1. Yoga 2.0 Interview/Article in Arroyo/Pasadena Weekly

    The awesome Samantha Bonar interviewed me for an article for Arroyo Magazine/Pasadena Weekly about the hybridization and blending of yoga with other practices, such as Pilates, Spinning, rock music, and such. I think it’s all good. Whatever practice that brings you to the mat that will allow you to have a deeper and expansive experience of yourself is great. Every moment, breath, movement and pose offers an opening, expansion and healing. Check it out!

    Namaste. Sat Nam.
    ________________________________

    http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/yoga_2_0/12719/

    Yoga 2.0
    Get your cobra pose on with second-generation yoga classes that incorporate dance, spinning, rock ’n’ roll or simply Mother Nature.

    By Samantha Bonar
    01/03/2014

    Should yoga rock? Should it spin? Should it dance? Should there be walking with your warrior one and dumbbells with your downward dog?

    According to a slew of nontraditional yoga classes and studios sprouting up around Arroyoland, the answer is a resounding yes. The reaction of traditional yogis who typically revere the spiritual benefits? It may surprise you. “I say whatever the motivation, if it brings them to the mat so that they can have a deeper experience of themselves, that’s the perfect introduction for that person,” says Pete Lee, who teaches kundalini yoga, a Sikh-based tradition.

    Indeed, YogaWorks Pasadena touts its cardio-flow yoga class by noting its earth-bound payoff: “Your ultimate goal may be enlightenment, but it never hurt anyone to develop a hot booty along the way.” Similar sentiments led yoga celeb Colleen Saidman Yee to create her Calorie-Killer Yoga DVD, which comes out in March. “As I get older, I realize the benefits of including cardio and strength into my asana practice,” she told Arroyo Monthly. “It doesn’t hinder the practice leading to or becoming meditation.” (But she cautioned that not all yoga-hybrid classes are created equal: “The main problem is not enough study for some of the hybrids and the result is poor alignment and very poor sequencing, which can lead to injury.”)

    Crunch in Burbank also provides booty aid in its AntiGravity Yoga class, which incorporates dance, Pilates and calisthenics in a trapeze-like hammock. Yes, a hammock. New York City–based Unnata Aerial Yoga takes the concept even further by combining traditional yoga with aerial acrobatic training using a soft fabric trapeze, which makes inversions easier. According to the Unnata website, by supporting the weight of the body, the fabric trapeze or hammock helps students quickly achieve advanced traditional yoga postures that would otherwise take years to learn.

    Prefer a more streamlined workout? Try a BarWorks class (a strength-building class that incorporates ballet barre work to complement one’s yoga practice) or Yoga With Ropes (which incorporates a rope wall to enable deeper release into the poses), all offered at the Pasadena studio.

    Meanwhile, Rock It Workouts in Pasadena offers Yoga Rock: “We mix incredible music with incredible sculpting fusions that work to balance your mind, body and soul,” according to the Rock It website. It also offers vigorous Rock Your Buti classes in Buti Yoga, which fuses yoga, tribal dance and plyometrics (a training technique that boosts strength by making muscles exert maximum force in as short a time as possible, such as repeated jumping). Derived from the Marathi word Buti, meaning “the cure to something hidden or kept secret” (but serendipitously being a homonym for booty), its objective is “to guide women through movement, nutrition and wellness that supports the female spirit — transforming lives from the inside-out… Buti combines various styles of hatha yoga with tribal-influenced dance sequences to keep the heart rate up, free the female spirit and help women form a tribe or sisterhood,” according to the Buti website.

    Then there’s Pasadena’s YogaHop, which bills itself as “the home of high energy, fun yoga… YogaHop yoga offers a celebratory twist by featuring music of the hip-hop, rock and pop worlds jamming out of booming speakers, headset-microphoned teachers and all the energy of a dance party. The result is an East meets West yoga style that’s athletically fulfilling and spiritually soothing,” the website says.

    On the tamer side, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge offers members-only classes that combine a 25-minute fitness walk and 60-minute yoga class. At Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, both members and nonmembers can attend outdoor yoga classes.

    A little farther afield, YAS (Yoga And Spinning) has locations in downtown L.A. and Silver Lake. Its style is geared toward “athletes,” or anyone who doesn’t want to bring spirituality into yoga. The founder, Kimberly Fowler, even has a DVD called The No Om Zone.

    One might think that traditional yoga instructors would consider this trend as gimmicky and commercial as Snoopy’s Christmas doghouse. But they are surprisingly open-minded. “I think a lot of people come to yoga first from a fitness angle,” says Lee, who teaches at Yogis Anonymous, Golden Bridge Yoga, Yogaworks and Equinox Fitness clubs around Los Angeles. “It’s a workout that a lot of people are having successes with, and with what the media has somehow called the ‘yoga butt’ or ‘booty.’ Even if that’s the initial draw or motivation, what I’ve noticed is that the practice itself will open them to go deeper, beyond the booty. When they connect with their breath, awareness and the power of meditation, it’s no longer about having a yoga butt. It’s about their connection to themselves and their fullness and depth. Whether it’s vinyasa flow, ashtanga or kundalini, it’s all yoga and it’s all good.”

    Yoga instructor Cara Davis agrees. “I do think that combining yoga with any other discipline would be beneficial, in that yoga is about awareness, reminds us to breathe and teaches us to listen to our bodies,” says Davis, who teaches a combination of gentle flow and pranayama yoga at Pasadena’s Neighborhood Church, Occidental College and her private studio in La Crescenta. “So integrating yoga with any practice will hopefully cultivate a deeper understanding of our bodies in motion. Perhaps the appeal to many is the multi-tasking aspect. Individuals are so busy, they may feel getting their workout and nurturance all in a single session is all they have time for. The important thing is that they are doing something for themselves and ideally with an awareness brought on through the integration of yoga to any practice.”

    In fact, there is no one “true” yoga. Yoga has gone through innumerable permutations since hatha — the style most familiar to Westerners today — first emerged in India about 1,000 years ago. According to kundalini yoga instructor Helen Huber, who teaches at Pasadena’s Awareness Center, the original purpose of yoga was to prepare the body for sitting in meditation for long periods of time. “It is said that the purpose of yoga is to get to the meditation at the end of the set,” she says. “Also, separate meditations are encouraged for specific purposes to enhance a person’s yoga practice. Usually a meditation is to be done daily for a specific purpose for 11 to 31 minutes.”

    Even though yoga comes from India and is an integral part of the Hindu tradition, it’s never been one size fits all. As Debra Diamond, the curator of a new exhibit about yoga at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C., told Public Radio International’s The World, there have been deep rifts among devotees of different sects throughout yoga’s history. “Yoga has been very fluid and it has permeated all corners of Indian culture over time,” Diamond said. “Yoga is like a rope made up of many different threads. Some of those threads are present at any given moment. The strength of the rope comes from the overlap of these traditions.”

    Hindu monks, beginning with Swami Vivekananda, brought yoga from India to the West in the late 19th century. With 18 million Americans currently practicing some version, at what point does yoga’s true essence — which many consider its spiritual component — get lost?

    “Yoga means ‘union,’” Lee explains. “It’s about connecting the mind, body and self — the breath, movement and flow of energy. Kundalini is about strengthening the nervous system and all 72,000 nerves in the body. We can all relate to the phrase ‘There’s someone or something on my nerves.’ So through a yoga practice, we can release whatever is on our nerves that has taken up precious space in our bodies.

    “Breath brings openness and expansion, and the movements and postures help focus the breath and, like a massage, nudge out the tension. Through practice we massage, nudge out and free ourselves from all the tension and limitations stored in the nerves and body that restrict energy flow, sanity and living a fulfilling life. That’s why yoga… is a daily practice, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Yoga is an internal cleansing of the nerves so you can flow freely in every moment of your life.”

    That said, Lee believes nontraditional yoga classes still offer benefits as long as practitioners “keep in mind how it connects and brings them back to their energy flow, connecting body, breath, mind and self. When people get that it’s more than just a workout — that this practice, whatever it may be, allows them to be more true to themselves — that’s yoga in action.”

  2. Happy 2014 & Pete’s Current Teaching Schedule (begins January 2, 2014)

Join me on the mat and experience the radiant depths of yourself through powerful and healing kundalini and restorative yoga and meditation.

TUESDAY
11am-12:20pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
5:30pm-6:30pm - Kundalini, Equinox Pasadena

WEDNESDAY
11:45am-12:45pm - Kundalini, Equinox West Hollywood
4pm-5pm - Intro to Kundalini Series, Yogis Anonymous, Santa Monica

THURSDAY
11am-12:20pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
5:30pm-6:30pm - Kundalini, Equinox Pasadena

FRIDAY
2:30pm-4:00pm - Community Kundalini ($10 class, open to everyone), Yogaworks Main St. Santa Monica
7pm-8pm - Restorative, Equinox South Bay

SATURDAY
11am-12pm - Kundalini, Equinox South Bay
12:30pm-1:45pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
4pm-5:15pm - Kundalini, Equinox Beverly Hills

Hope to see you on the mat!
May you be spacious, grounded, centered, and radiant in 2014!

Sat Nam. Namaste.

    Happy 2014 & Pete’s Current Teaching Schedule (begins January 2, 2014)

    Join me on the mat and experience the radiant depths of yourself through powerful and healing kundalini and restorative yoga and meditation.

    TUESDAY
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
    5:30pm-6:30pm - Kundalini, Equinox Pasadena

    WEDNESDAY
    11:45am-12:45pm - Kundalini, Equinox West Hollywood
    4pm-5pm - Intro to Kundalini Series, Yogis Anonymous, Santa Monica

    THURSDAY
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
    5:30pm-6:30pm - Kundalini, Equinox Pasadena

    FRIDAY
    2:30pm-4:00pm - Community Kundalini ($10 class, open to everyone), Yogaworks Main St. Santa Monica
    7pm-8pm - Restorative, Equinox South Bay

    SATURDAY
    11am-12pm - Kundalini, Equinox South Bay
    12:30pm-1:45pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
    4pm-5:15pm - Kundalini, Equinox Beverly Hills

    Hope to see you on the mat!
    May you be spacious, grounded, centered, and radiant in 2014!

    Sat Nam. Namaste.

  3. Pete’s 2013 Thanksgiving Week Teaching Schedule

    Join me this week on the mat as we strengthen our nervous, digestive and elimination systems. I’ll be teaching 2 special classes on Thanksgiving with a heart opening gratitude meditation. It’ll be a healing, blissful and awesome week!

    Please note that my teaching schedule is slightly different this week. There are no classes at Equinox South Bay this Friday and Saturday. See you soon!

    Pete’s 2013 Thanksgiving week teaching schedule:

    TUESDAY
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
    7:30pm-8:30pm - Restorative, Pasadena Physical Therapy

    WEDNESDAY
    11:45am-12:45pm - Kundalini, Equinox West Hollywood
    4pm-5pm - Kundalini, Yogis Anonymous

    THURSDAY (Thanksgiving)
    9am-10:15am - Kundalini, Equinox Beverly Hills
    11am-12:30pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay

    FRIDAY
    2:30pm-4pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks Main St. ($10 community class - open to everyone)

    SATURDAY
    12:30pm - 1:45pm - Kundalini, Yogaworks South Bay
    4pm-5:15pm - Kundalini, Equinox Beverly Hills

  4. Join me at 4pm-5pm on #Wednesdays, November 13, 2013 through February 12, 2014 at #YogisAnonymous in Santa Monica for a foundational 12-week introduction to #Kundalini #yoga and #meditation

    Join me at 4pm-5pm on #Wednesdays, November 13, 2013 through February 12, 2014 at #YogisAnonymous in Santa Monica for a foundational 12-week introduction to #Kundalini #yoga and #meditation

  5. I am super excited, honored and grateful to be co-teaching this very special winter solstice #vinyasa #kundalini and #restorative #yoga workshop with the radiant and incredible Aimée Donahue on December 21, 2013, 2pm-5pm at Yogaworks South Bay in El Segundo. There will be a gong sound bath and we’ll have Yogi tea afterwards. Register and reserve your spot today, as spaces are limited. Visit yogaworks.com or call 310.322.6500. Join us. It’s going to be awesome! See you there!

    I am super excited, honored and grateful to be co-teaching this very special winter solstice #vinyasa #kundalini and #restorative #yoga workshop with the radiant and incredible Aimée Donahue on December 21, 2013, 2pm-5pm at Yogaworks South Bay in El Segundo. There will be a gong sound bath and we’ll have Yogi tea afterwards. Register and reserve your spot today, as spaces are limited. Visit yogaworks.com or call 310.322.6500. Join us. It’s going to be awesome! See you there!

  6. Pete’s Summer Teaching Schedule (effective July 1, 2013)

    "Practice and all is coming."
    Sri K. Patthabi Jois

    Come practice with me this summer and strengthen your 72,000 nerves, release tension, stress and anything you’re ready to let go of that’s “on your nerves.” Allow all the healing and well-beingness to come as you expand your awareness and relax into your fullness and depth. Sat Nam. Namaste.

    Pete’s Summer Teaching Schedule (effective July 1, 2013)

    TUESDAY
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Yogaworks South Bay
    7:30pm-8:30pm - Restorative Kundalini Yoga, Pasadena Physical Therapy (95 W. California Blvd. Pasadena, 91105) (Please being your own yoga mat as well as 2-3 bath or beach towels for this class.)

    WEDNESDAY
    11:45am-12:45pm - Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Equinox West Hollywood

    THURSDAY
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Yogaworks South Bay

    FRIDAY
    2:30pm-4pm - Community Kundalini Yoga, Yogaworks Main St. Santa Monica (This class is $10 and is open to everyone as well as Yogaworks members)
    7pm-8:15pm - Restorative Yoga & Meditation, Equinox South Bay

    SATURDAY
    11am-12pm - Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Equinox South Bay
    12:30pm-1:45pm - Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Yogaworks South Bay
    5pm-6pm - Kundalini Yoga & Meditation, Yogaworks Center for Yoga on Larchmont (This is a donation-based class. $10 suggested donation.)

    See you on the mat!

  7. Pete’s Current Teaching Schedule (effective May 6, 2013)

    Join me on the mat for deeply healing and strengthening Kundalini & Restorative Yoga and Meditation at Yogaworks, Equinox, and Golden Bridge locations throughout Los Angeles every week! On Tuesday evenings, join me in Pasadena, beginning May 14!

    TUESDAYS
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Yogaworks South Bay in El Segundo
    2pm-3:30pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Golden Bridge Santa Monica
    7:15pm-8:30pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Pasadena Physical Therapy (95 W. California Blvd. Pasadena, 91105) (NEW CLASS! Begins Tuesday, May 14)

    WEDNESDAYS
    11:45am-12:45pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Equinox West Hollywood

    THURSDAYS
    11am-12:20pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Yogaworks South Bay in El Segundo
    7:15pm-8:15pm - Restorative Yoga, Equinox South Bay

    FRIDAYS
    12:30pm-1:45pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Golden Bridge Santa Monica
    2:30pm-4pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Yogaworks Main St. Santa Monica
    6pm-7:30pm - Restorative Kundalini Yoga, Golden Bridge Hollywood

    SATURDAYS
    12:30pm-1:45pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Yogaworks South Bay in El Segundo
    3pm-4pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Equinox South Bay
    5pm-6pm - Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Yogaworks Center for Yoga on Larchmont (This is a donation-based class. $10 suggested donation. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.)

  8. Dr. Seuss and the Essence of Sat Nam - A great reminder of what we often say in Kundalini yoga, “Sat Nam” really means - Be true to yourself. Thank you Dr. Seuss!

    Dr. Seuss and the Essence of Sat Nam - A great reminder of what we often say in Kundalini yoga, “Sat Nam” really means - Be true to yourself. Thank you Dr. Seuss!

  9. Golden Bridge Santa Monica Opens May 4th!

I am so thrilled and grateful to be teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation at the new Golden Bridge on Tuesdays, 2-3:30pm and Fridays, 12:30-1:45pm, beginning May 7th! See you there!

Sat Nam. Namaste.

    Golden Bridge Santa Monica Opens May 4th!

    I am so thrilled and grateful to be teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation at the new Golden Bridge on Tuesdays, 2-3:30pm and Fridays, 12:30-1:45pm, beginning May 7th! See you there!

    Sat Nam. Namaste.

  10. Deeply honored to be featured in Yoga Teacher Magazine

    Thanks to the amazing Jillian Pransky, who is one of my favorite yoga teachers of all time and my Restorative teacher trainer, I was interviewed by the awesome Ivan Nahem of Yoga Teacher Magazine. Check out the interview here and check out the interviews with Jillian and the other wonderful teachers, Cyndi Lee and Amy Weintraub.

    The full text of the interview is below:

    YOGA TEACHER MAGAZINE: So let’s start with you telling me a bit about your background. Where did you grow up and what was that like, and how did you first start practicing yoga?

    PETE LEE: I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Born in the late Seventies. I’ve been into healing, meditation and spirituality pretty much all my life.

    YTM: Were your parents into that sort of thing?

    PL: No, my parents were not into yoga at all. I’m of Chinese heritage and they’re immigrant parents who owned and operated a Chinese restaurant in El Segundo that was open seven days a week.

    I read a lot as a kid… Ramona Quimby, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown books. And there was one book by Barthe De Clements and Christopher Greimes called Double Trouble. It was a story about a pair of fraternal twins who had psychic abilities and lived separately but communicated with each other through their abilities. It was this book that led me to look at consciousness in a whole different way. I saw that these abilities weren’t just “fiction” but I could develop my intuition and creativity.

    YTM:  It’s funny how our destiny develops from our interests. You might come across a book or a story and it touches off something in you. I remember seeing one of the Alien movie spinoffs called Species in which Forest Whitaker’s job was being a professional “empath,” and I thought, yeah, that’s my career right there!

    PL: Exactly!… My mom would take me to the mall and I could spend hours in the bookstore and she would go off clothes shopping.

    YTM: That sounds like a good deal to make with Mom.

    PL: I used to stay in the Young Adult, Kids or Cookbooks sections. After Double Trouble I found myself in the New Age section. Some of the first New Age books I bought were Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts and Journeys Out of the Body by Robert Monroe.

    YTM: Did you find any yoga books?

    PL: I found a yoga book by Richard Hittleman and I was a bit intimidated by it, but I got it anyway and practiced some of the gentle asanas I saw in the book. But my real introduction to hatha yoga was two classes. I started practicing yoga in 1998. I remember taking my first Hatha Yoga class at the Yoga House in Pasadena, with Shiva Rea. And one at the Center for Yoga at Larchmont with Susan Swan. Shortly thereafter, in 1999, my colleague at The Los Angeles Times, where I was working at the time, asked some of us if we wanted to do yoga once a week together. There was a vacant room in the building where she introduced us to Kundalini Yoga. It was such a different experience and so deeply healing. I’ve never cried and laughed so much before in a yoga class, let alone at the recreational space at work.

    YTM: In what ways was the yoga healing?

    PL: The healing in the early sessions was mostly emotional. Thoughts and emotions were rising up during the pranayama and tears were welling up in my eyes. Kundalini Yoga reminded me so much of acupuncture, where specific needles were inserted in different meridians and pressure points and “for no apparent reason” tears would well up, emotions would come up and I would find myself in tears. Healing tears.

    YTM: And so has it been exclusively Kundalini since then, or have you explored other styles of yoga?

    PL: I would take Gentle and Level 1 Hatha or YogaWorks classes. I love Yin and Restorative. I also love Qigong and Tai Chi, and I’m really interested in Sacred Energy Arts Yoga, a blend of Qigong, Tai Chi and Hatha Yoga, created by Matthew Cohen. I found that what really resonates with me in a yoga class is a slow pace, deep introspection, spaciousness, lots of breath work and meditation.

    YTM:  I was just going to say you seem drawn to the softer, less busy side of yoga and the other transformative arts, but you pretty much said it yourself…

    PL: Yes! Although I do enjoy a nice sweaty Vinyasa Flow class from time to time, on the whole I must say I do prefer a slower pace.

    YTM: And so how did you come to be a teacher?

    PL: My nephew is autistic and has Asperger’s. In 2009, I thought it would be great to take him to a kid’s yoga class. Seeing as how healing I felt Kundalini was, I took him to Golden Bridge in Hollywood. There was a 9:30 AM class for kids, and a 9:30 AM class for adults. He would go upstairs and I would be downstairs. He absolutely loved it and learned all sorts of mudras and pranayam that he continues to use. He’s 14 now and that was our Saturday tradition for a while.

    During that time in 2009, while we were going every Saturday, I saw that they had an upcoming teacher training, and my energy  just said, it’s time. At that point in my life, I was already building my practice as a life coach and energy healer, so I was in the realm of “body mind and spirit.” I had mind and spirit covered. Kundalini felt like the perfect addition to add “body” to my practice.

    YTM: That’s a lovely story about your nephew. How did you enjoy the training?

    PL: I absolutely loved it. It was eight months long, one weekend a month, and I was so grateful for the pacing. There was so much time to digest the material. Our Saturdays and Sundays would begin at 4 AM for Sadhana, the morning meditation practice, and end at 7 PM. It was deeply transformative and we all witnessed each other’s growth. There were about 55 of us in the training that graduated in 2010. We had 11 minute meditations and 31 minute meditations as part of our homework for 40 days to break through our habit patterns.

    YTM: What’s not to like, right? So where were the first classes you taught and how did they go?

    PL: My first classes were at The Yogi Tree in Toluca Lake and at the rehearsal space of TeAda , a multi-cultural theatre company. I was really nervous at first. I kept reminding myself to keep breathing as the students were breathing. Hah.

    YTM : I’ve always considered it a kind of godsend that yoga is so much about relaxing, and that fact can help you relax as a teacher. I mean, after all, you’resupposed to be breathing fully, it’s your job!

    PL: Exactly! I found myself breathing more deeply and became more relaxed. As I kept teaching, I felt more and more at home and comfortable, as if I’m just sharing information to help them feel better about themselves, inside and out. The beginning of every Kundalini class always starts with the mantra, ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO, which means I bow, or I connect, or tune into the highest wisdom within myself. As a student or when I’m teaching, this always grounds and centers me.

    YTM: So how has your teaching evolved since you started? What classes do you teach now?

    PL: So shortly after I started teaching I began subbing for Kia Miller and Aimee Donahue’s Kundalini classes at Yogaworks in Santa Monica and South Bay, respectively. From there, things just continued to bloom and then I discovered Jillian Pransky. I’ve always loved Restorative classes so when I saw that there was a Restorative teacher training, I knew I wanted to do it to complement my active Kundalini teaching practice.

    I learned so much from Jillian and I’m so grateful for her teaching and her energy. After that training, I realized how much spaciousness and allowing is so important. In every class I teach, I always remind students to allow whatever thoughts and feelings that come passing through the mind, to just observe and notice and let it simply dissolve like clouds in the sky. It’s that allowing that creates spaciousness. The more “okay” you feel about whatever is showing up, whatever is showing up will have space to pass and release.

    YTM: So do you blend the Restorative in with Kundalini? Is it a good fit? And along the same lines, how strict is the Kundalini teaching? From the outside it almost seems cultish, if I may say that, since there’s some uniformity in dress among certain practitioners. But from what you’re saying it seems much more open.

    PL:  In the Kundalini teaching, teachers wear white to evoke a sense of what I like to say as “clean fresh sheets” or “Downy fresh.” White is the color that contains all colors, integrates all colors; it’s the color of totality and wholeness. So energetically, as teachers we wear white to complement our holding a space of clarity and wholeness.

    It was really strange to blend at first. Kundalini practitioners don’t use bolsters, blankets and blocks in the way Hatha practitioners do. Kundalini practitioners sit on sheepskin rugs to support their auras and electromagnetic fields as they practice… and for warmth.

    YTM:  Is it a challenge to work without props in Restorative? I know Jillian teaches workshops on teaching with minimal props.

    PL: I loved her minimal props training. You can basically teach an entire class with one block or one blanket, or one bolster. A lot of times when we run out of props, I have them use their bags or purses, and sometimes water bottles.

    At Golden Bridge in Hollywood, I created a Restorative Kundalini class, where we begin with gentle Kundalini warm-ups. The second half of the class is deeply relaxing in restorative poses, maybe about three or four poses at most. In the Kundalini tradition, there are thousands of kriyas, sequences that are already written, for every condition and intention that one wants to work on. When you begin a Kundalini kriya or sequence, you do it in its entirety. It’s like each pose and pranayam is a specific needle in a pressure point. So in my Restorative Kundalini classes, we don’t do full-on kriyas , just warm-ups to give time and space to relax. Restorative to me is like practicing the muscle of receiving and allowing. We work, give and do so much. But how much do we allow ourselves to do “nothing” even though we know there’s so much goodness and healing that happens in the “nothing”?

    YTM: Sometimes I study how difficult it is just to relax all the tiny muscles in the face.

    PL: It’s such a huge opportunity to actively be passive. And I think most people are so engaged in their to-do lists and Facebook status updates that it’s hard to just turn off.

    YTM: Many people will say they don’t have time to relax, that the effort of relaxing stresses them out. And even some yogis and yoga teachers think restorative is wimpy. What would you say to that?

    PL: Wow, there’s a lot to say. I know for most people, it’s hard to relax because the mind doesn’t stop and for most people to be present with their thoughts and emotions must be the most intense and painful thing ever. That’s why I really encourage people to allow and simply notice, like watching a movie without judgment.  

    To yoga teachers and yogis who think Restorative is wimpy, I would suggest giving it another try and to allow themselves to have their judgments and just notice what these thoughts and feeling do. Like teacher Byron Katie asks in her work, “How do you feel when you believe this thought?” “Who would you be without your stressful thoughts?” I would also say, when we’re not allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is we’re feeling, we end up pushing back into our nerves the very things we say we want to release. And we all know that expression… something is on my nerves!

    YTM: Do you ever feel people judge you for being into the softer arts, if for example they might think it’s not manly?

    PL: I think it’s awesome that there are so many male yoga teachers these days and many don’t appear “soft” at all, which I think totally breaks the whole manly paradigm. In the sense and the hope that these male yoga teachers are encouraging the students to explore their soft places and depth. Ivan, it’s all about depth. I gave up feeling the need to be or appear a certain way for students and people in general. One of the things I love about Kundalini Yoga is the constant reminder of Sat Nam. Sat Nam is mentally repeated throughout the practice and we end each class with a long Sat Nam. It means “truth is my essence” or “truth is who I am.” So in every breath, I remind myself to be true to myself. Who am I outside of everyone’s expectations and assumptions of me? As I practice, I get to release all of that “stuff” as I come back and replenish myself with my energy, my fullness, my 100%. And Sat Nam comes from Namaste.

    YTM: Pete, can you think of a time when a student stressed you out, and how did you handle it? And conversely, can you describe for us a time when a student helped you find your center?

    PL: A student stressed me out when she was just not doing the set as we practiced. Because in Kundalini Yoga, when we begin a specific sequence, each pose is like a specific needle in an acupuncture session, so when this one student was just doing her own thing, I reminded her how important it was to continue or modify the pose. I also told her that she could just do the pose for a few seconds and come into easy pose or child’s pose, if she didn’t want to do it, but she didn’t say anything and continued to roll her eyes at me, giving me dirty looks. I tried to stay grounded and present but it was hard. I would ask her if she was feeling okay and needed assistance, but never a word. Just rolling eyes. She wanted to do what she wanted to do and finally she got up, threw the blankets into the area where the blankets were kept and stormed out of the room. She left right before Savasana.

    YTM: How did that affect you?

    PL: That was a tough experience. I felt like she needed space to have her own practice. I used to feel bad about students leaving in the middle of class, wondering what I did or didn’t do. I know everyone has their processes and I know Kundalini and Restoratives don’t resonate with everyone or at a specific time. I remind myself that they may have wanted to see an action flick, but walked into a romantic comedy or a horror film, instead.

    In regards to your question about how a student helped me find my center… that happens all the time! As you know, traffic is daily reality in Los Angeles. I get to my classes mostly on time. Sometimes, traffic happens and I get there a few minutes late. There are students who just give me a look and some even say, “Pete, take a breath… It’s okay. You’re here now.”  I really appreciate that.

    YTM: Love it! In New York we commiserate more often about the subway. Pete, talking to you has been a great pleasure

    PL: Thank you again Ivan, for your energy and incredible work! Huge gratitude, love, hugs and blessings to you! Namaste, brother!