Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa Cruz, Global Yoga, and Hearst Castle

Yoga road trip = GREAT SUCCESS, and it ain't over yet!

Let's see, where was I?  Last time I wrote, Mei and I were getting packed for our trip up to San Francisco.  After 700+ miles of driving and a few hours of quality sweating, we are right back on my couch where we started, doing some laundry and getting ready for the next (and sadly, last!) leg of the trip.

We drove up Highway 1 to Santa Cruz in the rain on Friday and met up with the fabulous Mckinley (aka ilovesweat) at his place.  He's got some awesome real estate there; fruit trees everywhere!  He was ridiculously sweet and generous, loading us up with fresh fruit, locally baked cookies, Kombucha, and some great Mexican food for dinner.  The three of us practiced together at Village Yoga in Santa Cruz, and I give huge props to that studio, because I was totally impressed with my experience there!  The teacher was great - encouraging,  technically accurate, experienced, and funny - and the room was packed with enthusiastic students.  It feels so good to be in a room full of rocking yogis.  (And I had McK right behind me keeping me honest!)  Between the rain outside and the sweaty bodies inside, I think I produced more sweat in that class than I have since August.  (My regular studio has been so dry lately!  Darn weather.)  It felt fabulous.  After class, we ended up hanging around with a couple of the instructors, and one of them (Shawn) did some Synergy with me and Mei.  Synergy is a fun partner-yoga thing that complements the Bikram series really well and feels absolutely fantastic.  Natural human traction with a partner.  Mckinley grabbed some cool pictures - HERE.

We continued up to San Francisco to spend the night, since a friend of mine had offered us the use of her temporarily vacant apartment right in the middle of the city.  I am still happy that we managed to NOT DIE driving up Highway 17 at night in the rain and mist, which was honestly one of the scariest driving experiences I have ever had.  I mean, the conditions were so terrible, it was like a joke.  It looked like a Stephen King book.  The one fabulous part was that when we got up to Los Gatos (i.e. return to civilization), I stopped in at a gas station to buy a coffee, and the sweet Hindi (?) guy who was working there saw my Bikram Yoga sweatshirt and asked if I do yoga.  I said "Yes, I love it," and went to pay for my coffee.  He said "Don't worry about it" and wouldn't charge me.  I thought that was a nice karmic moment, and what a nice guy!

So that was Saturday.  On Sunday morning, we called Global Yoga and found out that Mary Jarvis was teaching that day at 5pm, so we slept late, got lunch at a great 50's style diner down the street, and then basically just bummed around my friend's apartment for the afternoon, listening to the rain. (I actually had a paper due on Monday for school that I was still finishing up!)  Getting to the yoga studio was another fun driving adventure.  I had never been to San Francisco before.  Let me tell you, for those of you who have never been there either - when they say that San Francisco has hills, they mean that San Francisco has HILLS!!!!  Holy guacamole. We went up and over Divisadero St, which is apparently one of the more steep hills.  I swear to god, those streets go up at more than a 45 degree angle.  So for about 7 blocks, each block goes UP and I go "oh crap oh crap oh crap" as I power my car up to the next intersection.  (My car actually did great.  I love my Toyota.)  Then we get to the TOP and OH SHIT - I had not realized that what goes UP must come DOWN.  I mean, maybe the yoga studio could have been on TOP of the hill?  But nope!  We get to go back DOWN at, I swear to god, like a 60 degree angle.  So for the next 7 blocks, I'm going "oooooooooh Jesus lord!!" every time I inch over another crest.  I think Mei was entertained by my dramatics.

After somehow surviving the hills, and finding street parking in only 15 minutes (go me!), we made it to Global Yoga and met up with our blogger friend and hostess Lucille.  The 5pm class was PACKED, largely with teachers.  The teachers at Global Yoga all practice in the back of the room, with no water, so I set up camp near the back of the room too so I wouldn't feel left out!  Haha.  I think the back two rows were all teachers except for me, and one new guy.  Seriously, there was fantastic energy in that room, ALL over the room, but especially in the back part of the room!

Mary's classes were fantastic.  I have to give her credit right away for knowing who is in her room at all times, because she was on the ball!  I'd thought about introducing myself before class, but didn't see her when I came in, so I thought, "Oh well, that's cool, I'll just be anonymous right now and then go say hello after class."  Hah.  We get as far as the set-up for half moon before she goes, "Where's Juliana?"  I give her a smile and a wave.  She says, "Hi, I just saw your message on facebook, sorry I didn't respond earlier..."  (I had written just to say that I was going to be in the area.)  I am impressed.  I hope I am that good with names when I am a teacher!  Then about half a posture later she goes, "Where's Mei?  Congratulations on finishing teacher training!" so we are both totally busted.  So much for anonymity.  Heehee.

So we took Mary's class two days in a row, Sunday and Monday, and I'm so glad that we did.  She is great, and it's easy to see why she has such a strong following!  She's been doing this yoga stuff, and doing it really well, for a really long time.  She definitely does her own thing to some extent, having been trained by Bikram way before the dialogue was invented.  If you've taken her class, you know that it ain't dialogue, but the technical content is good and true.  It was very interesting.  I'm kind of hitting a wall here when I try to describe her style - I think I am still "processing."  Maybe I will try to write about this again later!!  But I got a lot out of it.  Mary definitely zeroed in on my technical problems pretty much instantaneously, so I got some very clear instructions and corrections that I am excited to work on.  So thank you, Mary!!  And I'll tell you, I did camel pose like I've never done it before.  It made my whole body tingle.  It might as well have been the first backbend of my life - it felt that strange and freaky and interesting.  (That was the word of the weekend - interesting.  "Be interested, not interesting.")

Some of you folks may not be aware that any politics exist between yoga studios.  Good for you, ignorance is nice, enjoy it!  Those of you who have been around the block a few more times have probably noticed that - gasp! - not all Bikram yoga teachers and studio owners agree with each other on everything!  Well, what do you know, that's life.  There are some things that are definitely different at Global Yoga, and it was great for me to actually practice there and get a feel for how things are done there and why.  Food for thought!  There were a lot of things Mary said that were totally 100% consistent with the things I've learned from my favorite dialogue purists, so that was lovely.  I feel like all the best teachers really are saying the same things, just in their own ways.  And I will borrow from Lucille, and I hope she doesn't mind, because I think she's got her head on straight and I was inspired by her.  She says - paraphrasing just a little - Fuck the camps!  Just be in your own camp and learn everything you can, from everyone you can.  Bingo.

And for the record, Mary is not "scary"!  Good lord.  I mean, I'm sure you could piss her off if you did something totally asshole-ish.  (Then I'd be pissed off, too!  Be scared of me!!  Just kidding.)  But she has a great way of saying, "It's not that you're an asshole, but your actions are those of an asshole," hypothetically speaking.  And the famous "no water" thing at her studio is only a "rule" for teachers and is not really a big deal.  We all ditched our water bottles and were fine.  And she's nice!  Like super nice.  She's not there to bust your balls, she's there to help you out.  I really liked her.

In between classes, we stayed at Lucille's cabin up north of the Golden Gate bridge, which was a gorgeous, cozy spot with a killer view.  Lucille is a seriously great hostess and a fabulous cook.  And her dog is adorable - a labradoodle named Higby.  (Labrador + Poodle = Labradoodle!)  There's nothing better than enjoying a homemade dinner with a couple of awesome yoginis, while talking about yoga and life to your heart's content, after working through your whole spine in a yoga class.  Mmm, mmm, mmm, that is the life.  I could get used to this traveling yogi thing. 

This is taking me too long to write!!  Damn "second wind."  I'd better go finish packing for Boston.  The last thing that I wanted to write about was Hearst Castle, which has nothing to do with yoga but is COOL.  I expected to be totally underwhelmed by it - I mean, it's just a castle, right?  Wrong!  It's like a museum combined with a scavenger hunt, and it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.  I couldn't stop taking pictures.  Will post a couple later.  And we got to see the wild zebra herds of California.  I did NOT know that this existed, but Mei spotted them!  "Those horses... they look like they have stripes... OH IT'S THE ZEBRAS!"  We were so excited.

Off to fold laundry and sleep.  More later!


lz said...

Wow J, it sounds like you had an absolutely fantastic experience!! Road trips are awesome. Your classes with Mary Jarvis sound very enlightening and inspiring!

bikramyogachick said...

UGH! I am sooo mad I hadn't saved up more vacation so I could've gone with you guys! It sounds like you had a lovely time and I'm so glad Mei got to experience all of that! **hugs** enjoy the next leg of your trip back east!!

ariella said...

hi, new follower, fresh out of training (with Mei). Ariella... my internet identity (not real name.) Anyway I enjoy your blog, I'm happy you gave the scoop on Mary Jarvis. She's definitely this mysterious person in the bikram world, appreciate the insights from her class!

Dorothy said...

Your trip sounds awesome. McK's pics are super-cool.

I love, love, love NoCal. And Hearst Castle is one of my favorite places in the world. I've been on all of the tours and every time I learn/see something new. It's fascinating.

My parents live in the East Bay and I really hope I can get into SF for one of MJ's classes at Global at least once. I've never taken a class that didn't involve the dialogue.

Mary said...

I can't believe you drove up 17 in the dark in the rain!! We drove it during the day and it was terrifying. we vowed never to drive it again! Super windy road, narrow lanes, and crazy, fast drivers.

Anyway, sounds like your trip was amazing. Thanks for sharing!! Hopefully you can come practice up in Monterey sometime ;) or I can come down to Santa Barbara. :-D

Yay zebras!!

Catherine said...

J--remember that in a dry environment, your sweat evaporates instantly. You are most likely sweating *more* in your dry home studio than you were at the wetter studios you visited. That is a tricky way that people can get dehydrated, by underestimating how much they actually sweat.

Duffy Pratt said...

Sometime you should try parallel parking on one of those hills. And the first time I was in San Fancisco, I asked someone where something was. Only six blocks, so no big deal, right? Wrong. It was six blocks straight uphill and I paid dearly for the walk.

I'm jealous of the classes you got with Mary Jarvis. A while back she commented out of the blue on my blog, and I'm very grateful to her for her comments. There aren't many teachers I know about who go out of their way to help complete strangers.

DeByrd said...

J, sounds like an enlightening journey! I am envious that you got to practice with Mary Jarvis!

~m said...

it was great having you here ~ so jealous of your s.f.capades. like dp, mj commented on my blog once and it changed my practise. you have to come back and visit again!!

The Yolk said...

Take it easy driving in the crazy weather like that! Funny, the worst driving experience I ever had was coming back from a yoga retreat: rain, windy roads, no lights. Frightening.

My studio has been teasing us with a "special guest teacher from San Francisco" that's coming in tomorrow. Could it be Mary? Hmm. I hope so! I'm sure the person will be fabulous regardless.

thedancingj said...

I am so behind on replying to comments, but thanks to all for writing!!

Ariella, congrats on graduating! Hope you've survived the popping of the yoga bubble and are having a GREAT time teaching. I guess MJ is mysterious to a lot of people because she's a big presence but she doesn't come to trainings anymore. Hm. I'd LOVE to see her involved in TT again someday...

For those of you looking to take Mary's class when you're visiting San Fran, we found that the studio WILL tell you when she teaches over the phone, but you might need to call many times before you find someone to talk to!

Mary, thanks for confirming that I am NOT insane and that CA-17 IS totally ridiculous. However, I do owe you a visit. I'm thinking of going back up to the castle in a couple months with my roomies. And don't worry, Yolk, I will NEVER intentionally go near a road like that under those conditions again! That's so funny that the same thing happened to you.

Johan said...

I love the SF hill story, so true. When I moved over to SF I thought great Cal, I'll bring my roller blades. BAD move.

thedancingj said...

Hahaha... yikes! I dunno how people rollerblade and bike around there. It's pretty intense!