last month, i received an email invite from daniel overberger of runyon canyon yoga fame. instead of his usual daytime yoga class in the great outdoors, he was going to teach an evening class indoors. and to make it even more enticing, it was going to be held by candlelight, with music. but not just your usual alternative/rock/hiphop/world yoga class playlist; he was going to feature music from one of the jazz greats himself, miles davis!
i sent in my RSVP as soon as i finished reading the invite:
On Wednesday, February 25th, from 7pm to 8:30 pm, I will be teaching a yoga class/workshop at Antebellum art gallery on Las Palmas in Hollywood. This class is going to focus on breathing (pranayama), alignment and hands-on adjustment* (which was a large part of my training in India). This class will be by candlelight with the music of Miles Davis.
After class, the owner of Antebellum (Rick) is going to serve tea.
* Adjustments are: Me physically pushing and pulling you into the poses to accelerate your opening. (My teacher in India is a master at this.)
NOTE: Antebellum is an erotic/fetish art gallery, so there is the potential for "things that may distract you". My yoga class will have nothing to do with fetish or erotica... to the best of my knowledge.
i didn't think i'd ever practiced in an art gallery before, but if i did, it certainly didn't have erotic art on the walls. this was going to be a very interesting night!
not being very savvy with the parking situation in hollywood, especially near the pantages theater, i got there early -- in fact, so early that i ended up sitting in my car and listening to KCRW while killing time -- and found a spot on the street a block away. i later found out that had i not been able to find street parking, i could have parked in the pay lot across the street from the gallery and paid a discounted rate with a validation from antebellum. a handy good-to-know...
daniel was running a bit late that evening, so rick castro, antebellum's owner, spent some time describing the artwork on the walls to us early arrivals. soon after, daniel walked in the door and greeted us as he ran around getting the room set up.
he leaned his backpack against the front wall and made his way to the back of the room to cue up the music on the the gallery's computer. right after he walked away, his backpack fell over.
it was only after he smelled smoke that he realized that his backpack had landed on top of a lit votive.
luckily, he was able to bound across the small room and put out his rapidly-melting backpack before any fire sprinklers went off. it had all happened so quickly that many of the students who were busy socializing were totally oblivious to the goings-on.
daniel was relieved that nothing burned down. and so was rick.
at this point, there was only one problem. the computer somehow didn't want to play the disk that daniel had brought with him. what now?
as they say, the show must go on. and it did.
while daniel led our group of nine through an opening meditation and sun salutation sequence, his friend nancy ran over to his apartment to get his laptop. it wasn't long before she walked back into the room and the familiar strains from the kind of blue album started to fill the room. the music brought me back to my college days -- back to when i'd taken a jazz history class at UCLA and listened as our professor played recordings from dizzy gillespie, dave brubeck, duke ellington, charlie parker, thelonius monk, and of course, miles davis.
ahhh... back to the days when life was simpler. and my only worry was making it through finals week...
i guess i was so lost in the musical moment that i blissfully moved from pose to pose. i somewhat remember daniel pushing and pulling me this way and that (and feeling somewhat like linda blair in the exorcist when i found my torso almost completely turned around in a bound ardha matsyendrasana ), but i have to say that there's nothing like soothing music to help warm your heart, your soul, and your muscles!
once savasana was over, i gathered up my belongings and moved them over to the back wall before joining the rest of the group for tea in the patio out the back. next thing i knew, i smelled smoke.
what?!? where?!? who?!?
this time, it was my turn to play firebug. i had somehow dropped my yogitoes towel on a still-lit votive. the little silicone nubbins on the towel immediately started to burn and quickly turned to ash. by the time i whacked the last of the burning embers out, all i was left with was a towel with a number of large burned-out holes all over it :(
my updated facebook status reflected the excitement that evening:
joni accidentally dropped her yogitoes towel on a lit votive last night... and ended up with something very burnt and hole-y. so apropos for ash wednesday
and yes, the class was really held on the evening of ash wednesday.
after the class, daniel mailed me a copy of the book he wrote and published last year, leaving stress behind. in it, he talks about how he found yoga and about how it literally helped him leave behind the fast-paced life that was causing him great emotional and physical pain. touching on pranayama, meditation, and yoga therapy, daniel fills a large part of the book with a modified pose-by-pose guide to the ashtanga practice he learned while apprenticing with his guru in mysore. at the end of the book is a section with anecdotes from his time in india. there's even a companion CD with an audio version of a yoga class led by daniel himself.
and while the book is a very enlightening read, i personally consider it a very memorable possession. it'll forever remind me of the night we almost burned the gallery down, not only because it was penned (and autographed!) by our instructor that night, but because it also happened to be in the backpack that caught on fire... and even has the singe marks to show for it!
postscript -- daniel overberger plans to teach many more yoga + music classes in the coming weeks. last i heard, the next two -- pink floyd nights! -- are already sold out, and the third one he just scheduled is almost filled to capacity. so if the class listed below interests you, send your name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org to get on his distribution list. do it quickly because he's already talking bob marley and radiohead...
so here's where i'll be tomorrow; i can't wait!
Yoga on the Dark Side of the Moon with Daniel Overberger, author of Leaving Stress Behind 2 nights only: 3.18.09 + 3.25.09 @ 7pm
Deep Adjustments Deep Breathing Deep Meditation Low Lights and the music of Pink Floyd
Antebellum Art Gallery 1643 N Las Palmas Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028 323 856-0667 www.antebellum.us.ms 3 blocks east of the Hollywood and Highland metro stop
Space is limited. Reserve now: email@example.com
This class will be taught in the light of lava lamps to the music of Pink Floyd.
by the way, lava lamps are so much safer than candles, don't you think? :)