Episode 03 | Origins: Getting to know Alex






(Alex)

In this episode, Lisa chats to Alex about her journey with yoga, to yoga, around yoga and everything in between. Lisa also tried to find out who Alex is, beyond the yoga, and we talk about California, travelling, Forest Walks, and building a community together over the past few years.


Lisa 0:00

Hi, everyone, I'm sitting here with Alex. Hi, Alex.


Alex 0:04

Hi.


Lisa 0:05

How you doing?


Alex 0:06

Good. How about you?


Lisa 0:08

Yeah, good. The sun just came in through my window. It's been a really gloomy morning. And now when I hit record it just like came straight in. It's beautiful.


Alex 0:16

Oh, that's lovely. Yeah, same here, actually.


Lisa 0:19

Yeah, that's good. So we're at the end of January, guys. And you guys might have already heard the pod with all three of us, Betti, Alex and myself. And maybe you've heard the one with Betti too. And now I'm here with Alex. And I'm going to talk to her about her journey through life. And her journey with yoga a little bit. So do you want to? Can you just start by? I don't know introducing yourself. Who is Alex? And what are you all about? If, if we strip away this yoga thing that that you're doing?


(Alex handstanding in Letna Park)

Alex 1:04

It's a little bit hard to separate the two these days. But, um, okay, so I mean, I'm Alex. I'm, I'm originally from California from the United States. But I've lived here for about seven and a half years now. And I love it. It's a wonderful city and a wonderful country. Let's see. So outside of yoga, is this kind of the question the road you want me to go down?


(Alex & her husband Kejva in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California)

What do I do with my life, I do a lot of yoga. So that's really an important aspect. Otherwise, I have a family, I have a husband and I have a stepson, and we spend a lot of time together. We do a lot of backpacking, lots of time in the forest, I've always been a very outdoorsy person. And I love this country for this reason that you can just freely walk into the forest, and sleep anywhere you want. And you wake up the next day, and you walk to a new city, get on a train and go back home. And it's really fantastic. I did this quite a bit as well, in California, but it was always very, I don't know sneaky or you had to find the spots, you know that you wouldn't get in trouble or you wouldn't get caught. Or alternatively, you have to go into a national park or pay for a campsite or something like that. So this is really nice about this country. Very well-marked trails. And, and yeah, lots of people participate in it. So I'm very thankful for that part.


(Alex in her element preparing breakfast on a backpacking trip)


(Alex with her husband Kejva, and stepson, Fabian)

Lisa 2:37

Yeah. I remember that I went to Canada as an 11-year-old for summer camp, which is a whole story on its own, but, but we were in the forest. And we wanted to like I think we wanted to pick some leaves or some sticks or something. And the people that were there and hosting this thing were like, No, no, no, no, no, you can't, can't pick anything here. This is not our land. And where I'm from in Sweden, just like here. Even if it's private land, most people are allowed to be out there if they're respectful and you know, in the forests, and you can camp for one night, as long as you you know, take care of the space that you're in. Yeah. And it was just a really big surprise to me as a little kid going. What you can't do that you can't like the forest isn't for everyone.

(Lisa hiking in Sweden)

Alex 3:32

Right? Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, I get it. Obviously in California, we have lots of fires, sorry, issue with fires. It's much warmer there. Here. It's much wetter. So it makes it makes sense. But still, it's just the I don't know, the freedom of it here is fantastic. So I've spent a lot of time in the Czech forests exploring



(Alex on a particularly rainy backpacking trip)

Lisa 3:54

What's your favorite place? I mean, maybe that's a big question.


Alex 3:59

There are many layers, so many beautiful places here. There's so many different kinds of these rocks that they have. The sandstone rocks are amazing. And these rock cities that come out of the ground, it's just it's beautiful. So I really enjoyed this whereas California is much more mountains and rivers. This is more like lush forest and these really interesting boulders and stones. I guess my favorite place that would be nearby. There's many, many all over but nearby is Kokorinsko because it's not so far and and you get this feeling. I don't know. It's like this magical fairy forest thing with this beautiful sandstone.



(Alex on a backpacking trip among beautiful sandstone rocks)

Lisa 4:40

Yeah, that's where you guys sent me for me and Trygve right.


Alex 4:43

Yes, yes. Yeah. Yes,


Lisa 4:46

I agree then.


Alex 4:47

Yeah, it's gorgeous out there.


Lisa 4:49

Yeah, definitely. And so so what brought you to yoga?


Alex 4:58

What brought me to yoga? Man, okay, so there's a kind of, I guess, different things. Maybe it's even kind of funny. I think really back on it when it started. It's ironic because I guess it kind of came from a need to want to be connected with community. I had moved, I had moved up to Sacramento, which is the capital city in California. And I was going to university. And I moved to this like, cool part of town, lots of like, Cool restaurants and bars and galleries and events, things going on. And my friend and I, we would always, like walk around the city all the time. And there are all these people just doing all these cool things. And I always wanted to, like feel a part of it somehow, but I felt just like I was observing it instead of like into it, if that makes sense. And so I'd always talk with her. It's like, how can we be more involved? What can we do, and like, we did like a cooking class, and like a gardening class. And those were fun. It was it was interesting. And then we started with this place called it was called the Yoga Seed Collective, actually. And we started going to meditation classes there. And that's how it really started. And I felt like going there, there were these people that I would see, you know, the same people all the time and have a little chat with before and after and and that's how it all started with meditation. And then and then I got really into Yin Yoga, this relaxation. So it was meditation, but with a little bit more movement into it. And, and yeah, and then that kind of evolved because later I I wanted to keep on going with yoga. And I started to be introduced with into vinyasa yoga, I had a big injury, I had two operations on on my knee and the physical therapy I was going to just wasn't doing much. So I started to use yoga more as a therapy and and get my range of motion back. And it really helped. So I guess it was all of those things kind of combined.


Lisa 7:04

Yeah, I didn't know that your, your introduction to the yoga practice came through the through the Yin side. I couldn't tell. I could not tell that now.


Alex 7:15

Right.


Lisa 7:16

My body still hurts from the class they did with you yesterday. So...


Alex 7:23

yeah, I was very vinyasa averse at that point in life was all about the chill and the meditation. Yeah.


Lisa 7:31

Right. So this is an this is in California. But as I as I remember it, you had your knee injury here. Is that correct? I did. Yeah.


Alex 7:41

Yeah.


Lisa 7:43

So then so the next step into yoga happened here in Prague.


Alex 7:47

I would say like the more of that vinyasa part of it, you know, so I was still consistently doing this Buddhist meditation. In California, I tried a few things. My sister became a yoga teacher. So I tried a little bit of a vinyas with her. I wasn't super into it, though. And then I when I came here, I started really exploring a whole bunch of different kinds more than just like this Yin and this Hatha, and I started getting into the vinyasa. Yeah, here.


Lisa 8:16

And how did you decide? This is what I want to do I want to Did you think like, I want to be a yoga teacher? Or did you just sort of seek out a yoga teacher training for for the exploration of the subject?


Alex 8:29

Well, um, no, I, as you probably know, by now, I'm quite an impulsive person. So I was, I was working with my husband on a farm in California. And I don't know, I was just like, I really love yoga. I'm gonna go be a yoga teacher, I'm gonna go to India, I'm gonna do this. And I don't know what I just signed up for a course I didn't put much thought into it. To be honest, I just went for it. It was really nice. And I had, I was to be honest, I was struggling here. When I first moved to the Czech Republic, just kind of assimilating getting used to it. I was an English teacher. And it just really wasn't for me at all. I didn't like it. But I still knew I wanted to be here. And I was trying to make these opposites. I don't know these opposites, feelings like mesh together somehow. And so I remember I would always tell myself, okay, well just focus on the things that you do like, and for me, this was yoga. And also learning Czech. I was like, this is this is what I want to focus on. These are the two things that make me happy. I want to focus on yoga, I want to focus on being able to speak this language. And I think it's going to open some doors. And so I just kind of put my faith in that and then it just randomly happened when I was on a mountain in the Santa Cruz hills working on this farm and just said, Okay. I'm gonna go to India.


Lisa 9:53

Did you just go to India like a week later, or what was it that...


Alex 9:57

Yeah. Maybe was like a month later.


Lisa 10:01

Great.


Alex 10:01

But yeah, it did.


Lisa 10:02

Amazing. Amazing. That's great. I think we are quite similar in that I've done all of the trainings I've done. It's like, I need something. And I'll just leave a few weeks later and do something. I think I think that's why I don't know, when we have Betti in the mix with the three of us. I think that's why we mix so well together because Betti plans these things for a long time where she's going to go and do the things and and I don't know, yeah, we Yeah, we sort of complement each other in the in the way that we make decisions. I think.


Alex 10:35

Yeah, that's a good point. It's true. She's compares and calculates and puts thought into it, which is probably a good practice. Yeah,


Lisa 10:44

I think we've said that many times. You and me, if it was just you and me, this thing that we have in Prague would not be happening because we would have just sort of spent all our money or just like jumped off a cliff somewhere. Like woops.


Yeah, yeah. So thank you, Betti. Alright, so um, so where did you go then in India? Where do you end up?



(Alex in Goa, India at her 1st Yoga Teacher Training)

Alex 11:12

That first time I was on the border of Goa and Kerala in the jungle. And, yeah, I was just really isolated to that point to that spot. I didn't do much traveling. That round. My mom actually came with me. It was really funny. She jumped on board too. Said she wanted to go...


Lisa 11:35

She did the training with you?


Alex 11:36

She did. She did the training with me.


Lisa 11:38

Wow. I didn't know that. That's wonderful. Yeah. Yeah, we should get her over here to teach them some for us.


Alex 11:45

I don't think she's ever taught a class except for that one final teaching, but that she enjoyed it. Yeah, it was fun. And it was a nice experience for the two of us to spend a month together like that. But yeah, so we were just there. I think we only did like one or two trips outside of the outside of the place that we were studying.


Lisa 12:08

Was it hatha yoga or vinyasa yoga, or what did you study was?


Alex 12:13

It was both I think it was hatha was the first title on it. But vinyasa was there as well. We had this amazing teacher who could do. It was like a Betti, you know, he could do absolutely everything. But he was so hardcore. It's like, you know, people think that hatha's like this chill style of yoga, this man was making us hold these positions for 10 minutes, you know, he would count to 10. But it was just like, somehow he had a power about him this little skinny man, he had a power about him that made me hold that squat. You know, for the 10 minutes it was. And it was there was a clock too, which made it all the more torturous to just stare at as I had to hold this position.


Lisa 12:53

I had the same in my first training. It was it was similar in India as well. And it was like two hour morning practices and two hour evening practices. And they always ran over time with like, half an hour. And this clock was just sitting there. And you're just like, come on, and you can smell you know, breakfast or dinner being cooked. You're just like, come on. I do not want to hold this posture anymore. But yes, I know exactly what you mean.


Alex 13:22

Yeah, that was hard.


Lisa 13:24

Yeah.


Alex 13:25

Where did you do your first training?

(Lisa in Rishikesh, India at her first Yoga Teacher Training)

Lisa 13:29

In Rishikesh, I went to Rishikesh. And it was one of those like, you know, you had to wait for so long. I couldn't. We signed up for this course me and my ex-boyfriend. He's a yoga teacher too. And, and we had I think we waited for five months I was in I was in southern Africa. And we were just like, let's sign up. And then we had to wait so long for it to start. And then it was 200 hours, but it was six or seven weeks long. Because they thought we couldn't learn yoga in 200 hours. So they were just like, we have to do it a little bit longer.


There's just a complete different approach to what we do now. I think. I don't know. I feel like I'm old when I'm saying that. When did you do your training?


Alex 14:16

When was it?


I guess it was in 2015 or 14 the first one? Yeah.


Lisa 14:28

Cool. So what did you What did you do then you went back to Prague after that. And you just started teaching or


(Alex teaching her very first class Studio Rybalka)

Alex 14:35

Yeah, immediately I got back and I just I made a class. I like created a an event like on Facebook I found a little studio to rent by the hour and I made an event and invited people cuz I was still connected to this like network of English teachers. So I just advertised this like donation only class there and To my surprise, it was a full class. I was shocked. And then I taught it. And I was so nervous and I thought that everybody hated it. And then this has never happened to me like it this to this like effect. But I got emails and messages from everybody the next day saying how much it helped them and how much they enjoyed it. And I've never, like had a whole class write me back and say, Thank you, you know, it was just, it was really, I guess what I needed at that moment, you know, being a brand new teacher. And. And then so I just kept going with these donation classes and building this little tiny community this way. And it was fantastic. And now that's grown in, I had my, my best friends in Prague here, I've met through that tiny little studio in those little donation classes. And we have this really strong group of girls that are amazing. And we all love each other, you know, and I'm so thankful for all of it.



(Alex & Yoga Friends)

Lisa 15:51

So this is the Rybalka class, isn't it?


Alex 15:54

It is Yeah.


Yeah, I remember you had a hard time giving that one up. Once we got too much to do.


Yeah.



(Alex & friends after teaching her very last class at Rybalka)

Lisa 16:03

I actually never went there. But I did go to your donation based classes in the park before before I met and not before I met you, but before I sort of knew you or before we worked together. I went to the one down in the first one I think in Grebovka you invited me from from yoga blue art where we met I think the first time and but you you worked in studios then as well or did that come that came after


Alex 16:36

That came just a little bit later I did this Rybalka and I did these park classes when I came back and I did it on my own. And then I started I just wanted to get a little bit of practice and a little bit of confidence and find my own voice as a teacher. And once I felt good with that i i Yeah, I started to apply to the studios. I really wanted to see what that was like and I was very determined to open my own studio as well. So I was like okay, I need to do this step first before I just go and open something up. So yeah,


Lisa 17:12

Yeah. And how was the response then? Because I both me and Betti I think came later to Prague. And when I came there were classes in English yours included in several studios, you know, but when you applied to to work in Studios here were there any classes around that were taught in English or was it just Czech?


Alex 17:33

Yeah, it was mostly Czech there's a few you know these teachers around the city like Roisbel and Klara Pokorna you know, they would teach in English and it's very interesting with this English thing to talk to Rosie about this because she's been around in the Prague yoga scene for so long and talking about how when she first got into it, you know, there was zero classes in English she was the the teacher that lead in English. So it's it wasn't I don't think I had the same story as she did. And people there was like a want for it. You know, all of the studio owners were really happy to bring an English speaking teacher in because they thought I was gonna bring a new crowd and serve a different crowd. There's definitely not as many classes then as though there are now it seems. So and you know how it is it's like always this Czech but English friendly where really they just say hello to you in English and the rest of the lesson was in Czech that's how a lot of the classes were structured.


Lisa 18:40

Yeah. I think I've been to one of those classes that Czech slash English ones where where it really was Czech slash English but it was so much of that that the teacher you know, only focused on the language basically and I understand that because I can't even think about how it would be like to teach a yoga class and having to say everything first I don't know in Swedish and then everything in English it would my brain would melt I think. So, yeah, I don't know I think is better if they're separated. It's like either or.


Alex 19:17

I agree. Yeah, respect for the people that do it.


Lisa 19:20

Yeah, goodness. So So what happened next what where does the story take us next Alex.



(Alex & Betti in Stromovka Park)

Alex 19:31

So got into to all these studios. And then I mean, it's not like I wanted to say I just met you guys and it all was like you know history from there because it was all a gradual build. But But like I said, I've been in the I've been teaching in all these different studios and had my name kind of around are starting to be known just a little bit and And yeah, then I met, I met Betti first, I'm pretty sure. And I think we joked around about this last time, because she also was interested in opening her own place. But, um, she asked me if I would ever want to go for a drink and just talk about ideas, you know, just really, really like casual nothing, you know, like, committing at all. And, and I told her Well, no, I think I need to find somebody that's Czech, you know, so I kind of just like, stop that before it began. And then that same studio, you and I met? Yeah. And, and yeah, we hit the ground running. It was just like, the, immediately the first time we had coffee, it was like, Oh, hi, I'm this person and this person. And the next meeting, it was alright, we're starting the teachers' meetup. We're gonna do this retreat in Morocco. What else can we do?


Lisa 20:58

It's funny, though, that it that it went from there, because I remember, I went to your class, and I just sort of moved to Prague. And I didn't have any friends. You know?


And it's, it's not like, I wouldn't say it's more, maybe it's a little bit more difficult when you're over 30. And you have a kid to just like, go out and meet people, you know? Right. And I was just like, Okay, and then I think we, we shared, we had a chat. And then you were like, I did my training at Kranti. And I had just done a training at the same place.I think a year after you was it after you probably think it was.


Alex 21:38

I think I went a year after you maybe, okay,


Lisa 21:41

Maybe I did it before, you doesn't matter. But we sort of connected over that. And then I went back to your class and I'm like, I you know, I need to I mean, ask this, this girl out for coffee, because because, you know, I need to have some people around me in the city if I'm going to live here. And then it's funny how it just went from. Okay, hi, hi, what can we do? Okay, you like, and even if, you know, it wasn't like we hit the ground running. But that's how we work. I think that's our dynamic between you and me. We always go, Okay, here's the thing, what can we do? What can we do next? What's next? What's the newest thing we can do? And I really, I think I really appreciate that. In, in what we do together. We always sort of have these new ideas and, and sometimes crazy ideas, which gets shut down by Betti and then you know, so it's a it's a good, I don't know, it's a good thing.


Alex 22:45

Yeah, definitely. And, and the determination behind it is always very good, because it's like these ideas, but then they just work. They happen. So I'm glad about that.


Lisa 22:55

Yeah, yeah, it's true. I think that first retreat that we made in Morocco, we It took us a long time to put it out there and do it. But it happened. You know, we went there. And we did it. And it was, you know, halfway great.


Alex 23:14

Yeah, but it worked.


Lisa 23:15

My memories from that Morocco retreat are all great, but most of it I just, I was just cold. It was just freezing.


(Lisa & Alex leading their first Yoga Retreat together in Essaouira, Morocco)

Alex 23:25

Yeah, it was. We had this we had this idea to do this retreat in February to kind of like, you know, extend a nice vacation, right? Or to go somewhere warm. And then it's still cold in Morocco in February. It's much nicer than it is here. And it's sunny, but it's cold. And especially inside. So this is the crazy part is that none of the places have heaters, it's because it's not necessary. We got this beautiful place that didn't even have a roof that was just open down the middle into a courtyard, which was a gorgeous, gorgeous house. But freezing. So yeah, we were just cold the whole time. Otherwise beautiful though.


Lisa 24:08

Yeah, yeah, it was nice. So we met and then we put on this retreat, and then my memory of the whole thing is that you you're about to go to California, I think. And then you asked me if I want to, if I'm interested in substituting a few classes for you when you're away. And I say I say yes. And I substitute at this place where we met at Yoga, Blue Art, and also some other places was it Joga Letna as well.


Alex 24:41

It was Joga Letna was that maybe? I don't remember.


Lisa 24:46

Oh, and Mandarin Oriental. Mandarin Oriental. I forgot about that place too. Yeah, anyway, we used to run around didn't we.


Alex 24:56

Oh my god. Yeah, that was the funny part though. Is Because you substituted these classes, and I was gone for three months, and then I came back for a few weeks, and then gone again. But in that time, when I came back, you had, you had gotten like something like 27 classes, like in the city like going from Yeah, maybe I'll get a job or maybe I'll, you know, start to meet people and then just full on.


Lisa 25:23

It's something that I that I hadn't played on before, you know, sending out a CV, I'd never done that before, I think in my life, and I just sent my yoga CV to all of these studios. And then I sort of got a class in almost all of them. And then I was like, hold on a second, I don't want to teach this much. But that was fun. It was, it was a lot of a lot of work, but, but also, but also lots of great learning experience. And it's something that we always tell our new teachers that graduate from our teacher training is to, in the beginning, when you get out there, just teach as much as you can, in as many places to as many different people as you can just to, to get the vibe of the place where you're teaching, and who are these people and getting all that experience under your belt. Because even if I had been teaching, for a lot of years before I moved to Prague, there's always a different crowd wherever you go, you know? And it's always How do you say, yeah, you always have to learn. What do what do the people in this place need or one so so that was a really great learning experience. And I think I have you to thank for that, too. Just getting the foot in the door. You know, as Yeah, moving here. Yeah. Yeah. And then I met Betti, I think. Yeah, I met her practicing in the same studio that yoga blew ours and we made we made Prague Yoga Collective. In that little place. I've been Bubny station. And then you got home from wherever you were you in California, then no,


Alex 27:08

Yeah, we went. I went to California. And then we came back. And then we went to Morocco. That's what it was. And then I went to Costa Rica. Yeah, it was like that, I think. Yeah.


Lisa 27:19

Oh yeah, that's when you went to do that festival in Costa Rica. That one that you Yeah, yeah. Cool. And, and then you came back. And what happened then?


Alex 27:32

It's hard to remember like the timeline of events if this happened right before the before that Costa Rica trip or after but let's see you guys had had you guys had the studio and everything was like set up you guys was like opened. And then we were all talking that must have been after? Because we wanted to do the yoga school. Right. So we had had this idea of the three of us and we went that's what it was, we went into this. We signed up for the spirit festival, to have a booth there to promote our new yoga school that we hadn't officially set up yet, but we were promoting it anyway, which is a bit of our style. And yeah, and then the three of us were having more conversations and it was hard. It seems hard to kind of keep this studio and the school separate and how that was all gonna work out and then and then yeah, that's when you guys asked me to just be a part of Prague Yoga Collective completely. Because a couple of months after that little studio had opened.


Lisa 28:39

Yeah, how did you feel about that? Did you feel like you it was coming or were you just like because I remember we we had a coffee date with you and kind of called the coffee date with you and and we're like we're officially inviting you to this thing? Like how did how did you feel when we did that? I don't think I've ever asked you that.


Alex 28:59

Well, okay, does it the feeling itself I was like elated It was fantastic. But it was funny the things around it and my expectations because I kind of felt it coming it seemed like it all made sense. We were all like working together anyway, we were all friends and and we were trying to kind of do the same thing had the same goals in mind and everything was so small and starting out that it's still like it's still made sense right? So like in that way I do feel like I felt it coming and happening. But my expectations about it were so different because when you guys asked me to coffee that day, I did not expect you guys to be like okay, do you want to be a part of Prague Yoga Collective tomorrow? I guess I think you guys might have asked me like for the in a few weeks at the end of the month or something. And in my head I'm like, Oh my God, this little studio above the CrossFit gym and you can hear absolutely everything. It's got this awful carpet in it. Like in my head. I was like I will join them when they're ready to go to a nice studio. And I hadn't like really like put all the pieces together like that, obviously, we would have to do that together and build it all together. I was like, okay, let them have their little studio. And then when they're ready to move on, then we can all kind of jump in together and build something. And you guys asked me, I think that was the very first thing that I said at coffee was like, Okay, great. But that studio has got to go you guys like Yeah, so that part was the surprise. And then obviously, it worked out. And it made a lot more sense to join on then because we worked super hard to save up and to find a place and to build the plans and ideas and everything around it before opening Rejskova.


Lisa 30:48

Yeah, but like, okay, so me and Betti, obviously have another love for that place. I know, I know what it looks like, you know, but but, you know, when we did all of this yoga in the park, and then we started getting a following, and people started coming up to the studio and the classes up there were full, I think we introduced this multi sport card for a while there. And then we started really getting lots and lots of people and we'd send people home sometimes Do you remember that?


Alex 31:19

I do. Good times.


Lisa 31:21

And that that time for me? Really, I think I think back of it just super fondly, you know, just people coming for the practice. And that's something that's always stayed really, really close to my heart, I think with this place is that they weren't there for the carpet or the gym downstairs. So the noise, you know, they didn't care about that they came for this community in this. And this practice that brought us all together, which sometimes we can forget about, or the people forget about when it's a bigger, beautiful studio with nice flooring, you know? You know what I mean?


Alex 32:04

Yeah, totally. And yeah, it's it's absolutely true in that kind of way, especially looking back on it, you know, and seeing these people that are still with us now. It's like, it's I don't know, it's a heartwarming feeling. It's really, it's really amazing. And it isn't, you're right, it's not about, you know, everything around it. It's, it's like, really, what's in front of you. And and I think that that's there is something special about that. Also, still very happy to get rid of that carpet.


Lisa 32:32

Yeah. Yes, I know. I know. It wasn't it wasn't awesome, was it? Goodness, no, but I don't know. Yeah. It's always been that thing that brought us together, this family, this community, and even going through this last year 2020. It's the community that's kept us going. I think if we didn't have this community, of course, we wouldn't exist in the first place. But also, it would be easier to let go of, of, of this of the studios, you know, or whatever we talk about these days of, because we've been close for so long, it would have been easier. But we have this community and we we love this community. And it's and it's that's why we do this, right?


Alex 33:17

Absolutely. Definitely.