Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Spaces: Yogala Echo Park

To grow as a teacher and a student, sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and meet some yogis in another neighborhood! Here's to exploring new styles, new classes, new teachers, and new spaces! This will be a new monthly post on Curiosities Abound! 

A huge purple barn door serves as the welcoming entryway to this intimate studio space. There is a single desk to check students in and a purposefully chosen retail space, offering a wide variety of products and yoga related gear. The studio has one room that is fairly long and wide, with windows framing either end of the studio space. It's in a quiet neighborhood that feels comfortable and welcoming. Jamie greeted us outside the room, which made me feel instantly at home when she started to teach. The room is white with sheer curtains on the back french doors that line the street. The windows were open during our class and the quiet sounds of the wind, the neighborhood slowly waking up, and our breath was all I could hear. 

Jamie's beginner flow was really beautiful and intentional. It was a really gentle sequence that helped us to subtly wake up and acknowledge parts of our practice and our bodies that we hadn't given enough love to. It was a great class for me, as I was knee deep in a five day a week Power Yoga regimen. It was a great way for me to practice without the intensity I was getting every other day of the week. At the end of class, while in an extended savasnana, Jamie asked us to close our eyes. While laying quietly on my mat, I slowly began to hear the vibrational movements of a gong at the front of the room. Jamie played for the entire length of savasana and at the end I felt as though the sounds had been absorbed in my body and had taken me completely out of my head. It was a transformational hour. The Blissfully Basic Class with Jamie Ford is offered on Sunday Morning's 9:30am-10:45am. 

Additional Information:

Website: Yogala Echo Park for all class schedules, pricing, and special events

Location: 1840 Echo Park Ave. LA, CA 90026, there is plenty of street parking available (with street cleaning restrictions) 

$39 for 30 days for new students. 
Accepts the Passport to Prana card for 1st time students. 
$17 Drop In Rate with several other packages available to suit all needs. 
$2 Mat Rental 
They offer donation-based classes during the week for those who are financially restricted. 

Props Available: 

Jamie Ford's Sound Bath Sundays 

Next Event at Yogala Echo Park is September 29th and October 18th

$22 per Sound Bath or $108 for a pack of 6
Reserve a space here

After my initial visit to the space and feeling right at home I decided to try our Jamie's Sound Bath Sunday with a friend of mine. For this nightly held class: bring a blanket & pillow or anything that makes you feel comfortable and deeply relaxed on your mat. The studio offers bolsters, blankets and blocks to assist, which I personally used, but I will bring more props from home for my next sound bath class. Each student gets very comfortable on their mat, whatever that might mean for you. The lights are off and candles were lit at the front of the space. Jamie brings in a different set of gongs for each sound bath, all of her gongs are vibrational tuned to planetary alignment and each sounds bath has a separate focus of vibrational energy. Then you lay back and close your eyes and Jamie plays the gongs and accompanying singing bowls for an hour. We were encouraged to move whenever we needed to and find a space of stillness that resonated with us. It was an amazing experience to be submersed in vibrational sounds for that long. I was really able to put my mind on silent and just be in the space, which for me, was a gift. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013


you matter, deeply.  

you are loved.

you are supported.

you are enough.

you are strong.

you are vulnerable.

you are expansive. 

you are a teacher. 

you are full of intention. 

you are all you need.

you are beautiful.

you are important.

you are surrounded by magic.

you are not lost.

you are resilient.

you are still.

you are bathed in light.

you are right where you should be.

you have everything you need. 

you are on an open road that leads where ever you want it to.

YOU are my inspiration.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Finding Space In Friendships

"Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that." - Ally Condie
The most profound conversations always take place in our kitchen at 12:30am. I never realize how much I am holding onto, grappling with, caged by; until I find myself alone in the kitchen with the two people who hold me together in the most fragile of times. 
As we stood barefoot, eating the remnants of dinner, after a particularly depressing episode of Breaking Bad; we found ourselves talking about the limits of friendships. I've been struggling to redefine a few relationships in my life out of fear, anger, and guilt. It wasn't until we put the conversation on the table that I was really able to come to terms with the tangled mess that I've created and continue to live within. It was truly humbling to be looked in the eye and gently told that the only way to alter the negative relationships I am holding onto, is by letting them go myself. We cannot rely on others to help us define the terms of a relationship that is no longer serving who we've grown into. If we give other people this power, we will always feel strangled by feelings of unworthiness, selfishness, and sadness. 
For me, it will forever be a process, but today, I am beginning to truly understand what it means to let go of what I do not need to make space for those people who love, support and respect my individual growth. Here's to growing up and realizing that who we are and what we need are the most important aspects of ourselves and our relationships with other people. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When in doubt, ALWAYS make muffins! Espresso Banana Muffins

Well, it's September, and Los Angeles is a momentary inferno, but this weekend it finally cooled down enough in our sweltering apartment for me to use the overripe bananas badly aging on our countertop to bake something delicious to serve to friends. And since I am in unabashedly in love with muffins, here we go.

Heidi Swanson's beautiful cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, was the inspiration for this week's recipe. I've been really interested in trying to create meals using whole & natural ingredients and most of the knowledge and expertise comes from Heidi's amazing blog, 101 Cookbooks and her other cookbook, Super Natural Everyday.

Super Natural Cooking, is chocked full of really inventive ways to add whole and natural ingredients into your pantry, so when you reach for ingredients to cook with you are starting with foods that are healthier and kinder to your body. I haven't been able to incorporate everything quite yet, whole and natural foods tend to be quite expensive to just cold turkey and completely restock at once. Every trip to the grocery store I buy one additional ingredient from her list. It makes switching affordable and easy.

Espresso Banana Muffins (with slight tweaks), from Super Natural Cooking

2 cups white whole-wheat flour (I used regular whole-wheat flour)
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (I used regular kosher sea salt)
1 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (She recommends toasting them first, but I just used them chopped)
1 tablespoon fine espresso powder (I used regular ground coffee that I made fine with a grinder)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (Room temp really helps it to cream easier)
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt (I used low fat vanilla yogurt)
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (The more overripe, the better. About 3 bananas)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees, position the racks low in the oven, and line 12 muffins cups with paper liners (I don't use liners, so I just dabbed each cup with a little canola oil before putting the batter in).

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup of the walnuts (toasted first if you so choose), and the espresso powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl or a stand mixer (I used my KitchenAid), cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, yogurt, and mashed bananas, then briefly and gently mix in the dry ingredients; over mixing will result in tough muffins.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, top with the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts, and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Fill the cups to the brim for big-topped muffins. Cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 large muffins.