Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
This time a week ago my car was packed and I was heading down for Yoga Journal Live in San Diego. Although the event is a 4 day extravaganza of classes and yogi-fun, this year I had signed up for only the Saturday session to get a glimpse of what it was all about. The SigO and decided to make a weekend of it and headed down to the bee-you-tee-full Hotel Del Coronado!
Hotel del Coronado
OMG I was having a Marilyn Monroe moment when I arrived at the Hotel del Coronado. (If only I still had my super fun bleached blonde hair...) Our room was lovely. Comfy bed, couch, bathroom with rain shower head, all in beach-like yellows, blues, and greens gave an elegant yet casual vibe to the room.
Although in the annex instead of the main building, we had a beautiful view of the main hotel and beach from our balcony. Added bonus, this sunset on Saturday evening.
Yoga sessions were set up in the main building and on the beach. Being able to practice in such a gorgeous setting was both relaxing and inspiring - a true blessing!
Saturday morning I woke at 5:30am (my usual weekday time) to set my intention, have a relaxing shower, breakfast, and make it to the morning meditation hosted by Sujuntra McKeever of Pilgrimage of the Open Heart yoga. We were in the massive Crown Room of the hotel. (The same place where those famous Sunday brunches are held.)
Now as far as meditation goes, I've had a bit of trouble in the past when practicing on my own. I can't seem to relax without some music playing in the background. Sujuntra opened this session with a chat about meditation and the benefits. Then he said he would start our guided meditation with some soothing flute music in the background. The man was speaking my vibrational language!
Sitting comfortably, legs in easy pose, eyes closed, I felt a sense of joy filling my entire being as Sujuntra led us through a soothing meditation. By the time I opened my eyes 20+ minutes later, I felt both relaxed and energized for this incredible day.
Arm Balancing for Wimps with Jason Crandell
Next up on the agenda? Jason Crandell's class on inversions. I was totally psyched for this class as I have found myself a bit hesitant lately on attempting crow and handstands - two of my favorite poses years ago. I knew I could do them, but had no clue what was holding me back from doing them now...
Coincidentally, earlier in the week I took a class with Vanessa Yarbrough at Rise Yoga HB in which we had some playtime with handstands. My eventual goal is to lift up into the posture using core strength and balance (and a bit of positive mojo). However in Vanessa's class she invited us to play using the wall and then kick up into the pose. Most importantly, she took the time to demonstrate, and went over some key errors everyone makes when attempting. Turns out, I was simply placing my mat too close to the wall. So when I kicked up, my butt knocked me back! A 1 second adjustment of my mat and then I was head over heels! #jaylobootyproblems
If you have not had an opportunity to take a class with Jason Crandell, you are in for a treat when you finally do. Funny and charming, he is as serious about proper alignment as he is about his coffee obsession. He started the class with a 20-30 minute talk about the 4 basic arm positions for inversions, body alignment with special attention given to shoulder positioning, and the necessity for practice, practice, practice, and did I mention practice?!
By the end of class we were attempting our handstands with the help of partners. Meanwhile, Jason invited those who were especially nervous to work with him directly. As I was feeling pretty at ease and confident at this point, I partnered up with two yogis near me and had some play time. However I appreciated the fact that he recognized some people really needed the attention of the teacher, and that he gave them some one-on-one time.
Although I can't wait for the notes he has promised to send out, I simply couldn't resist playing with crow pose at the YogaJournal Live faux cover photo shoot held in the MarketPlace. A huge thank you to Jason for a class that left me confident and knowledgable enough to hold the pose much longer than the 1 second to take the picture!
Slackline Yoga 101 with the Yogaslackers
A quick snack of two bananas (my favorite bite-on-the-go) and I was off to the main beach area for some slackline fun with the Yogaslackers! I definitely felt like one of the in-crowd when I got a huge hug from Tom Widdison - one of my fav new yoga buddies - and Britta Rael, a wonder woman of the yogaslacker festival appearances.
I met Tom and Britta when my dear friend and yoga buddy Megan and I went to the Wanderlust 108 - Los Angeles event where we attempted our first acroyoga class. A week later, I saw Britta again at the Wanderlust 108 - San Diego event where I tried slackline yoga for the first time. Despite the falling and shaking, I was hooked on both fun disciplines. Fortunately, Tom lives in near me and occasionally holds workshops. Recently Megan and I both got to attend his acroyoga workshop at Yogalution in Long Beach for more fun times. I feel so much gratitude to have such kind adventurous yogis in my SoCal neighborhood!
As in my earlier class, this session started with some chatting and basic instruction led by Sam Salwei and Raquel Hernández-Cruz. Both are superstars of the acroyoga world, and I was beaming as they led us through our warmups.
To prepare for this adventurous yoga style, I had watched and practiced some exercises posted in a Yoga Journal article by Sam and Raquel. Want to feel inspired? Go to the YogaSlackers YouTube page for fun videos!
Between Sam, Raquel, Britta, and Tom providing excellent instruction and support, plus the awesome encouragement by the kind yogi, Brooke Taylor, who partnered up with me for the class, I was having a fabulously sandy time!
Yoga for Every Body with Seane Corn
One of the problems with an event like this is trying to choose which sessions to attend. However for me, there was only one choice for the last session of the day - a class with Seane Corn.
If I could pick one yogi to spend the day with, it would be Seane Corn. I have had the biggest girl-crush on her since I read an article she was featured in ages ago. Not only is she an amazing teacher, but her activism, inspiring posts, and real-ness in an age of celebrity social media yoga teachers means that she is the person I most aspire to be like when I grow up. (Although the world seems to count me as an adult, I am not quite sure I have reached true "grownupness" quite yet).
Like the others, Seane started her class with a chat, explaining to both the teachers and the students in the room about proper alignment and how to create an authentic class experience. If I could have recorded her talk I totally would have, because she covered a variety of topics:
As I listened to her words, I found myself nodding every few moments, feeling as though she was speaking to me directly. My heart felt so open because in that moment I thought "Yes, she gets who I want to be when I become a yoga instructor." And then she led our practice, and with the whole room breathing together, I am surprised that my feet stayed grounded on the floor instead of floating up to space...
A Perfect Weekend
By the time my lovely SigO met up with me that evening, I was in a state of tired bliss. (He had been visiting friends in San Diego and hitting up the Farmer's Market in Little Italy to buy me my favorite granola made by Farm to Fork in La Jolla. Sadly, they don't currently sell it through their website.)
He found me sitting on the grassy area overlooking the boardwalk and the ocean with the hotel at my back. I had been reflecting on my day, and soaking up the beauty around me. After a dinner in the downtown area (which is sadly lacking in good vegan options...very surprising for such a gorgeous spot) we called it an early night so we could rise at a decent hour to enjoy the hotel's amenities before hitting the road home.
All in all an absolutely fabulous way to spend the weekend. New goal, to attend for all FOUR days next year as a yoga teacher! Keep your fingers crossed and send positive thoughts out into the universe for me...I applied for Kripalu's 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification and am waiting to hear if I was accepted into the program!
In the meantime, wishing you a joyful practice on the mat...with smiles...
Samantha Eve, a