Yoga Hop #14: Power Yoga, Santa Monica With Bryan Kest
A couple decades ago there weren’t any nearby yoga studios, but I knew the value of the practice so I invested in a VHS version I could do at home. I grew up, yoga-wise, doing sun salutations and balancing half-moons with this East Coast guy with long curly locks named Bryan Kest. In fact, his was the only video my hubby would practice with. Fast forward to when the VCR ate the VHS and I had to order the DVDs. Which I still have, by the way.
That said, you can imagine how excited I was when my daughter who lives in Santa Monica mentioned a studio and Bryan’s name. It is with that great honor I write this yoga hop post.
Well, the long hair is gone, but the accent remains. I fell in love with the studio immediately, which I’ll talk about in a bit. As one might expect, 20 years after the VHS recording, Bryan’s teaching has evolved to become even more meaningful and effective. His ability to combine a bit of East Coast crassness with profound human insight, is well….pretty awesome. You know, like a spiritual warrior bad ass.
For starters, my daughter wanted to make the occasion even more special so she let me use her new mat. She told me it would be like a magic carpet ride. I think that’s yoga-speak for Lululemon deluxe.
Before the class started, Bryan sat in the front of the room in a rather impressive full-lotus pose, eyes closed. A teacher who meditates before class? In front of class? Brilliant. He initiates the class by somehow—and I’m still uncertain how he pulled it off—convincing me that I was more than my body. That I should focus on my breath. Maybe marry my body and breath and spirit, or something like that.
As part of all this, as he’s inviting us into poses (while reminding us that to ignore them is fine, too) he tells us that everyone has their own issues they bring to the mat. He says that some people are suffering the loss of a loved one and others haven’t gone poop in two weeks. What? You see, that’s his talent; his special gift. The enlightenment of awakening to all that is yoga (and yoga is all that is) to our humanness…bad breath and break ups. Tight hamstrings and higher consciousness. It’s like in those small moments when we feel God, but the rest of the time, the dishes need to get done.
I had told my daughter I wouldn’t be able to work up a sweat, being that I was used to flowing in a hot room. This fable was quickly corrected. Before long, my arms were trembling and my hips were opening. I didn’t want to sweat on the magic carpet, but I did anyway.
Now I had heard from some of my yogi instructor friends that Bryan has a tenancy to be, well, human. Rumor has it he’s not afraid to let sounds escape his body or to mix spiritual insight and direction with an F-bomb or two. This is what I was most excited to experience for myself, and he did not disappoint. Profound wisdom was punctuated with wake-up call language. I think he does it on purpose. You know, to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. In fact, when he let out a loud burp, I like to think it was just for me (he was walking across my mat when he did it). *ahem*
The flow itself was unlike any I’ve experienced. For instance, it wasn’t the traditional, by the book, sunny-a, sunny-b, sunny-d…oh wait, that’s orange juice. You know what I mean, though. It wasn’t predictable. It kept our minds in the game while our bodies and breath did their best to tag along.
At one point, like on our 200th Crescent Lunge, he told me not to look so worried. I wanted to tell him that is how I always look right before I pass out, but the words wouldn’t come. Some of the things he said that penetrated deeply were: listen to your body; you don’t have to impress anyone; make it personal; keep breathing…
Another thing I noticed is that unlike all practices I know, there never came a point where Bryan said, “Now if you’re ready for an up dog…” What? No up dog option? Were we to keep our Cobra the whole time? But then I realized that it was my ego, not my body or my mind, that was “jones-ing” for the back bend. And it was okay. Imagine that. A practice where the poses come secondary. First, the mind. The breath. The trusting—next, get your ass kicked to the degree your body says is okay.
There is a craft to combining mind and matter the way he does. The bumps and burps, the poses and the absence of them. When your thighs scream NO MORE, but your heart chakra (and teachers like Bryan) remind you to quit taking yourself so damn seriously. That if you’re looking at the yogi in front of you—comparing even for a moment—you are out of your practice. Done, finished—not present.
I knew when he told us to lift our left leg, and I couldn’t remember where I put mine, that my body was about done for the day. I was on such a yoga high, though that I didn’t care if I’d misplaced a leg. Next time, I will write it on my hand so I won’t forget where I put it.
Before our final rest, we sat up and meditated. He talked about the importance of meditation (my favorite topic!) and how Jesus, Buddha, MLK and even Mommy Teresa all sought to find the benevolent thought. Cultivating inner peace. Then after that little taste of Nirvana, we laid down. I’m not going to lie—I melted on that magic carpet like butter without a drop of trans fat. It was a spa day for my spirit.
The studio itself is spacious and peaceful, located on Main Street in Santa Monica, replete with a lot of cool things in the shop. Most notably, Bryan’s classes are donation-based. Now don’t get me wrong—I recognize that most studios are for-profit endeavors, but how cool is it that anyone can come in and take a class without forking over the $$ if they don’t have it? I like to do my Intention Workshops and Meditations the same way, and the studios I serve in Sac are all very open to that.
While I have no intention of ever being a yoga instructor, I fully plan on eventually taking his teacher training because I think when it comes to yoga, he has plenty to bring to the table. (he’ll be in Davis this year!). We all have things to teach one another, and in my opinion, Bryan has so many years and so much wisdom and insight, if I were a yoga instructor, I’d be rolling up my mat and tracking him down.
So in closing, allow me to quote Bryan, because my words could never capture him more accurately or eloquently, “May we all be grateful and remember how fucking blessed we are.”
The amazing Bryan Kest.
Yoga Hop #13: Wanderlust
Okay, so I’m no Yogi Berra…wait a minute, did he even do Vinyassa? Anyway, this Yoga Hop is about my day of summer camp, aka, Wanderlust, Squaw Valley (drum roll, please).
So Wanderlust is indeed like summer camp for yogis, only with better bathrooms and more tattoos. Think of it like Woodstock with Bob Marley and prayer beads if that helps. The Squaw Valley venue happens every summer in lovely Lake Tahoe. My comrades and I set out for our day of play. So many choices and events to choose from. We started with a morning Vinyassa class taught by the amazing Seane Corn. Not only is she an excellent instructor, but her messages between and during poses are like mini spiritual revivals. Think Joel Olsteen with a yoga mat and you’ll get a better idea of what I mean. The class was held under an enormous tent and there must have been 700 people there. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but that’s what writers do. Don’t judge.
I tried to be a good yogi and focus on my breath and Seane’s words of wisdom, but every now and then, when in downward dog, body art, cool bracelets, or the one guy with black toenail polish took my attention away. So much to look at when upside down at a yoga party!
Next, we decided to take a Kundalini meditation yoga class with a famous guy in a turban He was very nice, but he had us stick our tongue out which felt sort of impolite. He also had an amazing gong that I wanted to ask if I could borrow. All kidding aside, it was an awesome experience and he had really nice pillows to sit on. Our third class was another Vinyassa, and by this time, we were all a bit wilted as the sun up there was glaring. However, there was a free ice cream booth which we disguised ourselves the second time around. What? It was hot.
Tons of cute clothes made my ATM card ache in anticipation, but we (the card and I) decided on some very cute pants. Two pairs if you must know. Numerous vendors selling everything one might imagine would be sold at a yoga festival. None of it was cheap, I will add. But at least the ice cream was free, and they did have clean bathrooms. Oh! Importantly, what does any yogi want to do at the end of a long day in the High Sierra sunshine after taking a couple of kick-ass Vinyassa classes? BEER! My eyes welled up with tears when we spotted a tavern with an open table. it was the perfect way to wrap up our adventure.
I will add that just because a couple of us yogis left early, most everyone stayed for the evening activities. Wanderlust has concerts every night so the party never ends. Based on the music video my daughter sent me, I’m thinking it was smart to leave when I did, lest my hubby find me wrapped up in a yoga mat the next morning with a beer in one had and a prayer beads in another singing Bob Marley songs.
So, overall Wanderlust is something EVERY yogi must try at least once. Here are some tips I offer for those who are have never been:
–Wear sun screen; them hills are hot
–Choose your classes early and wisely! There are hikes, meditations, and of course more classes than you could possible pick from and that’s exactly why you need to research it. Don’t go by class title alone! Research the teachers, the styles, and plan the day out. If you start with a Vinyassa flow, you may not want to end with one too. Too many planks make Tamara a little punchy.
–Save up. Start now! Since Wanderlust is akin to a day at Disneyland, you need to save some cash. You wouldn’t go to the Magic Kingdom without enough coin to buy some mouse ears that you’ll never wear again, right? At least the stuff for sale at Wanderlust is stuff you’ll love and wear and show off once you get back home.
–Do not try Suspension yoga under any circumstances. Okay, I’m kidding. But seriously, God did not intend us to stand up on one foot and an elbow on a stretchy rubber band. It’s just not normal, and what if it snaps?!
Yoga Hop #12: Hot Yoga at Sunrise
Thought for the day:
There are fewer things more important than community. From the tribe we originally come from, to those we grow to know and love. Never underestimate the power of a strong community.
First, I have to disclose–because that’s what people who sell houses tend to do–that this is a studio I have been going to for a number of years. It’s a quaint, cozy space, full of love and sunshine, and only a stone’s throw from the big orange footbridge near Sunrise Blvd. where you can throw that stone into the beautiful river. There. I feel better now. The class I hopped was taught by Jenna. Now I happen to know that Jenna is big fan of Acro yoga–you know, where you have to balance on one elbow and an eyelash while someone twirls on your knee cap? Plus she pole dances, so you can immediately see where my mat and I were a little hesitant. In reality, Jenna is an excellent instructor. Like a lot of local instructors, she’s young and full of energy, but it’s clear that her training and background are solid. I say this because she focuses greatly on proper alignment, something that is sometimes lacking in flow classes. One thing she said that really struck me (aside from, ‘don’t worry, Tamara, this isn’t an Acro Class), was about listening to our own body. She said that teachers were our guides, but our own bodies were the true teachers. I like that. While Jenna didn’t make us balance on our eyelashes, there were some arm balances that we all attempted to keep up with. I can manage a crow, crane, mountain lion–wait, I just made that one up. I can manage several of them (although I’m nursing my shoulder these days from too many improper planks), but one that Jenna did had us all scratching our heads. She told us that it’s sometimes easier to get into Crow Pose from a Tri-Pod Head Stand. Huh? Yeah. She did that. At the end of a sweaty escapade, Jenna tells us she’s going to put a cold rock on our heads. I am laying there when I feel something cold on my third eye. I suddenly find myself wondering if Jenna has roommates, and if so, what do they think when they open the fridge and see a bowl full of river rocks? Stone soup again, Jenna? Next, I started wondering about how she gets her rocks. Knowing her passion for Acro, I kind of imagined her searching for flat stones while doing a hand-stand. But, eventually, I forgot I had a rock in my eye and was able to relax. This is a great studio to visit, and lucky for you, I found a group-0n! Sunrise offers Vinyassa, Bikram, and Yin…and more. It is also a supporter of a children’s charity, so go at noon on Friday for some Karma (donation-based) fun with Jen.
P.S. They’ll be hosting one of my Intention Meditation classes later in the fall, so stay tuned for that.
P.S.S. My new book is being called, “Brilliant” and “Genius!” What? My mom counts. Check it out.
Yoga Hop #11: Joyful Warrior
Thought for today: We all must walk to the beat of our own drum.
Speaking of drums, when I first heard that a new studio was opening in Fair Oaks in the same strip center as a bar, I knew I had to try it. I mean, a bar! Visions of Vinyassa vodka flow filled my mind. What does that have to do with drums you ask? Everything! Let me back up a bit. A few weeks ago there was a pre-party for Wanderlust, the super big yoga Disneyland that happens every summer in Squaw Valley. Think of Woodstock with Lululemon pants. Anyway, I led a meditation that day and was blown away when I heard the big beautiful chants of this petite little blonde. Not only was she beating a drum, she was wearing a feather. That was my introduction of what a joyful warrior sounds like. Fast forward. I later learned that ‘Holly’ had just opened a new studio appropriately called the Joyful Warrior, with a wicked good collection of eclectic classes sure to please the wild spirit in us all. Knowing that the studio is sponsoring Wanderlust made me even more curious, so I had to go check things out. The studio is all brand new inside, with inviting vibes and warm-colored walls. Being that I like to keep my Yoga Hop hopping, I decided to take a different kind of class. I went for a Prana Flow. However, since I was unfamiliar (I thought) with that kind of yoga, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t code word for something like, you know, a class for expectant mothers, so I did a search and discovered it’s simply another kind of flow class. First off, I just enjoyed Holly’s energy. She’s all soft and spiritual and not very tall, but she packs a powerful punch and dresses like a little yogi fashion model. I don’t know about you, but I like my instructors to look the part. I will say, Prana Flow is not easy. It’s a lot of the same moves as Vinyassa, but more flowy…dance-like even. And it’s not easy! You have to stay focused and pay attention (not my strong suit….wait, what was I saying?) Oh yeah. For example, at one point in the practice I was admiring how gracefully I was moving through the flow, but then I realized I was watching Holly, the instructor, not myself. When I did dare to find myself in the mirror, I decided Holly looked much better doing the postures than I did, so I just pulled up my mat and made some popcorn. When Holly told me that she’d trained with the all famous Shiva, I was like, SHIVA?!!?! Shiva is someone who’s DVD’s I’ve practiced at home to over the years so I feel like we’re best friends. That’s when I realized Holly’s energy is a lot like Shiva’s. Peaceful is a good way to describe Prana yoga. And Holly, too. Peaceful with purpose, yeah, that’s it. Another great thing about this studio is the variety of classes being offered. Finally, Kundalini in Fair Oaks. Haven’t you just been dying to see that? Seriously, a good Kundalini yoga class can be hard to come by. Additionally, there is Power Flow, Prana Flow, Hoop Flow, and Shamanic Journeying (you don’t see that everyday) and more. Beyond yoga, the Joyful Warrior seems like a great way to explore spirituality. From chanting to Yin to Belly Dancing, there’s a whole lot going on. In fact, in a new article I’m working on, I have concluded that the vibe of a studio depends greatly on the intention of the owner. More on this in the future, but let me just say that in this studio, the vibe is solid, and the intentions pure. You can check the schedule for details, but I bought the special 5-classes for $25 and plan to go to Kundalini yoga and drum making if they have it. Just kidding, I don’t think they have drum making, but I’m completely open to making one if they do. With a successful and fun grand opening under its belt here’s wishing the Joyful Warrior great success. Go check out the studio, take a class, and give Holly and her crew some yoga community cuddles .
P.S. If you like funny and yoga and wine….check out Secrets of a Spiritual Guru
Saturday 6-28-14 Champagne for the first 100 people at my new book launch!
Yoga Hop 2014: East Wind Yoga
This week’s random thought: When we stay in the present moment it becomes nearly impossible to feel anything but good; to notice the small things that ordinarily don’t catch our full attention. A stranger’s smile, a hummingbird buzzing by, or that moment on the mat of complete surrender that reminds me everything unfolds exactly as it should.
When I look at a studio schedule and see “hot yoga” as opposed to say, my personal faves, “flow” or “vinyassa,” I figure it’s, you know, those 26 postures that lube up the joints and are set in a pretty strict structure. That said, I got nothing against the cute little Indian guy that created it, and I probably need a little more structure in my life, but seriously, when someone gets testy about me wiping sweat off my brow or winking at myself in the mirror, I can get annoyed. So when I heard that this studio offered something that was way different, I must admit, my curiosity was piqued and my water bottle filled. I choose to do this yoga hop at its Roseville location which was easy enough to find, considering my directional dyslexia. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with a hello so huge I was sure I must have known this little ray of sunshine from another life…or yoga studio. Susie glowed with positive energy, as evidenced by her ability to use the word “shit” and “honey” in the same sentence. Trust me, this takes talent. I liked her immediately. Susie was more than happy to act as my tour guide as we traversed the building that’s much larger than its storefront implies. The studio itself is warm, with burnt orange walls and lovely, shiny blond floors. And you know how I feel about floors–they matter, dammit. I also liked the metal warehouse-like ceiling. I wondered how it sounded when it rains. I was super excited to see a super-sized gong in the practice room. A gong! Beyond the studio and dressing rooms, Susie let me take a look out back, and I swear it was like stepping into the Dali Lama’s backyard. A lovely pond and statue, and I’m pretty sure I saw locus flowers…but maybe it was lily pads. I’m imaginative like that. All I could think about was that dang gong. So when class starts I’m basking in the warm room, ready to dutifully assume my standing breathing pose, when Susie pulls a fast one. She says we’re starting in a seated position. What? I instantly felt like I was playing hookie from yoga school and am pretty sure I giggled. Susie started to lead us through some amazing and opening floor poses. I was digging the heck out of it. I think the heat and the feeling of joy must have overtook me when I stood up and yelled, “Mr. B has left the building!” Okay, I didn’t really do that, but I really wanted to. Susie and her little tattooed body knew just what to do to test my balance, flexibility, and strength. She did what I love and told stories while we held poses that we really didn’t want to hold, but knew we would be better people if we did. The heat allowed me to go a deeper, and I’m pretty sure that even my hips were having a good time. They didn’t open all the way, but they didn’t cuss at me like usual either. An amazing yoga class to me is when my body surrenders and my spirit sings. That point when I hit the mat for the last little rest to let all the changes happen. Susie’s stories were not common, but not embellished either. It is not easy to expose yourself the way she does for her students, and I love her for it. During that last pose, as I melted into my mat, Susie read something that was so beautiful it made me smile, as I lay there trying to remember where I left my arms. I can’t recall the exact words, but it must have been a postcard or letter that served as the perfect prose to go with the pose that nearly had me snoring. In a current piece I am writing about what makes a yoga studio successful, it occurred to me that whatever “it” is, this studio has plenty. Imagine my excitement when I learned they have another location in Auburn for me to hop at in the future! Worth the drive if it’s nearly as warm, inviting, and wonderful as the Roseville digs.
I recommend a visit to this studio: http://eastwindyoga.com/
Yoga Hop 2014: Radiant
I had heard Radiant Yoga in Eldorado Hills would help me get nice and sweaty. I also heard that it was a different kind of heat. Now I understand that it’s radiant heat, hence the name of the studio. I’m sharp like that. Anyway, I decided to take an 8:15 a.m. class, and was pleasantly surprised the drive wasn’t bad, and there would be no where-do-I-park anxiety of my downtown studio hopping. Sigh. The first thing I experienced was a maze. I felt like Will Ferrell in the film, Elf, “First I traveled through the seven levels of treadmills…” Seriously this studio is located in the Eiffel tower. Okay, not really. But, it is inside a sports club, not to be confused with a night club, where um, they might have offered a nice wine spritzer after class. Anyway, after I traveled through tread mills and stairways and water fountains, I found the studio. I was actually already feeling proud of that accomplishment (without a GPS!). That’s when I got my first special surprise. I was instantly impressed that it was free. FREE?!?!?! Hello? Are you sure? At first, I suspected as anyone would, that my reputation had proceeded me and they I was being given the royal celebrity treatment. But alas, this was not the case. ANYONE gets a freebie the first time. I just have to say that in my yoga adventure thus far from Sac to Santa Monica, I’ve not had a single studio zoom in on this sexy feature. Wow. Free. Another first is that I’ve not been to a studio that had numbered cubby holes with drawers. Numbered cubby holes with drawers! Initially I was afraid I’d forget where I put my purse. Was it cubby #45? Wait, maybe it was #36? I decided to let it go. After all, I practice yoga to release my need to memorize cubby hole numbers anyway, right? The vinyassa class I took was being taught by an instructor named Tristina. Interesting to note is that in working on my new book about an angel, I happen to have angels on my mind a lot these days, so it shouldn’t have really surprised me that when Tristina turned around, she had wings! Real angel wings inked right onto her angelic little body. This explained a lot. Tristina told us to blow our noses, and someone walked around with tissues if we wanted one. She said is was something about a breathing exercise we’d be doing, but I didn’t question it, you know, ’cause she’s an angel and everything. And speaking of heavenly practices! I’m kind of like, why waste time on Warrior One when Crescent Lunge is so exhilarating, and it was like she read my mind. We did so many Crescent Lunges, that turned into dancing-half-moon-twisted-chairs, I can’t even keep track. I was in ecstasy! And the heat did feel a little different, but boy was I sweating up a storm. I could almost smell the champagne from the night before as Tristina assisted my pose ever so gently with her little angel hands. In fact, at one point, I was wondering if the enormous pink salt crystal light in the corner of the room was for licking. But, since I didn’t see anyone else doing it, I chose not to be the first. I’m considerate like that. I liked how this instructor worked us hard, then let us rest a bit, only to take us back to press on. By the time we took our final pose, I think I fell asleep. I do know when Tristina told us to roll over onto our right side, it took me a few minutes to find it. I know I had it when I came in the room. This was a studio I left feeling great. Instead of feeling beat from the heat and hard work, I felt ready to take a shower and save the world. Give Radiant a try. It‘s worth the drive, and I will be back! Remember, your first trip is on me. Not really, but it is free. Plus, I hear tell that all of their instructors are amazing, and Tristina is a treat for sure. Namaste for now.
Yoga Hop 2014: Yoga Shala #8
Thought of the day: The deeper into a dedicated practice one goes, the easier it is to see that inside ourselves is where all the action really happens, regardless of what our hips have to say about the matter.
I’d heard about Yoga Shala. In fact, I wanted to attend the big event they are very involved with called California Spirit Festival that took place this weekend and was reported to be a phenomenal success from some of my yoga pals. I couldn’t go because I was teaching a college class, a meditation circle, and then throwing my daughter a bridal shower (Note: I got nothin’ on Martha Stewart, but I do know how to buy good champagne and order pizza). Anyway, Yoga Shala was next on my list, so I hit it with a vengeance ready to explore another studio and a new instructor. The instructor teaching was Michael Fong. I instantly liked his aura as he warmly greeted me and made me sign the little form that all these studios seem so intent on making me sign. I never read them, but since I’m sure they all say the same thing, I’m thinking of stealing one and photocopying it so I can just bring a copy with me to each new studio. Otherwise, I’ll have 42 more to fill out. Ugh. The studio itself didn’t really have a lobby. I’m finding a lot of studios in the downtown area thus far tend to be like bowling lanes; long and thin. Not that I have anything against bowling. Well, okay, I don’t really like to bowl, but I’m digressing a bit. Anyway, I put my stuff in a little cubby hole and spread my mat out, hoping the fact that it wasn’t a heated studio wouldn’t be so bad as I’m rather fond of a hot flow class (it makes me feel less guilty about drinking all that wine at night if I can sweat it out the next day). Like I said, I knew Michael had good energy by his shiny aura, and I was right. He led his class with a quiet but compassionate command. In fact, the long room made me feel like I was in an audience, but it soon became apparent that this would not be a spectator sport, and we began to flow. Let’s face facts. Vinyassa is as Vinyassa does, right? We kiss our knees, stretch our arms, try to do a less than pitiful plank, and hope our warriors hold. But really, what I am learning as I hop around from studio to studio is a very simple fact: The instructor makes all the difference. Even though the poses any instructor incorporates are similar, the way in which they are choreographed and dialogued can be the difference between a standard class (which is not a bad thing), and a class that not only stretches and balances your mind, but thins your thighs and lifts your fanny. The best of both worlds, right? Michael succeeded in the latter. Not only that, but another cool thing that a yoga instructor can do to really make me smile is throw in an occasional twist. And I don’t mean spinal twist, but a new posture-something different-which throws me off and keeps me in the present. Michael did this as well. One part that made me smile inside was that when he had us turn, twist, or look to the right, he would instruct us by saying “toward 21st Street.” At that let me know what street I was on since downtown is so confusing anyway (how do people remember which streets go which ways?). After a few times of this, I started to wonder desperately what street was on my left. Why wasn’t he telling us to turn to 22nd? Did he not like that street? Had something happened to him in his youth where he refused to talk about it? Wait! Maybe I was backward in the bowling alley and it was really 19th Street! Somehow, it wasn’t enough. And then he said it, “Now turn toward Moxie’s.” Moxie’s?!?!?!? As in my favorite place to eat in all of everywhere? I had been in such a hurry to get to class, I had hardly noticed that yes, yes indeed, Moxie’s was next door. I was all too happy to turn and twist and lean toward Moxie’s, especially my tummy. Nothing personal against 21st Street or anything. Another thing I must point out that makes Michael an exceptional instructor in my opinion is how he manages to multitask so well. I always worry about these long studios and how the teachers can make sure everyone is part of the class, even the ones in the way back. You know, no yogi left behind and all that. Well, Michael plays the room like a Mistro. He manages to give good dialogue, illustrate postures up front, and then walk around with the most magic touch, assisting us in our poses. I am confident every woman in that room got some Michael Magic attention. As we settled down he said something about opening our hips. I wondered if I should warn him that if he had Frog pose in mind, we could no longer be friends. Fortunately, it was one I could handle, so both my hips and I decided that Michael was still awesome. The meditation component was excellent, and if all the instructors at this studio are as amazing as Michael, it’s a n0- brainer to take a class here. And if anyone needs to know where it’s located, just remember, 21st and Moxie’s.
Wanna keep up on my my zany Yoga Hop, laugh and learn with a spiritual flair, or attend one of my Intention Workshops or Mat-a-festation Meditations? Well then, duh, subscribe to my blog. Also, would it kill you to read one of my books? I mean really, they all (including the novels) are designed to help readers open their minds and know themselves better. You can thank my mother for that guilt-jab. She taught me well.
Namastae and I love you.
Yoga Hop 2014: One Flow Yoga #7
Thought for the day: The very best things in life are free. If you think about it, we scurry and worry and work really hard to have things we are sure will give us the feeling of joy we get, quite easily, from looking out at a sunset or marveling at a budding rose. Ultimately, it’s not money that we want, but the feeling we think we’ll get from the things the money will allow us to buy. What if we chose to notice the sunset, smell the rose, and love the people dear to us, right here, right now, as if the money didn’t matter? Next think you know, it really doesn’t.
One Flow Yoga
I was indeed money-focused this week when I ventured to a this studio that I found online and had never heard of before. I liked that it was right around the corner from Sac State, where I’ve been doing workshops the past two weeks. The money-focus was about a real estate deal gone bad, due to a buyer failing to perform with one of my listings. As I pulled onto the residential street to park at One Flow, I couldn’t help but notice the shops and businesses at the corner of 56th & H. I worked on Elvas Avenue many years ago and was amazed at how the sweet little East Sac neighborhood had changed, and how it hadn’t.
That said, I was in a kind of grumpy mood and really looking forward to a warm flow to help me get my mojo back. I was greeted by the instructor whose name was Jessica. The lobby was long and skinny, but nice, and they even have a small retail selection. I’ve come to learn on my yoga-hopping adventure that a retail section is good to have. It gives early students something to browse (or buy) when they are always-early like me. The retail section here was sparse, but I think it’s a new studio, and admittedly, the retail space is small.
There are two rooms, but I think one is more for teacher training and workshops. The big room, and by big I mean bowling-alley-lane-long, was bright and inviting. My readers know I have a thing about floors, so I’m not going to lie; I had to do a double take. There was one kind of flooring here, then another kind there, and frankly, I found myself floor-curious. To their credit, all the floors were lovely and looked brand new. Cubby holes in the studio make me all warm and fuzzy, because God knows, I always worry about someone coming in from the street and calling Algeria or something.
Speaking of the street. The ‘front’ of the class/studio faces the street. With no window coverings (yet?) I found the traffic a bit distracting, and to stay focused, I kept reading the glass door that has the studio’s name across it. However, being that it reads backwards from inside, instead of getting “One Flow” from it, I kept reading “wolf eno.” Remember, I was in a bad mood. This all shifted when Jessica entered to room and greeted us all like we were her best friends from high school. I wanted to remind her that we just chatted a few minutes earlier at the front desk, but I kept quiet.
Dear Jessica reminded me that no matter how many years or times I practice yoga, there is always a pose I’ve never seen or thought of before. We did some sort of criss-cross applesauce thing with our legs AND our arms. This Jessica was being all sorts of innovating. My shoulders resisted strongly, but I feared failure to comply might result in being thrown out the door into the on-coming traffic, reasoning that this was why they called if wolf yoga. Just kidding. Jessica was positive and gave careful dialogue that would fit with any level, which by the way, is what they called this…all level flow…I think.
While the room was cooler than I like it (sorry, my personally-cultivated heat run cold), I did find that once I got my grove on, my bad mood began to fade. We did warriors and twists and things I can’t pronounce (even before I have a glass of wine), and I found myself flowing along like a good (and grateful) yogi should. I think I failed to mention that the crowd at One Flow was delightfully friendly. I have stepped into studios more than once and noted people meditating on their mats, or otherwise pretending that someone important like me didn’t just step into the room. Okay, just kidding. But truly, these East Sac yogis were super friendly. I felt sure I would be invited for green tea or wheat grass if I wanted.
This is a studio to watch, try their 30 for 30 special, and see if you can get a strike in their big yoga room (that was a bowling joke, in case you missed it)
Yoga Hop 2014: Arden Hot Yoga #6
When I first heard there was something called ‘Bar Yoga,’ I was like, Heck Yeah! I envisioned myself sipping a smooth Pinot while dipping into my downward dog, careful not to spill any on my mat. But alas, that is not the case. ‘Barre’ yoga does not, sadly, refer to any kind of libations being served on or off the mat. It does, however, have the power to relocate your butt cheeks. Perhaps as far as Southern Illinois if you go often enough. Instructor and studio owner Jacqueline, or Ballerina Nazi, as I like to call her, has an extensive dance background and it shows in both her class and her graceful postures. Also, she seems to be good with numbers. First thing we’re told is to have our feet be elevens. I looked down and estimated that mine were more like 8 ½’s. I tried to stretch them long, not wanting to disappoint her or anything. Then she’d tell us to get into first, or second. All the math confused me, but I really enjoyed watching her demonstrate the proper way to stand. I would have actually been happy to spend the whole hour watching her be a ballerina, but for whatever reason, she did not think that was such a good idea. Then the work began. I got busy following the instructions, but kept a watch out of the side of my eye, you know, just in case Mikhail Baryshnikov decided to swing by for a Plié or two. The room is heated, and the moves are a crazy combination of ballet and yoga that leave you feeling as limp as the rubber band thing Jackie had us wrap around the ballet barre. “Hold it like you’re water skiing,” she said. I informed her that I do not know how to water ski. She informed me that I was about to learn. I’m not going to lie. I think I’m in fair shape from consistent practice, but um, this is different. I was working on parts of my body I that didn’t even know I had, and they all let me know they were there and not entirely happy. From arm weights to a ball that totally needs to have air added to it (at least if you expect it to bounce), the stretchy things, and the barre, there were more toys and moves in this practice than I’ve ever experienced before. Unfortunately, none of the tools would suffice for me using the ever-resistant muscles in my thighs, butt, arms, and gut. It’s amazing how much pain one can experience with just the slightest little moves (or ‘pulses’ as my Ballerina Nazi likes to call them). Also, have you ever noticed ballet teachers clap a lot to keep students on tempo? I fail miserably at keeping tempo with anything requiring coordination, so when Jackie got clapping really fast, all I could do was take a bow. Okay, all kidding aside, I lost four dress sizes in sixty minutes. This type of workout is definitely one worth incorporating on a consistent basis. Arden Hot Yoga has recently moved, and the new location is spacious, with a steady stream of yogis coming and going. Besides the *Barre classes, the studio features a big room for Vinyassa Flow and Bikram style hot yoga. With a state of the art heating system, it doesn’t take much to get that internal fire burning and the sweat pouring. Besides showers and dressing rooms, AHY has child care! Yes, child care. What an awesome idea for busy working moms. I almost want to go adopt some kids so I can take advantage of it. Well, maybe not. Oh, and there’s a great water station (only they seemed a bit put off when I hauled in my empty five-gallon jugs). In full-disclosure (this is what happens when you’re in real estate), Arden Hot Yoga is like a home away from home to me now. I am in love with all the fabulous classes, instructors, workshops and the overall community spirit it offers. While I’m all about experimenting and trying different classes and instructors often (and find the community component tangible in them all), it’s nice to have a go-to studio where you can throw down your mat and feel like you’re home–especially when it’s only five minutes from home! Speaking of Arden Hot Yoga, this coming Saturday is an Intention Workshop. No yoga poses, just plenty of intending, power meditating, and vibration-raising fun (1-3 pm, spaces still available). Taking barre classes is going to lift your butt, shrink your gut, and make you much more popular at pool parties. Warning: Barre Yoga is highly addictive. Check out their website & schedule here, and read Jackie’s impressive dance bio here.
- Arden Hot Yoga
- Aha Yoga
- Sunrise Hot Yoga
- Padme Yoga Center
- It’s All Yoga
- Yoga Loka
- The Yoga Seed Collective
- One Flow
- East Wind Yoga
- Bikram Yoga Sacramento
- Lotus Garden
- Sacramento Yoga Center
- Bikram Yoga Natomas
- Aeri Yoga
- Healing Alternatives Meditation Center
- Rise Yoga Studio
- Veera Yoga
- Yoga Shala
- Bikram Yoga Granite Bay
- The Yoga Solution
- Practice Yoga
- Kevala Yoga
- Gen-Nih Yoga
- My Yoga Room