As a third generation Santa Barbaran and one whose business has largely been centered in wine country, I am always trying to stay aware of unique experiences for my clients and their guests when they visit my hometown. Vineyard Yoga SYV (Santa Ynez Valley) is an experience that you simply won’t get at any yoga studio and if you come to Santa Barbara and /or its wine country (The Santa Ynez Valley), this is a must.
Founded by Certified Yoga Instructor Cori Crawford Lassahn, Vineyard Yoga SYV offers guests a relaxing setting at some of Santa Barbara wine country’s most beautiful wineries surrounded by vineyards and panoramic views. Instructor Cori graciously welcomes guests of all abilities and her presence as she guides students through all the moves and the experiences is one of the main differentials between this and other yoga classes. She continually rotates her teaching position so that students on all sides of the class have equal opportunity to hear her and see her examples; her music playlist songs are carefully chosen to relax, inspire (and even, in a few cases, boogie – as I found myself bopping slightly to the beat during warrior pose, which was fun). Every movement had a purpose as a “meditation”, as we were all invited to be present with the feeling of our bodies, what we were observing with our eyes in front of us, listening to with our ears and feeling in our soul. And one of my favorite phrases I heard from her when I was struggling with a couple of moves my body just would not do was, “If your body is not offering this position to you presently, try this alternative…”. I love the idea that it wasn’t that I “couldn’t” do it… it was at that moment, my body was not offering that option to me and it created an openness to keep practicing it and maybe gradually over time, my body would “offer” it to me. It also invited me to be kind to myself.
We were surrounded by nature and the rising morning sun. We opened our hearts, bodies and minds to the tender power of our immediate surroundings and were present in the Holy “Now”.
As if that wasn’t enough, enjoying wine tasting afterwards was a perfect cap to this session (and note: wine tasting is part of every Vineyard Yoga SYV experience). Adding the cherry to the sundae for this particular session at Gainey Vineyards was complimentary chair massages. And since it was lunchtime when we left, how could we not stay and enjoy The Chef’s Touch BBQ Sampler Platter (see photo below) out front surrounded by trees and vineyards while we savored ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and “KFC” (Kurt’s Friggen Good Chicken)?
We came. We yoga’d. We sipped. We were massaged. We ate. We were transformed. We will be back.