shala Michael

Thought of the day: The deeper into a dedicated practice one goes, the easier it is to see that inside ourselves  is where all the action really happens, regardless of what our hips have to say about the matter.

Yoga Shala!

I’d heard about Yoga Shala.  In fact, I wanted to attend the big event they are very involved with called California Spirit Festival that took place this weekend and was reported to be a phenomenal success from some of my yoga pals. I couldn’t go because I was teaching a college class, a meditation circle, and then throwing my daughter a bridal shower (Note: I got nothin’ on Martha Stewart, but I do know how to buy good champagne and order pizza). Anyway,  Yoga Shala was next on my list, so I hit it with a vengeance  ready to explore another studio and a new instructor.

The instructor teaching was Michael Fong. I instantly liked his aura as he warmly greeted me and made me sign the little form that all these studios seem so intent on making me sign. I  never read them, but since I’m sure they all say the same thing, I’m thinking of stealing one and photocopying it so I can just bring a copy with me to each new studio. Otherwise, I’ll have 42 more to fill out. Ugh.

The studio itself didn’t really have a lobby. I’m finding a lot of studios in the downtown area thus far tend to be like bowling lanes; long and thin. Not that I have anything against bowling. Well, okay, I don’t really like to bowl, but I’m digressing a bit. Anyway, I put my stuff in a little cubby hole and spread my mat out, hoping the fact that it wasn’t a heated studio wouldn’t be so bad as I’m rather fond of a hot flow class (it makes me feel less guilty about drinking all that wine at night if I can sweat it out the next day).

Like I said, I knew Michael had good energy by his shiny aura, and I was right. He led his class with a quiet but compassionate command. In fact, the long room made me feel like I was in an audience, but it soon became apparent that this would not be a spectator sport, and we began to flow. Let’s face facts. Vinyassa is as Vinyassa does, right? We kiss our knees, stretch our arms, try to do a less than pitiful plank, and hope our warriors hold. But really, what I am learning as I hop around from studio to studio is a very simple fact: The instructor makes all the difference.

Even though the poses any instructor incorporates are similar, the way in which they are choreographed and dialogued can be the difference between a standard class (which is not a bad thing), and a class that not only stretches and balances your mind, but thins your thighs and lifts your fanny. The best of both worlds, right? Michael succeeded in the latter. Not only that, but another cool thing that a yoga instructor can do to really make me smile is throw in an occasional twist. And I don’t mean spinal twist, but a new posture-something different-which throws me off and keeps me in the present. Michael did this as well.

One part that made me smile inside was that when he had us turn, twist, or look to the right, he would instruct us by saying “toward 21st Street.” At that let me know what street I was on since downtown is so confusing anyway (how do people remember which streets go which ways?). After a few times of this, I started to wonder desperately what street was on my left. Why wasn’t he telling us to turn to 22nd? Did he not like that street? Had something happened to him in his youth where he refused to talk about it? Wait! Maybe I was backward in the bowling alley and it was really 19th Street! Somehow, it wasn’t enough. And then he said it, “Now turn toward Moxie’s.”

Moxie’s?!?!?!? As in my favorite place to eat in all of everywhere? I had been in such a hurry to get to class, I had hardly noticed that yes, yes indeed, Moxie’s was next door. I was all too happy to turn and twist and lean toward Moxie’s, especially my tummy. Nothing personal against 21st Street or anything.

Another thing I must point out that makes Michael an exceptional instructor in my opinion is how he manages to multitask so well. I always worry about these long studios and how the teachers can make sure everyone is part of the class, even the ones in the way back. You know, no yogi left behind and all that. Well, Michael plays the room like a Mistro. He manages to give good dialogue, illustrate postures up front, and then walk around with the most magic touch, assisting us in our poses. I am confident every woman in that room got some Michael Magic attention.

As we settled down he said something about opening our hips. I wondered if I should warn him that if he had Frog pose in mind, we could no longer be friends. Fortunately, it was one I could handle, so both my hips and I decided that Michael was still awesome. The meditation component was excellent, and if all the instructors at this studio are as amazing as Michael, it’s a n0- brainer to take a class here. And if anyone needs to know where it’s located, just remember, 21st and Moxie’s.

Check them out here!


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Namastae and I love you.