What is GaiaYoga?
by Ano Tarletz
GaiaYoga is a vision and practice that is being pioneered at GaiaYoga Gardens (GYG) intentional community. It is the integration of many other teachings into a cohesive consciousness and lifestyle that is intended to support a person in living from their deepest humanity. More than an individual practice, it includes developing bonded-human-social-structures (cultures, tribes, clans, and families) that express our true nature as human beings. GaiaYoga is in many ways the antidote for the predominant culture designed around unchecked capitalism, fantasy, car-and machine-based human settlements, dysfunctional family-systems, emotional illiteracy, fear and oppression of nature, chemical dependence, absence of integrity, and broken relationships.
GaiaYoga goes much broader and deeper than most “yogas” which primarily address an individuals’ body-mind -- supporting inner peace and connection to Spirit. GaiaYoga is a dynamic and holistic “yoga” that addresses Spirit (realizing, integrating, and enjoying the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine), the Self (including the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental bodies), Community (including the intimate, personal, local, collective, and universal spheres of community), and Earth (developing strategies to sustainably live as an integrated “cell” of The Earth, individually and culturally).
GaiaYoga is a holistic practice that is modeled after the cultural and spiritual wisdom of many of the indigenous cultures of the world, who lived sustainably for untold generations. Sadly, these indigenous cultures have mostly “lost their battles” (literally) with the current “beast” that is running the world. Most of us were raised by this beast and intentionally or not we continue the pattern. To change direction and make life work naturally and be sustainable, we require a new vision, teaching, and daily practice that can heal and transform our lives and our cultures. GaiaYoga provides a way to emerge out of the world that we see now, and create something that has the beautiful elements of indigenous cultures, and knows how to wield the new power that’s been found through technological and social evolution, without losing touch with our true humanity. It’s a “take the best and leave the rest” approach.
What does it take for us have the kind of world we want, and be the kind of people we want to be? How can we grow through the huge pile of compost left by previous generations and find our way to the sunlight, creating both a healthy and full expression of our individuality, and a “container,” a culture, a community for us to live in? For this we need a holistic cultural template. Truly, humans are no different than dolphins, or wolves, or bees, or ants, or giraffes, or apes, or even banana or bamboo: we are naturally “designed” to live in-and-as a bonded social organism. Our full human expression is to live as a unified multi-generational people. Call it a tribe, or a community, or a clan, or a kin, or whatever.
This is a huge aspect of the yoga we all need to do to create a beautiful and abundant and peaceful and Spirit-filled world. We need to take the energy of yoga of unification and bring it to culture. This is a big “stretch” for someone who grew up in a city, or the suburbs, or a fragmented and dysfunctional family. There’s lots of healing, lots of new skills, and lots of buttons to be pressed and worked through. How can we do it safely, directly, and effectively? This is part of what practicing GaiaYoga offers.
Using GaiaYoga as a “hub,” we integrate particular practices, “spokes,” in dynamic relationship with each other, and create a strong, balanced “wheel” that rolls well. GaiaYoga is also like a computer operating system (it works in the background) that’s loaded with the finest programs (teachings). It integrates Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communiation (NVC); Guy Claude Berger’s Instinctive Nutrition; Aajonus Vonderplanitz’ Primal Diet; Re-evaluative Co-counseling (RC);The ManKind Project (MKP); Permaculture, and other sustainable energy and agriculture teachings; The Tantric Transmission of the Shivalila Kinship Society; the rich wisdom of The Dagara people as shared by Malidoma and Sobonfu Somé; Saniel Bonder’s Waking Down spiritual teaching and practice; Piankhy’s Integral Science; The Michael Teaching; Taoist and Tantric sexuality teachings; as well an assortment of other new and old teachings and practices that grow sustainable-and-holistic consciousness and culture.
Wanna find out more? Ready to get started? Keep looking over the website and come visit or participate in one of our residential programs at GaiaYoga Gardens. GYG is a 17.75 acre, sustainably-designed homestead, holistic cultural experiment, and teaching and healing center located in Puna, on the East-side of the Big Island of Hawaii. We are pioneering this way of life and are looking for people to join us at many levels. As interns and students, as long-term residents, as permanent community members, and as cross-community teammates, spreading GaiaYoga and linking GaiaYoga Gardens to other places in the world.
GaiaYoga is the lifework of Ano Tarletz Hanamana. He walked away from the culture he was born into in the early 1990s, when he was in his early 20s. Since then he’s been healing himself, learning, practicing, and teachings skills that support GaiaYoga lifestyle, unlearning a whole lot, and bringing this vision to life! In 2001 he co-created the GaiaYoga teaching, and, in 2003, co-founded GYG. In 2009, he re-founded GYG with Melekai Courtney Matson. We now have two young children and are patiently co-creating sustainable-and-holistic culture at GYG. Our daily life is very beautiful, and still far from the mature, rich tapestry of multi-generational, Spirit-full, and Earth-rich tribal culture we envision
Give us a Hallelujah!!!! We hope you’re inspired….
If you are longing for these things, you are not alone. Many, many people are plagued by a gnawing sense that things could be A LOT different. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that they must be if we’re going to grow beyond our current ecological and social crises, into a way of living that’s life-serving all the way around. But the enormity of what’s required to make this shift happen can seem overwhelming. Is there anything one person can do to really make a difference?
We believe there is. In fact, we believe there’s a lot we can do. But to do it, we must root our lives in a whole different understanding and intention. What might that look like?
You wake up on Monday morning and receive a phone call from an old friend who says,
Now, in your old life you’d have to tell him the following bummer story:
"Gee, I’d love to, but I can’t get off work because I’m the only dentist my patients trust to work on them. Also, my SUV’s in the shop, so we couldn’t get out to the lake. And my daughter has a ballet class this afternoon that I have to pick her up from. So I’m booked all day again."
But instead, you’ve designed an entirely different life for yourself. In your new life, your old friend doesn’t live across town he lives with his wife and two children on the same 80-acre piece of land that you, 30 other adults, and 18 children all co-own. So you say to him:
"Hey, that sounds great! Let me call up the other three people in my cooperative dentistry practice and see if they can cover for me. We have a light day today, so I know one of them will say ‘yes.’ How about if we meet at the meditation hall at 9 a.m., sit for half an hour, and then head over to the community pond? Hey, that’ll really work out great because tonight’s my night to make dinner for the community, and I didn’t know what I was going to fix. I’ll make a big sushi dinner from our catch. How’s that sound?"
"Sounds good to me. Do you want to drive so we can bring the fish back easily?"
"Nah, let’s just each take a wheelbarrow. I don’t even wanna deal with the solar-powered golf cart today. Let’s really rough it!"
"Cool. How late can you stay out? Do you have any responsibilities in the garden or with the kids this afternoon?"
"No. Yesterday was my day teaching the pre-teens about the connection between diet and emotional balance, and Wednesday I’m leading a crew in planting the community’s new corn patch. I’m psyched on that. I love being able to have a garden, with all that fresh organic food, and not need to grow it all by myself. Also, did you know that this year we’re going to plant an extra acre to sell at the farmers market to pay for bringing in a Nonviolent Communication specialist to help us with our co-parenting skills?"
"Yeah, I know. I really pushed for that. It’s been so frustrating for me to have us get into conflicts, only to find out later that we were actually in agreement but had just misunderstood each other. I’m glad you reminded me. I’m going to be there Wednesday to help plant that corn."
"Great. I guess my only other consideration is that I was going to watch my daughter practice ballet with the other kids this afternoon. They’re getting ready for their big performance for the community next month. But I can watch her tomorrow, so I think she’ll be OK with that. Yeah, this sounds great let’s go fishing. It’ll be a fun way to spend the day together, plus I just love all the quiet out at the pond. I can really feel Spirit out there. So let’s do it! I’ll make those calls and see you there in 45 minutes."
"Yahoo! I love this life. I’m so glad we made the change 10 years ago. Imagine where’d we be if we hadn’t?"
"Yup, we’re really fortunate, and even more so today from all the work we’ve put into ourselves, this community, the land, and our spiritual practice."
"You said it. Love you. See you soon."
What we’re suggesting in this illustration is that we can live in a way that honors our diverse needs as individual, social, terrestrial, and spiritual beings. The people in this example were doing that. They had the courage to seriously evaluate their lives and re-design them to provide what they truly desired. They wanted to live sustainable, non-polluting, lifestyles; they also wanted physical and emotional health, happy and well-cared-for children, balanced careers, a full spiritual life, a community of people to share it all with, and a land-base to make it real and grounded. In other words, they saw the need for the integration of Spirit, self, community, and Earth. And they were willing to do the necessary work including personal and relational growth, acquiring the material resources, and developing practical skills to make it all happen.
Cultivating this kind of holistic understanding, developing sensitivity to one's own need for integrated and sustainable culture, and taking the practical steps to bring it into life that’s what GaiaYoga is all about. It’s a "yoga" (i.e. a practice of unification) for living holistically and sustainably on the Earth.
There are many different ways to practice GaiaYoga this is just one example. You don’t have to live in the country, co-parent, meditate, or be a gardener. It also isn’t about losing control of your life to a group. What it is about is addressing our core needs for Spirit, self, community, and Earth in an integrated and intelligent way. How these needs will be met will vary from person to person and from circumstance to circumstance, but the process that leads us to these different choices will be the same. Through GaiaYoga we can transform fragmented, unsustainable ways of living, step-by-step, into holistic ways of being that are balanced, sustainable, and deeply fulfilling. It is possible!!! So, let's do it... together!!!
If you would like to find out more, we invite you to read this booklet:
An Introduction to GaiaYoga: A Holistic Vision for Living Sustainably as Spirit, Self, Community, and Earth, by Ano Tarletz and Mercedes Kirkel.
Send $7.50 (+ $2.50 shipping) to Pan Piper Press, RR2 #3334, Pahoa, HI 96778, and we’ll ship ‘em to you.
We also offer GaiaYoga educational programs and are actively creating GaiaYoga Gardens a permaculture homestead, holistic cultural experiment, and educational and healing center that we call "home."
Contact us to learn more about GaiaYoga and support it’s sprouting in the world through classes and workshops, personal consultations, work-trade, GY 101 initiation-internship, becoming a community member, or patronage. We’re happy to speak to individuals and groups about this exciting way of life.