SoCal Solstice Celebration

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by Kathryn Budig

I was so excited when Elena Brower, Goddess of yoga, invited me to demo at the maha event--Yoga in Central Park--but once I added up my financial sum for taking off, my numbers were looking dangerously high. Dismayed, but happy to stay off of a plane and knowing all is as it should be, I decided to watch the live stream from the genius boys at Yogaglo.

Soon after, thanks to the my home-away-from-home (aka my Facebook page), I saw that Flavorpill was hosting two simultaneous events. One in Miami and one in Los Angeles with Tara Stiles. I shot Ms. Stiles an email and was RSVPed for some yoga poolside at The Standard hotel--yes, welcome to LA!

I began my day at 4:30am; disgruntled to find that my green tea canister was empty. I chugged two glasses of water and took out my angst in the form of a Facebook update. The Om-tastic New Yorker, Cyndi Lee, comically replied,

"5:30am? -- green tea? -- this is when I realize I don't live in LA. Good luck!"

I chuckled to myself thinking of the contrasts between this day in NYC vs. LA. Green tea, albeit healthy, does sounds a bit wimpy next to the vibrato of a black cup of coffee.

Then I thought of the yoga events.

Ten Thousand yogis gathering in the vast and majestic Great Lawn of Central Park, and where is the Los Angeles equivalent? Clearly, amongst scantily clad poolside peeps at a posh West Hollywood hotel. Hey, you've got to accept a person or place for exactly who or what it is, and Los Angeles--you certainly are pretty.

Everyone was so pretty, in fact, that I wondered if the hotel hired True Blood physique-worthy people to lounge next to their pool to make it look good.

Let's not forget, Tara Stiles--our teacher for the event--is a Ford model. Very apropos. That said, Tara is a good midwestern girl who now resides in New York City with her studio, Strala. Any midwesterner is a friend of mine, and upon meeting Tara in person, I was very pleased to feel her instant geniune warmth, love and goofiness. A true down-to-earth girl.

We strolled gracefully (okay, I lugged my Manduka) past the pool, took off our sunglasses and decided whether we wanted sun or shade. The group of roughly 30 people placed their mats, applied sun block, and the practice began. Tara led us through a well-rounded hour class with sun salutes, lunges, gentle twists, standing poses and time for inversions, backbends and some good hip loving. The initially too-hot sun felt amazing as we opened our hearts to a refreshing rooftop breeze to balance out the heat.

The facade of this event was tres LA, but the heart of the event was pure yoga. There is nothing more powerful than a group of people uniting to breathe with intention, to soak up the sun and learn how to light up from within.

The irony is that the New York version of the solstice celebration of light was rained out. One big OM and a round of salutations was all they squeezed in before the show was shut down due to lightening.

My intital reaction was sympathy for how frustrating that must have been. Then I laughed. Here I was, comparing Angeles to New York all day long.

Green tea verses black coffee. A hip West Hollywood pool verses the vast green of Central Park. Sunglasses verses reading glasses. US magazine verses The New Yorker. Sun verses rain.

What have I learned?

Balance. We are all connected. Rain or shine, we are all yogis unified, coming together to show the world that yoga has the power to heal and change the world. Anyone can do yoga--in the park, at a pool, or even from a computer at home. All it takes is the will and intention to do so, and let me just say--10,000 yogis--that's a pretty sight.

Kathryn Budig is a Los Angeles yoga teacher and writer.
Kathryn is an arm balance rockstar who teaches challenging vinyasa flow classes at Yoga Works.