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Sound Bites - Issue 26 - October 2015

On the Cover 
Doug Dee on Iyengar Yoga and Its Benefits

Doug Dee demonstrating a Side Stretch poseDoug Dee demonstrating a Side Stretch pose.

Shoulder stand with chair propShoulder stand with chair prop.

Downward Dog poseDoug demonstrating a Downward Dog pose.

Instructor Doug Dee has been teaching the Iyengar yoga discipline for more than 18 years and brings 25 years of experience as a therapeutic massage therapist into his teaching skills. Aside from SMC Community Ed, he has conducted classes for the St. John's Health Center, Spectrum, Santa Monica Yoga, and UCLA's Marylyn Hilton Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center among other esteemed institutions.

He has studied under many prominent teachers, including the late BKS Iyengar, Eric Small, and Larry Heliker. His students range in age from 18 to 80.

"I teach students dealing with Multiple Sclerosis and other physical issues who found conventional treatments ineffective but became completely transformed by regular yoga practice," he says.  "For my athletic clients, yoga helps them grow their stamina, balance, and flexibility."

What distinguishes Iyengar yoga from other forms?

We use props to help us experience poses more easily and fully. While both are forms of Hatha yoga, Vinyasa-style yoga is more concerned with the flow of poses, while Iyengar yoga places importance on detailed precision and alignment to correct and make aware of healthy posture in our bodies. Because there is such focus on alignment, Iyengar yoga is very approachable for those that are injured, elderly, or anybody that wants to get into yoga safely. Iyengar yoga teachers have to go through rigorous training in order to be certified to teach. 

When and why did you decide to practice yoga?

I found yoga when I was a massage therapist 20 years ago to help me with the pain in my wrists. I had many sports injuries from the past that had accumulated in my neck and my back. I stumbled upon yoga as one of the ways of attaining relief from my pain, but it became immediately clear once I started that it was the modality for my own healing that I was looking for.

What's the craziest thing you have ever done?

Ever since I've found yoga, I'm just not that crazy anymore. 

What's your idea of a perfect day?

A perfect day is one where we are nourishing the self, the mental and emotional components that go with the physical body. Nourishing food, a full yoga practice, and the opportunity for rest.

What do you like the best about teaching at SMC Community Education?

The number of beginner students that come to SMC provides me with the opportunity to teach the fundamentals on a regular basis.  However, the diversity of the student body also gives me the opportunity to improvise on the fundamentals. I've had to use my skills in a more expanded way, and it has helped me become a better teacher because of it.  

Is there anything else you want to add?

My mentor and friend, Eric Small, has been a motivational figure in directing my career. Although he has been teaching yoga for 65 year now, he also has Multiple Sclerosis. When I first got to know Eric, I was his assistant in his classes, which kicked off the training I needed to complete my Iyengar yoga teaching certification. With Eric's guidance, I was mentored on how to teach people with Multiple Sclerosis at the Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center, where I have been teaching for the past eight years. It was through Eric that I learned much of my teaching style, which is highly individual, pragmatic, and dependent on the person I'm working with. Each person has his or her abilities and challenges, and not everybody can do everything. So I use props and supports to help them to see what is possible for them. Hopefully that gives my students inspiration that daily practice is achievable. 

This Fall, Doug teaches Introduction to Iyengar Yoga beginning on October 28 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm.

What's New
Two New Tours by Award-Winning Expert

Alice Meyering

Huntington Library, PasadenaHuntington Library, Pasadena

Adamson HouseThe historic Adamson House, Malibu

from the desk of Alice Meyering
I'm excited to announce that we have added two new tours in November that will be led by award-winning art, architecture and design historian, professor, lecturer and tour leader, Eleanor Schrader.

The tours are Huntington Library: A Day in the Art Collections, Gardens & English Tea on November 7 and Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture & Malibu Potteries Tile: Adamson House & Serra Retreat on November 10.

Eleanor, a native Angeleno, has lectured worldwide on the history of architecture, interiors, furniture, and decorative arts. She also leads architecture and design tours in Southern California and throughout the world.

She has served as a Design Review Commissioner for the City of Beverly Hills and is a member of the Board of Directors of Beverly Hills Heritage, Beverly Hills Historical Society, John Lautner Foundation, and Malibu Adamson House Foundation. She has been named a Distinguished Instructor by UCLA Extension, where she teaches the history of architecture and interior design in the Architectural and Interior Design Program. She has done graduate work in fine and decorative arts at Sotheby's Institute in London and New York and also holds an M.B.A. from Loyola Marymount University. She also has a YouTube show, "Sit Down Darling. . .Let's Talk Design," with co-host Ian Patrick.

Her tours through Community Ed promise to provide a true insider's perspective into these two L.A. architectural and design treasures.

For additional information, visit our website or
call us at (310) 434-3400 or email

Behind the Scenes
Guitar II Now Available in Winter 2016

Pete RisiPete Risi, Guitar Instructor

Pete Risi on guitar

"It's addictive."

That's what Pete Risi's guitar students will tell you about playing the instrument. And that's why they clamored for more classes. They took Guitar I, now they want Guitar II, which is being offered by SMC Community Ed for the first time ever, beginning October 30.

"Music is a fascination that affects everyone on the planet," Risi says. "With the guitar being the most popular instrument, these classes are a great way for people to get their own guitar playing started and advancing."

The Guitar II class is designed for people who can already play a little bit but want to get deeper into note reading, strumming chords, exercises, scales and more, he says.

"We do try to cover quite a bit of ground in six weeks," Risi adds. "Once people realize that learning the guitar is something that is truly attainable even if they have had failed attempts in the past, people get hooked and really want to continue on."
Risi has been playing guitar since he was 11 and has been writing, recording, teaching, and performing for many years. With a Bachelor's degree in music from Mercy College in New York, Risi has performed a wide variety of music but with a leaning toward guitar-based rock – specifically raw melodic guitar rock. He is the lead guitarist and songwriter for his band Sonic Jungle.

But he also plays classical guitar, blues, and steel string acoustic styles (rock, pop, contemporary, folk) and some jazz.

"The rock gigs I've played range from original rock (my favorite), to classic rock covers, even an Aerosmith tribute band I was in for five years," he says. "I'm also currently working on a couple of acoustic duos. I have toured nationally (several six-week runs) and a few international mini tours."

Guitarists who have influenced him include Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Hendrix, Van Halen, Steve Morse, Brian May, Michael Hedges, Paco De Lucia, and Pepe Romero.

"As you can see there is a wide range of styles that interest me personally and which I incorporate into teaching," he says. "I want to show students musicality that can be applied across the board to any genre. What I think is important for students is that what we learn in class can be related to what they are interested in playing – which then becomes super relevant for their learning."

For additional information, visit our website or
call us at (310) 434-3400 or email

Coming Up - Big Increase in Winter Class Offerings

Michelle KingMichelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

Register now for Winter classesRegister now for Winter classes.

It's beginning to look a lot like. . . Well, maybe not exactly Christmas. But it is time to think about winter – Winter Session at SMC Community Ed, that is!

Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of classes you can take through the rest of the fall semester. But online registration for Winter Classes begins in just a few days, on Monday, November 2.

And I'm proud to report that we have slated 108 classes in Winter 2016, a 25 percent jump from the number we offered in Winter 2015. The biggest changes are the addition of fitness/dance classes, art courses and – for the first time, private piano lessons.

Make your New Year's resolutions early and accomplish them by joining us for a vibrant winter session.

Please go to our website and do not hesitate to contact us by phone, (310) 434-3400, or email


Rachelle Benveniste

On a sadder note, I am sorry to inform you that our beloved former writing instructor Rachelle Benveniste – who not only was a popular teacher but also a writer and editor who had a unique approach to literary arts – passed away September 28.

Rachelle, an award-winning poet and prose writer who taught at SMC Community Ed until Fall of 2013, took a spiritual and healing approach to writing. Her classes were "Finding One's Voice: Healing through Writing," "Writing from Our Lives: A Spiritual Perspective;" and "Writing from the Inner Self."

"I've taken Rachelle's classes on five separate occasions," student Andrew Tavoni said. "Each time, I learned something new about the writing process and my relationship to it. She was an inspiring instructor who provides a class experience where exploration, risk taking and truthful expression are encouraged. "

Rachelle also taught creative writing through the UCLA Writers Program and conducted "Counseling with Heart" and Bereavement Support Group sessions for 14 years through Agape International Spiritual Center.

Rachelle will be sorely missed.

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education


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