Ritual Hot Yoga in SOMA: For lovers of sweaty yoga and sick beats

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Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos courtesy of Ritual Hot Yoga

I think I’m closing in on my eight or nine year anniversary of practicing yoga. I go to yoga to clear my head; to stretch and get a work out in; to get grounded; and to give myself an hour everyday to find balance and breathe. But my workouts, and my life, completely changed once I started practicing hot yoga. I first discovered it in Encinitas maybe four or five years ago and I’m so grateful to have found it.

There’s something so gratifying about seeing your body literally pour out sweat while you’re moving to the beats with your breath. It’s hard to explain but if you’re a yogi like me, you just get it. I found my yoga home at Corepower Yoga in Encinitas. Everyday that I went truly felt like I was going home. My teachers supported me in and out of class, with physical adjustments and words that resonated with me and where I was at in life that very exact moment.

Life has taken me on a crazy journey these last few years and the only constant was my yoga practice.

I’ve since found my yoga home in the City at Corepower SF and I love all of my instructors. This studio is blocks from my office and it’s where I run to when I need some peace. This month I decided to mix things up a bit and check out this hot yoga studio that I’ve had my eye on for several months.

I first found out at Ritual Hot Yoga on Instagram; somehow we found each other on the social media wave. I was reminded of them again when one of my favorite Instagram-famous yogis mentioned her practice at the studio. It was destiny. I had to check these guys out.

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Ritual Hot Yoga is located in SOMA around the corner from the headquarters of tech powerhouses like Airbnb and Pinterest. The studio looks modest from the outside but once you step inside, everything you could possibly need or want is at your fingertips.

This is the first time I’ve been a member at one of those fancy, all-inclusive studios. All you have to do is bring yourself. A mat, a yogitoes towel, hand towel, block and mat clips are all provided and set up in the studio when you arrive. Sip on some tea, check your Instagram with their free wifi, or play with the studio dogs if they’re hanging out. Bottled water is available, as well as showers and every bathroom amenity is available for use before or after class.

Classes at Ritual aren’t like your average yoga practice. Step inside the huge, heated room and you’ll never have to worry about accidentally bumping into your neighbor as mats are perfectly spaced from each other. Classes are held in dark, candlelit rooms so you’ll really have to force yourself to be present, without staring at others or yourself in the mirror. The faint smell of Nag Champa wafts through the air.

Instructors are hooked up to mics and each class begins with a guided meditation about the week’s theme and purpose. Then the party starts. Music booms through the speakers so if you’re into mellow classes, this place not be right for you. The music selection is so on point. Feel like moving your booty to some old school jams or hip hop? This place might just top all of the clubs in the area.

Sometimes you’ll try out a yoga class and you’ll feel like your teacher is just going through the motions and reading from a script while teaching. But all of the instructors I’ve had at Ritual add their own personality to class, whether they’re bouncing around and dancing during class, or sharing intimate stories about their struggles and their life. All of the instructors at Ritual Hot Yoga are amazing.

Classes are 50 minutes so it’s perfect if you need a lunch time break from the office. There’s one to two adjusters in every class so you’ll definitely get some hands-on love if you want it. Oh, and the adjusters come by and offer neck and shoulder massages during meditation and savasana. Swoon! A cold towel is placed on your forehead during your final rest and believe me when I say this will be one of the best parts of class after getting your booty whooped during this fast-paced class.

As crazy, busy and transient as city life can be, I somehow always find a way to find my yoga home. Ritual Hot Yoga is definitely a place I could see myself spending a lot of time at this year. If you live in the City and are looking to spice up your workout regimen, check these guys out. And tell them I sent you. For more information, visit http://www.studioritual.com/.

 

Explore the many landscapes of Oregon

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I mean, just look at this place.

Written by and photos by Michael A.

Although no one would ever question the beauty of Oregon, the state is much more than just beautiful forests. Oregon is in a constant state of beauty whether you’re driving up the beautiful beaches, wandering around the forests, rock climbing in Smith Rock State Park, or eating the West Coast meets Southern style fusion food in Portland. And let’s not forget about all of the breweries and medical dispensaries that seem to be popping up all over the state.

So, follow me on a road trip from California through Oregon as I make stops in Klamath Falls, Crater Lake, Bend, Smith Rock State Park, Multnomah Falls, Portland, and all up and down the coast.

Crater Lake

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Although Crater Lake is regarded as one of Oregon’s biggest tourist destinations, it was pretty empty and peaceful on the day that I went. I should prefix that with the fact that I went on a Friday, mid-November afternoon when most people are working. Note to self: always check the driving advisories before making the trip to Crater Lake as it does get quite a bit of snow and your car will start sliding. Also, there aren’t any gas stations within around 30 miles of the Lake. So, don’t be like me and try to “man up” against your tank. Feed your car some of that sweet gas before making her drive to isolated areas. She’ll appreciate it ;).

I was a bit hesitant to make a stop here as there was a lot of other things I wanted to do in Oregon. Whether you want to stay by the coast your not, do yourself the favor and make a stop here. Although I had the benefit of not running into very many people, it’s hard not to find peace and tranquility with such a beautiful view.

Bend

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Up until my visit, I can honestly say that I didn’t know all that much about Bend. When you think of cities in Oregon, for the most part, we just think of the state as having a ton of trees and that one city named Portland. However, Bend is a great city to stop on your way up through the state. There are tons of food options and breweries everywhere you look. With this combination, it’s hard not to have a good time. Oh, and did I mention, attractive people everywhere! Who would have thought? Since you are somewhat in the middle of nowhere, prices are cheap and you can easily find a hotel room for under $100.

Smith Rock State Park

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The central/eastern part of Oregon definitely doesn’t feel like Oregon anymore. Out with the tall trees and in with the beautiful wide-open landscapes. Oregon quickly transforms itself from greenery everywhere you look to a hay-type hue with beautiful rock formations. If you decide to go to Bend on your way north to Portland, this is an easy stop on the way. If you’re a rock climber, you’ll definitely not want to miss this stop as you’ll see hundreds of rock climbers trying to make these rock formations their bitch.

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Multnomah Falls

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Just an hour or so east of Portland is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever laid my eyes on and that’s saying a lot. I’ve seen them all over Iceland, Ireland, Hawaii, Jamaica, etc. but there truly is something special about the waterfall here. It’s free to get in and you need to make sure you pick up your jaw, which will surely be hanging after 30 minutes of staring in awe as the mist eventually envelopes you as you work your way up to the top of the falls. There are great trails that you can spend hours on and essentially feel as though you’re trapped in some type of Disney fairy tale (or enjoyed the dispensaries way more than you should have).

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Portland

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Oh boy! Just for a little perspective, I’ve been to 40 states and I usually try to go to the biggest to cities in each. I’ve heard good things in the past about Portland’s food and their beer culture, but it was never a top city of mine that I wanted to visit. I can now easily put Portland in my top five American cities to visit. The fusion of modern American/Southern comfort food is absolutely to die for (or from). While you’ll feel stuffed to the brim as you leave, every single meal left me with the ability to work up the energy to crack a smile before going into a two-hour food coma. SOOOOO GOOOOOOOD. Eat everything and do it as often as possible. Also, drink everywhere and do it as often as possible. Microbreweries are everywhere in this young man’s city so do yourself a favor and try to sign up for a beer tour as Portland is now known internationally for their unique and delicious beers.

Also, for all of you West Coast people who have always wanted to see the fall colors, don’t bother flying all the way across the country to the Northeast. I’ve lived on the east coast and although the fall season is beautiful, Portland does a great job making you forget all about the colors of New England.

Lastly, I can’t talk about Portland and not mention Voodoo Donuts. Voodoo Donuts is one of the top places to eat in Portland. You’ll likely wait a good 30 minutes just to get inside. Let me save you the time: OVERRATED. They are just donuts with the novelty of throwing a bunch of odd toppings on them like Fruit Loops. The donuts themselves don’t taste all that good and they are really heavy so you’re missing out an actual meal of delicious food from elsewhere in the city.

Oregon Coast

IMG_0716I strongly suggest driving up on the Eastern side of Oregon and then coming back down on the coast. The coast is beautifully filled with drastic cliffs cutting down into the ocean with tall forest trees resting above. It’s a rather unique view and one that you won’t get tired of as you drive the 8 hours or so from Northern Oregon to the California border.

TL, DR: Oregon = BEAUTY BEAUTY BEAUTY. Take the time, get a car, maybe a tent, a DD, and have a blast as you experience the many wonders of Oregon.

The simple beauty that is Oregon.
The simple beauty that is Oregon.

Who’s going to Lightning in a Bottle 2016?!

Written by Nadia Ibanez, Photos courtesy of Lightning in a Bottle

I should have a section on Wander for “Wishful Thinking” posts. It happens just about every week where I’m sitting at my 9-5 job and get a crazy inclination to check out a cool new art show, concert venue, totally crazy event, or new hotel — you name it, I’ve done it. Or, at least I’ve planned to go to something and then plans/universe turned me in a different direction. A couple years ago, I made the intention to check out Lightning in a Bottle at some point in my 20s/30s. And if you know me, you know this event is 1000% Nadia friendly.

Over Memorial Day weekend, thousands and thousands of people convene for a six-day festival of amazing music, yoga, live art installations, a meditation temple, cooking classes and demos, booze, and environmental consciousness in the form of food, vendors and much more. Essentially, people going to LIB are seeking full immersion in a culture that embraces community, self-awareness, the healing benefits of music and yoga, and the act of befriending strangers with common interests.

This year, Lightning in a Bottle will return to the San Antonio Recreation Center in Bradley, CA. Music headliners include some of my favorite artists like Chet Faker, Grimes and Jaime XX and a boatload of other DJs and musicians. While some people are going for the dance and EDM scene, I think I’m more excited about the yoga and meditation aspect, along with spending a couple days out in the wilderness and under the stars. For a hippie, festie girl, this would be a dream come true. Now it’s just a matter of finding a squad to join me.

For more information, check out lightninginabottle.org or check out the 2015 video below. Hope to see you there!

 

ICYMI: The Edwardian Ball was an absolute playground for adults

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Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

The stereotype is true: San Franciscans love ANY excuse to put on a costume and booze/dance the night or day away. From SantaCon to the Folsom Street Fair, I’ve done my fair share of putting on crazy outfits and makeup to party like everyone else. This past weekend’s Edwardian Ball may have been one of the best productions in entertainment and libations with the perfect amount of weird…if you even want to call it that.

I spent the last two nights at the Regency Ballroom in a Cinderella-inspired, peacock-feathered outfit. I made friends with Edwardian Ball OGs and newbies who just wanted to put on a top hat and ballroom dance the night away. I saw some amazing theatrical performances where live music, acrobatics and impressive sets came into play. I saw people playing with steam-powered machines and getting their tarot cards read. And I saw people of all ages finding nooks within the Ballroom to play, chat and let the magic of the night wash over them.

There’s no real way to explain the beauty and mysticism of the Edwardian Ball. But I’ll let these photos give you just a small glimpse into the enchantment of the evening.

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Until next year!

 

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: A Gem Not To Miss

Scuba Playa del Carmen
Scuba divers will absolutely love this story. Keep reading…

Written by and photos by Michael A.

We often don’t lump Mexico in as being an exciting international getaway destination. You need to stop this mindset immediately. Born and raised in Los Angeles, but a mere three-hour drive away from the Mexican border, I too was a culprit of this belief. I love my food and I love me some good international travel. I’ve traveled to roughly 40 countries, and other than a brief stint where I got stranded in Tijuana with a donkey painted zebra, I never had any intention of really making a vacation out of Mexico. However, I was absolutely blown away by the food, scuba diving, clear waters, and most importantly, how incredibly affordable Playa Del Carmen is.

Where to stay

The pool at Hacienda Real del Caribe in Playa del Carmen.
The pool at Hacienda Real del Caribe in Playa del Carmen.

For just $33 a night (yes you read that correctly), I’d recommend staying at Hacienda Real del Caribe. It has a beautiful salt-water pool and very spacious rooms. I’m a big fan of flat screen TV’s, which it was lacking, but the location of this hotel is just so perfect that you’ll forget all about that detail. This hotel is literally one block away from all of the night life, a plethora of great restaurants, and only a 5-minute walk to the beach. Ummmm, I think I also mentioned that it was $33 a night…so, yeah…if you’re on a budget, this is an amazing place to go.

A scuba diver’s paradise

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Cozumel constantly gets all of the hype for being one of the most amazing diving spots in the world (and rightfully so), but you have to make sure you don’t miss the Cenotes. I’ve been on some cool dives in the past, but the Cenotes….well….just look at these pictures for yourself. You won’t see much sea life down there, but the colors and the fact that you’re 35 feet under the surface of Earth is a pretty cool and special feeling in its own right. You are literally below the bottom of tree roots.

Ditch Cozumel and stay in Playa Del Carmen

The best chile relleno I've ever had.
The best chile relleno I’ve ever had.

Don’t make the mistake that my buddy and I made and get a hotel on this island. There really isn’t all that much going on there other than the best chile relleno you could possibly imagine! Cozumel is known world-wide as being one of the top dive locations in the world because of its ridiculously clear waters and visibility. However, I strongly suggest just staying in Playa Del Carmen and paying the extra $5-10 to the dive shop to take you to some diving out there. If you really want to spend some time on the island, it’s literally a $20 35-minute boat ride that leaves every hour from two different ports in Playa Del Carmen. Don’t bother renting a car either, since you won’t see very much other than the port and undeveloped areas.

Lionfish
Don’t touch the Lionfish…

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Do make sure that you go on some dives out there though as the swim-throughs are spectacular and plentiful. If you go within the next couple of years, be ready to see a lot of Lionfish and don’t be an idiot like me and get too close. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they are also extremely poisonous. Enjoy them from afar but don’t try to take that coveted selfie with one. Your underwater selfie can wait until you’ve entered one of the very few shipwrecks in the area. Look for the slightly dirty restroom and make sure you keep your eyes open for some of the biggest eels you’ve ever seen hanging underneath the cracks of the floorboards.

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Overall, Playa Del Carmen is definitely a place you don’t want to miss. The food is great, the stay is cheap, and there is beauty all around you — and under you in the case of the Cenotes.

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