The trip to LA for Elise Miller’s three-day yoga and scoliosis workshop, Part One.

The trip to LA for Elise Miller’s three-day yoga and scoliosis workshop, Part One.

Forget that line in my last story about “hurtling down the noisy freeway at 70 mph.” Even though we left Ojai for L.A. at around noon on Friday, we were soon stuck on a five-lane freeway where, if there’s an accident or if a car breaks down or runs out of gas, there’s no place to go. The river of traffic simply comes to a halt, and everyone wonders why, with all our engineering ingenuity, there’s no room on the side of the road for emergencies.

Fortunately, the friend who was driving is traffic-savvy. He assured us that this, too, would pass. And, since we had plenty of time before the yoga workshop was scheduled to start, we stopped in Venice. That’s when Olivia Klein (my niece with scoliosis) and I really started to feel we were on vacation! We lunched at a packed, enormously popular buffet-style restaurant called Lemonade, which, at first glance, seemed populated by every ethnic group and nationality on the planet—the feature of larger cities that I most enjoy.

The yummy international selection was almost overwhelming. I selected three vegan dishes (items are conveniently identified as “vegan,” “vegetarian,” “gluten-free,” etc.) and one of their signature seasonal lemonades—cucumber watermelon.

I love my Ojai tribe, but it was enormously freeing to sit where no one knew us, surrounded by people of every color and life philosophy. I absorbed my new surroundings, and the sounds of a hundred conversations.

When we finished eating, Olivia was so stuffed with macaroni that she couldn’t move, so we sat and watched the nonstop fashion parade, and Olivia taught me how to use her iPhone. (The main thing is to slide your finger across the screen with a very light touch.)

Back in the car, a woman named Siri guided us to the Marriott Courtyard. (Don’t laugh, this was my first experience with GPS. My big fear in life is getting lost . . . I must get this!) The hotel is located in a nice neighborhood, across from the California Highway Patrol and a lovely green mortuary, so we could anticipate a safe morning walk. We checked in, and the elevator lifted us to the 7th floor. Olivia opened the heavy door with the key card, we settled in, and, since it was still early, I had a chance to stretch back over the enormous king-size bed in a supported backbend.

And then it was time to head over to the Iyengar Yoga Center of Los Angeles. Again, Suri directed our every turn.

Back in the 1970s, the first wave of Iyengar Yoga workshops were hosted in private homes or multipurpose classrooms. I still remember waking up in the guest room of one of the L.A. host teachers, my body so sore from the previous day of vigorous Standing Poses that I would practically crawl to the heated swimming pool and try to work out the stiffness (lactic acid in my muscles) before the next class.

Over the years, the Institute has grown and moved to its current location, in a shopping mall above a Smart & Final, at 1835 S. La Cienega, Suite 240. The way we found it was that I spotted a tall young woman crossing the parking lot carrying a yoga mat. “Are you going to the yoga and scoliosis workshop?” I asked. When she said that she was, we followed her past Babies R Us, Toys R Us, 24-Hour Fitness . . . up several flights of wide concrete stairs that looked to my eyes like we were headed for a train station, and past all kinds of medical suites. It was a good thing I wasn’t alone, or I’d surely have gotten lost.

When we opened the doors to the Institute, we completely forgot that we were in a chain store shopping mall. It’s a beautiful, professional yoga oasis that welcomes a wide segment of the population. I breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a long journey—one that actually began in May—and, thanks to the support of family and friends, Olivia and I now entered the spacious yoga room, gathered our mat and blankets, and joined the class . . .

(To be continued—time now to get ready for my Monday morning class.)

Photo Credit: Olivia Klein (taken while we were waiting for our ride to the workshop)

Note: Photos of the yoga and scoliosis workshop with Elise Miller to come.

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