I started doing yoga consistently last summer because my doctor recommended it for stress relief and to ease tension in my mind and body. I had been training for marathons and races for years and working long hours. It had started to take its toll, to the point where it was actually having a negative impact on my health. Even though I was exercising and eating healthy? Yep, stress is a mother. So, I decided to follow her advice and stop by a local yoga studio in the La Jolla Village shopping center, Sol Yoga Studios. The rest is history....
They had an introductory rate for new students of $10 for unlimited classes for the first week, I was in. Then class started, and I remember feeling like I was going to pass out more than once, all while wondering if Lorrie really knew how to count down from five (it had to be ten, or even fifteen seconds). Even though it was tough, something about Lorrie’s intro and closing was really touching. It was like she wanted to make a connection with everyone. This was intriguing to me, so I decided to go back. Towards the end of the week I was able to get through a class without questioning my sanity for attending in the first place. Then I remember taking Daniela’s class. I don’t know what it was, but there was something about her intro that night spoke to exactly what I was going through at that time. I felt a connection with her, the other students, and the energy in the room. Then I got it, what it was all about, the weird pronunciation of poses, the special yoga towels and outfits, the sweat, the third eye, the ohm, the release, the connection and the closeness. It all started to come together from that night forward. I fell in love with Yoga.
All the instructors here are great, but Lorrie and Daniela are my favs. Daniela opens the class with something very inspiring that usually hits home for me, and guides me to an intention for the class. She also focuses on a different area of the body for flexibility, strength and my weakness: balance. So, every class is different. Oh, and I usually end up smiling more than once throughout the 6o minutes. Lorrie is very mindful with her instruction and glides through the studio as she gives precise commands for each pose. She spends an ample amount of time in the beginning of class guiding you through the proper breathing technique (Ujjayi Pranayama), and stressing its importance. Its incredible. It would be impossible to just “go through the motions” in her class. And, lets not forget that countdown from five!
The studio itself has very clean ammonites and is environmentally friendly (San Diego Examiner: Going green is hot at Sol Yoga Studios). The classes can be heated from 95 degrees (Vinyassa) to 104 degress (Hot Hatha). Sol Yoga will always hold my #1 spot…it was my first 😉
2. Ginseng Yoga
Favorite Instructors: Jonathan Patriarca, Adam Meyerowitz
Ginseng Yoga is a well-lit studio with a great location in South Park. It is one of the best studios for the different variety of yoga styles and you definitely will not find the latest Lululemon styles or see anyone frowning. When I walked in, I could literally feel the energy of the studio; it was incredible. I first attended Jonathan’s Bheemashakti class and, within the first five minutes, was way outside my comfort zone. As the class progressed, however, I realized this is exactly what I needed to get past all those flexibility and balance roadblocks preventing me from advancing in my practice. Bheemashaki is a practice that involves repetitive movements (kriyas) and a short and forced breathing style (kapalabhati) to gradually place the student on a progressive track of improvement. So, instead of flailing your legs in the air, hoping to land the handstand…Bheemashaki gets you there through a regimine over a period of time. Jonathan is very encouraging and patient, and spends extra time with his students in class.
As I mentioned, this studio offers such a variety of classes. From Vinyassa to hip hop yoga and all are amazing. My next favorite class, though, was Adam’s Deep Yoga class. He was actually substituting the day I attended, but it was unbelievable. It should be called Deep Spiritual Yoga. This class was less about holding poses and movement, and more about introspection and getting grounded. The energy from the other people in the room, the light from the skylight, Adam’s soft voice and words, and the intention set through breath was an intense experience. I left the class feeling relaxed close to my Source. All the stress from my week had melted away and this was exactly what I needed!
Holy mother of Yoga!!! Before I go into this experience, I do have to say, I was resistant to trying Bikram. I have had a couple friends tell me about their stories and it didn’t sound very pleasant. One person told me people were kicked out of the class for wiping their sweat or looking another direction. They both told me the rooms had carpet, which did not seem sanitary in the least. Come to find out, the reason for both of those things is tradition. Most places now, though, do not carry on with the Bikram rude factor and are inviting to beginners. However, all Bikram studios I researched do have carpet. Again, I was resistant. 105 degrees for 90 minutes rolling around on sweat drenched carpet? No thanks. But then, I remembered why I was doing this article in the first place: to get out of my comfort zone, to try something new, and to grow.
Boy am I glad I went!! Wow!! I was expecting to walk into a run down place smelling of dirty socks and, instead, walked into a modern and pristine studio in Kearny Mesa. The room itself smelled of eucalyptus and the carpet was new and obviously cleaned regularly. The instructor stands on a podium with a microphone and addresses people in the class by name. Stephan provided instruction to me personally, via the podium and microphone, to make sure I was doing the poses correctly. Under normal circumstances, I would consider this intimidating but the 105 degrees seemed to throw all inhibitions out the window. He was very commanding yet encouraging and I felt I was able to get the most out of the 90 minutes.
In Bikram, you are constantly moving and, even in shavasana your heels are together and body is stiff, not relaxed. So, this is definitely a calorie scorcher! This isn’t the yoga I had come to know and love, but I can see myself getting into this.
4. Yoga Six
Change is always hard, and this was the first studio I went to after going to Sol for months. I found myself comparing everything to my favorite studio. Until I had to set everything I thought I knew, aside, and became open to a new experience. That is when I noticed how awesome this place was!! I primarily attended the Solana Beach location It is an upstairs, well-lit studio just off the 101 with two separate rooms to allow for multiple classes. The thing I like the best about Y6 is the variety of classes, teachers, and locations. As I said before, what brought me to and what keeps me practicing yoga is the stress relief, meditation, and stretching. However, I am a tad competitive and a sucker for a challenging workout. That is where the Fit60 Sculpt and Kristin had me at jump squat. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but this one had my heart rate up for 90% of the time. I think I would classify this as a Sculpt or Body Pump class with some yoga and balance work sprinkled in, but it is really nice to have this available (along with Barre) with your Yoga membership.
Another great option I haven’t seen at other studios is Deep Stretching class. I took Katie’s Deep Stretch at the Pt. Loma location (P.S. This studio is like a spa at the 4 seasons, seriously), and Katie stretched us out in this non-traditional yoga class while keeping me laughing the whole time.
Favorite Instructor: Kristi Peterson
This one is a cute little studio in Pacific Beach tucked away off of Grand Ave and Bayard Street and definitely has the Cheers feel to it. Kristi greeted just about everyone by their first name as they walked into the class. She provided me with instruction and assistance on more than one pose, as she did others in the class. Because the studio and class size is a little smaller, there is room for a “personal touch” in instruction and allows for progression. Ben Lucas’ class was extremely refreshing to attend because he focused on breathing and holding the stretches for longer than the standard. He really focused on releasing tension in the hips letting go of mental resistance. The feel is very relaxed and warm and there is something about the quaint simpleness that will have me coming back. The classes are lightly heated and depending on the class, you can work up a good sweat. PB will always hold a special place in my heart and I can see this one being perfect for a post run yoga sesh!
Prana Yoga Center
So, if you feel like you are in a rut with your practice or are new to yoga, I highly encourage you to get out there and take advantage of San Diego’s abundance of yoga studios. Almost everywhere has a introductory rate of $0-$30 for the first 1-2 weeks. This gives you a chance to check out the variety of instructors and classes and decide if the studio is for you. So please, get outside your comfort zone and improve your practice!