YogLa: day one

Saturday. February 26th, 2011

5 am. (west coast time)

We left Nantucket on Thursday (24 Feb 11); a sunny but chilly winter day. Hopping over the Sound on a Island Air flight, and arriving in Hyannis, I was reminded again how lucky we are to live where we do. Hyannis: not a pretty place. Burr charmed the older woman working the Hertz counter, and moments later we were zipping up to Boston on rt. 3. We stopped off in Beacon Hill for a quick visit with my family  before checking into the Oh-So-Glamorous Logan Airport Hilton.

While Burr returned the car to Hertz, our bell man, John B., and I took our bags up the room. “Lucky Number Five”  he said with swagger, at least 4 times. John (a fit and friendly 60 years old) was feeling very chatty, especially for 9 pm., and asked me where we were from, where we were going and what we were doing. When I told him we were on our way to LA to study yoga, he nodded knowingly, and told me he could tell we were “cool people”. He said he had inferred this from our luggage (Patagonia), and pointed to our yoga mats (strapped to the outside of said luggage), and the two boxes of new shoes we were carrying (Simple), made from sustainable materials. I was flattered by the description. A mother of two small children, I’m often covered in baby drool, and food particles. Some days I’m lucky to get a decent shower in, and let’s face it- I pretty much live in a spandex-lycra blend. I don’t usually feel very cool.

John asked what I did “out in Nantucket”, and I told him I was/am a yoga teacher. This opened up a remarkable conversation about the practice- and I ended up giving John my card, and telling him about our family B&B (The Nesbitt Inn). Studying yoga on Nantucket sounded good to him – something “he’s always wanted to try”. He’s retired after all, and owns several houses. He doesn’t need to work. He’s at the Hilton to keep busy and to meet people, and to have conversations much like the one we were having. So who knows, perhaps we’ll see John again. I wouldn’t be surprised.

For someone about to embark on a pretty exciting trip, I slept incredible well. We got up at 6:30 a.m. and headed to the airport. Burr’s charm, disarming warmth, and Tweed jacket, came in handy once again, when we circumnavigated the 2-hour plus wait at the baggage check-in, and were led to cub-side check-in by a more than happy to help older woman. (Older ladies LOVE Burr).

What could have been a stressful process quickly ameliorated into an enjoyable and exciting process of making our way to the gate. We had just enough time to fire off a few e-mails, including one to my teacher Coral Brown, who is one of Shiva Rea’s  PranaFlow teachers. Coral had suggested some time ago that we send her a photo of ourselves, that she could then forward to Shiva, as a gentle reminder of who we were. (Though I have now taken Shiva’s YTTs and several workshops with her I’m under no illusion that she’ll remember me- although it would be nice to connect on a more personal level).

We boarded the plane with a huge group of tourists from Quebec, all busy speaking in rapid-fire French… and off we went!

The flight was nearly 8 hours long, due to some nasty wind- and though I struggled to get comfortable, the excitement of my first trip (sans children) in two years carried me through the long commute with little issue. We landed at LAX at 1:30 Pacific time, took the shuttle to Fox Rent-a-Car, and were on the 405 headed North towards Santa Monica in no time. The very first thing we did? We found a chiropractor.

Burr got a tip from his friend Joan, and we jumped off the highway just short of Venice. By 3:30 we were signing into a “Stress Free Zone” at The Life Center, and being asked to take our shoes off. There were patients rolling around on the floor and using the complimentary cervical traction wall. Apparently it was time to let go of my salty sarcastic New England edge. It was clear from that moment that we were in California.

There were Tibetan prayer flags hanging in the corner, and books about yoga everywhere. Dr. Jeremy came and introduced himself, did a quick intake, and in a few minutes, I found myself getting my first ever cervical x-ray. Then we heard all about the disk degeneration between my C-2 and C-3 and my C-7 and T-1 vertebrae that I never knew I had. (fun stuff)

Dr. Jeremy Brook gave me a thorough adjustment and talked to us about the LA Yoga scene. He told me I had a reverse curvature in my cervical neck, and that while Pincha Mayurasana (forearm stand) and Adho Muka Vrksasana (handstand) were fine, Sirsasana (headstand) was not. This would be okay with me if I still didn’t feel like the only person in California without a consistent handstand practice! In any event, the guy was amazing.



As it turns out Dr. Jeremy is engaged to be married to a yogini named Jo Tastula. She teaches at Exhale here in Venice, and he’s friends with Kathryn Budig. He also teaches anatomy to Erich Shiffmann’s students during his YTT. He likes vinyasa yoga.

Did I mention what a great adjustment he gave me? Ahhh……..

Anyway, after getting put back together, Burr and I checked into our new home, The Cactus Flower. It’s a carbon-free studio cottage, set off Lincoln Avenue- one of Venice’s main drags. It’s everything we had hoped it would be. Perhaps more. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone so instantly at home as Burr was yesterday afternoon.  The place is ultra Mod and super swanky. The shag rugs and (repro) Eames lounge chair might as well have been pulled out of his ideal living room.

Starving we thumbed through the Cactus Flower take-out menu binder, but decided to venture into Santa Monica for a more substantial meal. California boasts a large array of vegetarian, vegan and raw cuisine and I realized pretty quickly that this first meal would be a great opportunity to get on the dietary good foot so to speak. In March of 2009 I stopped in Santa Monica on my way to my YTT at White Lotus in Santa Barbara. My first night in CA my friend Becky took me to what was then called Juliano’s, now called Planet Raw. I knew this would be right up Burr’s alley, so off we went.

I hadn’t planned it that way, but some how on my first night back in California nearly two years to the date, I ended up at the same restaurant, seated at the same table, in the very same chair. The big difference? This time I was sharing the experience with a partner.

About an hour and a half later, Burr and I emerged from raw food Heaven and found ourselves in the thick of the Venice Yoga Scene. It was 8 p.m. Pacific time, but 11 at home. I was wrecked from a day of travel and no sleep, but I had signed us up for a Kirtan at Exhale; a special Birthday Celebration for Shiva Rea, with emerging Kirtan artist C.C. White, and there was no way we were going to miss it.

Ok, so being judgmental is human… but yogis work towards being non-judgmental, and I really do try my best. Keeping that in mind, I still couldn’t help but assess the other Kirtan goers in all their freaky Bhakti glory. I have never seen so many exhuberant and colorful tribespeople. There were characters from all walks of life in that studio- and they all drank the Kool-Aid, man.


Burr and I gave it our best shot. We clapped to the beat, did some call and response, and even got up and swayed to the music. It was fun. It was interesting- but I can’t say I felt the divine channeling through me. Maybe I was jet lagged. Maybe I was just exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shiva… and I do love a good Kirtan- but after a few songs, it was time to call it a day. If you can stomach watching another poorly filmed clip, check out the one below. We call it “Burr’s Not Sure”…


We took off early, stopped by the BIGGEST Whole Foods Market I’ve ever had the pleasure to cruise, and went home.

Today is another day, with a whole host of exciting things to choose from. We’re thinking Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, AcroYoga and perhaps a Celtics/Clippers’ game. Yee haw Yogla!





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