People always make fun of the San Fernando Valley, and sometimes rightly so. There are definitely not the restaurants & retail stores that there are on the LA side. The positive side is that for the most part it’s not nearly as congested, that is except for the 101-405 interchange.
The main drawback to me to living in the Valley has always been a lack of good places to work out. Being really into yoga, boot camp, spinning, etc, I’ll drive a long way just to find a good class. A good yoga class has always been next to impossible to find in the Valley. Well that’s not the case any longer.
Two years ago I wanted to improve my own yoga practice, so I got certified to teach, by Subhadra Bowman aka “the Yoga Nazi.” The training gave me a great appreciation for what it takes to be a great teacher as opposed to just a competent one. I’ve found three different studios (all west of Laurel Canyon) where the teachers all rock. So far these yoga studios are the only thing I really like west of Laurel Canyon Blvd other than the Boneyard Bistro and Carnival Restaurant.
Angel City Yoga has been around for over 15 years. It was the only place in the Valley with really good classes in the 90’s. I regard Kevin O’Kane, the owner, as a yoga institution in the area. He still teaches there regularly. I’ve taken from a number of teachers there over the years, including my first class with the legendary, late Frank White (who I considered the “Yoga Marine). Classes include vinyasa, hatha, pre-natal, kundalini, restorative, etc. Metered street parking is easily available. For a schedule of classes and more info go to www.angelcityyoga.com, 12408 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604, (818) 788-9642.
Black Dog Yoga has been around for quite a while too. Peter Barnett, the owner, teaches some really great classes on a regular basis. Some of the teachers may be young in chronological years, but don’t let that fool you, as they are all top notch. Dice is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I think he must be re-incarnation of some ancient master. I’ve also taken Ashtanga with Hanna, who for me, has that unique ability to direct me into really opening my body, while making it seem effortless. Classes include anusara, flow, restorative and ashtanga. There is a large lot, so parking is a breeze. For a schedule of classes and more info got to www.blackdogyoga.net, 4454 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403, (818) 380-0331.
Rising Lotus Yoga saved my sanity a couple years ago when I was going through a lot of personal challenges. The owners, Claire Hartley and Daniel Stewart are not only great teachers, they are splendid human beings. I wouldn’t be surprised if they both walk on water. I’ve spent the most time at this studio in the past few years, so this one is most personal to me. The “community” here is very friendly and they’ll always find room for another yoga mat. It is a very simple, positive, environment in which everyone feels welcome. I’ve been to over a dozen teachers and really grooved with all of them. I’m always amazed at how much yoga gets done at this studio. I’ve rushed in there completely stressed many times and left in a state of complete serenity. I did my own personal, “30 day yoga challenge”, which I highly recommend. Classes include flow, iyengar, therapeutic and pre-natal. There is easy, metered, street parking available. For a schedule of classes and more info go to www.risinglotusyoga.com, 13557 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, (818) 990-0282.
Be sure to ask about introductory class packets, as many studios have introductory offers for new students. Will be checking out studios in others areas of the Valley and will report on them soon. Until then, Namaste.