Yoga Mountain Shadows, Colorado Springs, July 13, 2016

One of the real pleasures of my travels is the opportunity to visit yoga studios all over the country, and one of the exceptional studios that I have encountered is Yoga Mountain Shadows in Colorado Springs. I had the opportunity to take two classes at the studio, one on Tuesday from 4:30-5:30 and another on Wednesday from 6:00 am until 7:00 am. Both classes were heated flow classes, and the first was taught by the young lady on the right in the featured image, Elsbeth. Also pictured is Jennifer who also teaches at the studio.

The waiting area is very large and well-appointed, with a nice selection of yoga gear on hand. There are three studio spaces. The main space is a very large room that is used for heated classes and can accommodate on the order of 40 students. There is a room that is half that size that is used for room temperature classes, and a third room that is fully matted on the floor and is used for aerial silk and acrobatics classes.

The two classes I took were both heated flow classes, and I enjoyed both of them thoroughly. Both students and staff are very friendly and welcoming, and they have a wonderful introductory offer of a week of unlimited classes for only ten dollars. I enjoyed the experience and the ambience very much, and if I do get back to the Springs in the future I will be sure to return.

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Colorado Springs, July 12, 2016

One of the highlights of my trip to Colorado Springs was my visit to the Garden of the Gods park. This park would be impressive even if it were a national or state park, but the fact that it is a city park, owned and operated by the city of Colorado Springs, is even more impressive. The park is free of charge and contains incredibly beautiful rock formations and miles and miles of trails to wander.

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The real highlight of my trip, however, was the opportunity to meet and get to know the beautiful people pictured below.

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These were my hosts for two nights. In front are Rick Schwarz and his wife Marguerite Terze, and behind them is their housemate Heidi Cooper. Rick, Marguerite, Heidi, and Heidi’s daughter Deanna just moved into this housing arrangement last month, and Marguerite had to do some serious searching and unpacking to find the spices necessary to prepare the delicious dish on the table.

I was introduced to them by Tom Linz, formerly of the Springs but currently living in Maui with his wife Mary-Mike and their daughter’s family. My connection to the Linz’s is through their daughter, Erica Linz, and the connection between the Linz’s and Rick and Marguerite runs through the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, a wonderful organization that both Erica and Rick and Marguerite’s daughter Ann  were members of. Both Tom (formerly) and Rick (currently) have been heavily involved in supporting that organization with their efforts, Tom as the sound-master and equipment wrangler, and Rick in running the Bingo activities that help to fund the ongoing operations of the chorale.

Service runs deep in both families–Erica Linz is the creator and guiding force behind the Las Vegas based Circus Couture, an annual charity circus/fashion show/art auction that has raised well over a half-million dollars to fight pediatric cancer to date. Erica credits her mother, Mary-Mike, with inspiring her in her charitable efforts. Heidi is also committed to service, and is currently working as a social worker and pursuing a Master’s degree in that field.

 

Starbucks, Albuquerque NE, July 11, 2016

Had kind of a restless night. The hotel is very comfortable, but the room had one of those connecting doors so a suite can be created, and the folks in the next room had their TV tuned to what sounded like some kind of annoying kids channel, with lots of noise. About midnight I tried knocking gently on their door to no avail, dialing the room on the phone with no answer, calling the front desk, and then finally about 1 am a couple of pounds on the connecting door finally got a response and a resolution.

I am off to Colorado Springs in a little bit. I had planned to drive up the 285 to the 24, which would take me through the mountains to the Springs, but as I am getting a bit of a late start (it’s now 10:15) and there is a fire burning rather close to that route I have decided to take the 285 up to Alamosa and catch the 160 which will connect me back to I-25.

Why the late start? Well, I did allow myself to “sleep in” until 6:20, and since I want to do some yoga but my arrival time in the Springs is uncertain I decided to take in a class here. I took the 8 am Hot Yoga class at Blissful Spirits Hot Yoga in Albuquerque NE, taught by the lovely Julie, pictured below. The price was definitely right: first class is only five dollars, but as I hadn’t brought any cash, just a debit card, Julie gave me the first one for free! The class was an hour long class, which was disappointing in my initial assessment, but it was a very intense hour and in the aftermath reminded me of my favorite joke about mat Pilates classes. Q: What’s the best thing about a mat Pilates class? A: It’s only an hour long! By the end of the hour I was thinking the same thing!

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Julie, by the way, is a native Chicagoan as well, having grown up in Northbrook and lived in various places around the city, and her father, who is not that much older than me, is from a family of 10 and grew up in the city at the same time that I was there.

Wrapping it up for now and hitting the road!

Nativo Lodge, Albuquerque, July 10, 2016

I am staying the night at the Nativo Lodge, a very interesting hotel in Albuquerque. The hotel is permeated by a Native American theme, the price was right, and I even got a coupon for a 15% discount on the restaurant and bar! Can’t beat that! Above there is a picture of the statue of the Native American deity that graces the lobby. The staffing is minimal, but the employees they have are very friendly and efficient. I give it a good recommendation.

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This morning I felt I needed a strong flow workout as I am missing my Saturday and Sunday classes with my yoga muse, Ramona Magnolia Tamulinas, so I took in a class at the Bend Hot Yoga studio in Prescott. The class, at 8:45 am on a Sunday, was packed, and the flow, while kind of formulaic was stimulating, fun, and generated copious sweat. While Ramona’s classes at Yoga World are room temperature classes, somehow they also turn into hot yoga classes due to the energy that is generated in the room. Students entering for the next classes always remark on how warm the room is, and that warmth is not externally generated but created by Ramona’s flow combined with the energies of the students. Her classes are the things that I miss most when I am on the road!

The drive up from Prescott was beautiful, but I was in for a bit of a shock when I stopped in Gallup and stepped out of my car–the temperature was 100 degrees, with a strong and steady wind of about 20 mph from the WSW. Not a very pleasant place to be outside when you throw in the high level of dust in the air. From Gallup to Albuquerque I could see clouds building to the south, and as I approached there were a lot of scattered thundershowers but all stayed to the south of I-40.

Tomorrow I head to Colorado Springs, taking the scenic route through the mountains. If the weather holds it promises to be a beautiful drive.

Raven Cafe, July 9, 2016

It is almost 9 pm, and Jeremiah and the Red Eyes just finished their first set at the Raven Cafe. As expected the sound here is awesome, thanks to the efforts of Jacob the sound man extraordinaire. The band (only Jeremiah and Matthew Magener, the drummer, made the trip) is ripping it up. In the featured image above you can see Jeremiah and his flying fingers captured, and you can see some videos that I have posted on my Facebook page.

Above on the left is Jacob, and on the right you can see the sound booth above and the stairs that Jacob has been running up and down dialing in the sound. Jacob does have a complaint–he also has to do gaffer’s duty using the special tool, the BFS2.0** (a replacement for the BFS1.0 which snapped), and the management will not spring for any gaffer’s tape for him. C’mon, Raven, he works hard, so make his life a bit easier!

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Tomorrow I will be taking a morning yoga class, and then it is off to Albuquerque on the next leg of the trip.

** Big Fucking Stick 2.0

 

Starbucks, Prescott, July 9, 2016

I am now at Starbucks in Prescott, rehydrating with a Passion Fruit iced tea after taking yet another class at Sutras Yoga. Today’s class was a donation class taught by rotating teachers, and today’s instructor was Jason. A couple of the questions I had yesterday have been answered. First, the extensive preparation for class (setting out mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets, etc.) that I saw in both Cristina and Jason’s classes are indeed idiosyncratic to those two. As Jason put it, he and Cristina are kindred souls, and he knew that when he found out that she practices at home on a pink mat, just like he does. I also found out what services are available in the dedicated Healing Room…

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Last night I had dinner and entertainment at the Raven Cafe. Dinner consisted of their salmon dinner along with a pint of porter, and the entertainment was an outstanding blues performance by the R. D. Olson band as this was the occasion for their CD release party. I was pretty close to the action as the piano (and saxophone) player was practically sitting at my table. The food and beer were good, the music was great, and I was particularly impressed by the sound man at the venue. One of the places I used to like to go in LA when I got out more was Genghis Cohen, and one of the reasons I liked it so much was the sound was always great due to the efforts of their sound man, Terry. At the Raven the sound booth is upstairs, and to get from the booth to the front requires going to the back of the store, down the stairs, and then up to the front, and the Raven’s guy was literally running back and forth in order to work out some problems with the console next to the stage.

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Tonight I am looking forward to returning to the Raven to see one of my favorite LA area bands, Jeremiah and the Red Eyes. Jeremiah is back on the road following a rather nightmarish solo tour last month that left him stranded in Flagstaff. I guess he never learns, but that’s all to the good as far as I am concerned.

Sutras Yoga, July 8, 2016

1:43 pm, and I am at Starbucks in Prescott. I really like the atmosphere at Wild Iris, but as the wi-fi was not working I decided to move it up the road a bit. I took the Yoga Bliss Yin class at 10:45 with Cristina Hunt at Sutras Yoga. Sutras is a small and very welcoming studio in the heart of Prescott just a block west of the Courthouse Square. One of the notable features of the class schedule are the “Yoga Bliss” classes, and I believe that this term is both the trademark of the owner of the studio, Amber Aten, and an indicator of one of her guiding philosophies.

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Entrance to the studio

The interior of the studio is very nicely appointed, comfortable, and very conducive to a calm and meditative practice. There is also a dedicated “Healing Room”, and I am very much interested in finding out more about what kind of healing services and practitioners are available there. The art work on the back wall of that room is pictured above in the featured image.

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Interior view, with Jason prepping for class, and Cristina preparing to leave

Above you can see the interior view of the studio. On the left you can see Jason prepping for his Happy Hour Flow class. Both classes I have taken here have made extensive use of props (and picking up props afterwards), and both teachers have spent time before class laying out mats and props for the students. I don’t know at this point whether that behavior is idiosyncratic for Cristina and Jason, or if that is the modus operandi for the studio as a whole. My guess is it is the latter and that is part and parcel of the Yoga Bliss package.

On the left above is the Om Mandala, which is very nicely executed, and on the right is good old Ganesha in all his glory.

 

Wild Iris, July 8, 2016, 10:00 am

At the Wild Iris Coffee House in Prescott, located conveniently next to my yoga destination, Sutras Yoga. For all my coffee shop aficionados, this is a great place! Spacious, comfortable and loaded with food and drink options, both of the sweet and savory variety.

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They also have a macchiato that meets my requirements by not drowning the espresso in milk. Not as cute as the cortado at Steelhead, but still very good. Pictured below you will see a slice of frittata and my macchiato.

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The only downside for now is that the wi-if is not working, so this post will be a bit shorter than usual as I am now relying on my wireless access :-(. Not as fast, and potentially expensive…

 

Prescott, July 7, 2016

Now in Prescott, AZ. Took a leisurely drive up today, but arrived too late for a yoga class (sad face emoji here), so getting some dinner at Tara Fine Thai Cuisine. Very hungry!! There is quite a crowd across the street in the Courthouse Square listening to the Prescott Idol competition. I took in a couple of acts before I surrendered to hunger.

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Last night I finally made it to downtown Long Beach to the open mic at the Hellada Gallery. I got there at 7, which was when it was supposed to start, and there were only about 5 people there, including me, but as the night rolled on performers kept on showing up and it turned into quite a lively show. My favorite was Dorothy Ism. Those of you who have been around me lately know my obsession with rebuilding my feet, and Dorothy has feet to die for. They appear to be the feet of a ballet dancer and are linked inextricably with her singing. It’s really cool when the performer is so taken with the music that she begins to levitate above the floor! The people are very friendly and supportive, the sound is great, and there is a great atmosphere and some nice art always on exhibit. I highly recommend it for the performers (or wannabe performers) out there. Signup is at 6:45, and the show runs from 7-9.

Tomorrow I am planning on starting the day with some walking around Prescott, followed by the 10:45 Yoga Bliss Yin class at Sutras Om School. Afterwards more exploring, and then I will be doing more exploring. Maybe I can even find some kind of a mat Pilates class. One of the downsides of going on the road for an extended period of time is my miss my weekly Friday sessions with my core coach, Stephanie Winkler. She customizes combination of mat Pilates and barre work that has done wonders for both my core (the Pilates) and my feet (the barre). Stephanie is another key member of “John’s Team” of dedicated practitioners working to help me build a better me!

Steelhead, July 6, 2016

It’s 10:03, and I am at SteelHead Coffee. I just finished my usual breakfast, the cortado and eggs and toast, and had a chat with the folks above. Against the wall you can see Sarvat and Bemmy. Sarvat is a management consultant, and he is today doing some work to support a non-profit, Ocean Discovery, that works to provide students with ocean-based science experiences. Bemmy is a doctoral student in Public Policy at UC Irvine studying urban environmental policy. Across the table is Aziz, Sarvat’s nephew, who is visiting from Azerbaijan. When I asked Sarvat if I could take a picture of him he jokingly said that he was a bit hesitant because he thought that he “looked a bit dangerous”, which is, of course, code for “looks like a Muslim”. It is a sad state of affairs when beautiful people like Sarvat and Bemmy need to have those kinds of concerns weighing on them. They are, by the way, expecting their second child.

As for me, I am getting ready to hit the road. Looks like my first stop will be Prescott, AZ. I was there a couple of years ago and had some very nice yoga experiences that left me hungry for more! I am planning on saturating myself in the environment of Om Sutras School in Prescott. My favorite experience of my last trip was the Sunday morning Yoga Bliss class with Amber Aten, and I see that she is teaching it again this coming Sunday. I need to tie up a few details here and will probably hit the road tomorrow.

Right now it is time to continue my walk over to LA Fitness. My trouble spots (currently left shoulder and right hip) are both feeling much better following my massage therapy with Teresa and my session with Donna Place. It’s kind of hard to categorize what Donna does as she is totally eclectic in her approach; it’s a mixture of gyrotonics, Pilates, deep-tissue massage, and anything else that she knows. Whatever it is, it has been invaluable to me. Yesterday in passing I met another of Donna’s long-time clients and was very envious that she has been seeing Donna on a weekly basis for over ten years. My advice to all of you out there is to find yourself a “Donna”, meaning a skilled and knowledgeable practitioner with thumbs of steel and a wide array of knowledge and skills who will work tirelessly to build you a better body!