With a book in the works and a mission to return yoga from increasingly commercial, style-based trappings, Mas Vidal heads a visionary yoga studio in los angeles. This may not be what you're expecting to find as you search for a parking space along busy Beverly Boulevard to practice yoga in los angeles. Yet rising above the fray in the center of LA, an oasis of health awaits.
Dancing Shiva is at once a second-floor studio and a healing spa for such treatments as pancha karma, a fivefold purifying and rejuvenating regimen, four-handed massage, herbally-infused steam and shirodhara, warm oil poured over the forehead. And a body cleansed of toxins would be a terrific start to a vigorous 90 minutes of dosha-based yoga. Dosha, or innate type, is central to the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, the “Science of Life.”
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha””air, fire and earth. Keep yours in mind when choosing which Dancing Shiva class to attend. (Avid practitioners are sure to perspire and be inspired by the tri-dosha class). Rather than a favorite teacher or convenient time, let your dosha be your guide, whether you’re a slight, airy vata, a fiery, passionate pitta (“LA is very pitta,” Mas winks, noting that an entire region may exhibit a dosha or attract a dominant type) or earthy, nurturing kapha. However “no dosha is better than another,” Mas is fond of saying, “because composed of the same elements, we are all one.”
Finding inspiration in the Self Realization Fellowship and Dr. David Frawley, whose book Yoga & Ayurveda brought everything together, Mas has gone from his first yoga class 16 years ago (just three blocks away) to founding Dancing Shiva and developing Veda Yoga. “It’s not another yoga style,” he hastens to add. Instead, the teachers here are dedicated to an integration of Ayurvedic knowledge and Raja yoga practice.
The key is balance. Recognizing your dominant type and tempering it with yoga, lifestyle workshops and spa treatments is the aim here. “A lack of integration is how yoga goes astray,” Mas cautions.
Accordingly, every yoga class at Dancing Shiva weaves in five of the eight limbs in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Left to workshops are the lifestyle principles of yama and niyama, restraints and observances, and samadhi, the ultimate unfoldment. “A tremendous physical experience that takes you into a spiritual experience…this is body-mind preparation for a higher purpose, going in,” he says. “That’s the bridge, the internalization, the quieting down of the restless mind.” As a teacher, I found myself agreeing and eager for more meetings with Mas.
“The spiritual path is not the 4th of July,” he enthuses. “It’s not fireworks and light displays every time.” With his book, Spirit and Nature: Uniting Yoga & Ayurveda, near completion, Mas expounds: “There are three Cs: commitment, concentration and consistency.”
Set your intention to practice. Be present (and turn your phone off!). Do it regularly rather than intensively. “Patience, putting your time in on the mat,” Mas reiterates in class, “is sure to pay off.”
Not in sudden, spectacular results that go off and fade like an Independence Day celebration, but like an Interdependence Day realization that dawns slowly and has real staying power.