All Posts from January, 2010

Pradeep is true to his name: DEEP!

January 29th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

After returning from India, it is hard to express the deep comfort I felt at hearing the accent in Pradeep’s voice, Thursday evening’s teacher at Bernal. As Pradeep mentioned in class last night, a class where at moments my entire shirt was wet and drips of sweat were trickling off my chin, he is from a small town in India, near New Delhi, and he now lives in what he considers to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. “I have nothing to lose…”

And neither do we. In fact, Pradeep’s class is full of gain: strength, stamina, belief in ourselves and a desire to really “live”, as he invites us to do again and again. I had heard this class was going to be hard and Pradeep seems to understand his legacy as well. On the surface, it seemed all so doable and for a moment I thought to myself, “this isn’t too challenging!”. And then we held ourselves in forearm plank for 30 seconds. It doesn’t sound like long, but you try and do it at home. Fifteen seconds in, your mind starts thinking, ok this is it, I am done for. Pradeep knows that and he encourages us. “Be here” he says, “focus”, “breathe” and “if it’s not challenging then what is it worth”.

Pradeep is inviting us to do is step into those places that are hard and stay with them, really stay there so that we can move through them and get to the other side. And we do.

The asanas in the class are not fancy or complicated—flowing vinyasas constantly being guided by breath, warrior poses, triangle, back bends and more. But somehow, with one twist here, one arm down there, something shifts. And all the while, Pradeep moves through the room with a comforting assuredness, one born from decades of practice. Pradeep comes from a long lineage of yoga practitioners and it seems to be in his blood. He encourages us to smile as we move, and that smiling and breathing is just as much part of yoga as anything else is. He also makes sure to let us know that what we put in is what we get out, of everything, of yoga, of life. So why stop. Every breath is a new chance to really live, so let’s LIVE!

I will definitely become a regular to Pradeep’s class. He has a unique combination of rigorous movement, joy and natural insight. There’s also something about taking yoga from a teacher that comes from India. It might seem silly but I love how much history he brings with him to class, and his enthusiasm and belief in yoga, and in life, is infectious. He shook me out of wishing I was somewhere else (common after vacation!) to being so thankful with exactly where I am. What a precious offering.

Get your sweat on!

January 27th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Woo hoo! I did not know what to expect when I walked into class with Thomas Murphy. Had I read his bio, maybe the energy and vitality of the class would not have come as a surprise. One of six children, Murphy played sports throughout his entire childhood. He has received not one, but two certificates in teacher training, and he is a practicing intellectual property attorney. His yoga class is brilliant to boot! What an accomplished person!

If you want a strong workout that is filled with a playful energy amongst regular visitors to the class, then Thomas’ 6 p.m. Tuesday class is one to checkout. He expects a lot out of his students but he certainly gives a lot back. People love his class, and they come back again and again. This offers a chance to build up to positions. Like this one: we did something in this class that I had never done before—vinyasas while holding tree pose (plank in tree pose, chatarunga in tree pose, upward facing dog in tree pose, downward facing dog in tree pose). A challenge no doubt but an exciting variation on a traditional and fundamental sequence. We also did a lot of balancing poses, a challenge for me. One of these was to place our hands in a sort of web like position, with our pinky on our knee, our thumb on our nose, bent over. What a pose! Another great one was reverse triangle which seriously stretches your butt muscles, ones that seem so out of use when sitting in a chair all day long. I was sweating completely, from head to toe, and it felt so good.

Before hitting shivasana, Thomas asked us to move our head from side to side and then asked us to push our head back while pushing out our under bite. It offered a deep stretch and something you can just do while walking, sitting or day dreaming. It may look a little odd but this is San Francisco!

After class, one of the students was raving about Thomas. “He’s so funny”, she was saying, and I could see why. While the class is a rigorous one, Thomas never seems to take himself too seriously. He’s having fun, and so are we.

Yoga for Haiti

January 23rd, 2010 | By Shelley Eades in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Just before noon on Martin Luther King Day, students trickled into the studio wielding yoga mats and donations. By the time class started, the room was bursting at the seams with folks who showed up to support relief efforts in Haiti. The lovely Debbie Steingesser taught a vibrant yoga class to the rhythmic drumming of musician Marla Leigh. Practicing with us was our special guest, Jennifer Pantaléon who runs Zanmi Lakay, a local non-profit dedicated to helping homeless and formally homeless children in Haiti. With an unwavering devotion, Jennifer has traveled there for years to work with street children, along with her Haitian husband Guy. At the end of Debbie’s heart warming class, Jen shared stories that were coming to her and Guy via Haitian friends and family in the aftermath of the earthquake. As she spoke, eyes began tear up and the collective warmth of our community was palpable. It’s a good thing to come together and support people who need us. We helped raise over $1000 for Haiti that day which Zanmi Lakay will put directly to use helping Haitians in distress. Jen & Guy make there way to Haiti on Monday, January 25th, through the Dominican Republic. Your donations continue to come in and I know that this financial support will be used wisely and earnestly for people who desperately need it. Thank you to all who participated!  If you would like to follow Zanmi Lakay’s endeavors in Haiti, visit their blog: Donations to Zanmi Lakay can be made online via their website:

Just as good as it is in India!

January 22nd, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Happy 2010 Bernal Blog readers! It’s exciting to be bringing you news again from this studio given how wonderful it is…Having just gotten back from a trip to India, I have returned with a renewed excitement knowing Bernal offers yoga classes that are just as brilliant as those you can find in the birthplace of the practice. How fortuitous that we can take classes here…

On Monday morning, KT Steadman asked newcomer Heather Stewart to take over her class for that morning. Heather’s style pleasantly reminded me of Bill Wyland’s classes: She created a peaceful and concentrated space, quietly and confidently leading us through asanas and sticking strictly to movement, replete with vinyasas. It had been some time since I had done so many chatarungas and I surely needed the practice. Heather would gently come over and adjust as needed, a slight opening here, a small twist there, allowing for our poses to reach their potential, or our potential for the day.

In India, I did take a class, and in that class, we were straightforwardly led through asanas but there is a certain talent in being both straightforward and refined while being warm and inviting. Heather has that talent and we, as Bernal Yoga attendees, can experience that every Friday morning. She will be a regular in those early morning hours, and for good reason. She, like all the teachers at Bernal, is brilliant.

As for KT Steadman, I missed her while I was away. She has that effect. Coming into her class on Wednesday morning, I was reminded of how much she makes a point of meeting each person in the class, and remembering their names such that students seem like friends, and are. She gave me a warm welcome when I came, as she has to many students who have gone away for some time. She fosters that deep sense of community and connection that is one of Bernal’s bedrocks. KT was full of wonderful insights that rainy morning as the drops danced on the skylight of the studio. One of which was that “our practice is like a beacon of light”, a process of “self looking, self feeling, self responsibility.” As she suggests, it offers this unique and wonderful opportunity to see our strengths, our limitations, our “kiki” (which means both crisis and opportunity) and to shift those. Yoga is the practice that allows for that change.

The other thing KT shared was a quote by BKS Iyengar which says, “the present is the perfect asana.” If we can remember that whenever we are in the present, and aware of what that moment offers, we are practicing yoga. What a gift!