Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

wild and wacky weather

it started out as just another insanely-planned day for me.

the night before, i had spent a rockingly sweaty evening at exhale in venice with shiva rea and c.c. white. not in a yoga class, mind you, but in what was dubbed a soul kirtan birthday experience. and what an experience it was, with the packed room chanting and celebrating shiva rea's birthday! c.c. was joined on stage by some of the most amazing kirtan musicians in town -- matt pszonak, cooper madison, richard hardy, bob wisdom, arjuna o'neal, denise kaufman, with sirgun kaur, terra gold, and melanie hersch on vocals -- and, of course, the birthday celebrant herself.

in her own unique gospel way, c.c. chanted the names of the deities -- and even convinced shiva to sing along with her! it was such a lovefest in the room with everyone singing and dancing that even passersby had to stop and peer in the steamed-up windows to see what was going on! we could have gone on all night, if it weren't for the 10pm curfew mandated by the tenants who live upstairs :(

by the time i left exhale, the westside was in the midst of another cold and windy rainstorm. it continued to rain all throughout the night, and all i wanted to do was sleep in and stay wrapped up in warm blankets. but when the sun finally came out later that morning, i knew it was time for me to get out of bed and figure out how to salvage the rest of my day.

as usual, i ended up with a to-do list that could only be achieved through the use of a time machine:

1:30pm - a bike maintenance workshop taught by bikerowave at the santa monica museum of art

5:00pm - a gentle yoga class taught by jenn lucene at the jade apple in north hollywood

7:30pm - a birthday kirtan with daniel stewart and friends at yoga blend in burbank

8:30pm - a CD release party with ena vie at bhakti yoga shala in santa monica

of course, the hardest part was trying to be in burbank AND santa monica at around the same time to catch both kirtans... especially since they're around 25 miles apart!

i left home on my bike for a quick ride to bergamot station for the bike workshop. the sun was out and the roads were dry. the workshop was more of a demonstration session; we were shown how to fix a flat, lube a chain, and do minor brake adjustment. it wasn't anything that i hadn't learned before, and turned out to be a good refresher course. plus a good reason to schmooze with bikey people from bikerowave, C.I.C.L.E., and SMMOA.

once back home to trade in my two-wheeler bike for my four-wheeler car, i did a quick facebook check and found out that the lululemon store in pasadena was going to have a new yoga studio launch party that afternoon, too. another thing to add to my to-do list for the day? perhaps... i was going to be in nearby burbank anyway...

so instead of taking the shorter route through the valley to burbank, i decided to re-route myself through downtown towards pasadena. besides, with rumors that a possible cold front could dust the top of the HOLLYWOOD sign with snow, there was that chance of a rare sighting off the santa monica freeway. but while there ended up being no sign at all of any of the white stuff on the hollywood hills, i was still treated to a glorious view -- clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, lots of snow on the top of the san gabriel mountains, and a freshly-scrubbed downtown skyline.

everyone else must've decided to go for a ride that saturday afternoon because i managed to get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic as i approached the downtown freeway interchange. i checked the clock. i had lost so much time barely moving that i had to scratch the pasadena stop just to make it to class on time. darn. so i transitioned to the golden state freeway and headed towards north hollywood.

by then, the clouds had turned dark and ominous. as i continued to travel north, it got darker and darker. as i veered west on the ventura freeway, it started to rain. and since i couldn't quite remember which exit to take, i exited at buena vista. and right after i did, the rain had turned into tiny ice pellets.

as i sat through a red light at the corner of buena vista and magnolia, the ice pellets started coming down in earnest. the ground had turned white, i had a layer of white slushy stuff on my windshield wipers, and my tires were losing traction. oh my god. it was snowing in burbank!

fearing that this was an accident waiting to happen (after all, how often do LA motorists have to drive in snow?), i immediately turned onto a side street and pulled over. by then, people had come running out with umbrellas to check out what was going on. while they romped around in the streets and on their front lawns, i took handfuls of the slushy stuff that had accumulated on my windshield and had more than enough to make a mini-snowman on the hood of my car. so maybe i missed out on the lulu party, but this was way more fun!

after the squall passed and the sun came back out, i waited for the snow to melt before continuing on to my yoga class a mere mile away in north hollywood. needless to say, since i had arrived half an hour after the class started, it was too late for me to join in. so i ended up driving to porto's in burbank to while away the time. a warm cuban potato sandwich, a guava turnover, and an iced coffee turned out to be even better than any yoga class could ever be (wait, did i just say that?!??!).

strangely enough, there were still icy piles of slush along magnolia boulevard as i made my way to yoga blend for my first of two kirtans for the evening. by then, the sun had set and temperatures started to drop. there were still patches of white on the grass and on ground in the blend's parking lot. i had to keep reminding myself that i was down in the VALLEY, not up in the mountains!

i arrived at yoga blend just as daniel stewart and his band were going through their sound check. by now, everyone was a familiar face to me; besides daniel on harmonium, there was greg klimuck on drums, greg critchley on cajon, cooper madison on tabla, deepak ramapriyan on violin, john tague on bass, jeff harris on guitar, and emily kerns, arielle silver, and shannon baker on vocals.

while daniel and his friends usually perform at their home base at rising lotus yoga in sherman oaks, they were at the blend to help christy and jason marsden celebrate the sixth anniversary of their yoga studio... and the first birthday of their son, clark.

and when the doors opened to the crowd gathered outside, a flood of kirtan enthusiasts streamed in to fill the room... some were regulars from the blend, some from the lotus, and others, like me, had traveled long distances to share in the bhakti bliss.

from the opening 'hare krishna' to the closing 'hare krishna' (is there such a thing as chanting the the maha mantra one too many times? i think not!), daniel and his crew kept the room on its feet! i recorded a small snippet of a chant to sita and ram... click here to experience the energy that rocked the blend that night!

knowing that i still had another kirtan to catch back in santa monica, i made a quick getaway as soon as the band finished its last song... and had to drive through the slush that was still on the ground almost five hours later!

on the other hand, by the time i reached the westside half an hour later, the ground was perfectly dry. i parked my car and ran to bhakti yoga shala to catch what i could of ena vie's new album, "heart of devotion". and as i walked into the room, i managed to catch ena say "... for our last song, i'd like to sing...". since most concerts tend to start and end late at bhakti, i had hoped that this would be no different. but it was not to be that night.

so i sang along with ena and her band and as she led us through "twa meva", an offering to the divine mother. after my wild and wacky day, it seemed like the perfect lullaby to send me gently into the night...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

living life virtually in your PJs

the beauty of being able to work from home is that i can get up in the morning, fire up my computer, and voila! i'm productive.

i don't have to get dressed.

i don't have to sit in traffic. or wait for the bus. or risk the wrath of an annoyed motorist who thinks my bike happens to be in his way.

and i don't have to worry about my boss coming up from behind and catching me red-handed as i check my personal email and social networking sites on company time. oops.

honestly, i've gotten so spoiled with this lifestyle that i laugh about how i spend my days clad in either yoga clothes (when i leave home) or pajamas (when i don't). so when i found out that i can now attend a yoga conference without leaving home, i immediately thought -- where do i sign up?

the 2011 Virtual World Yoga and Meditation Conference will be held from february 8th thru the 12th. and yes, that's THIS WEEK. but since i don't have to fly anywhere to attend, i won't have to worry about paying the exorbitant last-minute rates for an airline ticket or a hotel. all i'll need is an internet connection and a phone. and if the session is scheduled for a time that is inconvenient for me, no worries; i can access the archived version and listen to it up to two weeks later at my convenience! yay!

i've gone through the event schedule and have already highlighted a number of lectures that i want to attend. check this out:

~ Andrea Albright: Yoga For Weight Loss
~ Krisha Kaur: Practicing Forgiveness and Finding Meaning in Your Life
~ Nischala Joy Devi: Opposites Attract – The Perfect Yogic Balance of Head and Heart
~ Paul Fowler: Therapeutic Self Massage
~ Gary Kraftsow: Yoga Therapy: Ancient Insights for Modern Healing – Part 1 and Part 2
~ Wade Morissette: The Power of Mantra
~ Bradford Teasdale: Herbal First Aid – Nutrition and Herbs for Structural Health
~ Laura Cornell: Green Yoga: Harnessing Yoga to Address Contemporary Eco-Crisis
~ Robin Rothenberg: Befriending the Body: Yoga for Chronic Pain and Illness – Part 1 and Part 2
~ Priti Robyn Ross: Exploring the Basic Principles of Alignment
~ Felicia Marie Tomasko: Ingest, Digest, Rest – Ayurvedic Tips for Healthy Digestion
~ Ishwari Jay: Anusara Yoga: Freedom from Inside Out

here's a download copy of the program guide:
Virtual World Yoga Conference - Yoga, Meditation, and the Philosopher's Stone

there'll be raffle prizes, including books, DVDs, and CDs, and as is the case at yoga conferences, there'll be discounted shopping, too! i could do some major damage to my credit card if i'm not careful...

if this sounds like something you'd like to like to join me at (maybe we can even sit at a coffee shop with free wi-fi and take a session together!), you can click here to register for the 2011 Virtual World Yoga Conference. in addition, if you enter the code AYO219, you can get $50 off your registration fee!

this conference starts this TUESDAY, so act now! and let me know which sessions you're taking so i can look for you... virtually, of course :)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

one plus one equals ooooohh!

i recently submitted a piece on february partner yoga workshops for the upcoming issue of LA yoga magazine. since then, many more workshops have been announced, so i'm posting an updated version here...

valentine's day (or single awareness day, depending on which side of the relationship fence you're on) is upon us once again. and as is the tradition, yoga studios around town are offering workshops for twosomes eager to adjust, stretch, and massage each other. so check out the list below and plan to spend a fun time with someone you love, someone you like, or someone you'd like to get to know!

Valentine's Partner Yoga Workshop with Aimee Donahue & Marla Wedge
Friday, February 11th 7:00-9:00pm
Yoga Loft, 1112 Ocean Ave, Suite 103, Manhattan Beach
$50 per couple, $30 per person

both aimee and marla have backgrounds in yoga therapy, so if you have issues -- and who in LA doesn't? -- this should be a deliciously therapeutic session for you and your partner, even if you've never met each other before!

Heart-to-Heart Partner Yoga with Gina Riva
Friday, February 11th 7:00-9:00pm
Brazilian Yoga and Pilates, 3191 Casitas Ave, Atwater Village
$18 per person, $30 per couple

for valentine's day, tell your favorite person that you're taking him/her to BRAZIL... ian yoga and pilates (bringing your voice down to a whisper after the first two syllables) to catch some music and have a great time. ok, so maybe a partner yoga class in atwater village isn't quite the same as lazing on the beach in rio, but at least the wine and vegan cupcakes after class might make up for it! :)

Partner Yoga with Koren Paalman
Saturday, February 12th 10:00am-noon
A.D. 2013 Steampunk clothing store, 2539 Lincoln Blvd, Venice
$25 per person

if you've ever taken an iyengar yoga class, you've probably used all kinds of props in class: blankets, blocks, straps, bolsters, even chairs. after taking koren's class, it looks like you'll be able to add another prop to you repertoire -- your partner!

Partner Stretching with Shelley Williams
Saturday, February 12th 2:00-4:00pm
Yogaworks South Bay, 740 Allied Way, El Segundo
$30 per person pre-registration, $40 day of

shelley's workshop description includes the phrases "thai yoga massage", "assisted passive stretching and gentle hands-on adjustments", "ambient music and deep relaxation", "bring a yoga mat and a pillow". so you know what that means -- heaven!

Partner Yoga with Billy Asad and Joan Hyman
Friday, February 12th 2:00-4:30pm
Yogaworks Center for Yoga, 230 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles
$35 per person pre-registration, $45 day of

billy and joan are two amazing teachers with many years of experience under their belts; they also happen to be friends who make any class they teach loads of fun. so expect excellent instruction, lots of laughs, and two and a half hours of perfect bliss.

Partner Yoga with Jon Burras
Saturday, February 12th 2:00-5:00pm
Yogaworks Tarzana, 18700 Ventura Blvd, Suite 210, Tarzana
$45 per person pre-registration, $55 day of

THREE hours of yoga sounds a bit intimidating, especially for the yoga newbie, but when you're partnering with someone you'd like to spend time with, i'm pretty sure you'll be craving more when jon's class is over.

Partner Yoga with Matthew Cohen
Saturday and Sunday, February 12th-13th 2:00-4:00pm
Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, 245 S. Main St, Venice
$30 per person per day, $50 for both days

what a luxury it would be to have TWO days of partner yoga with matthew (although you also have the option of doing just one)! his class will include the energetic flow of martial arts and the healing touch of yoga. expect lots of core work -- but it'll be SO worth it!

Valentine’s Venus Kriyas for Singles and Couples with Wahe Guru Kaur & Guru Darshan Singh
Saturday, February 12th 5:00-7:00pm
Awareness Center Yoga, 2801 E. Foothill Blvd, Pasadena
$25 per person, $40 per couple

"Venus Kriyas combine masculine and feminine polarities with asanas, mudras, mantras, pranayam and meditation to generate strong psycho-magnetic fields. Divine energy is drawn in and is positively directed toward cleansing, release and the raising of awareness through the chakras to unite both partners with their highest consciousness." i couldn't say it better myself.

Sublime Connection: A Workshop for Couples with Lara Catone and Sarah Vosen
Saturday, February 12th 6:00-8:30pm
The Hub, 2001 S. Barrington Ave, Suite 150, Los Angeles
$50 per couple

lara and sarah are acroyoga goddesses; you've probably seen them demonstrating their cirque du soleil-ish moves at hip events around town. but don't let that intimidate you. the only requirement for this class is that you come with someone you love, and in return, both of you will be treated to an evening of yoga, thai massage, music, and candlelight.

Partner Yoga with Scott and Andrea Lewicki
Saturday, February 12th 6:30-8:30pm
Urth Yoga, 2809 W. Sunset Blvd, Silverlake
$40 per couple in advance, $50 at the door

scott is a certified anusara instructor and andrea is his lovely wife. together, they will guide you through alignment-focused partner poses that are appropriate for students of all levels. note that the per-couple rate means that you'll need to find a partner to bring to class. and don't worry about mismatched yoga abilities; you'll do just fine.

Date Night Yoga with Danny Gray and Jenn Lucene
Saturday, February 12th 6:30-8:30pm
The Jade Apple, 10502 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood
$20 per couple

danny and jenn will be teaching a partner yoga class for couples of all persuasions. you don't have to be romantically linked, although it helps if you at least like each other :) and if it goes really well, you can join them for date night yoga at the apple every second saturday of the month!

Valentines Partner Class with Dana Marcoux
Sunday, February 13th 10:30am-1:00pm
Silver Lake Yoga, 2810 1/2 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles
$25 per person

in dana's class, you'll be working hard and playing hard. you'll sweat, you'll climb all over your partner (in a G-rated way, of course), and you'll have a great time doing it, even if it's with someone you've never met before. this could get interesting... :)

Partner Yoga Workshop with Ally Hamilton & Caleb Asch
Sunday, February 13th Noon-1:30pm
Yogis Anonymous, 1221 2nd St, Santa Monica
$20 per person in advance, $25 at the door

when two seasoned power yoga teachers such as ally and caleb get together to teach a partner yoga class, watch out! asana junkies will revel in the strength poses, the hip openers, and the backbends. and when it's all over, there'll be V-day treats for everyone!

Yoga for Partners with Diane Magnette
Sunday, February 13th 1:00-2:30pm
YAS Venice, 1101 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice
$25 per person in advance, $35 at the door - 20% off for couples signing up together

since YAS is the home of yoga for athletes, could it be that diane's workshop will be yoga for athletic partners? i guess you'll need to show up to find out :)

Couple's Valentine's Day Workshop with Christy and Jason Marsden
Sunday, February 13th 1:30-4:30pm
Yoga Blend, 1921 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank
$60 per couple by 2/6, $70 after

christy and jason are the perfect example of what a fun and loving relationship is all about. one can't help but feel happy when they're around, so imagine what three hours with them would be like! bring your significant other and be prepared for an afternoon of partner yoga, thai massage, and open discussion.

Partner Yoga with Karen Shuman
Sunday, February 13th 2:00-4:30pm
Karen Shumans Yoga Remedy, 4521- A Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks
$50 per couple in advance/$60 day of

from the studio's name alone, you can tell that karen's class is going to be a healing session for you and your partner. expect a mix of energizing kundalini kriyas, strengthening hatha asanas, and soothing yoga therapy. it's all good.

Partner Yoga Workshop with Dana Marcoux and Shannon Baker
Sunday, February 13th 2:30-5:00pm
Santa Monica Yoga, 1640 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica
$35 per person or $65 per couple by 2/6, $45 per person or $85 per couple after

yes, it's dana again (see his earlier workshop at silver lake yoga), but this time he'll be pairing up with shannon. this could get even more interesting! :) :)

Yoga-Atsu Workshop with Stella Cheung
Sunday, February 13th 2:30-5:30pm
Shakti Box, 4640 Franklin Ave, Los Feliz
$100 per couple before 2/11, $110 after / RSVP Stella: (213) 321-8218 or Stella@YogaGals.com

all you need to know about stella's class is that it's three hours of gentle yoga and shiatsu pressure point massage, followed by champagne, strawberries, and other goodies. sounds like the perfectly decadent gift for your valentine, doesn't it?

Ecstatic Connections with Ryan Patterson & Nianna Bray
Sunday, February 13th 2:30-5:30pm
5 Point Yoga, 23410 Civic Center Way, Suite E-3, Malibu
$88 per couple

according to the workshop description: "join us for an enlightening time of intimacy building through the science and practice of tantra yoga.. after you indulge in each other, organic wine and raw chocolate will be provided for you to further indulge in bliss." and maybe some sir richard's condoms, too? :)

Partner Yoga with Sarah Canfield
Sunday, February 13th 6:30-8:30pm
Hot 8 Yoga, 1422 2nd St, Santa Monica
$30 per couple before 2/12, $35 after

bring a lover or a friend for some shared yoga fun with sarah. by the way, there isn't any mention about them turning up the heat for the class, but if you do end up sweating up a storm, there are showers at the studio so you can clean up nicely before dinner on the promenade (which is an easy stroll away).

Valentine's Partner Workshop with Erin Fukuda and Andrew Gavigan
Sunday, February 13th 7:30-9:30pm
The Yoga Collective (formerly YogaCo), 1408 3rd St Promenade, 3rd Flr, Santa Monica
$50 per couple by 2/5, $65 after

you can't plan it any better than this: an early dinner at any one of the many cafes on the promenade, partner yoga with erin and andrew at the newly-relaunched collective (it's tucked away on the third floor above the lush store), then if you're still up to it, maybe a late-night movie... without needing to move your car or your bike!

Partner Yoga with Rebecca and Anthony Benenati
Monday, February 14th 5:30-7:30pm
City Yoga, 1067 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles
$45 per couple before 2/7, $50 after

looking for a class that emphasizes alignment and core strength? look no further; anthony and rebecca will see to it that you and your loved one get your fill of bending, balancing, breathing, and bonding. if you've never done a partner yoga class before, not to worry; you'll be in great hands.

Couples Yoga For Friends, Lovers, and Family with Todd Jensen & Jennifer Kelly
Monday, February 14th 6:00-8:00pm
The Yogi Tree, 4475 Vineland Ave, Toluca Lake
$15 per person or $25 per couple

"on gratitude" author todd and his wife jenn will lead you through a kundalini yoga session of meditation, breathwork, and venus partner kriyas. you'll also be chanting and moving along to one of todd's amazingly eclectic playlists. when it's all over, you'll be grateful you decided to spend quality time on yourself and with a loved one.

Valentine's Ahimsa Flow with Partnering with Sonya Enchill
Monday, February 14th 6:30-8:00pm
Dharma Yoga LA, 5376 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles
By Donation

if you're on a tight budget, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to experience partner yoga, too! while many of sonya's classes usually cost $12 each (which is still a steal here in LA!), this class is by donation. so please remember to give from the heart and share the happiness that you feel when the class is over.

Valentine's Day Celebration with Gurmukh and Tej
Monday, February 14th 7:00-9:00pm
Golden Bridge Yoga, 1357 N Highland Ave, Hollywood ** note: NEW LOCATION!
$20 per person before 2/14, $25 after

kundalini yoga at golden bridge. gurmukh. tej. vegetarian treats from the nite moon cafe. i know; you've probably already signed up for this energetic, yet blissful, heart-centered evening. sat nam!

Three Special Classes on Valentine's Day at Yogaworks South Bay
Monday, February 14th 7:35-10:00pm
Yogaworks South Bay, 740 Allied Way, El Segundo

you'll have three different classes to choose from (but since they're all held simultaneously, you can only pick one unless you've mastered the art of being in two places at the same time): a gentle partner class with casey coda, a singles celebration candlelight flow with john neidlinger, and a YW level 1 class with rachael simmons. and when you're done, you'll be treated to wine and cheese provided by whole foods!

Partner Yoga Workshop with Adam and Samantha
Sunday, February 20th noon-2:00pm
Yoga Bindu, 718 S. Weymouth Ave, San Pedro
$20 per person (pre-payment by 2/16 appreciated)

the beauty of adam and samantha's workshop is that it's a full week AFTER valentine's day. so you can have your dinner date on one weekend, then your yoga date the next. or if you're a partner yoga addict, this is your chance to do back-to-back weekends. and you can even show up solo and they'll match you up. yay!