Why I Love Teaching at California Yoga Center

Over the weekend someone asked me the name of the studio where I teach.

California Yoga Center,” I said with a smile.

“Huh,” he sniffed.  “I walk by there all the time and it’s always empty.”

I confess. Un-yogic thoughts overwhelmed me. I admit to being, from time to time, overly sensitive.  Perhaps even a bit defensive. But what I interpreted as a flippant dismissal stunned me and I missed my opportunity to reply with a witty retort as the conversation quickly moved on to other topics.

But his comment has buzzed around me like the nagging mosquito that finds your ear just after you crawl into bed.  And boy is it annoying.

I teach at California Yoga Center.  And I’m proud of the fact.  And here’s why:

  • California Yoga Center opened in 1980, making it not only the first yoga studio in Palo Alto but also one of the oldest studios in the Bay Area.  It now has two locations – the original studio at 541 Cowper Street in Palo Alto and the new studio in Mountain View at 1776 Miramonte Drive, in the Blossom Hill Shopping Center.
  • I attended my very first yoga class, with teacher Betsy McGuigan, at California Yoga Center in 1984.  When I returned to Palo Alto in 2005 after an eleven-year absence one of the first places I visited was the California Yoga Center.
  • We’re plain folk at CYC.  It’s about the yoga, pure and simple.  Plain wooden floors that have a distinctive squeak.  Plain and patched walls.  No giant Buddha or tented ceiling. No fancy retail area.  The most exciting indulgences are the dozen or so 8×10 framed black and white photographs of Mr. Iyengar hung above the mirrored wall at the Palo Alto studio.
  • While its focus remains on offering classes in the Iyengar tradition, CYC has mellowed somewhat over the years.  You’ll now find my Yin class on Monday evenings in Palo Alto.  Another instructor offers Anusara.  Plus, weekend workshops offered throughout the year at both locations help deepen your practice.
  • On top of that, CYC Mountain View is one of the few yoga studios on the Peninsula with a dedicated rope wall to offer support or facilitate stronger work.

Yes, I teach at California Yoga Center. My classes are filled with happy yoginis.  Of course, from time to time I teach at other local studios – Studio Rincon in Menlo Park comes to mind, as does the Page Mill YMCA – and while I embrace every opportunity to teach, CYC is my yoga home and I can’t imagine leaving.

So if my friend walked by CYC’s window and found the studio empty, he was walking by at the wrong time.

If you’re a teacher or a student at California Yoga Center, tell me, what makes it special for you?

4 thoughts on “Why I Love Teaching at California Yoga Center

  1. From Ann via email: I don’t know how to post to your blog but wrote something…

    The yoga scene has shifted since I began as a student and then as a teacher some 20 years ago. Some is good: The experience of yoga is more broadly based geographically, and stylistically bringing more good to more people. But what is disturbing is the move towards commercialism, competition and lack of depth.

    So why do I like teaching at CYC? I know we are clear in our intention: to offer yoga in the Iyengar tradition in a safe and welcoming environment that respects the common source of light, peace and love in all living beings. We have teachers who are dedicated to teaching and their own practice of yoga. And we have amazing students who are curious and inspiring in their love of yoga.

    By the way, Yoga Center of Palo Alto was my first yoga home as a student. California Yoga Center–first on Cambridge, then our 2 Mountain View homes plus Palo Alto–has been my teaching home for over 14 years.


    • Thanks Ann, for your heartfelt comment. So many of us who teach there began our study at the Yoga Center of Palo Alto!


  2. Sarah Cane

    I’ve been a student there for nearly 20 years, and it’s home for me, too. I remember when hot yoga became the craze around town; Larry and Karl talked about renaming the studio Not So Hot Yoga, which still makes me smile. This is unglamorous, ongoing, anchored in your daily life yoga. Yoga beyond poses- there I have learned about breathing, meditation, persistence, conquering fear, patience, consciousness, anatomy, alignment, self-care and love. The studio has supported my health- physical and spiritual- consistently since I first walked in the door.


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