When her friend initially asked her to join her for a power yoga class with Bryan Kess in 2000, Raja wasn’t sure what to expect. “It completely kicked my ass,” she said. “The physical sensation was incredible and something I’d never experienced, so I went back and tried other teachers.”
What she found when she started to get deeper into the practice was healing. “I used to cry a lot during yoga class, because it was really touching me,” she said. “It starting me on a journey that opened up some things and connected me to my body and breath and awareness; I felt like I was just beginning to start to wake up to life.”
Raja enrolled in her first teacher training in 2005 at an ashram in Texas with no intention of becoming a teacher. “It was a kundalini teacher training, and that wasn’t my practice,” she said. “Even though pranayama is fabulous, I took another training at the ashram with the Living Yoga Program which was a more holistic practice.”
With two trainings under her belt, she began searching for a monastic experience and left for Vietnam. Ultimately not finding what she was looking for, she returned to the States and eventually went to Maine where she rented a cabin in the woods for five months of solitude with her dog. Emerging from that experience, she stayed on and ended up opening a yoga studio at the resort, teaching classes there and at a nearby camp for girls.
When she came back to Los Angeles, she began teaching at Goda Yoga (which would become SoulPlay Yoga) in 2012. Raja then founded Green Tree Yoga, an incredible nonprofit studio serving South LA in 2013.
Ironically, Raja eventually found her monastic experience right here in California, entering a year of silent reflection at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido. When she finished this past spring and returned to SoulPlay, our community was thrilled, and you can find more info about her Yoga Basics and Slow Deep Stretch classes below!