Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
Click here to view the accidental yogist's map of los angeles yoga studios in a full-size page

Sunday, January 31, 2010

diary of a 31-day challenged yogini

another new year, another month-long challenge.

last year, it was the lululemon store in el segundo that posed the challenge. and not only did i meet it, but exceeded even my own expectations. but then again, with my obsessive-compulsive personality, i'm not surprised :)

click on these links to see what i posted back then --
~ rising to the challenge, part one
~ challenge survivor!

this year, i was enticed to do it once again, this time by yogaworks, who posted this on their facebook page:

Class A Day in January Challenge

Join us and take on a personal challenge with all your YogaWorks Facebook Friends here to support and encourage you!
There are no real rules – just take a class a day and write about it on this facebook page.
Classes can be taken at YogaWorks, another yoga studio, self-practice in your bedroom or with a DVD in your living room.
Take classes and – then write about it.
* Where did you take the class, who was the teacher, how’d you feel?
Grand Prize is SATISFACTION for anyone who completes the class a day challenge in January.
At the end of the month some randomly selected people who posted frequently will win prize package of “Stuff”.

with visions of "a prize package of stuff" as the dangling carrot before me, i bit and took the challenge.

here's what i ended up posting (btw, the only reason why i didn't take all the classes at YW was because the cost would have been prohibitive; i ended up cashing in a couple of one-week passes that i had stashed away for occasions such as this):

jan 1st, first class of 2010! - 2 hour anusara class with marc holzman and tiffany fraser guerillayogala.com. it's always fun to practice with friends!!

jan 2nd, day 2 - a 6-mile run, followed by power yoga with rudy mettia at power yoga west in santa monica. a good way to sweat out all of the toxins from 2009 :)

jan 3rd, day 3 - couldn't make it to a yoga studio today, so did an online restoratives/meditation at home with noah maze at yogaglo.com

jan 4th, day 4 - vinyasa flow with annie carpenter at YW main st. living up to her name, she will help build up your alignment and strength to make your practice more "easeful" :)

jan 5th, day 5 - managed to get the last open spot in vinnie marino's class today at YW main street -- his first class back from vacation. 80 students in a tuesday 9am class!?!?! don't people have 9-to-5 jobs around here anymore?

jan 6th, day 6 - since i seem to be coming down with a cold, i opted for chris stein's 1/2 iyengar at YW montana. besides, it's always good to work on the fundamentals every now and then :)

jan 7th, day 7 - vinyasa flow 2/3 with sara ivanhoe at YW main street. such a beautiful, yet sweaty, practice. found myself chanting along with KD and the others on her ipod playlist while doing the surya namaskar sequence :)

jan 8th, day 8 - relaxed deeply with aaron reed at exhale venice. this evening's vibe was even more chill than usual, only because the power supply to half the studio was inadvertently cut off by nearby construction work. so we practiced in the dark with no heat and nothing but the sound of cars whooshing by on main street...

jan 9th, day 9 - vinyasa flow with mia togo at YW montana. was so drenched in sweat by the time class ended that i wondered why i bothered to shower before class... because i was just going to hop right back in when i got home!

jan 10th, day 10 - after running a half marathon this morning, then being unable to find a nice restorative class with a time/place that would work for me, i ended up practicing bhakti yoga instead. i attended a puja, followed by a kirtan, at the new aanand saagar studio near the third street promenade.

jan 11th, day 11 - vinyasa flow with seane corn at yogaglo, a fundraiser for Y.O.G.A for youth, a non-profit whose mission is to bring yoga and meditation to at-risk youth in LA (btw, kia miller will be teaching a fundraiser for the same charity this coming saturday on main street)

jan 12th, day 12 - a much-needed yin yoga class at yogaglo with felicia tomasko, editor of LA yoga magazine, accompanied by peter sterling on harp, flute, and tibetan bowl!! harpmagic.com

jan 13th, day 13 - still recovering from the after-effects of a bad cold and sunday's half-marathon, i listened to my body and took a level 1 class at yogaglo with steven espinosa, who focused on the basics of proper alignment. stepping away from the usual vinyasa flow to revisit the basics is a great way to keep from getting sloppy in one's practice (and prevent injury!)

jan 14th, day 14 - celebrated the new moon AND solar eclipse with a powerful kundalini class at kundalini katie's home on the westside. there was some meditation, some yoga, some goal-setting, and i had lots of fun making new friends!

jan 15th, day 15 - took an intermediate/advanced anusara class with naime jezzeny and noah maze at yogaglo. you know you've picked THE class to go to when the LA anusara kula shows up in force :)

jan 16th, day 16 - took a mellow vinyasa flow class with chani nicolas at yogis anonymous, with live music provided by dorian cheah, david watts, momo loudiyi, masood ali khan, and dahveed haribol. all proceeds from the donation-based class will go to the red cross for haitian earthquake relief!

jan 17th, day 17 - another therapeutics and alignment class with naime jezzeny and noah maze at yogaglo. today's focus: hips, pelvis, sacrum and lumbar spine. we learned the finer points of aligning the spine and the legs to protect the back. now i just have to put into practice what i've learned!

jan 18th, day 18 - welcomed marc holzman to his new slot at yogaglo, where he now teaches a level 2 anusara class. today's theme was inspired by martin luther king, who said: "Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

jan 19th, day 19 - found myself doing some errands in the south bay, so i took an all-levels power yoga class with mary strong at the green yogi in manhattan beach... then had a wonderful deep tissue massage immediately afterwards at the massage spot next door! :)

jan 20th, day 20 - old navy is sponsoring FREE yoga at yogaco today and tomorrow, so i took tommy rosen's kundalini/vinyasa flow class to get my shakti fired up. sat nam!!

jan 20th, day 20 - after returning home from a yoga class this morning, i decided to go to yogaglo for more yoga and ended up taking not just one more class, but TWO!! the first was felicia tomasko's yoga for immunity class, where we stimulated our lymph nodes to get them activated, and the second was noah maze's level 2 anusara class. so one am class + two pm classes = three today! crazy...

jan 21st, day 21 - vinyasa flow class with sarah ezrin at lululemon brentwood, with all donations going to the red cross for its relief efforts in haiti. there was an amazingly good turnout, considering the wicked weather outside!

jan 22nd, day 22 - was so busy watching the hope for haiti telethon on TV that i lost track of time and was almost late for alyson khan's class -- which, by the way, was a fundraiser for an orphanage in haiti -- at bhakti yoga shala. live music was provided by moose ali khan and friends. don't know what felt better, going through the yoga poses or knowing that the money was going to a good cause!

jan 23rd, day 23 - was so inspired by the close to 80 yogis who packed the classroom at the YW main street fundraiser!! many thanks to david kim, david lynch, kathryn budig, kia miller, malachi melville, mia togo, and sara ivanhoe for the wonderful flow class... and to shayn almeida and becky kessler for providing the sweet sounds that we practiced to!

jan 24th, day 24 - the downside of having an unstable sacroiliac joint (and i haven't quite yet found an upside) is that it goes out every now and then and causes great pain. so i chose to skip my practice today to avoid tweaking it even more. but i did attend a party at u studio yoga this evening... so if chatting with a group of yogis while standing in a yoga studio counts as yoga, i'm good for today. don't buy it? ok, fine. i'll sit here and meditate on the yama of ahimsa, or non-injury :)

jan 25th, day 25 - trying to remain mindful of my SI issue, i remembered -- and hoped -- that since this was the 4th week of the month, an iyengar class would be a restorative one. not being able to find an iyengar class at YW that fit into my schedule, i headed out to the iyengar institute and took leslie peters' level 2 class, and sure enough, with the exception of handstands and headstands, the rest of our practice was restorative. nice!

jan 26th, day 26 - paid a visit to my physical therapist to see how whacked my back was. let's just say i wasn't imagining things :( so after some mobilization, some stim, and some ice, he made me promise that i would stay away from any and all yoga classes today. he didn't say anything about tomorrow, though :) so my mantra for today was: knit 1, purl 1, repeat until end of row...

jan 27th, day 27 - continuing to practice ahimsa to my spasmatic back, i showed up at truyoga in santa monica for the gentle yoga with therapeutics class. because the regular teacher couldn't make it, none of her regulars showed up -- so i ended up getting a one-on-one private with her sub, nykki hardin. their loss, my gain!

jan 28th, day 28 - one never really thinks of iyengar classes as fun, unless you happen to have the always-entertaining paul cabanis as your teacher! we had a trilingual english-spanish-french class today at YW westwood, where "periodicos" DIDN'T refer to the stuff you read :)

jan 29th, day 29 - slow start for me this morning; arrived late for marla's iyengar class, so i took birgitte kristen's yogaworks 1/2 class instead. good core sequence to help strengthen all my lazy ab muscles!

jan 30th, day 30 - another day, another fundraiser class! this time it was for yoga gives back at yogis anonymous and was taught by ally hamilton, chani nicholas, charlie samos, john sahakian, and meredith hines. we were serenaded by daniel stewart and friends during class, then treated with cookies, fruit, and acai juice after!

jan 31st, day 31 - started the day in a loopy way, so to speak, learning about the anusara energy loops with elena brower at yogaglo. then ended the day -- and the month -- with a much-deserved restorative iyengar practice with marla apt at YW montana. tomorrow's a new month... bring it on!

Friday, January 29, 2010

shopping for yoga on the promenade

call me a cheapskate, but i really don't like paying for parking. and if i go anywhere near the 3rd street promenade in santa monica, i'd almost always have to.

which is why i usually bike to yoga class when i'm headed that way. not only do i NOT have to pay to park my bike, but i don't have to go round and round in the structures in search of an elusive parking space (the sign outside might say there are 9 spaces available, but good luck trying to find those 9 empty spots!!).

last week, though, during our epic week of rain -- and who says it never rains in southern california? -- i found myself having to kiss my bike goodbye as i hopped in my car to get to class. it seemed the wise thing to do; not only didn't i want to get drenched (either from the rain itself or from trucks splashing through puddles on the street), but i definitely didn't want to get sideswiped by inattentive LA drivers who couldn't see clearly out their windows because of the rain while they were attempting to update their facebook statuses on their iphones :(

as i drove into the parking structure, i noticed the people walking to and from their cars. and strangely enough, EVERYONE was carrying a yoga mat!!

you think i'm exaggerating? consider this: within a three-block stretch of 2nd street in santa monica, there are FOUR yoga studios... and within a short jog from there, there are FOUR more! and that doesn't even include the other sources of yoga classes -- the four or more gyms that are also in the area: equinox, 24 hour fitness, burn fitness, and easton gym, plus the lululemon athletica santa monica with its FREE community classes on sunday mornings!

and did i mention that there's a hot yoga studio that's scheduled to open in another month or so in the former exhale santa monica location??

so as far as yoga in LA goes, welcome to ground zero :)

the area around 3rd street is also the place where you're going to find the greatest concentration of donation-based** yoga studios; of the eight i counted earlier, all but two of them have donation boxes stationed by the front door.

** for those of you unfamiliar with the concept of donation-based yoga, here's a brief recap:

instead of charging a set fee for each class, these yoga studios allow you to name your own price. in other words, you give what you can afford to pay at the moment and/or what you think the class was worth to you. most of the studios suggest a $14 donation per class, which is still less than the going rate at non-donation based studios.

now please indulge me for a moment as i step on my soapbox... as far as i'm concerned, everyone should drop something in the donation box. if you're really broke, pull a dollar bill out of your pocket and drop it in. if you're feeling a little more generous, put in $5 or $10. on the other hand, if you felt like you just took the best class in your entire life and want to make sure that teacher continues to be there for you, by all means put in even more! btw, if you're driving a late-model hybrid car and are planning to do some major shopping at anthropologie or some other high-end store on the promenade after class, there is absolutely NO reason why you should donate less than $15. i mean, where are your priorities???... ok, hopping off soapbox...

when making a donation, don't worry if all you have are large bills; it's OK to make change from what's in the box. just make sure you don't take out more than you put in :(

with that said, here are the yoga studios located in the vicinity of the third street promenade and what their classes are like. i'll start with the farthest one out and work my way in:

home simply yoga - 1547 6th st (thru the courtyard); some classes by donation

this is the only studio on the westside focused on mysore-style ashtanga yoga. but since they're fully aware that not everyone is a hardcore ashtangi, they offer beginner and led ashtanga classes, by donation, for those who want to learn the basics. their class schedule also includes vinyasa flow classes and other specialized classes, also by donation.

home simply was one of the first green yoga studios here in LA. their beautiful hardwood asana floor was once the sales floor of the plush armani exchange store down on main street; in fact, most of the materials used in the studio are recycled discards from a number of remodel projects around town. in the spirit of going green, you might want to consider walking, biking, or taking the bus to get here. street parking is metered and at a premium; the nearest city parking structures are three blocks away.

santa monica power yoga east - 522 santa monica blvd, 2nd floor; by donation

this is the home that every teacher's teacher, bryan kest, built. it's located in the dance home studio, right above the radio shack store near the goodwill thrift shop. there's usually a line snaking down the stairs, along the sidewalk, and around the corner. it's been said that ginger rogers and fred astaire used to rehearse on the same floor thousands of power yoga-hungry students now practice on. classes are usually packed, so get there early (which explains the line).

bryan and the other instructors teach power yoga classes of varying levels of difficulty. note: for bryan's level 3-4 classes, you must be an advanced student. it used to be that you had to attend his level 1-2 class a number of times and get his approval before you could show up at his 3-4. i'm not sure if he still enforces that rule, but all i know is that if you're a first-timer, don't even think of taking his advanced class!

fred segal yoga - 420 broadway; $10 per class

this is also known as the yoga studio at the preece and toff salon at the fred segal store. the fred segal santa monica has two buildings on broadway, one on the east side of 5th street and one on the west; the yoga studio is in the west building. the management hasn't done a particularly great job of promoting the studio, so most people don't even know that it's there. when it first opened, there were about three classes a day. i just checked the class schedule and it looks like it's down to just three classes a week :( but then again, each class will set you back only ten bucks...

unlike all the other surrounding yoga studios, there's a parking lot for all fred segal customers, so you get to park there for free while you're taking a class. and, of course, while you're getting your hair done at the salon or while ogling all the celebrities who shop there.

yogaco - 1408 3rd st promenade, 3rd floor; by donation

if you've ever strolled up and down the promenade, chances are, you've probably walked right past this yoga studio without knowing that it was there. the entrance is between the lush and anthropologie stores; look for the glass door, enter the hallway, and either take the elevator or walk up the flight of stairs to get to the third floor. once you get there, you'll swear you just walked into an exclusive yoga studio with prices to match. au contraire! the owners, grant and kelsey gottfurcht, along with tamal dodge, spared no expense in turning this into a luxe location. the lobby, all three classrooms, even the bathrooms are well-appointed. but the entire place is run on donations. if you feel guilty about putting just a couple of bucks in the donation box after class, maybe your conscience has a point... so put in more! :)

yogaco offers classes in a variety of styles -- power, vinyasa flow, ashtanga, iyengar, prenatal, mommy and me -- so there's bound to be something that speaks to you.

santa monica power yoga west - 1410 2nd st; by donation

this is the more stylish sibling of kest's power yoga studio less than a mile up the street. there's a retail store in front that has a good selection of affordably-priced yoga stuff: mats, props, clothing, books, jewelry, figurines, and more. so if you're in from out of town and left all your yoga gear back home, you should be able to buy everything you need right here. out back is a large classroom with shelves to stash your stuff (unlike at dance home where you pretty much leave your belongings by your mat or along the wall).

like the other location, almost all the classes are power yoga. and yes, they're just as packed, too.

aanand saagar santa monica - 1318 2nd st, 2nd floor; by donation

this is the santa monica branch of arvind chittumalla's studio with the same name over in venice. the classes here are more traditional, with the focus on wellness and healing. according to the website: We take an integral approach to yoga, incorporating all the eight limbs of Raja Yoga in our practice, as prescribed by Patanjali. Yoga is said to be the science of self liberation and practicing asanas is perhaps just the first step in a yogi's journey of self discovery. Our goal is to help people incorporate other aspects of yoga into their practice and also remind them to take yoga off the mat and incorporate it in every aspect of their life.

the studio just opened last month, so the schedule is still being filled in. most of the classes are vinyasa flow, with a couple of meditation classes thrown in to balance things out.

bhakti yoga shala - 207 arizona ave @ 2nd st; by donation

ever wonder what happened to all the kirtan that used to be held at the power yoga west studio on saturday nights? many of those kirtan wallahs, who also happen to be power yoga teachers, moved over when govindas and radha opened up their own yoga studio down the street. all the classes are all-level "bhakti vinyasa flow", a seamless blend of hatha (physical) yoga and bhakti (devotional) yoga. it seems like every teacher here plays the harmonium (or pulls in a close friend who does), so there's lots of chanting that goes along with the asanas. if you're one of those who prefers the "no chanting, no granola, no sanskrit" kind of yoga advocated by the spinning crowd over in venice, this place isn't for you. on the other hand, give it a shot; not only will it cost you less money, but you might actually like it!

the bhakti shala holds kirtans every friday and saturday evening with a revolving list of musicians. these loud and lusty chantfests usually turn into ecstatic sessions that last late into the night (which seems to discourage the homeless from camping out on their doorstep). special events, usually maha kirtans featuring visiting musicians accompanied by the house "band", are also held on a fairly regular basis.

yogis anonymous - 1221 2nd st; by donation

just like the bhakti yoga shala a block away, yogis anonymous was started by a former power yoga alum, ally hamilton, and her husband dorian cheah. taking a class here is like walking into the cheah living room and finding the place filled with their best friends... who soon become your good friends, too. every now and then, their next door neighbor (not really, but play along with me here) josh nelson pops by with gluten-free vegan cookies and brownies... yum! and don't be surprised if you find their litttle kids hanging around from time to time; if you're there often enough, you'll eventually find yourself taking your turn as babysitter or entertainer :)

to give you an idea of how much fun this place is, check out some of the classes offered. the names speak for themselves -- order your breakfast, east meets west, classic yoga made in india, hurts so good, yoga for ninjas, friday night yoga party, sunday sadhana, and the class that always elicits a "huh?", good cop/bad cop. there's never a dull moment here.

so now that you know where you might want to go for your next yoga class, click here for information on the parking structures in and around the 3rd street promenade. and good luck finding that parking spot!! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

enlightenment for foodies

hi, i'm joni. and i'm addicted to food.

at one point, i was so addicted that it didn't matter if it walked or swam or flew or just grew in place. if someone cooked something well enough to make it look appetizing, i ate it. or at least attempted to. and i got great satisfaction from filling my belly with food that tasted good. it made me happy. and who wouldn't want a happy joni? :)

and yes, i was aware of those around me who had different eating habits than my own. like those who avoided eating red meat. or those who were sworn vegetarians -- including those who ate eggs but not dairy, or dairy but not eggs. and if they abstained from both eggs AND dairy, they earned the right to call themselves vegan. if they were really hardcore, they went raw. which meant no cooking, no heating. and as far as i was concerned, no fun.

in fact, in my earlier years of volunteering at the KCRW pledge drive (which, by the way, starts up again this week), it used to upset me when the choices laid out on the food table were predominantly vegetarian. pasta with veggies. veggie sandwiches. pizza with veggie toppings. where's the beef?, i used to whine. but since it was good -- and better yet, it was free -- i ate it anyway. (of course, now that i've stopped eating meat, i find myself whining that there aren't enough veggie entrees to choose from. as they say, the grass is always greener...)

maybe it's my continued exposure to vegetarians in the yoga community. or a better awareness of the meat industry and its role in global warming and animal abuse. or all that plus my attempt to limit my food choices to force myself to eat less to retain my i-wish-it-were-girlish figure. either way, i've gradually found myself becoming less of a carnivore and more of an herbivore (although i continue to eat fish and other seafood). but i do have my weak moments -- the times when i crave the taste and the mouthfeel of something meat-based. and if the dish in front of me is worthy of a transgression, i will eat it.

so when the new york times featured this article about yoga and food in today's dining section, i found myself being drawn to it, not only because i personally know and love dave romanelli, the yoga teacher featured in the story, but because it delves into the ongoing battle between two factions: those who are adamantly against eating meat of any kind vs. those who believe that as long as it tastes good, why not?

and you know exactly where i stand on that issue :)

here are some excerpts from that article. click here to read it in its entirety.

When Chocolate and Chakras Collide
By Julia Moskin
Published: January 26, 2010

“I DON’T condemn/I don’t convert.”

The words of Ziggy Marley’s “Love Is My Religion” floated over 30 people lying on yoga mats in a steamy, dim loft above Madison Avenue on Friday. All had signed up for a strange new hybrid of physical activity: first an hour of vigorous, sweaty yoga, then a multicourse dinner of pasta, red wine and chocolate. As soon as the lights went up, dinner was served on the floor: an (almost) seamless transition designed to allow the yogis to taste, smell and digest in a heightened state of awareness.

“It’s a little weird to sit on a sweaty yoga mat and eat soup,” said one woman, not pausing as she spooned up a smooth, cinnamon-spiked butternut squash purée from a bamboo bowl. “But people are used to doing some weird things in yoga class.”

Friday’s event at Exhale Spa was the first of a series of “Yoga for Foodies” sessions, devised by a young, adventurous yoga teacher, David Romanelli, and coming soon to restaurants in Chicago, Cleveland and Dallas.

Calling his mission “yoga for the Everyman,” Mr. Romanelli, 36, plays Grateful Dead songs during class, wears sweat pants rather than spandex, and has already experimented with offering chocolate truffles after chaturanga instruction. “It’s a way of getting people in the door,” he said in an interview. “The world is a better place if people do yoga. And if they come because chocolate or wine is involved, I’m fine with it.”

The past decade has produced thousands of new foodies and new yogis, all interested in healthier bodies, clearer consciences and a greener planet. Inevitably, the overlap between the people who love to eat and the people who love to do eagle pose has grown. In 2007, a combination yoga studio and fine dining restaurant, Ubuntu, opened in Napa, Calif.

But not everyone agrees that the lusty enjoyment of food and wine is compatible with yogic enlightenment. Yoga purists say that many foods — like wine and meat — are still off limits. Others, like Mr. Romanelli, say that anything goes, as long as it tastes good. The debate is exposing rich ores of resentment in the yoga world.

“The culture of judgment in the yoga community — I call it “yogier than thou” — is rampant, and nowhere more than around food,” said Sadie Nardini, a yoga teacher in New York.

“Nowhere is it written that only vegetarians can do yoga,” she said in an interview. “We do not live in the time of the founding fathers of yoga, and we don’t know what they wanted us to eat.”

There are many ways to “do” yoga: the term embraces meditation, worship, study and action, as well as the physical pretzeling that Americans primarily associate with the term. Just as the Judeo-Christian tradition has produced many offshoots, yoga has many schools, like Ashtanga, Iyengar and Tantra. But over the 5,000 years of its evolution, and across Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions, yoga has always been broadly understood as a route to enlightenment and purification.

Which is where eating bacon and pouring wine in yoga class, as Mr. Romanelli has done, becomes complicated. “People are starting to push back against the traditional, quiet, serious approach,” said Mr. Romanelli, who has a scrubbed, cheerful, regular-guy aura. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he moved to California to work as an assistant to Shaquille O’Neal’s agent. In Santa Monica, he said, there were lines down the block for yoga classes. and, noticing a business opportunity before a spiritual one, he began attending classes, where he was quickly hooked.

India has become to American yoga what France is to American cuisine: an ancient source of wisdom to be reinterpreted, democratized and repackaged by its acolytes here. The “yoga industry” now represents about $6 billion in annual spending by American consumers on classes, videos, mats and apparel like the $158 Apres Yoga jacket at the upscale chain Lululemon, according to Yoga Journal magazine.

And in yoga and foodie circles alike, contemplating the awesome significance of every bite taken — its flavors, its implications, its history — often seems to lead to moral judgments about others.

“It’s been one of my struggles,” said Rick Bayless, the Chicago chef, who has been practicing yoga for 15 years, is not a vegetarian and loves pork. “I think that sometimes the yoga community is a little too austere, and it’s hard to talk about what I do with people who believe in eating just what you need to stay alive.”

Mary Taylor, a yoga teacher in Boulder, Colo., who studied with Julia Child in Paris, said that it was once difficult to reconcile her commitment to yoga with her love of good food. But in the Upanishads, the sacred Hindu texts, she said, she found an aesthetic philosophy in which the appreciation of worldly things is not only acceptable, but necessary to achieve true understanding. “Until you appreciate the fullest taste of a vegetable, you don’t know the truth of it,” she said. “And you bring out that truth by cooking it, making it beautiful and delicious and appealing to the senses.”

“The very first teaching of yoga forbids us to eat meat,” said Eva Grubler, director of training at Dharma Yoga in New York, one of the most venerated yoga centers in the country. Ahimsa, the first yama (things to not do), is a prescription not to harm others. But the definition of “others” — whether it includes all animals, or only people, or should perhaps extend to the plant kingdom — is in debate.

“This is the hottest of all hot-button issues in yoga,” said Dayna Macy, a managing editor of Yoga Journal, who recently attended the slaughter of five steer at Prather Ranch, an organic, certified-humane cattle ranch in Northern California, in an attempt to resolve her inner turmoil about eating beef.

Several prominent American yoga teachers like Ana Forrest and Bryan Kest have recently acknowledged eating meat. In an example of how yogis have adopted the language and ideology of foodies, Mr. Kest calls himself a “selectarian,” one who chooses everything he eats.

Many American yogis are so particular about what they put in their bodies that they make Alice Waters look like Paula Deen. Sometimes, even an all-vegan, organic, low-carbon-footprint diet is not pure enough: each vegetable must be grown in an atmosphere of positive energy. Steve Ross, an influential teacher in Los Angeles, says in his book “Happy Yoga; 7 Reasons Why There’s Nothing to Worry About” that yogis must ask themselves this question in the produce section: “Are the farmers full of gratitude and love, and do they enjoy growing food, or are they angry and filled with hate for their job and all vegetables?”

Ms. Taylor says she seeks a “middle path”; she follows a vegan diet but refrains from judging those who don’t. “If we become aggressive and intolerant towards those who do eat meat, is that an act of kindness?” she said. “If your grandmother is making a wonderful meat dish that you have loved since you were a child, is it yoga to push it away?”

Mr. Romanelli believes that any profound pleasure of the senses — a live Bruce Springsteen track, an In-N-Out burger, the scent of lavender gathered in the French Alps — can bring on the “yoga high” that is a gateway to divine bliss.

“What yoga teachers do and what chefs do is not so different,” he said. “We take everyday actions like moving and eating, and slow you down so you can appreciate them.” Achieving stillness and peace amid the distractions of life, he said, has always been the higher goal of yoga.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

be part of the dream

i posted this event on my facebook page a few days ago, and it just dawned on me that while a good number of you are fans of my facebook page, there are many, many more that rely on the good old-fashioned internet to find out what's going on -- i mean, isn't it amazing how getting updates via an internet search was considered leading-edge not that long ago?

anyway, since all of this is fairly time-sensitive, i'm going to post it in its entirety here...

this coming friday, january 15th, would have been dr. martin luther king's 81st birthday. to commemorate the occasion, there will be a gala fundraiser event at the marrakesh house in culver city that will benefit krishna kaur's Y.O.G.A. for youth organization:

Founded in 1993 by Krishna Kaur, Y.O.G.A. for Youth is a non-profit organization that brings yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, chanting, deep relaxation and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. The program aims to give youth practical tools to enrich their lives and assist them in effectively meeting life’s challenges now and in the future. It's curriculum is being taught in juvenile detention facilities, prisons and after school programs and to pregnant and parenting teens throughout Southern California with satellite programs in New York, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago and Mexico.

here's the invite to that gala event:

You are cordially invited to join Krishna Kaur at the YOGA For Youth fundraiser on January 15th from 5:00pm to midnight at the extraordinary Marrakesh House, 6310 Tomkins Way in Culver City.

There will be organic food, elixirs, community and live music performances by Tom Freund, Annmarie Solo, Aykanna and J Brave and Amore One of Luminaries. Most importantly, we will be raising funds to support the life-changing work of YOGA For Youth.

Here is a short clip that shows how Yoga for Youth changes lives:

The Gala is the culmination of a week long campaign in which LA's top Yoga studios and teachers are offering donation based yoga classes with all proceeds going to YOGA for Youth.

Suggested Donation for the event is $108, but ALL ARE WELCOME!!!

as mentioned in the invite, there will also be a number of yoga studios and teachers who will be holding special classes by donation to raise even more money for this worthy cause. check out the list below; there's bound to be at least one teacher, location, or even a style of yoga that is calling out to you:

Saturday, January 9, 2010
9:00am - Karen Shuman at Karen Shuman's Yoga
Hatha/Kundalini Mix
4521 Van Nuys Blvd, Ste A, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

6:30-8:00pm - Jules Hogan at Goda Yoga
Vinyasa Flow
9711 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

6:30-8:30pm - Jessica Anderson at YogaWorks Westlake Village
Vinyasa Flow
2475 Townsgate Road, Westlake Village, CA 91361

7:30-9:30pm - David Lynch at YogaWorks Larchmont
Vinyasa Flow
230 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Sunday, January 10, 2010
10:00-11:45am - Govindas at Bhakti Yoga Shala
Bhakti Flow
207 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica 90405

4:30-6:30pm - Krishna Kaur at Crenshaw Yoga and Dance
5426 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90043

Monday, January 11, 2010
6:00pm - Seane Corn at YogaGLO
Vinyasa Flow
1800 Berkeley Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
6:00-7:30pm - Tamal Dodge at YogaCO
Power Yoga
1408 Third Street Promenade, 3rd floor, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
6:00pm - Gurmukh Kaur at Golden Bridge
6322 De Longpre Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90028

8:00pm - Ally Hamilton at Yogis Anonymous
Power Yoga
1221 2nd Street, Santa Monica, California 90401

Thursday, January 14, 2010
9:00-10:30am - Hala Khouri at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement
Vinyasa Flow
245 Main Street, Venice, CA 90291

6:15-7:30pm - Sussy Castilla at The Yogi Tree
Candlelight Kundalini
4475 Vineland Ave, Toluca Lake, CA 91602

7:00-8:30pm - Guru Singh at Yoga West
1535 S. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Friday, January 15, 2010
5:00pm-midnight - Gala Fundraiser Event at Marrakesh House (see above)
Live music, food, drink!
6310 Tomkins Way, Culver City, CA 90232

Saturday, January 16, 2010
9:00-10:30am - Stuart Hanna at Mission Street Yoga
1017 Mission Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030

6:30-8:30pm - Kia Miller at YogaWorks Main Street
Kundalini-inspired Vinyasa Flow
2215 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Sunday, January 17, 2010
1:00-2:00pm - Shanti Walling at Yoga Shakti
Shakti Flow
4249 Campus Drive, Suite B140, Irvine, CA 92612

7:00-8:30pm - Jewel Love at Community Yoga
Wellness Yoga
1642 South Orange Drive, Apt #3, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Monday, January 18, 2010
6:30-8:00pm - Frank "Paviter" Magana at Greenleaf Yoga
Vinyasa Flow
7654 Greenleaf Ave, Whittier, CA 90602