Renew yourself

Pub date February 22, 2011

So 2011 is a couple months in, and already your new year’s resolution list reads like so many dreams deferred? Chuck it in the flames — not all rebirths neatly coincide with the Gregorian calendar. This spring, rejuvenate your inner and outer workings with some of these excellent opportunities to renew everything from your chi, to your core strength, to the sweetness of your swagger.



Tripped the light cataclysmic a time too many? The toxic Fernet fumes ooze from your pores, and you’ve left not only your debit, but your credit, library, and frequent bagel-buyer card in various watering holes about time? Time to purge. Take a night off from tippling and toddle to Laughing Lotus, where Friday night’s midnight yoga class (each week from 10 p.m.-midnight) soothes abused chakras — and livers, need be. Each week even features a different live musician: Fri/25’s class will be home to the didgeridoo and sound-healing savasana of Amber Field.

Laughing Lotus, 3271 16th St., SF. (415) 355-1600,



What’s community acupuncture, you ask? Small groups of patients are treated in recliners in a quiet, calm room. During the hour-long sessions, those waiting for their pokes receive staggered personalized care (needles are inserted into one’s limbs, face, and head: no disrobing necessary) from a licensed acupuncturist. Learned how to share in kindergarten? Perfect, because the cooperative method means that a single session will only run you $25–$45, including the initial visit’s paperwork fee. Circle Community Acupuncture, 1351 Harrison, SF. (415) 864-1070,



Fasting, ugh. It has its place, but not eating anything is a bitter pill in the land of street tacos and gourmet coffee grounds. If you’re asking our opinion, a day of cleanse is best accessorized with Lydia’s raw green soup, a tangy elixir of kale, cucumber, dulse seaweed, avocado, ginger, and other green delicious majicks. Lydia’s sells neatly packaged soup servings, resplendent kale chips, and other yummy raw treats are favorites at the city’s crunchiest festivals, and you can pick them up at health food stores too.

Available at various SF grocery stores,



Hidden behind hippie-wear emporium P-Kok is a small green garden and a sauna where tired city souls retreat for the store’s patchouli-heavy full moon ceremonies, complete with vibrational sauna singing. Starting in March, the hidden space will go holistic and become Tall Tree Tambo Wholeness Center. Monthly memberships (to encourage the use of the space as a healthy community hub) will be available for $100–$125 including coed and single-sex sauna access, healing events facilitated by other members, and the center’s four on-site healing arts practitioners, small-group classes in spiritual alignment, yoga, and the ever-popular full moon rites.

776 Haight, SF. (415) 430-8285,



Forget Rocky. For true Bay Area boxing spirit, you couldn’t do better than checking out the super bantamweight championship boxing match of Ana “the Hurricane” Julaton vs. Franchesca “the Chosen One” Alcanter on Fri/25. Julaton, a Daly City and Bayview raised Filipina American, is looking to regain her standing in the pro world after a disappointing loss last year. Regardless of who walks with the belt, the ring’s high-powered punching — and rock hard musculature — is worth checking out if you’re in need of some gym motivation.

Fri/25 6 p.m., $35–$360. Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour, Richmond.



Of course, you could saddle up your most comfortable heels and get your werqout in the club. Should you try this tactic, you could hardly do better than the rum-tum-tum stylings of Non-Stop Bhangra, a night that’s been teaching San Franciscans how to circle wrists and move hips in pure Punjabi mode since 2004. Nights begin with a hour-long class on Bollywood-style dance, continues with ample time to practice to beats by resident DJs and guest scratchers, and now attract a diverse following of races, ages, and ahem, physical aptitudes. Calorie burn and culture learn at the same time, perfect.

Next show: March 19 9 p.m., $10–$20. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. (415) 861-2011,



Maria Arellano was gunning for a healthier lifestyle, so she decided to blog about it. “Accountability,” the chipper office manager e-mailed us when we asked her about Oh Healthy Day‘s providence. “Posting your workouts and healthy eating habits with others is a great way to stay motivated.” Her short, addicting posts and sunny photos of her ongoing journey to fitness are also great ways to hold us accountable — how are you going to down that family-sized bag of corn chips after reading Arellano’s upbeat prose about her delicious protein and veggie dinners or inspiring Crossfit workout? Answer: you’re not.



While the spectacularly cool House of Air has added a valuable component to San Francisco’s kid’s-activity-starved landscape (little ones can’t help but explode with glee at the very sight of the humongous “Bounce House”), there’s trampin’ for adults as well. Specifically, the Air Conditioning workout is a 50-minute fly-through that promises to “leave your cheeks just as sore as your quads from smiling so much.” At $16 for a 50-minute session, it’s not a huge leap to “yes.”

926 Mason, SF. (415) 345-9675,



Feel the burn all you want in your thighs, but no fitness program would be complete without a stretching your mind. At vibrantBrains, you’ll exercise that flabby cerebellum in what amounts to a workout for your brain. Improve your memory, tackle abstractions, and fast-track your alertness, literacy, and comprehension skills with programs like “Neurobics,” “Mind Evolve,” “NeoCORTA,” and “Posit Science Cortex with InSight.” Each program concentrates on a different area of mental agility using a combination of cutting edge techniques and personal attention. Even reading about the various vibrantBrains offerings makes us feel smarter.

3235 Sacramento, SF. (415) 775-1138,



Holy smarty-pants, Batman, there’s a ton of intellectually stimulating stuff going down at the Mechanics’ Institute. Any given day you might enjoy a screwball comedy from the 1940s, a talk by a famous fantasist-cartographer, a book club discussion centering on the Harlem Renaissance, a class in beginner Excel, or intensive chess instruction at any level. It’s also a library! The 1854 Mechanics’ Institute building is a mind-blow in itself — but with a wide-ranging and welcoming program of creatively exhilarating (and very inexpensive) events, you may not even notice your intriguing surroundings.

57 Post. # 415, SF. (415) 393-0110,



Next time you’re about to calculate your checkbook in your head or cry because your (ex-)drummer stole your boyfriend, head over to the Little Farm petting zoo in Berkeley’s Tilden Regional Park. This fully-loaded snuggle gang of cows, goats, rabbits, chickens, and pigs will have you back to your cute self — because petting zoos are restorative for small, whiny children, but they also work for midsized, whiny adults.

Little Farm petting zoo, Tilden Regional Park, Central Park Drive, Berk. (510) 525-2233,



If you want to change your outlook, pay a visit to the Peace Pagoda in Japan Center, an underrated San Francisco landmark. Designed by artist and architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, the pagoda and its subtly Op Art-tinged interpretation of a Buddhist stupa made their debut in the year of the Summer of Love. Walk around and even step inside Taniguchi’s 100-foot-high, five-tiered, many-passaged structure to meditate from an infinite variety of angles. Or better yet, play a quick game of hide and seek with someone you love. 24-7.

1704 Post, SF. (415) 775-1817,



Sometimes the best way to refresh yourself is to get a little lost. When things begin to spiral out of control, let the ancient spiritual meditative paths of the three Bay Area labyrinths lead you to a calmer place. Take a natural journey to the mysterious Eagle Point Labyrinth (Lands End, Sutro Heights Park, SF.). Experience transcendence — and a spectacular quiet zone — with the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral (1100 California, SF. Or amble with playful tots along the colorful circle of the Scott Street Labyrinth near Duboce Park (Scott between Duboce and Waller, SF).



If you want to feel new, sometimes there’s only one thing to do: get a fresh hairdo at Down at Lulu’s. The bass is thumpin’, the clothes are cheap and sexy, and the pop culture treasures and creative energy are abundant at this self-described “hair salon-vintage clothing-record store-junk shop” co-owned by Tina Lucchesi and Seth Bogart, where you can get hot highlights, cuckoo color jobs, and perms with panache.

6603 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 601-0964,



You’ll break your lease in the land of not-so-fresh after an introduction to wonders of kawaii nail art. Let Trang Bui, the manager of Crystal Nail, facilitate your escape from the days of dull French manicures with her signature collage talons of glitter, jewels, and — so popular you should book and specify you want them well in advance — Hello Kitty 3-D art. Don’t be shocked at the price tag — a full acrylic set with designs and tip will run around $65. Worth it for such blingy digits, no? Next challenge: learning to type with horizontal fingers.

2347 Clement, SF. (415) 752-4425



Still rocking the all-natural look? Shame that — freshen up your do with some feather hair extensions, slim bursts of hue that’ll set you apart from the other land-locked long hairs, but don’t involve the same commitment as a jar of Manic Panic (though they can last for months). You can get a natural or neon-colored bundle of up to four feathers for $30 or single plumes for $10 each at the Mission’s Pretty Parlor. Move fast — once these hit Dolores Park, the trend’s gonna blow up.

Pretty Parlor. 3150 18th St., SF. (415) 556-2883,