Photos by Tai Kerbs & Martin Rusch
It might be surprising to hear that seven years working at the legendary Los Angeles music venue Largo provided a training ground for the instruction of Yoga. But for teacher and Yoga at the Raven co-owner Tony Giuliano, this was exactly the case. From working at the door to running the office and then spending a few nights a week managing the intimate space for music lovers, Tony says he learned a number of lessons that helped him understand how to create a vibe for a Yoga class, informed his teaching and ignited his passion for running a studio. Throughout his life, passion for both artistic expression and self-inquiry are common themes. Whether pursuing painting, working as a professional musician, or teaching Yoga, Tony Giuliano has maintained a desire to stay true to his heart and cultivate love through all his actions.
The Rochester, New York native’s joy of learning has him along a seemingly winding path from artist to musician to Yoga instructor. “Teaching Yoga has made me a great student of life,” Tony says. “I think you continually have to be open to examining yourself and be able to articulate that in an honest and authentic way.” Currently, his ability to be in tune with his heart’s desire has helped him foster happiness as the co-owner of Yoga at the Raven, a Silver Lake studio that opened last year.
He traveled a winding road from Rochester to the Raven. After attending junior college near Lake Ontario in New York, Tony transferred to the University of California in Santa Barbara. His thirst for knowledge and desire for inspired an exploration of the US with his brother. A talented artist, Tony funded the trek by selling hand-painted T-shirts that reflected his interest in Native American culture.
While living as a painter in New York City, Tony discovered Kundalini Yoga through Ravi Singh. He later moved to New Mexico where he earned a BFA in painting and met his wife, Maren, whom he lovingly calls “the caretaker of my intentions.” The two were instant best friends—a connection that continues to thrive 15 years later. They support each another in meditation, sitting for practice on their hillside rooftop and often traveling to meditation retreats together.
In 1997, the duo settled in LA. Tony and Maren reside in Echo Park in a 1928 Spanish-style home that Tony rebuilt himself from its Italian-inspired patio to the rooftop with a view upon which they meditate daily. In LA, Tony pursued his career in music as a songwriter and worked at Largo where, “It was like watching the great Yogis of music,” Tony says. “I saw Elliot Smith, Amiee Mann, Jon Brion and so many talented folks who knew how to blow the heart wide open.” There is a connection between the Yoga and music. Tony says, “Music and teaching Yoga have a similar thread. Each Yoga pose is like a song and each one holds different melodies and texture.”
He began taking Anusara Yoga classes at the Hollywood YMCA, and soon dedicated himself to studying under Anusara founder John Friend and Tantric philosophy scholars Douglas Brooks and Paul Muller-Ortega. Tony credits Yoga for helping him gear his life toward his destiny.
“Ask yourself if you are doing what you love. If you’re not doing what you love, close your eyes, go inside and listen,” Tony says. “When the minds settles, like in savasana or meditation, so often the whisper of the heart becomes louder and is telling you exactly what it desires. Yoga hopefully teaches us to listen. Most importantly, it allowed me to create more love in my life.”
Tunes that Inspire
1. “Om Namah Shivaya” by Steve Gold
2. “Prana Groove” by Stevin McNamara
3. “Sunday Morning” by Todd Boston
4. “Baba Hanuman” by Krishna Das
5. “Hanuman Chalisa” by Shantala
6. “Shema” by Josh Brill
7. “All Alone” by Bhagavan Das
8. “Raag Gaoti (Alap 1)” by Gundecha Brothers
9. “Purna” by Steve Gold
10. “Opening” by Wah!
Words of Inspiration
1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. “I’ve read this book so many times it is taped together. A classic tale—so beautiful in its innocence, simplicity and wisdom.
2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. “The ultimate book about unconditional love”
3. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.“This interesting and rich book is the story of a truly amazing man.”
4. John Lennon: In His Own words by John Lennon. “I love how [Lennon] encompasses the full range of human emotion in both life and song.”
5. Play of Consciousness by Swami Muktananda. “I love “Muktananda’s vivid description of his spiritual journey.”
Melissa Hoon is an Orange County-based writer who works at Chapman University and is studying to become a Yoga instructor. She lives her passion through service and travel through stints working in Vietnam, South Africa, and New Orleans when she’s not writing for LA YOGA: http://about.me/melissahoon