I spend a lot of time in Santa Cruz, CA since it’s my hometown and I still have family and friends living there. But because of that I often spend my time jumping from visit to visit trying to squeeze in all the people I have to check off my list. While I love getting to see my loved ones, I rarely get to spend a whole weekend just for me. So last weekend I headed up by myself, left the husband and the pups at home, and put together an action packed agenda filled with my favorite yoga classes as well as a couple new ones. And then I thought, who better to share my weekend with that you, the reader. There is just so much amazing yoga in Santa Cruz, I thought I would share a little recap of the last few days. Next time you’re in that area, make sure to get at least one of these classes in during your stay! PSA: Please forgive the less than perfect photography taken using my cell phone #travellingyogiproblems
I headed up the coast at about 5:45am so I could stop at the Lululemon outlet in Gilroy on the way up – a guilty pleasure indeed. I made it out of there in just enough time meet my sister at Divinitree so that I could take class from one of my favorite teachers, Katie Jacobson. She teaches a Hatha Flow class on Friday afternoons that I’ve taken a few times that is always just glorious. Katie just has such a peaceful presence that brings a beautiful light into the room right away. And she has some beautiful cues. She approached this class with an Ayurvedic perspective and chose to focus this week’s class on balancing out the dominant kapha energy that is brought about in rainy weather. Indeed her flow helped me to break through a lot of internal stickiness, leaving me refreshed and light. What a beautiful soul!
Afterwards, we walked over to Charlie Hong Kong’s (you may remember them from this post) to grab some post yoga fuel. I got green curry prawns over steamed veggies, and it was perfection. Then, after a nice hot shower and a little down time, I met my sister and mom for dinner at Ristorante Avanti, which is, hands down, my favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz. I had the duck which was served with a pomegranate glaze and these incredible beet croquette type things. I won’t blame you if you’re jealous.
I knew I had a packed day ahead of me, with the Pono Ola photo shoot, so I figured it would be smart to kick off my day with a yoga class to help loosen me up and get inspired. So I started my Saturday with the level 1/2 Vinyasa class lead my Mark Stephens. Since I did my yoga teacher training with Mark back in 2014, his classes always hold a certain nostalgia for me. He offers incredibly precise and useful cues, so every time I go I come away with more detail to bring into my own classes. His cadence is swift, and alignment cues are abundant. If you listen closely you may come across a cue that will transform your practice. One of my favorite Mark-isms : “Keep moving towards the ‘Aha!’ but back off when you reach the ‘uh, uh…'” In other words, work to find the breakthrough moments, but, then keep listening to your body and be careful of pushing too far.
After refueling with a nice big lunch I headed up the coast to do a photo shoot with Pono Ola, this incredible husband and wife team, and creators of the Pono Ola Balance Board. It was 50 degrees, with solid ocean breeze, and I was f-f-freezing when I showed up. But as soon as I actually got on the balance board to start flowing, I warmed right up. It was a total blast and I am super excited to get the photos and share this amazing product with you all. Keep your eyes peeled – I’ll have a recap of the shoot coming to the blog soon.
As soon as the shoot was over, I headed back to Santa Cruz Yoga to take Yin class with the amazing Shannon McQuaide. My mom has been taking her class for a few months, and I thought it would be a great way to decompress after a long day of yoga and changing climates. I came in bundled up, still trying to re-warm my body after spending 2 and a half hours out on the cliffs North of Santa Cruz. Shannon greeted everyone with genuine joy and welcoming, bringing immediate warmth to my soul, just as the warm studio thawed my body. Her cues were gentle, yet clear, and sequenced perfectly to allow each student to sink deeper. This class was the perfect counterbalance to all the yang practice that had filled my day, and allowed me to take a lovingly deep look inside of myself.
By the time I got out of class, I was ready to refuel, aka starving. So we headed to Assembly, in downtown Santa Cruz, for dinner. Short ribs with spaetzle brussel sprouts paired with a glass or two of bubbly for me to top off a truly amazing day. As always the food and service were stellar.
I was anticipating feeling super sore and exhausted on Sunday morning, but instead I woke up ready to move, so I took my mom and sister with me to a Vinyasa 1/2 class led by Michelle Naklowycz. I had taken class from her once before when she was subbing for Mark Stephens, and remember that she just had a very fresh clean practice, so I thought it would be a great way to close out the weekend. Her class was packed, mat to mat, one of my favorite things! She effortlessly led a room full of ~50 yogis with clear concise cues, keeping a steady pace as we flowed through creative, yet intelligent sequencing. I found myself pushing further than I thought I could as I shifted into that glorious yoga trance. She reminded us throughout the class not to let anything get in the way of our practice, “not even if your neighbor’s pranayama gets a little crazy” which almost couldn’t have been planned better since someones Jaws ringtone went off right at the beginning of savasana. But I don’t think it phased any of us and we all came out of savasana drenched in sweat and filled with a sense of accomplishment.
I popped over to Kelly’s French Bakery to grab a green smoothie and, yes, a cream puff, to boost my blood sugar after class. If you could have seen the sweat puddle on my mat, you’d know that I earned this.
I then headed out to Aptos to meet some friends for lunch at Seascape Resort. Anyone who’s ever been to Aptos before will know what a rare occasion it is to see the sun shining, so I was thrilled to have a clear view of the ocean. I couldn’t help but to take a #stopdropandyoga photo on the cliffs.