Yoga Teacher Ahmed Elaasar is dedicated to his practice and his passion for sharing the teachings of yoga with others. He has a perspective on yoga that comes from traveling the world. After traveling the globe, he decided that LA is the place he most wants to be. It’s a place where yoga flourishes and where we find community. Ahmed shares some of this process, his practice, and his favorite spots in LA.
Why did you walk into your first yoga class?
I was on a reconnecting with my roots trip in Cairo, Egypt and I needed an escape from the hectic hustle and bustle of city living. I didn’t have access to any of my go to sports: basketball, tennis and flag football. As fate would have it, there was a yoga studio just a short walk from my apartment so I decided to give it a shot! While in Cairo, I discovered that yoga gave me much more than the physical workout that my body craved. Yoga helped calm my mind and heal my injured body. I was hooked!
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
The desire to share the practice that had such a profound impact on me led me to become a yoga instructor and I’m thankful to be able to share it on a daily basis. I realize that many people are hesitant to try yoga because they think it’s not physically demanding, meaning not a good enough workout or they say they’re not flexible enough to practice yoga. My goal is to help dispel those myths and remove any misconceptions so that more people step on to the mat and make yoga a part of their weekly routine.
What keeps you motivated in your personal practice now?
Learning and growing keep me motivated in my personal practice. Each time I step on my yoga mat, my transformation continues.
Where do you go when you want to go to class?
The Yoga Collective in Venice is my go-to studio. They’ve built a community of dedicated yogis with wonderful instructors and I can walk there!
When I’m up for a drive, Modo Yoga LA on La Brea is my favorite studio in LA. It will always have a special place in my heart as their signature style “Moksha and Moksha Flow” classes are the classes that first got me into yoga all those years ago in Cairo.
Tell us about some places in LA you like to go to recharge?
That’s an easy one for me, the beach! One of the things that drew me to LA is year-round access to the beach. There is something so cleansing, calming and refreshing about the raw power of the Pacific Ocean. When I go to the beach, I get into the water, ride some waves and leave feeling like a new man. You can also find me, and my lovable Australian Labradoodle, Zizou, hiking the trails of Mandeville Canyon as a mini escape from the city.
Do you have a favorite hidden secret spot in LA? Wait, you may not want to tell us!
Haha, yes! Although I don’t think it’s much of a secret. When I’m not doing yoga or teaching yoga I’m thinking about my next meal, so naturally I thought of food first! I love Gracias Madre in West Hollywood for delicious Mexican Food.
You’ve traveled quite a bit around the world. Are there some places or experiences that made a significant impact on you?
The trip that made the greatest impact on my life was when I was 16 years old. My Uncle Farouk, invited me, my Mom and my sister to join his family in the Puerto Banus, Spain, for one month during our summer break. It was an eye-opening experience. Having grown up in a fairly conservative family in North Carolina, I was blown away by the joy with which people lived their lives.
From that point forward I knew I wanted to travel the world and experience different cultures, to see how people lived their lives, to experience their cuisine and to hear their stories. I pursued that passion and traveled the globe for 10 years doing international business. If you’re passionate about travel, I’d love to hear about your favorite places.
Does your dog ever try to join in when you practice at home?
Absolutely, his favorite is restorative yoga. I have to be careful when I do inversions because he gets super excited and thinks we’re playing a game.
Do you have a morning ritual to get you going to start the day?
Honestly, my morning ritual is still a work in progress. I try and take some quiet time in meditation to set the tone for the day and when my schedule allows, I prefer practicing yoga in the morning.The most consistent part of my morning ritual is a walk along the beach with my dog after breakfast.
What’s your go-to practice when you don’t have time for anything else?
When time is short, I love to get the blood flowing and body moving with a some half sun salutations. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed or exhausted I cherish time spent supported by props doing restorative yoga.
Is there anything on your nightstand that you are reading now?
I’m re-reading Trevor Blake’s Three Simple Steps. It’s a wonderful reminder about the power of quiet time, the power of thinking about what you do want (as opposed to what you don’t want), and the importance of setting intentions for your life. Give it a read and let me know what you think!
What’s a book that you would give to someone else for inspiration?
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. This book is a wonderful complement to my yoga practice. It has helped me identify the things in my life that are truly important so I can focus on them and remove things that are no longer adding value to my life.
To me, this ties in well to something I like to remind my students in class; when we show up on out mat we remove all the external distractions of our daily lives and we reestablish the mind body connection, we tune-in to our intuition which allows us to see our truth.
What advice do you give to people who might be intimidated by yoga?
I suggest they set aside any preconceived notions of yoga, I let them know they can always take breaks when they need to and I remind them that yoga is not a competitive sport so they don’t have to look like anyone else in the room; there is no perfect shape to achieve.
Another important tip for people who are new to yoga is to take the time to try different styles of yoga and different yoga instructors. It’s important to find a teacher and studio that matches your personality. Take the time to read the instructor’s bio and it should provide you some insight into what you can expect in their class.
Yoga Teacher Ahmed Elaasar: Find his Classes
Yoga Teacher Ahmed Elaasar teaches public classes at
TruYoga in Santa Monica, Tuesday and Thursday 7:15pm Yin Yoga
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.