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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a week's worth of yoga adventures in lala land

last week, i embarked upon a 30-day yoga challenge posed by the friendly people at yogaglo, an online source of yoga classes. for those of you unfamiliar with the glo (as it is fondly called by its regulars), you can stream and take as many yoga classes as you want -- whenever and wherever you need your yoga fix -- for a flat $18 monthly fee. and whether you sign in as infrequently as twice a month or as often as a 3-4 times a week, it's one of the best deals going, given the caliber of the teaching staff which includes such notables as elena brower, seane corn, noah maze, mark whitwell, and many more.

i'm sure that when the glo folks put out the challenge, they expected that the challengers would log in daily and choose from any of the hundreds of classes available on the website. after all, taking a glo class a day wouldn't cost them any more than what they were already paying.

then of course there's me, the yogi with the extreme case of yoga ADHD who has no desire to take a class with any one teacher more than twice a month. so with their permission, i've modified the challenge to meet my needs; while complying with the 30 classes in 30 days requirement, i'll be choosing classes that highlight the diversity of yoga available in LA.

as of my last post, i'd taken a team-taught fundraiser class, an online glo class, a lululemon community class, and a gay yoga class. you can read about how those went here.

moving on...

oct 5th, class #5 - bibliyoga with marcus freed at mimoda dance studio

i'd taken classes with london-import marcus freed the last time he was in LA a little over a year ago. at the time, i was introduced to what he calls the kosher sutras, passages from the torah (or from my christian point of view, the old testament) that served as sources of inspiration and guidance for our yoga practice. after each class, we'd gather together over refreshments and discuss our insights on the sutras and how we would apply them to our everyday lives.

this time, our mid-day weekday class consisted of just the three of us -- marcus, his assistant toby, and yours truly. while both of them were deftly moving from arm balance to handstand, then back to arm balance, i was content with staying close to the ground and doing tamer versions of the poses. after we were done, we moved over to the paper or plastik cafe next door, where we drank steaming cups of espresso while animatedly discussing the day's kosher sutra:

This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalms 118:24

i was glad for our fun time together and look forward to practicing with them again soon! by the way, marcus also teaches his bibliyoga classes at the hub in west LA.

oct 6th, class #6 - black market yoga with daniel overberger at the women's club of hollywood

not only is daniel one of the teachers of the donation-based outdoor yoga at runyon canyon park, but he is also the reason the album music for yoga, meditation & general house cleaning by the dharma gypsys came to be. zeppelin and floyd meet krishna das? yeah, i can see it :)

daniel started up his black market yoga classes when he needed an indoor space for his evening runyon canyon classes during the winter months. after all, it's hard to practice yoga on the grass in the dark without lights... while freezing because the temps have dipped below 70 degrees (yes, we're such weather wimps here in LA!). but honestly, while practicing in the great outdoors can be inspirational, there's something to be said for having a level floor under your yoga mat and listening to cool music while moving through daniel's ashtanga-inspired class. and if you're lucky, daniel will strum a guitar solo or two while you're resting in savasana. the cost of admission's just $5. such a deal!

oct 7th, class #7 - kundalini class with guru singh plus live music by simrit kaur at yoga west

it had been a long time since i had last set foot in yoga west... so long that i was shocked when the person who checked me in said that my last class there was in 2006!! i had decided to make a return visit when i found out that simrit kaur was going to sing live at guru singh's class; i had dozed off to her melodic voice during her early morning set at bhakti fest and wanted to find out what i'd missed.

i'd forgotten what a class with guru singh is like. the man can talk! and i mean that in a good way, of course :) he's one of the first kundalini teachers trained by yogi bhajan himself, so listening to him and practicing with him was almost as awesome as being with the great YB himself (or so i'd like to think). chanting with simrit kaur at the end of class and getting her to autograph my copy of her latest CD, the sweetest nectar, just made the experience even more awesome. wahe guru!!

oct 8th, class #8 - kundalini-hatha flow blend class with jesse lombardi at be love yoga

it seemed apropos that i'd end up at jesse's class the day after guru singh's class at yoga west. it had been a while since i had been to his yoga studio in the toy lofts near downtown LA's warehouse district; in fact, i almost didn't recognize him when he walked up to me at bhakti fest during a late night set, saw that i was shivering, and offered me his coat. gotta love this man!

i learned to love him even more the day i showed up half an hour late for class (i got stuck behind more than a few delivery trucks on my way there, then couldn't find a nearby parking spot once i got there. grumble grumble), and after having canceled the class because no one had shown up, he decided to hold one anyway with me, his girlfriend, and his hairdresser as his captive students!

anyway, it turns out that guru singh was jesse's first yoga teacher back during his wild and crazy hippie days. and he, too, received his teacher training from yogi bhajan himself. add to that his TT certification from yogaworks, and you get a nice blend of hatha downward-dogging and kundalini breath of fire-ing (is there such a word?). not to mention my favorite part of any kundalini class -- the oh-so energizing gong action during savasana! sat nam, jesse!

oct 9th, class #9 - anusara class with hagar harpak at mission street yoga

while reading the invite from mission street yoga in south pasadena to their open house weekend, i spotted the part about FREE CLASSES and immediately added it to my calendar. after all, financial assistance is always a good thing, especially when it involves yoga with an anusara-certified teacher!

i had initially considered going by bus/subway to get there, especially since the mission street gold line station is a mere half block away, but with the tight schedule i had planned for myself that day, it helped that there also happened to be a free parking structure right by that metro station. how convenient is that?

hagar's class was packed from wall to wall with students of all levels, so while we tried hard not to whack each other while opening to grace, her lovely gypsy spirit floated around the classroom as she talked about revealment and concealment, leading us slowly to our peak pose, natarajasana, a major backbend. yikes. but then again, at least it wasn't a major arm balance...

oct 10th, class #10 - outdoor yoga with yogi steve at cicLAvia

10/10/10 will forever be remembered as the day LA decided to shut down 7.5 miles of its streets to car traffic and open it up instead to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. an estimated 100,000 bikers, walkers, and runners -- including yours truly -- took advantage of the car-free cicLAvia, with some traveling the entire distance from hollenbeck park in boyle heights on the eastern end to the bike kitchen by LA city college on the western end.

there were street performers and vendors scattered up and down the route. and right in the middle of it all, in the middle of the day, yogi steve of runyon canyon yoga held a yoga class on the grass in the shadow of city hall. you know i just had to be there.

so after making my way from east (where the mayor was holding a press conference) to west, with brief stops for a vegan taco at the new smokin' willie's truck and a mango smoothie at the also-new slammin' sliders truck, i biked back to city hall, just in time to see yogi steve setting up yoga mats (generously donated by prana) under the shade of a large tree.

about a dozen of us took advantage of the hour-long session, where we saluted the sun and stretched our cycling/walking muscles to the rhythm of the chanting coming from the no on prop 23 rally in front of city hall. NO on coal and gas. YES on practicing yoga outdoors. NO on carbon emissions. YES on breathing and being present. the times they are a-changin'...

oct 11th, class #11 - late night yoga with jay co at yogaco

i may be a yoga addict, but to be honest, i'm not that addicted that i would choose a late-night yoga class over the chance to relax at home and maybe do some facebook friend-stalking. but my day got so busy that it wasn't until late in the afternoon that i realized i wasn't going to be able to get in a yoga practice unless i found something that started after 9pm. and LA being the yoga capital that it is, there was at least one near me -- a 10:30pm class at yogaco on the third street promenade with my kababayan, the sexy jay co (ok, it's one of those you-had-to-be-there's).

during his usual daytime classes, jay can work his students pretty hard, but for that pre-midnight session, he turned down the lights, turned on his chillout playlist, and guided us through a mellow flow class with his low bedroom voice. savasana never felt so sweet.

aaaaahhhh... cue barry white...