A Summer of Inspiration: My Travelogue of Classes

THIS is exactly what I needed: some fresh inspiration to remind me of what yoga is really all about.

I took a long break from teaching this summer (7 weeks!) and opened up to new ideas. I took all kinds of classes: hot yoga, TRX, Pilates, and Dance classes too. One morning, I walked to a new studio in a city I didn’t know well. By the end of the class, I had found a sense of family in that sweet studio. Now I know that wherever I go, I’ll always be able to find my people.

Here are some of the highlights of my summer inspiration:

July 15Paul Menard at Karuna Center for Yoga and Healing Arts: Northampton, MA

One hour of strong Iyengar yoga, with a big smile. There were some interesting twisting poses initiated from the low back/quadratus on each side. I felt all “put together” again after this class, buzzing with life.

July 16Be Shakti in Prospect Park: Brooklyn, NY

Touching the grass to start the class and being reminded that inside each of us is earth as well. I felt great. Be was part preacher, part yoga teacher and all wisdom.

July 18Mollie Doyle at The Yard: Martha’s Vineyard, MA

This early morning class in a dance studio on Martha’s Vineyard woke me up and included great adjustments on that dreaded pose- twisted side angle- to make me feel strong and able.

July 19Megan Grennan at The Yoga Barn: Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Megan teaches a lovely, deep, specific, unique, and fantastic class. She talked a lot about fascia. I love studying with her and want her to come to Brooklyn.

Before class at The Yoga Barn
Before class at The Yoga Barn

em>July 23 – Barre Class with Karen Moore at Lorna Jane: Huntington Beach, CA.

My sister in law, with her cousins and her mom, were all going to Barre class. So I went along, why not? It was so fun to be together in a group. The reps in these classes certainly do tone up the hip area. Still, in my years as a dancer, we were always trying NOT to bulk up. Oy, my standing leg!

Jordane, Cuzzies & Mom
Jordane, Cuzzies & Mom

July 24Silent Dayton Method Hot Yoga 90 Min with Live Music with Jason Wilkerson and Jeff Smith, guitarist and singer at Yoga Tribe: Huntington Beach, CA

This class was so simple and clear. No instructions at all. Nobody harping on me (‘cept me). Yes, hotter than hell! Thank goodness for that towel they gave me at the front desk. I loved being serenaded by a sweet voice and a steady rhythm to the music of Neil Young, Bob Marley and John Lennon. This was an awesome and totally new experience.

Hot, hot
Hot, hot with Jeff & Jason

July 25TRX with Angela Kraber at Max Fitness: Huntington Beach, CA

Angela is a great lady, so of course, the class was great. I think she left out all the brutal moves. What we did was fun and she kept calling us ‘girls’! When class was over, I was tootling around with the TRX Suspension Trainers and was able to stand up from the floor in a back bend. I felt so open and playful!

little vid of TRX Fun

July 26Restorative at YogaWorks: Huntington Beach, CA

This class was so simple and professional. Restorative poses are just good.

July 27 – Yoga and Sculpt with Shelby Mirrotto at Max Fitness: Huntington Beach, CA

Shelby is a veteran teacher and taught this totally solid class that included weights. Chair pose is so much more fun with weights and I can’t even say why.

with my niece!
with my niece!

July 28 – Yoga at The Art of Fitness: Laguna Beach, CA

The teacher was a sub who stood facing with her back to us throughout the class. Maybe this was a conscious strategy because no one really wants a sub, especially when the online schedule reads that the regular teacher will be back from her vacation to teach that day. The class was good but my knees never appreciate starting in a long child’s pose.

July 29Heated Flow Yoga with Matt Hodges at Maha Yoga: Los Angeles, CA

This class came highly recommended. But loud music, a heated room and no instruction on alignment didn’t exactly sound like my cup of tea. But total surprise! It was!! There were lots of challenging poses, as well as sweat. Matt’s intense adjustment on my shoulders when my hands were bound behind me was deeply satisfying. And the assist in Downward Dog, where everything goes up and back but the head is drawn down? Wow. His assured hands and guidance felt amazing.

July 30Erich Schiffman at Exhale Venice: Los Angeles, CA

For me this class was a profound, creative, and revealing experience. Erich’s talk was a clear road map of how our alignment practices (which has been my focus for years) lead us to the experience of our intuition. He taught us to remember the “Holy Instant” and that “Love is the willingness to recognize what is real.” Then his luscious hip opening warm-up led into 3 fabulous songs for our improvised practice. Totally fun on every level!

thanking Eric after class
thanking Eric after class

Aug 1Annie Carpenter at Exhale Venice: Los Angeles, CA

I was number 8 on the wait list to get into this class. Finally admitted, I was in a tight corner, which was good – only one person and the walls to deal with. I wished that I had brought a towel, especially when my next mat neighbor said that it would get sweaty. I melted into her teaching as Annie started the class with beautiful metaphors right off the bat. Her detailed instructions were all so intelligent. Still, who wants to hold Warrior 3 that long?

with Annie after class
with Annie after class

Aug 4Margi Young at Namaste Grand Lake: Oakland, CA

This was one of my favorite classes ever. My dear friend Margi teaches fantastic sequences in a beautiful studio with attentive students that appropriately challenges yet leaves space for reflection. Ahh!!

Margi n Me
Margi n Me

Aug 5JinSung at Oakland Yoga Studio: Oakland, CA

This cool Iyengar class was eye-opening. JinSung gave a clear, detailed reason why to release the groins– the inner thigh space mirrors space on the same side of the sacrum, which then frees that side of the spine. I loved gaining that clarity in words of how our legwork affects the stuff upstairs. New partner work and variations on well-worn poses – such fun for me!

Getting by with a lil help from my friends - Margie and Annie Carpenter!!
Getting by with a lil help from my friends – Margie and Annie Carpenter!!

Aug 8Self Care Essentials with Minga Lily at NW PDX Yoga: Portland, OR

I totally loved this class. I even wrote out the entire sequence as I was taking the class. (Yes, that did take me out of the experience.) And of course, I haven’t looked at the notes once. But, I’ve done the practice many times since. My mind was changed about so much related to Sukhasana, the crossed leg position that is the beginning of most classes. I am rethinking the crossing of the legs and the positioning of the lumbar spine. Then – just imagine an adjustment so sweet, like a light kiss on the neck, that you weren’t even sure if it really happened to you or you imagined it. This was love at first class.

Minga n Me
Minga n Me

Aug 9Michele Loew at The Yoga Space: Portland, OR

This gorgeous studio in a landmark building is truly a sanctuary. Michele was so welcoming and a teacher full of ease, specificity, and warmth. Her voice sounded like a smile.

Michele n Me
Michele n Me

Aug 11Private Yoga Therapy with Minga Lily at Healthy Living Family Medicine: Portland, OR

This experience clarified the true meaning of Yoga Therapy. From the moment my session started, Minga used touch, talk, Thai massage, restorative, props, mantra, breath, and so much heart.

Yoga Therapy with Minga Lily
Yoga Therapy with Minga Lily

Aug 13Nicole Mitsch at Prospect Park: Brooklyn, NY

We moved through a smart, slow and sweet sequence, just the way I like it. Nicole gave very articulate instructions for a beautiful practice.

Three for fun
Three for fun

Aug 15Afro-Caribbean Dance with Pat Hall at Mark Morris Dance Center: Brooklyn, NY

Wow, what a workout and a beautiful community! Pat creates a welcoming environment with her stellar teaching, live music, and endless rhythm for amazing dancers of all shapes and sizes. I was happy to join this party

Pat Hall’s Class

Aug 17Gaga People with Ron Amit at Mark Morris Dance Center: Brooklyn, NY

After all the classes I’ve sampled this summer, I thought to myself before going to this one that there’s no way this is going to change my life. I was wrong because it did change my life, my thinking, and my body. Class starts by using the sole of the foot to caress the floor. From there, we move to other parts til each sinew is touched, experienced and responds to Ron’s creative guidance – to follow our own pleasure. To delight in movement for pure pleasure gave me freedom from endless shape-making! I felt more relaxed than ever, even my face.

Aug 24Tower Class with Eva Lucks at Body Tonic: Brooklyn, NY

After so much recent traveling in the car, this class ironed me out, connecting me and re-motivating me to remember all that amazing Pilates work I did back in the day. I loved it. Eva gave us so many exercises and even when there was one that I didn’t like, it was over by 3 – 5 reps. That is a beautiful thing. There is so much power and beauty in this amazing strengthening and lengthening system of work.

Aug 25Align Your Spine: Yoga and Rolling for a Healthy Spine with Maya Ray-Schoenfeld at Bend and Bloom: Brooklyn, NY

I learned some new ball techniques. And who doesn’t need their spine aligned? At the end of the day, that (and savasana) was all I wanted. This was a great class lead by a kind, deeply knowledgeable and generous teacher. I felt centered and grounded. Yum!

Aug 27Elliotte and Lea of Prema Yoga: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

Crisp, comfortable, clear-voiced Elliotte started by asking us on a gorgeous night in the park to be aware of our surroundings using all of our senses. I could feel my breath move through me just like the flowing wisps of apricot clouds. With a slow warm up, this was a practice of mostly standing poses. Lea’s powerfully grounded voice brought a new depth to more challenging standing sequences. Finally I cozied up under my shawl for savasana.

hi Nature

Aug 28Candlelit Flow – Freestyle Friday with Candice Hammack at Sacred Sounds Yoga: New York, NY

A lovely experience of yoga – slow, luscious movement done to improvised music on a marimba and sintir (a 3-stringed, skin-covered bass) by Bam Bam Rodriguez. The combo of Candice’s teaching and Bam Bam’s soundscape set me up for a deep, quiet practice.

Summer’s Done:

It’s said that you can learn something from everyone. And to me that’s so true. This summer, I was a professional student. New information and concepts were given to me from the generous hearts of many different teachers. My eyes were opened and I have new awareness about so many things. I feel refreshed and my eagle eye has been somewhat recalibrated.
Now that I am home back to my regular teaching schedule, I’ll continue to explore some of these shifts in my thinking, in my own practice and in my teaching.

6 Comments on “A Summer of Inspiration: My Travelogue of Classes

  1. What an ambitious program with a delicious mix of nurturing, mental and physical challenge, and heart opening. Of course I am awestruck and will try to figure out how to get to your class even once in the next couple months!

  2. One of the reasons I love and respect you so much is that you are always so generous and easy with your praise for others and that you are such a rabid student. Always learning and then always processing what you learn into your own lessons. Glad you were able to take such an inspiring break.

  3. I love the informality and honesty of your travelogue narrative. Makes me want to take a tour of classes. You let us know, through the filter of your expertise and appreciative openness, how much richness there is in our current yoga / movement / dance environment. Thanks once again, Jennifer, for your inspiration!

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