Posts Tagged ‘Anusara’

Day 7 Seattle-Yoga Arts-Denise Benitez

SeattleYogaArts logoExcited to experience the much anticipated teaching excellence of Denise Benitez, co-chair of the world-wide Anusara certification committee, the YoYos got all dressed & ready in their cool new YoYoYogi T’s and raced across town to arrive 30 minutes early to Seattle Yoga Arts. Running up to the door of this understated studio, we found a sign stating, “Doors open 10 minutes before class”.   Having a tad bit excess energy from just downing a Gingerade Kombucha, we decided to take a lap before returning to what appeared to be a theatre cue of people waiting to enter this extremely popular, Capitol Hill class.

Denise Benitez

Denise Benitez

As the door opened, the energetic, smilin’ yogis entered the spacious one- room studio and quickly rolled out their mats …it appeared they too were excited to experience the next 1 ½ hours.  Mats nearly touching, we quickly got to know our neighboring yogis who seemed unusually full of joy as they gushed over Denise and told us this talented mentor was going to teach us ….A lot!

The class started with 3 strong vibrating OMs, and then began the…“What’s goin’on?” moment, when the entire room joyously gave way to the vibrant “invocation”. Unfamiliar to the YoYos, this beautiful Sanskrit chant immediately overwhelmed us with a smilin’ peace that grew throughout this delicately challenging practice.

SeattleYogaArts

Subtle Adjustments

Denise’s profound knowledge peppered with her giant sense of humor helped students focus as she gently guided them to deeply “feel” the asanas, to work on subtle, modest movements as they explored each pose. She encouraged the yogis to learn to love the way a pose feels … after the delightful first 3 seconds when the asanas become….Fulfilling.  Interestingly, with her experienced guidance, the YoYos actually yearned to hold poses longer making those subtle adjustments to let that fulfillment take hold!  The yogis in this class were right…the YoYo’s had a mind-expandin’ practice.

The close of class was a gift – Denise lead a mediation that felt deep, sacred and the perfect intro into the most beautiful savasana.  What a treat for the yogis on Capitol Hill to have Seattle Yoga Arts lead by such a caring, gifted and jokester Anusara teacher, right in their backyard.

To get the true flavor of this extraordinary studio…check out…

“Many Flowers, One Heart
2009 Real People Yoga Calendar


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Day 21 Portland-Yoga Union-Todd & Annie

Annie and Todd

Annie and Todd

An undeniable by-product of takin’ a most excellent adventure to 100 yoga studios in 100 days is growin’ as ya go…and so it was at our two hour “Freestyle Flow” class as the YoYos not only opened their hips,  but opened their minds under the guiding eyes of Todd Vogt and Annie Adamson, owners of Yoga Union.  This talented team of super-cool, super-hip yogis has created a joyful yoga community offering its SE neighborhood a perfect space to practice “off the charts” yoga.

Hunuman - The Monkey God

Hunuman - The Monkey God

These “in sync” partners began their distinctive class in a BIG circle, so warm and welcoming that the YoYos felt like breakin’ into a rousin’ rendition of Kumbaya. Instead, this imaginative teaching team chose to lead a beautiful chant – as Annie followed by telling a most eye-widening tale about Hanuman-the Monkey God, renown for his courage, power and faithful selfless service. Cleverly, she continued to drip this mischievous story throughout the class, timed perfectly just as the mind started that “O dear God!” dialogue – which there were plenty of, in this powerfully potent and exciting practice. 

Yoga Union

Yoga Union

Just smilin’away, our engaging duo explained (or warned -depending on your POV) that the focus of today’s class, was hanumanasana (named after the Monkey God-they are clever), commonly known as the dreaded SPLITS.  The YoYos, not exactly excited about workin’ their crotch to the floor, allowed themselves to just breathe as our gifted team masterfully led the class; sequentially opening every piece of connective tissue, muscle and bone. First one engaging teacher leading while the other adjusted and then the other, back and forth, ensuring every yogi in this totally focused class was personally guided to their perfect asana. Slow, specific instruction and easy to follow teensy-weensy adjustments… made this class a power house…and a whole lotta fun!  Light hearted and lots ‘o laughs; serious openings were created as this dynamic duo worked their magic.  The YoYos love these two and the personal attention they gave to every yogi in this, “learning so much… can I sign up?… can’t wait to come back”, class.

Ravenous Yo Yos at Papa G's

Ravenous Yo Yos at Papa G's

So hungry after our most excellent Yoga Union- yogic adventure, we made a mature decision to breathe rather than eat the upholstery off the car seats.  Feelin’ kin to the Donner Party, we dashed over to Papa G’s, a quintessential P-Town, organic, vegan, “grown from local farms” deli. Decisions…Decisions – will it be the outrageous organic salad bar, a “from another planet good”- hot entree, or something on the menu of endless sandwiches??? At this point, one of everything will do. We met up with the YoYo’s “always up for free lunch and good laughs” full grown child (aka YoYoBarbie)…and ate everything that didn’t eat us…and it was GOOD!

 

  

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Day 22 Portland-Amrita-Sarajoy Marsh

Sarahjoy Marsh

Sarahjoy Marsh

So why does every bloggin’, face-bookin,’ tweetin’ yogi in existence keep tellin’ the YoYo’s  to just throw down that manduka with Sarahjoy Marsh at amrita: a sanctuary for yoga ; while in the land of bridges, beer, bicycles, tattoos and feelin’ good city-wide group hugs, Portland.  Floatin’ into this yogi haven in the early morn, we were about to solve this mysterious puzzle…

Smooth and easy, Sarahjoy slowly began her Anusara 3 class, sharin’ her mat with her  “cute as a button, monkey toy chewin’” pup, who was bent on skippin’ this stimulating, spiritual, philosophical, deeply felt inverted practice and get right to savasana.  Seems Paquito was accustom to feelin’ the mellow vibes of his trusted companion, the soothing energy from this welcoming clan of yogis and the calming effect created by this mind-expandin’, hand standin’ heart-openin’ joyful practice.  The YoYos growin’, learnin’ and enjoyin’ every minute spent with this “wealth of knowledge” teacher, were about to find out…this was only the beginning…

Living Yoga

Living Yoga

Living her yoga, on and off the mat; this accomplished yogi, spiritual teacher and sought-after trainer founded, “Living Yoga,” a P-Town based program bringin’ yoga to people who would otherwise never know its peace-producin’ benefits. Just 10 years ago, Sarahjoy began livin’ her karma yoga by teachin’ two classes per week at a minimal detention center.  She was inspired…and inspiring, as more teachers joined her quest to expand yoga to those living in personal prisons or behind prison walls.  Steady and strong, this amazing vision grew, received its non profit 501(C) (3) status and now serves 10,000 hours of yoga each year to people in real need!  The “soul full” eyes of Jim, a volunteer yoga teacher at a maximum security prison, tells the story of this caring man who understands with his heart, that it is possible that anyone with one bad decision made, could end up in the same position as the people he dedicates his time to.  Shyly, he admits this program feeds his soul. A committed community willing to “Invest in the Human Spirit” forges this amazing program forward.  Living Yoga is alive in this beautiful sanctuary!

YO!!!  The YoYos now get to join the party with the, bloggin,’ facebookin,’ tweetin’ yogi geeks of the world…PUZZLE SOLVED!…amrita: a sanctuary for yoga is extraordinary!

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Day 32 Lake Tahoe-Tahoe Yoga-Bill & Mark

Old Town Truckee

Old Town Truckee

Passing the high altitude, old-town, down-town,  old west turned hip alpine community packed with happenin’ hot spots, groovy  places to grab a brew and “not for the light of wallet” boutiques; the YoYos were on their way to Tahoe’s premiere yoga studio – Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center. This inspired, holistic space owned by Chiropractor and Yoga Instructor, Walter Lightner, draws on the talents of the most sought after teachers in the area and hosts a continual calendar of yogi superstar workshops and classes.

Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center

Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center

“Eye of the Tiger”…  curiosity on fire, the YoYo’s  had to know more about this popular, 6am, bi-monthly event  that draws new and repeat students from places far beyond the borders of its home in Truckee, California.

Bill Folkmann

Bill Folkmann

Super charming, polar opposites, Bill Folkmann and Mark Lundbeck, creators of this advanced practice casually began with a just a few welcoming words and 30+ sun salutations.  The YoYos have to admit, they wondered, during the magical meditative motion, how many times they were goin’ to welcome the sun in this captivating region that always seems to shine.

Mark Lundbeck

Mark Lundbeck

Alternately, these engaging talented teachers replaced the precise, demonstrated instruction with challenging asanas held until every yogi in that room became friends with their connective tissue.  Rotation and alignment focused, the YoYo’s learned things about their armpits and inner thighs… they will not soon forget.  Fun, focused, stimulating and intensely perfect, The YoYos walked away from this “good reason to live in Tahoe” class, feeling alive, strong, energized and ready to take their yoga off the mat and straight to that sparkling lake.

Kayak Heaven - Lake Tahoe

Kayak Heaven - Lake Tahoe

Cold clear water and bright hot sun; the paddle lovin’ YoYo’s took off on a most breathtaking glide through the cobalt waters of Lake Tahoe.  Explorin’ every massive volcanic rock while lookin’ for lost treasures 100’ feet below in the crystal clear water, our boats split the water in two as we said,  “hello” to our 30+ sun salutation shoulders and deep ujaiyi breath. Paddlin’ up to a secluded white sand beach, we discovered a most excellent driftwood “Love Shack” most likely built by an idle summer snowboarder ….The YoYo’s again recited the Tahoe mantra, “it’s all good”… at 7,000 feet!

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Day 34 Lake Tahoe-Wanderlust-John Friend

After leavin’ our most exciting Power “Om” class this morning, the YoYo’s heard… “All we are saaaayin’, is Give Peace a Chance”, wafting in the air from hundreds of yogis who, on this closing day of Wanderlust; the all yoga, all music…all the time festival, had just finished one of their back to back classes with the universal message of peace, love and happiness. Peace signs, tie dye, leather stuff and a virtual all day group hug permeated this “why can’t we just live like this?” festival.

Wanderlustin' Yogis

Wanderlustin' Yogis

AcroYogis Extrodinaire

AcroYogis Extrodinaire

Following the melodic lyrics of the smilin’ faced yogis over to a rocky “field of gold”, the Yogis threw down their “glad we have the guaranteed for life” Manduka, far away from the massive stage separated by shiny happy yogis holdin’ hands.  Here, we waited patiently for our most anticipated class with John Friend.

Not so fast Yo Yo’s… here comes the party!  MC Yogi jumped on stage and fired up this “ready to rip it crowd” with the “Hanuman, the Monkey God” rap, accompanied by flyin’ acro-yogis in gold lame’, hula hoopers-hoopin’ on their heads and outrageously fun yogi wear on outrageously fun yogis.  Just burnin’ it up on this hot day…  John Friend joined this groovin’ group on stage.

John Friend

John Friend

Summin’ it all up in one sentence, John joyously began by explaining that alignment and continual practice will make your body strong…but it is through love and devotion that yoga becomes spiritual…(loosely translated by a YoYo).  When the YoYo’s, who communicate in paragraphs the size of The Bible, hear something so simply beautiful…well, we connected and melted into that rock bed and had the best “under the sun” practice of our life.  Bliss, devotion, authenticity and pure love come to mind when we think of what John Friend brought to this heart-opening practice magnificently accompanied by Jai Uttal.

Wrappin’ up the practice, Jai Uttal, busted out his spiritual music into a dancin,’ singin’ yogi fest unlike anything ever witness by these two YoYo’s.  We’re pretty sure that if you live in North America, you most likely heard the song, and felt joy that was comin’ from the mountains today!

Wanderlust 2010- count us in!


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Day 36 Santa Cruz- Seaside Yoga-Laura McKinnon

The crack of dawn still eluding the geographically challenged YoYo’s, we headed south through oceans of farmland to finally find the tiny town of Seaside…a small community that sits close, but so far away from the high rent/high profile areas of Monterey and Carmel. Here, we started our perfect beach day with an all levels Hatha class, at Seaside Yoga Sanctuary.

Laura McKinnon

Laura McKinnon

It took the quick thinkin’ YoYo’s about one second to understand the draw of this “only studio in town,”  opened- armed , inclusive yoga space as we met its upbeat, love-ooozin’ owner, Laura McKinnon.  This smooth, slow, early morning class felt much like a private practice as Laura generously gave individual physical and mental adjustments to these “never miss’ yogis.  Proving that yoga is for everyone, Laura choose the unlikely Seaside location as a way to bring an exceptional gift to this “yoga barren” community by pioneering a plethora of classes for the young, old, strong, hurt and curious. Now, just two years after its birth, this “at one time apprehensive” crowd can’t live without this gentle practice, welcoming studio or giving teacher.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Like kids in a candy store, the sun-worshippin’ California born and raised YoYo’s heard the Pacific Ocean callin’.  Racin’ up the central coast… we finished our last night’s sleep as we listened to the soothin’, sweet soundin’ waves on the Santa Cruz shores.

Wooden Roller Coaster and Arcades

Wooden Roller Coaster and Arcades

YO!  Wakin’ up, the YoYo’s gasped at the ba-zillion people who had joined them…umbrellas the size of a house, picnics for families of 40, huge wagons pullin’ skid board, wet suits, buckets, barrels and diggers; and rock concert lines to the bathroom… This place was hoppin’ and boppin’ and callin’ the YoYo’s to walk down the beach to check out the origin of the vast humanity.  Through the swarming streets of T-shirt, bikini, and surf shops we traveled…through mountains of  beer, pizza and hot dogs we went to end our discovery at the world famous, century old Santa Cruz Boardwalk, host of the vintage wooden roller-coaster and prancin’ horses of the 1911 Carousel.  This place is some crazy FUN!

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Day 45 SF-Yoga Kula-Katchie Ananda

Yo Yo Yogiman at Yoga Kula

Yogiman enters Yoga Kula

A simple banner reading “Yoga Kula” hangs over an iron gate on the jam packed streets vibrating with its diverse community in the colorful neighborhood known in San Francisco as “The Mission”.  Climbing steep stairs, we were elevated to the stunning studio that overlooked the non-stop energy of the city streets below.

Katchie Ananda

Katchie Ananda

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll was the opening theme of today’s Anusara, all levels class.  The confused YoYo’s thought we were here to do a little stretchin’ & flowin’ with Katchie Ananda, the Anusara teacher that was named one of the Five Top Yoga Teachers Making Change in the World by Yoga Journal Magazine and the East Bay Express pick as Best Yoga Teacher in ’08, but, it appeared this spirited leader prefers to take willing yogis on a mind expandin’ ride.  Katchie seemed convinced that most of us had likely worked our way through all the usual hedonistic pursuits, and  through it all, found ourselves here, in this dazzlin’ space, all geared up and ready for a “most excellent” yogi adventure.

Yoga Kula

Yoga Kula

Takin’ out all judgment, comical Katchie laid out an invitation to mentally “come clean” about why we came to our mat as she explained that a yogi’s intent is either driven from their “Little Sva” (small self, ego-teensy things that run us ragged- like a slightly saggin’ tush) or “Big Sva” (big self, somewhat larger in nature- like changin’ the world) . Tonight, the YoYos felt themselves hoverin’ at about a medium size Sva, as the thought of lettin’ unknowing yogis know about this remarkable,  spiritual  teacher that could possibly change their life was kinda, Big Sva-ish…but, the thought of lookin’ cool in our yoga pants knocked us down a notch….or two.

Openin' the little Sva

Openin' the Heart

Katchie’s  continual reminder to tune into what Sva  was runnin’ our yogi show,  was at the forefront of every  beautifully sequenced asana as she gently reminded these yogis to quiet the mind and listen intently to the Big Sva, because… that Little Sva was standin’ by, ready to keep on doin’ the same ol’ same ol’.

Tonight and every night from this day forward, familiar postures take on a whole new meaning.   Bringing Big Sva into our practice – brings endless possibilities to the world and to this wonderful gift we call- yoga!


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Day 47 SF-Yoga Sausalito-Laura Christensen

Yoga of Sausalito

Yoga of Sausalito

The YoYos felt some embracin’ vibes radiating from the Bay side haven of Yoga of Sausalito– sweetly livin’ on a charming street filled with shiny happy locals lookin’ like they were gettin’ ready to set sail.  With open arms and open heart, this “off the charts”  love-fest  of a yogi community led by owner Stephan Buehl and studio angel Alisa  greeted the “YoYo’s” , foreshadowing the jubilant practice they were about to share with the swarming room of yogis who are lucky enough to call this dynamic neighborhood and stunning studio, home.

Laura Christensen

Laura Christensen

Laura Christensen, the celebrated Anusara teacher, devoted student of John Friend and member of the Anusara Certification Committee, opened her “group hug” of a class on this beautiful morning, by askin’ this regular crowd what song their heart would sing… if it had a song. The YoYo’s, lucky enough to own the “record”, immediately identified… The Beatles classic, “All you need is Love”. These spiritual words, say it simply…and so did this deeply caring teacher as she unfolded a class that brought passion to every breath and every asana.

Heart Openin' Dance

Heart Openin' Dance

Laura, continually reminding this happy bunch to look for “enthusiasm” in their practice,  steadily lead with a beautiful smile and unwavering encouragement proving that patience, love and flawless instruction can do wonders, as every “givin’ it their all” yogi,  found themselves willingly tested in demanding asanas.   Brilliantly, this gifted guide initiated poses in their simplest form and persistently added baby steps that brought mental and physical breakthroughs to students who mistakenly thought, “I can’t do that”.  But when, as a team, they “pushed the preverbal envelope” and went a little deeper  than ever before, this supportive teacher and room full of spirited yogis, celebrated… on and off the mat.

Buddha in the Yoga of Sausalito Garden

Yoga of Sausalito's Buddha


The love fest in this community doesn’t end when class is over.  The owner, teachers and students that make up this tight knit bunch like to take the “feel good” out the door and down the street  to the local Indian café they commonly frequent…while they chat, laugh and build on the “feel it in your bones” joy, that binds them together.


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Day 65 LA-Yogaglo-Tara Judelle

Tara Judelle

Tara Judelle

First stop in L.A… Yogaglo, where the skeptical YoYos spotted a sign that read…”Monthly Yoga-$18”.  Really?  The YoYos knew that’d be the price of admission to take just one “e-ticket” ride with our “Seattle to San Francisco” recommended Anusara teacher, Tara Judelle, or any of the other “super star” instructors at this pioneering studio.  So what’s the catch??? Would unsuspecting yogis have to wash mirrors and clean toilets for all eternity?

Class with Tara at Yogaglo

Class with Tara at Yogaglo

Closely examining this chic, pure white, vast studio soundstage, we discovered hidden cameras and small tape marks on the floor where yogis in this innovative space were to lay their mats. Welcome to L.A!  The “not dressed for success” YoYos quickly found a front and center space to throw down the Mandukas to shy from the cameras that were filming from the back.  Bummer, if YoYoYogini would have known her backside would be smilin’ to the camera, she would have been sportin’ her new butt liftin’, thigh squeezin’, leg- lengthenin’ Hatha Power Pant from Lucy.

Derik Mills

Derik Mills

Seems recently opened Yogaglo(bal) is the brainchild of Derik Mills, a regular genius of a yogi who has pioneered a way to bring “off the charts” yoga into living rooms across the globe, by streamin’ diverse HD classes onto computers or flat screens takin’ away the age old snag of time and money.  But, here’s where this ground breakin’ idea explodes…yogi members on a budget, the international set and road trippers alike are invited to attend the plethora of  classes offered at this stylin’ space at no additional charge.  Cool!

Tara loves those Hip Openers

Tara loves those Hip Openers

Tara, our tale tellin’ teacher, entertained our class as she opened with a story about her “glo”in’ sister who had endured four days of natural child birthin’ labor while goin’ through intense contraction and powerful expansion with bouts of joy and saltiness.  HMMMM…sounded like the YoYo’s in Tara’s class.   This skilled instructor continually returned to this seemingly humorous recount of her sisters “breathin’ through it” exercise, while joyfully introducing challenging and unfamiliar asana, a killer balancin’ sequence, and “birthin’ babies” hip and thigh openers as she comically kicked our ass.

The YoYo’s love the “off the charts” quality of this teacher and  groundbreakin’ studio who’s truly bringing yoga to everyone…even the roadtrippin’ YoYo’s, who can now just fire up the MAC and Yogaglo anywhere… on this most excellent adventure!

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Day 92 San Diego-Haute Yoga-Michael Fukumura

Haute Yoga's Sensory Rich Lobby

Haute Yoga

Warmly welcomed into the newly opened, luxuriant walls of Haute Yoga in Solana Beach, the YoYos realized they had just pierced the artistic imagination of its’ world traveled owners. Taken by the opulent colors, lavish bamboo floors, sumptuous loungin’ areas, chic “everything yogi” retail space, rich use of rock, stone and metal in the swanky shower/dressing rooms, and the behind the scenes state of the art “eco-friendly” everything, the impressed YoYos immediately dissolved into the magical sensory experience,  owners Dino Flacco and Olivera Bogdanovich-Flacco have lovingly created for the virtual sea of SoCal yogis who are lucky enough to call this innovative spa-like studio, h”OM”e.

Michael Fukumura

Michael Fukumura

Findin’ a mere 2’x6’ for the Manduka on the mat to mat, cushy floored space of Studio #2, we peacefully awaited “rock-star” Anusara teacher, Michael Fukumura. After 6,000 miles and 107 days, the roadtrippin’ YoYo’s were ecstatic to finally find our way to the knowledge and heart-expandin’ practice this talented guide is known to share.

 

Michael Opened our Hearts and our Minds

Opened Hearted Michael

Startin’ in a ginormous circle of smilin’ happy yogis, Michael, who, after returnin’ from volunteering his vast talents at the 3rd Annual San Diego Karma Yoga event supporting Shakti Rising; opened with a touchin’ story about a young woman who desolately lost her way but gratefully found a guidin’ path back, through the structure of Yoga. Throughout this 90 minute alignment master’s class, Michael encouraged every “sweatin’ buckets” yogi to seek that same structure; while he generously allowed space to form each pose, root into it, set intention and use that directed energy off the mat, out the door and into the cosmic challenges of everyday life.

The amazed YoYos continue to be in awe of the depth of experience and flat out good vibes that radiate from the “off the charts” Anusara teachers we’ve experienced on this epic yogic discovery; Seattle’s Denise Benitez, Portland ‘s Sarahjoy Marsh, San Francisco’s Laura Christensen, Katchie Ananda, and Stacey Rosenberg, L.A’s Tara Judelle , San Diego’s Michael Fukumura, and of course, Anusara Founder John Friend who, the wound-up YoYos caught at Squaw Valley’s Wanderlust Festival; these mind-expandin’, body strengthenin’, peace providin’ teachers have given these grateful YoYos life-changin’ lessons they’ve taken with them to every class and throughout every amazin’ day of this “most excellent” adventure.

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