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Monday, February 15, 2010

heal me

Heal and Soul
16545 Ventura Boulvard
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 501-8228
website: www.healandsoul.com

Heal and Soul was born out of a vision to create a community center where people can explore and practice alternative approaches to healing and wellness. Sharing this ideal, Dr. Joseph Kim and Donna Stillo have designed a distinctive institute of harmonious balance. Their goal is to inspire, empower and enlighten with their wide range of healing modalities. Combining ancient mind-body techniques such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong with Eastern healing arts such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, Heal and Soul aims to help people achieve their highest level of well-being.

i have issues. lots of them.

my left sacroiliac joint is hypermobile while the matching right side is hypomobile. the L4 and L5 segments in my spine are stuck. my coccyx is out of alignment. and all the muscles surrounding all those bony structures are busy trying to figure out what the hell is going on. needless to say, they're not happy; every twinge of lower back pain i experience is their way of screaming their displeasure at me.

there's also this funky shoulder pain i've been feeling for the past 6 months or so. is it caused by tension or overuse? from yoga or from lifting my bike? all i know is that certain arm movements and/or shoulder stretches can get somewhat uncomfortable. ouch.

and i'm not even going to go into the left hamstring i tore from careless yoga and the right ACL i tore from careless skiing. thankfully, both of those have healed.

isn't it ironic how trying to live a healthy life can be the cause of so much pain? :(

so it was during one of my spasmatic back episodes that i decided to check out the new heal and soul studio in encino. their yoga classes sounded nice and gentle -- therapeutic yoga, beginning yoga, iyengar yoga, among others -- so i found myself at their doorstep one lunchtime for marie besso's hatha yoga for everybody class. by the time i'd finished filling out the standard waiver form at the receptionist's desk and walked over to the classroom next door, marie was already helping set up the handful of students who were lying quietly on their mats.

we progressed through a series of slow, deliberate poses and it always seemed like marie was right there with a helpful block or blanket. by the time class ended, i felt like i had pushed myself sufficiently without causing a revolt in my lower back. and that made for a very good class, at least in my book :)

i walked up to marie after class ended to thank her. she commented that i looked familiar; i smiled and told her that it was only during the course of the class that i'd realized i'd taken her class years ago at the recently-closed angel city yoga in studio city (you'd think i'd remember things like that BEFORE going to class... could this mean that in addition to my aches and pains, i'm losing my memory, too?? argh).

after class, i returned to the reception area and chatted with co-owner donna stillo as she showed me the second classroom and the gift items in the retail area. she later introduced me to her partner, dr. joseph kim, the resident acupuncturist and practitioner of oriental medicine. we talked briefly about my back pain. while i was very tempted to see if he could help me, i realized my problem was chronic and would require a number of visits... with a 25-mile roundtrip commute each time. i decided to pass.

that doesn't mean, of course, that i won't return to check out the other classes and other teachers, because i know i will.

unlike most of the other valley-based yoga studios that are located east of the 405 in sherman oaks and studio city, heal and soul is located west of the 405, in encino. it's in the shopping plaza near the NW corner of ventura and hayvenhurst; most runners like myself have probably already been there to shop at the phidippides running shoe store also located in the complex.

note: from now on, every time i post a visit to a studio, i'll be including handy information for getting there by car, bike, and/or bus. like this:

parking: free parking in lot
bike racks: none
closest intersection: ventura blvd and hayvenhurst ave