My name is Yochai (pronounced yo-hai), a registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500) currently offering classes and private instruction the Los Angeles, Long Beach, and surrounding areas of Southern California. I am a student of Rudy Mettia since 2007, a graduate of his 200 hour Udaya Teacher Training and the additional 300 hour training taught by Jules Mitchell.
I came to yoga because of a shoulder injury and was healed over time from the yoga practice, so I recommend the yoga practice to anyone who requires recovery from injury or for injury prevention as well as for overall well-being and body maintainance.
By emphasizing breath & alignment before balancing strength & flexibility, my teaching style offer students and clients the opportunity to humbly explore personal limits, learn to work within those limitations, and use breath and presence of intention to push those limits mindfully.
I’m often asked who is my ideal client, my ultimate demographic, that perfect niche. I welcome the opportunity to be of service to beginners and experienced alike; from those looking to learn the Sun Salutations to those seeking to refine their arm-balance-inversion pose. However, those that dismiss yoga due to of either belief in their own limitations or of yoga’s are for me the most in need of yoga (even if I just call it ‘moving your body while breathing while noticing that you’re moving your body while breathing‘).
I wish to use yoga as an adjunct to treatment for trauma, PTSD, disabilities, anger and anxiety management, addictions, and meditative mindfulness.
During my formative years, I heard of yoga, but I was either too cynical or prejudiced to let-go long enough to attend a class. Even after being taken to my first yoga class in 2000 and enjoying being challenged by it, I was still dismissive of its benefits. I was in my late 20s and wished for something more dramatic. I was not a fan of the gym unless it was late night and/or nearly empty. I dislike running immensely. And even living at the time in Los Angeles, CA, I wasn’t going to learn to surf, as I felt myself too old to learn.
I know we’re never ever too old.
But this is me now, and that was me then.
Several friends recommended Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And as soon as I saw the sparring, I was reminded of high-school wrestling, and I was hooked.
Training BJJ at that school taught me the importance of breath work. Those days I would habitually hold my breath, or at best breathed shallow, which promotes oxygen deprivation, tightens my muscles, and imbalances my body chemistry.
Once I started breathing, I started relaxing; and once I started relaxing, I started not wasting energy, through stress and tension; and once I started not wasting energy, my stamina increased; and I noticed myself feeling healthier overall.
In all honesty, my Jiu-Jitsu skills were never that good in relation to the other students. But what I noticed was that after getting my ass kicked or kicking ass, regardless, little to nothing bothered me for next day or two, just in time for the next class.
I’ll be driving and find myself saying “Sure. Cut in front of me Prius. I’m not that much in a hurry.”
To some extent, I view that time period as when I first understood bliss.
But yesteryears of bodily abuse catches up to all men, and I suppose a double-hernia surgery in my late-twenties was in order (likely brought on by years of not stretching and still lifting things without care or regard). I recovered, like all young men do, and continued training.
It wasn’t until a few years after that, after the dot-coms crashed and I found myself living back on Long Island, NY, that I started training again at a different BJJ school. It was there that, out of practice, out of shape, and out of breath, I was flipped by my sparring partner and landed on top of my right shoulder and then I heard a pop.
I got religious. “Oh God! Please don’t be dislocated!”
I tried to move my arm and I heard another pop. But that was the pop that I suppose popped my shoulder back because I could move it again. I called it a day for training and raced home, hoping to get there before the adrenalin wears off. The following morning I couldn’t raise my right arm and had to call in sick to work. I was a taxi driver at the time.
Being unable to drive and work, I decided to return to Southern California, where the weather is awesome pretty much every day, a place where I could heal.
The more I work against The Universe pushing me in one direction, the more I get hurt and humbly still end up abiding by the will of The Universe.
I found a job in Venice logging tapes for a paparazzi agency. It was the one job I could find at the time. It didn’t pay much. But it was enough, and I was going with the flow, abiding by The Universe.
It was at one of the paparazzi agency’s parties where I met a yoga teacher that taught a Sunday class at Santa Monica Power Yoga and she invited me to come. Still prejudiced, I noted I can’t afford the expense. She told me it was a donation-based studio; you give what you can afford to give. So I decided to give it a go and attend her Sunday class and found myself humbled by the near-term pregnant lady beside me doing things that my busted up shoulder might only be able to do if it were fully healed.
I found myself thanking the instructor after class and retuning the following weekend wanting more. I asked her where she taught another class. The answer was too far away for me to travel. I asked for a recommendation of another yoga teacher. She recommended Rudy Mettia.
That following weekend, I attended Rudy’s Saturday 10am Power Flow. With his iconic North Carolina accent, muscle-bound arms and neck, and a handle-bar mustache (at the time), Rudy was the antithesis to every one of my prejudices regarding yoga and who it’s meant for.
It’s meant for the flexible and the strong alike. It’s meant for the athlete and the weekend warrior. It’s meant for the home-body and the lazy-body. It’s meant for the young and old.
It has nothing to do with anything and everything to do with the self. It’s the one time I was selfish without the guilt. The time I spend on the mat is the time I spend for me and no one else. It’s a time that I deserve to have. That is the spirit of a yoga practice. Feeling deserving of the time spent, even if it’s only while breathing for five minutes mindfully.
I’m not going to rush back to whatever I was doing before. Because I’m giving myself these five minutes.
But it even took some time to get that point through my head & heart, about three to four months. I landed a job at a dot-com start-up, reuniting with a former boss from the late-90′s dot-com era. At that time, I was living in Marina Del Rey, bicycling to work (by Melrose and La Brea area), and practicing yoga about five days a week.
I was at work, waiting for files to come in: a thirty minute job within a two hour time-frame. It was a Thursday. And at that time Rudy’s schedule included Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings at 7:15pm at TruYoga. So leaving at 6pm gave ample time to pedal back to Santa Monica. But that Thursday no files came. And as the clock rolled its way to 5:30pm, my typical run-of-my-mill stresses started to trigger. When 6 o’clock came I was somehow still mindful enough to face two decisions, one: continue to stay triggered until the files come, or two: breathe until the files come.
And for the first time in my life I chose the latter.
I breathed for forty-five minutes, sitting upright, not slouching: belly pulled in toward the back-spine, sternum lifting, shoulders pulling back and down, eyes closed, as if I were at at the yoga studio practicing.
And then I opened my eyes when the files came through. Finished my job by around 7:30. And was given a ride home by a co-worker who had a bicycle rack in his car.
But that wasn’t what made it all click. About midway through my breathing, the CEO, my boss, a man I’ve worked with nearly a decade prior, burst through the office door.
He shouted ”What’s he doing? Sleeping?!”
“Let him be.” said my co-worker friend to our boss, and then our boss left the room.
But what happened inside of me was nothing. Or at best a twinge recognizing that my boss may have been talking but he wasn’t speaking to me – or would be it be speaking but he wasn’t talking to me? Regardless, nothing happened. My closed eyes didn’t twitch. My arms didn’t move. I wasn’t so much immobile as I was still, more entranced by my even flowing deep breath than anything else at that moment.
I showed up for Rudy’s 10am class that Saturday. I regarded him less of a guru and more of a high school coach, and because of that, I was guilt ridden that I cut practice. After being challenged by his class, exhilarated, re-centered and sweat soaked, I came up to him after making my donation and apologized for missing Thursday’s practice. I ranted my story and all that happened.
“Sounds like you did your practice,” he said and smiled.
That’s all that Rudy said as students moved in to thank him for a great class, which it was.
Sounds like you did your practice.
I’ve been turned since. Working to practice every day, a little more, and a little better, but not working toward anything other than seeking out some aspect of bliss.
Thank you so very much for reading! I’m immensely appreciative of your time spent. I hope it was not too painful. But most of all, I hope you were able to take from it the encouraging reality, that yoga is a personal journey, intended for everyone, of any age, type, or disposition. What’s most important above all is breath and everything else follows.