Hope it helps: more yoga advice

Friends ask me questions about yoga. I want to give detailed, well-thought out answers and share them with more people, in case others have similar questions. I answer their question on fishes and honey. 

* * *

Q: Where should I practice?

This is a question that I get a lot. In order to answer her question, I wanted to know a little bit more about her and yoga, so I asked follow-up questions:

  1. Have you practiced before?
  2. If so, what did you like or dislike?
  3. If not, why do you want to practice yoga?
  4. Are you opposed to chanting or meditation?

She then wrote:

I have practiced before, but with videos and about five years ago. I don’t really know many technical terms. I guess I didn’t like that I wasn’t sure if I was doing everything exactly right.

I also decided to start running instead of yoga because I wanted to get outside. Now I plan to mix the two. Every other day or something. I’ve decided to try yoga again because of stress and muscle tension from my job in hospitality/restaurant service.

 I’m not opposed to meditation or chanting.

A: I bought an Ana Forrest video a while ago because I was looking for affordable ways to practice yoga but never opened the DVD. I think yoga videos work for some people but not for me because I hate doing the same thing over and over. I do worry about beginners practicing yoga with videos because there’s so much room for error and with error, injury.

Sometimes people gravitate toward yoga videos because it’s more affordable, other times they’re just embarrassed. They don’t want to practice yoga in front of others because they don’t know what the hell they’re doing and they feel silly doing poses like “cat/cow” and “cobra” and “fish” pose. The embarrassment is natural, may be part of your beginning, and will go away with time. It’s important to remember that other students aren’t looking at you, they’re focusing on themselves and the teacher is there to help.

More to the point, yoga will definitely help with your stress and muscle tension. Below, you will find out about amazing teachers who I think you’ll personally like. Since you’re not opposed to chanting and meditation, I’m going to recommend studios that offer Kundalini.

Patty Pierce

Patty Pierce is the owner of Yogavidala a new studio located in Los Feliz.  She teaches a Hatha flow class that is suitable for beginners, although many advanced students will attend the class, as well. Her classes work well for students at all levels because she offers modifications and focuses on alignment. Since you’re experiencing stress and muscle tension, I think a class that focuses on honoring your body with modifications and alignment will be really good for your muscle and stress relief.

Her classes are very well structured, and I experience each class as a story, a story which teaches me about myself, about the poses, a story filled with discovery, with revelation. I highly recommend you take her class because she is wise,  knowledgeable, and kind. Also, she’s funny–which makes the classes fun. During her class, students will, at times, smile and laugh while holding a pose.

Amber teaches at Heartbeat House. She is a kind, sincere person with a sense of humor. She took a Hatha/Kundalini training, as well as a yoga therapy training at LMU. She’s enthusiastic about yoga and a well-trained teacher. She also loves to read and I know you’re a reader, so feel free to geek out about books with her. She loves stories.

Her classes involve meditation and mantras (chanting) but the mantras are optional. If you haven’t meditated much, her classes are a good introduction. You can discover if you like meditation/mantras or if you don’t. I love meditation and mantra but that’s just me. I also love Kundalini and I know a lot of people don’t really like it. Her classes are gentle introduction to Kundalini. I think

Her classes will also help your muscle relax and offer stress relief, because they are gentle and focused on alignment. If you tell her that your feel pain in a particular area, she will add poses in the class that will meet your specific needs. She often asks, before class, “Is there anything that anyone wants to focus on?” Usually people don’t answer. Don’t be shy! If you want a class focused on your shoulders or mid back, tell her!

Mommy and me classes at Yoga Garage

Tanya Greve owns Yoga Garage in Highland Park. She converted her garage into a beautiful studio with hardwood floors, windows, and a glass door that looks out onto her garden. I have favorite yoga studios but this yoga feels like home. It’s my home studio.

Tanya is a seasoned, skillful teacher, who is gifted and talented. She has taken a teacher training in Kundalini, Anusara, and Yoga Therapy. Her classes are healing. She teaches Hatha and Kundalini classes, as well as Mommy and Me classes. (I know that’s not for you but the pictures are too adorable so I have to share them.) Kundalini is a form of yoga that involves a lot of repetitive exercises that may seem silly — like walking around the room in circles or moving your arms really fast while in a seated position — so it may not be the practice for you.

Warrior Three aka Airplane at Yoga Garage

Whether you go to Tanya’s Hatha or Kundalini class, you’ll be practicing with a teacher who is caring and gifted.

After class, Tanya picks citrus from her fruit trees, cuts them in pieces and places them on bowls for her students. She also makes tea and brings down cups. You  have the option of sitting down and chatting with yogis, while biting into fresh citrus and sipping on spiced tea. Sometimes her dogs, Sofie and Frida,will join the group, which is always a delight.

YogaLA: I know you live in Echo Park, so it might be worth checking out the new studio that opened. I have yet to go but I bet you would love walking to your yoga class. To check out there schedule, go here. Also if you want a friend to go with you, let me know. Maybe when I come back from my camping trip next week?

xo, zoë

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