Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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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 :)