Yoga for Social Change

September’s Schedule 2018

Tuesdays, beginning Tuesday, September 4, 9:30am Morning Gentle Yoga with Erika Indrani Eddy. This is an eight week series. Drop-ins welcome.

Tuesdays, beginning Tuesday, September 4, 11:00am Peace and Pranayama with Erika Indrani Eddy. This is an eight week series. Drop-ins welcome.

Weekend Sanskrit Immersion Saturday and Sunday, September 8 and 9. Inquire for details

Crystal Bowl Sound Bath with Reiki Sunday, September 9, 6:30pm. $35. Drop-ins welcome.

Mala-Making Workshop Sunday, September 15, 2:00pm – 5:00pm $79

Soul Collage® Saturday, September 22, 11:00am – 3:00pm $35

Restorative Practices for Anxiety and Depression Release Saturday, September 29, 2:00pm – 4:30pm with Brooke $35. TWO SPACES LEFT

Restorative Yoga Therapy and Meditation Wednesdays and Thursdays 5:45pm – 7:15pm with Brooke $15. Drop-ins welcome.

All of these events support self-inquiry, self-regulation and trauma relief.

conscious social change

Most of our problems can be addressed in relationship but all of our problems must be addressed within ourselves. This is conscious activism. Whether it is systemic oppression, arguing with your beloved or something as intimate as negative self-talk – whatever it is that we are consciously hoping to change, the two best remedies are self-reflection and self regulation. Collaboration with one another and with the Divine are important, too.

How do you feel right now? What is happening in your body? Are you angry, tired and grieving? Are you hopeful, grateful and true to yourself? Are you feeling all of these things, and more? Or are you numb…?

Are you self-regulating with coffee, cigarettes and energy drinks? Or are you self-regulating naturally, regularly resting the mind by moving and relaxing the body and breathing fresh, clean air deeply, often?

We all have different ways of coping. It may be that the quality of our coping directly reflects the quality of our lives. Numbness, denial and intimacy-isolation are strategies that keep us complicit in the misery of our lives. Community, honesty and feeling difficult, shadowy feelings help us maintain rhythm in the autonomic nervous system, and grow healthy relationships.

Movement helps release tension and toxins from the body. Breath stretches DNA, releasing tensions and toxins – unprocessed trauma. Lots of shadow work brightens the day. What traumas are lurking in you, waiting to try to complete themselves in unpredictable ways? What aspects of your life are suffering? What circuitry is running your life?

You have the power to change. Breathing, Yoga, relaxation and meditation, art, exercise, awareness, willingness, forgiveness, and humility all contribute to social justice. We have the power to change the world, together, as one.

In August, I studied with Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, Suzanne Sterling, founders of Off The Mat, Into The World® and forty-five people from around the planet. We explored Yoga, sound, trauma, empathy, self-regulation and collaboration – the importance of self-inquiry, authenticity, love, peace, accountability and long-term relationships – and their impact on sustainable social change. Conscious activism takes courage and insight. Yoga gives us the opportunity to practice both of those things and more.

Watch Seane Corn talk about Yoga, her experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-inquiry, self-regulation and reconciliation as trauma relief here. This is another interesting interview. She’s fierce, spiritual, and sensitive, one of the world’s most well-known yoga teachers who made vinyasa popular. She says she used to be crazy before she started yoga. Exploring uninvestigated tension and stress in her body made her happier.

“The revolution is here,” she says.

Thank you for being the change you wish to see in the world. The courage to change the things we can, including breath, attitude and self-care, can change the world.

Brooke West Yoga Therapy and Meditation Studio

7730 Morro Road, Suite 207, Atascadero, CA

We are currently under construction and our calendar has been known to change as we settle. Please keep checking this website for more information or contact


A Yoga THERAPY Studio: Pelvic Floor Health, Sanskrit Language Course; Reiki Training

There aren’t any other Yoga Therapy studios around. The Brooke West Yoga Studio is the only one I know of in this region. What are we doing there?yoga ireland hands

We have a line-up of some dream events at the studio:

The American Sanskrit Institute Weekend Sanskrit Intensive in August; Kirtan, Reiki Training and a Pranayama Workshop this weekend;

A Pelvic Floor Workshop August 8;

Two Sound Healings on the Fridays of the next full and new moons;

twice-weekly Restorative Yoga and meditation classes on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, 5:45pm – 7:15pm.

This little studio isn’t like anything else I have seen anywhere. It’s casual and cozy. It’s calm and cool and shaded, like a room where we would go to nap or relax. It’s secluded, upstairs in a commercial office space under the canopy of trees. It’s intimate: everyone either knows one another or you can find us introducing ourselves to one another. We are frequently grieving and, also, often giggling. We are people coming to Yoga while trying not to panic, because we are nervous, anxious, depressed, uncomfortable, lonely. We are trying to live with or resolve chronic pain. We are recovering from the confusion of addiction. We are frequently wiping tears and consoling one another, reaching to one another in loving, caring ways. We are sometimes desperately shy. We are always really, really nice to one another. We come here to rest and to feel better.

Private Yoga Therapy clients change – it is unlike anything I have witnessed anywhere. I am watching people metamorphosize in front of my eyes. Women, mostly women, come in totally overwhelmed and leave class refreshed. Women come to private Yoga therapy terrified and leave triumphant. Women come in in tears, in pain, and leave mobile and free to enjoy themselves and their lives. It happens quickly. It happens because of friendship and care, by listening and being willing to show up and find compassion for oneself.

After everything that has happened this year (read my last blog), I kind of gave up having a vision and sort of let God take over. In doing so, the private Yoga therapy aspect of my work has really taken off. I don’t really have time to teach a lot of public classes, because I see clients all day, every day. I am very grateful to do what I do and to watch people change so dramatically.

This spring, for example: one lady quit her job and is so much happier. She came in because her blood pressure was out of control and she lived with panic. One woman had basically crippled herself from fear of hurting her already vulnerable spine. Now she’s cruising the fair and her kids and her co-workers notice the difference. Agoraphobics are coming out of the house. Headaches are relieved. Suicidal thoughts subside. Balance and strength are regained. Medications decrease or are stopped altogether. Happiness returns.


Please join us and be a part of the miraculous healing! UPCOMING SCHEDULE:


YOGA TEACHER MENTORSHIP for teachers interested in Yoga therapy!


Wednesday and Thursday 5:45 – 7pm RESTORATIVE GROUP CLASSES led by Brooke $15

Friday July 27 7pm KIRTAN! Singing reduces pain naturally. See the latest research here.  Includes a post-kirtan feast – bring a dish! $20

Saturday July 28 12pm – 4 REIKI ATTUNEMENT $150 Become a practitioner!

Sunday July 29 PRANAYAMA AND PEACE (contact for more info)

Friday August 3 6:30pm FULL MOON GONG BATH SOUND HEALING $30




Saturday August 18 and August 19 SANSKRIT WEEKEND INTENSIVE $235

Details to be announced. Email Brooke for more information and to reserve your spots. Space is limited. No previous experience required.



The End of a Very Short Era: Goodbye, Grateful Spirit Yoga

Dearest Amazing, Wonderful People,

I have forfeited the rights to the Grateful Spirit Yoga brand by not continuing aerial yoga, which was suspended due to safety issues by the owner of the building.

I have canceled the lease for the Yoga studio and will not manage Grateful Spirit Yoga past June 6, 2018. I am relinquishing responsibility for several reasons.

The aerial yoga was terminated by the owner of the property, Bob Newberg, due to safety concerns, on May 2.

“Due to the  ongoing concerns with the safety of the aerial yoga support systems,  I must require that you immediately stop all use of the aerial swings.  The use of the swings may be resumed when the following are completed:
  1. Inspection of the entire aerial system by a Licensed Structural Engineer.
  2. Completion of any modifications, additions or deletions to the aerial system and the support structure that may be required by the Engineer.
  3.  The addition of Tres Robles, LLC. to your Certificate of Insurance as additional insured.  Also, evidence that aerial yoga is covered by your insurance.
  4. Certification by the Engineer that any required  modifications, additions or deletions have been completed and the entire system is safe for the intended use. I am sorry for this disruption to your business but it is essential that we take these steps to insure the safety of all concerned.”
Although Bob and his own contractor, Mike, rigged the beams for the hammocks themselves, they would not take responsibility for ensuring their safety when I took over the business in April. At least one wall to which the beams are attached is a floating wall and I doubt it will support long-term pressure. One of the ceiling beams has split significantly since I took ownership on April 1 and the drywall is also splitting in a more exaggerated way than when I took ownership. There are also cracks in the ceiling. Before I took ownership, one of the hammocks fell and injured the instructor during a private session.
The first week that I took ownership, a building inspector came in (the husband of an aerial student) and made several reasonable suggestions for securing the apparatus to increase safety. Bob and Mike refused to implement the suggestions, stating confidence in the work done by Mike. I understand from the building inspector that Mike was very angry when they spoke, possibly because the inspector critiqued Mike’s work. There is no room for pride when it comes to the safety of students in my classes.
The lowest bid for a structural engineer to come inspect the studio was $1000. I decided not to pursue this avenue. Thanks to everyone who hustled that week to find an engineer for me. You know who you are!
The aerial yoga classes were a primary revenue generator for GSY. Prohibiting classes stops a significant revenue stream.
There’s more.
Then, on May 6, within five weeks of proprietorship, I received another email from Bob, the landlord, stating that “By having exercise classes at your location you are in violation of the lease agreement… By having exercise classes, you are in direct competition with Healthy Inspirations. [the neighboring business]” I was reminded in this email from Bob that the only activity allowed in the studio was “Yoga,” as stated on the lease agreement.
Anything that I would like to offer the community beyond Yoga in this location, therefore, including sound healing, film showings and support groups, would also be in breach of the contract I had signed. I did not consider that offering classes not offered by Healthy Inspirations would be a conflict of interest.
The owner of Healthy Inspirations, Tricia Williams, perceived that the Barre Yoga Fusion class, which would have been a full and profitable class for the teacher, conflicted with her business.
It never occurred to me that I would be so restricted in a rented space. Perhaps I was naive.
Tricia must have consulted with Bob with her complaint after briefly speaking with me – literally coming to the studio door two minutes before a private session at 8am with my student on Friday morning  – of her concern that I would take clients from her business by offering this event, even though her business does not offer Barre classes and even though the Barre class includes Yoga.
Bob further required that I receive written permission from Tricia to offer the Barre class. When I requested a conversation with her about it, via email in which I cc’d the Barre instructor and Bob, she flatly refused to discuss it.
I wrote to her:

“Hi, Tricia,

Tara Orlick, the Yoga Barre instructor, and I would like to meet with you to bring understanding to the perceived conflict which concerns you regarding the scheduled monthly Barre workshops at the Yoga studio.
Would you be willing to meet with us this week for a conversation?
Bob, our landlord, requested that you write a letter of approval for Grateful Spirit to host the Yoga Barre class. We are eager to confirm with registered clients that the class is a “go.”
Mornings at 9am work for me to meet, except Wednesday, and other times can be arranged. Tara can be flexible and take a break from her work at our convenience.
She replied:

“Thank you for wanting to bring understanding to the perceived conflict, however, I am currently focused on consolidating both my centers into the Atascadero location.

At this time I am in no position to consider the allowance of more than yoga in the Tres Robles center.
I appreciate your compliance and understanding.”
I had been clearly warned by multiple people before I took on the business about Tricia and how difficult she was to work with, and there were several other incidents between myself and Tricia that give me reason to believe that this woman is not supportive of our business, creativity and freedom in serving our students, including respecting quietude in the shared hallway. Respect for our need for reasonable quiet to support the meditation in the studio during Yoga classes has been a challenge the entire first month in business.
I have forfeited the rights to the Grateful Spirit Yoga brand by not continuing aerial yoga, which was suspended due to safety issues by the owner of the building.
The work I have done in the past three months to build the studio and it’s reputation must be absorbed by a new identity, should we continue as a business entity. I imagine keeping my business name, Brooke West Yoga, as I move forward.
I feel a responsibility to the teachers at GSY to resolve the loss of a venue, as they have committed to teaching through June. I have a responsibility to my private clients to continue offering Wednesday and Thursday evening classes through July, as those classes are included as part of private yoga therapy programs.
I believe that my concept for GSY as a therapeutic yoga venue is valuable and needed. I have received wonderful feedback over and over, including “Atascadero needs this!”
Every teacher who has taught at GSY has also received incredibly positive feedback about their classes. They are all talented and passionate people – exactly what our society needs right now. I am very grateful that they agreed to accompany me on this journey thus far.
This has been a wonderful experience. I have worked my ass off. I know that the other teachers have put their heart and soul into what they do, too.
Safety is my priority as a Yoga teacher. I am proud of myself for listening to my intuition, asking questions about the aerial yoga hammocks, not being bullied by the neighbor and stepping away from danger and disrespect. It was an efficient decision, made quickly and without consulting anyone. I feel it was a necessary move and feel very calm and positive about it. It is inconvenient, but far less inconvenient than someone being hurt or more classes being canceled because of greed, fear and the territorialism of someone threatened by something healthy and which brings joy to those whom we serve. I believe that there is enough business to go around and that every student will find and resonate with their right teacher. I hope that everyone will understand why I chose to strike out, away from Grateful Spirit Yoga and all that came with it.
Rent is paid through May 31.  We are welcome to stay through June 6. Bob generously waived the rent for those final days in June.
I will be out of town and my classes will be canceled from Wednesday to Tuesday, May 23 – 29.
I plan to relocate services to an office on Morro Road (Highway 41). Please stay tuned.
I Send You So Much Love and Gratitude for your Grateful, Adventurous and Giving Spirits!!! Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or feedback.
Shanti Shanti Shanti
Peace Peace Peace


New Studio, New Schedule!

New Classes at
Grateful Spirit Yoga!

You are invited to join us to bloom this spring!

We have new teachers, new classes and class times, new events
for all levels and abilities.

Sound Healing
Aerial Yoga
Vinyasa Yoga
Yoga Plus for the Curvier Yogi
Restorative Yoga
Yin Yoga
Meditation for Beginners
Anxiety and Depression Relief
Individualized Yoga Therapy

Transformational Films

Please view the new schedule here

We are located at 8105 El Camino Real, Atascadero
in the parking lot behind Healthy inspirations one block south of Curbaril

Here’s The Scoop!

My name is Brooke West. I am a certified Yoga Therapist and meditation teacher. I have been classically trained in Yoga, leading students of all ages and abilities toward inner peace and tranquility for thirteen years in San Luis Obispo County and beyond.
I am a master teacher, Yoga teacher trainer and an international lecturer, researcher and advocate for Yoga as integrative therapy, specializing in mental health and wellness.

I am committed to supporting your health and growth.

As Alyssa, the founder, steps away from Grateful Spirit for the birth of her child, I wish to honor her for creating and maintaining a warm atmosphere for people to blossom. I am honored to have the opportunity to share the Light and healing of Yoga with the community. I hope you will join us soon!

Grateful Spirit is faith-open studio. We will strive to provide accessible Yoga, movement, mindfulness and peace to all who pass through its doors.

Everyone is welcome.

Read More

Transformational and Healing Films at
Grateful Spirit Yoga
April 4, 6 and 7

Six films over three days: Wednesday, April 4, Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7. Donation-based film viewings at Grateful Spirit Yoga support Hopedance and Grateful Spirit Yoga’s collaborative efforts to educate our community on integrative health and to stimulate conscious conversation for social renewal.

Wednesday, April 4

6pm – 8pm  The Goddess Project
Traveling through the diverse landscapes of America, The Goddess Project will explore the many ways in which women are realizing their potential, overcoming their fears, and propelling our world into a new state of consciousness.
8pm – 10pm  Yogawoman
Women have embraced yoga for easing health conditions like breast cancer, infertility, heart disease, and anxiety and depression. Yoga has transformed the lives of women in prison, cancer survivors, and those struggling with body image or eating disorders with candor. And beyond these circumstances, we witness how women have integrated yoga into their daily lives so they are happier, healthier, and more fulfilled — allowing them to give back to others with full hearts and creative minds.

Friday, April 6

6pm – 8pm  Crazywise
Crazy…or wise? The traditional wisdom of shamans and indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary CRAZYWISE explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience.

8pm – 10pm  Healing Voices
A feature-length documentary examining experiences commonly labeled as ‘psychosis’ or ‘mental illness’ in society, a critical look at America’s broken mental health care system and how peer support systems enhance recovery.

Saturday, April 7

6pm – 8pm  Neurons To Nirvana
A stylish, in depth look at the renaissance in psychedelic drug research in light of current scientific, medical and cultural knowledge.

8pm – 10pm  Heal 
We have more control over our health and life than we have been taught to believe. This film will empower you with a new understanding of the miraculous nature of the human body and the extraordinary healer within us all.

Yin Yoga for Anxiety Workshop
with Gina Hobbs
Sunday, April 15
10am – 12noon

Anxiety, Anger and “Asshole” mindset all stem from the same root emotion. Join Gina for a morning of self exploration and heart work as we mindfully tap into triggers, surrender to WHAT IS and release our desire to control things we cannot.

Gina Hobbs has lived and practiced on the central coast for over 30 years and is a requested teacher at GSY. Yin Yoga and meditation are at the forefront of her service. She invites everyone to come and “chalk out” time and space to just BE with absolutely no expectation but the readiness to receive.  It is her firm belief that we do not come to the mat to “do” Yoga, we come to the mat because we “are” Yoga.

Space is limited.
$25Register here.

Sound Bath Healing with Bryan Ratkay

Our first event SOLD OUT! We are offering a Full Moon Sound Healing with Gongs and Crystal Bowls Saturday, April 28 at 6:30pm Suggested donation: $35 – $60.
Register here!


Restorative Yoga: The entire session is designed to ease tension.

The Restorative Yoga for Anxiety and Depression Release class on Saturday, March 17 is a deeply relaxing practice in a small group, usually about six people. This class meetsone Saturday a month at Grateful Spirit yoga in Atascadero, behind Healthy Inspirations across from Smart and Final.
We begin with a brief check in, introducing ourselves to one another to make the rest of the session comfortable knowing who is in the room with us. This eases tension. The entire session is designed to ease tension.
We then move into a brief How To Sit Comfortably 101 in case anyone would like to end their session with seated meditation, so they know how to get comfortable and become familiar with the seated Sukasana, or Easy Pose. Guided relaxation follows.
Nothing is required in this session, only that you honor what feels right to you. The restorative poses can be modified to any body, All the poses are practiced by propping the body with blankets to make your body comfortable. All poses are done on the floor. All body types, levels of fitness and levels of experience are welcome. We use eight to ten blankets or more per person.
We spend time in the poses, from five to twenty minutes, to allow the body to really relax, which eases mental tension. If the poses aren’t comfortable or inappropriate for you for any reason, we modify or put you into an entirely different pose. Students are covered by blankets, creating a sense of security from the weight of the covers. Eyes are closed, if that is comfortable for the student (it usually is because the atmosphere  is so calm and conducive to rest). Eye bags or eye masks are recommended. Although the group is small, this is a very private experience for oneself.
A key element to the session is the meditation guidance. Students are lulled into a trance-like relaxation by way of the rhythm of words, the gentleness of the movements, the length of rest in each posture and by attuning to and controlling the breath. There is minimal stimulation in this practice, which allows us to realize our own mental habits and thought patterns, to recognize invasive thoughts and to practice how to become aware of, how to observe and how to control the mind for our own well being.
The class is guided calmly from pose to pose and into and out of silent, contemplative moments where the mind relaxes into states of consciousness that are rejuvenative. This pattern supports the immune system and supports the inherent healing capacity of the body. People often drift off to sleep, though I encourage people to try to hover in that spacey place between wakefulness and sleep. This state of mind is where the magic happens, what promotes healing and what we need more of. People leave this session feeling refreshed, comfortable, alert, relaxed and calmly peaceful. This session is like an abbreviation of the Women’s Restorative Retreat experience. It is a mini-getaway.
The mind has been prepared to meditate in this practice and indeed people are already in a meditative state at the end of class. Meditation is the goal of classical (Raja) Yoga. To end in seated, silent meditation is more effortless than one might expect, especially for those with no previous meditation experience. Ending in meditation or by lying comfortably on the floor, covered, is the student’s choice. For go-getters who have difficulty relaxing and meditating, ending seated, as we began class, can give one a sense of real accomplishment. Again, it is up to the student how they would like to experience their practice, and I encourage students to decide in the moment.
People report sleeping better and having less pain, less inflammation, less anxiety and less depression after these sessions. All of this leads to better moods and improved relationships, a shift in perception, greater awareness, greater ease in concentrating, all improving the quality of our lives.
The session begins at 2pm and ends at 4:30.
I recommend registering in advance of attending, as it does fill and space is limited. Cost is $35. Register here. PayPal sometimes glitches. Let me know if you have any problem signing up (if you try). If you have a friend interested and they’d like to contact me about class, have them email me.
Thanks for your interest!

Six of the Most Useful Things that I Brought To Baja

Caravanning 1200 miles down The Baja, I didn’t know if I’d stay here forever, so I packed enough to survive if I did. I didn’t know if I’d like it here or if I would be too hot all the time or if I would click with the women I am traveling with. It has been a dream of a trip, better than I could have imagined, and a few things made it really comfortable…

Internal Homeopathic Arnica – I’ve shared it twice and it’s soothing for everyone’s heart to see tiny vial of Sweet Hope pills after falls, spills and bang-ups. It helped my new friends to rely on me a bit more and to trust and appreciate me – so valuable in the early days of the trip when we didn’t really know one another, which made me feel good.

Image result for arnica homeopathic

A Squat Pint Mason Jar – No spill! I served countless medicinal tincture cocktails in the car to my driver Julia while caravanning 1200 miles down The Baja, and I have soaked a lot of cashews and dates for vegan pies in this friend. A great coffee cup. I brought the plastic Mason jar lids, which aren’t drip-proof but are still easier to handle than the two-piece metal ones while on the road.Small Mason Jar

My Smartwool Pullover – Paid full price at MountainAir Sports in downtown SLO and will never regret it. Perfect weight, great color, 100% wool. Soft and yummy. I’ll wear it until one of us dies.

!SpanishDict! AppAll you need is to say the name with a certain tone and it gets a grunt of a laugh among our group of feminists – but seriously, quick translations of words and full sentences in English or Spanish with audio pronunciation has been really helpful and comforting. It was such a disadvantage without it for the first leg of the trip.

An Attitude of Possibility – God’s got a better plan for me than I can drum up when I am in anxious-mode. The month before I came here, I packed up my shit, threw it into storage, let go of my apartment and said “!Hasta luego!” to most of my clients. It has been a dream of a trip, better than I could have imagined, because I am staying easy-going (most of the time), trusting that the Universe has my back and sporting a sense of humor. I lightened up. I have been able to maintain a feeling great love for my companions and for my life and appreciating Infinite possibility – a “This or something greater” approach, an “I can deal with this, I’m in a foreign country” mindset. I am going home to the gift of a new Yoga studio that I didn’t expect to be given, with a bunch of new friends and the experience of living at beach retreat in Baja, to which I will return with friends from here and from home in the future.

Little packets of Coconut Oil from Trader Joe’s – An all-over cooling moisturizer – it’s so dry down here! Great to stave off hunger pangs. A little in the nose while camping in dusty RV parking lots. A little in the ends of the hair to make it cute. A little on the anus to soothe the tissues after diarrhea. Cuticle care. A protective sheen to swab on the ears. Makes vegan pies more substantive. 4 – 6 tablespoons per day for seven days kills intestinal parasites.

Image result for coconut oil packets Trader Joe's

AND ONE FOR GOOD LUCK! Spices – Thyme, Ground Cumin, Ground Ginger, Himalayan Salt, Cinnamon, a special Thai Green Curry dry spice. Brings the campsite alive!

Other things I am glad I brought:

My Preferred Clear Zinc Sunscreen and Sunscreen Chapstick (I ran out of Zinc and had my girlfriend bring me two jars when she visited)

Raw Cashews – can’t find ’em here

This Laptop

A Silk Scarf  (it’s my towel, my warmth, my sun- and wind-screen, my beach blanket, my window shade in the car, my sheet on the bed in unknown territory…)

Gluten and Lactose Enzyme Pills (I’ve eaten in more restaurants in eight weeks than in two years in SLO and haven’t had too many problems butI take these at every meal.)

Small Washcloths – I use one or two instead of a big towel for after showering. Takes up less space.

Extra Bags – plastic garbage bags, cloth book bags, ziplock bags, backpack, change purse, passport purse, endlessly useful.

My Earth Shoe Ugg Boots with the plastic clog-like shoe part. Great for sand walking.

Essential Oil Bug Spray – I am using DoTerra Terra Shield and one I made from a mix of oils I already had and put that in a glass spray bottle with witch hazel. The spray bottle is super convenient. Clove oil taken internally in water kills intestinal parasites.

Two Other Sizes of Mason Jars – a half-gallon and two quart jars. Bottled water or purificado from the agua store is essential .

My Down Pillow with Two Pillowcases and a two Flat Sheets – sheets are great for the sand and I sleep better in my own linens.

A Pumice Stone – everyone’s callouses fell off when we got here. My feet started disintegrating. But my heels are so smooth now!

Born in the Year of The Rat, I tend to pack heavy but I am glad to have these resources to make traveling comfortable.

Here’s a recent New York Times article that mentions this town. 

Here’s a video of where we are (a view of why I never want to leave and plan to return and lead Yoga and meditation retreats here – join me!).




My Medicine in Mexico: The Pharmacy, The Dentist and The Doctor at The Clinic

viagra bajaWhen I got here, I thought I might never leave. Ex-pat! Me! Yes! I couldn’t even dream of it, though, because I was told by my doctor that I had to return to the States within three months to renew a psychiatric prescription or else my “case” would be closed. If it closed, then I returned and reopened my case, I might not get the same psychiatrist – the only psychiatrist in the SLO county mental health system who prescribes this particular medication. I was fucked, stuck in another kind of psychiatric hold, and entrapped by the snare of the U.S. pharmaceutical drug ring. I couldn’t ex-pat because of my health… or could I?

Cut to la farmácia. My blood pressure medication cost $2.50USD when I ran out and bought more. They didn’t carry the time-released one, but I would be OK. Yes, they have my thyroid medication in case I run out. Lamotrigine? Yes, they have that, too. The brain med. I could live in Mexico! I never had to go back to see that doctor again! (They also sell Viagra – the little Mexican cartoon guy with a boner advertises it outside the pharmacies. Isn’t this a Catholic country?)

I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in years, so I dropped into the dentist’s and had them shine me up. It was like going to the car wash/auto detail place. The noises of the tools! The hosing off of each set of teeth after he buffed them out! Oh, and I got fitted for a mouthguard because I grind my teeth: 1000 pesos. That’s like fifty bucks. Fill cavities? 1000 pesos each. But I have twelve, he said, so maybe not today. Twelve cavities? Really? Mmm, not now, gracias. Teeth cleaning? 900 pesos. That’s like $45USD. That guy’s doing some bizness in downtown Los Barriles, I tell you what. My jaw feels weird tonight. Could I have an infection? Were those tools clean? Sterile? I think I saw his assistant washing them in the sink as I left. I wasn’t asked to sign any waivers – there’s no record of my patronage – oh, wait! He took that impression of my teeth for the mouth guard. Evidence. It’s cool.

Is my paranoia so American?

Tomorrow I poop in a cup and take it to East Cape Medical Clinic where, for 250 pesos, they will sample my stool for parasites: giardia, dwarf tapeworm, all the things that make you sick. That’s, like, twelve dollars. Then the medicine is, like, four dollars.

The US pharmaceutical industry is the largest in the world, folks. No other country spends as much as the States on prescription medication. What else are they overcharging us for? Simply being alive?

I might ex-pat, but not this spring. I got stuff to do in California Norte. A one way ticket, SLO to Cabo, costs about $250USD right now. In case you’re interested in another way to live. Just sayin’.

Baja Biosana – An Experiment in Sustainable Community and Sociocracy

I’ll cut to the chase: The most fascinating thing I heard on our morning tour of Baja Biosana, an intentional community near Santiago, Baja California Sur, was when our unsuspecting tour guide, Andrew Jones, mentioned Shamanic Permaculture: exploring the inner landscape. How many times was I going to hear about entheogens and spiritual journeying on this Mexico trip? Ayahuasca, the psychedelic frog, shamans being flown in from Peru in February and did I want to try to find God with the help of a natural brew…? I am perfectly content in knowing that all I gotta do is close my eyes and remember, smritti, that God is within. Yoga gives me that access and direct experience. Meditation is my psychedelic of choice. But I could see from the moment I met him that Andrew was special and grounded and effective in his work, and he took us on an unexpected tour of not only the property but of some natural building resources in Baja and mainland Mexico. Permaculture, the inner landscape- it’s all one and the same.

From the outside, Baja BioSana is a group of six residents on a property surrounded by organic farms, near the Sierra de Laguna range and El Chorro Hot Springs, divided into fifteen home parcels, formed as a Mexican non-profit dedicated to living in a permacultured way while integrating “sociocracy” – a collaborative governance method which aims to create dynamic, harmonious, resilient, productive social environments and organizations.

Responsible production is the foundation of permaculture. Experimenting with the patterns of nature, the immediate eco-system, natural building techniques and utilizing materials from the local region with a nod toward ethics for a healthier, more sustainable natural environment are all part of creating “permanent agriculture.”

Considerate of the whole system – people, plants, land, climate, culture – properties that I have visited which are devoted to permaculture principles often have a peaceful, flowing quality, abundant with plant life, water features and buildings that blend into the landscape. The banana grove – a good fifteen degrees cooler in thick of it than in the sunny garden beyond it – and the buildings made of adobe, superadobe, earth bags and other natural materials were the highlights of our tour.

How It Happened

One day, I couldn’t help but overhear a guy talking loudly on a group call on the patio of The RoadRunner Cafe in Los Barriles, did I mention that he was talking very loudly about breathwork, then realized that this is the breathwork guy who lives at BajaBioSana, Dan Brule. His call was ending, so I introduced myself and told him that I had emailed Baja BioSana twice without a reply and had a group interested in visiting. He told me to bring the group on Friday morning at 8:30am.


Wouldn’t you know that Dan was on a run to San Jose on Friday – not present at the scheduled time – but Andrew Jones greeted our unexpected group and he swooped in graciously and gave us a tremendous tour. Humble and serviceful, with a depth of spirit and resources, Andrew Jones is a superstar. Here is a picture of Andrew through the first door that he built, looking in from his home into the enclosed patio where he and his lovely wife reside.img_6177.jpg

From the inside, this may be a social experiment, artistry in a challenging climate, a difficult place to live up to its own ideals. If we put ourselves up to high standards and try a new way of living, however, we might be working hard at something really worthwhile, that changes and beautifies our little corner of the world.

The Universe Has Your Backside in Baja


Our Lady of Guadeloupe roadside shrine, Transpeninsular Highway, Baja California Sur

Get Away

Why do we travel? I left for Mexico for new perspective and to relax. The political climate and the collective anxiety were rocking me. I had been repeatedly robbed multiple times by my neighbor this fall, I was fighting with my girlfriend, had island fever SLO-style and I just needed to be outside more. Camping down the Baja with four strangers sounded great.

We should count ourselves lucky that it was eight long weeks into our trip to Baja that we began to engage the pile-o’-poo emoticon.

I ate the most ridiculously delicious tortilla soup on Tuesday. Experience tells me that only MSG can make food taste that good. MSG is a contaminant if you are sensitive to gluten. Plus, I ate ceviche two days in a row last weekend,swam in a pool under a waterfall and got water in my mouth… how did I get sick? No sé. My brain and bowels are just starting to function to where I can could out of bed two days ago,but I’m back in bed again.

In addition to my Mexican food poisoning this week, one of the gals in our crew was diagnosed with a parasite yesterday (dwarf tapeworm – charming) and tonight I got The Big D. She and I have been eating the same things, so I am a little spooked that I might have the dreaded parasite known as tapeworm, too.

I’ll poop in a cup in the morning.

Fortunately, I lucked out and I am staying at this really nice place where it’s kind of a luxury to rest for days and watch the wind in the palm trees and the sky change over the cerro and the sea, and I am feeling better… and then worse… I binged on Netflix’s Stranger Things while semi-comatose this week, so the tapeworm visual is pretty fresh I am a little freaked out, but if I got it, I got it and they can get it with meds.

Tengo allergia a harina y trigo. 

Living with gluten-, soy-, dairy- and other food intolerances has made the simple act of eating my most dedicated mindfulness meditation. Even so, I get inadvertently food poisoned. “I have an allergy to flour and wheat” was one of the first things I trained myself to say in Spanish on this trip.


One usually finds the same things traveling that they do at home, though, right? The language, landscape and textiles change.

Here in Baja I’ve found kindness, like at home, and some good Yoga, and some drama, and some Yoga drama. I got quiet again thanks to the remoteness of Baja and far away enough to notice the dance of my own ego with my mind. My ego enjoys inconveniences to a degree, because my mind gets off on finding solutions from which my ego can grow. That makes my mind and ego feel useful and I feel an immediate gratification from acting upon my sense of purpose. It’s spiritual growth. Dirty water, dirty vegetables, camping, fake news, fake facts, corruption – it’s all inconvenient, but I can grow from it. We get badges on our imaginary sashes for overcoming all this.

With Travel Comes Clarity

Home is calling with a bigger purpose. I have been offered to steward an established Yoga studio in SLO County, so in the last couple weeks I have been praying and attuning and working on that from here. I have a lover at home whom I miss, even though we drove each other crazy before I left – but we’re growing. We have a friend from the twelve step community who died in an accident this week, and I want to be home to grieve and celebrate, in shock, in fellowship, which strengthens community ties.

Falter and Fly

I’ll go home back to the USSR, er… um… I mean, to the US (I couldn’t help myself), with the new perspective that every country has their pros and cons, and with the appreciation for life and love that only separation and death can reveal to us, and with a renewed purpose which is expressed by my work and mission, a renewal which only the universe and the distance of travel could bring.

Stay healthy. Be safe!

Yoga in Baja

IMG_5838I drove in a caravan of three cars, three dogs, two trailers, and five women to Baja in December on a reconnaissance mission-slash-much needed vacation.

A woman I knew while finishing Yoga Therapy training in Grass Valley owns property here on the beautiful East Cape of the Sea of Cortez. She is interested in developing an off-grid spiritual retreat center. She invited me on an adventure because she knows I am interested in the same damn thing.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Baja without some trouble, though, now, would it?

Thirteen hundred miles and two flat tires later, having abandoned one trailer after getting stuck in quicksand, with my suitcase, tent and other perceived essentials 100 kilometers north of La Paz, we have arrived safely at our destination north of Cabo San Lucas.

We are smirking and swearing a lot, eating amazing food, including local chocolate and fish caught by the ladies, playing Cards Against Humanity, swimming, SUPing, doing Yoga, getting tan, nearly suffocating with laughter and planning our permanent relocation here.

It is Shangri-La and I hesitate to name the town. I want to keep this place a secret. However, if you’d like to come down, meditate, go offline from time to time, leave the current administration behind and enjoy restorative Sunshine Therapy, let me know and maybe we can arrange it!

Happy New Year