Friday, February 11, 2011

Yoga Child, Funky Door Polk, and Funky Door Berkeley: Catchin' Up

Sometimes the stars when you want to write a blog post catching your six-person readership up on your yoga goings-on, so you idly perform a Google image search for the phrase "Catching Up" and you find yourself reading an article entitled "Catching Up With...former Oriole Don Stanhouse" illustrated with a photo of this delightful 70s fellow in what appears to be a Balancing Bear.  The universe works in mysterious ways...

Anyhoo, I've been on a few yoga adventures over the past few weeks and figured it was high time to catch you up!  We'll begin in Philly and also introduce a new Guest Blogger, Guest Blogger Laura.  Let's begin!

Yoga Child 
You know you're a yoga addict when you fly into Philadelphia for a Big Brothers Big Sisters grant conference and after you land at 5pm, you have plans to meet for a 6pm yoga class...thus when the flight attendants say you need to check your bag at the plane, since their overhead bins are full, you think frantically "oh no!  what if I don't make it to yoga!"  One mad dash through the airport (note to self: cardiovascular fitness could use a little help), quick train ride in, cab ride from the train station to South Street, and clambering over sleet and snow later, I made it to Yoga Child, all flustered and dragging suitcases and generally not in the peaceful state cultivated by this space.

While, I was excited to be taking a class with Susannah, an old Philly buddy who has caught the yoga bug just like me over the past few years (albeit a slightly gentler form than Bikram), Susannah had emailed that she had told her teacher Kim "I was bringing a bikram babe from SF, and she's uber-pysched" - so the pressure was on, but I was all post-plane ride discombobulated.  But guess what, readership?  Post-plane ride yoga is the BEST.  You get to stretch out all those sore muscles and just generally work yourself into a calm, non-flustered space.

Of course, it helps to take Kim's Vinyasa class at Yoga Child.  I could see why Susannah was such a fan - Kim was the perfect combination of serene yogi and no-nonsense South Philly denizen.  She has a background in Bikram as well, so she called me out constantly - "I know this is hard for you, your arms build definition but not strength in Bikram," and in bow pose - "Now I know you can do this Danielle - yup, see, what'd I tell ya, but move your shoulders, you know better."  She gave me a lot of corrections very different from what I was used to, tugging on my shoulders, shoving my hips, and generally (gently) pushing me in new directions.  One thing I like about the occasional Vinyasa class is that they often take on a sort of loose, unstructured, workshoppy feel - with everyone trying to throw their weight upwards in a handstand, at their own pace, laughing and comparing notes, as Kim walks around giving help where needed.

After class I felt strong, centered, and happy as a clam.  Followed up by a few glasses of wine with an old friend and the BEST BRUSSELS SPROUTS I HAVE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE!?  What a way to start a Philly adventure!

Funky Door Polk Street
Yoga Buddy Laura, who bought a Groupon with me for Bikram Yoga Seacliff, is a group discount junkie, so she encouraged me to go in on a recent deal for Funky Door Polk too - only $30 for 60 days!  Funky Door Polk is a lot like the one in the Haight in terms of bright colors, playful paintings of dogs and celebrities in yoga poses, and a generally "funky" environment.  I was filled with trepidation when we went to our first class, because as you may recall, my class at the Haight almost KILLED me.  If this Funky Door broke me down too, I was never going to be strong enough to go to training!  But Laura was her usual brightly optimistic self, so I tried to soak in her enthusiasm as we set up our mats in a nice, wide, brightly lit room.

But guess what?  It totally didn't kill me.  Of course, those bright lights are always a little unforgiving...I was up at the front, by the mirror, and when I came up into cobra pose and caught a glimpse of my strained face and shoulders, covered in individual sweat beads that caught the lights of the bright fluorescents above me, I didn't look so much like this...more like THIS.

And it didn't kill Laura either!  Laura will apparently be writing her very own Guest Blogger Guest Blog Post sometime soon, but in the meantime...Laura sez:

I really like funky door! I love the bright colors of the walls and carpet and fake flowers around the studio-both immediately put me in a cheesy and happy state of mind. Inside the yoga room, I like how windows to the outside cover two walls. Even though it is as hot as a woman's uterus in there, the windows make it feel a lot less oppressive. The staff is always friendly.

[Ed note: That is a simile that is new to me and which I do not entirely understand]

Really loved Brenda's instructing style. I enjoyed Matthew's style a little less, but didn't dislike him and definitely thought he was funny and entertaining. This may be because I am still pretty new and like to hear the script-it gives me more clues as to what to focus on during each pose.

[Ed note: Matthew's style is more laid back.  Instead of saying "arms over your head sideways, interlock your fingers, release your index fingers" for example, he'll just say "...arms..." LOVE. IT.]

Matthew was also talking about this last night, but I also notice more of sense of community there. Not only did everyone follow the rules-mats on the corners, people waiting at the door, etc. but in the locker rooms afterwards, I noticed more conversations than what we had seen at Seacliff.

[Ed note: No joke...people follow rules here.  At Funky Door fellow students will point out your error if you haven't set your mat up right, and students wait patiently at the door until the teacher beckons them in instead of bursting in with their full water bottles and striding carelessly through the room while you're trying to balance on one leg.  Pros and cons to both, I say!]

Not everyone spoke to each other, but there were several people that knew each other there and would chit chat about this or that. I also noticed a lot of people there came as a pair with a friend...imagine that, ha!

Oh, and I like the free hand towels. Score.  Also,the gigantic blown up picture of young strong Bikram by the entrance cracks me up. Every time.

[Ed note: Bikram at 19 = HOTTIE]

Side note: I have now done 8 Bikram classes. Booya!

[Ed note: Booya indeed!  Laura lives in San Ramon and faces an hour-long commute each way, yet she still manages to work out every morning, teach Turbo Kickboxing twice a week at the ungodly hour of 6am, AND go to weekly Bikram with me.  Can you say rockstar?]
I'm sure singing bowls are a very serious undertaking.
Funky Door Berkeley
This particular bit will be short 'n sweet since I don't want to beat the dead funky door horse...colors, funny paintings, you know the deal.  But like everything else in the East Bay after living in that crammed 7 x 7 space we call SF, the first thing you notice at Funky Door Berkeley is SPACE.  Space to park your car behind the studio.  A large, high-ceiling-ed lobby with plenty of shoe cubbies.  A separate sitting area with books and videos to pursue.  And probably the largest studio in which I've ever taken class.

Yoga Buddy Diana hadn't been to a class in six months, and I hadn't been in two days, and I think we were equal amounts of nervous...but it was a lot of fun, and she killed it, staying in the room the whole time!

That's all folks!  Stay tuned for more updates - my plans over the next week include free yoga at Grace Cathedral, accompanied by singing bowls.  Will I make fun of it, but secretly enjoy the cheesiness of singing-bowl yoga? We'll see if the stars align!


Yoga Child Philadelphia
$16 Drop In, $75 for 5 Classes.
Funky Door Polk Street

$29 for the first month of unlimited classes.

Funky Door Berkeley
$29 for the first month of unlimited classes.

1 comment:

  1. Those brussel sprouts are incredible and it was so fun doing yoga with you! Hope to do it soon!