Ten years ago, I had a whole different life. I was a Ph.D. candidate for mathematics at UCLA. I was doing exactly what I thought I’d be doing since I was a little girl. I loved mathematics. I still do. I wanted to write math textbooks that people would actually want to read and learn from. I was talking about infinite dimensions, manifolds, imaginary numbers, and ideas that used to blow my mind. I had completed all my course requirements, passed all my qualification exams, and just began working on my thesis, when I decided to stop and became a documentary filmmaker. It didn’t happen over night, of course. While I was in school, I had an internship at the International Documentary Association the year before. I also started working as an assistant producer for a production company, making commercials for products that I didn’t believe in. But I learned a lot of skills, which gave me the confident to leave that job so that I could tell inspiring stories I wanted to share with the world. After my world of structured classes and proving theorems was over, I found myself dancing from day to day where activities that were scheduled were the ones I made. Before then, the goals in my life seemed to have specific plan and instructions, and for the first time I got to experience delicious bittersweet taste of freedom and mystery.

About five years after that, I had found a completely new structure for my life. I had finished my MFA in creative writing and decided to spend a year finishing my novel. I was writing everyday and teaching yoga a few times a week. I loved my routine, my rituals; writing and yoga had fully embraced me as I had them. I became a regular at this restaurant that would let me write every morning until they closed after lunch. I had students whose lives had changed because of their practices. My life was calm and I was content. With no coincident, at the end of that year I was asked, What are you really going to do with your life? And I thought, I am doing it, what do you mean? But when I really listened to the question, I had a different answer. If I had no limitation and I could do anything, I would want to open a wellness center where I get to share all the holistic healings and teachings that had helped me to connect with my path. I would want to create a sacred space of community that share passion for holistic health and growth. And so I began the journey of creation, of responsibilities for not only myself but also others, of jumping over one hurdle after another, of extreme stress and joy, of connections and boundaries, and a year later RakSa was born.

I share these stories because as I look back, I didn’t realize the courage it took to make those leaps. It didn’t seem like a courageous act then because in my heart I had no other choice. Even though what I had was already wonderful and beautiful and plentiful, I seek something more. Some thing else was waiting for me and the only way to find it was to let go of what I was doing. When we are content, we don’t necessarily want or need to see what else is out there. We are comfortable and satisfied. But when your heart and path is of fulfillment, it takes courage to leave contentment to grow, to learn, to make mistakes, so that something else deeper inside and greater outside can be revealed.

At least a minute of everyday that I was part of RakSa, the wellness center, I was happy, proud, and loved what I was doing. And as hard as I fought myself to let it go, it was the only way I could have gotten here. There is a whole new chapter waiting to be lived that I hadn’t imagine. I may have dreamt it, manifested it, but I know there is a cocoon waiting to fly with never seen wings on this path of fulfillment.

Sometime I wish this wasn’t the path that I am committed to travel. It can be lonely, even heartbreaking, and always ask a lot of me when I don’t have much left to give. But often that’s when courage happens, to give up what you have that is so dear to you because you know the time has come for you to move on to a higher step, a deeper journey, with more fulfillment.

Then magic happens. . .

What’s your courage?

What’s your practice?

September 17, 2012

I love the word practice. It makes me feel like I am not trying to get somewhere or let go of something. It makes me feel present and that I am doing exactly what I am suppose to be doing. Yoga was my practice for many years but today it feels more like a ritual. Tomorrow may be different.

I have many on going practices. The practice of asking others for help and realizing I don’t have to do everything by myself. The practice of kindness, for mself and for others. The practice of patience. The practice of writing in the morning. The practice of an open, honest, and loving communication. The practice of drawing a healthy boundary. The practice of listening. The practice of dance.

Most, if not all of these practices are something I don’t imagine I will “get” or completely “master” before the end of my life. But it is important that they are part of my practices. The more I practice the more I feel at peace about them and with myself.  True, I have learned these skills over time, using them at times better than others, yet often I still have to remind myself to practice. Because that’s what they are, a practice, and not something to accomplish or perfect.

But today my practice is to write a short and concise blog. It is difficult for me to be less generous with my words as a writer, which I know can be excessive at time. As Marcus Cicero once said, “Please forgive me for writing such a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one.” So today, I am taking the time to write a short one, to be more impeccable with my word choices, to say less and listen more, to practice a challenge that is worth caring for. Because with attention and action, we may begin to have awareness that leads to knowledge and discoveries that we didn’t quite imagine. And that’s a surprise worth practicing for.

What’s your practice?

What is your courage?

September 10, 2012

Courage, it is such a big word. One dictionary definition of courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery” Without fear? Really? How do you have courage without fear?

I asked this question because without fear there is nothing to overcome. It is part of our other emotions that may not quite require courage to meet them. People used to ask me, when I slept on a ledge off cliffs in Yosemite, or led up a route with holds as big as my fingernails to pull myself up, Aren’t you afraid? They’d say, You are so courageous. My dear climbing partner was always amazed at my ability to jump on a climb without much hesitation (after careful and thoughtful decision, of course). For him each step or move he made to lead up a climb, he was thinking Oh my gosh! I am going to die. Death was an ever-present concept when he was hanging off a piece of granite, carrying ten pounds worth of gear on his belt, and leading up the routes. His legs were shaking under the cargo pants and sometimes he couldn’t hide it. HE was brave and courageous.

I was purely in love with what I was doing. I hardly ever thought about falling hundreds of feet and smashing to the ground in pieces, or worse surviving the fall. An image that my partner said visited him more often than not.  I loved being on the rock. Everything else in the world disappeared when I was up there focusing on where and how to place my protection. I felt at peace and connected with the heartbeat of the mountains and the elements around me.

I have discovered three definitions of Courage over the years. But I’ll begin with this story that took place a few days ago, as the present is the only place where we can truly begin. After five months had passed since the closing of the beloved space that was RakSa, I finally moved my last box, turned over the keys to the next tenant, and said my final farewell. Throughout these five months, I cried a thousand tears, endured sleepless nights, watched my bank account balance move in such a drastic way every month. . .down, and spent much alone time. I contemplated, inquired, discussed, absorbed, dissected, and embodied what had happened to RakSa in the last three years. I thought when this day came I would literally be able to say good-bye to the elephants that had been on my shoulders and feel how many ever pounds an average elephant usually weight off my back. It was true, I had been feeling lighter and lighter as that day approached. But instead this was what happened.

Just before the movers arrived, I made my last walk through the space, a ritual I often did at least every other week when we were in operation. I would sage the space, talk to the elephants on the entrance wall, and sometimes even spend the night so I could leave my attention and intention for the space. I stood at the top of the stairs that overlooked the entrance and the first floor where our community most often gathered. As I walked down the steps, I brushed my right hand against the wall, gently caressing the wall as I went by. Maybe I was bracing myself. Half way down I pressed both of my hands and my ear on the wall. I could hear the vibrations and the echoes that lived there. It felt like her heartbeat. I could tell she was scared and excited at the same time. I could feel every inch of the three thousand nine hundred and nine square feet wishing me well and crying one last good bye at the same time. Images from the very first day I signed the lease, to faces that had blessed our space, to the only tequila shot we took on the last day, appeared like old movies. Voices I have never heard anywhere else echoed silence and moments that had permanently touched the space became invisible tattoos. I couldn’t stand there long as I didn’t want to start crying before the movers arrived. I was close to the end but I still had a few final things to finish.

The loading took less than 30 minutes, as I said I have been purging and preparing for this for five months. I looked at the elephants on the wall one last time, said “Buree” and locked the door behind me. After the movers left, I stood in the middle of a small room circled by boxes of old RakSa things; paperwork, catalogues, fans, bookshelves, toilet papers, and boxes marked with detailed items. All of them had contributed something significant to my life in the last three years. Now they seemed tired and ready to rest for a very long time. I came undone, collapsed on the floor. Knowing an uncertain new beginning lies ahead, there was just pure fear.

There was now nothing holding me back from launching the new RakSa. The website had been created. Introductory e-mail was ready to be sent out. The only thing left was to turn the page, the page to the next chapter of my life. But you see the new RakSa is now me. When you go to the website, my face is there. I can no longer hide behind 40 other practitioners, teachers, and staffs. Though my vision of creating a healing community and providing that to others hasn’t changed, I am stepping forward into a different dimension of RakSa. And the first step to take is mine and mine alone. When people reject RakSa, they will now be rejecting me. And when they embrace RakSa, they will also be embracing me. How do I face that? How do I find the Courage to have the willingness to be completely vulnerable and step into the unknown again? Yes I had started and closed a business before. I have had various jobs that shifted and changed. I have always admired my friends who are therapists, practitioners, teachers, the one-man show so to speak. How do they do it day after day? That, to me, is courage.

Although beginning my wellness coaching practice is not only the natural transformation of RakSa but also natural expansion of myself (I feel this in my bones), is the scariest thing ever.  I know that I am not going to be alone in this journey nor do I want to be. But I know the only way to step forward into the new RakSa is with transparent heart, authentic soul, while dancing in the present mystery of you and me. That to me is Courage.

So today I pose on my Facebook, RakSa’s Facebook that I am starting my new practice. I tell my friends, Guess what my new website is up! I tell new acquaintances when they ask me what I am doing that I am a wellness coach. I sent out thousand of introductory emails. And I write this story. As I stare at the “publish” button on WordPress, my heart raises, my hands shake, and I remember the rhythm of the heat beat that I heard a few days ago. I imagine being able to hear all the heart beats in the world, all part of the same orchestra, playing the ancient music of our being. This is exactly where I belong, scared and willing. I press the publish button.

What is your Courage?

Closing Email

March 30, 2012

Dearest RakSa Community,

As I sit to find the right words to share with you during this challenging and powerful time, it seems they are nowhere to be found. But I am going to try. Just over a week ago, I had to come to a very difficult decision of closing RakSa’s doors at the end of March. As we put every plan to continue to build an even more successful, enriched, and prosperous RakSa to offer our community, I received sudden financial news that put a pause to it all. It was an overnight shift that changed everything for me and our community.

I am so sorry to be sharing this news with you all. While I feel a deep sadness and loss, I am also filled with an endless amount of gratitude and love for our community. I am truly thankful for each of you for sharing this dream with us in the last two years, supporting me and RakSa, and being a part of this exceptional community.

We hope that RakSa has brought something special to each of you, as you have done for our community. We want to honor you and celebrate our journey together in the time that remains. We will continue to do our very best to hold this sacred space and offer all of RakSa in this last month. Now is the time that we need your support more than ever, as we can not gracefully close our doors without you. We may have began as individuals but we would love to end as a community.

So please join us! Bring all your friends and families to share this amazing month at RakSa. Come in for a class and have a nourishing organic juice after your healing session. Let’s celebrate and come together!

It is difficult to say good-bye, especially to a community that I’ve held so dear in my heart. However, I truly look forward to our next venture and new beginnings together. Over the last few years I have devoted myself to serve and offer the greatest resources of healing to our community, and in turn I have received the healing I didn’t even know I needed. There are no words to truly capture my appreciation and gratitude for all the support you have shared with me and our community. This is beyond ending…

With gratitude, love and light,

Apinya & All of Us at RakSa

Words from our Clients

March 19, 2012

 We are so grateful to our whole community for taking this journey with us. Via.

As we close our doors at the end of this month, we wanted to take the opportunity to share some words from our clients as the reflect on how RakSa how impacted their lives. Please check back as we will continue to update this post, and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

I am very sad to hear the news, I love the studio and the teachers. Plus the schudule was great! It’s such an inviting place to practice, I wish you the best and hope to soon hear an email inviting everyone back! – Ariadna

I just wanted to write to say that I’m so sorry to hear about Raksa closing!  What an amazing place you created and what a haven it has been in the middle of such a crazed city.  I will definitely pop by this weekend and hopefully we can meet face to face!  Good luck and blessings on the next phase of your adventure!!  May it be filled with joy, abundance, creativity, and ease! -Anna

March Specials!

February 29, 2012

We have some amazing specials for the month of March! Please feel free to call us at (310) 559.7200 if you have any questions!

Wellness Special

Start your spring cleansing with our Pressed Juice Cleanse Packages: Purchase any of our juice cleanse packages and receive a Free breakfast on us.

Movement Special

$85 for a monthly unlimited movement classes.

Start your day off right with RakSa

First class of the week day is $10 & enjoy 10% discount off breakfast after class.

Free Consultation

Do you have questions about your wellness? Do you want to explore more possibilities in your life? Do you want to feel better and more alive? Are aches
and pains limiting your body, your mind, and your expression? Would you like to know how the RakSa community can support you? On the second Friday of the month, meet with our director of wellness, Lucien Demaris, and RakSa’s Founder, Apinya Pokachaiyapat, for a free 20 min consultation. This month’s offer falls on the 9th!

First Wednesday Acupuncture

30 for 30. The first Wednesday of each month, we’ll be offering a wonderful deal of a 30-minute acupuncture treatment for $30. This month’s
special offer falls on the 7th. Make your appointment now!

Ayurvedic Sunday

50 for 50. The last Sunday of each month, we’ll be offering a wonderful deal of a 50-minute Initial Consultation for $50. Discover what your unique Dosha is and learn how to make wise choices for optimal health. This month’s special falls on the 25th. Make your appointment now!

Practitioner Sheila Govindarajan shares her journey into her Ayurvedic practice

As a young child, I remember watching my grandmother place pods of cardamom and fragrant dried clove flowers in her purse before any outing. Curious, I asked her why she did this and she replied that these spices would help her if she were to ever experience any discomfort, be it for indigestion or her old teeth. This was my Ayurveda 101.

A native Los Angeleno, I was raised by two Western physicians in this diverse city. I was also blessed to be surrounded by my South Indian community, and its rich culture, customs, and my mother’s healing, vegetarian cooking. My path to ayurveda arose only after a harrowing experience with the Western medical system’s treatment of a loved one. I was left frustrated, discouraged and seeking alternative methods of healing. As I read about the wisdom of Ayurveda, a distant childhood memory resurfaced and I felt my calling: to learn and share this gift with others.

I completed my studies with the Kerala Ayurveda Academy here in Los Angeles and my Ayurvedic medical residency at Kerala Ayurveda Hospital in Southern India. Here, I witnessed the depth of Ayurveda’s healing capacity on patients with severe “dis-ease”. So simple in its treatment, this 6,000 year old holistic medicine system uses whole foods, organic herbs, and yoga of the mind and body to treat any imbalance the body may experience. Ayurveda heals not just by treating the physical body but by connecting it with the spirit and the mind.

My practice at RakSa constitutes Ayurvedic consultations to determine your Prakruti (constitution), Panchakarma therapies, as well as yoga and meditation therapies. My specific passion is the healing properties of essential oils and their balancing effect on your Prakruti. I create herbal medicated Abhyanga oils and custom blended aromatherapy oils. I invite this community to experience and share the healing wisdom of this ancient medical system.