By Mira Reverente
The class of 18 students at Samadi Yoga in Westlake Village dutifully followed the instructions of owner/instructor Mahnaz Jahangiri. “Let’s begin with Pranayama or a breathing exercise,” she said, gently, as the students placed the knuckles of their interlaced fingers under their chins and executed a long inhale.
Jahangiri, lean and lithe like a true yogini, demonstrated various poses and breathing exercises during the 60-minute hip/core class. She began practicing Bikram yoga which combines a heated studio with breathing and physical postures, 20 years ago under founder Bikram Choudhury himself.
In January of 2014, Jahangiri changed the name of the studio from Bikram Yoga Westlake Village to Samadi Yoga to offer a more diverse line-up of classes. “Now, aside from hip/core classes, we have beginner yoga, family yoga and Vinyasa,” she said.
Health benefits from doing hot yoga have been documented, according to Jahangiri. Aside from stress management and better posture, some also find the practice restful. “I was a bit apprehensive about the heat when I started,” said Cindy Wagner of Westlake. “Then I started enjoying it; I find it relaxing now.” Now, yoga is Wagner’s primary form of exercise, having traded in her tennis racket for a yoga mat.
“The first couple of times were unbearable.” said Michael Simshauser, one of the few males in the class, of his foray into hot yoga three months ago. Simshauser decided to give it a try to complement his CrossFit training and upon the urging of a colleague. “I’m glad I did,” said the Malibu resident. “It has helped with my flexibility and has reduced some of my joint pain.”
With the yoga room heated to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity, sweating was inevitable, but the heat did not seem to bother some, like Liz Chapdelaine who has been coming to the classes for over a year. “I found the studio before I found a job and a place to stay,” said the recent Thousand Oaks transplant. “Everything just fell into place after that … I managed my stress better, I’m more centered, my posture has improved and I swear I’ve grown half an inch!”
Jahangiri herself is on the mat several times a week, keeping busy teaching both beginner and advanced classes. Eight instructors are also on staff. She also ensures that the instructors stay on top of trends and take continuing education classes. “I’m big on teacher training,” she said. “I want them to constantly evolve and learn new and safe techniques, and eventually pass them on to our students.”
From August 22 to 24, renowned author, orthopedic surgeon and long-time yogi Ray Long will be on-site for a multi-media “Anatomic Yoga Seminar” to showcase modern Western science and how it relates to Hatha Yoga. Jahangiri would also like to tailor-fit more classes to athletes, seniors and other groups with varying needs. “I would like to go out there, find out what other groups need and educate them on how yoga can benefit them,” she said.
Samadi Yoga also sets itself apart from the competition with its more passionate approach to the practice of yoga. “When you have genuine passion for something, I think people can see that and are drawn to it,” she said.
With a slight bow and hands pressed together, we say, “Namaste.”
Samadi Yoga is located at 31300 Via Colinas, suite 101, in Westake Village.