We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
In early March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic affected California, I was burnt out. Sustaining myself as a full-time yoga teacher in Los Angeles is rare, and something I worked really hard for. Even though 20 classes a week was taking a toll on me, I had no plans of stopping anytime soon. That first weekend of March I went out of town for my birthday because I needed a break, and the day I got back everything came to a full stop. I started getting email after email, telling me that the spaces that have held our communities are closing. I struggled with a lot of emotions and sadness that I didn’t get to say goodbye to my students. I felt really close to a meditation group I started 3 years ago since many of them are older folks who reminded me of my mom and aunts. An elderly black man started coming to class late last year, and he would often stay after to tell me about his meditation experience. He would have visions and sense other non-human spirits in the room. I was intrigued by his stories and on many occasions was told there is a male Aztec warrior protecting me, but mostly we talked about family. One day after everyone left he pulled me aside and said, “I have a message for you. They are telling me to tell you, don’t give up. That’s it, just don’t give up and I was wondering if I can bless you?” I thought he was going to say a prayer over me, so I put my drink down and said, “of course.” I stood in position and closed my eyes. When I opened them, he was holding a $100 bill in front of me. I was floored by his gesture, and still don’t have the words for how that moment deeply affected me. Sometimes we have to shut off the mind and allow spirit to move through us. We had no idea that any of us would be going through a worldwide pandemic, and we don’t know what tomorrow holds. But we have our breath, and we have each other. Knowing whether to give up or keep going is a choice many of us are facing. I think you have to be really honest with yourself about what makes you happy and go from there.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I believe my mission in this life is the journey towards the highest version of myself and sharing what I learn along the way. So my work began when I moved into my West Hollywood apartment, way before I ever became a yoga teacher. Living with my father was hard on my mental health, so this move was the start of a lifelong healing process. My new apartment was walking distance to Runyon Canyon Yoga, where I found refuge and peace in a way I’d never felt before. I realized I was filled with sadness masquerading as anger, and the vinyasa yoga practice gave me a way of discharging my emotions. I now had simple techniques, which anyone can learn, to regulate my nervous system and feel better. I really wanted to share these tools with my community, and the people I love, so I decided to do a yoga teacher training in Spanish. I did have to temporarily move in with my dad to make it happen, but it was worth it and things did get better. It wasn’t easy at first because I lacked experience, so I started teaching a park class on my own and became confident enough to audition for studios. Within 3 years I was teaching full time and doing all my own marketing. I have a background in sales and graphic design, which really helped because as a yoga teacher you’re basically running your own business. I’ve become known as someone who teaches bilingually, so I feel really proud of the fact that I can share something so healing with diverse communities. I think another important part of a yoga teacher’s job is helping our communities come to awareness, so for me, advocacy is another important element of my work. Yoga is politics, yoga is activism, yoga is social justice and the practice teaches us that there is really no separation between these things. We can use yoga to cultivate greater awareness, to be present, to not look away even when it’s the easier thing to do. My liberation is bound to yours. If you’re not free, then I’m not free. So we must talk about the hard things, we must be politically engaged to create a better world with empathy and justice for all.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Our city has a huge heart and I love us for our cultural diversity, and amazing food. I actually usually refer to LA as Tongva Land, out of reverence and respect to the original indigenous people here whose land we occupy. I’m grateful to them for how they have tended to the land for generations because I love being outside, and it’s actually really easy to access nature here. My dog Benny goes with me almost everywhere, so the first place I’d probably take my friend to is Rosie’s Dog Beach for the day. and ride bikes or rent canoes. There’s no shortage of good food in Long Beach, so we might stop somewhere by the marina to eat and enjoy the view. The next day we’d go for a hike at Runyon Canyon and take a yoga class, it’s been a while since I’ve hung out in Hollywood so I’d have to yelp for what’s good to eat. There was this breakfast spot called Salt’s Cure I used to love, they have amazing pancakes and I think they’re still in business. If we weren’t in a pandemic, we’d spend an afternoon in DTLA for Sunday Sessions at Grand Park, or hang out at a pool. A visit to Angeles National Forest would definitely be on the list, and since the beach isn’t far I’d get an Air BnB for a few days in Venice Beach. I think to really experience everything the city has to offer you’d need a few months here. This is such a special place with so much to do and so many ways to connect, making us one of the most amazing cities in the world.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To the women who raised me – For everything she’s done for me since I was born, my Mother is nothing less than inspirational. And my maternal grandmother Mama Luz, who’s always been a light throughout my life.
Jesus Bartolacci Luz Rodriguez Susana Capra