Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

think you can do it?

so you have this nasty habit that you want to break.

you consider giving it up for lent, hoping that doing without it for 40 days** will cure you of your addiction. or obsession. or compulsion. or whatever it is that makes you want to do something that's bad for you. or for someone you know.

maybe you succeed. maybe you don't. but at least you tried.

that's exactly what the ladies from your daily thread -- aka lauren and tracy -- and their partner, eco-publisher chelsea green, are hoping will happen when you join their cause and pledge to...

go meatless in may!

they're trying to spread awareness about how eating less meat can slow down global warming; in other words,

The raising of livestock (animals for human consumption), specifically factory farming is a major contributor of green house gases that pollute our planet. The raising of these animals creates 18% of global greenhouse gases, more than all of the world's cars and SUVS.

so when they say "go meatless", what exactly do they suggest you give up?

well, in general usage, "livestock" refers to domestic animals raised on a farm; it includes cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and pigs. and depending on whose definition you decide to go with, it may or may not include poultry; that is, chickens, turkeys, and ducks.

so pick the level of "sacrifice" you think you can live with for 31 days, and pledge to commit to it!

and if you're on facebook, become a fan of the meatless in may page so you can see which of your friends you'll want to eat with this coming month :)

speaking of eating, here are some vegan/vegetarian restaurants that you might want to try. feel free to order anything on the menu, because you won't find any meat in any of their dishes:

bulan thai - locations in los angeles and silverlake
california vegan - locations in hollywood and west los angeles
cinnamon vegetarian - 5511 n. figueroa st, highland park
euphoria loves rawvolution - 2301 main st, santa monica
fatty's - 1627 colorado blvd, eagle rock
follow your heart - 21825 sherman way, canoga park
govinda's - 3764 watseka ave, los angeles
green temple - 1700 s. catalina ave., redondo beach
happy veggie - 709 n. pacific coast h, redondo beach
leaf organics -locations in culver city, sherman oaks, and redondo beach
lotus vegan - 5038 vineland ave, north hollywood
madeleine bistro - 18621 ventura blvd, tarzana
native foods - 1110 1/2 gayley ave, westwood
paru's indian vegetarian - 5140 sunset blvd, hollywood
planet raw (aka juliano's raw) - 609 broadway, santa monica
samosa house - 11510 washington blvd, culver city
the spot - 110 second st, hermosa beach
real food daily - locations in santa monica and west hollywood
vegan express - 3217 cahuenga blvd, los angeles
vegan glory - 8393 beverly blvd, los angeles
veggie grill - 720 allied way, el segundo
vinh loi tofu - 18625 sherman way, reseda

there are many more places listed on the vegetarians in paradise website - click here to check out their list of restaurants in the LA area.

by the way, if you need more incentive to give up eating meat, pick up a copy of karen dawn's thanking the monkey: rethinking the way we treat animals to learn more about how farm animals are raised and slaughtered. i brought it on the plane with me on my recent trip to boston and i couldn't put it down. not only is it clearly-written and very informative, but it has photos and illustrations -- cartoons, even! -- on almost every page. warning: while all the colorful pictures might give one the impression that it's a happy book with a happy storyline, it's actually quite depressing, especially if you can't handle the truth...

** here's a bit of trivia for you: did you ever wonder why lent is said to be 40 days long, yet there are more than 40 days between ash wednesday and easter sunday? here's why:

The season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter... Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. -- from The Season of Lent, CRI/Voice Institute

just know that this doesn't give you permission to eat meat on sunday during the challenge! :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

our paths were meant to cross

i have to confess that while i always make it a point to write about my yoga adventures, especially when i visit another city, i totally spaced after my trip to boston last year. at that time, i visited three excellent studios and took classes with three equally excellent teachers -- mimi loureiro at 02 yoga south end, david magone at exhale boston, and david vendetti at south boston yoga -- and not a peep about them was posted by me. mea culpa.

when i realized that i'd be visiting boston once again, i decided to visit those studios one more time, not only because i really enjoyed the classes i took, but because i needed to refresh my memory about the teachers and the studios themselves. after all, it's a bit hard to write about something you vaguely remember :(

i planned to be in boston during the boston marathon weekend (otherwise known as the patriot's day holiday weekend for those who choose to ignore the mass of runners who make their way from hopkinton to boston on marathon day... and they're definitely in the minority). i was going to fly in friday night and leave tuesday afternoon, timesharing my time between my daughter (on whose couch i was going to crash while there), my marathon-running friends (one of the rare times when i was in town for a race and was NOT signed up to run it), and my yoga pursuits (but of course!). it was going to be a very busy weekend!

knowing that there will always be kinks in even the most well-planned schedule, i printed out class schedules for those three yoga studios -- o2 yoga boston south end, exhale boston, and south boston yoga -- along with a few more -- 02 yoga somerville, north end yoga, and back bay yoga. i even checked the lululemon boston website to see what activities they had lined up for that weekend. and with it being marathon weekend (especially since the store was conveniently located right by the race expo and the marathon finish line), they had a whole slew of activities, including yoga classes, assisted stretching, massages, and snacks. the lulu at the pru was clearly the place to be... especially since there's no sales tax on clothing in massachusetts! woo hoo! :)

things were immediately thrown off-kilter when my noon flight to boston on american airlines was abruptly canceled right after i checked in. mechanical problems, i was told. since there was no other plane available, we all had to scramble to find seats on later flights. while standing in line at the AA customer service counter, i immediately called a reservations agent to rebook myself. the best she could get me was a seat on the red-eye that night. at that point, i happened to be standing right by the self-serve kiosk, so i printed my boarding pass then ran to the gate of the 3pm flight to see if i could add myself to the wait list. by that time, there were already 20 ahead of me. it wasn't looking good.

~~ saturday ~~

long story short, instead of arriving at 9:30 friday evening, i got into boston at 6:30 saturday morning. since i was already up and about -- barely -- i headed straight for the first class that caught my eye, a 9am class at north end yoga: vinyasa per tutti with studio owners alicia and alessandra...

North End Yoga
256 Hanover Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 227-YOGA
website: http://www.northendyoga.com/
closest T stop: Haymarket station on the Green and Orange Lines

As the North End unfolds into one of the most sought after neighborhoods in the North East, an ancient discipline has made its way to nurture the souls of this dynamic community.

Yoga is physical and mental practice that can be embraced at any age. Incorporating the practice of yoga into your lifestyle, will bring you relief from the fast paced urban tumult and lead you to a stronger body and quiet mind.

Owners Alicia Orr and Alessandra Miele have over ten years of combined experience as yoga students and teachers. Alicia received her certification with Mimi Loureiro, owner of O2 Yoga, and Alessandra received hers through the Yoga Works teacher training program with Natasha Rizopoulos. Both Alicia and Alessandra share the same passion for the practice of yoga, and the endless benefits it provides for the mind and body. As long-time residents of the North End, they are thankful to have the opportunity to provide a place for those in and around Little Italy to learn and practice this ancient tradition.

when i first found this studio through a google search, i was intrigued by its website; the page titles were in italian! Istruttori, Indirizzo e contatto, Classi, Eventi, Costo iscrizioni... so appropriate for a yoga studio located in little italy! wouldn't it would be even more fun if the classes themselves were taught in italian? come dite "down dog" in italiano?

despite my having spent time chatting with friends at the airport and taking more time than usual to drag my luggage through the boston subway system, i arrived at the studio doorstep almost an hour early. luckily, modern bakery (as in "who makes better cannolis - modern or mike's?") was right across the street, so i walked over, luggage still in hand, to get my morning sugar fix. while i stood in line dreaming of ricotta cheese being piped into crunchy cannoli shells, i realized that a belly full of richness was probably not a smart idea right before yoga class, especially right after a transcontinental flight. so when it was my time to order, i asked for a plain croissant. bah. i still regret that decision...

by the time i got back to the studio, two yoginis were just about to unlock the door to the building. i followed them upstairs -- which meant having to carry my luggage up two flights of stairs -- and went about finishing my roll as they set up the front desk.

it turns out that one of them, sarah sturges, was substituting that morning. i told her about how i had just flown in from LA, and before we knew it, i was talking about my fire alarm episode at exhale boston during david magone's class the last time i was in boston (which you never heard about because i never got around to posting it!), and how sarah knows exhale venice's cristi christensen from their days together at exhale boston, and how gorgeous cristi was in her video with dave romanelli, and how sarah's looking forward to meeting dave romanelli while he's in boston for his yoga+chocolate+wine workshop in june, and how she loved his new book, yeah dave's guide to livin' the moment, so much that she bought FIVE copies and gave them out to her friends, and how i've been promising dave that i'd write a review about his book as soon as i could... as sarah put it, our paths were meant to cross. and i totally believe it!

the classroom quickly filled up with students of varying levels of experience. it took some extra work for me to get through her demanding flow class, given my stiff back and lack of energy (not to mention the croissant that was slowly making its way down my digestive tract) and i even had to stop a few times for water to try to rehydrate my jetlagged body. but when it was over, i felt a hundred times better than when i walked in the door! it never fails -- every time i've gone straight to a yoga class after a red-eye flight, be it to new york, philadelphia, washington DC, or boston, i've ended up refreshed, relaxed, and ready to hit the city running :)

i asked sarah to look me up if she ever finds herself in LA. i hope she finds the chance to do so soon... and maybe we can even get cristi and dave to join us. wouldn't that be a blast!

from the north end, i hopped on the T and stopped at central square to meet up with katy downey, owner of lotuspad yoga mats, to pick up a yoga mat and matching carrying strap. you see, a couple of years ago, she'd sent me a sample of her kid-sized mat. ever since then, it's been my ever-faithful air travel companion because it's been the lightest and sturdiest mat i've ever owned! so it seemed like it was time for me to upgrade to the longer and thicker adult version... and meet katy, too. my visit to her home was a treat; not only did i land myself a bright pink yoga mat with a cute striped strap to match, but i also met her entire family, including her adorable daughter! thank goodness the larger adult mat wasn't much heavier than the kids version, because now i had to carry it along with everything else that i had brought along with me back on the subway to my daughter's place...

i spent the rest of saturday with my daughter, including a shopping trip down newbury street and a stop at the lulu store. naturally, i couldn't resist the urge to buy some luluwear sans sales tax; by the time we walked out of the store, i was the proud owner of a striped athletic deep V tank and some cropped wonderunder tights :)

we ended the evening with a late night dinner at a greek restaurant with my daughter's boyfriend and their two close friends. on our way home, on a whim, we all decided to drive down to the north end for, you guessed it, cannolis! the overwhelming consensus was that mike's had the best chocolate chip cannolis, so that's where we ended up. needless to say, i inhaled mine before my belly had a chance to figure out what had just happened!

~~ sunday ~~

South Boston Yoga
141 Dorchester Avenue
Boston, MA 02127
(617) 548-2964
website: http://www.southbostonyoga.net/
closest T stop: Broadway station on the Red Line

South Boston Yoga is a beautiful safe space with compassionate and dedicated teachers and an inclusive environment to help each individual unravel, experiment and evolve in the practice of yoga. David Vendetti and Todd Skoglund opened the doors to SBY in January of 2008.

We do not specialize in any one "style" of yoga, instead the yoga that we teach comes from the fullness and richness of our personal experiences and love of the practice. Practitioners of all styles and levels will find treasures here to comfort, challenge and inspire the yogic path. Beginning, intermediate and advanced students and teachers are all warmly welcome.

We have created the center to be green and eco friendly with cork flooring, hand dryers, water filtration, environmentally safe yoga mats, props, fresh filtered air cycling, non-toxic cleaning products and more. We are also blessed to be located steps from public transportation in Boston's first fully Gold LEED certified building, the Macallen.

after all the craziness of the previous day, i'm surprised i was able to wake up in time for the fundraiser at south boston yoga sunday morning at 9:15am. the class was going to be taught by david vendetti -- on my boston re-do list -- and the proceeds were going to yogaHOPE -- Healing Ourselves through Personal Empowerment:

yogaHOPE is a non-profit yoga outreach program dedicated to bringing the practice of yoga to underserved women in recovery or life transition. – the incarcerated, those in drug and alcohol treatment, those living on the streets, battered women, and women transitioning from hospital treatment for disordered eating issues.

getting to south boston yoga was a breeze from my daughter's apartment in cambridge. after a quick ride on the red line, the studio was literally across the street from the subway station. it turns out that there were at least three other students on the train with me; this was clearly a popular class that morning!

there were some students who weren't even aware that their class fees were going to charity; as far as they knew, they were there to take david vendetti's regularly-scheduled all levels class. the last time i took his class, i immediately knew that his was the class i wanted to take every time i visited boston. it was fun. he was entertaining. it was tough. he was inspiring. in my mind, he was what an anusara/vinyasa flow hybrid would be like if one existed. so, of course, i made it a point to be there, not only for him, but for the cause.

the class was everything i'd expected it to be. it was wonderfully challenging (i think i had to get my head behind my leg at one point) and i was in awe of david's graceful bendiness (i believe he was a dancer in his previous life, which explains everything). i would have wanted to squeeze in another class with him before i left boston, but with other studios still on my list, it would just have to wait until my next trip. oh well.

~~ monday ~~

marathon day! i met my friend rose at the boston common shuttle pick-up point at 6am. she had just kissed her husband ken goodbye as he boarded the bus bound for the start line in hopkinton when i got there. according to her, another group of friends were already making their way to the shuttle line, so we chatted while waiting for them to arrive. we eventually found them in the long line that snaked through the park and stayed with them until they, too, boarded the buses.

of the entire group of LA leggers in boston that weekend, it seemed like rose and i were the only ones who weren't running it. while the speed demons managed to train hard and beat their qualifying times to get there, rose and i had to contend with injuries... and the fact that we just couldn't run as fast as them. besides, i had already run boston almost 10 years ago; back in 1999, i raised funds for the children's hospital in boston, earning myself the chance to run in this prestigious athletic competition. it was an accomplish i'll never forget, so i was happy for all my friends who were running it for the first time, as well as those running it for their second, or third, or... god, they're fast!

rose and i dropped by the starbucks for a morning caffeine fix before staking out a viewing spot at hereford and boylston, close to the finish of the marathon route. by then, it was 8am, with the elites scheduled to start at 9:30am and the rest of the pack -- in other words, our friends -- starting at 10am. that meant that nothing would be happening in our neck of the woods until around 11am. so we moseyed down to the apple store on boylston and commandeered a large flat screen so we could watch the start of the race. there were the usual speedsters from kenya and ethiopia standing at the front of the pack, but our hearts were with kara goucher and ryan hall, the runners from the USA who both had excellent chances of winning their divisions.

once the race was clearly on its way, rose and i parted ways; rose headed back to our agreed-upon location along the route and i headed down to a deli on newbury to pick up sub sandwiches for lunch, knowing that it would be next to impossible to leave our spot once the crowds starting filing in.

we heard the cheering as the elites made their way closer to where we were standing. the women approached. kara was in 3rd place. the men approached. ryan was in 3rd place. so close! sometime later, we started spotting our friends. adam. andrew. deo. ken. but we somehow missed david. and mike. and jeannie. at that point, rose took off to meet up with ken. i chose to stay behind to wait for dave, debbie, dan, and the others. eventually, the cold caught up with me and i decided to head for a warmer place to sit and thaw out. the prudential center was right across the street from where i was standing, so i made my way towards the shopping mall...

... little did i know that because of street closures and the throngs of people on and around boylston, it would take me almost an hour to get to the other side of the street!!

i eventually found myself at the lulu store, where i was able to enjoy sit, get something to drink, and enjoy a relaxing mini-massage. aaaaaaahhhh...

once i had a chance to regain my sanity, i checked my yoga class options. there were two yoga studios just down the street from where i was: exhale boston and back bay yoga. there was a 6pm class with david magone at exhale; this was on my boston re-do list. there were also classes at back bay yoga -- a 4pm vinyasa community class with gabriel feld, a 5:40pm forrest class with caroline harvey, a 7:30pm vinyasa with nicoline valkenberg, and a 7:30pm yin class with josh summers. so many choices!

i checked my watch. i had just 15 minutes to get to back bay yoga for the 4pm community class; could i get there in time? after all, it was only 5 blocks away. i made a mad dash down boylston street. not only would i be able to get out of the cold and back to my daughter's place before dinner, but the 4pm community class would only cost me a $5 bill.

it was such a deal that the discounted class was mentioned in a boston globe article:

Consumers Exercise Control By Sarah Schweitzer
Globe Staff / January 3, 2009

...Back Bay Yoga Studio has expanded its number of $5 classes, which are about $10 less than other classes. The club is advertising the classes widely, to members and nonmembers.

"Times are tough and one of the first things to go is yoga because it's not gas, it's not rent, it's not food," said Gabriel Feld, a yoga instructor at Back Bay Yoga. "We want everyone to be able to access yoga. We don't want money to get in the way."

thanks to the maze of street closures, my 5-block walk turned into a 10-block trek. by the time i reached the yoga studio, i was 15 minutes late for class. and by the time i'd registered for class and changed my clothes, i was 30 minutes late. argh.

Back Bay Yoga Studio
364 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 375-YOGA (9642)
website: http://www.backbayyoga.com/
closest T stop: Arlington station on the Green Line

Our mission is to provide a space completely dedicated to yoga where we offer a wide variety of classes, workshops and healing therapies including Ashtanga (led and Mysore-style), Forrest, Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, Gentle/Beginners, Meditation, Acupuncture and Massage. We believe that by providing a variety of yoga styles, that every body can find a style(s) that suits them. Our belief is that yoga is not one size fits all!

gabriel feld's class was clearly deep into the heart of their practice by then, so i carefully made my way to the first open spot in the back of the room. i realized that i couldn't see gabriel, but i could hear him. and given the circumstances, that was as good as i could get. he walked up to me and told me to take my time getting settled in. that was so nice of him.

the poses were relatively gentle, which is exactly what i needed to recenter my mind -- and body -- after the craziness of the day. as gabriel walked around the large classroom to keep a close eye on the students, he kept reminding us to work at our own pace. straighten your legs only if you can easily do so. bend back only as far back as comfortable. stay in child pose if you feel you need it. and while the competitive side of me wanted to go all out and do everything perfectly, the tired traveler in me realized that my trying to push a cold and sleep-deprived body past where it needed to be was just asking for trouble. so i heeded gabriel's advice and took it easy.

before i knew it, the class was over. i rolled up my yoga mat and walked over to gabriel. i thanked him for allowing me to join his class despite my extreme tardiness. it turned out that he, too, got caught in the maze of road closures on his way there. we chatted briefly, i gave him a hug goodbye, and left.

as it turned out, that was my last yoga class during my stay in boston. i opted to sleep in the next day, tuesday. by the time i got myself up and dressed, my daughter and i barely had enough time to stop by the shepard fairey exhibit (the creator of the now-famous obama HOPE poster) at the institute of contemporary art, grab a quick lunch, then hop back on the silver line for the quick ride to the airport.

so it was a great shock to me when i received this update from back bay yoga a few days later:

It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you that a cherished member of the BBY family, Gabriel Feld, has passed away. Gabe started at BBY as a student and went on to receive his teacher training at Kripalu. Many of you know and love Gabe as a kind, loving teacher of Vinyasa, Restorative and Gentle/Beginners. He assisted David Vendetti's Teacher Training and Breathwork and more recently has held his own breathwork workshops at BBY.

Funeral Services will be held for Gabriel on Tuesday April 28th 1:45 pm at the Sharon Memorial Park in Sharon, MA. If you need a ride, please let us know as we will be arranging transportation as needed to and from BBY.

Donations can be made in Gabriel's honor to Kripalu. Please send to:
Kripalu Development Office
Attention: Gabriel Feld Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 309 Stockbridge, MA 01262
(checks made payable to Kripalu)


his mentor, david vendetti, posted this on the south boston site:

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of our dear friend, fellow yogi and former teacher, Gabriel Feld. At this time our hearts go out to all his friends and family as we all acknowledge a brilliant light has gone from our lives. We've posted a few photos of Gabe as we lovingly remember him.

Gabriel Feld Open Practice Gathering Thursday April 30th
Open practice and meditation are free and open to all on 4/30 to gather and practice, talk and share in Gabriel's life and passing. Come anytime between 6:30am and 10am for as long as you would like.

even the lululemon store posted a tribute to gabriel along with his photo on their home page:

In loving memory of a great yogi, teacher and friend in our lululemon community, Gabriel Feld.

while i had only met him briefly, i'm glad that our paths crossed; in a small way, i was able to experience the shining light that everyone else in the boston yoga community is grieving the loss of.

i suppose the only way i can end this is to share with you his bio posted on the back bay yoga website:

Gabriel Feld

I was drawn to Yoga because it gets you connected to the teacher within yourself, you learn by doing and exploring, feeling and breathing. I love to teach because there is nothing more wonderful than watching someone surprise themselves as doors open and freedom emerges.

Yoga gives me the opportunity to breathe deeply, feel fully and connect with the innate wisdom of my body. There are times for grace and ease, strength and grounding, times for ecstatic rapture and expressive movement as well as times for restoration and stillness. I create space for all of this, by drawing upon the steady strength of Forrest, the fluidity of Vinyasa, the explosive movement of Budokon, the insight of Yin and the healing of Restorative practices. My classes are a dynamic flow between postures, breath, and meditation infused with music, movement and playfulness. Using anatomical alignment, visual and auditory cues as well as hands on adjustments, I create Yoga flows that foster healing while cultivating strength and flexibility. Come join me on a journey, an exploration of your strengths, your weaknesses, your heart and life; get connected, turn on your breath and tune into your body.

earlier today, gabriel's body was laid to rest. may he never be forgotten...

Monday, April 27, 2009

musical notes

it seems that since i haven't had the time to compile this month's list of events (with only two days left in the month!), the best thing for me to do at this point is to post upcoming events as i catch wind of them...

~~ since i just got back from a yoga class at cloud nine yoga in huntington beach with erika faith calig featuring music by girish on harmonium and dave allen on percussion, i'll start with girish's upcoming local tour dates:

Monday April 27, 7:30pm
Yoga with Erika Faith Calig, Live Music throughout class with Girish
Cloud Nine Yoga
18351 Beach Blvd Ste H, Huntington Beach
Tickets are $10 in addition to normal class price and can be purchased at Cloud Nine Yoga or online at www.spiritvoyage.com

Saturday May 23, 6pm
Yoga with Robin Ramirez, Live Music with Girish
Inner Power Yoga
22233 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Inner Power Yoga or online at www.Spiritvoyage.com

Sunday May 24, 10:30am
Yoga with Saul David Raye, Live Music with Girish throughout class
Exhale Center For Sacred Movement
245 S Main St, Venice

Sunday June 14, 10 :30am
Yoga with Saul David Raye, Live Music with Girish throughout class
Exhale Center For Sacred Movement
245 S Main St, Venice

Thursday June 18, 10:15am
Yoga with Valinda Cochella, Live Music throughout class with Girish
LYFE Yoga Center
1310 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach

Saturday July 25, 10:30am
Yoga with Mas Vidal, Live Music throughout class with Girish
Dancing Shiva Yoga and Ayurveda
7466 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles

Saturday July 25, 6pm
Yoga with Robin Ramirez, Live music with Girish
Inner Power Yoga
22233 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Inner Power Yoga or online at www.Spiritvoyage.com

~~ these donation-basis jam sessions feature dave stringer, denise kaufman, and a collection of musicians; they need to be experienced to be understood because they're unlike any other chant event you've ever been to:

Radiance Sutra Jam with Dave Stringer and Denise Kaufman
Wednesday, April 29, 8:00 PM
Wednesday, May 27, 8:00 PM
Shaktis Elements
717 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA

The Sutras are a modern translation of the Vijnana Bhairava, a classic tantric text. My friend Lorin Roche has dedicated the last 20 years to bringing them forth, and the language is in credibly vibrant. Denise Kaufman and I began encouraging people to get up and read them over improvised grooves at a yoga retreat in Mexico last November.

The results have been wildly ecstatic, evoking beat poetry, rap and psychedelia simultaneously, with music to match. Every time we've done this it has been a surprising and joyous experience.
~ Dave Stringer

~~ this kirtan celebrates the release of jai uttal's latest album, thunder road:

JAI UTTAL: Kirtan + Thunder LOVE CD Release Party
Saturday, May 2, 2009
7:30pm - 10:30pm
Exhale Center for Sacred Movement
245 South Main Street, Venice, CA

Jai Uttal is a pioneer in the world music community. His eclectic east meets-west sound has put his music at the forefront of the world fusion movement. "Thunder Love" is his first album since his Grammy nominated "Mondo Rama".

This album has a vast musical sound, with Indian devotional music and Sanskrit mantras sublimely integrated with English lyrics and driving Brazilian rhythms.

For details on the show and to pre purchase tickets, visit: http://exhalespa.com/locations/venice/
click on workshops + events
Cost:$25 pre ordered; $30 day of event

~~ and this is from a flyer i recently picked up at exhale venice. strangely enough, i can't seem to find it posted anywhere online:

mellow flow with live music ~ level 2/3
with ashley turner + kyra haglund
fridays, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Exhale Center for Sacred Movement
245 South Main Street, Venice, CA

Deepen your yoga with the power of Nada Yoga - the art and science of transformation through sound and tone! Join us every Friday night and melt into the weekend with a mellow flow accompanied by acclaimed guest musicians. Take your practice to another dimension.

April 17: Ashley Turner + Masood Ali Khan
April 24: Kyra Haglund + DJ Drez
May 1: Kyra Haglund + Joel Long
May 8: Ashley Turner + Chris Murphy
May 15: Kyra Haglund + Masood Ali Khan
May 22: Kyra Haglund + Marla Leigh
May 29: Ashley Turner + Masood Ali Khan
June 5: Kyra Haglund + Joel Long
June 12: Kyra Haglund + Chris Murphy
June 19: Ashley Turner + Masood Ali Khan
June 26: Ashley Turner + DJ Drez

Sunday, April 26, 2009

giving back to the source

Compassion expands your practice.
Express your compassion beyond the mat, beyond the studio, across the globe.

-- yogagivesback.org

as we all know, yoga originated in india many centuries ago. through this ancient practice, we have enriched our minds, our bodies, and our souls. a good number of those in the yoga community have also managed to make a fairly decent living off their yoga practice -- whether it be through teaching classes, marketing products, or writing books; in other words, yoga has been a source of health and wealth for many here in the US.

while we continue to reap the benefits of yoga, modern day indians struggle to survive. one in four of india's 1.1 billion population lives below the government poverty threshold of 40 cents a day. nearly half of the world's poorest people call india home.

and this is where joel bender, jason kolker, and kayoko mitsumatsu, collectively known as yoga gives back, comes in. as they put it, they want to show their gratitude and give back to the source.

working hand-in-hand with the grameen foundation, yoga gives back's mission is to raise funds that will be used for microfinance in india. this is how the grameen foundation explains the concept of microfinance:

Sometimes called “banking for the poor,” microfinance is an amazingly simple approach that has been proven to empower very poor people around the world to pull themselves out of poverty. Relying on their traditional skills and entrepreneurial instincts, very poor people, mostly women, use small loans (usually less than US$200), other financial services, and support from local organizations called microfinance institutions (MFIs) to start, establish, sustain, or expand very small, self-supporting businesses. A key to microfinance is the recycling of loan dollars. As each loan is repaid—usually within six months to a year—the money is recycled as another loan, thus multiplying the value of each dollar in defeating global poverty, and changing lives and communities.

yoga gives back has already held two fundraisers in the LA area within the past month. last march 29th, a workshop was taught by pagan with music provided by the temple bhajan band at liberation yoga in los angeles; on april 11th, a workshop was team-taught by twelve(!) teachers at black dog yoga in sherman oaks.**

** postscript -- i contacted peter barnett of black dog yoga so he could refresh my memory regarding the event at his studio. here's what he sent back:
The teachers were: Hanna Gilan, Shawn Bracha, Heidi Kaufman, Clay Kyle, Jenny Brill, John Sahakian, Tiffany Fraser, Peter Barnett, Shari Goodhartz, and Lauri Janover.
Live music was provided by Kalani on Japanese flute, frame drum, harmonium and Victor on guitar, mandolin, harmonium and myself on mridangam.
thanks, peter!

not only were the teachers excellent at both of the workshops, but there were refreshments and raffle prizes provided to all who attended. i was fortunate to have been at both events; while i was able to donate what little i could (unfortunately, unemployment doesn't allow me to be as generous as i'd like to be), i actually felt like i had received much more in return. it's so heartwarming to know that there's so much generosity in the yoga community!

in the interest of time, since the next event is THIS weekend (and i apologize for not posting this sooner!), i'd like to share with you the details of the upcoming fundraiser so that you might have a chance to help out, too.

Yoga Gives Back ~ Energy, Action, Change!
With Ashley Albrand, Claudia Fucigna and Taylor Estes
Liberation Yoga, Los Angeles
Sunday, April 26th 1:30pm-4:30pm
$15 early registration at YogaGivesBack@Earthlink.net - $20 at the door

These dynamic teachers join together to support Yoga Gives Back, teaching a workshop focused on Shakti, the concept of divine feminine creativity! This celebration will fund micro-credit for struggling women in India while joining in thanks for the yoga practice that India has given to us!... Live music by Sneaky Snake! Raffle! Refreshments to follow... Soak yourself in the raw Shakti spirit!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

short films by, for, and about women

just got back from boston, where i spent a few days visiting my daughter and cheering on my running friends as they approached the finish line at the boston marathon. and of course, what's a trip to another city without a visit or two -- or three -- to some of the better local yoga studios?

not only do i have a great time meeting new yoga instructors and checking out the local yoga scene while i'm out of town, but i also like to keep abreast of their goings-on through the email updates they send me. interestingly enough, it was through a recent update from tranquil space in washington DC that i found out about an event happening right here in santa monica later this week -- LUNAFEST 2009

LUNAFEST was established in 2000 by LUNA, the makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, to simultaneously promote women filmmakers, raise awareness for women’s issues, and support worthy women’s nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Over the years, as LUNAFEST has grown from a single annual event to more than 140 festivals each season, LUNA’s commitment to this worthwhile program has grown as well. We are continually inspired by the individual and collective efforts of women – and we are awed by the results. To date, LUNAFEST has raised over $250,000 for worthwhile women’s organizations, while raising hope and awareness for the stories of women everywhere.

here are the event details:

100.3 The Sound
Writers Boot Camp
invite you to

an evening of short films by, for and about women

Writers Boot Camp
Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Avenue, Building I
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Friday, April 24, 2009

7:00pm Reception Refreshments
7:45pm Healthy Lifestyle Raffle
8:00pm LUNAFEST Screening

$20.00 General Admission
$10.00 Student Discount Tickets - Limited supply for students only

Each ticket includes light refreshments, LUNAFEST screening and one raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased at the event.

The Healthy Lifestyle Reception will include natural and organic delights from Clif Winery, Honest Tea, Whole Foods Markets and Theo Chocolates.

The Healthy Lifestyle Raffle features raffle prizes from 100.3 The Sound, Crossfit Los Angeles, Fit Dimensions, Glamorous Green, Hoopnotica, LA Brakeless, Nikita Clothing, O! Burger, Pangea, REI, SportEve, Theo Chocolates, Traditional Medicinals, Yogamatic, & YogaWorks.

Learn more at www.lunafest.org

The net proceeds from LUNAFEST Los Angeles will benefit The Breast Cancer Fund, an organization that identifies -- and advocates for the elimination of -- the environmental and other preventable causes of the disease. Learn more at www.breastcancerfund.org

watch the official filmfest trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC9SIf26vFY

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

can one find enlightenment through yoga?

that's the question posed by the documentary, enlighten up!, which opens this weekend in limited release in southern california. i joined a group of yoga teachers at a preview screening last week here in santa monica so that i, too, could find out the answer to that question.

in the film, director and long-time yoga practitioner kate churchill sets out to prove that yoga can transform anyone. after carefully going through a stack of applications, she enlists yoga skeptic nick rosen, a young, new york-based journalist. for six months, kate immerses nick in everything yoga. she sends him to a variety of yoga classes -- including bikram, kundalini, jivamukti, ashtanga, iyengar, even "yoga for regular guys" -- and has him city-hopping through new york, los angeles, hawaii, and india in search of yogic wisdom. and through every step of the way, kate keeps tabs on nick's progress... or lack thereof.

so what did i think of the movie? i suppose you could say i was intrigued, only because it's the question i, too, continue to ask myself. am i, after four full years of surveying the yoga landscape, any different from the person i was when i started this journey? and if i haven't found enlightenment after all those years, can someone possibly find "it" in six months? hmmm...

looking back -- i've taken classes in many major cities around the country, including los angeles, san francisco, boston, new york, philadelphia, washington DC, and have also made stops in smaller yoga communities such as indianapolis, charleston, raleigh, and bar harbor. i've made valiant attempts to follow along in france and peru as the instructors led poses in languages i could barely understand. i've run the gamut of yoga styles, from crazy hot bikram yoga to crazy cool hip-hop yoga. i've chanted at kirtans and pujas. i've sat in quiet meditation. and i've even listened to passages from sanskrit texts. yet i continue to ask myself: has yoga transformed me into a better person?

while i can say, without a doubt, that i've morphed physically into someone stronger and more flexible, i believe i still have a long way to go before i can say i've been spiritually enlightened. after all, i spent my growing years in a religious environment and did my fair share of chanting hymns, sitting in quiet prayer, and listening to passages from the bible. honestly, my attempting to swap one higher being for another is just another way of getting to the same place -- a place of peace and contentment with myself and the world around me.

so going back to the movie...

lucky nick. not only did he experience in six months what i've been trying to do on my own all these years, but he had someone else subsidizing all his expenses! as for his being able to spend a good amount of time in an ashram in india trying to find the light, all i can say is: i'm jealous... where's my sugar guru?

yes, i love what the movie is trying to accomplish. and yes, i enjoyed watching the story unfold, including nick's foibles in class and his encounters with various yoga celebs. of course, it helps that the protagonist not only has a pleasant personality but is really pleasant to the eye. and i mean REALLY pleasant.

if enlighten up! gets people to dip their feet in the waters of yoga to see if they, too, can find enlightenment, then it's served its purpose.

nick wrote about his experience in the huffington post: Going to the Mat: Confessions of a Yoga Guinea Pig. here's what he had to say:

Despite all the misappropriated hype about karma and enlightenment, yoga practice is still a powerful tool. The stretching and breathing, when coupled with a meditative, focused intention, can make you feel pretty damn good, even if the whole thing is choreographed to a Kanye West track.

director kate churchill and subject nick rosen will be appearing at select shows in the los angeles area this weekend to answer questions. unfortunately, i'll be out of town; i'll be celebrating marathon monday in boston with thousands of other run-happy creatures. it pains me, though, that i won't be able to meet nick in person. sigh...

below is a schedule of when and where to see them:

FRIDAY, April 17
5:20 & 7:40 Laemmle’s Monica-4

SATURDAY, April 18
5:20 Laemmle’s Monica-4
7:40 Laemmle’s Playhouse-7 Pasadena

SUNDAY, April 19
2:40 Westpark 8-Irvine
5:20 Laemmle’s Monica-4

besides the Q&A with kate and nick, there will also be sponsoring businesses on hand who'll be giving out information... and maybe even free merchandise:

5:20 Whole Foods Market Santa Monica: Santa Monica - Enter to win free merchandise
7:40 lululemon athletica: Santa Monica, Pasadena, Irvine
7:40 Yogaworks Orange County: Irvine

5:20 NuTone Music: Santa Monica - NuTone Samplers Vol II for all
7:40 Yogamates.com: Santa Monica

2:40 Yogaworks Orange County: Irvine
5:20 Yogaworks Los Angeles: Santa Monica - Enter to win one month unlimited membership (6 memberships available to win!)
7:40 Exhale Mind Body Spa, Zobha, Ashley Turner: Santa Monica - Enter to win a 3 Piece Zobha outfit (retail $300)

you can watch excerpts from the film on youtube: Enlighten Up! Trailer

you can also listen to interviews with kate and nick on NPR's all things considered: Film Asks If Nirvana Through Yoga Is Possible as well as on PRI's the world: "Enlighten Up"

the reviews from the mainstream press have been pretty positive; here are a few of them:

new york times: Enlighten Up! (2008)
As the title indicates, “Enlighten Up!” explores its subject with a light touch and welcome sense of humor.

variety: Enlighten Up!: A Skeptic's Journey into the World of Yoga
Well-crafted pic traverses the globe, interviewing a who's-who of gurus and investigating a wide range of regimens -- with Rosen as both questioner and body-contorting guinea pig.

la times: In a knot over yoga's benefits
The fact that you don't need to know much about yoga to appreciate director Kate Churchill's documentary "Enlighten Up!" speaks to both the film's strength and weakness.

all i can say is, if you've found yourself on the yogic path at one time or another, you owe it to yourself to see this movie!

Friday, April 10, 2009

the end of organic farming as we know it?

i've recently been receiving email messages from friends about HR 875: The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 and how it could criminalize organic farming.

here's one such message:

Protect our organic foods!!!!
Let your voice be HEARD, SPREAD the word and SPEAK UP NOW!

H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, if passed, will criminalize organic farms, force ORGANIC farms to use pesticides and force us to use them in our own back yards. No surprise here as MONSANTO is one of the backers of this bill which is the world's largest herbicide and pesticide company and the leading producer of Genetically Engineered seeds which are now causing unexpected diseases in humans and evil on many other levels (watch Future of Food).

There is an enormous rush to get this into law within the next 2 weeks before people realize what's happening. This Bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated to "make sure there is no danger to the public food supply". There are 40 co-sponsors to the bill and 6 of the 40 are from CA!

the website leavemyfoodalone.org talks about the consequences of the bill which is currently under review:

In its current form, the bill could prevent small local organic farms and community gardeners from growing and selling you nutritious, truly fresh, organic produce. It would crush our small local food producers by imposing heavy government regulation that only large corporations could adhere to. Imagine:

~ No more farmers markets.
~ No more garden fresh, seasonal ingredients from the local farmer at your favorite restaurant.
~ No more roadside stands with fresh picked sweet corn, juicy ripe tomatoes, or refreshing watermelons in the summer.
~ Americans would essentially be forced to only eat corporately manufactured, chemically treated, hermetically sealed, irradiated fruits and vegetables.

Stop this abomination now.

always the skeptic, i've postponed signing any petitions until i've had a chance to learn more about the issue...

... and this saturday, april 11th, on KCRW's good food, evan kleiman will be talking with tom philpott of grist.org about the myths and facts of this bill. i suggest you tune in to 89.9 KCRW at 11am saturday to listen to what he has to say. and if you miss the broadcast, not to worry; you'll be able to access the archived version or the podcast at the KCRW website.

so here's what tom posted about the issue:

Would new food-safety legislation ‘criminalize organic farming’? No

The Internets are abuzz with accounts of a House bill, allegedly sponsored by Monsanto and pushed through Congress by its lackeys, that would "criminalize organic farming" and even backyard gardening. The object of frenzy: H.R. 875, known as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, a bill that attempts to bolster the broken food-safety system.

Here’s how one critic, whose work circulates widely on sustainable-food listservs, characterizes it:

"The bill is monstrous on level after level—the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international "industrial" standards to independent farms—the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means."

Wait, did she just say "the planned elimination of farmers"?

I’ve been reading hysterical missives about H.R. 875 for weeks. I could never square them with the text of the bill, which is admittedly vague. For example, the bill seeks to regulate any "food production facility" which it defines as "any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation."

But then again, the USDA already regulates farms. And "24 hours GPS tracking of ... animals"? Not in there. "Warrentless government entry" to farms? Can’t find it.

More recently, reading around the web, I found more reasoned takes on H.R. 875. The bill may not be worth supporting—and from what I hear, it has little chance of passing. But it hardly represents the "end of farming," much less the end of organic farming. The Organic Consumers Association, an energetic food-industry watchdog, recently called the paranoia around H.R. 875 the "Internet rumor of the week."

The Organic Consumers Association has this to say:

"The Organic Consumers Association is not taking a position for or against this bill, but encouraging its members to write to Congress to urge it to enact food safety legislation that addresses the inherent dangers of our industrialized food system without burdening certified organic and farm-to-consumer operations."

Quite sensibly, the OCA wants Congress to avoid "one-size-fits-all legislation." Regulations that make sense for a 1000-acre spinach farm could push a diversified operation that includes spinach in its crop mix out of business. Sustainable-food advocates should oppose H.R. 875 until it adds scale-appropriate language.

But effective opposition does not mean indulging in fictional rants about it. There’s no evidence that the bill aims to end farming; insisting that it does destroys credibility.

Meanwhile, Food & Water Watch, a group that does generally excellent work, has issued a statement debunking myths around H.R. 875. Anyone who’s been lashed into a frenzy by doomsday accounts of this bill should read the F&WW statement.

we definitely should keep this issue on our radar screens. i know i will...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

sunbeams and rainbeaus

Studio Surya Yoga
1501 Main Street #106
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 910-4740
website: http://www.studiosuryayoga.com/

Welcome to Studio Surya Yoga. We are thrilled to be a new addition to the Venice community. As part of our introduction we are offering ALL classes at just $10.
Come join us. We would love to have you!

according to the entry for surya in wikipedia:

In Hinduism, Surya (Devanagari: सूर्य, sūrya, "the Supreme Light") is the chief solar deity. The term "Surya" also refers to the Sun, in general. God Surya has hair and arms of gold. Surya drives through the heaven in his triumphal chariot harnessed by seven horses or one horse with seven heads, which represent the seven colours of the rainbow or the seven chakras. He presides over "Surya-waar" or Sunday.

the sanskrit word surya is a word we've all come to know and love; we start most classes with a series of surya namaskars, or sun salutations. we do them, not only to greet the sun -- even during evening classes -- but to warm up our bodies for the asanas to follow.

i found out about this sunny little studio through athena engleman, who happened to be subbing for rainbeau mars at truyoga in santa monica. i had met athena a couple of years ago at a south bay yoga event; at the time she taught community yoga classes offered by the beach cities health district. when i asked her where she taught these days, she mentioned equinox in santa monica and studio surya in venice.

studio surya? what?? how could i, the accidental yogist, the know-it-all of the LA yoga scene, not have heard about this studio, especially since it's right here, under my nose, on the westside?

i'm embarrassed to admit that had i been paying attention, i would have seen it mentioned right there on page 12 of the march issue of LA yoga, the issue with rainbeau mars on the cover. yes, the same rainbeau athena had subbed for. and yes, the same issue where my article on constance hart's chakra restorative class appeared on page 54... ok, i may be embarrassed, but i'm not shameless :)

i checked the studio website for more information. and all i found was the schedule of classes with around 40 classes listed throughout the week, but with only eight of them associated with a specific teacher.

so did someone else teach the other classes? or where they just placeholders for yet-to-be-offered classes?

since i couldn't find much on the two-page website, i called in to get the answer.

i was pleasantly surprised when someone actually answered the phone (these days, i usually get a please-leave-your-name-and-phone-number response when i call yoga studios, only because there's no one there or because the only person who's there to answer the phone is teaching a class). the friendly voice belonged to surya's owner, yonnus becker. and i was surprised that i'd never heard of her, either. hmmm... i must be losing my touch...

through the course of our short conversation, i found out that yonnus is a recent transplant from new york. she opened studio surya less than two months ago, and to get the word out, she's been handing out flyers locally in the venice area. and obviously, not at yoga studios. which is probably why i'd never heard of her place :(

anyway, as to my initial question about the 30 or so classes that were unaccounted for, the answer was simple -- she taught them all! with as many as six hour-long classes, back-to-back, every day except saturday, that was impressive... or insane! as she herself said, she practically lives at the studio. that's dedication!

so with my chances of catching her class the next day being almost certain -- she would be teaching all six classes that wednesday -- i ended our phone conversation and told her i'd be seeing her soon.

knowing that the parking situation in venice is never easy, especially around the windward circle area where the studio is located, i opted to ride my bike the four miles to get there. i guess it took longer than i'd thought; her noontime class was already in meditation by the time i'd locked up my bike and walked in the door. she smiled and motioned for me to come join the two other students in the room.

as we went through a sequence of slow, gentle stretches, i glanced around to check out my surroundings. with three of its four walls consisting of nothing but windows overlooking open spaces, the bright classroom seemed large and airy. there were the usual trappings of a yoga studio: cubbies by the entrance for personal belongings, a table with registration forms and sign-in sheets, shelves and baskets with blankets, straps, and other props, and an altar up front with a large buddha head, candles, and the requisite ipod player.

yonnus was very attentive to our needs during the class, making sure that everyone -- including a fourth student who walked in shortly after i did -- was given an appropriate modification if needed. and during savasana, not only did she provide us with rolled-up blankets for our knees, but she went around and covered each of us with blankets and gave us lavender-scented mini-massages to help us relax even more. sweet!

when class ended, i asked the students in the class how they'd heard about the studio. two of them were locals, while the other hailed from as far away as brentwood; she'd been taking photos in the neighborhood, noticed the studio, and decided to drop by. and she's been going there ever since. hopefully, they'll be telling their friends, who'll be telling their friends. and so on, and so on...

by the way, as an easter treat to all, studio surya will be offering all of this sunday's classes on a donation basis. so take your pick -- vinyasa flow at 10:30am, 12:00pm, 1:30pm, 3:00pm, and 5:00pm, all with yonnus becker (!), and a delicious slow flow at 7:30pm with bruna sakanoi. show your love and appreciation for studio surya and make sure you treat the donation box as well before you leave :)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

viva las veggies!

just found out about the first-ever veggie pride parade, which will be held on april 26th in culver city. if you live the veggie lifestyle (and even if you don't), show your support for those of the veggie persuasion!

for more information, visit the event website at veggiepridela.com

Sunday, April 26, 11 am – 4 pm
Culver Events
11948 W. Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

11:00–12:00 REGISTRATION
12:00–2:00 MARCH! Show your veggie pride for the West Coast’s first 5K VEGGIE PRIDE PARADE!
2:00–4:00 RALLY! Special Guest Presentations, Costume Contest, Great Veggie Food, Veg Bands & More!

Vegetarians everywhere UNITE! Join LA’s first VEGGIE PRIDE PARADE and help make veggie history!

The festivities will begin at 11:00 am at Culver Events, where “veg heads” will register, enjoy a pre-march rally with veg entertainment and a special keynote speaker to rally the veg troups for our historic march. At noon we will begin a 5K walk through Venice with participants adorned with eye-catching costumes and thought provoking signs to educate people about the humane, environmental, and health benefits of a vegetarian diet.

After the march we will gather for a post-parade rally to celebrate the vegetarian lifestyle, with special guest presentations, music & veg entertainment, costume contest, and of course, a smorgasbord of vegan food from our area’s top veg restaurants.

So, come and get your veg on with inspiring guest speakers Karen Dawn, Rory Freedman, and other special guests. You’ll be able to explore great food and cruelty-free shopping with our Veggie Pride Parade Vendors!

The Los Angeles VEGGIE PRIDE PARADE was inspired by Vegetarians Against Animal Exploitation in France who will be celebrating their 9th parade in 2009 and by VivaVeggie Society who organized the first Veggie Pride Parade in the U.S. in 2008.

The Los Angeles event is being coordinated by Animal Acres, the Los Angeles farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate living center.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

a weekend of bhakti

it was a bhakti-filled weekend for me this past saturday and sunday, with two major kirtan artists -- dave stringer and wah! -- performing within chanting distance of each other... right in my neck of the woods. so how could i NOT attend both?

these were the event invites i received:

Dave Stringer at Kula, Santa Monica
Saturday and Sunday, April 4th and 5th 8:00pm

Hey Beautiful Chanters,
Please come out and join us this Saturday and Sunday nights to add your shakti to the mix.

Joining me will be:
Patrick Richey - tablas, mirdangam, cajon
C.C. White - vocals
Joni Allen - vocals
Jeff Andrews - bazouki and hammered dulcimer
Denise Kaufman - bass
Ambika Leigh - kartals

We're all charged about the sessions and as usual we'll be pushing the edge creatively and riding the waves of ecstasy.

Everyone is invited to participate. A modest donation at the door will help to underwrite the project, and everyone who attends the session will receive advance copies of the recordings. The official release is scheduled for my September 11th appearance at Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree.

Wah! at The Hub, West Los Angeles
Sunday, April 5th 6:30pm

Wah! performs kirtan with those wishing to contribute to charity and welcome Amma Adi Sakthi and Swami Shanmuga.

Hypnotic, mesmerizing and energizing - just a few adjectives that could be used to describe a recent performance by Wah! The success stems from Wah!'s extraordinary voice, which might be characterized as Jewel meets Sade...

since i'd been lucky enough to be part of the kirtan chorus on both krishna das's and steve ross's latest CDs, i looked forward to playing a part on dave stringer's yet-to-be-released album. but with your daily thread's eco-event on saturday (where hillary rubin led a short yoga warmup with the party guests) and wah's kirtan on sunday, i needed to do some schedule-juggling to be able to join dave's recording session.

it all worked out, somehow, in the end. i bailed halfway through the ydt party and arrived at dave's midway through the first chant. luckily, it was something i had learned at one of his previous kirtans, so i was pretty much up to speed from the get-go. for each of the succeeding chants, dave would run us through the melodic variations of each of the mantras, the band would do a quick run-through with their instruments, then dave would start the chant and we'd get rolling. there were only a few times when dave would ask for a retake, which just shows what quick learners we all were :)

there were six chants to be recorded that evening; it was almost midnight by the time we finished the last one saturday night. considering that i was up at six that morning for my usual saturday morning run, i was struggling to stay awake by the time it was all over!

sunday turned out to be an even crazier day for me. while my original plan was to just attend wah's kirtan that evening, it somehow evolved into a yoga class with psalm isadora, followed by wah!, ending with another sing-along with dave.

the class with psalm was one of her monthly yoga potluck classes. when i heard last month that she was scouting for a new venue, i put her in touch with the guys at yogaglo, a new yoga space in santa monica. as it turned out, her first collaboration with the 'glo was that sunday, and since i had somehow played matchmaker, i knew it was something i didn't want to miss. the class ended up being a rather interesting evening with partner yoga and live music. inspired by her recent trip to india, psalm led us through a series of very energetic kundalini- and sufi-inspired poses. but just when it was time to start the potluck portion of the evening -- yes, everyone brings a dish and shares it with the rest after class -- i had to run off and catch wah!... and what was left of her performance.

choosing to travel via bicycle, i pedaled furiously to get to the hub, a little more than a mile away. unfortunately, by the time i got there, wah! had just started her last number of the evening (that's what i get for being two hours late!). after the kirtan, amma adi sakthi and swami shanmuga spoke to the crowd and gave us all a blessing; the event ended with wah! performing one more number. while i was bummed that i missed most of the concert, i was glad that i was able to get wah! to autograph my copy of her latest CD, love holding love, before i left.

as for the do-over with dave stringer, i blame it all on felicia tomasko, editor of LA yoga magazine, who somehow managed to talk me into biking with her to dave's recording session after wah's kirtan. actually, i'm glad i decided to join her, not only because it was a chance to run into more people i knew, but it also increased my chances of getting my voice on the album dave'll be releasing in time for the bhakti fest in september!

speaking of bhakti fest, here's a plug for the upcoming kirtan-palooza this coming september 11-13 in joshua tree, california:

Bhakti Fest is a three day music festival celebrating devotion through chanting, yoga, meditation and community.

All of our presenters embody the spirit of Bhakti - deep devotion.

We will gather on 450 acres of inspiring desert land to express our love and devotion as one community through an enchanting array of activities, including:

Constant Kirtan Concerts
Yoga Classes
Private and Group Meditation
Vegetarian Cuisine
Midnight Fire Ceremonies (Pujas)
Hanuman Chalisas
Eco-Friendly Vendor Village
Camping, Cottages and Cabin Accommodations
Wellness Sanctuary: with massage, reiki, channeling and other unique healing sessions.
Sweat Lodges: poured in the Lakota tradition, space is extremely limited

as far as i know, everyone who's anyone in the kirtan world will be there! check out this list:

Jai Uttal
Dave Stringer
Donna De Lory
Wade Morissette
MC Yogi
Arjun Baba
Govindas and Radha
Dasi Karnamrita
Wynne Paris
Jaya Lakshmi
Joey Lugassy
Tony Khalife
Vaiyasaki Das
Geoffrey Gordon
Vikash & Prabhash
Lily Lalita Diamond
Temple Bhajan Band
Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe
Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits
Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band
Dana De Long
Krishna's Kirtan
Annmarie Solo
Suzanne Sterling

Thursday, April 02, 2009

vegans gone wild!

while leafing through a copy of the april fool's day edition of the santa monica daily press -- aka the "santa monica daily jest" -- i found this article, complete with photos of zombies going wild at the local farmers' market. the writer obviously didn't read my post the other day about why people go vegan in the first place... ahimsa, baby!

yes, i know, if we can't laugh at ourselves...

(by the way, for those unfamiliar with the westside yoga scene, i've added links to some of the places mentioned in the article)

Vegans terrorize Farmers’ Market
Daily Jest Staff Writer

MAIN STREET - A scene of unparalleled carnage erupted on Tuesday at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.

At around 11 a.m. a mob of angry vegans stormed into the market and started munching on the vendors.

The mob started simultaneous at Real Foods Daily and Urth Cafe, where many vegans frequent.

“They heard that vendors at the farmers’ market were sprinkling animal fat on the vegetables to make them taste better,” Jerry Orange, manager of Urth Cafe said. “It was crazier than when Ronald McDonald made a surprise visit at the national PETA convention.”

At 10:30 a.m. the mob from Urth Cafe started marching north on Main street wielding yoga mats spiked with reinforced and sharpened incense sticks. While marching, they munched on coconut husks and made inaudible noises.

“It was like they became those zombies from ‘Night of the Living Dead,’” Sunny Shralphaus, a surfer on his way to Bay Street, said. “Scarier than wiping out at the pipe, bro.”

Unfortunately, as the mob of unruly vegans passed Yoga Works, a class was getting out. For many of the members, the postyoga mellow was crushed when someone yelled “Meat in the Potatoes!” The mob garnered more members, most adorned with Lululemon workout pants and Native American tats.

By the time the mob reached City Hall, its 20 participants started running on all fours and chanting what sounded like Hari Krishna prayers.

“These new wave vegans think they know about spirituality and enlightenment,” Moonbeam Illuminance, a Hari Krishna practitioner, said. “But deep down, they are all blood thirsty savages controlled by the dark lords of the Santa Monica City Council.”

As the mob bounded across Broadway at Fourth Street, the mob from Real Foods Daily descended upon the Farmers’ Market from the east.

Trent Gelbert, a local hipster in the band “The Humours,” was simply impressing a date with his knowledge of vegan cuisine.

“All of the sudden some crazy people broke into the pastry case and started smearing soybean chocolate all over their face like war paint. Too bad there wasn’t any fat to make the chocolate stick to their faces,” Gelbert said. “If I actually cared about something, I’d join them.”

At exactly 11 a.m., both mobs descended upon the farmers’ market in a vortex of pent up rage fueled by the passion of being ignored, anemic blood and a haze of low blood sugar.

The mob destroyed everything in its path. Metal tents that house each vendor were bent with the sheer force of jaws strengthened by overcooked tofu and Satan.
(note from me: while i'm not crazy about it, i've never thought of seitan as being particularly evil...)

In less than 30 minutes every vendor was slaughtered in the frenzy.

“I served four tours in ‘Nam and ain’t never seen nothing like this,” Billy Dan, a homeless war veteran, said. “It was like the invasion of Saigon, dipped in napalm with a twist of Maylar massacre.”

Body parts were scattered across the pavement as groups of Japanese tourists stood around dumbfounded.

The cannibals immediately disbursed into Yoga studios, Kirtan chanting classes, and vegan restaurants.

“As of now no charges are being pressed on any of the mob,” Johnny Doughnut, the Santa Monica Police chief, said. “They came, they cannibalized, they conquered, they left without a trace.”

Meanwhile, a group of Weight Watchers were seen eating bloody body parts in the median near the overrated Fourth Street stairs.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

shop naked!

lululemon athletica just launched their online store today. special deals for early visitors!


postscript: yes, it was an april fool's day joke from the lulu peeps. honestly, it was so bad that for a while there, i thought that the lulu site had been hacked :)

it was a graphic designer's worst dream -- mismatched colors, bad graphics, poorly-written copy, flashing text, links that get you nowhere, even stuff like this scattered about:


and just when i found myself applauding the total disaster of it all (i mean, it takes lots of skill to come up with something THIS bad!), i scrolled down to the bottom and found this note:

APRIL FOOOOOOOLS! You didn't think we were capable of something this fugly did you?

since the link above now points to their legit online shopping website which goes live on april 15th, click here to see what you missed: http://www.lululemon.com/shop/aprilfools.html

oh, and don't forget to click on the video link at the bottom of the webpage so that you, too, can share the love with rick astley :)