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Loka YogaJanuary 9, 2009

Oh, my god. I just got back from the best yoga class I've ever been to. At the risk of sounding like I'm joining a cult, I'm going to tell you all about it. I'm JAZZED, people.

Now, I've done yoga. I've done classes and class-packages, intro 1, into 2. I'm not a beginner, since I've done it for so long and know how the moves should work, but I'm back to beginner strength since it's been such a long time since I used my yoga muscles.

Most yoga studios are a little stuffy, and I don't mean air-wise. Most places I've been have had a This Is How You Do It vibe and if you're not doing it right, you feel like you should still be struggling alone in front of your video tapes of Rodney Yee. They'd deny it, but some yoga studios tend to make you feel like you should get in shape and tone up at home before you come in.

Not my new local yoga studio. I am in love.

Loka Yoga, just down the road from me, is the BEST. The place had the best reviews on Yelp I'd ever seen, and that would have been enough to get me there, but the deal was made sweeter that they have an intro offer of three classes for a total of fifteen bucks. Dude. A five buck 90 minute class? How could I go wrong?

I didn't go wrong. Alice, the owner and main teacher, was amazing. I have such a big crush on her now. She was warm, kind, and sweet, while still being strong and managing to direct us all, calling us all by name (even me, and I'd only told her my name once).

The room felt like a neighborhood. Everyone was friendly. There was DIRECT EYE CONTACT. There was a childcare room for kids under three, and they made happy noise while they played during the class. At the end of the class, the kids' room door flew open and many short little people pattered out, all directions, all over the big room and threw themselves into their mothers' arms.

But what I liked best was the take Alice had on yoga. I've always felt known there's a strong connection between meditation and yoga, between Buddhism and yoga (although I'm only an accidental Buddhist, not a practicing one), but I just couldn't find it in other classes. Alice brought the spirituality without sounding kooky or weird. She brought balance. Oh, god, it's hard to explain. She helped me be completely present, something I struggle with, just like everyone else. She was utterly lovely. It seemed as if she were ministering to each person in the room, and I'm not sure how she accomplished that -- there must have been twenty of us scattered around the floor.

And she played a HARMONIUM while we were in corpse pose at the end! That was the raddest thing EVER. (That, and she made us think about corpse pose, about what it was practice for, and I loved that. No one in classes ever address exactly what corpse pose is good for, other than making your back feel great.)

And damn, it was hard. It's been a long time. My legs were shaking sometimes, and I was in a full sweat. But for the first time in a yoga studio, I wasn't self-conscious. I didn't care that I was sweating, that my hair was a mess, that I was having an allergic reaction and that my left eye was all puffed up from touching one of the cats earlier.

God, it felt good. I think I will take a nap now. If you're local, you should go, no matter your fitness level. If you're not, you should go find your own Alice. Keep shopping until you find her.



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i had my alice once upon a time, but she moved away. her name was heather. in one class she systematically told everybody to relax starting with the tops of our heads and ending with our toes, step by step and in detail. i wish i could just have heather tell me to relax every day.

Sounds amazing! I've had classes in addition to the teacher, a singer with a harmonium throughout... that was powerful. I dunno if she's still in the Bay Area, Suzanne Sterling is the vocalist.

Dude . . .You're allergic to your CATS? I did. not. know that. You are CORE.

Thanks for the tip! I've been looking for a new yoga studio after a few year break. Prior to my tri/running phase I was a yoga nomad. I'm always pleasantly surprised, inspired and informed by your blog.

Mille grazzi!

Very jealous! Just down the road, and cheap, and brilliant? You are so lucky. I don't have any easy-to-access yoga class atm. A while ago I was taking a subsidised class through work, though, and that teacher was great. Loved that class. But right now it's just running for me, and I really miss the yoga. (I can't get motivated to try it at home, sadly.) Anyway. Go you!

i also had an alice, a couple of alices actually. but one memorable place i took yoga was at the old ymca in camden, maine. the class was held in the bowling alley in the basement of the Y. it was great!

what kind of yoga does alice teach?

Great post. Thank you for reminding me that everything we do, or stop doing, can become NEW and VIBRANT again under the right circumstances!

I've flirted with the idea of doing yoga on and off for years but it never sticks. I am not an exercise class gal and I've never found a video I like. I'm glad that you found a good place.

Yoga sistah! I am mad for Yoga Mandala, which is in my neighborhood, just two blocks away. Loka Yoga sounds great. Maybe I should try it sometime. Yoga is the new knitting, didn't you know?

It sounds like we're on the same schedule. I went to two yoga classes this week (one was part of a $40 for unlimited classes in 30 days deal) and they were both really good and welcoming, even though I am completely out of shape and spent lots of time on the floor. I may not have found my Alice, but the studio with the deal was definitely much less intimidating than I expected it to be, which made me feel so less self-concious about respecting my body's limits.

I once took a Kundalini Yoga class where at the end the teacher would play a gong while we were in corpse. It was amazing. Glad you found you yoga community!!

That sounds like yoga heaven.

That sounds so wonderful. I've been going to free yoga classes on campus and enjoying it immensely just because everyone is goofy and wearing a strange mix of athletic wear and falls over in tree pose. It's totally charming.

Wow... that does sound like a terrific experience. I've been to some good classes and some not so good; never anything as great as that sounded. Enjoy it!

I'm still looking for my ALice.

I live in a condo with an amenities room, a few of us are going to just do yoga along to a DVD on Monday nights...for free!!

I am glad you found a yoga / pilates place you love. One of the yoga teachers at my studio (who specializes in injures and chronic conditions) is adamant that heat is the *worst* thing for anyone with joint issues or conditions like fibromialgya. I hope you keep enjoying the classes you found!

I have my own Alice, and her name is Octavia. My yoga is my church and my therapy. I love the people I do it with and I love what it does for my mind and my body. I'm so glad you had that experience. Namaste and namaskar!

I am on a quest for a new perfect class, as the one I've attended for the last 6 years no longer fits me. It hasn't for a while but I've been reluctant to admit it. Change is hard!

Your yoga experience sounds amazing!

Just find my Alice, although his name is Saeed. :) He tells us we can laugh in his class if we feel like it, and he connects the spiritual to the physical, in a really grounded, accessible way.

Love your blog!

I am calculating my drive time there from Vallejo. Mapquest says it's a go. Maybe I'll see you there! :)

I'm a TOTAL newbie to yoga, but I've been feeling compelled to try, so this was a timely post to read!

hugs to you and Lala and all your furbabies.

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