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Friday, January 27, 2012

San Francisco Yoga Review

So I've just spent about a week in San Francisco. It really is amazing how much yoga is around in this town. I might venture so much as to say that there are more yoga studios here than Starbucks cafe's. Everyone here does yoga, everyone! From a Yogi point of view I loved that there were many teachers and studios I could choose from, the level of everyone's practice seems mostly advanced. Almost every yogi here can do handstands, head stands and 3 million push ups.
From a Yoga Teacher point of view, I was worried, very worried. The classes are intense, and there is no way the instructor can keep an eye on everyone and everyone is not built to hold every pose for as long as the instructor chooses. And the sad part is, we are constantly told to fight through the pain, just hold hold and hold some more. I feel there is this pressure to do what I call 'Superman Yoga'  and it simply cant be good for everyone. There was a man in his late fifties in front of me who was gorgeous in his practice but then we started doing some stuff on our knees and I had to fight myself from shoving blankets under his very obviously painful knees. The energy of a full class is great but we should not forget that its not just about the poses and how far you go into a pose. It's about how you realize you have reached your limit and you are okay with it. There will be another day and another moment to go further into that pose.

With all that being said, I tried a couple of yoga studios, I liked some, I didnt like some. I thought I should write reviews about the studios but I am finding it hard to air my critique about other yoga teachers. I mean, who am I to say I like him or her? Maybe they were having a bad day and class wasn't perfect. How many of us have had a perfect day every single day? I will therefore not discuss the classes or teachers I did not like. I will however tell you about two teachers whose classes I did enjoy.

Rusty Wells at Urban Flow Yoga had excellent energy in his class. There were about a 150 people in said class and I could not hear him half the time, however, I felt he was being real and I appreciated that. He also had two assistants who helped with adjustments. I think all studios that cater to such large numbers should have 2-3 people assisting the instructor. I also think chanting is a big thing out west, well probably in the east too but I know its not too big in Shreveport. I personally am not entirely comfortable with a lot of chanting. My reasons for it will be a completely different post :) Coming back to Rusty, he did do some chanting, but I appreciated that he did not chant too much about gods, it was a very general chant. Because I am Indian, I understand most of what they chant about, not that I am fluent in Sanskrit, but I can tell if they are talking about a person or if they are praying for world peace. He played the djembe with another guy and his voice was very soothing. The class was challenging, he pushed us far enough and healed our hearts just enough. My favorite part about the class? it was donation based! can yoga get better than that?

The second instructor I enjoyed was Darren Main at Yoga Tree. There were about 12 of us in class. He too had an authenticity and sincerity that I appreciated. He does Restorative Yoga and by the end of class I could have put my lazy cat to shame. However, this was supposed to be a 'Restorative Yoga with Hot Stones' and I expected more use of hot stones. Also, this class had a lot less people, so it was great not to be elbow to elbow with someone else who was dripping sweat onto my mat.

So if you go to SF, try out a whole lot of studios, don't forget to breathe, don't forget your strength and dont forget to eat at Marnee Thai :)  Do your own yoga no matter which studio it is in and then tell me about it! 


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