I’m an American Kundalini Yoga and Enneagram instructor living in Athens, Greece. I teach a unique combination of the two systems, combining the physical benefits of Kundalini Yoga with the psychological growth tools of the Enneagram. I’ve also written a book called “Headstart for Happiness: A Guide Book Combining Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram” that weaves the two systems together.
About Kundalini yoga “I like Kundalini Yoga because everyone can do it. I usually refer to it as the yoga for people who think they can’t do yoga. If you can breath, you can do Kundalini Yoga.”
I received my Kundalini Yoga teaching certification from the Guru Ram Das Ashram in San Francisco, California and began my teaching experience at homeless shelters throughout San Francisco. In 2009, I started the Rasayan Center, a Kundalini Yoga studio in San Franciscoʼs financial district. In 2012, I moved to Athens, Greece and teach in Greece and throughout Europe.
About the Enneagram “I think of it as a tool for compassion. When you start to understand yourself and your own behavior, you can start to break the patterns that don’t serve you and choose you actions instead of just acting out your habit. And when you begin to understand what is going on in other people’s minds, all that crazy behavior doesn’t seem so crazy.”
My study of the Enneagram System of Personality began in 1995. I’m certified as an Enneagram Professional Trainer (EPTP program) and my training includes the Enneagram Intensive, Foundations of Spiritual Method, Subtypes, and the Enneagram Typing Process. While living in San Francisco, California, I participated in numerous narrative tradition panels with facilitators including Helen Palmer and Peter O’Hanrahan.
You can hear about how I became a Kundalini Yoga instructor here. The Huffington Post did a feature about my journey to Greece here. Or you can read the summary below. 🙂
I spent most of my career as a Certified Public Accountant (US CPA) working in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area. I began my own consulting practice in 1997 and worked in the technology start-up and venture capital industries as a Controller and CFO. Then in 2012, I decided to move to Athens, Greece.
My reasons for moving were purely intuitive. I’m not Greek by heritage, I had no job here, I didn’t speak any Greek, and there was no Greek man in the picture. I just had this really clear feeling, almost like a calling, that I should go to Greece.
And so I came.
“I remember getting on the plane to leave San Francisco. My dog and two cats were in cargo below, and I had packed a suitcase full of clothes. Almost everything else I had sold or given away. There wasn’t anyone to meet me in Athens because I didn’t know anyone. But it was one of the calmest moments of my life. I was totally sure I was making the right choice. And I haven’t regretted it at all. I love Greece.”
Since moving to Greece, I periodically post the top 10 things I love about living here. Here they are. 🙂
- Koukaki has been named one of the 10 trendiest neighborhoods in the world: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/11/worlds-coolest-neighbourhoods-airbnb-rentals-bangkok-japank-kuala-lumpur
- It is totally normal to book a doctor or manicure appointment at 9:00 pm…
- In less than 2 hours and with under 100 euros, I can easily change cultures, languages, currencies, and cuisines.
- It’s easy to be emotional in Greece. I’m very uncomfortable crying in public but the few times I’ve done it here, everyone leans in–way in–to see what’s wrong, how can they help, etc. There is no possible way to get away with “I’m fine.” They don’t accept that at all…And it feels so nice. 🙂
- I am 4,000 miles away from the US Presidential Election.
- Greek merchants are very flexible. In instances when I haven’t had enough cash with me, they’ve let me buy groceries, pet food, get my nails done and have medical appointments with a casual wave of the hand—“you can pay next time!“ Once they even let me rent a car without my driver’s license…impressive. dear greece, you remind me that all things are possible…
- Even though I have visited maybe a dozen Greek islands, I still feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. There are so many islands you can stay interested for years and years…
- I can go to the laiki (outdoor market) and buy all the fresh fruit and vegetables I need for a week for less than 25 euros. And it’s fun.
- I now know enough people that I randomly bump into friends when I’m out on the street. That might not seem like a big deal, but when you start from zero, it’s huge.
- The pace of life I have here has allowed me time to write a book. I’m very grateful for that and I’m not sure I would have been able to do it in my more fast-paced San Francisco life.
And since I have now in aggregate posted 41 things I love about living in Greece, I will post one thing that is not my favorite, just to keep it balanced:
The Greek medical system….
Going to see a doctor in Greece can be like going to see the Oracle of Delphi. They speak in riddles and rhymes that leave you confused and doubtful about what to do next.
The Oracle: “Go, return not die in war.”
My doctor: “You must be strong. We need more tests.”
But… what does that mean? I’m pretty sure being strong is a character trait or maybe a physical trait, but definitely not a medical diagnosis. And that doesn’t leave me a lot of room to understand the actual condition. In some cases, I’ve been able to press and eventually get a diagnosis. Other times, after going in circles, I’ve given up and just sent the results to a US doctor who tells me what is happening. Which brings up the other mystifying thing about Greek medicine: you are given all of your medical records to carry around with you.
Before moving to Greece, I don’t think I had ever touched a medical record of my own. They were stored in some central location and transferred directly from doctor to doctor if I needed another opinion. But here, everyone hands you the test you just took. This means I have a pile of MRIs and X-rays of body parts sitting in my apartment. It feels creepy to keep them in the house but it also feels wrong to throw them away. The middle ground I reached was to put them in sealed envelopes and hide them in a cabinet. Which is still creepy but the best I could do…I’m just grateful I’m healthy.
Many doctors here are great so I don’t want to generalize.. but every now and then…Pythia—is that you speaking? 🙂
And my prior lists..
1) All over my neighborhood, the shopkeepers leave food and water out for the stray dogs and cats.
2) The entrance to Filopappou Hill is pretty much what I imagine the entrance to heaven must look like.
3) Grilled octopus, horta with lemon, loukoumades, cheese saganaki, Greek yogurt, beet greens with olive oil, fresh grilled sea bream, just to name a few….
4) While living in an unstable country was never a goal of mine, an unintended consequence is that it makes me feel very alive. I don’t just read the news, I can step outside to see what’s happening…
5) What I pay for rent to have an apartment with a roof deck and a view of Acropolis in Athens would get me a tiny basement studio in the Tenderloin in San Francisco.
7) I have a Greek name, a Greek name day, and a village to celebrate it in.
8) Delphi—it’s so beautiful there and I love the energy.
9) Greece has been named the most flirtatious country in the world… ☺ http://greece.greekreporter.com/…/greece-the-most-flirtati…/
10) The next six months. Because life here is always an adventure…
Actually, I can’t stop at 10 so I will add one more…
11) Except when I travel back to the US, I haven’t used a dryer for my clothes in three years. I don’t know why I like that fact so much, but I do.
And my top lists from before….so I guess we’re at the top 31 things I love about living in Greece.
My Top 10 from Feb 2015
1) It turns out heaven is a place on earth. It is in Greece, and it is called “Mykonos.”
2) I haven’t had a car for three years, and I haven’t missed it at all.
3) The mailman knows my travel schedule and where to leave packages when I’m away, without me ever saying a word. It’s part of the neighborhood web of information.
5) A woman who was my landlord for a total of 3.5 months over three years ago regularly sends me food she cooks for me. She lives on Chios Island where it can’t possibly be cheap to send food to Athens but she does it because she thinks about me and wants to make sure I’m well fed.
6) Ioanna Kourbela www.ioannakourbela.com/
7) I see very elderly people out at bars and cafes late at night. They are part of the social fabric and actively socialize just like everyone else.
8) Each time I’ve needed help (and in three years, there have been many times….), there have been a thousand hands outstretched to help me. I find the Greek people to be amazingly kind and generous with their time. This goes especially for my neighbors, who have become like my family.
9) While we don’t know what is going to happen with the new government, hope is in the air…so far…well– never a dull moment.
10) Greek summer 2015–because every summer seems to have its own story. ☺
My Top 10 from February 2013:
The top 10 things I love about living in Greece…
1) When I buy vegetables from the market, they have still have dirt on them.
2) When I take a cab home at night, 9 times out of 10 the cab driver waits into I’m in the door to drive away.
3) Because 7:00 pm is still considered afternoon…
4) At least once a day, I see a motorcycle or scooter driving the wrong way down the street. And no one seems at all concerned.
5) Something about the way the sunlight hits the landscape here makes the whole place seem magical.
6) My neighbors have become my friends and know and care about the details of my daily life.
7) Coffee with a friend lasts two or three hours, and I have never once talked about stock options or liquidity events.
8) When I walk down the street, I’m greeted with γεια σου κουκλα μου, γεια σου αγαπη, γεια σου ομορφη (hello darling, hello love, hello beautiful) by old men and women.
9) Shortly after meeting someone, I am often invited to their country or island home for holidays.
10) Greek summer.