The most gorgeous teachers of my experience in Venice had to be Erich Schiffmann, Jason Frahm and Hala Khouri who all taught at Exhale. Erich Schiffmann taught me more than words can express in terms of meditation and about life in general. I am so very grateful to him and for being introduced to him by Rivkah. Every time I entered his class, which was at every available opportunity, I felt as though I was entering an incredibly sacred space. The energy he exuded was extremely grounding, so that the meditations became the easiest I had ever done. I loved his phrase which reverberates in my head as I continue my own meditations back in London, ‘get into it, relaaaaaaaaax…make yourself busy with relaxing in a leisurely way’. You can hear his wonderful voice on his website www.erichschiffmann.com . I cannot recommend him enough, every single class he gave me exactly what I was looking for, but didn't know I even needed. Helping me look into my heart and really carve out my heart’s path was definitely the challenge of the trip. Without doubt Erich has a gift for helping one achieve this, helping one come back to one’s self. In fact, I am so enamoured with Erich’s teachings that I have signed up for his immersion in September at Exhale, so I will be hitting the sunshine of Venice once more.
The other two teachers I really enjoyed and hope to experience more of in the future are Jason Frahm and Hala Khouri. Jason (www.jasoncfrahm.com) taught these really amazing classes filled with this very spiritual Earth energy. The class was quite slow and sensual, so that you could feel the energy as it moved around you. The whole atmosphere was made very soft, but at the same time sensual in a masculine way with the deep beats of the music. Again, Jason like Erich helped form a really juicy practise that was the perfect basis for the meditation that came at the end of the class. Jason is a wonderful healer and also runs the atonement project. Hala’s classes were really lovely and focused a lot on alignment, which I really appreciated. Even though it didn’t always seem that way, her classes managed to surprise you with what they brought up on the emotional front. Hala has made some beautiful DVDs as well, which you can check out on her website www.halakhouri.com .
The other amazing studio and teacher we experienced when we were in Santa Monica was the Bhakti Yoga Shala set up and run by Govind Das. It is a donation run studio with a very real and authentic charm deeply imbued in the Bhakti of Yoga with a deep foundation in the Hindu philosophy and chanting as part of the Yoga. I really enjoyed how Govind Das included a lot of these elements into his classes, which were strong and sweaty. I spent many evenings wobbling out of the class dripping, but having finished on a truly joyful note with a crescendo in the chanting. Rivkah introduced me to Govind Das, as she is one of his students from years ago. I really forgot how much I loved the chanting practise of the Yoga, it is something I would love to explore a little more in the future. I hope very much to bring more elements of this back to London next year when I hope to partake in the teacher training offered by the Bhakti Yoga Shala in January next year. www.bhaktiyogashala.com
I almost forgot to mention, as I only got to experience him in the last few days of my trip, but Matthew Coen of Sacred Energy Arts was an incredible teacher and body worker. I was privileged to experience the most intense and intuitive body treatment I have had for a really long time. Matthew picked up on things that really hit home and gave me some energy exercises to carry out on a daily basis, which I have found very effective. Matthew is a Master of Chi Gong as well, which he integrates into his Yoga classes giving you again an amazing energetic experience, whilst seriously challenging you on every level. I am very happy to say that he will be visiting the UK around April next year. www.sacredenergyarts.com
My final night in California came all too quickly after just over two weeks there. I spent this time at the Bhakti Yoga Shala which was hosting a beautiful Kirtan night with Saul David Ray (Govind Das’ teacher) in aid of the charity www.sharenecessities.com which was set up by someone who was previously homeless. I was truly, truly humbled when I heard the founder’s story of how he set up this worthwhile charity that delivers things like socks and underwear to the homeless of Venice and Santa Monica. For those of you who have not been there, Santa Monica and especially Venice has quite a high number of homeless, largely living by the beach. We were told of how the charity regularly delivers these staple goods to around 400 people. After hearing all about this beautiful charity, what made it even more poignant, is how we were then asked to place all our intention and energies into this charity as we sang. I cannot express the joyful and positive energy that was generated as a result of this.
The kirtan at the Bhakti Yoga Shala below