Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

a patch of green in the concrete jungle

the yahoo! center is located within a 15-acre city block in santa monica. like many other commercial complexes in the area, it's comprised of mid-rise buildings that house the offices of various design, entertainment, and technology firms.

as is true with most clusters of office buildings, the concrete walkways that connect the buildings and the outdoor eating areas in the yahoo! center are dotted with shrubs, flowering plants, and grass in order to make the area more inviting and to look less, um, concrete. during the lunch hour, employees sit on benches or at the tables that are scattered about on the concrete pads. no one ever feels compelled to lay a blanket on the lawn, kick off their shoes, and take a break from workday responsibilities. usually it's because there's barely enough time for them to pick up a quick bite from the food court and rush back to their desks to meet a project deadline.

and when they're ready to unwind at the end of the day, many of these same office workers head for the treadmills and weight machines at the trifit health club or for happy hour appetizers at the daily grill, both located within the complex, although most just head straight home. so the park-like areas remain untouched and underappreciated.

what many of these worker bees aren't aware of is the transformation that this outdoor area goes through on the weekend, when truyoga, a yoga studio located within the yahoo! center, turns the small grassy section outside their studio into a place where people come from all over to share in ancient rituals and sacred music.

you could say that the space was christened when swami shankardev saraswati and jayne stevenson, along with a small group of yoga tantra students, held a havan, or fire ceremony, on the grass during the recent memorial day weekend. because the ritual was open to the public, i was fortunate enough to have been able to join the group as we burned spiritual offerings in the kund, or fire pit, (including ghee, fruit, nuts, twigs, and dried cow dung!) and chanted sanskrit mantras to the gods to remove obstacles and stimulate our intellectual and creative powers.

and the gods must have looked upon us kindly, for as peter sterios, director of truyoga, explained to us before the havan, it was only due to a last-minute ok from building management that we were able to proceed as planned with the ceremony.

with that initial hurdle out of the way, peter has found another way to gather the yoga community together in that same outdoor space: the truyoga summer concert series. also known as afternoon on the lawn - music for a cause, it is jointly sponsored by truyoga, lululemon santa monica, and yogi times and will feature well-known musicians such as tina malia, girish, and dave stringer, to name a few.

the concert series schedule has been announced; each 4pm sunday afternoon performance will be preceded by a free yoga class held outdoors, with the proceeds from each concert being donated to charity.

the first concert of the series was held last june 17th, when shimshai, masood ali khan, and danny mcgaw entertained the crowd seated on blankets scattered about on the lawn. the concert's beneficiary was the harmony project, an organization that provides musical instruction to underprivileged children in LA. the turnout was a bit smaller than what was hoped for, but the enthusiasm exhibited by those gathered more than made up for the group's small size. again, i was fortunate enough to have been part of this inaugural performance; as a volunteer, i was able to enjoy the show while helping the organizers keep everything moving smoothly.

those scheduled to perform through the end of summer are:

july 1st - tina malia with special guest lakshmi devi, masood ali khan, and joey lugassy
july 29th - tom freund, david ralicke, and anita coats
august 12th - girish, daphne tse, and bhakti ma
august 26th - dave stringer & miles shrewsbery, wah!, donna de lory, and scott huckaby

more details:
~ tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door -- tickets available at truyoga and lululemon santa monica
~ pre-show yoga class is from 2:30-3:30pm and is free with advance ticket purchase. space is limited, so RSVP to hold your spot
~ bring a blanket or mat if you'd like to sit on the lawn; there are a limited number of chairs and benches on the periphery
~ bring your own refreshments; the food court is closed on weekends

i hope to see you one of these sundays out on the lawn!