Samadi Yoga in Westlake Village

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Mahnaz Jahangiri uses yoga to help tune out the busy world.

Samadi Yoga is easy to find…if you know where it is. In an office plaza at the corner of Thousand Oaks Blvd. and Via Colinas, Samadi actually faces the road, but if you’re concentrating too intently on the address, you might drive around a bit before you locate this colorful gem hidden among the gray offices.

Mahnaz Jahangiri, owner of Samadi Yoga, has just expanded her business and opened a second location in Koreatown. Both locations offer a variety of classes, many taught by Jahangiri herself. When I asked to come and try a class that seemed suited to my comfort level, she talked me into trying one of her “hot yoga” classes, which are simply referred to by their levels (I, II, and III) and go through different series of postures. Since I often push the boundaries of my comfort level for this site, I accepted.

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This is not what I look like when I attempt this pose.

Obviously, I survived. I had told Jahangiri that I tried hot yoga a few times before and I didn’t like it, but this class was very different. Yes, it was hot, but the flow of Level I, a 90-minute class, was at a pace that I could handle. In fact, it was rather slow, relative to the yoga I’ve been practicing elsewhere lately. We started with pranayama breathing exercises, and I thought “Piece of cake.” There was a woman in the class who was recovering from a recent surgery, and it was clear that Jahangiri would allow her to modify postures and play along.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult! At times I felt my heart beating as hard as if I was running! (To be fair, that wouldn’t take much, since I hate running so I never do it.) The heat in the room made my body loosen up and I felt my stiffness melting away, but at the same time, this made my ability to keep up even at a slow rate of movement more of a challenge. However, the mindful pace allowed me to focus on each pose, correcting when necessary, and going deeper than usual. I found myself reflecting a lot about other things, but able to bring my mind back to my breath, which I could really feel because of the humidity.

Note to self and you: do not bring a metal water bottle to this class. Also, bring a towel. There is much sweating.

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Mahnaz Jahangiri poster in Samadi Yoga’s lobby

Jahangiri is a gentle and knowledgeable instructor, and she clearly practices what she preaches. There are posters in the lobby outside the studio of a woman striking the most incredible yoga poses: the woman is Jahangiri herself. “I turned to yoga 20 years ago as a way to quiet the noise, unplug the world, and reconnect with myself to find the person that somehow got buried,” she says.

Other students in the class I attended had been coming to Samadi Yoga regularly for a while, and they seemed very happy there. One was a friend I know from my kids’ school; running into people you sort of know happens a lot in the bubble, and I was glad to see her. She was beside herself about Samadi, giving the practice credit for getting her through a divorce and coping with the craziness in her life. In fact, she was practically in tears with gratitude. I can’t think of a better endorsement, besides, perhaps, that this friend’s body is amazingly in shape and strong, too.

Samadi Yoga classes are offered on a drop-in basis with a per-class fee of $20, or you can sign up for several pre-paid levels of access to classes by the month. There is currently a special called Wind Down Wednesdays, in which all classes after 4:00 PM on Wednesdays are offered at $10 per class.

Samadi Yoga
31300 Via Colinas, Unit 101
Westlake Village, CA 91362
(818) 879-1477

From Thousand Oaks Blvd, turn south on Via Colinas and turn right into the first driveway on the right. At the first opportunity, turn right up the hill, drive to the second building and follow the parking lot around to the left. Samadi is in a unit halfway down the building on your left. There is plenty of free parking.

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(Photos courtesy Samadi Yoga)

 

Vintage Grocers Open in Westlake Promenade

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Last weekend the new Vintage Grocers market opened at Westlake Promenade where Bristol Farms used to be. The Grand Opening featured a live band, tastings, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and gift bags for the store’s first 500 shoppers.

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Owner Paige Laurie and market director Eric Fuchser cutting the ribbon at Vintage Grocers Westlake Village

(Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)

This is the latest local new business I’ve gotten to check out and share with you. Market director Eric Fuchser led a group of local media around the store about an hour before it officially opened, and we could tell that there was buzz building because would-be shoppers were trying to enter early!

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(Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)

This is only the second location of Vintage Grocers, the first being at the old Trancas Market site in Malibu. It’s what I like to call “last chance groceries” before heading up to camping at Leo Carillo or Sycamore Canyon, or when we used to accompany my husband when he surfed at County Line. (It’s been a while!) Recently on the way to a camping trip I had to stop at the Malibu store to get peanut butter. And jelly. And bread! What is normally a frugal meal cost way more there, so I was curious to see what prices are like at this new store.

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At first I wasn’t even looking at prices, because the Westlake Vintage Grocers is impressive in its size, spanking brand new-ness, and pretty things to look at every way you turn. There are several fresh food counters including a juice bar, a sushi bar, a hot meal deli and burrito bar, a fresh poke bar, a butcher counter with an impressive spread, an olive bar, a private wine tasting room, and more!

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Private wine-tasting room, with giant TV for watching the game (not shown)

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The market is proud to source their produce, meat, and seafood as locally as possible. In fact, they source many other products from local makers as well, including Malibu honey, bloody mary mix, and even tequila, samples of which were in the most impressive media gift bag I’ve ever received.

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Unbagging this was fun!

But after the sparkles in my eyes wore off, I did peek at some prices to see how they would compare to my normal grocery store visits. A large tub of greek yogurt: $4.79 (at my usual store, $4.99). A 6-pack of Mike’s hard lemonade: $9.99 (at my usual store, same). There are plenty of things that are much more expensive, but I can survive on those two things, at least if I’m stopping in to get some items on my way out of the Promenade after a movie or a browsing session at the book store.

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The addition of Vintage Grocers to the Westlake Promenade seems like a good one for our community. Not only do they provide a great place to stop in and get anything under the sun, but they also employ about 85 people from the surrounding area. The store carries some unique items, and I look forward to going back for lunch or dinner to try their fresh foods.

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Vintage Grocers is celebrating its grand opening all week long with activities that are open to anyone each day:

Tuesday, October 4 – Mommy & Me (11am – 1pm)
Bring your kids for a complimentary Mommy & Me experience.

Wednesday, October 5 – Farmer’s Market (5pm – 7pm)
Meet our local artisans and enjoy demos and tastings around the store.

Thursday, October 6 – Sports Night (5pm – 7pm)
Enjoy craft beer tasting and our Build Your Own Burrito Bar before the big game. Show your team spirit for a discount.

Friday, October 7 – Date Night (5pm – 7pm)
Bring your significant other to the Wine Room to enjoy the oyster bar, desserts, etc.

Saturday, October 8 – Kids’ Carnival (1pm – 4pm)
Bring the little ones for an all-day event featuring face painting, music and prizes.

Vintage Grocers
7:00 AM – 9:00 PM daily
100 Promenade Way
Thousand Oaks CA 91362

Have you been into the new store? What do you think?

Soulcycle Is Here! Calabasas and Westlake

Soulcycle has arrived in The Bubble – two new locations in Calabasas and Westlake Village allow you to “tap it back” and sweat your bottom off.

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Apparently I’ve been under a rock for a very long time, or at least successfully avoiding spin classes at all costs, because when Molly led me into my first Soulcycle class (indeed, my first ever spin class, period), she warned me that it would be “dark and loud,” but that still wasn’t enough to lessen the shock. Since I was late, I entered the class after any chance of being eased into it gently, after the warm-up, and right in the middle of the instructor’s ramp up to full speed. Basically, I was walking into a nightclub at full pulse, but the people were all dancing on stationary bikes, and there was no chance of a cocktail to take the edge off.

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Image courtesy of Soulcycle

The Obsession

Turns out, about a trillion people are completely obsessed with Soulcycle, a specially-designed indoor cycling class set in a candlelit room and led by “rockstar instructors” who shout commands and affirming mantras throughout the 45-minute workout. The music is loud, and mostly full of driving beats to accompany your pounding feet. The first studio opened in New York in 2005, and the craze has grown throughout the country. Once a studio gains a foothold in a community, you have to pounce on the computer or the smartphone app to get a spot in the most popular instructors’ classes. (Apparently at Calabasas it’s Franz, who I am told is just like the name sounds.)

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You can reserve the exact bike you want

I didn’t know about the obsession before I took my first class, which is good because I might have been more intimidated than I already was, considering I’m out of shape (always) and I abhor cardio workouts, preferring nice happy yoga and hiking. But like I’ve said before, I am always up for trying something new, especially when invited by the happiest fitness staff on earth.

Although I plunged into the experience mid-class, I managed to follow along well. Well, just okay, but I didn’t vomit or pass out or fall off the bike, which I consider a win. And you can’t really fall off the bike, because you’re clipped in on special shoes. So I would have just sort of slumped over onto the woman next to me. The bikes are very close together.

The people in this class were all invited to brunch nearby at The Six, a Calabasas restaurant that serves up delicious brunchy salads and flatbreads, even a vegan version of the delectable goat cheese avocado flatbread – both were amazing, as was the company. That’s where I learned about how popular SoulCycle is in general, and how great it’s doing in Calabasas.

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Soulcycle Calabasas’s Alyssa demonstrates how to reserve a bike using the mobile app

The Workout

Next up, I tried out the Westlake Village studio, which is new in the plaza where Le Pain Quotidien, Pitfire Pizza, and CorePower Yoga are (Lots of fitness and food options in that plaza!) at Townsgate and Westlake Boulevard. This location seems a little bigger, but maybe that’s because I got there early for a change, and I was able to check out the place and ease into the experience with my guest Michelle.

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USB charger port inside the free locker!

We were fitted with fancy clippy shoes, led to our bikes (you actually reserve a specific bike), and shown how to clip in and adjust the resistance on the bike. The resistance wheel plays an important role in the class: the instructor will often command you to “add another turn!” and “come on, Westlake, give yourself one more turn!” increasing the difficulty of your pedaling as she urges you to “pump it faster!”

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Locker hallway outside the studio, where you wait for the previous class to end

The bulk of a SoulCycle class goes on much in this way, and a lot of it is in the dark, until the music builds to a crescendo and the lights flash and illuminate some of the room, especially the instructor so you can see what she is doing. You’re either standing up pumping the pedals as hard as you can, or sitting in the seat and doing pushups on the handlebars, or pumping little hand weights along to the music. Cool down stretches are done right there on the bike, too.

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Image courtesy of Soulcycle

The Verdict

Bottom line: I loved it. Have you ever heard me say that about cardio workouts? (Spoiler: no, no you haven’t.) Despite the fact that my heart was pounding and my face was bright red (but nobody could see me so who cares?), I enjoyed the music, the life-affirming script, the fact that I was actually able to pump it for like 5 seconds at a time before giving up and resting in the seat instead of barfing (but I couldn’t actually tap it back yet, because my back is still healing from a recent tweaking).

I was able to keep up, but with lots of resting, and I learned something I will share with you: if you’re totally pumping the pedals and you need to stop, it’s NOT like riding a street bike where you can just coast. If you stop, your feet will keep going with the bike because your shoes are clipped in! So you have to slow down gradually.

After each class, I was pumped up. Yes, I got sore, especially where I sit on the bike seat, because it’s been a while since I regularly biked. But it was good sore otherwise.

The Community

If you’re the kind of person who’s always looking for a new workout, I recommend trying SoulCycle. One great side-effect of the weird obsession people get about it is the sense of community.

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The rules

I guess it’s the way I imagine CrossFit and other branded exercise phenomena to be: full of people who are obsessed with their workout because it makes them feel so good and gives them a sense of accomplishment. At my first class I ran into my friend Julee, and I didn’t realize she was in the class because it was dark. She was so excited to tell me all about her love of the spin studio because she finds great joy in riding. If that’s what SoulCycle can give you, why not join that community?

SoulCycle Calabasas
23500 Park Sorrento
Calabasas, CA 91302
Parking is underground around the back of the building – just keep right. Yes, it’s really there.

SoulCycle Westlake Village
966 S. Westlake Blvd.
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Enter from Townsgate as if you’re going to Le Pain Quotidien. It’s on the right near Pitfire.

First class is $20 and includes shoes, after that they’re $30 each plus $3 for shoe rental. Discounts apply to bulk class packages. Once you buy a class, you can reserve your bike.

I attended the classes as a guest of SoulCycle – all opinions are my own.