Photo credit to Jeff Skeirik
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of answering some questions about the story of Eric Paskel and I – our relationship, our adventures teaching together and being together. In honor of our Paradise Found Yoga Retreat beginning tomorrow, here is the story of us (so far!) told by me, Rina. 🙂
How did you first meet?
Eric and I met on Halloween in an elevator at the Hollywood Yoga Journal Conference back in 2014.
Did you immediately have a romantic connection?
Not at all. Eric wasn’t wearing a shirt because he had been in the pool and he was quite cocky in his stance and bold introduction. I immediately stereotyped him as a yoga teacher player. Also, I was in full production mode so I wasn’t in that mindset at all. We actually admitted to each other that we weren’t even physically attracted to each other for some time but that there was something else attracting us that felt much deeper than skin deep.
If not, how did your love story evolve?
The love story evolved when he asked me for a phone date since he lived in LA and I lived in Miami. I had no interest in him romantically so I talked to him uncensored for 2 hours. It was surprisingly easy to talk to him even though I still had that voice in me that said, “This guy is a player. He knows how to read people really well so he is a pro at manipulating.” Thus, I just enjoyed the conversation and moved on. We kept talking back and forth for 2 months and finally he said, “Just come to LA to see if we have a physical connection because at our age we can’t waste time.” I agreed. So I came to LA and the first day was clear to me that he and I wouldn’t work because of some fundamental differences in values and lifestyles. We did have a physical connection but I had already written him off and left it at that. It wasn’t until the next day that he asked me if I wanted to study. I was surprised at his question, so I curiously asked, “Study what?” He confidently said, “The Bhagavad Gita.” The fact that he studied philosophy was like kryptonite to me – in terms of it being the one thing that would weaken me emotionally in a good way. He later admitted that he knew this would hook me. We studied all morning, watching his guru, Swami A. Parthasarathy, (now my guru too) giving a lecture for one hour. I sat on top of Eric’s desk in full lotus fully enraptured by his teacher who clearly had a wisdom no one else had. Eric failed to offer me the comfortable desk chair, but he got lucky his teacher was so badass. He wasn’t a natural gentleman, but I let it slide in exchange for an enlightened teacher. It was his first win. One of many. 😉
How long have you been dating?
We have been dating for 3 and a half years. It feels like a lot longer because of all the traveling and experiences we have done together as a couple. Most couples don’t get to do in a lifetime as much as we have done in these short years so I feel very blessed.
You’ve led yoga retreats together. What’s it like to work with your partner?
At the beginning it was a little challenging because we have such different approaches. To be honest, I am the one who had the problem blending because I do like more structure and he is more of a loose canon which can give me anxiety. Through the years we have been able to adjust to each others strengths and weaknesses better so that now I don’t get anxious and we can both be free to be ourselves.
Does your personal life make it harder or easier to teach together?
I don’t think our personal life has anything to do with teaching together. Our individual abilities to adapt and adjust to the other is what makes us be able to teach together easily.
You’re very public with your relationship. Do you ever worry about being so open about your private life?
I am still very private about our relationship even if it doesn’t seem like it. We show only what we want to, when it has to do with our expression of love or business-related activities. I never worry because I feel I am conscious of what’s being posted for example you won’t find a picture of us laying in bed together. That’s a line I won’t cross even if it’s cuddling. No one needs to see what our bedroom looks like. I have never been as public in a relationship as I am in this relationship because there’s a sense of safety in it. In addition, I had to assess who I chose to be my partner. Eric is the most extroverted person I’ve ever met or dated so even if I wanted privacy (which I do) I kinda have to throw my preferences out the window and accept things as they are. He tends to respect my privacy needs best he can with his nature.
How did your students react when they found out you were involved?
I think some of my students were hesitant because they are protective since Eric doesn’t have the best external appearance and is known as the yoga badboy. No one wants to see your close friend/teacher/family member date a “bad boy” but what they didn’t know is how much he is so NOT a bad boy. It’s just a persona he plays but it’s not really his true way. He’s a softie and super loving. He has never treated me badly and has always cherished me in the highest regard. My students were also not so happy that I moved away from Miami to be with him. I understand this entirely. At the same time, my friends and students that had my best interest in mind were very happy for me and knew that this was a necessary move for me to grow up and rise up in all aspects of my life. Both of our lives changed for the better being together but we both had to sacrifice many people and ways from our past that made some transitions challenging. The friends and students who were originally with us for the right reasons have stuck around. Those who were attached and jealous have fallen behind. Survival of the fittest works in these areas too. We got to see who our true friends and students were rather quickly. It’s really fascinating what attachment and selfishness can create.
How did each of you know the other was “The One?”
The morning he asked me to study the Bhagavad Gita and then seeing who his teacher was really made a huge impression on me that I can’t describe. He was able to speak my “spiritual” language when no one else had been able to do it in the balanced way of being worldly and spiritual. It was usually one or the other, but not both. Eric’s ability to have these polarities to him makes him the perfect match for me. There are two other times that are private that I knew he was a different kind of man and that I had found my perfect match. But I can’t share those publicly. Those are sacred to me.
What kinds of things do you like to do together when you’re not teaching?
This is a beautiful question because there are things I like to do that he does with me and there are things he likes to do that I do with him. There’s actually not a lot of mundane things we both enjoy together. The main thing is that I like to see him happy, smiling and laughing, even if I’m not involved in the creating of it.
We like to study the ancient teachings together and individually. We like to travel together even if we might not always agree on where we want to go. He wants skiing and the beach. I want exploration and culture. We like finding new vegan restaurants to eat at. We love to laugh together. We do love having a family and sharing with them, even though we don’t have one that we created together. And besides making love, that’s it!
How do you make your relationship — on and off the mat — work?
Off the mat, we study every day, we listen to each other, we take responsibility when we do something wrong, we make noticeable changes, we communicate with love, we have the same spiritual values, we have fun in all we do, we pick up the slack when the other needs it, we ask for help, we give each other space, and we don’t try to fix the other one when we are breaking down. On the mat, I let him do his thing. He listens to hip hop, rock and RnB, which sounds like glass shredding my ear so I tend to not practice with him. I prefer the traditional yoga music and chants to practice to. We respect each other’s differences.
Any funny or memorable anecdotes about teaching together that sum up your relationship?
A memorable moment for me was my past teacher training at his studio Electric Soul Yoga. He came in to be brilliant and teach about philosophy and themes. At one point, a student left the room but I didn’t know why. I was assisting Eric with the activity until I noticed the student didn’t return. I went to go check up on him. Apparently, he got really nervous and had a breakdown. I stayed outside with the student and consoled him. Eric continued the activity inside without a hitch. After 10 minutes, we walked back in. Eric and I looked at each other and knew we had to hold space together. It was a beautiful synergy. I stayed with the panicked student and Eric handled the rest of the students. We knew our roles and played them to the best of our abilities in order to have a successful training day. I was glowing with love for him that day. Besides marveling at his genius we both stepped up and made the moment seamless.
What does each of you wish the world knew about the other? Anything surprising?
Eric is the most loving and wisest man I’ve ever met. He has a different way of expressing it sometimes and it can be hard to see past the outer shell of tattoos and rocker energy. I have never seen any human being work so hard to better themselves as I have seen Eric work on himself these last 3 and a half years together. Everything I say he holds in his heart as gold and I immediately see him change for the better. Just thinking about who he is and how he acts with me makes me feel so honored to be by his side and be known as his partner. We both lift each other up and rise up for ourselves and for the other. Sometimes, Eric starts explaining some philosophy to me because either I ask him or because it’s pertinent to the circumstance,and his understanding of the text baffles me. He is so clear – it’s as if he taps into some source that tells him the answers and it’s as simple as 1+1=2 for him. He is simply brilliant. I love you Goobi!