound to catch your attention sometime.

keric, our teacher for the evening, has an anusara background, so our class was heavily anusara-influenced. i had met him at the yoga mala event last february at yoga blend in burbank where he also teaches, so it was nice that i finally got to take a class with him (by the way, yoga blend is another "green" studio which i hope to be able to revisit sometime soon).

classes are differentiated by level rather than style; they're either "all levels" or "all levels plus". maybe it's an attempt to make yoga less intimidating (and more inviting) to yoga newbies. after all, if they have to think about whether they should be in an iyengar class, a vinyasa flow class, or an ashtanga class, they may just skip the idea of trying a class altogether. and honestly, i've talked with many who never took a yoga class because it was just too confusing. too bad; they don't know what they're missing.

(there's more "green" on my calendar, so stay tuned...)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

still green

my tour of "green" studios continues...

earth-friendly yoga, day three:
all-levels anusara with tara judelle at still yoga

as far as i'm concerned, still yoga was a pioneer in the "green" studio movement here in LA. when i had visited their eco-friendly location almost a year ago to the day, they had already been in business for at least a couple of years. so why is it then that when yoga magazines name the environmentally-friendly studios in town, still yoga is usually left off their list?

note: before writing this post, i looked back in my archives to read what i wrote about them after my first visit. and found nothing. i can't believe that i'm just as guilty of neglecting to spread the word about this wonderful studio!! it's about time i posted something, so here goes...

Still Yoga
2395 Glendale Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 906-8960

website: www.allstill.com

Still is the East Side's only Anusara Yoga studio.
Situated in the heart of Silverlake, Still Yoga is an integral part of the renaissance that has revitalized one of LA's hippest neighborhoods.

Founded over four years ago, Still was forged out of the authentic desire to become a hub for positive change and health in the community. Still was conceived and built as a sustainable business that maximizes the use of green products, including the use of natural rubber mats, bamboo flooring and the sale of environmentally friendly yoga props and ecocentric bodycare products. Offering over 30 mixed level classes a week, taught by inspiring and talented teachers, the atmosphere is relaxing and friendly, the yoga is challenging and the mood is playful.

We invite you to take a moment and be still.

finding still yoga in silverlake is fairly tricky. if you're headed northbound along glendale blvd from dodger stadium and are expecting to see a big "still yoga" sign from the street, you won't. in fact, if you reach the corner of glendale and silverlake (by the bank of america), you've just passed the place. turn around and immediately look for the rockaway record store on your right-hand side (now THAT sign you can't miss). pull into their parking lot and drive all the way to the end; the entrance to still yoga is on the BACK side of the building.

still yoga's interior is fairly austere, as most "green" studios tend to be. the lobby is finished with concrete flooring, plain green walls, and a ceiling that appears to be made of some recycled material. the front desk, the shelving, the benches, and the cubbies are constructed of lightly-stained wood. there is no elaborate artwork, no high-end boutique items. there are some yoga mats and a few pieces of clothing for sale, probably intended for the drop-ins who somehow left what they needed at home.

the classroom is compact and fits about twenty students comfortably. it has the same green walls and recycled ceiling tiles as the lobby, although it does feature bamboo flooring, which is definitely a more forgiving surface to practice on than concrete :)

there is a spa area towards the rear of the studio, complete with carpeted floors, dim lighting, and -- something i consider a definite plus -- a shower! just think: you can work up a sweat and still manage to clean up well enough afterwards to make your lunch/dinner date at gingergrass across the street or edendale grill further up the road where glendale turns into rowena.

as far as conservation efforts go, they use hand towels in the bathroom instead of paper towels and their class schedules are printed on recycled card stock the size of index cards. they sell eco mats as well as the manduka black mat, a yoga mat that's so indestructible that it probably won't end up in a landfill any time soon.

since still is such a well-kept secret, most people find out about the place mainly through word of mouth. and because the student community is small and comprised of mainly locals, many seem to know each other by name. which makes for very friendly (and sometimes entertaining) classes.

still yoga is home to anusara yoga, just like city yoga in west hollywood, mission street yoga in south pasadena, and the late bala yoga/yoga inside out in west hollywood. you'll find that many of the excellent anusara teachers in town, like tara who taught our class that evening, teach here as well as at the other studios. so if you live anywhere near silverlake, you really don't have to drive far to get your fill of heart-centered yoga.

4/20 update: erika glass, still's owner, has just given the studio website a nice facelift; it now provides much more information than it used to. besides the class schedule, you'll now find class pricing information as well as upcoming events.

(and still more "green" to come)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

going green

every now and then, i like to liven up my yoga practice by weaving a theme into my choice of teachers/classes/studios.

there was the time i practiced a different style of yoga everyday for a week -- kundalini, anusara, vinyasa flow, iyengar, bikram, forrest, restorative -- and could have easily extended it to a two-week stretch if i had thrown in ashtanga, jivamukti, hip-hop, and others. another time i cycled through so many teachers that i didn't repeat a class with any of them for an entire month. and, of course, there's my ongoing quest to visit every yoga studio in town (go ahead, call me obsessive-compulsive; i know i am)...

so here's my latest project: starting this weekend until earth day next weekend, i'll be practicing only at studios that are doing their share to respect and honor mother earth. and with many yoga studios "going green", that shouldn't be too hard of a goal.

on saturday morning, i kicked off my earth day observance by attending the earth day on the promenade festival in santa monica. almost every major environmental group was represented. name your favorite one; there's a good chance it was there. i visited the various booths and purchased all kinds of goodies along the way -- such as organic fruits and nuts from essential living foods, a zulu basket from bridge for africa, a t-shirt from treepeople. i could have stayed longer to learn more (and maybe even buy more), but it was time to head out to the first studio on my list...

earth-friendly yoga, day one:
iyengar 1/2 with marla apt at
yogaworks montana

earlier this month, i had picked up a "celebrate green" card after taking a yogaworks class. there were five energy-conservation tips listed on the card:
  • move your thermostat down two degrees
  • unplug unused electronics from the wall when you go home tonight
  • buy fresh foods instead of frozen the next time you are at the store
  • opt for a credit card e-statement
  • carpool with a friend (or two) to yoga

  • since i had successfully completed all five, i had earned myself a free class... and being able to cash it in for what could be considered a master iyengar class with marla turned it into a fabulous reward for conserving energy!

    by the way, yogaworks will be opening their new eco-friendly location out in the conejo valley sometime soon. according to the studio website:

    Our Westlake Village location is the latest addition to the YogaWorks family. It’s innovative, cutting edge, environmentally friendly and the best thing to happen to yoga since the yoga mat.

    you know it'll be on my list of places to visit once it opens :)

    then it was on to...

    earth-friendly yoga, day two:
    outdoor all-levels anusara with scott nelson

    what better place to practice earth-conscious yoga than on lush green grass under clear blue skies?

    when scott originally planned to move his sunday morning class from the closed-for-business bala studio to an open-to-all west hollywood park, it sounded like a great idea. after all, this was southern california; with global warming and near-drought conditions, we could pretty much count on the day being warm and sunny. and sure enough, it turned out to be a picture-perfect day.

    but what we didn't count on was our being interrupted in mid-om by the park maintenance supervisor, who informed us that we were in violation of the law because we were holding a class in the park without a permit. who knew that you needed permission to practice yoga in a public park?

    long story short -- because cooler heads prevailed, we eventually were allowed to continue with our much-abbreviated "group practice". needless to say, scott and his merry band of displaced yogis will now have to find another park for subsequent outdoor classes, preferably one that doesn't require a $16/day permit...

    (to be continued)

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    recycled space

    i can still remember when the forrest yoga institute moved into their new studio on olympic blvd in santa monica a little over a year ago. although i'd never seen the place before they moved in, i can only imagine that it took a lot of time and money to make the end result look as bright, airy, and welcoming as it did. it was a joy to practice in a room with polished hardwood floors, glass brick walls, and a skylight through which sunlight streamed in during the day.

    so when the institute closed its doors a little over a year after it first threw them open, i wondered what would become of that second floor space. would another yoga studio move in (like when yogahop moved into the earlier forrest location on montana ave)? i could only hope so; it would have been fantastic to have yet another source of yoga classes here on the westside.

    well, i just found out what became of that property, courtesy of a recent email message from yogaworks:

    Week Long Vinyasa Intensive with Annie Carpenter

    Were you interested in the 100-hour Vinyasa Flow but could not commit to the entire program? We have a few spaces left in the upcoming April Intensive!

    This is a great opportunity for those who only want to study with Annie or for those who want to sample a week before signing up for the remaining 2 weeks in July and September.

    DATE: April 20-29, 2007

    Friday opening night 7:30-9:30 pm
    Saturday & Sunday 12:30-4:00 pm
    Monday, Wednesday & Friday morning 7:00-9:00 am
    Saturday & Sunday 12:30-4:00 pm

    1430 Olympic Blvd Santa Monica, CA, 90405

    well, there you have it. you can now learn to teach the yogaworks way where you used to learn how to do it forrest-style.

    unfortunately, since i have no desire to get "teacher trained" anytime soon nor care to spend a good amount of money on "deepening my practice" (the tuition for the above-mentioned eight-day series is $525, much more than my yoga budget will allow for), it looks like i won't be seeing the inside of the old forrest space anytime soon. oh well. at least it's comforting to know that its beautiful hardwood floor will be well taken care of...

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    celebrate the earth!

    with earth day fast approaching on april 22nd, i did a quick scan of yoga studio websites and newsletters and was surprised to find only a handful of yoga-related earth day celebrations here in LA. so while i continue searching, here's what i've found so far:

    YogaWorks, Various locations
    From now until Sunday, April 22nd

    In celebration of Earth Day, YogaWorks is offering a FREE CLASS for any student who follows the following five tips for living green. Ask for a checklist to fill out at the Front Desk:
    Move Your Thermostat down Two Degrees.
    Unplug Unused Electronics from the Wall.
    Buy Fresh Foods Instead of Frozen.
    Opt for a Credit Card E-Statement.
    Carpool with a Friend (or Two) to Yoga.

    Home Simply Yoga, Santa Monica
    Friday, April 20th 7:00pm
    Earth Day Celebration

    Speakers - Entertainment - Kirtan - Food - Meditation - Raffles - Community - Fun

    YOGA: It's more than just exercise
    Practice non-violence towards the Earth
    For the benefit of the Natural Resources Defense Council

    Mission Street Yoga, South Pasadena
    Free Classes all Weekend - April 20th, 21st and 22nd (Regular Class Hours)
    Earth Day Festival

    Accept our invitation during this weekend to practice on us FREE -- try a class you've never tried before, take two classes back-to-back, or enjoy a sweet restorative. Use this opportunity to explore our schedule, experience our gifted community of teachers and enjoy the studio as a place of gathering and self-discovery. All weekend long we’ll be offering super deals on class packages and introducing you to wonderful vendors bringing organic delights.

    Friday, April 20th, 9:30am- 4pm, Blood Drive for Huntington Hospital -- Start the weekend off by participating in our very first on-site blood drive at MSY. Giving blood is one of the easiest ways to do something BIG for someone else. All donors will a free class from MSY and gift bags from Lather and Lululemon.
    Saturday, April 21st, 2:30-3:30pm, Family Yoga with Hagar Harpak -- Come play with your kids in this yoga jam session for families! ( All ages welcome.)
    Sunday, April 22nd, 2-5pm -- Participate in a Q & A session with skilled Shantaya Wellness & Healing practitioners. Consult with a Life Coach, a Hypnotherapist and an Ayurvedic Counselor.

    Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, Venice
    Saturday, April 21st 12:15-3:45pm
    Celebrate Earth Day! Yogic Activism with Hala Khouri
    Cost: $35

    Join us for a workshop and practice to inspire you to share your yoga and become a Spiritual Warrior for the good of all.
    What is service, and what does it mean to serve? So many of us want to contribute to the greater good, this is an honorable goal. Where do we start? And how to we serve in the most effective way? The first phase of becoming a true activist is to look at our personal wounds and motivations. When we come from a place of knowing ourselves deeply, we are able to give in a clear and effective way. The Buddha said, “Cease to do evil and then do good.” This is a call to look at our personal relationships (with ourselves, family, friends, our environment and Spirit) first, and let our activism be an extension of how we live.
    This workshop is an embodied exploration of how we can extend the principles of yoga beyond ourselves and into our families and communities. Through meditation, asana, partner work, visualization, journaling and discussion we will explore the questions about and begin a process of becoming Yogic Activists in the most authentic sense.

    Revive Studios, Chatsworth
    Sunday, April 22nd

    8:00-9:15am – Shakti Flow with Stephanie W
    9:30-11:00am – Flow 2/3 with Heather
    11:15-12:45pm – Flow 1/2 with Amy

    lululemon Beverly Hills
    Sunday, April 22nd

    9:30am: Acro Yoga with Huck Hirsch
    AcroYoga blends the spiritual wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai massage, and the dynamic power of Acrobatics. These three ancient lineages form the foundation of a unique new practice that cultivates trust, connection and playfulness. Our highest aim is to bring individuals into a state of union with themselves, with each other, and with the divine.
    Join us on Earth Day as we celebrate our communal connections and the ground we walk upon! We will begin at 9:30 am. Bring a yoga mat and a water bottle.

    6:45pm: Earth Day Celebration
    Join us for a screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" at 6:45 pm.
    Following the film we will have a Q&A session and a discussion on sustainability. Together as a community we will brainstorm ways to go green as we share organic, tasty treats.

    lululemon Calabasas
    Sunday, April 22nd

    8:00-9:00am: gtonnicks class with Mister G
    Start Earth Day with a bang!!
    Mister G is ready to wake you up and get you started for the day.
    gtonnicks is an innovative power-toning system scientifically and specifically designed to tone, stretch and stregthen the muscles - the abs, hips, buns and thighs from the core.
    So come on in and join us whilst we feel the burn.

    All day starting at 10am: EARTH DAY - Make a Difference!
    Yes, it is a day to remember that without the earth we can not survive. So we, at lululemon want to honor our earth by offering our comuunity complimentary screenings of "An Inconvenient Truth" ALL DAY in the Calabasas store! We will start the screening at 10am as our doors open and then every two hours till closing! BUT wait there is more - we are offering recycling of trash: paper and plastic. Bring in your items to the store and we will take them to the recycling plant. So go green this April make a difference!

    lululemon Santa Monica
    Sunday, April 22nd 6:30-8:30pm
    Screening of "An Inconvenient Truth"

    What can YOU do to change the world?
    Join us and experience the best documentary of 2006, earth-friendly cuisine, guest speakers, eco gift bags, a lululemon OQOQO* function show, and an all-around amazing time with conscious caring people like yourself. *OQOQO: pronounced "Oh-Koh-Koh"; lululemon's line of sustainable clothing
    To RSVP: Sign up at the cashier, email santamonica-community@lululemon.com, or call (310) 319-9900

    Conscious Living Fair, Pasadena Convention Center
    Saturday, April 21st 10am-7pm
    Sunday, April 22nd 10am-6pm
    Cost: $10 for the whole weekend

    Welcome to the first annual Conscious Living Fair. The fair will be a joyful gathering of persons committed to healthy living, personal growth, natural healing, spiritual awareness, and living in harmony with nature.
    Come visit 180 exhibitors offering the latest products and services. Take part in thrilling interactive activities. Listen to dynamic speakers and attend stimulating workshops. Discover hidden powers within yourself as you explore the frontiers of consciousness.
    Come join us for an exciting weekend at the fair!

    and thanks to yogaorphan brandon for passing along this earth day invite from acroyoga instructor huck hirsch:

    you are enthusiastically invited to any/all festivities below on sunday, april 22nd:

    part 1 - 9:30-10:55am
    i'm teaching a FREE AcroYoga class at lululemon in beverly hills.

    part 2 - 2:00-5:00pm
    ...the party continues freestyle at the acro green in santa monica!
    (along the strand, off appian way between pacific and arcadia)

    part 3 - 5:00pm-Sunset
    ...drift down to the beach in Venice and fly to the beat of the drums!

    bring partners, virgins, friends and strangers!
    bring a playful spirit and a love of things earthly.

    a yoga mat to the class at lululemon,
    a beach towel to the acro green/drum circle,
    and water to fuel your flying machine with H2O!

    many more local earth day events can be found at the earth day LA website: www.earthdayla.org

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    attention: iyengar devotees

    i received this via email today:


    As many of you know, the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles, which has been on Third Street for 22 years, has had a dramatic rent increase, one which the Institute cannot afford to pay. A move to a new location is a necessity, and we on the Fundraising Committee want to let the Southern California Iyengar Yoga community know what is being planned for this year in regards to raising funds and making this transition affordable.

    We have again formed a Fundraising Committee to help raise funds for a Capital Campaign. The members of this committee are: Marla Apt, Chris Beach, Lani Daniels, Jennifer Edwards, Adriana DeFranco, Sherry Gould, Allen Grodsky, Diane Gysbers, Judith Lutz, Garth McLean, and Janice Prager. Randee Devlin and Eric Small are co-chairs and Ken Devlin will consult. Manouso Manos will again be our honorary chairperson.

    The event will be at the home of Eric Small on Saturday, December 1, 2007. Eric has generously offered to make a sizeable donation to underwrite the expenses. He has already received other substantial pledges for help in our efforts.

    A Capital Campaign is very different from the annual fundraiser that we’ve had for the past couple of years. During those efforts, we were successful within our goals to raise funds for the upkeep and modest improvements of the Institute.

    The first year we honored our senior teacher, Manouso Manos, and there was a wonderful party and a huge out-pouring of gratitude for Manouso and all that he’s done for our community. We raised upwards of $50,000 from that first event.

    The second year we established the Manouso Manos Leadership Award, and Karin O’Bannon received that honor and award from Manouso. Again, the fundraiser was successful and we raised $61,000+.

    These were "annual" fundraisers, the first ever held to benefit IYILA. We plan to continue the Manouso Manos Leadership Award again in 2008. However, in this our transition year, we are moving into an imperative "Capital Campaign", one whose stated goal is to SAVE THE INSTITUTE.

    This capital campaign has a goal of $250,000. It is possible that we’ll need more than that. At this point we have firm pledges in excess of one-third of this goal. Obviously, we’ve started our efforts. And we’re going to need your help as well to help us achieve our goal.

    We at the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles are a community. Though of course we do serve the local Iyengar Yoga Community, we are here because of the express wishes of B.K.S. Iyengar, whose stated desire is that there exists an Institute bearing his name in Los Angeles. He has bestowed gifts on the Southern California Community by giving his name on this Institute, one of only a few outside India.

    Over the years we have received his gifts; now it is time for all of us to join together, in unison, to demonstrate on a much greater level our devotion to Guruji and to this Institute by SAVING THE INSTITUTE with our pledges and funds and work so that we can move forward.

    Please join us at the 2007 Fundraiser, a Capital Campaign to SAVE THE INSTITUTE, on December 1, 2007, at the home of Eric Small. More information and details will be forthcoming.

    Randee Devlin and Eric Small
    co-chairs of the Fundraising Committee

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    holy sweat!

    i blame my temporary insanity on my pair of gray pinstriped slacks.

    sometime last month, while rummaging through my closet for something to wear to work, i kept finding clothes that were either wrinkled, destined for the cleaners, or for the wrong season (yes, around here, a ten degree change in temperature constitutes a season change). so i started looking through the batch of clothes that i had just picked up from the cleaners.

    the first thing i picked out was a pair of lightweight gray slacks. it happened to match the black top i had already set aside, so i pulled it off the hanger and put it on. and quickly realized, to my chagrin, that the waistband was tighter than the last time i wore the pants... which was sometime before the holidays.


    so not only was my bathroom scale telling me that i had gained weight, but now my clothes were telling me that i had gained girth around my midsection!

    why? i know exactly why. the biggest culprit was my birthday marathon celebration; eating out for 50 days straight (or close to it) would make anyone gain weight :( then there were the holidays and even more food. add to that my easing up on my yoga practice because of my back issues. and i mustn't forget my new job where i find myself constantly munching on the goodies my officemates keep bringing in. and sitting around all day, either in meetings or in front of my computer.

    so i tried modifying my diet. smaller portions, less fat, less carbs -- you know, the usual routine. at the end of two weeks, i got on the scale. i was down ONE whopping pound. i tried on those pants again. they were still tight. this was not looking good.

    it was time to up my exercise. getting in more running sounded like a good idea, especially since i have another marathon coming up at the end of this month. so instead of taking a yoga class on the days i visited the physical therapist, i ran on the treadmill at the gym. and after a week, i was down one more humongous pound.

    this was taking a dreadfully long time, and i was getting desperate.

    it was time for yoga to come to my rescue.

    i decided that i needed to take classes that would help burn away the fat and detoxify my system. the harder and more demanding they were, the better. so i set for myself a new goal: to take the hottest and sweatiest yoga classes in town.

    ... and no, bikram (aka yoga in an oven) was not an option...

    on monday, i took matt reyes's hour-long level 2/3 class at yogahop in santa monica. i wanted to take his earlier (and longer) 2/3+ class, but i couldn't get out of my physical therapy appointment in time. the later class turned out to be just as effective; matt made sure we got 90 minutes' worth of yoga within those 60 minutes. it was pretty demanding, and i had to work hard to keep up. good stuff!

    on tuesday, i drove out to u studio in the miracle mile district to take andrea marcum's inaugural 7:15pm all-levels class (up until then, her latest class was at 6pm, which didn't fit in at all with my work/commute schedule). with our city view out the fifth floor windows slowly getting clouded over by the moisture emanating from our bodies, i powered through the class and dripped about a pound of sweat on my yogitoes towel by the time class was over.

    on wednesday, with the line of yoga junkies at bryan kest's power yoga east studio already wrapped around the corner when i got there, i still managed to land myself a prime spot in the middle of the room. even if it was "just" a level 1/2 class, it was strenuous enough to have me soaked in sweat before we even finished the opening sun salutation sequence. it had been a while since i had last taken a class with bryan, and i was happy to finally find myself, as he put it, hot and sweaty and touching myself all over...

    on thursday, i barely made it in time for vinnie marino's level 2/3 class at yogaworks main street. in fact, i swear that the only reason i was able to find a parking spot AND a spot in the classroom was because it was spring break/holy week/passover. in other words, the usual marino devotees were out spending the evening somewhere else. having those extra two inches of floor space around my yoga mat was like getting a special holy day blessing! and vinnie and his class didn't disappoint; it was just as vigorous as ever. yeah!

    finally today, friday, i opted to go all-out and took brock cahill's level 2/3 class at yogaworks westwood. the last time i had taken his class, i was totally intimidated by all the handstands and arm balances he had us do... so intimidated that i never showed up again... until tonight. and i have to say that despite giving my all and pushing as hard as i could, i was still leagues behind many others in the class. they were doing handstands with their vinyasas. and side arm balances to get out of twists. and an endless string of navasana crunches. i passed on all of those, but at least i managed to do one assisted handstand :)

    so have five days of hot yoga made a dent in my quest to fit back into those gray slacks? i'll find out tomorrow when i weigh myself once again... after i run those 14 miles i have planned for tomorrow morning, of course. after all, every little bit helps!

    Thursday, April 05, 2007

    teaching from the heart

    last sunday, i attended two (yes, i can be pretty compulsive) anusara yoga classes. and by all accounts, they were fairly momentuous occasions for the teachers as well as for the students in both classes.

    my first class that day was ross rayburn's class at bala yoga. it was to be the last class he would ever teach at that studio; in fact, it would be the very last class ever to be taught there. bala was shutting its doors, and it offered just that one class on their last day of business, which just happened to fall on april 1st -- april fools' day.

    ross's class was packed; so packed that one bala regular remarked that she had never seen that many students fill the large asana room -- ever. there were barely six inches of floor space between yoga mats, which meant that we quickly got very friendly with those beside us. there were many familiar faces in the crowd, including other bala teachers as well as teachers from surrounding studios. once ross signalled that class was about to start, all conversation ceased as everyone waited to hear what he had to say.

    "april fools!" ross exclaimed. we laughed nervously, hoping that there was a chance that bala's closing was nothing but a nasty joke. but how to explain the missing fixtures and boutique items in the lobby? and the clearance table with everything marked down 50% or more for a quick sale? and a very emotional ginny biddle, co-owner of bala, sitting quietly on her yoga mat at the back of the class?

    in true anusara fashion, ross started by talking about the theme for the class, which obviously had something to do with bala's closing. so when it came time to chant the om's, followed by the anusara invocation, there was no need to ask us to raise our voices; we all sang from the heart.

    ross's class was clearly a level 2-3 class. he had us doing all kinds of arm balances and advanced bends and twists. and yes, even the much-expected handstands. and it was the variety of poses in his class that reminded me about why i enjoy taking anusara classes; it's all about challenging myself and feeling empowered by what i've accomplished... and maybe even hopeful about those poses that i still have to work on.

    there were the usual demonstrations by other students as well as the partner work. we did pose after pose after pose. the class seemed to go on forever. and i was loving it.

    but as all good things eventually come to an end, we finally found ourselves resting in savasana. and when we all came back to a sitting position after that period of restoration, instead of keeping our eyes closed, ross asked us to open our eyes. and seated in front of the class beside him was marc holzman, another bala (and yoga inside out) teacher who was still recovering from very recent heart surgery. the class happily applauded, expressing relief that marc seemed to have weathered his ordeal quite well.

    by now, many in the room were teary-eyed, including ross himself. he thanked everyone in the room -- ginny, the teachers, the students -- before bidding all namaste. we all hugged one another as we made our way slowly out of the room and out of the studio for the last time.

    after a quick trip home for a shower and a fresh change of clothes, i headed for my second yoga class for the day: elsie escobar's all-levels class at swerve studio. her class was going to be videotaped so she could submit it as part of her anusara certification requirements. so while i was initially hesitant about being recorded and looking 15 pounds heavier than usual (5 pounds of my post-holiday weight gain plus the dreaded 10 pounds the camera seems to always add on), i decided to be there for her just because it sounded like something fun to do. not only that, but i still felt guilty about oversleeping and missing her birthday yoga class at lululemon BH last february :(

    unlike the somber class that i had taken earlier in the morning, elsie's class was very upbeat. this time, she tied in april fools' day with the childhood pleasures of playing games and having fun. with that in mind, the entire class revolved around exploring the asanas, playing with them, and still managing to have a good time.

    while i know that elsie had probably rehearsed over and over again what she was going to say as well as what she was going to have us do, it all came across so naturally. if she were any bit nervous that afternoon, she had us fooled; she appeared very relaxed and in control. for the ninety minutes that we spent with her in her "sandbox", she teased us, she joked with us, she dared us to do things that pushed us to our edge. and we all laughed along with her as we played a yoga version of follow-the-leader.

    elsie was very hands-on during the class; she was constantly walking around the room, adjusting students as needed and pointing out better ways to do the poses. she tweaked me a few times during the course of the class (and no, i didn't purposely do things incorrectly just so i could show up on camera); sometimes it elicited an aaaggh, sometimes an aaaahhh... it clearly showed that she was paying close attention and knew her stuff.

    all in all, i give elsie an "A" for her anusara instruction skills. i just hope her graders agree with my assessment :)

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    yoga for your face

    who needs a plastic surgeon when you can get a facelift just by doing yoga?

    at least that's what anneliese hagen claims revita-yoga, a combination of yoga and facial exercises, can do for you.

    here are excerpts from an article that appeared in the new york times last week:

    Got Crow’s-Feet? Call the Downward Dog
    Published: March 29, 2007

    FOR a Friday evening, the small, intimate workout room at the New York Health & Racquet Club on East 57th Street was comfortably full. A dozen people sat, their chins pointed toward the ceiling, their lips puckered as if preparing for a kiss.

    Later, they took their index and middle fingers and tapped their mouths five times, with the hope of increasing lip fullness and color. If done each day, they were told, it would be just as if they had been injected with collagen.

    "The resistance is what firms the muscles," Annelise Hagen, the teacher, said of Revita-Yoga, which combines yoga and facial exercises and is billed as a way to combat frown lines, wrinkles and sagging. "Each pose, stretch or exercise is designed to relax the muscles and release the patterns people unconsciously etch into their skin."

    Want to sculpture and narrow your nose? Alternate breathing out of each nostril, Revita-Yoga teaches. Have crow’s-feet? Open the eyes wide to smooth the lines. As pale as the winter sky? A dose of downward dog can add color to the complexion while oxygenating the skin.

    The idea of merging exercise and beauty is not new. Beauty magazines have long carried how-to articles on firming up the face. But the concept seems to have become imbued with new energy in the last year.

    Frownies and jowlies are under attack at the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, where guests are led through a series of 23 facial movements meant to release facial tension, lift droopy mouth corners and iron forehead wrinkles.

    The Kapiolani Health Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, has six two-hour sessions designed to create "balanced facial symmetry" while revitalizing and rejuvenating skin.

    Gary Sikorski, who is certified in yoga facial toning, gives his Happy Face workshop in the Atlanta area. In a phone interview, Mr. Sikorski sounded, well, quite happy. He had just seen a graduate of his course, and, he said, "she had been practicing a lot on her own, and she looked amazing! The corners of her mouth were turned up, she looked younger and was absolutely glowing."

    "Plastic surgery can leave people looking like waxed fruit and doesn’t address long-term sagging," said Marie-Véronique Nadeau, 59, whose workshops at Elephant Pharmacy, an alternative pharmacy chain in the Bay Area of Northern California, draw a standing-room-only crowd. "For some reason we exercise every part of our body but ignore everything from the collarbone up."

    But is there any merit to these exercises, and will there ever be a substitute for freezing a muscle?

    "Nothing is going to have a lasting benefit like Botox or filler or collagen injections," said Dr. Dennis Gross, a Midtown Manhattan dermatologist, the author of "Your Future Face" and the creator of a skin-care line. But there are short-term improvements, he said.

    "Facial stretches and yoga temporarily reduce the neurological impulses associated with stress and the grimaces that lead to the lines in your forehead," he said. "The plumping of your lips is more a massage and only adds color for a few minutes."

    "If you already have a wrinkle or a frown line, relaxation isn’t going to erase that," said Dr. Richard Elias, an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon on the Upper East Side.

    "Jowls, sagging under the neck, creases at the mouth, are all signs of aging that most probably will not be helped by a yoga class," he said. "If you make the muscles in your face bigger it will not make sagging skin tougher or tighter, nor will it help remove fatty deposits. Only a face-lift can do that. When you do a face-lift, you’re removing fat and loose skin, and pulling some skin back."

    Some yoga gurus are skeptical, too.

    "We’ve not discovered the fountain of youth, though people are always trying to obtain it," said Rodney Yee of East Hampton, N.Y., a well-known yoga instructor, who was unaware these programs existed. "Yoga will add radiance to your face and relax you, which will make you look younger, but to just focus on the face is too specific and sounds more like a marketing ploy."

    Marketing ploy or not, devotees don’t seem to care. This is, after all, a face-conscious nation.

    As the Friday class ended and members were putting away their mats, smiles were on their faces, a bounce was in their step and their cheeks were flushed with color.

    "When we smile in a relaxed, natural way without crinkling our eyes, we tone and eliminate wrinkles,” Ms. Hagen said as she waved goodbye to several students. “I don’t teach a smiling exercise since it happens naturally when the session ends."

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    lulu in lala land

    it seems like lululemon stores are suddenly sprouting up all over LA.

    for the longest time, the only store out here was in santa monica by the third street promenade. then last october, a second store opened up in beverly hills. later this month, a third store will open up in calabasas, making the upscale merchandise more accessible to the fitness enthusiasts in the san fernando valley. and two more stores are due to open soon -- one on the trendy stretch of colorado boulevard in pasadena, and another one somewhere in manhattan beach.

    the way i look at it, even if i can't justify paying the normal retail price of most of the items in the stores (although i have bought some marked-down stuff -- which does happen every now and then), i can always take advantage of the free yoga classes they offer from time to time. and yes, i know, it's their way of luring me back into their stores so that i might buy more goodies when i'm in a weakened state... like after savasana...

    anyway, here are some upcoming lulu community events that you may want to add to your calendar:

    lululemon calabasas - 4719 commons way, calabasas

    Opening Week Community Events!
    Friday, April 6, 2007
    - 10:00 am: Kids/Parents Yoga
    **The first 50 guests who purchase a tank, pant or jacket to jumpstart their balanced lifestyle will receive a complimentary healthy goodie bag!!
    Saturday, April 7 - Experience relaxing seated Massages and Beautiful Henna Designs
    Sunday, April 8 - Come be a part of our FIT ROOM WALL OF FAME! Special Tea samples and discussions
    Monday, April 9 - Body Hoop Dance Demos by the talented Diana Lopez
    Tuesday, April 10 - Come and relax with a Mini Anti-Stress facials
    Wednesday, April 11 - Special viewings of the popular video "The Secret" every 2 hours starting at 10:00 AM, "pop" by for some popcorn!

    lululemon Calabasas Grand Opening Event
    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Join us at the Grand Opening celebration on the eve of April 12th. Come see what we have in store for you! Be there!
    10:00 am - 11:30 am Yoga and Kirtan Music Yoga Free for All
    12:00 pm - 5:30 pm Dance demo's and DJ
    5:30 pm - 10:00 pm Appetizers, lululemon cocktails, and more.

    lululemon beverly hills - 334 north beverly drive, beverly hills

    Tenth Gate Yoga
    Sunday, April 8, 2007

    In Tenth Gate Yoga, instructor Howard Davis will lead an individual approach to yoga. He will draw upon various traditions of yoga including: Hatha, Ashtanga, and Kundalini yoga, while emphasizing correct posture and alignment and control of the breath.
    Check out www.tenthgateyoga.com for more info.
    Class begins at 9:30 am. Please bring a yoga mat and fresh water.

    Acro Yoga with Huck Hirsch
    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    AcroYoga blends the spiritual wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai massage, and the dynamic power of Acrobatics. These three ancient lineages form the foundation of a unique new practice that cultivates trust, connection and playfulness. Our highest aim is to bring individuals into a state of union with themselves, with each other, and with the divine.
    Join us on Earth Day as we celebrate our communal connections and the ground we walk upon! We will begin at 9:30 am. Bring a yoga mat and a water bottle.

    Go Green
    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Join us for a screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" at 6:45 pm.
    Following the film we will have a brief discussion on sustainability. Together as a community we will brainstorm ways to go green as we share organic, tasty treats.

    lululemon santa monica - 331 santa monica boulevard, santa monica

    Warrior Yoga!
    Monday evenings at 7:00pm-8:30pm

    Santa Monica will now be the home to the sought-after practice of Warrior Yoga!
    Sensei Corbell will be instructing the class on a donation basis. Come early to get a spot!! First come first serve basis for complimentary mats.

    NIA - Yoga, Dance, Martial Arts with Susanne Conrad
    Sunday mornings at 9:30am

    Nia is a Body-Mind-Spirit Fitness Program based on three arts: Martial Arts, Dance Arts and Healing Arts. It combines nine unique movement forms that when integrated deliver a safe, effective cardiovascular workout with total body conditioning and personal growth benefits. It is nationally recognized within the fitness and wellness communities. Nia's barefoot, grounded approach maximizes body efficiency and teaches you to consciously move "The Bodies Way". The result is a fusion of movement styles that are freer than any other group-based exercise.

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    spring sing

    there don't seem to be many kirtans/concerts/musical events in april; most of them are ongoing monthly yoga studio kirtans. i suppose it's possible that the passover and easter holidays have something to do with it. regardless, there are some interesting offerings in this month's collection:

    Community Choir Concert led by Maggie Wheeler and Emile Hassan
    Golden Bridge Yoga, Hollywood
    Sunday, April 1st 2:00-3:00 PM
    Cost: $10 per adult; children 12 and under are free

    Join us for the first ever Golden Bridge Community Choir concert! Let your hearts and spirits be lifted by the beauty of this incredible community choir!
    Proceeds will be donated to the Kuwangisana Project providing home based care, education, counseling and support for people living with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique.

    An Afternoon of Music And Poetry
    Harmony Yoga Redondo Beach
    Sunday, April 1st 2:00-4:00pm
    COST: Donation at the door

    Come listen to the music of Andy Hill, Renee Safier and the yoga inspired poetry of Brian Michael Tracy.
    For more information contact Brian Tracy at poet@midnightteapoetry.com or go to his web site at www.midnightteapoetry.com for complete details.

    Community Chanting with Rick and Suwon
    The Awareness Center, Pasadena
    Friday, April 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th (Every Friday) at 7:30pm
    Cost: FREE

    Kirtan in the Canyon with Andrew and Michele and Friends
    Yoga Desa, Topanga
    Saturday, April 7th (First Saturday of each month) 7:30pm

    Call and response chanting with live devotional music. A truly wonderful experience.

    Kirtan Chanting with Govindas and Radha
    Power Yoga West, Santa Monica
    Saturday, April 7th (The first Saturday of every month) 8:00-10:00pm
    Cost: Donation

    Govindas & Radha will hold a candlelit evening of Kirtan Chanting, as always on donation basis.
    Come sing from the deepest corner of your heart!
    Bring meditation cushions or blanket (no yoga mats). Wear comfy clothes.

    Yoga Bash with David Romanelli and Matthew Moon
    Exhale Santa Monica
    Thursday, April 12th 7:30-11:00pm
    Cost: $15 suggested donation to benefit exhalesoul

    Exhale’s Santa Monica location is one of the most beautiful yoga studios in the world. The yoga room offers a stunning view of the ocean and a gong whose vibration will soothe your soul...
    But on April 12th...the gong will rock your world!
    Join yoga teacher David Romanelli, rock star Matthew Moon and exhale’s massage therapists and estheticians for an evening of flowing yoga, great live music, FREE food and drinks from I Cugini and Ma’Kai Lounge, and late night rubdowns. Sample a variety of spa therapies from acupuncture to massage and stop by the Astara table for complimentary mini facials and giveaways.
    For more info, meditate on this mantra: AMAZING SPRING NIGHT OF YOGA, MUSIC AND GOOD TIMES FOR FREE!

    ExhaleSoul Benefit: Om Chant with Max Strom
    Exhale Venice
    Friday, April 13th 7:45-9:00pm
    Cost: $15 minimum donation

    Join Max Strom for an evening of his renowned Om chants. Max has been leading large gatherings to chant Om for peace since 1996. The pronunciation of the word "OM" (pronounced A-U-M) symbolizes the totality of all. This idea of totality exists in the English word "Omnipresent" that includes OM as its prefix. We also have words like Omnipotent, and Omniscient, all of which have the concept of totality in their meanings. The Christian term "Amen" is said to have some link with "Om" as also the Islamic term "Amin". Both are phonetically similar. Chanting Om for an hour helps to create a tone of peace within our own being which we then carry out into the world to teach peace by example.
    All donations will go towards YouthAIDS.

    Kirtan with Daniel Stewart
    Rising Lotus Yoga, Sherman Oaks
    Friday, April 13th (the second Friday of every month) 8:15pm
    Cost: Donation

    Come join us for an evening of ecstatic chanting. No singing experience needed, only a willingness to open your heart (and your mouth) to the blissflul flow. Kirtan (from the sanskrit word for singing) is easily learned and instantly memorable. The form is simple: a lead group calls out the melodies. The crowd responds. Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, is also the mother tongue of many modern languages. But the true meaning of its sounds are in the effect they create. As everyone's breathing becomes synchronous, a feeling of unity and timelessness arises. When we sing without restraint our heartfelt expression brings peace and joy and meditation follow effortlessly.

    Drum Circle
    Yoga Blend, Burbank
    Friday, April 13th 8:30-10:30pm
    Cost: Donation only!

    Come join us for this incredible tribal celebration!
    If you have a drum, bring it...if not, plenty will be on hand.
    Come to listen, play, dance or do yoga…
    A wonderful release for the mind, body and spirit!

    Open Your Heart with Backbends with Dearbhla Kelly and Live Music with Allie Stringer
    Goda Yoga, Culver City
    Saturday April 14th 2:00-4:15pm

    Open-heartedness is the key to joy. In this challenging class you will use backbends to release blocked energy and make space in the heart. Through a combination of breath, chanting, and asana you will unlock the heart and make way for the expansive joy and bliss of your true nature.

    Kirtan (call and response chanting) with Travis Eliot
    Santa Monica Yoga
    Saturday, April 14th (the second Saturday of every month) 8:00-9:30pm
    Cost: Donation

    Zen Dancing Ritual World Concerts with Micheline Berry, Craig Kohland & Shaman's Dream
    Exhale Venice
    Saturday, April 14th 8:30-10:00pm
    Cost: $15; $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.

    Urban Yogini: Awakening the Ecstatic Feminine through Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Somatic Dance + Live Music with Micheline Berry
    Exhale Venice
    Sunday, April 15th 12:30 -3:00pm
    Cost: $35

    Join Micheline and live musicians for a Spring ritual yoga practice designed to awaken, activate and deepen the flow of Shakti Prana - the sensual and vibrant creative principle that exists as latent potential within us all. This special yoga journey integrates a deep, liquid practice of yoga asana, somatic afro-brazilian dance movement and meditation. You will come away from this practice feeling deeply empowered, juicy, rejuvenated and connected to the sacred dance of your own yoga practice. Open to women of all yoga levels. Please bring a Yoga mat and come prepared to move, sweat, laugh and let go!

    Classical Guitar Concert with Tom Farrell
    Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Marina del Rey
    Sunday, April 15th, 6:30pm
    Cost: This event is free, donations are always welcome

    Join us for a very special Satsang.
    We will begin with a brief meditation, followed by Classical music, including works by Bach, performed by Tom Farrell. The performance will be followed by a light meal and the company of yogis!
    A Chicago native, Tom Farrell received his M.M. from Northwestern University. During his studies, he had the opportunity to perform for many world class artists such as Sergio Assad, Oscar Ghiglia, Nigel North and William Kannengeiser. In January of 2000, he was awarded first place in the Society of American Musicians Classical Guitar Competition. After graduation he participated in the world famous master classes taught by Oscar Ghiglia at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Since then he has performed throughout the U.S. and has been commissioned to compose music for theater and dance, including Thodos Dance Chicago and the Remy Bumppo Theater Company. A recent project includes the score of a short film by Italian director, Alessandro de Cristofaro.

    Soul Flow: Creative Dance with with Basia/ Haridass
    The Awareness Center, Pasadena
    Friday, April 20th 7:30-9:30pm
    Cost: $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!

    Family Yoga And Groove Night
    Your Neighborhood Studio
    Saturday April 21st 7:00-9:30pm
    Cost: By Donation

    We start the night with a basic 1 hour yoga class to get your warmed up, then we head into the get your groove on portion! The dance steps are easy to follow and focus on you finding your groove!
    Bring the whole family or come alone. All ages welcome!

    Chanting with Steve Ross
    Maha Yoga, Brentwood
    Saturday, April 21st 8:00pm
    Cost: Donation (for our musicians)

    Fill your heart with divine bliss as Steve leads us through beautiful chants. Guaranteed to have you floating out of the studio. Wear comfortable clothing, bring a cushion to sit on and enjoy.

    Kirtan Concert with Larisa Stowe and Shakti Tribe!
    The Awareness Center, Pasadena
    Saturday, April 21st 8:00-10:00pm
    Cost: $15/Advance, $20/Door

    Awareness Center Grand Re-Opening Celebration!
    Chant, dance, and groove the night away with Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe. They create an unprecedented blend of ancient Eastern mantras with the contemporary sounds of the West. Larisa's voice is absolutely mesmerizing, as these empowering messages of peace and love transport your heart and soul on an inspirational journey ... including sacred chants in Sanskrit, Aramaic and English. www.larisastow.com
    Get your tickets soon... because this concert will be sold out.

    Experience the Bliss from the Singing Crystal Bowls
    Annie's Yoga, Sherman Oaks
    Sunday, April 22nd 1:30pm
    Cost: $12 if paid 24 hours in advance or $15 at the Door

    Soak up the frequencies of the singing crystal bowls while enjoying a guided chakra cleansing and balancing for the ultimate healing effect.**

    ** Side effects may include: a feeling of blissfulness, balance within your energy field, uplifted spirits, relaxation, personal well-being, renewed sensed of self, peacefulness, rejuvenation and possibly even a remembrance of your soul's purpose. Yes, all this in one hour!
    This meditation is best enjoyed lying down in a comfortable Shavasana position.
    Facilitated by Nicole Vanderhof, Certified Hypnotherapist

    Youssoupha Sidebe in Concert
    City Yoga, West Hollywood
    Saturday, April 28th 8:00pm
    Cost: $15 in advance / $20 at the door

    Just for starters, Youssoupha Sidibe wrote and performed on the 2007 Grammy nominated album with Matisyahu. Youssoupha has performed and/or collaborated with India Arie, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Charles Neville, Futureman, Michael Franti, and Matisyahu. His latest collaboration, "Shalom/Salaam" was the artist Matisyahu on Sony BMG. The album entitled "YOUTH", released in March 2006 went gold and contains the collaborative single as well as another track "Ancient Lullaby" featuring Youssoupha on Kora.
    Youssoupha's performances and healing workshops are inspiring and empowering for people of all ages. The sound of the Kora seamlessly blends with the powerful human emotion and faith that Youssoupha embodies. His Sacred Sound brings a new dimension to the celebration of humankind.
    Youssoupha was born in Senegal, West Africa and studied music at the National Musical Conservatory of Senegal. He plays the Kora (African harp), which is a traditional instrument played by the Griots or Jalis. Through the ages, Griots have held the position of keeping the history and genealogies of various clans and families. Historically, Kora songs were composed and performed honoring principle figures in African history. This profession is very common in various West African societies.
    For more information please go to http://www.youssouphasidibe.com

    Satsang with Guru Mata Keshavadas (Rama Mata)
    Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Marina del Rey
    Sunday April 29th at 6:30pm.
    Cost: Suggested Donation of $15, however no-one will be turned away. All are Welcome!

    We are blessed and honoured to have Guru Mata Keshavadas (Rama Mata) with us for Satsang on A gifted singer and story teller, Rama Mata will share with us an evening of music around the stories and music of Krishna.
    Rama Mata - Guru, continues the lineage of Sant Keshavadas of Kari Katha (teaching through music and the telling of stories). Considered by many to be a saint in her own right, now called "Guru Mata" and vows to continue Guruji's divine work.