dani’s adventures in yoga.

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.

1.

the crack-monkey

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.  

2. 

the foot-hat

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.  

3. 

the WHY, GOD, WHY?

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.

4.

the pac-woman

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.  

5.

God’s teardrop

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.  

6.  

CAPOEIRA!!

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. :/

7.

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. 

8. 

INDIA!!!

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. 

🙂

Namaste!

D

dani goes to india

In two days I’m getting on a plane and leaving for India for 2 months.  

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Wheee!!!

 As Britt and I have mentioned about 10,000 times, and as is currently evident by the fact that Britt is living on an air mattress on our friend’s floor after losing her house, we are gypsies at heart.  Because that is the case, when I chose to go to grad school until 2015, I made a deal with myself.  I could only go to grad school if I used the two honest-to-God summers that grad school includes to travel.  I had to find ways to go places in this big crazy world before life sets in and bitches start coming after me for student loan payments.  

To be honest though, India wasn’t really on my radar.  Despite things like this…

And this…

Taj Mahal, India…

And this…

…It had just never crossed my mind to go there.  

But then, back in January, I got to talking to Tarah.  

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This is Tarah. (And Britt and Sedale and Amaka)

Tarah has just finished year 2 of her MFA in Acting at USC.  Put another way, she’s a year ahead of me in the program.  Here’s a picture of Tarah without sunglasses on, lookin’ all serious n’ actor-like n’ whatnot.  

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she’s amazing. just try to deny it. impossible.

Tarah was telling me about how for years now, her good friend Khen Rinpoche has been trying to get her to come up to Ladakh in Northern India and see the school that he runs there–The Siddhartha School.  She decided she was finally going to go this summer so she could attend the school’s anniversary celebration, but she was nervous about traveling abroad for the first time alone.  We talked for a long time that night, and somehow, in her infinite generosity and love and wisdom and amazingness, she invited me to go with her.  

OmigodOmigodOmigodOmigodOmigod. Seriously?  What?  I said to her what I usually say when people say things like, “We should get lunch sometime” or “We should be friends” or “You should come with me to this cool place” which is

“Be careful about inviting me.  Because I’ll go.”

5 months later, we’ve done all the preparation we can muster and now we are itching to get on the plane and just go.  

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Okay well we’re not actually going to paaaarty.  As they say.  We’re actually going to do some of this:

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yoga!!

As Tarah and I planned our trip, we realized it’s not actually cost-effective to go to India for a short amount of time, because the flight over there is expensive, but it’s super super super cheap once you’re there.  So the longer we stay, the further my tiny summer budget will stretch.  Cause let’s be real, I’m living off my leftover student loan money, y’alllllll.  Anyway, we both had an interest in studying yoga, and Rishikesh, India is not far South of Ladakh, and it’s the yoga capital of the world.

So.  We fly into Delhi on Sunday night, and after a brief visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, we’ll journey North to spend a month studying yoga in Rishikesh and a month visiting Ladakh.  We’re hoping that by the time we fly home, we’ve figured out how to levitate so we don’t have to take a plane.  

Flying - GIF

In all seriousness, though, I could not be more grateful and excited and humbled to be making this journey.  We’re as well-prepared as you can possibly be, and I feel so blessed to be Tarah’s companion on this trip.  I’m ready to go to India with a savvy mind, a free spirit, and an open heart.  Let’s doooo it. 

I will post as much as I can to TwoEvilActors while I’m gone, but I’m sure Britt will have plenty to tell you about until I come back, and once I am back in the U.S. it won’t be long until the Two Evil Actors are reunited in sunny Los Angeles.  Until then, namaste…

xoxo

Dani