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Thursday, January 08, 2009

being receptive

Dharma Mittra Yoga Los Angeles
5376 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016
(323) 937-YOGA (9642)
website: http://www.dharmamittrayogala.com/

Sri Dharma Mittra has been disseminating the ancient knowledge of how to achieve radiant health and spiritual development before styles of yoga became popular. He remains truthful to the original classical practice and guides his students and student teachers to do the same. For this reason, as well as his experience and knowledge he is frequently referred to as the “Teacher’s Teacher” and for his dedication and fortitude “The Rock of Yoga.”

Dharma’s practice is known as Shiva Namaskar. At DMYLA we currently teach levels 1, 11 and 111, passed down directly from Sri Dharma. (In 2009 we look forward to offering Shiva Namaskar levels IV and V.) The practice is rigorous and meditative all at the same time, a stairway to bliss that reintegrates the continuous flow of prana (cosmic energy, life force) through the spinal column, emanating deep into all areas of the self. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually you will be blessed by the practice. The only requirement? Be receptive.

i first heard about the new dharma mittra yoga studio from my friend brandon, a loyal student -- and, i swear, the adopted son -- of will duprey, an initiate of sri dharma mittra (will used to teach here in LA, but sadly, he moved his base of operations to NYC last year). so when it comes to anything related to dharma mittra, brandon's sure to be on top of it. knowing that i have this constant urge to try something new, brandon told me a couple of months ago about the new source of dharma mittra's teachings here on the west coast. so once the craziness of the holidays calmed down, i made it a point to check it out for him as well as for myself.

sonya enchill is the director of dharma mittra yoga LA, or DMYLA, which is located just south of the fairfax exit of the santa monica freeway (I-10). the studio has been open a mere four months, so as is the case with all new start-ups, there have been many changes that have occurred since the grand opening.

for one thing, DMYLA has replaced its original myspace page with its own studio website (the myspace page is still up and running, but i expect that it will eventually become obsolete as the website becomes the most up-to-date source of all studio information). also, the class schedule continues to undergo some tweaking here and there, so if you decide to drop by, make sure you check the website for the most current class schedule before you go.

before i forget, i should point out that your first class is FREE, and as an introductory offer, all classes for the month of january will cost only $10!

that being said, i chose to show up for sonya's level 1/2 class at 6:45pm on tuesday evening. not only was i in the mood for a mellower practice, but i've also learned that when it comes to unfamiliar styles of yoga, even if i consider myself a solid intermediate, it's always good to start at the beginning and work my way up. that way i can become familiar with the nuances of the style, whether it be the opening invocation chant, a different sun salutation sequence, new pose variations, and so on, before attempting the harder stuff.

the western end of adams boulevard just off fairfax is a dark and deserted street in the evening, with most of the businesses closed by 6pm. and while that means there's lots of street parking in the immediate vicinity of the studio, it also means that it's a bit hard to find the studio at night unless you know exactly where it is, which is at the southeast corner of adams and burnside, just two blocks east of the traffic light on hauser. it definitely is NOT in an upscale neighborhood, so given the dimly-lit street and the iron bars on the windows, i made it a point to stay aware of my surroundings at all times while walking from my car to the studio. this is the big city, after all; you never know...

once i walked into the studio, i was greeted warmly by vernon, the studio assistant. we chatted while i filled out the registration form and signed in for the class. he mentioned that he was co-teaching the partner yoga class that immediately followed that class i was there to take. he added that i could take it for free, too, if i decided to do a back-to-back. it was an offer i found hard to refuse, but i told him that i'd see how i felt after the first class.

each DMYLA class is a nicely rounded practice, with some chanting, some pranayama, some meditation, some instruction on the yoga sutras, with the majority of the class focused on the physical poses. for that evening, sonya focused on the level 1 poses and threw in a few level 2 at the end. and as far as i was concerned, the easier asanas were perfect for me; my SI joint issue has been causing me a lot of back pain recently, so much so that i'm ratcheting down my practice until i figure out what NOT to do. ugh :(

sonya had a nice music mix playing in the background during the class. part chant, part world music, it livened up our practice, but not to the point of distraction. there were six students in our small class, so each of us received individual attention, something that definitely doesn't happen in much bigger classes. she helped me get into some of the more advanced twisted poses (the difficulty of which surprised me, given that they were supposedly level 1 poses), and i was ecstatic that my back didn't complain while i attempted a twisted prasarita padottanasana (or whatever it's called) which involved holding the left ankle with the right hand, the right ankle with the left hand, then twisting to the left so that the head comes under the left arm and looks up -- while standing. yeah, it's twisted, alright!

and as for the partner yoga class that followed, i decided to pass. it was around 9pm by the time we ended, and i didn't want to wait until after 10:30 to have dinner...

i enjoyed sonya's teaching style. she seemed really concerned that we all learn the poses properly. in the short time the studio's been open, it appears like she already has a regular group of students, and i can see why. in fact, when i told her about my back issues, she encouraged me to show up for her smaller gentle-level classes so that i'd get even more individualized attention. and at only $10 a pop, i may just take her up on it!