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Monday, June 04, 2007

rockin' and rollin' in san diego

i'm back from my marathon weekend trip to america's finest city!

i scanned my IOU list, trying to figure out what item to check off first, and realized that since i'm clearly suffering from a case of marathon-itis (where everything hurts, including my brain when i try to remember anything that happened in the past), it's probably best if i write about the things that i DO remember, i.e., the events of the past few days, before i forget those, too :(

the main reason for my trip to san diego was to meet up with old friends and run the rock 'n' roll marathon. we first got together 10 years ago; we were all members of a yahoo! groups marathon forum who had decided to meet at the inaugural event back in 1998. this year, expecting it to be a grand reunion of sorts, i had signed up to run the anniversary edition. unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons -- marriages, divorces, kids, grad school, injuries, illnesses -- there were only five of us from the original group who could make it to this year's race. of the five, three were "hall of famers"; in other words, they had run all nine rnr's and were signed up to run the tenth. as legacy runners, they were showered with all sorts of perks, including a special hall of fame pullover, a reception the night before the marathon, lunch in the post-marathon VIP tent, and a guest pass to each of those events. luckily, the two of us non-legacy runners were able to join in the fun, courtesy of those guest passes. and what a grand time we had meeting luminaries in the running world as well as other legacy runners!

and in response to the usual questions i get from people who hear that i've run a marathon:

- this marathon was 26.2 miles long (i guess i can't assume that everyone should know that ALL certified marathons, except for ultras, are the same length, just like all 5Ks are 5000 meters long)
- i didn't win, and yes, i'm OK with that (most of us don't run marathons intending to win them). and no, i didn't come in dead last (the last official finisher came in three hours after i crossed the finish line)
- it wasn't my best finishing time, but it wasn't my worst, either (the first marathon i walked four months after knee surgery earned that distinction)
- and yes, i am nuts... i've completed around 45 marathons so far and plan to do many more because, believe it or not, i actually have fun running them!

now on to the original intention of this post: to write about my yoga experience in san diego :)

after scanning yoga studio websites, i realized that it didn't make much sense for me to take classes that were similar to classes i can easily take back home. so i decided to look for classes that were unique, and if possible, maybe even those that could be considered "only in san diego". i eventually settled on two studios with classes i'd love to be able to take again the next time i'm in town...

day one: friday afternoon

5632 La Jolla Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92037
(858) 459- YOGA
website: www.yogafuzion.com

yogafuzion is grounded primarily in the three traditional yoga schools, Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vini.
In addition to the traditional forms other movement modalities are included in the yogafuzion curriculum including pilates and functional exercise.

yogafuzion has the largest retail store in San Diego including educational books, videos, yoga products and props, new age music, as well as yoga/casual clothing.

i have to admit that i had initially bookmarked yogafuzion because it claimed to be the largest yoga retail store in san diego. and as i started to compare it to the other yoga studios in the san diego area, it kept floating to the top for other reasons: it was supposedly rated as one of the best yoga studios in la jolla, it has an eye-catching website, it's close to downtown san diego, it offers a wide selection of yoga classes, it features a yoga wall, and there was a yoga wall class that was scheduled to start right around the time i'd reach san diego by car.

yogafuzion is located on a trendy strip of boutiques and restaurants in the upscale la jolla area. i had to crawl through PB (aka pacific beach) traffic to get there from the I-5 freeway off-ramp, but the friendly staff and pleasant surroundings made it worth the trouble. the lobby/boutique and classroom were large, airy, and nicely decorated. there were also a couple of massage rooms which would have been the place to be to get the kinks rubbed out after the race on sunday.

despite the hype, the retail area was a bit of a let down, at least compared to the studios here in LA that have a larger variety of items for sale (sacred movement, golden bridge, and yogaworks, to name a few). but i found enough interesting items to keep me entertained while i waited for our class to start.

natasha teran taught our all-levels yoga wall class. hailing from venezuela, natasha has a loyal following; not only did she know many of the students in our class by name, but she also conversed with quite a few of them in fluent spanish.

starting out with a few bends and twists to limber up, we eventually progressed to supported forward bends and back bends, using belts and slings attached to the wall. as i let myself relax into the poses, i felt my arms, legs, and torso getting deliciously stretched out. we then made a brief foray into swiss ball territory, where we worked on various balance poses to strengthen our abs and backs. finally, we set up the equipment for the piece de resistance (at least in my book) -- supported inversions on the wall! it was easy to spot the class veterans; they were the ones hanging in very creative ways. how i wished that i, too, could be a frequent visitor to the class! but having to drive over two hours from LA just to take a yoga class in la jolla sounds a bit unreasonable. too bad.

day two: saturday morning

Bird Rock Yoga
4651 Mission Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 736-6209
website: www.birdrockyoga.com

In Sanskrit the word Sangha means “group” translating as “community”. An opportunity to work as a conscious collective to rise our own energetic vibrations and as a result the energetic vibration of the entire Sangha - humanity. Bird Rock Yoga is a home for an ever growing Sangha that is supporting the betterment of humanity on an interpersonal and collective level, inspiring individuals to let go of the ego in exchange for living in freedom. As a result each individual is rising the consciousness of those around them and the transformation of humanity through Yoga is happening in the heart of our own community.

when i first came across bird rock yoga's website, i skipped past it, figuring that with all the different neighborhoods in and around san diego that offered yoga classes -- old town, hillcrest, mission valley, downtown, and more -- it didn't make sense for me to check out a second yoga studio that was essentially down the street from the first. especially since i had also access to classes with world-renowned teachers such as deepak chopra at the chopra center in carlsbad and tim miller at the ashtanga yoga center near encinitas. but a class selections and accessibility restrictions at the other studios kept bringing me back to the BRY site.

hmmm... best yoga studio in san diego, according to 944 magazine san diego... monthly kirtans with govindas and radha (who hail from LA)... surfer's flow classes (and the physically fit surfer dudes whom i might run into in class?)...

the thought of walking around PB on a warm sunny june day instead of driving farther inland was just too tempting; i ended up making my way past tanned beach bodies to get to bird rock's current location on mission blvd (according to their website, they're moving at the end of the month).

i managed to find another unique yoga class: deepening your practice, taught by maral hadidi, co-owner of BRY. it was a two-hour class, composed of 45 minutes of pranayama and chanting and an hour of challenging asanas, with the rest of the time spent in restful meditation and savasana. the class is geared towards students who already have an established yoga practice and are looking to expand their knowledge. i found it to be a very enriching class, not only because we worked on prolonging our inhalation, breath retention, and exhalation techniques (don't panic, she kept saying as we held our breath longer and longer, and i kept thinking about how i probably would panic if i had to hold my breath for that long underwater), but because the postures were a smidge more demanding than usual.

i was so focused on pushing myself and expanding my boundaries that the two hours just flew by. it's not often that you find a class that long on a regular schedule of classes; it's even rarer to find a class of that length where you're neither dying of boredom nor dying to keep up!

note: both yogafuzion and bird rock yoga offer free classes to new students; however, the offer only applies to san diego residents. too bad i couldn't convince them that santa monica was a nearby suburb of san diego :(