Posts Tagged ‘birmingham’

After a full 5 days of classes at the Center for Yoga, one post just isn’t enough to explain the insanity that goes on within the walls of “serenity” and “peace”. By the way, the no-named, Johnny wannabe teacher I previously referred to is Aaron Fenton. I ended up practicing with him 3 days in a row- impressively he had a different sequence each day, which is rare. Especially in New York I feel that many instructors create a series and tend to not stray from it for a week or two, which can get quite boring for regular practitioners. The highlight of Aaron’s classes was when he put on “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne to pump up the class for a round of intense abs. Although I admit the impeccably toned and polished suburban housewives that attend Center for Yoga at 9:45 each day are quite hip for the Midwest late 30s, early 40s set, I couldn’t help but be entertained by the ridiculousness of this song in this particular situation. Though frankly, Aaron can get away with pretty much anything in my book- I have a weakness for cute, well-dressed boys.

Fortunately for me, Johnny returned from his trip (Ojai, CA I believe?) for my last class on Friday morning before I came back to New York. Before I go any farther, I must say, I know that non-judgement is a goal that yoga is supposed to help facilitate. I realize this and am working on it, but let’s just say I’m not quite there yet ūüôā

Truth be told, Johnny teaches a great class. As I mentioned before, the Center for Yoga doesn’t separate standing sequences from the floor portion, instead they integrate everything into a sequence that is built upon from a simple sun salutation. On this particular day everything from half moon, to boat pose, to tripod headstand was a part of the same series. It’s hard, but great because the really allow you to pick and choose what you want to do. Why does no one in New York do this??? Michigan yoga is kicking New York yoga’s ass! In a totally friendly, cosmic karmic way of course.

How can you not love a class that starts out with the Cheers theme song??? Apparently Johnny’s time away sparked a need to come back to a place “where everybody knows your name”. Johnny definitely puts on a bit of a show during class- back in the day there was no bouncing around or random rants during class, he was always a bit subdued and sort of floated around the room making corrections or giving massages here or there. He emits a huge amount of energy, which is great, but makes him the center of attention to an entirely different degree. At some point Johnny tried to quote “either Churchill or Krishna” by citing “war will only end when there are no more slaughterhouses”. I’ve googled and googled and can’t find any such quote- the only think I can think of is maybe some sort of Vonnegut reference. Later he class he went on to say that “the people that work in slaughterhouses need to realize what they are contributing to”, which if you know ANYTHING about the slaughterhouse workforce, is a totally ludicrous thing to say- but I’ll keep my politics on that to myself for today. He also discussed the beauty of how woman can start to be on the same “moon cycle”, which bleeeechhh, some things men just don’t need to comment on. Of course we ended class with another round of the Cheers theme song, however this time we were asked to sing along while holding hands with our neighbor. Nothing like a little bit of crazy before 11am in southeastern Michigan ūüėČ



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I’m in Michigan visiting some family this week and have the treat of taking yoga at the Center for Yoga.¬† I started taking class at this studio when I was 13 years old and have watched the studio evolve over the last 10 years.¬† Michigan wasn’t exactly a hot spot for yoga a decade ago and when this studio first opened it didn’t draw a huge crowd.¬† But once the trend started to spread from New York and Los Angeles, more and more people started to attend.¬† Johnny Kest owns the Center for Yoga, which now has several locations in southeastern Michigan.¬† Johnny has always been a great instructor- but his style and studios have drastically changed throughout the years.¬† Hands down, Johnny teaches the best yoga classes I have ever been to in any city, in any country.

Thus far, I’ve been to 2 classes, one with Jane James who is great and another similar class with a teacher who’s name I don’t know.¬† Johnny’s name was the schedule for both classes, but he didn’t teach- maybe he’s out of town?¬† Regardless of the time of day, vinyasa classes are always packed.¬† They play great music and bring entirely different meaning to “flow”.¬† As the teachers go through basic sun salutations they build on each sequence with several postures until you are left with a long series of asanas.¬† And by long, I mean long- its actually difficult to remember the entire series, which I’m sure is sort of the point.¬† After the instructor leads the class through the series once or twice, they crank the music and let you flow on your own.¬† No one is ever doing the same thing, but it doesn’t matter, this is the beauty of these classes.¬† No consistent practitioner needs to be walked through a pose every class- its often nice to sort of be left alone with your practice.¬† Beginners should start elsewhere- I would imagine that the lack of instruction in these vinyasa classes would be very frustrating.¬† The majority of the hour and a half is spent moving and abs, back bends and inversions all are incorporated in the sequence.¬† It makes the time pass quickly and feels less rigid than a class that breaks down into categories.

However, without going into all of the odd cultural nuances that go on in the suburbs of Detroit, I cannot help but comment on the total INSANITY of the people that go to this studio.¬† The women in these classes have the sickest bodies I have ever seen, anywhere, literally every single person in the class looks amazing.¬† But there is this total weird cult-ish vibe that¬†completely skeeves me out!¬† Johnny Kest has¬†a style- every teacher does.¬† But the teachers at this studio seem to take on the essence of Johnny Kest- they talk like¬†him,¬†use his catch phrases, take on his intonation, dress like him, move like him, crouch like him!!!!¬† It is so bizarre!¬† The majority of people in his classes are well-to-do housewives,¬†but maintain this combination Stepford/hare krishna mentality.¬† The last¬†time I was in Michigan, I¬†managed to squeeze in one of Johnny’s classes where they actually had to fill 2 studios to accommodate everyone who showed¬†up.¬† I have no problem with that, but¬†this guy’s ego was hard to not be hit by- he whoops loud noises for no reason,¬†talks crazy talk…¬†dude, it was an¬†experience.¬† I only hope that he will be in to teach tomorrow morning!


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