Day 51 SF-Yoga Tree-Les Leventhal

Les Leventhal

Les Leventhal

As the saying goes…Sometimes Les(s) is More!

…and never was that truer than tonight when the YoYo’s ventured back to Yoga Tree-Castro, a San Francisco nucleus for many of the most sought after teachers in the nation. This time, we were anxious and a tad terrified to take class from the reputed butt kicker of a yoga teacher… Les Leventhal, especially since we dim-wittedly put it in our crazy minds that at this late evening hour, on our 51st day we were to be pounded with an outrageous soundtrack and put through our paces with a faster than lightnin’ flow.

Then… of all things, Les opened calmly and quietly in a candle lit room by gently askin’ this serene group of yogis to take away all expectations; to not make any preconceived ideas about what scary asanas we may or may not do, how we might react over the next 1 ½ hours or anything else for that matter. He simply asked us to be in this moment and always be in our breath. Then, this trickster announced that there would be… no music. Seems Les wanted us to tune in…to our own unique sound. At this point, the YoYo’s were pretty sure that clairvoyant Les had been reading our “hyped out for no reason” YoYo minds.

Les is often more

Les is often more

No expectations…No tunes…No worries…the YoYo’s soon understood this was to be a class of just feelin’ it and breathin’ it… and we couldn’t think of a better guide to take us there.

After class, the YoYos thought Les should rename his “all levels yoga” to long, slow, deep and damn near perfect. This second to none strength-buildin’ sequence focused on using the breath to stay calm in difficult situations…which there were many of as this skillful teacher worked every muscle in our YoYo bodies. Les’s flawless explanations and unbridled encouragement to try something new, take a chance, take it deeper, higher, or more anti-gravity defyin’ than ever before was the backbone of this all encompassing tip to toe and top to bottom practice.

O.K….so maybe the YoYo’s were right about one thing…this was butt kicker…just not at all in the way they expected… Lesson Learned… Don’t anticipate…just breathe!


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Day 52 SF-The Mindful Body-Charu Rachlis

Charu Rachlis

Charu Rachlis

The YoYo’s had to wonder what mind openin’ experience we were to encounter when findin’  that today’s Hatha class with celebrated teacher Charu Rachlis would be on her first day back after takin’ the last month to immerse herself in silent meditation and solitude – all alone for one month without any communiqué’ from  “the noise”.   Sounds near impossible for the roadtrippin’ YoYo’s, but we were curious what incisive lessons this reflective teacher might share.

The Mindful Body

The Mindful Body

Wholeheartedly  we were greeted into energy of The Mindful Body by Hillary, who partnered with her Father, Roy Bergmann after he pulled the corporate plug and opened this thriving  80 employee- 10 massage room- 2 yoga studios, holistic well being sanctuary in Lower Pacific Heights.  Behind  the massive floor-to-ceiling drapes separating the busy mind / body studios, we “found a comfortable” seat on our  Manduka mats as Charu revealed the mind-expandin’, peace-producin’ effects of solitude and silence to this tight knit bunch that seemed euphoric to have Charu “back in the house”.  Beginning in seated mediation, this introspective guide shared words of “letting go” and releasing the addiction to  “doin’” and “bein’” while questioning – what it is we do, and how we be.  Her insights accompanied her total body, fluid sequence of poses requiring these yogis to not “be” anything except, “here now”!

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Seems everyone's goin' to get RU

The RU waiting for the Yo Yos

The RU waiting for the Yo Yos

…The “now” after class , helps the  YoYo’s live yoga off the mat and on the freeway as they headed  h”om”e to Tahoe and then  back to S.F.– at the speed ‘o sound.  Got to pick up “The Ru”…the wise, kind, old, left with granny because the YoYo’s house trade last week wasn’t pet friendly, cocker spaniel.  Without the The Ru, channeler of great wisdom, things for the YoYo’s just weren’t the same.  Must have dog.  Looks like everyone else in the Bay was missin’ the The Ru and headin’ to the mountains too, as the normally 3 1/2 hour trip took the YoYo’s 7 hours, giving us great opportunity to practice “bein’ here now”.  We arrive!  All is good; we’ll be headin’ back with Ru in tow, for a most excellent week of yoga, San Francisco style!


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Day 53 SF-Yoga Loft-Jason Crandell

Kayak Time Lake Tahoe

Kayak Time Lake Tahoe

While on our speedy “pick up The Ru” Tahoe trip we, not surprisingly, decided to sneak in just one most excellent kayak before catchin’ our later that night class with popular teacher, Jason Crandell back in San Francisco.   Leavin’ late on this still Sierra morn, we put our perfect “avoid traffic” plan in place and began our scoot back to the Bay.   After just minutes of blissfully sayin’ bye to the pine air, we found ourselves crammed into one long, forever California lane, and we knew…our scootin’ days were pretty much over …

Just Breath….

Above the businesses on Divisadero off Haight, the Yoga Loft looks down at the city through its patchwork of serene 2nd floor spaces that are both very old and very cool.  Two busy yoga studios intermix with a nostalgic foyer-parlor turned hang-out space, vintage hotel inspired check -in spot, an antique room for dressin’ and ginormous hallways, packed with “waitin’ for class to begin”, yogis.

Focused on the Breath at Yoga Loft

Focused on the Breath at Yoga Loft

Faithful Jason-ites snatched a spot when the prior class crammed out of the airy, historic space makin’ room for the loyalist of Jason’s easy style, even tempo and continual attention to the breath in his, No Hurries… No Worries… No Performin’, class.  Expectations set by this mellow teacher to melt as though you were to hang out awhile in each asana, helped the YoYos find our skeleton and some welcome focus on that-exhale.  Inversions unfolded with no pressure, advanced postures introduced with no demands, modifications done with thorough instruction were accomplished as  a compliment to the teacher who continually encouraged each yogi to experience, not muscle each shape.

With the YoYo’s Yogi’s tool chest of yoga gems overflowin’, we gratefully add Jason’s “spot-on” insight to use the asana to create awareness in the body, instead of usin’ the body to simply build a pose.


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Day 54 SF-Bend Yoga-Sarah Barnard

The diversity cravin’ YoYo’s love the wide-rangin’ Yoga found in this City by the Bay.  We’ve been drawn to the humongous power studios that attract classes of ginormous size, and have been eager to visit the intimate neighborhood spaces that invite their yogi neighbors into their open-armed communities. Tonight…the cliché provin’ YoYo’s are on quest to see if “size really does matter” as they enter a hidden door under the letters B E N D Y O G A written across eight tiny windows. Inside, was a space so small that it allowed only enough room for this tight knit group to line their mats single file.

Did you say, "Yoga for Trees?"

Did you say, "Yoga for Trees?"

The confused YoYo’s were puzzled thinkin’ about tonight’s class, “Yoga for Trees”- we’re the YoYo’s to do yoga with trees in this cozy space, or become a virtual tree??  With anticipation, we met owner and creator of this perplexing program, Heather Hana, to find that proceeds from the many “Yoga for Trees” classes offered at Bend Yoga Studio, are donated directly to The Arbor Day Foundation.  With the goal of planting 10,000 trees, the YoYo’s are pretty sure that Heather and team of gifted teachers who have already donated 340 trees in just 10 weeks, are well on their generous way to supplying a whole lotta trees to the world and a whole lotta “off the charts” yoga to this lucky community.

Sarah Barnard

Sarah Barnard

Our class tonight with instructor Sarah Barnard , who contributes part of her pay to “Yoga for Trees”, didn’t have a complicated description or specific lineage, nor do any of the classes,  at this straightforward, studio…it’s just called… Yoga!   Deep breathin’, sun salutations, twists, lunges, backbends, balance, forward bends, hip openers, just Yoga! But, when “just yoga” is practiced in a super-welcoming community; lead by a super-caring teacher, with super-yogis that pull together for the common goal of more oxygen for the planet, it becomes “not to miss” yoga!

Yoga for Trees help plant Plumas Forest

Yoga for Trees helps plant Plumas National Forest

From our head to our yogi toes, the YoYo’s were feelin’ the love radiatin’ from this petite space-provin’ size really does matter – as this BIG hearted community has truly taken their unique program and brand of straightforward yoga off the mat and into the world.


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Day 55 SF-Yoga Tree-Dina Amsterdam

Dina Amsterdam

Dina Amsterdam

The “off the charts” action at Yoga Tree-Castro piqued the YoYo’s curiosity as to what we’d find at the Valencia location of this San Francisco yoga powerhouse.   Excitedly, we ventured to seize our very first “YinYang”  class of our roadtrippin’ journey with intuitive teacher, Dina Amsterdam, who was recognized as the “Best Teacher in San Francisco” by San Francisco Magazine in 2007.

Yoga Tree Valencia

Yoga Tree Valencia

Mat to mat, the yogis looked so peaceful all lyin’ on their backs in this dimly lit, narrow space with eyes closed, bolsters under knees, blankets under head, with the penetrating sound of a gong-bell-bowl  radiatin’ through the vast room.  After 55 “most excellent” yoga days, the YoYo’s thought this jam-packed slumber party was lookin’ real good, so we joined in on the much appreciated, lack of activity.

Mukund Sabramanian

Mukund Sabramanian

Leavin’ the yogis in their comatose position, Dina began class by encouragin’ this blissed-out bunch to send breath to their energy centers, chakras, which she focused on, one by one. Leisurely, she moved this barely movin’ group into the widest, longest child’s pose in child pose history and a series of forever held asanas that let our muscles rest, while we ignited our connective tissue.  The ambiance of candle glow, gentle voice of our gifted guide, and the LIVE, healing, vibrational music performed by Mukund, intensely penetrated our YoYo mind, and bodies.  Feelin’ kinda cozy on our Mandukas, we used our breath to transistion into Dina’s perfect, slow Yang flow.  So relaxed were we from this beautiful practice, the YoYo’s visualized this bein’ their late night, every night class.

Peace from the People of Bolinas

Peace from the People of Bolinas

Off to the ocean to the TINY town of Bolinas.  The YoYo’s knew they couldn’t pass up stayin’, if just for a couple days, in this beach town full of eccentric hippies that packed it up and moved it out to escape the preverbal rat race. Seems these folks like isolation so much, that they pulled down all signs markin’ their oasis, makin’ it a little hard for the midnight travelin’ YoYo’s to find where the heck we were headed.  Just followin’ the sound of the sea…we knew …we had arrived.


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Day 56 SF-Yoga Tree-Stacey Rosenberg

Stacey Rosenberg

Stacey Rosenberg

We can’t help but hear the 70’s lyrics …”Joy to the world, all the boys and girls… Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea… Joy to you and me,” every time we are lucky enough to enter a class of a Master Anusara teacher who has been trained by its founder, John Friend.  It happened first on fateful day 8, when we were blown away by cheerful Denise Benitez and her happy bunch of yogis at her studio, Seattle Yoga Arts. This elated experience repeated at Yoga of Sausalito when Laura Christensen was our bright, shinin’ and gifted guide.  Our third time-definitely a charm when robust recommendations led us to the super-pleasurable, super- engaging, total body challenge of Stacey Rosenberg at Yoga Tree-Hayes in San Francisco.

Ganesha

Ganesha

Sitting comfortably mat to mat with our yogi neighbors, all attention turned toward Stacey, PhD of story tellin’, who began a series of accounts about Ganesha.  After all, it was his birthday and there were just so many life lessons to be learned from this “remover of obstacles”, Elephant God.  Throughout the next 1 ½ hours of her “from the heart , challenging sequence, Stacey masterfully interwove tales about wisdom, joy , strength and gentleness,  while playfully educating us eager yogis on savoring life’s sweetness – just like Ganesha savored his bowl of modak (sweets) which he held in one of his 4 hands.

Joyous Encouragement

Joyous Encouragement

Sweet too, was this clever teacher who kept our minds intrigued while working our YoYo bodies to the brink of a possible slide off our always “keepin’ us skidless”, yogi toes.  Wanting to know more about this amusing Deity and his eco-friendly mouse transportation, our compelling teacher masterfully turned this test of strength class, into a fest of pleasure and joy.  Could it be that after that muscle explosion, this talented instructor even had one sweet bedtime story left for our most beautiful savasana?

After learning, laughin’, breathin’, workin’ and just enjoyin’ our time with Stacey, we could think of nothin’ better than to head back through the twisty ,turney, “scarier than hell in the dark” Mt. Tam that returns us to the sea and have some sweet dreams about Ganesha….Happy Birthday!


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Day 57 SF-Yoga Works-Peggy Orr

Bolinas Coastal Cafe

Think Globally, Eat Locally

Seems impossible that after just a few thousand cliff-hangin’ switchbacks we’ll find ourselves on the swarmin’ 101, surrounded by trendy ‘hoods and spendy real estate.  Before headin’ through flora and fauna, saltwater and shoppin’ malls, the YoYo’s and The Ru savored the sights of Bolinas; a shrine to liberal nirvana of the magnificent Marin County coast – population 1,246.   One organic restaurant,  one health food store,  one cool yoga providin’ community center, loads of peace symbols,  and tons of “OM”bama signs… no wonder the shadowy organization “Bolinas Border Patrol” ripped down the signs pointin’ to their secret sanctuary .

Bolinas Surfers

Surfer's Paradise

Feelin’ fine from the salt air and good vibes from the artists, writers, eccentrics and surfers that make this seaside retreat their home, we head to Larkspur Landing to continue our amazing day .

Peggy Orr - YogaWorks Mill Valley teacher

Peggy Orr

The astute YoYo’s know that when we’re referred to a teacher a few dozen times…something’s goin’ on.  From Seattle to San Francisco, teachers and students alike communicated the dire importance of making it to Peggy Orr’s “not to miss” class while in the Bay.  Thanks to the “off the charts” energy and enthusiasm of June Katzen, manager of the stunning Yoga Works– Larkspur, the YoYo’s found ourselves warmly welcomed into Peggy’s 6 year strong,  jam-packed, mid- day class of loyal yogis. Today, we were to bear witness to the accomplishments of a steadfast practice with an inspiring and gifted teacher.

Peggy’s smooth voice and sax soundtrack resonated as she slowly unfolded a class that first warmed us and then encouraged us to find our unique practice within the structured guidelines of this beautifully sequenced class.  The YoYo’s couldn’t help but notice Peggy’s accomplished clan of resolute students  confidently pullin’ off one-of-a-kind modifications and sometimes even fuller expressions to the many testing asanas that Peggy introduced. Offering time and space to explore, 100- eyed Peggy observed every yogi’s pose while her talented hands offered flawless adjustments to those wanting to experiment with something challenging or new.

Safety in the hands of an expert, and security in this house of friends, these lucky yogis have built an incredible practice under the guiding eyes of this truly “not to miss” teacher.


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Day 58 SF-Yoga Tree-Rusty Wells

Rusty Wells

Rusty Wells

The YoYo’s can’t remember a time when we spoke of yoga in “The City” when the name Rusty Wells, didn’t dynamically enter the conversation by an adoring yogi who was afraid we were to miss this yogi luminary.

Leavin’ our fleeting seaside haven at the crack o’ dawn, we warily dodged a zillion colorful 2- wheeled crazies racin’ on fog engulfed  Mt. Tam, to ensure the 58th day of our “most excellent” adventure was to find us in the popular Sunday Mornin’, “Church of Rusty”.  Warned repeatedly by yogis near and far that this “not to miss” class would “fill up,” we arrived at Yoga Tree –Castro so early, that the usually feisty streets of this lively neighborhood were still quiet, and the doors of this San Francisco Yoga Mecca, still locked. Cool… the YoYo’s had just enough time to buzz it up with just a tiny cup from Philz… the YoYo’s latest obsession.

The "Church of Rusty" Rocks

The "Church of Rusty" Rocks

Meanderin’ back mere minutes later, we found the illustrious studio had turned into a virtual yogi convention. Yogis…yogis everywhere!  Loudly laugin,’ animatedly chattin’, and excitedly enjoyin’ this time, this space and each other;  the YoYo’s unaccustomed to “pre-funk”  festivity, loved joinin’ in with our 143 high-spirited neighbors.

Genuine Bhakti Flows

Genuine Bhakti Flows

Rusty began as his rich resonating voice accompanied by his percussive tambourine filled the huge space with a heartfelt chant which his bevy of adjusting assistants and every enthusiastic yogi joyously repeated with unbridled enthusiasm.   This feel-good, love fest of music soon gave way to Rusty’s “now we know what they’re talkin’ about”, kick your butt and melt your heart flow. With a rockin’ soundtrack and rousin’ warm-up, the YoYo’s felt their temperature explode and power turn on as Rusty’s seamless sequence and profound life lessons ignited our muscles, expanded our minds and warmed our hearts. Funny, inspiring, and spiritual, this jubilant leader encouraged dedicating our practice to someone “we would give it all for”, as he continued to develop this time into something much richer than perfectly aligned asana.  Ending the same empowering way this mind-blowin’ class began, except a whole hell of a lot wetter, we gratefully joined in the energetic chant with this charismatic leader and the fortunate yogis lucky enough to call him, Teacher.


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Day 59 SF-Yogaworks-Karyn Holland

Road over Mt Tam

Road over Mt Tam

Today, we travel through hill and dale, forest and freeway; twistin’ and turnin’ our way back to The Bay to arrive at Yoga Works-Larkspur for our anxiously awaited Vinyasa 2-3 class with Karyn Holland.

Karyn Holland

Karyn Holland

Entering the stunning spa-like space, we were greeted with a high-spirited welcome from this tight-knit yogi family.   Our YoYo eye’s were  poppin’ as  bhakti-flowin’ manager, June Katzen, led the grand tour of all three delicious yoga rooms and unsurpassed everything yogi space filled with chic attire, library of inspirin’ books, and cool yogi side dishes. Hangin’ in bliss on the luscious couches enjoyin’ the extensive tea bar, the comfy YoYo’s toyed, for just a second, with the idea of pracitin’ savasana for a hour or three in this dazzlin’ lap of luxury; but time had come for the unsuspecting YoYo’s to enter their “velvet hammer” of a class.

Karyn opened this “good vibe” flow with a message of, “YES” to opportunity in our lives, “yes” in our hearts and most definitely “yes” in our practice. The unhurried steady pace and composed demeanor of our trickster teacher ensured the YoYo’s remain unaware that every muscle was being worked to its absolute max. Her precise, easy-to-follow coaching guaranteed these committed yogis used every hidden sinew correctly and kept strength of heart and mind to tackle even unfamiliar asanas.  It was easy to see that this fortunate class was being expertly guided by this caring teacher that loves to spread the positive message of “YES”.

The RU at Stinson Beach

The RU at Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

Takin’ our cue from our optimistic guide, we said “Yes” to the Ru, the wise, kind, ol’, wantin’ to romp, grandfather cocker spaniel, who thought Stinson Beach would be a perfect spot to fill every crevasse with powdery sand, and check out the herd of seals playfully jumpin’ in the sea.  While the YoYo’s walked out our worked out bodies, we inhaled the serene sounds and exhaled the ginormous amounts of sand that The Ru felt compelled to shake in our smilin’ faces while blithely testin’ our new found yoga poses… compliments of our “most positive” class at Yoga Works- Larkspur.

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Day 60 SF-Laughing Lotus-Jasmine Tarkeshi

Laughing Lotus

Laughing Lotus

Meanderin’ down the grey concrete streets in the Mission District, the surprised YoYo’s gasped at the unexpected splash of brilliant color, storybook architecture and jubilant patterns on the vibrant walls of Laughing Lotus Yoga Center; the vivacious yoga studio with the seemingly perfect name.  Entering this “feel-good” space; the vivid pigment and dramatic design continued throughout the dynamic lobby, vibrant changing rooms and most definitely, the joyous playroom.

Jasmine Tarkeshi

Jasmine Tarkeshi

The ‘cut out and save,” 2 page spread of today’s teacher, Jasmine Tarkeshi,  inside the latest edition of Yoga Journal featured on these multihued walls, reminded us that our enchanting leader was a regular super-star throughout the yogi community.   Along with esteemed partner, Dana Flynn, Jasmine opened this San Francisco studio 2 years ago while this dynamic duo continues to run their super-successful, 10 year strong, New York City studio with the same name.

Jasmine Turned our World Upside Down

Jasmine Turned our World Upside Down

Jasmine opened her heart and her Lotus Flow 2 class with the message of gratitude.  Sharing stories from one of the many retreats she lead to India, she spoke of whole families startin’ before dawn to offer words and gestures of appreciation for all blessings; sun, water, family and whatever processions they may have.  This enlightened teacher kept this central theme of thankfulness throughout her thunderous chants, enthusiast Om’s, and dynamic full body flow. Every asana fully alive, every move free-spirited and every word from this dynamic  teacher deeply appreciated  by these grateful YoYo’s who found this magical studio and lively practice an amazing gift on our last day in this yoga-rich city.

Central Coast Vineyards

Central Coast Vineyards

Makin’ our way out of San Francisco, we head down to the tranquil Central Coast.  Who knew we’d be passin’ gargantuan outlet malls, a bounty of farms, minuscule towns, enough garlic to make smilin’ YoYoYogini happy into eternity and 225 jaw-droppin’ wineries?  The “when in Rome” YoYo’s, had to stop and taste the nectar of the fruit, revel in those purple mountain majesty above the fruited plains and take every word Jasmine said to heart…Thank you Jasmine, for a “most excellent” practice and San Francisco for our most mind-expandin’ 3 weeks!

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