GaiaYoga Gardens Residents’ Stories

Welcome to our tribal family. Meet some of our members and residents. Welcome!

Ano with coconute and machete. ANO TARLETZ HANAMANA: Hi. I co-founded GaiaYoga Gardens in 2003 with my ex-partner (who no longer lives here). I’m the only person who’s been involved with GaiaYoga Gardens since its inception.  I’m the default leader of the community, though I’m very much wishing to attract other people to share leadership with me. My primary intimate partner, Melekai, joined me in this mission in 2009, and is growing in her leadership more and more every day. Her presence is a great blessing. Indeed, there wouldn’t be a GYG without her. I’m longing for more mature folks to join us in creating and enjoying this dream.

Like any leader, I have my strengths and weaknesses. My weaknesses set the limits of the community. Of course my strengths help create what’s wonderful and precious here. My desire is to grow beyond the stage where I am the defining presence here, but until that manifests I will continue in this role.

(Note:  There is a long-standing tradition in many spiritual communities called the Guru-Devotee relationship.  While I certainly am a teacher this does not make me a categorically different person in our community.  Also, we are a holistic community, which is different than a spiritual community.  I am wary around creating power dynamics like I’ve seen in spiritual communities with teachers/gurus. The way I see it — Spirit or Life is The Guru. We are all devotees of Life. I think of myself as the lead devotee here.  I have an unwavering devotion to GaiaYoga Culture and Consciousness. I do my best to inspire that same kind of devotion in others. But I am submitted to something greater than myself and that devotion includes all of the people who come here.)

As of this writing, July 2017, there are 13 adults and six children here (mine and Melekai’s : Elohi, born 4/22/11 and Iolanthe, born 6/8/12, Isabel and Stefano’s son Cosimo, born 4/24/17, a 5 and 10 year old boy and girl adopted from China by an American woman, and a 10 month old girl of a couple living here). Melekai has lived here since May 2009. Most of the other adults here have lived here between 9 months and 3 years.

My life’s purpose can be expressed in this way: I co-create and participate in the mystery of life through pioneering sustainable and holistic culture, landancing, sharing my songs, and relating as deeply and as vulnerably as is pono in all my relations. I am grateful that I am fully engaged in my life purpose and that I am creating a space at GaiaYoga Gardens where others can do the same.

Harvesting coconuts for GaiaYoga market stand. I was born on Earth Day, 1969. A little over twenty years later, I co-founded Pangaia, a now “deceased” raw-foods, permaculture homestead on the Big Island of Hawaii. Since 1996, I’ve been devoted to teaching sustainable homesteading, raw foods lifestyle and the value of living in community. In 2000, I got turned onto Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and have been teaching NVC since 2002. I manage our permaculture nursery, which specializes in bamboo, fruit trees, bananas, and coconuts. I run our farmer’s market booth; free-climb 5 to 10 coconut trees per week; co-run our immersion program; and manage, organize and work on projects at GaiaYoga Gardens. I’m in a local chapter of an international men’s group, called The ManKind Project (MKP). In my spare time, I support the people living here in healing, learning, and growing. I am also the rhythm guitarist, singer and composer for the progressive, shamanic, folk-rock band, Nagdeo.  I even sleep sometimes 😉

I co-authored the booklet An Introduction To GaiaYoga: A Holistic Vision for Living Sustainably as Spirit, Self, Community, and Earth. I’ve also written three other books: Instinctive Eating: The Lost Knowledge of Optimum Nutrition (authored under the name “Zephyr”), Transplant-Shock Therapy: The Poetic Pilgrimage of a Suburban Refugee (which is a collection of the lyrics to all the songs I’ve written), and True Human Freedom: The Inspiration and Argument for GaiaYoga Culture, which I just added 3 new sections to and have reprinted for the third time.

I have grown tremendously from my journeys in the realms of sustainable living, holistic spirituality, intentional community, NVC, Tantric relationship, Light on Shadow (shadow work), 12-step recovery work, participating in the MKP, fatherhood, and raw foods instinctive eating. I’m excited to be part of the seed energy that is creating GaiaYoga Gardens. The 22-year-old hippie who arrived here wide-eyed, with a back-pack and a guitar would be amazed to see the person he’s become.

Using language from the GaiaYoga teaching, I see GaiaYoga Gardens as a personal sphere community, which contains multiple cooperative intimate spheres. This could be thought of clans within tribes or families within clans. What I want for my intimate sphere is different than what I want or require in my personal sphere. For example, in my personal sphere I simply want people to only eat organic food, but in my intimate sphere I want people to eat all raw, local, whole and organic food. In my personal sphere, I support many types of intimate sexual relationships, but in my intimate sphere I want to part of a group marriage. There are other differences, but the reason I’m sharing this is that I want people who are coming here to be aware that just because I, “the leader” am a certain way, or want things a certain way in my intimate sphere, doesn’t mean that’s what GaiaYoga is or that’s what GYG is all about. Our container is bigger than that!

Baby Io joining the tribal family.

Baby Iolanthe!

Elohi laughing in a breezehome bed.

Baby Elohi!

I guess my main reason for discussing this is because this website is fundamentally about inviting people to the personal sphere of GaiaYoga Gardens, not the intimate sphere of Ano, Melekai and our children. Yes, I would deeply enjoy finding people who want to join our intimate sphere, and I want to be transparent about who I am and what I want in all my spheres of relationship.  But I want to absolutely ensure that there is distinction and clarity around this, so there is safety and room for people who resonate with our overall vision to come here and make a home regardless of how close they want to be with me.

That’s enough about me for now:-)

Melekai smiling in her tantra counseling chair. MELEKAI HANAMANA:  I am a healer on a healing journey. I first came to GaiaYoga Gardens in 2008 not knowing what to expect or how it would impact me. Towards the end of my first few weeks here, during a plant spirit medicine journey, I experienced the deeper loving energy of the island of Hawaii and also Ano’s vision. After that trip I became dedicated to the vision of GaiaYoga. At the time, I had just graduated from UCSF’s nurse-midwife Master’s program, and was set on a course to become a Nurse-Midwife. During the time between visiting GYG in 2008 and moving here in 2009, I was living in California. I had secured a job as a Nurse-Midwife in Northern California and had started a new life there with my partner at the time. Also during this time, I was having many dreams, visions and sightings of things having to do with my stay here on the Big Island and things pertaining to Hawaii in general. I was struck by how much the energy of Hawaii was staying with me. I felt a deep longing to be living the life I imagined I could have in Hawaii. I struggled during these months to set the right course while entering the professional medical world of hospital-based midwifery and being haunted by visions of Hawaii. I had difficulty adjusting to a hospital career. Then one day, I had a waking vision of Ano with what appeared to be my two children. I called Ano and fairly quickly, we decided I’d move to GYG.

I had explored life in quite a few forms up to this point. I studied herbalism, organic gardening, community living, health food and was a yoga teacher after living at Mount Madonna Center for a number of years. I’ve explored meditation, shamanistic techniques, vision quests, non-violent communication, twelve-step programs, nursing and finally midwifery. I have always had a desire to live in the country, build my own houses, grow my own food, birth children naturally, live in community and live an organic lifestyle. When I came to GYG, it seemed to be a complete fit. I felt this was a place for me to live the way I wanted to live and to embrace all the modalities of healing I had studied. I could share them while deepening into my own healing. Little did I know that Pele would give me all these gifts. The cost would be to utterly surrender to my healing process, and to fully engage community and parenting at the deepest level of my heart and soul.

Ano and Melekai framing their love as heads of our tribal community.Hence, I am a healer on a healing journey. Currently, I am co-running GYG with Ano, my beloved partner since 2009 [with whom I have two children Elohi (4/22/11) and Iolanthe (6/8/12)]. I teach in our Immersions, I am starting a career as a Conscious Sensuality Practitioner. I’m beginning as a Faculty apprentice at Lolia Place (where the Hawaii Tantra Festival is held). I’m using my midwifery skills to support women in and around birth. And, I am expanding into areas of my being that have been long hidden, revealing a beautiful me that I am so honored to explore and reveal on a daily basis. I want to co-create in this realm with like-minded souls who find beauty in the depths of human experience and have the vulnerability to share with others. Aloha <3

Every tribal family needs an elder. Meet Kana, our resident Kupuna.KANA COVINGTON:  Aloha! I’m Uncle Kana, an elder (or Kapuna) in the Gaia Yoga Community, in the Hawaiian way of Aloha. I’m a Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner and have been a haumana (student) of several Kumu (Hawaiian teachers). I’ve also been body worker for many years now practicing Lomi Lomi, the Hawaiian Healing way. I retired as Cultural Tour Guide. I am active in the local communities outside Gaia Yoga Gardens: The Center for Spiritual Living and The Hilo Palace Theater. I’m a hike leader for the Sierra Club and one of the organizers of The Lilikoi Festival.

I have been involved in community building most of my life. After making Hawaii Island my home and living Aloha for about 20 years, l chose to again explore what living in community could be. I want to forward my vision of how authentic living with ohana (family) can be. After exploring several wonderful communities in the Puna area, l found Gaia Yoga Gardens. Turns out l had known the founder of Gaia Yoga, Ano, for many years from the local farmer’s market. Now, along with the rest of the folks herewith whom I share deep love and shared values, I intend on spending the rest of my life building and growing, and yes dancing, at Gaia Yoga Gardens.

Throughout my long life l have been a seeker of the “Spirit,” what is true and authentic to my core being.  Starting with the deepest meanings in Rock ‘n Roll old Jazz in the ’60s, I was a part of the ” hippies movement,” working in community radio.  I got into “new thought” in the ‘7os — sitting and channeling in circles and workshops about what is beyond our mind into universal Mind. The ’80s began with the “EST” Training, Ending World Hunger, looking at what makes organizations work (or not work), etc. I also entered a committed relationship that would last for 15 years. And I started an adventure to Hawaii by being called to the islands. The ’90s were about deepening my spiritual understanding and compassion, to allow me to move to Hawaii to truly “walk the walk and talk the talk” of my honest and true being. Now with about 20 years of living in Pono (The Right Path) and the Aloha Spirit (the presents of that breath of life) the mindfulness and oneness, I am a man here and spiritually present; excited to build and grow GaiaYoga Gardens together.

 ZAI:  Here are the facts: In 2015, I sold most of my belongings, said goodbye, and left my “old’ life behind by moving to GaiaYoga Gardens with the conviction that I would never return to my “old” life.  I have traveled a couple of times since living at GYG but I am still living here and intend to continue living here–I love living here.  If you are curious to know more, I recommend that you experience it for yourself because words can never convey what it means and feels like to be here.

ISABEL QUARTA: Aloha! My name is Isabel. I have been living at GaiaYoga Gardens since August 2015, and Stefano (a resident of GYG since 2014) and I welcomed our son Cosimo into the world and this community in April 2017.

Initially I was attracted to GaiaYoga Gardens as a wandering wwoofer, seeking depth, connection and healing. What I’ve found here constantly surpasses my expectations of what I thought life was all about. I feel deeply engaged and committed here, as I continue to navigate and discover my authentic relationships with myself, others and the earth. I don’t find living at GaiaYoga to be particularly easy or “stress free”, but there is a lot of truth here, and the freedom to know and experience myself authentically. When I think about the levels of depth and intimacy I have engaged in relationship here, I feel deeply moved because I need growth, authenticity and love. Further, when I think about the vast potential for sustainability of lifestyle here, I feel excited and inspired because I need harmony, purpose and integrity with life. I have a deep trust in this community and am longing to experience other committed and conscious people co-creating life here with us.

Stefano was born off the island of Barlakalulanujonski. He GROWS when he is ready. Stefano says he experiences GROWTH at Gaia Yoga Gardens more frequently than other places in this world. He chooses to LEARN to GROW at Gaia Yoga Gardens because the people there have LEARNED how to see through him and into his needs, his purest divine energies of being. Stefano did not experience this overnight. He feels very safe at Gaia Yoga. Stefano thinks this is because he has LEARNED to spend a lot of time considering the needs of his community members; their pure divine energies of being. Stefano did not LEARN this overnight. Stefano believes in his capacity to love, which is his favorite way to meet the needs of the community, and has used his capacity to love many times to support the needs of the community to be met.

Stefano is a father to Cosimo. Stefano is a husband to Isabel. Stefano strives to be the best life-partner he can be to all the residents at Gaia Yoga. Melekai helped deliver Cosimo into this Earth when Isabel gave birth. Stefano has trust in Ano and chooses to continually build his home with Ano at Gaia Yoga, even when there is a lot of anger, fear and sadness at Gaia Yoga. Stefano is deeply intertwined with the people at Gaia Yoga after only 3 years.

Stefano goes to school to study rat lungworm. Stefano is very torn about the direction of his life because there is a big part of him that wants to spend the majority of his time GROWING with the community. The community helps Stefano to find understanding of himself. Stefano helps the community members find understanding of themselves. When Stefano becomes more in touch with what Stefano feels and needs, Stefano LEARNS what is his best strategy, even when he is overwhelmed and confused. Stefano is very torn about the direction of his life but he feels glad he knows how to meet his need for empowerment throughout all the stages of his GROWTH, even when he feels scared. Stefano wants to be the best father, husband, and life-partner he can be while being the best scientist he can be. Stefano believes his daily contributions and the way he experiences each day would not be the same if it was not for the support he receives and gives to his community at Gaia Yoga.