Posts Tagged ‘Raja Yoga’

Day 40 SF-Power of Yoga-Sherri Baptiste

Walt & Magana Baptiste

Walt & Magana Baptiste

When the YoYos got the invite from Sherri Baptiste to visit her class in the Bay Area, we were ecstatic at the improbable thought of being up close and personal with Sherri, daughter of the late Walt and still teaching, Magana, the legendary pioneers of Yoga in America. The YoYo’s can only imagine the changes that have taken place since this ground breakin’ couple opened their first yoga studio in San Francisco in the 1950’s.  We wonder what it must be like for the next generation of these trailblazers who masterfully carry on the family legacy, as they see a ba-zillion yogis walkin’ down city streets with mat on back; knowin’ it was their family who was momentous to the explosion of yoga in the U.S.!

Sherri Baptiste

Sherri Baptiste

We entered the state-of-the art, Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, one of the many Bay Area spaces where Sherri teaches over 300 students each week when not leading her international retreats.   Welcomed by “full of life”, “ball of energy” Sherri, the YoYo’s were immediately made to feel as if we were a vital part of this committed group of yogis who meet regularly to inhale the distinctive Baptiste style.

The YoYo’s valued today’s precise lesson in pranayama as Sherri continually used counted breath as a way to bring awareness to focused breathing, the fundamental premise of this energizing, one hour vinyasa flow. Persisting, we observed deep rhythmic, flowing oxygen as we practiced effortless transitions; learning that smoothly shifting from one pose to the next was vital to this signature practice.   And, there was more… as this “wealth of information” teacher guided this class through postures using blocks in unfamiliar ways, creating subtle shifts of alignment generating strong energy paths that opened the body while her graceful use of impactful words brought clarity to the heart.

Three Year-old Sherri

Three Year-old Sherri

Sayulito Retreat

Sayulito Retreat

There was so much to learn from Sherri who was introduced to yoga in the womb.  Don’t be surprised if you happen to see a YoYo or two hangin’ at some of her international retreats – after… this most excellent adventure!


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Day 88 San Diego-Soul of Yoga-Tom Kelly

Findin’ our mysterious way to the beautifully transformed Encinitas office space of “Soul of Yoga” seemed to the lucky YoYo’s, a little more than a fluky twist ‘o fate.

Tom Kelly

Tom Kelly

With flyin’ fingers misspellin’ a closely related San Diego yoga studio into our trusty “info central” MAC, the words “Yoga Church” seemingly appeared magically on the screen. Diggin’ deeper, the inquirin’ YoYos discovered the unexpected bio of Reverend Tom Kelly, popular Raja Yoga teacher, who, while not associated with any particular organized religion, spent 25 years in the monastic order of SRF and leads inspirational workshops and retreats worldwide. Surely, this ordained minister would have much to say during this most unusual 90 minute Sunday mornin’ asana practice.

Warmly welcomed into the big group hug of a Yoga community, the YoYos might have thought themselves in the tender arms of their childhood church if not for the endless sea of touchin’ yoga mats and the obvious dress code of beachy yogi wear. As vivacious Tom opened this spirited “class” with lively, harmonium and yogi accompanied song, he joyously expressed… “Let there be Light”. Then takin’ an interestin’ twist on what happened next, he finished the thought with “Let there also be love, happiness, joy, and the all important… forgiveness”… explainin’ that from the get-go, we’d be needin’ that forgiveness on a pretty consistent basis as we continually mess up while we try to get it right, here on earth. Hmmmmm…..

SRF Gardens

SRF Gardens

Swami's Surf Break Encinitas

Swami's Surf Break Encinitas

Startin’ with and revisitin’ “breath of fire” as a way to cleanse the mind, create energy and bring us into the all important moment as we connected to Mother Earth; this energetic drink from a firehouse of yogi philosophy gave these open-eared YoYos a spiritual buffet that accompanied every deep breath and tender asana throughout this engagin’ practice. And… that was just the first 90 minutes. Seems this committed group just can’t get enough of this uplifitin’, lovin’, generous leader who “raps” up with a 60 minute, sittin’ in a circle, dharma talk.

The filled to the brim, mind-expanded YoYos made our way to the foliage filled Encinitas SRF Gardens to reflect on this thought provokin’ “class” and inhale the spectacular beauty of this eye-poppin’ sanctuary while peering over the vertical cliffs to the surfer’s paradise below.

Whew!… what a “most excellent” welcome to San Diego!


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Day 96 San Diego-Spa Spirit-Michele Hébert

It was on Day 40, in our fortuitous Marin County class with Sherri Baptiste where we first learned about the celebrated Michele Hébert; a life-long student of Walt Baptiste, former manager of the acclaimed Baptiste Retreat in El Salvador and renowned leader in mind/body/spirit integration. Seems that when this global pioneer in the health and fitness industry is not leading the Power of Yoga for Women events with Sherri, or world-wide retreats with husband, Mehrad Nazari, Ph.D., this visionary Raja yoga instructor brings committed yogis into her one hundred year old La Jolla sea cottage turned dream studio for extraordinary yoga and meditation. What grateful YoYos are we, that today we shared that beautiful space with these fortunate ocean yogis.

Michele Hébert

Michele Hébert

Headin’ west in the mid 70’s, leavin’ hometown Cleveland in the rearview mirror, young Michele thought that by enduring a yoga class with Walt at the revolutionary Walt Baptiste Yoga and Health Center in San Francisco, she’d have a shot at gaining employment at the well-known Baptiste natural food restaurant. Seems that more than coveted employment was waiting, as Walt soon became the guru that would open her life through connecting the mind, body and spirit… as she would for others… forever.

Finding our way onto the antique floors, we gazed out to the ocean beyond, as our respected leader opened this time honored practice with a guided meditation that taught us to not only feel, but envision our breath. Working through gentle asana, Michele slowly led a series of beautifully sequenced back bends and intense hip openers that allowed even these YoYos to find that illusive lotus. Allowing space and time, Michele’s melodic voice encouraged us to discover a specific breath for each posture… one that would allow us to stay in a pose…seemingly forever. Concluding with deep meditation, Michele’s imaginative language created visualizations that encouraged us to melt into our center, deeply relax and powerfully connect with the energy of our chakras.

Inner-Practice-The ecstatic YoYos were thrilled to take, “The Inner Practices of Yoga” with us out the blissful door and into the YoYoYogimobile, as we knew we’d have a piece of these “mind expandin’ teachers with us, as we continue on our “most excellent” adventure.


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To Every Season

Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley by Susan Hoehn

Travelin’ through the magnificent colors of the autumn vines, massive oaks, and the indescribable flora and fauna that identifies Sonoma, California; the YoYos found the hidden jewel that wine country yogis lovingly know as, Yoga Community.

Community Yoga Gathering Place

Yoga Community Gathering Place

Welcomed into the blaze of shades that mimic its exterior surroundings, we took a peaceful minute to melt into the circled-up comfy chairs made for chattin’, drink the yummy tea brewed for blissin’, and peruse the outrageous yogi fashion that was creatively displayed throughout this artsy sanctuary. What an eye-poppin’ studio to throw down our mornin’ mat and ready ourselves for the gift of Lisa Murray; a certified teacher in the Walt Baptiste method of Raja Yoga; Sherri Baptiste’s Power of Yoga Teacher Training program. After intensive study with Dr. Mehrad Nazari, Michele Hébert and Sherri Baptiste, master teachers the grateful YoYos had the opportunity to learn from on this journey, the YoYos couldn’t think of a better way to conclude Chapter One, of this “most excellent” adventure.

Lisa Murray

Lisa Murray

Here, the unsuspectin’ YoYos followed this talented teacher through 90 minutes of challenging asana, bookend by deep rest.  Every taxing pose was chased by time to discover how body and mind felt after vigorous effort was followed by spacious relaxation.  And so it was, in Lisa’s serendipitous class… sun and moon…. time for action and time for rest.    Or, as it has been said… “To every season…

These roadtrippin’ YoYos on the Go Go, are admittedly pretty much experts on the full-out action part but with so much to do… like transition our slightly lifted YoYo butts to the Pacific Northwest to write our “most excellent” yoga adventure book,  start a cool new blog series like the one comin’ from our crazy Seattle explorer/reporter “My first 30 days of Yoga”, and work on our own “Power “Om” class, we aren’t exactly sure how to nail that all important, rest thing.

So, with an insightful send off from our gifted guide, the “tryin’ to be still” YoYos respectfully take the advice of the ancient wisdom of the Gita, the Sutras, the Bible, and the Sun and Moon…

Now, it is time to take Rest, if only for a short time, after our “most excellent” adventure.


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