Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laughing Dog, Kripalu and Baptiste-A Few Other Places to Yoga it Out

Each time I enter the Down Under Yoga studio in Newton, I begin to breathe more slowly. I leave inspired, stronger and calmer.  But because I can't always swing a 20 minute drive to class nor fit the class times into my schedule, there are a few other studios that I enjoy.  One of the best parts of yoga is that  most studios encourage drop ins.  Yup-yoga is both commitment free (and even requires few accessories!)

Laughing Dog Yoga in Wellesley-I have yet to figure out why there is such a gap in the types of yoga offered in the Wayland/Weston/Wellesley/ Natick/Framingham area. There are many, many studios offering hot yoga, as well as extremely mellow hatha yoga. But Laughing Dog is the only studio I have found that offers a range of vinyasa and anasura without having to trek into Newton or Cambridge. The Saturday morning class with Marissa is excellent for her attention to detail in the poses. Jennifer, the owner of the studio offers teaches a number of classes that challenge the mind and body.  Laughing Dog also has a classes for teens.

Baron Baptiste Studio in Cambridge and Brookline-There are times I just need to SWEAT. And Baptiste does it. The studios are hot. And the whole concept is based on the same intensive, power yoga style set of core poses.  I am not a fan of the commercial feeling that comes along with this well publicized studio. However, the best part is that the studios are so popular that they literally have classes throughout the day.  I began my yoga journey at a Baptiste studio and still go every few months or so.

Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires-You can read about the peaceful and beautiful setting, as well as the delicious food and inspiring yoga classes here and here.   If I could afford it, I would commit to the month long teacher training programs here. Someday...perhaps.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Totto Ramen: Another Reason to Head to NYC

Is a four hour train ride really too long a trip to get an incredible bowl of ramen?  Not yet, or at least not until we have ramen in Boston that is as fabulous as what can be found in New York.   I have fond memories of my meal at Ippudo Ramen.  But after a visit to the MOMA and before getting on a train at Penn Station, I was thrilled to realize that another of New York's best was nearby: Totto Ramen. And, luckier still, it was the first day the restaurant opened at 4:00 on Sundays.

So, here is the thing, apparently the lines at Tutto can get long. As in one and a half hours long. But on that day, I was third in line for their little 12 seat restaurant.  I was helped along by a regular who told me I had to try the house speciality: chicken paitan ramen. The broth was so rich, so delicious, so wonderful that, yes, I could have lapped it up.  The smokey slices of char sui pork belly were so good that I had to get extra slices to drape on top. The chewy egg noodles wrapped their way through the broth and made for a perfect meal.

Totto Ramen, 366 West 52 Street, New York, NY; 212-258-0052

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Down Under Yoga in Newton: Inspiration, Talent and Joy

Each week I try to convince myself that I can just practice yoga at home. I have a computer, mat, block-what else would I need?  Then I attend my weekly class at the Down Under Yoga studio in Newtonville. And between the teacher and the class energy I realize that nothing surpasses the joy of a wonderful class. In fact, there isn't much I don't love about Down Under (and no, I only wish I was getting free classes to say that!)  There are no items for sale. There is no clutter. Instead the entire studio was designed with yoga as a core belief. So the main studio has towers of bamboo at both ends, soft lighting, safe green flooring...and that is all.  Each teacher is clearly a master, who practices yoga frequently. In fact, I often see one of my teachers attending a class at the studio.  I have taken classes with about 8 teachers and have yet to not be impressed by their knowledge and talent.  The teachers also include many nationally renowned teachers that offer periodic workshops.  The studio offers many Vinyasa (flow) and Iyengar style classes, as well as heated flow, restorative and even yoga for children. The studio is so popular that I can almost always find a time to get a class in.  Ironically, I had walked by the small sign hundreds of times. But I simply didn't realize that below ground lay a place like this.

As for my favorite teachers, to attend one of Jo's classes means to get the joy of her calm affect, her beautiful voice (she sings!) and her ability to make even the  more challenging poses doable.

Chanal teaches the Yin Yang yoga class. For 45 minutes or so, you work your body hard in a heated flow style.  Then, in the second 45 there is the chance to cool down, to slow down, to be present. I'll confess: I spend a good part of the second half designing my post-yoga meal!  But the Chantal's meditations during the second half often help to bring me back to the mat and the purpose in being present.

Amy's classes encompass all I love: challenge, endurance, therapy, relaxation.  She is a dedicated yoga teacher who brings a completely new routine each week.  Her words guide us through each asana, while she interweaves meditations to ponder.

Angelina's classes are the most challenging I have done at the studio. They have also helped me to finally understand pilates and the incredible post-strength- training endorphin rush that can accompany a great class.

Down Under also offers classes for kids and teens.

Look, I know that everyone isn't a believer in yoga. But try it. And try it here. Then let me know what you think.

Down Under Yoga, 304 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA

Friday, May 11, 2012

Palettes in Natick: Paint, Drink, Connect, RELAX

Blogging has taken a back seat to life. And life has been full of yoga, painting classes at the Danforth Museum, time with my sons, designing and decorating the nonexistent house that I would love to own.  An invitation from Charlene to meet other bloggers at Palettes in Natick offered a great chance to have a drink, to paint and check out a local new business. And the evening was so lovely that I will return soon to Palettes with friends to paint some more (or at least attempt to do so!)
At Palettes, a group of non-artists went from blank canvases, to flowers in fields.  Ben, the in-house artist/teacher of the night helped us to laugh, to learn the filbert from the flat brush and to flip our paintings upside down to illustrate grass.  And, as you can see from the images at the top of the post we had a wonderful time putting our own spin on the "sunflowers in the field."  In fact, all 3 owners of Palettes are local artists.  Steve and Liza spent the night with us and shared how they transformed their passion for art into the store.
Ben was also the creator behind my favorite drink: The Dexter: a refreshing blend of fresh basil, blueberries, agave, Citron and club soda.  And, I have to say that combining a bar with a chance to paint is genius (and very, very fun!)
Palettes was generous enough to let us try samples of the treats that are made daily.  We ate grapes covered in goat cheese and pistachios, spinach salad with strawberries and a noodle salad topped with sesame seeds.

I dropped blue paint smack in my drink and was treated to a perfect replacement: Frangelico, Baileys and Kahlua.  I also loved the chance to catch up with Sharon, Sharon and Cindy.  And Liza made a great point-often when we go out with friends and family, we end up staring side by side at a movie screen. Meeting at Palettes means the chance to really enjoy another, while creating something that can then be hung on the wall.
Since my sons and I love to paint and sketch together, I am very excited to take them to family time on Sundays from 1:30 to 4.  But I also hope to return on my own to either open art or Palettes evening events where, for $35 I can spend 3 more hours learning to paint another painting. With my busy life right now, the chance to fit an art class in as I can is very appealing.

Palettes is located at 29 Main Street, right in Natick Center. Their website is a fabulous resource for learning more about this great place.