Posts Tagged ‘Hatha Yoga’

Day 3 Seattle-Yogalife-Fran Gallo

Yogalife / Greenlake – Fran Gallo

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Green Lake

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Green Lake Sidewalk Cafe

Dog-walkin,’ stroller-pushin’ hoop-shootin, fish-catchin’ sail-boatin’, road-bikin’, roller-bladin’, & power-nappin; Green Lake, a magnet for urbanites in search of a respite from the big city is just 10 minutes from downtown Seattle.  A magnificent park and 3 mile track circles this tree-lined paradise resting on the shores of a surprising reservoir.

The YoYo’s, and The Ru (the wise, kind, old, grandfather cocker spaniel) circled the perfectly maintained track at warp speed as the best possible warm-up for their much anticipated visit to Yogalife in Green Lake, a yoga studio surrounded by crowded outdoor cafes and cool little shops.

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Fran Gallo

Maria, (aka Maria, the awesome)-Director of Operations met us with her beautiful fresh face and flashing smile as she energetically made sure we were introduced to Fran Gallo, a teacher as warm and open as the country her family hails from, Italy. We were feelin’ the LOVE permeate from this authentic ball of energy and were quick to realize that the yogis in this room were regulars who came for their daily dose of  Fran. Spanning all age groups and levels of ability, Fran personalized her class by asking each yogi if they had a specific pose they needed today and magically inter-wove each request into her joyful 11/4 hour Hatha class.  Fran’s easy, accepting style made us feel like we were long lost cousins and the yogis in this room made you want to join in a big group hug. Upon leaving, we were given FREE Class Cards which we couldn’t wait to give to our daughter and her “never done yoga before” Australian boyfriend knowing that they couldn’t find a more welcoming yoga community than is being offered at Yogalife, Green Lake.

Check out Fran’s Pantelleria Island, Sicily Yoga Retreat @ www. frangallo.com

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Day 8 Seattle-Yoga Tree Kitty Wittkower

FremontPete's

Colorful Fremont

Peace and Love in Fremont

Peace and Love in Fremont

Tonight, we traveled over the Fremont Bridge trying to stay focused on the lights ahead and not the breath-takin’ scenery below.  Full sails billowing in the soft breeze as diamonds popped off the water of Lake Union….The road to this free-spirited town is just dazzlin’. As we entered Fremont, rememberin’ the last time we were here for the Solstice Parade with streets full of outrageous floats, great music and naked painted people riding bikes, we just smiled.  Tonight, all was back to normal (?). The fun and funky neighborhood was crowded with people just hangin’ at the bazillion outdoor cafes, natural food stores and coffee houses.  Stoppin’ at PCC, we grabbed yet another Kombucha and readied ourselves to take Kitty’s Wittkower’s class at the Yoga Tree- Seattle.

Kitty-ruby-red-slippers

Kitty's Ruby Red Slippers

Now, the YoYos have no set expectations as they enter Seattle’s Premiere Yoga Studios-knowing they are about to take class from some of this country’s top teachers, they just open their mind, and “OM” right along-tonight was no exception.  We entered the inviting, warm, one room studio in anxious anticipation of taking a killer class from this highly regarded teacher.  Kitty, super-colorful (check out the ruby reds) and expressive, started her class with a resonating 3 OM’s, a beautiful Sanskrit chant and a strong warm-up…. from there, the word “CLASS” took on a whole new meaning.

Kitty told us (or in our mind “warned” us), that her class was all about inversions. Yikes, say the word “inversion” and we start feel a little “less than”. Truth is the YoYos are just a little edgy about hangin’ upside down.   Tonight, however, Kitty was going to change all that!  

Kitty Wittkower

Kitty Wittkower

The experienced yogis at the Hatha 2-3 class excitedly pulled their mats up against the wall, and that’s when Kitty started to shake things up.  Giving clear instructions, she proceeded to break down each inversion with an almost child like ease.  Continually rallying the yogis close together to ensure complete understanding, she slowly demonstrated each inversion, then with assistance from beautiful and bendy, Maraha, showed exact form down to the neck muscles, expertly defining Alignment, Positioning, Rotation…O MY.

 The YoYo’s, first internally kickin’ and screamin,’ found themselves slowly floatin’ their way into a handstand, arm stand, headstand and shoulder stand.  The individualized instruction and continual adjustments Kitty generously shared with her students, allowed the YoYos to feel- what they didn’t know they were supposed to feel, for the first time.  

Thanks Kitty!

Thanks Kitty!

Well, let’s just say we didn’t actually walk out of class ready to join Cirque du Soleil, but don’t be surprised if  next year when you see the YoYos at the Solstice Parade, they’re walkin’ down the street, confidently on their hands, with a big ‘ol smile and some colorful paint! 

Ready to give it a go?

 

Photos of Kitty by Patricia Ridenour

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Day 11 Seattle-Yogalife-Chiara Guerrieri

Stone "Stairway to Heaven"

Stone "Stairway to Heaven"

Upper Queen Anne

Upper Queen Anne

Takin’ off by foot to explore our soon-fleeting Queen Anne ‘hood on this glorious sunny day, we came upon a most excellent surprise…ancient stone stairs goin’ up as far as the eye could see.   What genius thought of this?  Back in Lake Tahoe, “OM” to the YoYo’s, the only way to ascend, is simply to scale sheer walls of granite.  Curious, the YoYos began climbing the “stairway to heaven” to discover what utopia waited! Surprised, we came upon teensy-weensy Kerry Park with views so stunning that every tourist in the city (including the YoYos) were snappin’ shots. Continuing the climb, we discovered gracious ‘ol manors, a kaleidoscope of flowering plants, an abundance of organic treats, colorful crowded outdoor cafes, smilin’ hyper  people drinkin’ even more coffee and the celebrated Yogalife, Upper Queen Anne’s premiere Yoga Studio.  It was in this hidden gem that the YoYos were to take class, simply titled “CORE”.

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Chiara Guerrieri showin' Abs of Steel

YoYos legs were pretty much toast after climbing the ba-zillionth stone stair, but CORE… for that, we were ready!  We entered the charming, brick building housing two enchanting outdoor cafes and crawled to the 2nd floor.  Greeted by a full room of Yogis gushing over the talents of instructor Chiara Guerrieri, we were told how lucky we were to be in the class of this “Italian Stallion” who was teacher to the teachers, in Seattle. Entering the breezy, sunny room with glistening hardwood floors, open windows, super- happy yellow walls and giant periwinkle ceilings, the YoYos, even with legs destroyed, immediately – felt the love! Chiara, super-expressive, passionate, and entertaining entered the room and we knew this class was simultaneously going to kick our butts, teach us a ton, and make us laugh.  

Five minutes into the teensy-tiny, precise, killer-tight floor movements, a roaring sigh came from an experienced student in the back of the room….We guessed he was doin’ the intense sequence, spot-on..  This Core class was not one of those fiery muscle burners that made you want to Heave-Ho…nope, it was a lesson on how to use that belly to the max demanding strength from those deeply-hidden muscles that we were just discovering.  Leavin’ the floor- work behind, Chiara, using humor to lighten our “deer in a headlight” faces, translated this one of a kind mid section lesson into every asana making postures, longer, stronger and more potent!  The class flew by as the YoYo minds concentrated on applying the recently learned lesson to every familiar pose making them feel entirely new- Powerful!  Newbie, hyper-bendy yogini, or super-yogi man; the YoYos are pretty positive that everyone could benefit from this one hour makeover.

The YoYos can’t wait to apply the principals they learned from this spirited teacher at the next 88 classes of their epic journey and will never forget the deep words Chiara left them with…“Remember,” she said smiling, “always put your ass in every asana”.  

You can be sure, the Yo Yos, always lookin’ for adventure, will be checkin’ for  Chiara’s next Italian Yoga Retreat!


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Day 12 Seattle-Maya Yoga-Brent Morton

Yoga for Equality

Flow with Yoga for Equality

Sometimes it’s all about Yoga, on and off the mat… this most-amazing day in Seattle, was just one of those times…This once in a lifetime Seattle Saturday morning, welcomed the YoYos as they  jetted off to “Yogi it Up” and attend the well publicized,  “Flow with Equality Yoga” event..  Hundreds of yogis threw down their mats in honor of this virtual love fest for unity supporting LGBT. Popular Seattle yoga teacher, Troy Lucero began with an “Ocean of OMs”, followed by Maygen McGrew, representing sponsor studio 8 Limbs Yoga, leading a spiritual flow.  Matt Meko brought the sequence to a beautiful close with heart opening backbends that lead the enormous group on the sun drenched grass field into savasana.  Blissin’ in a big way, we just let it flow as we inhaled the spiritual sounds of Steve & Anne-Emilie’ Gold, along with international vocal artist Gina Sala’.  What a way to start the day!

Maya Whole Health Studio

Maya Whole Health Studio

Walkin’ on sunshine, The YoYos tried to leave, but it appeared all roads were closed and traffic was backed up to Canada due to those crazy, endorphin junkies; runnin’ the Rock ‘n Roll Seattle Marathon.  No worries! “The gettin’ a little stronger every day”, YoYo’s, hoofed it to Fremont to the “even more spectacular that it looks in the photos” Maya Whole Health Studio, known for programs that continually give back to the community. An unexpected gasp came from the YoYo’s as they entered the drop-dead beauty of this 3rd floor, light-filled, massive beamed studio that was engulfed by giant swaying trees.

Brent Morton

Brent Morton

Today, we were to experience what was to be one of those… “Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about”, classes, from Brent Morton whose most recent quest for answers to the big burnin’ questions found him in a 3 month silent meditation retreat. The YoYos, finding it difficult to be silent for 5 minutes, were at the same time curious and excited to take class from this super-reflective yogi.

Brent, waiting for students to arrive, sat in lotus, deep in silent meditation, then, this wise beyond his years, super-accomplished yogi, led a flow that was as challenging as it was spiritually rich.  Offering sage wisdom from Einstein, Buddha, Mark Twain and phrases from “A Path with Heart” by Jack Kornfield, Brent interwove his difficult, intricate and somewhat unusual asanas with reflective words giving the yogis in his class introspective strength and guiding encouragement.  The YoYos, lovin’ a challenge to their body, mind and spirit… were given an incredible opportunity to participate in an extraordinary, kick-ass…truly peace providin’ practice.  


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Day 16 Portland-One Song Yoga-Denise Payne

The children woke up and they couldn’t find them.
They left before the sun came up that day…..
(C’mon….everybody sing now …..)
…..where were they going without ever knowing the way?

 

Leavin' Seattle

Yo Portland!

 
Alligator tears waterfallin’ down the face of our younger daughter every time this classic ‘98 exit song played, fearin’ that her “never leave the kid out of their sight for a minute” parents, would pack it up, and disappear in the middle of the night.  But, that was then…

and this is NOW!…the YoYos actually did leave in the middle in the night to beat the Seattle sunrise- and “Away We Go”, as we continue our epic journey hittin’ 100 studios in 100 days and headed south to the Yoga Holy Land- Portland, Oregon, a virtual magnet for yogis near and far.

 

Denise Payne

Denise Payne

All wound up after our most excellent Kombucha filled road trip, we headed over to One Song Yoga, a killer expansion of Yoga Bhoga to kick off our Portland Yoga Studio Tour! Circling a few dozen times, we finally found this hidden ultra cool studio located in a converted warehouse turned “you got to be kidding me” hip urban yoga loft in a “up and comin’” SE area next to the Willamette River, railroad tracks (yoyoyogi man loves the sound of those trains), a packed to capacity trendy restaurant and artsy businesses.  We walked up the steel stairway to the 2nd floor, elated to find exposed brick walls, deep rich colors, magnificent beamed ceilings and the super-cool, super-fun, super-“God, I’m glad we came here”- owner, Denise Payne. 

Flyin' Denise

Flyin' Denise

We found our space on the expansive floor as friendly yogis just chatted away, makin’ us feel like one of the gang. We knew from the first “OM” that this spirited group was at the same time super accomplished and super accepting.  Denise asked the YoYos at the get-go, if we were comfortable with inversions- we are actually, perfectly comfortable, it’s just doing them that seems to get in the way, but the YoYos love a challenge and we loved even more the way Denise masterfully led her Classic Hatha Class with an amazing variety of diverse and unusual asanas that challenged our mind, strength and balance.   Joyfully, she encouraged all levels to accept what worked for them while expanding deeper and deeper, at times ending with anti gravity asanas for the yogis in this class that were- well, we know this isn’t very yogi-like, but … super impressive!  This class was fun/tough, fun/tough, fun- so fun in fact that after class, the yogis didn’t want to leave, so they just sat on the steps, hung out and …chatted away!

 

 

 


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Day 31 Lake Tahoe-Yoga Spa-Hank

Big Blue - Lake Tahoe

The Yo Yos "OM" - Lake Tahoe

Hangin’ on Mount Rose, eighty five hundred feet above sea level, gazin’down at the jaw-droppin’ beauty of Lake Tahoe, the YoYo’s are gaspin’ at the gorgeousness and… for a simple breath of air as they struggle to inhale the famous site below.  The “you gotta be kiddin’ me”, aqua-blue color of one of the clearest lakes in the world draws bazillions of the most excellent travelers to mess around in its icy water, sun-bake on the endless stretches of white sand beaches and explore the giant surrounding peaks. This perfect all-season playground is the killer backdrop for Yoga Spa Tahoe – the place where the YoYo’s “OM” when at home.

Big Blue

Big Blue

This hidden yogi gem sits in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada’s and is just a stone’s throw from “Big Blue.”  Creative owner and teacher, Kim Malinowski spared no expense to design a first-class “spa-like “studio that makes that, “when we gonna get there?” road trip dissolve into distant memory!

Bliss it out, or power it up…you’re going find it at this all levels, “cater to yogis on the GO-GO,” studio where the classes are as varied as the teachers. Hot Yoga, Swaropa, Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, and the YoYo’s sweaty, steamy Power classes all seem to leave the visiting yogis sitting in lotus resisting an unexplained urge to wear snow beanies in the middle of summer and chant the Lake Tahoe mantra, “No worries, it’s all good!”

Hank

Hank

Tricky to find, Yoga Spa Tahoe is located right above High Altitude Fitness, Incline Village’s premiere sports center with the most terrifying climbing wall the YoYo’s have ever seen.  The YoYo’s were happy to pass and go straight into our “can’t miss” Hatha class with Hank (no last name… just Hank).  This cool Tahoe yogi, lookin’ like an even cooler So-Cal surfer, shares his joy of life and hilarious anologies while giving the most excellent “only in Tahoe” soul full, long, stretchy, ever-changing class custom made for loosenin’ it up after a day of hikin’, bikin’, boatin’, swimmin’, golfin’, climbin’, kayakin’, paddleboardin’, or just chillin’-Tahoe Style.

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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 43 SF-Yoga Toes-Amanda Giacomini

Toby's Barn

Toby's Barn

Once upon a time….there were two roadtrippin’ YoYo’s on a “most excellent” adventure in the City of Seattle.  Approached by beautiful bohemians who spoke in hush-hush tones, they were told about a magical … barn, in Northern California, Toby’s Barn.  The confused YoYos thought these colorful hippies must have mistakenly taken them for farmers… so; the YoYo’s simply put that secret barn story deep in their memory bank and traveled to their next “not to miss” studio.

Toby's Feed Barn / Yoga Studio

Toby's Feed Barn / Yoga Studio

43 days later in Marin County, the YoYo’s head toward the Pacific to take class in Point Reyes Station- a tiny community with a reputation for some surprisingly peace-producin’ yoga.  Through field and farm, eventually we arrived at the super-cool, organic western town as we searched the only main street for the celebrated yoga studio, Yoga Toes.  Stunned were we, when we realized the unique logo was attached to a ginormous… barn…Toby’s Barn!  Inside was a real workin’ feed barn… filled with lotsa hay, flowers, and mulch; a hip store with all things feed barn-ish, a “most excellent” espresso shop , a zillion foot wooden roof equipped with theatre lighting for the killer shows and cerebral speakers this unique venue attracts, and the illustrious, Yoga Toes.

Amanda Giacomini

Amanda Giacomini

Entering this matchless space, the inquisitive YoYo’s couldn’t wait to take class in this unique setting that vibrated with the eclectic energy of owners Nicholas Giacomini aka MC Yogi: rapper, singer, yoga party waitin’ to happen, and beautiful yogini wife, Amanda.  And so it was as the flood gate opened with Amanda warmly welcoming this yoga addicted community inside the sanctuary to get their daily dose of her super-popular morning class in this “too cool” studio.

Nick, aka MC Yogi

Nicholas Giacomini - MC Yogi

Energized after Amanda’s gently challenging, “from the heart” class, the faithful followers at Yoga Toes, couldn’t wait to tell the YoYo’s the fascinating “behind the barn” story.  Seems Toby’s Feed Barn, has been in the family for generations…every generation adding a beautiful legacy. MC Yogi (Nicholas) and Amanda have taken “barn raisin” to even higher heights adding lights, action and a whole lotta yoga to this hidden paradise which is the treasure of this community.

The YoYo’s absolutely love this place…love sweet Amanda and her amazing gift of yoga… and love, love, love all the colorful happenins at Toby’s Feed Barn!

 


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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 81 LA-Bhakti Yoga Shala-Govindas & Radha

Located just 2 blocks from the shimmerin’ Pacific, we enter the serene space of Bhakti Yoga Shala, juxtaposed against the jam-packed, vivacious, high action energy of the Santa Monica Promenade. It was here we were to discover how this new, donation-based, eco-conscious studio manages to “shine like a beacon” through the endless buffet of tantalizn’ L.A. yoga.

Govindas and Radha

Govindas and Radha

Engulfed by dark crimson walls, soothing lighting, rich wood floors, and the peaceful quality of owners Govindas and Radha; the comforting ambiance encouraged these “wound-up from street action”, YoYos, immediate and most welcome, restorative dissolve into a unique 1 ½ hour Bhakti Yoga Love Fest.

Pure, sweet energy, poured from Govindas as he opened this “Flow into the Weekend,” class with “othankgodasana,” groundin’ postures of appreciation that took on an almost euphoric quality when accompanied by the transporting voice and gentle guitar of exquisite wife, Radha. Together, this uber-talented team led this intimate class through a glorious chant that began soft and grew into a dynamic, spirited offering.

Heartfelt music for the soul abounded as artistic Govindas took to the Harmonium and voiced peace, love and happiness while Radha lead this devoted group through wondrous, free flowin’, sun celebratin’ salutations. As so it was, back and forth, throughout this body and heart, magical, musical celebration of devotion, and truth… this dynamic duo each bringin’ their unique sound, life and humor to this relaxing sequence of “liquid” asana. Encouragin’ freedom of movement, this graceful practice ended as it began, with postures of gratitude and joyous resonance.

Bhakti Yogis and Kirtan Artists

The floatin’ YoYos were “over the top” excited to learn that these gifted two had just released a CD, with the simple title of their not so simple names, and can be seen again by these blissed out YoYos on Sunday, as they lead the world of L.A. yogis through sun salutations at Global Mala.

Peace!


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