Rina Jakubowicz is a powerhouse of a teacher. She leads ongoing classes at Electric Soul Yoga in Studio City, facilitates teacher training programs for people who want to teach yoga in Spanish and travels the world to share her practice. She took a break from her busy schedule to share her practice on the beach in Malibu and talk to us about some of her inspirations in Los Angeles and beyond.
What do you remember about your first yoga class?
So much! I took my first yoga class in 1999 with Swami Bua—who was 108 at the time. Two people were by his side holding him up to help him walk into the room. He sat down on a chair and started drill-sergeanting us (if that’s a word.) He did none of the poses but he taught. This was also my mom’s first yoga class and we were both in awe of what these people were doing. I couldn’t do anything. I was challenged more than anything I had ever tried in my life.
Why did you go into the room?
There was a newspaper article written about him coming into town and my mom asked me if I wanted to go with her. I said yes.
What made you come back to your next class?
I saw it as the ultimate challenge. I knew that although I couldn’t do anything; one day, I would. So I immediately was hooked. I went back the next day for another class with Swami Bua.
You’ve been teaching teacher trainings focused on teaching yoga in Spanish. What are your greatest challenges teaching people to teach in Spanish?
The first challenge is the language barrier of all the different Hispanic countries. Every country has its own version of Spanish so sometimes some explanations get lost in translation.
Plus, explaining one thing in English with several words can sometimes take twice or three times as many words to explain the same in Spanish. Culturally, there also as not as much receptivity to yoga as there is in English-speaking areas—yet! But it’s building!
What is something meaningful that happened while you were training teachers to teach in Spanish?
I am so inspired by the feeling of unity I see with groups of people from all of the Latin countries coming together and embracing each other as one. Seeing a cleaning lady commit to and thrive in her yoga training and end up becoming certified as a yoga teacher when she never thought she could be anything else was one of the most fulfilling results of the training.
Rina Jakubowicz and Living in SoCal
Living in LA, what are some of your favorite places to go to decompress and unwind?
I love the Lake Shrine (Self-Realization Fellowship). It’s always so peaceful and beautiful. The essentials always show themselves there. I’ve also created my own little nook in my home from my new favorite store World Market. It’s so homey that I unwind every time I walk into it.
Practicing in LA
What are some of the yoga classes you love to go to and who are some of your favorite teachers?
When I’m looking for a quick class that’s convenient, I’ll go to my studio Electric Soul Yoga and take classes from our crew there. Whether it’s Eric Paskel (the owner and my husband), Kimberly, Sarah, Emily, Tim, Nisa or Rachel – it’s always a happy mood. Otherwise, I have a self-practice at home.
What are some of the songs on your current playlist that get you fired up in the morning?
It depends on my mood. If I’m looking to be more reflective then a little Krishna Das or traditional yoga music with repetitive chants could be my choice. If I’m looking to be more inspired and excited then I go to my happy jams like Bob Marley, Carlos Vives or I choose my own curated happy playlist on Spotify, which may include some Disney songs.
When you read at night before you go to sleep and what are three books that are on your nightstand?
I actually study and read when I wake up in the morning instead of when I go to bed. And I focus on only one book at a time right now. I’m reading The Vedanta Treaties by A. Parthasarathy.
What keeps you inspired when it comes to your personal yoga practice?
Knowing that I don’t know anything. My personal yoga practice starts with studying philosophy every morning and reflecting. Knowing that there’s so much more to learn inspires me to keep growing and practicing.
More about Rina Jakubowicz
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.