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The Yoga Coast of California

October 15, 2012 , , , , ,

Self Realization Fellowship, Encinitas

I am visiting the super highly charged driving world of So Cal. Here it seems to me that all my friends are driving at least half of their waking hours. I am a Tucsonan, and almost a non driver when I am at home. I can bike to almost everything I like to do, and a typical month of milage amounts to less than 150 miles total. I have been in Encinitas for 5 days and have done more driving than I do in a regular month at home. I knew the gas prices had been raised. I knew they did not establish any more parking places for me at the beaches. I knew I would become irritated with all the traffic and the never ending search for parking space. Why did I decide to enter this zone? I consider this zone to be the very best place to drive, ironically.  The access to the beach is the obvious excitement, but by no means the only reason to visit and drive to the many attractions.

The natural food lifestyle and vegetarian ,organic, all pure, eco-enhanced products abound.  I laughed when I observed a big sign advising that the hot dog on a stick stand had two vegetarian options, veggie dog, and cheese on a stick.  Gluten free everything is everywhere, at elevated prices.  Surf equipment, beach styles, brew pubs, and hip action sports programs are all over the place.  I do look at the ‘fornians as lotus eaters, but enjoy coming out to chomp a few lotus myself.  The casual and the sporty people mingle with little distinction in style between the super affluent and the full time surfers.  In fact, it seems like the common  goal is to become affluent so one can afford to live here and surf every day.  Little formality and a taste for the well designed, the gourmet, and the latest of everything defines the coastal lifestyle.  This is not a good place to try to assess people’s wealth or status based on the way they dress.  Dressing for success here is likely to be baggies and a very rad board.

The concentration of so many of the best yoga teachers in Encinitas is not an accident.  Paramahansa Yogananda built a temple on a cliff overlooking the sea here in 1937. His hermitage was a gift from a devotee who acquired the property for the purpose.  The building was on the side of a cliff and eventually sustained damage that was too costly to repair, and had to be demolished.  Today the center and meditation gardens are extensive, but the buildings are safely set away from the stunning view the first hermitage possessed.  The Self Realization Fellowship continues to be a thriving center bringing visitors from all over the world to study or simply enjoy the gardens.  I always spend a few minutes and a few dollars in the book and gift store there.  The selection of books, art, and clothing  is outstanding and the free stuff from the teachings is also available in English and Spanish.  You don’t have to be a yogi to appreciate the history and the impact the swami had, and still has in this area.

Yogananda’s first hermitage

swami’s view

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