Los Angeles

15 Jul

The city of angels. Now I’ve never been a huge fan of LA – the smog, traffic and blatant materialism. That is, until Dan had a business trip here and I decided to tag along! What am I here for? The yoga, of course! I dropped Dan off at his conference yesterday and grabbed my many computer printouts of yoga studio schedules to see which class I could make it to. Let’s see, within a 10 mile radius of Santa Monica, there was a yoga class about every hour. I decided to pop by Bryan Kest’s power yoga class.

I took class with Bryan last year when I was here, just to see what all of the hype about him was. I have to say, I’m not a big fan. I respect what he does and love the style that he teaches, but his dialogue during class just doesn’t reach me. During class last year, he kept going on and on about how money and stuff won’t make you happy. I do realize that Santa Monica is one of the biggest places to shop – so maybe that group was eating up the message – but I never want to talk down to my yoga students. My mom gave me that same lecture in the second grade when I really wanted a new doll – stuff can’t make you happy! I got it, way back when I was seven and I felt a bit exasperated hearing through Bryan’s surprisingly thick New Jersey accent that day. (Bryan also swears a ton – which I kind of like… it’s a bit liberating) He also went on and on about how “who the hell cares what the poses are named, it’s just a movement – we’re just lifting the leg, we’re just lowering to the floor – it’s just very simple” which was a nice message, but he wouldn’t drop it – by the 20th time, I wanted to yell “GOT IT DUDE!” in my best New Jersey accent! I also got a horrible adjustment from him that day – he kicked my heels without warning and made me fall over! It was very strange. I did like the class though, very intense, and I also liked his blunt use of directional language such as “Lift your butt”. His word choices are very non-pretentious which I liked. OK… did I rant? I don’t mean to be hurtful, just honest.

So why go back? Well, I thought everyone deserves a second chance, and maybe Bryan was having a bad day, and his class was starting at the perfect time for me to get a great physical asana class before hitting the ocean. I also think that going to a class and having the teacher’s personality get on your nerves is sometimes a very good yoga practice in itself. So off I joyfully skipped down the Santa Monica Promenade to take class.

Much to my surprise, Bryan wasn’t there. He had a sub, which I figured must be a good thing for me – and it was! The sub’s name was Vytas and he was an exceptional teacher. It was a level 1-2 class so no crazy poses, but Vytas did some beautiful flow warm-up, followed by a delicious standing sequence that included long hold after long hold. It induced sweat to drip off of me in a continuous stream, soaking me through my clothes and towel. I’m not a big sweat-er, so that was a real treat for me. After class I walked out into the cool ocean air and noticed my fingers were wrinkly as if I’d taken a long bath. Ahhhhh… thanks Vytas! (by the way, click here and check out his bio…. fascinating)

Right off, I learned a few things about the cultural differences of practicing yoga in Santa Monica (Specifically Power Yoga East) versus Livermore. In case you ever want to do yoga here, let me enlighten you.

1. Do not speak to the other students before class! They will look at you like you’re hitting on them (yes, the girls too), in which case they will give you a look to say – “you’re way out of my league” and go about talking to their friends in little high school-like cliques. My advice is to find this humorous and take a long savasana before class.

2. You can however, speak to fellow students after class when everyone is blissed out. Once everyone looks like hell anyway and they’ve seen your amazing (and ever so humble) yoga practice, they won’t be thinking you’re so out-of-their-league anymore.

3. Driste is very important. If you let your mind wander, you will get an eyeful of – um – pubic hair and nipples which brings me to number 4.

4. Fashion is very important. And by fashion, I mean the less clothing, the better. The shorter the shorts, and the more absent the bra, the more you will fit in. Yep, no bra, wet shirt, lots of men in class.

5. Apparently if you practice with Bryan Kest long enough, you will start teaching with a New Jersey accent, even if you are a Santa Monica native. This is hilarious to listen to!

6. Time will tell, but after looking at a couple of studios in the neighborhood, it appears that this particular place and group of people are the more bohemian of the group. By Bohemian I mean the students without money who have nothing to do at 10:30am on a Monday morning but take a yoga class by the beach. (not to be confused with the students down the street who have money and nothing to do at 10:30 in the morning!) This studio is bare bones, dirty, half-painted and there is fuzz growing on the ceiling fans that are obviously never used. I just can’t imagine the guy in class with the dreadlocks taking class at the shi-shi-poo-poo Exhale studio down the street. By shi-shi-poo-poo I mean place where people with money who would never be caught dead looking up at that ceiling fan, or sans bra. The shi-shi-poo-poo yoga studio down the street actually sells bras and full coverage yoga pants – so I must say I’m curious. (this was Power Yoga east, Bryan also has a West location that looks rather fancy!)

7. Down the street from Bryan’s studio is a string of adorable restaurant and the best breakfast place ever. (or so they say – and it looks as such by pressing my nose against the glass as I walked by) I definitely plan to have a breakfast for dinner there.

8. Oh yea, his studio is by donation – have cash ready. Go figure!

9. Amidst all of the cultural differences, doing yoga cuts through it all. It centers you even in the middle of complete distraction. And – savasana is sweet wherever you go.

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