Last night, after a heated internal debate between my mind and my heart over the pros of attending yoga class versus the pros of watching America’s Next Top Model, my heart won out and I found myself stepping into a studio at Power Yoga in Santa Monica. Along with about 75 other Angelenos, I entered the huge studio expecting a run of the mill L.A. yoga class. I should have known better.
I have been to Power Yoga several times and each time I leave in awe of my experience there. No two classes are the same at Power Yoga. Each teacher brings his or her own approach. Some are more focused on yoga technique, but moreover, I have found they are focused on the spiritual and self-growth aspect of the practice. The latter was definitely the approach by my teacher last night, Astrid Kastenberg.
Being taught yoga by Astrid Kastenberg is like an entire weekend retreat compacted into an hour and half class. She fills the time with not only challenging yoga poses (for a 1/2 level class), but also with quotes, history, and knowledge. I would describe the experience as a holistic exercise for the mind. While I contorted my body from asana to vinyasa and back again, Astrid gave my mind plenty of food for thought. She taught us several mudras and she read directly from a “lesson plan” several quotations about self-improvement that urged us to find power from within.
“Don’t worry about remembering the quotes and the inspiration I share with you tonight,” she started the class saying. “You can read it all on my website. So don’t worry about writing it down.”
One of my favorite things she said, however, was something that she didn’t read from the paper and which I didn’t have to look up on her website. She shared, “You matter. Each of you matters. Each of you has a purpose in life. You may think as you sit in your small one bedroom apartment, that you don’t matter. But you do. If you were to die, the energy of the world would lessen without you here.”
On her website, practicewithastrid.com, Astrid puts it this way, “I lead my students in Padma Yoga which teaches you about the spiritual and inner aspects of yoga while infusing your body with your vital life force – the breath. I call my classes Practice with a Message. The message and theme of the class is different each week.” Padma Yoga is her own creation, and stems from her recognition that the natural state of the body is health. Padma means lotus, which is the symbol of infinity, and mirrors our unlimited potential to tranform and create miracles in our lives. The practice involves dynamic postures and provocative communion that helps one to understand and explore the body’s inner pharmacy and healing centers.
This year, the message is about the self, she told us last night. This is THE YEAR OF THE SELF. Self-improvement. Self-awareness. Self-mastery. Self-knowledge. Her message on self-empowerment can be read here where she, as promised, shares all her sources.
I will definitely be returning to Astrid’s class. I felt buoyed up afterwards. Living in Los Angeles, many people feel so disconnected from each other. It is no wonder that classes are filled to the brim with yogis of all shapes and sizes. We are seeking community and connection. Astrid delivers.
Afterwards, my heart thanked me for choosing Astrid over Tyra and my mind teemed with inspiration and information. I highly recommend you practice with Astrid if you have the opportunity.
Share Yoga Ratings
Music: Mixed/Diverse – included Kirtan, R&B, and Alternative (White Stripes, I believe)
Energy: Fast-paced, but plenty of rest between, a little chaotic
Noise Level: Loud
Environment: Large studio overflowing into side studio – about 75 students, mat to mat. A little difficult hearing her at times because the music was loud in the back.
Level: 1/2 – appropriate for all levels, but knowledge of poses necessary
Other: More emphasis on message than technique, but still a great workout.
Location: Power Yoga, 2nd Street, Santa Monica, 8:30 pm, Wednesdays
Cost: By donation. Recommended $15 donation. Honor system, you leave your donation in the box by the door when you leave the class.
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