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Monday, May 14, 2007

back for more

i knew i'd eventually find a good reason to return to freespirit yoga in long beach. as it turned out, not only did i return less than a week after my first visit, but i had TWO good reasons to do so. one was to take advantage of the $20 new student 2-week intro pass i had purchased last week (which meant that one class would cost me $20, two @ $10, three @ $6.66, and so on). the other reason was to attend the kirtan event that was held there last friday. the group: larisa stow and the shakti tribe.

Larisa Stow and Shakti Tribe create a dynamic blend of East meets West music that mixes kirtan (devotional call-and-response), mantra and uplifting songs. Their inspiring music fuses the spiritual and sacred with a pop rock groove and sensuality like no other…the result is a magic carpet ride your soul needs to experience. Committed to expressing the joy in the Oneness that we all share, Shakti Tribe celebrates unity, culture and diversity through their music’s messages of peace, hope and love.

i had first heard about larisa and her group when i posted the info about the awareness center's grand opening celebration last month. always game for a new chant experience, i had tried to get to pasadena that evening, but things just didn't work out. there's always the next time, i told myself.

well, last friday evening turned out to be that next time.

trying to get the most bang for my gas mileage buck, it made sense for me to try to do as many things as i could while i was there. hence, the 5:45pm all-levels class with dharma shakti, followed by the kirtan at 8pm.

if i were to categorize dharma's class style, i would say that it was a highly meditative class. and i don't mean that we spent most of the time seated cross-legged on the floor, focusing on our breathing (although we did spend some time getting centered before we started moving). we spent most of the time moving through the poses slowly and mindfully. but it wasn't a beginner class composed of simple poses. neither was it a power yoga class that resulted in massive sweat loss. we didn't pause for student demonstrations and partner work like in anusara classes. nor did we spend the entire time trying to get our alignment right like in iyengar classes. whatever it was, it was the perfect class for the last day of the workweek -- a little bit of stress relief, a little bit of stretching and unwinding, and a little bit of muscle toning and strengthening to prepare our bodies for beach weather :)

as for the main event of the evening, the kirtan with larisa stow, it more than met any expectations i had. the chants, many of which were her own compositions, spotlighted her beautiful voice. while i can't say that she brought the participants to a level of ecstatic chanting to rival the kirtans of steve ross nor dave stringer, she nevertheless got the audience involved enough to get up and dance along to the music. many of the performed pieces are from her latest CD, reaching in, which i did end up buying after the chanting was over. and getting larisa to autograph the liner notes made it a special addition to my music collection at home.

all in all, having the opportunity to listen to a talented singer like larisa and take a class with a mindful teacher like dharma made me glad i decided to drop by freespirit that one more time...