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yogastudioIt has been such a hectic summer of festivals and crafting. To balance it all, I have been finding peace and tranquility in my yoga practice. I first started practicing yoga in 2000. It was a Hatha class and I distinctly remember the feeling of relief that washed over me in my first savasana. I have always been fairly athletic and loved to dance. I like to push myself and my body. The concept of just lying there, allowing the practice to crystalize seemed so foreign to me, yet it felt so right! As I continued to attend class, my focus shifted from trying to perfect the postures as I was used to doing in dance classes. I became more aware of my breath in relation to the postures. I learned to stay in the asana and just let it be. Our Hatha teacher left and was replaced by an Iyengar teacher who read to us from BKS Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga”. It opened up the awareness in me that there was a philosophy behind what we were doing and even though it was thousands of years old, it was relevant to my life today. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2003, I stumbled into Bryan Kest’s studio on Santa Monica boulevard. I noticed a bunch of sweaty, smiling glowing people carrying yoga mats. I asked where they came from. That was the beginning of my ashtanga based practice. After the first class I thought my arms would fall off and the amount of sweat pouring off of me and everyone else was intense. And yet… everything he was saying as we flowed and breathed through the asanas made so much sense! Even though it was physically challenging, the message has stayed with me: Your breath is your guide. If you can’t maintain a steady, breath that is deep, easy and free get out of the pose! I now practice Kundalini yoga and live for that light, blissful feeling as we relax to the sounds of the gong.