This trip is all about yoga, meditation, ayurveda, reiki, qi gong, thai chi, and other discoveries. Hopefully this list and blog will be helpful to fellow yoga travelers. Many skilled teachers in Oakland & San Francisco have impacted my practice and inspired my cubicle break to explore the source of the amazingly good energy they bring to their classes and beyond. Here’s a partial list of my favorites, add your own in the Comments.
~ Oakland & SF ~
Namaste Oakland/Berkeley http://namasteoakland.com is my home studio, all of the classes & teachers have been great, many styles to choose from. Special shout out to Alexis for several years of Yin that has really opened up my back, hips, legs and mind; and to Lily and Kameko for offering the 40-day yoga/ayurveda/meditation challenge that actually did change my life – I wouldn’t be typing this from Thailand on my way to YTT in India without them. And Ashley, Kimber, David, Pedro, Katchie, Baxter…
Flying Yoga http://www.flyingyogashala.com in Temescal offers many hot classes, usually not my thing, but Jessie Hurd’s Friday evening Happy Hour class is an amazing sweaty high, perfect start to the weekend.
Loka Yoga http://www.lokayogaoakland.com in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood offers vinyasa krama yoga, based on Krishnamacharya’s foundational teachings. Kati’s class is great, and many yoga friends have recommended studying with the founder, Alice.
Yoga Tree SF/Berkeley http://www.yogatreesf.com has many highly-respected teachers. Lately I’ve had a chance to attend several of Dina’s Yin classes and workshops, home of the delicious after-exhale.
Ayurveda ~ my friend Jessie Holland http://www.jessieholland.com has been my ayurveda consultant for the past several years, I’ve learned a ton and feel like a different person when I’m smart enough to follow her guidance. She studies with Dr. Vasant Lad in India, where she also studied with the Iyengar family; check out her Oakland Iyengar classes as well. Jessie’s Shirodhara treatment was one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever experienced.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction if you’re looking for MBSR in SF or the east bay, check out Augusta Hopkins’ workshops. http://www.stressreductionsf.com. Haven’t had a chance to attend yet, but she’s a good friend and the reviews have been great.
~ Thailand ~
note: if you can make an accurate map, Thailand needs you. if you’re using a Thai map, give yourself plenty of extra time.
~ Bangkok ~
Yoga Elements Studio https://www.facebook.com/YogaElementsStudio
Behind Central Market near Chit Lom skytrain station, Vanissa Building, 29 Soi Chidlom, 23rd floor.
Took two very nice Flow classes, they were the perfect break from Bangkok’s hectic streets. Jib’s class was similar to many hatha flow classes in Oakland, and Tonia’s class was more of a vinyasa flow. They also offer foundational classes (Elements 1-6), Ashtanga, and advanced. Mats, towels and lockers provided, 90-minute class for 520 baht (about $17, similar to Oakland drop-ins…) Everybody was very friendly and provided some good tips for local food, cheap and delicious.
~ Chiang Mai ~
The Yoga Tree http://www.theyogatree.org, 65/1 Arak Road, in the southwest corner of the old city.
Very nice oasis of a studio just off the perimeter road. Took a 3-hour Anusara class with Jonas Westering, great class, total yoga bliss. Liking Anusara more and more, I think an immersion is in my near future. Went to my first Qi Gong class, Sachie was great, very patient with me… Amy’s 2 1/2 hour iFlow class was one of the most challenging vinyasa classes I’ve ever taken. She seems to be one of the top instructors in Chiang Mai, several local teachers are regulars. She has an Anusara background and is very focused on alignment, then adds advanced transitions and flows. Her upcoming teacher training in Bali looks great…
NAMO http://www.namochiangmai.com 109/1 Moon Muang soi 4, a bit north of the Tha Phae Gate.
Namo is also a nice studio, more of a creative use of urban space, and also hidden down a small alley. Nicci’s Yin class was great, although she’s leaving town soon. Chris’s Anusara-inspired class was good for more advanced students but a bit above my level.
Wild Rose http://www.wildroseyoga.org, not far from the Chiang Mai gate on the south side of old city, see the website for good directions.
Highly recommended studio, it’s run by the owner, Rose, a Californian with an extensive international yoga network. The clientele tends to be more serious students and classes are typically 2-3 hours, but teachers are careful to offer options to newer students. Vari’s 2-hour vinyasa class was excellent. There were several very advanced students and a few level ones like me. Helen’s Friday evening Body Breath Yoga Flow class was a deep dive into our shakti energy, always a good thing.
Other studios that I didn’t have a chance to visit:
Blue Garden http://thaimassagechiangmai.com offers massage & yoga workshops.
Duang Champa in the center of the old city has one-hour Hatha classes several evenings a week, and currently offers Yin on Tuesdays at 6pm. No yoga info on their website, stop by to check the schedule, nice garden cafe area as well.
I’ve had a few powerful Reiki energy work experiences with my friend and yin teacher, Alexis, in Oakland. So to dive in deeper, I took a half-day level 1 class in Chiang Mai. Unfortunately, I didn’t really connect with the instructor, but I’m withholding judgement/review for now. The attunement energy was strong, and it’s really all on me to tap into whatever is already there. Contact me if interested in this topic.
~ Pai ~
Xhale Yoga Retreat in Pai. http://www.xhaleyogapai.com
This was such a great experience. (See TripAdvisor’s 5-star reviews.) Bhud is a skillful teacher and so much fun to be around. The retreat included morning Hatha and evening Yin yoga instruction/practice, as well as pranayama, meditation, silence, and even an unscheduled Reiki discussion with a local Shamballa Reiki master. Muk’s vegetarian meals, teas, and juices were amazing. She offers cooking classes at her organic farm, this is on my list: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Isara-Garden/300864999957065
If you’re in Pai and are interested in Reiki, especially Shambala, contact Mark Allison, several people from the Xhale Yoga retreat group had very interesting experiences, and three of them ended up doing the two-day training. Highly recommended. http://www.markallison.org, his studio is attached to Om Garden Cafe.
~ India ~
~ Varkala, Kerala ~
There are many signs in Varkala advertising yoga classes, however most of them omit details such as place and time. The three studios I visited (below) are right along the main path along the cliff. They all provide mats, but I have yet to see a block, bolster, or other prop in India. All classes were 300 rupees at the beginning of March, 2013.
Hatha Yoga with Vasudev at the Bohemian Masala Resort was very good, daily from 8-10am. There’s a beginner class at 10am. http://www.yogavarkala.com/
The airy studio at the well-disguised resort, it looks like a fabric store from the front, it’s mid-way down the path on the cliff. Check out the restaurant, it’s in a peaceful garden setting in the middle of relatively upscale guest huts, very good & inexpensive breakfast and lunch buffet, I’m not usually a buffet fan, but the food was very fresh.
Dr. Kamaraj teaches Dynamic Yoga daily from 5-6:30pm, it was more of a vigorous practice than other classes I went to in Varkala, but reasonable for beginners. There’s also a daily Ashtanga class and maybe a beginner’s class in the mornings. The studio is on the covered roof of a hotel behind Namasthe Ayurvedic Mission
Haridas teaches two Sivananda classes a day at Hotel Green Palace, morning 8am and evening 4.30pm, 90 minutes. Sivananda is a fairly slow-paced practice, lots of sun salutations as well as headstand and shoulder stand, Haridas walked beginners through the basics and supported others in the more advanced poses.
~ to be continued ~