Dani is currently in India on an adventure. This post was pre-written to entertain you while she’s gone and to pimp out all of the instructors who have shaped her yoga journey so far. If you are looking for yoga recommendations in Portland, Oregon or Los Angeles, California, you’ve come to right place. Scroll down and click on the links below.
I did the calculation, and as of setting foot on the plane to India on May 31st, I had been practicing yoga for exactly 18 months.
So let me just clarify that, despite the fact that I’m doing yoga in India, I am NOT an expert yogi. Not even close. I’m like…level 2. So what the hell am I doing?
For the first year after I graduated from college I got a desk job, I lived with awesome friends, I went to happy hour, and I just generally tried to enjoy being a twenty-something-year-old in the fabulous city of Portland. The only problem was this fire burning inside me like a disease that prevented me from fully enjoying my awesome life. I was floundering artistically, physically, and spiritually.
So one cold and rainy Portland afternoon when I was doing my best to pretend to do my job kind of, I bought a Groupon for 30 days of unlimited yoga at Vancouver Bikram Yoga. I had never done yoga before. I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into. It just seemed like a good idea and the thought of being in a 105 degree room for 90 minutes sounded amazing in December in Portland. Maybe the heat would somehow satisfy my inner fire.
I got to Bikram and I was mediocre at best. I totally sucked at locking my knees, which they ask you to do like every ten seconds, and I was forced to stare at my lumpy, imperfect body for 90 minutes straight while trying not to pass out. It brought back flashbacks to my mediocre athletics career, and getting heat stroke during a Middle School track meet after coming in last place in 1600 meters.
But each day I felt progress in subtle ways as I felt myself getting stronger and more focused. I took naturally to the breathing and meditation, and felt cleansed and unburdened in the heat of the yoga studio. I swear I learned more about myself in that first ten days of Bikram than I’d learned in the last two years of college. It was amazing to look into my own searching eyes and experience compassion for my self in all my flaws and assets, for all my incapabilities and strengths.
So began an 18-month smorgasbord of yoga, as I tried out as many studios and yoga styles as I could get my paws on!
Let the yoga journey begin!**
**NOTE: I can’t do any of the things in these pictures. Except number 7. I kick ass at number 7.
Next I bought a three-month Groupon for YogaNW, so I could see what normal yoga was like without the strict parameters of Bikram. YogaNW is great, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in Portland looking for a studio. The instructors are patient, kind, and great at adjusting your alignment. At YogaNW, I began to see the wider world of what yoga can be. From the spiritual focus that Sheila brings to the practice to the personalized vinyasa practice that Jennifer encourages to the deeply restorative practice that Aimee provides.
Then I went back to Sellwood Bikram Yoga for another month of good, hot fun. This studio features some of the same instructors as Vancouver Bikram, but with the added benefit of Tom Leimert, a physician-turned-yogi whose knowledge of the body is so helpful. Sellwood Bikram also has a more competitive atmosphere and more sexy men with six-packs. I don’t know why, but I didn’t question it.
Next in my yoga journey I met Julie Hunicutt while at a one-month acting workshop in Monterey, California, and because of her incredible expertise and communication, I re-learned some of the standard hatha yoga poses with better alignment.
She introduced me to Yogavidala in Los Angeles, and it was at Yogavidala that I found a spiritual home in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, because of a major rent increase, this gem of a studio is shutting down at the end of June, but I met some amazing instructors here who I’ll continue to study with. Some of the gems are Jennifer Netherby, who made yoga fun and helped me conquer the headstand, Nina Snow, who made my Dad feel welcome in class after a 20+ year hiatus from yoga, and Robyn Bennett, whose deeply spiritual classes always left me on cloud nine.
I try to quit you, Bikram but I just can’t. I felt compelled to do another month of madness at Bikram Yoga Silverlake. The Silverlake studio is super super crowded, the floor there is a little weird/uncomfortable, and I like some instructors there more than others… If you go to the super early classes,avoid stepping off your mat onto the hard floor, and choose your instructors wisely, you’ll be fine, but ultimately it’s not my favorite studio.
Brazilian Yoga and Pilates! I’ve been studio hopping a little bit in the past few weeks, since I’m trying to find a new yoga home now that Yogavidala is closing. This studio has a super laid back and hippie vibe, the classes are always super small and personalized, and they sometimes have classes in Capoeira, Samba, and Pilates, as well as host the occasional drum circle. I went to a Samba class last week and it was an absolute blast. The best part about this place is that it has the cheapest monthly rate I’ve ever seen–$69 a month! The class schedule is pretty sparse, but if you tend to be free in the afternoons and/or evenings, you will be able to get your money’s worth. Unfortunately, in my real life I am in school from the asscrack of dawn to the dead of night, so I probably won’t be going here.
Urth Yoga. This place has $5 “happy hour” classes 3 times a day during the week, and it’s within walking distance of my house. Because I live in Silverlake and it’s cheap, that can mean only one thing: HIPSTER YOGA!!
It kind of felt like what would happen if you were in a hipster singles bar and everyone decided to drop into downward dog. It’s mostly anusara yoga. with is a spiritual/philosophical viewpoint more than anything, but for some reason it was super ass-kicking. Definitely $5 well spent.
Ummmmm…. Who the hell knows what this will hold. I’m in Rishikesh, India right now. When my friend Tarah invited me to come with her to India this summer I said,
“Hey, did you know that you can study yoga at yoga ashrams in Northern India and live there for very little money and extended periods of time?”
And she said, “Hell. Yeah.”
So now we’re in Rishikesh–a couple of amateur yogis in India.
…I’ll get back to you and let you know how it goes.