Three villages: Beloved Communities

-- Annie

Lake City is my home neighborhood where my now grown children were born, where I tend two gardens, walk to my chiropractic apts, bike to work and on most days can find a fine bowl of soup at the local bakery while chatting with my neighbors. Community at its best.

However for the first two months of 2018 I am spending my time in two communities far away from my beloved home in Lake City.

Two, warm in climate and of heart, villages on opposite sides of the planet, which both also hold the tenants of connection, healing, and good food, have been my homes for the first months of 2018:  Yelapa in Mexico and Vaidyagrama in India.  Over several years I have had the privilege of spending extended time living in each of these villages and my life has been changed by it. I will share with you how.

Yelapa in Mexico

Yelapa is a small, no cars village nestled into a sweet inlet tucked off the Bay of Banderos, on the west coast of Mexico, a fifty minute boat ride from Puerto Vallarta.

In 2006 when I was first invited to bring a group of Two Doggers to spend a week in this precious village, there was a strong momentum among the young people to do all they could to leave Yelapa.  They wanted to move to the big city or even better to go to the United States where many of their relatives had found work or started a family. This momentum has changed primarily as a result of the US political climate and most recently the end of DACA by our wretched president.  Families worry about their relatives in the US and turn toward what they can do to build a livelihood in Yelpa.

In small but significant ways, Judith Roth has helped families and individuals make a better life in their home village.  In the 14 years I've been visiting Yelapa, I've seen growth of pride and joy in their home village as locally owned businesses and opportunities to make a living wage have increased.

Judith, Yudi as she is known in Yelapa, moved here from Seattle in 2004 with her partner Cody seeking warmth and simplicity and beauty.

Unlike most expats, who seek a reclusive paradise tucked back into the mountainside jungle, Judith and Cody moved into a second floor of a house in the middle of the village. They became close with Célida and Juan and their children, gradually persuading them to open the only coffee shop (now restaurant called the Eclipse) in Yelapa and giving them an espresso machine to get them going. The Cruz family likewise opened their home to Cody and Yudi, providing them with a warm welcome with family celebrations.  Yudi taught yoga to the young children of the village in front of the Cruz home and became a beloved grand parent figure to their children. The Cruz family home served as the hub of food and gatherings for my first yoga retreat in Yelapa in 2006.

The villagers began to trust Judith’s intentions as she raised funds for and helped start a new children's center in the village.  She also helped fund the local church's remodeling.  She hired locals at a livable wage to support the functioning of the ever growing weekly yoga retreats she hosted each winter season.

In Yelapa the land is owned in perpetuity by the original families, and there are those families who have better or more land. But even with land, the ability to earn an income has been limited. Foreigners have traveled to Yelapa for many decades. Several of my 50 year+ friends traveled here in the 1970’s and 80’s with a backpack, loving the simplicity of the lifestyle.

The charm to this village stems in large part from the way the homes and byways nestle into the undulating land surrounding this sweet bay. Additionally, because it is remote and difficult, if not impossible, in most seasons to access by car, there are no roads for cars, only cobbled pathways that have been walked up and over and through and down for centuries. The combination of no development by hoteliers, and a requirement to be sturdy and steady on your feet, Yelapa attracts a more earthy vacationing crowd.

In 2008, Judi was able to negotiate a lease with a local family to build a structure which would replace an old abandoned palapa structure 180 steps up into jungled hillside above the beach. The journey of the building of ‘sky temple’ is epic and worth telling at another time but for now, understand that out of that process a deep bond developed between Yudi and her local general contractor Felipe, who saved the day many a time.

Today, with the help of Felipe and Aurelia's family members and may local villagers, Yudi hosts thirteen week-long yoga retreats at Sky temple in what she calls a Village Yoga Retreat, combining the beauty of the tropical location with the culture and people of Yelapa.  The retreats at Sky temple are especially unique as the participants are welcomed and tended to by the local people of this precious village with such beautiful care and a significant amount of the retreat fee returns directly to the villagers.

Here are a few ways our retreats there have made a difference.

Many of those young children who took yoga classes from Yudi out in front of the Cruz’s home are now in high school and now in a Yelapa traditional Mexican dance troupe who are Jalisco state champions for two consecutive years!  Sky temple Yogis have been significant contributors to costumes, travel and classes. This has brought great pride to the elders of Yelapa and the young people of the village.

Eva, an elder matriarch of one of the poorer families, lives in a house in the center of Yelapa, started her own thrift store receiving our donations of sport shoes and clothes that she sells to the village at discounted prices.  Here store is so popular, she sells out within a day or two. This small business has helped save her leg and pay for expensive diabetes treatments.

The blessings shared by those who practice in the Sky Temple filter through the whole village economy. The benefits of the goodness coming from the support of the yogi’s visiting Yelapa ripple through this small village in many ways. Over the last years, Yudi has started creating mosaic Peace Walls in Yelapa filled with objects yogi’s bring representing heart felt intentions for world peace. These Peace Walls are a creative statement celebrating our unity rather than being walls of separation.

The beauty of Yelapa’s environment and people sits in my heart all year around no matter where I am on this planet.  I am grateful that Yudi and her Yelapa family have worked steadily and lovingly together to allow this beauty to be shared with so many.

Vaidyagrama in India

As I write, it is 4:30 am Monday morning and I sit on my bed under a mosquito net in my room at Vaidygrama. Halfway around the curve of this planet in Seattle it is 4:30pm Sunday afternoon.

In an hour I will prepare to walk a short distance from my room, one room of four rooms in a ‘pod’, to a centrally located octagonal room where every morning, one of the founding doctors, Dr. Ramadas, leads prayer. Prayer is a forty five minute chanting of the thousand names of Vishnu, invocation of the healing qualities of Hindu deities and an expression of gratitude and welcoming of the rising sun. The bell marking beginning of prayer is rung. Dr Ramadas’s voice is deep and resonant in the stone and concrete room designed Vedic ‘vastu’ architectural tradition of ‘alignment with the nature’. His voice sounds as if he is pulling the ancient Sanskrit words up from the earth through the roots of his very own unyielding dedication to the healing of each and every one of the forty five patients and over eighty support staff that make up the healing village of vaidya/doctor/healer grama/village. Like most of the other fifteen or so early risers, I am able to sing along to just a couple of the mantras, the rest I hum along and let the weaving thread of seed sounds flow through my body tickling, shaking and nudging my body’s energy to flow with life on this new day.

At Vaidyagrama the flow of life is strong, steady and deeply nourishing and described as “Like that of a mother’s womb”. It is believed that if we are nourished on all levels, spacial design, daily rhythms, healing treatments and practices and simple to digest organic food, we can rest deeply and release that which hinders our well being (detoxification)...
And then in turn receive that which does nourish us, more effectively.

In finding this land to build Vaidyagrama the five founding Ayurvedic doctors, with their wise leader, Dr. Ramkumar, had a challenging path. After much searching they landed here in the state of Tamil Nadu just over the boarder from the more prosperous state of Kerala.  In this part of Tamil Nadu the land is arid and was considered not able to be cultivated by the local villagers.

The local villagers are poor, and struggling to meet the most basic needs of food and shelter. Many of the men have turned to drinking all day while the women find whatever work they can. Elders are often abandoned and children are lucky to get basic needs met. The locals were skeptical and unwelcoming to the Vaidygrama community initially.

The primary tenant of Ayurveda tradition is to align and balance with all nature.  Therefore cultivating a healthy balance with the land and people around became a fundamental part of their intention and actions. Over time, with sensitivity and understanding, they persisted in reaching to the local communities with ways to introduce more healthy life practices. 

Today Vaidyagrama serves 125 meals a day in local villages, built a boys home, Balagrama, and are building one for girls.  They have planted over one hundred species of trees which in turn has raised the local water table.  A local mother and her 17 year old daughter, who were kicked out of their home by the father were offered housing and jobs at Vaidyagrama. The daughter worked hard and became a treatment therapist and together, mother and daughter earned enough money to build a house.  At which time the father was once again interested in being part of this family endeavor.  Once the house was built he again kicked them out and mother and daughter are now again living and working at Vaidyagrama. An elderly woman, abandoned by her sons, found work as a gardener in exchange for room and board and a small stipend at Vaidyagrama;  a stipend which she purportedly gives her sons. Vaidyagrama community is intending to change the unkind treatment of women and elders by teaching the children, the future leaders of the villages, healthier ways of living and relating.

These are just a few ways in which Vaidyagrama's healing work extends beyond the 45 patients who come from all over the world with issues as wide as depression, diabetes, cancer, paralysis, vision issues, BPD and rheumatoid arthritis.

Word of mouth has reached and attracted people from Norway, Australia, Palestine, Marshall Islands, Ukraine, France, Canada, Malta and Chile.

Our $100 a day fee for room board and treatment stretches way beyond the fees for all the support staff here including the doctors and administrative staff who have essentially decided to dedicate their careers to healing the planet one village at a time.

Tonight, I rest here, on the porch of my room, 14 days into the 21 day panchakarma cleanse, and I feel peaceful. The Ayurvedic body mind and spirit practices, treatments and teachings are having an effect.

I feel hopeful and content and grateful for life.
I am heartened by the stories of the people in these both these villages who have been generous to share their land, their traditions, their sanctity with outsiders - outsiders who come in with care and curiosity and resources to supplement the needs of the locals in each of these villages.

Community at it’s best.

Lake City in Seattle

At home in Lake City, meetings are happening to plan for our summer festival, to discuss community emergency preparedness, to gather ideas on how to better support our homeless community and to create a safer more inclusive community.

Lake City is an evolving village and becoming a lead urban neighborhood in creating an inclusive blueprint for development. This path needs everyone’s help to make it grow for the betterment of  all those living here.

Further Information

  • Interested in more info? Contact
  • Dates are set for Two Dog Yoga in Yelapa 2019 with Wendy and Annie
  • And tentative dates for a return to India are in the works for 2020.



Our Community

Donate to the Guerilla Garden fund


Contact Annie for larger donations.


Two Dog Tales

Enjoy these highlights from the Two Dog e-newsletter and other writings contributed by and about Two Doggers over the years. It's a story archive that tells the tale of the Two Dog community: its teachers, students, neighbors and friends.

Gratitude Flows Over at Two Dog
by Annie Stocker

Unexpected sources of Gratitude

Generosity of Two Dog Community
by Annie Stocker
Two Dog Generous community
Annie's Om From Home
by Annie Stocker
How Annie found her voice
Mothers and Daughters at Two Dog
by Valerie Sasson

Sharing the experience of sore muscles on Sunday mornings

A Dog A Day?
by Roxi Smith
A home-practice story shared by a long-time Two Dogger
Turning the Kaleidoscope: Bringing Things to Light
by Sarahjoy Marsh
Bringing awareness to the ever-shifting materials of our inner kaleidoscope
A Year's Journey
by Shannon McCall
The story of a milestone year in the life of one Two Dog teacher
The Two Dogger Next Door
by Jan Mikus
Read about the life and healing experience of a studio regular

To Plan or Not To Plan
by Sarahjoy Marsh

A reflection on how much our habits press on our thoughts, actions, reactions
The Space in Between
by Wendy Groesbeck
What are we really asking for when we want more time in our lives?
Why "Two Dog"
by Annie Stocker

Musing on the name of the studio

Favorite Poses
by Two Dog Teachers

Wendy, Annie and Shannon reflect on their favorite poses

Teen Kumbha
by Annie Stocker

A mother/son yoga experience

About Gentle Yoga and Me
by Bob Scheu

Coming into yoga in the best possible way

Yoga- Another Universe?
by Jack Davis

How Yoga made me a better person

Curve Balls and Fowl Balls
by Annie Stocker

Sometimes things happen

by Shannon McCall


What Yoga Means to Me
by Two Dog Students

Coming Home
by Annie Stocker
Returning from Sri Lanka
Healing in Kerala
by Annie Stocker
A story of healing
Loving Lake City
by Annie Stocker
Reflection of a spring evening in Lake City


Lovin' Lake City

Annie Stocker, Two Dog studio owner, has lived in Lake City since 1986 and feels a warm kinship with the ever-emerging neighborhood. Two Dog students bump into each other at local restaurants, the Lake City Farmers Market, the local hardware store, post office, parks and restaurants. More and more people now make Lake City their permanent home in which to grow their families and friendships. Two Dog is proud to be a part of the growth of this healthy, thriving community. Come explore!


Douglas Park Cooperative Families for Lake City
KaffeeKlatsch Cafe Lake City Branch Public Library
North Seattle Chamber of Commerce Lake City Community Center
Lake City Farmers Market Lake City Greenways
Lake City Live: Blog Lake City Traffic Safety Project
North Helpline Pinehurst Community Blog
Hunger Intervention Program Jamtown Drum School










Two qualities of life that we sometimes give low priority to are surrounding ourselves with beauty and developing community. These are being practiced at Two Dog Yoga studio. The gorgeous unfolding lotus mural secures the room where yoga, singing, dancing, eating, talking and more are offered with open arms to the Lake City neighborhood.
— Cynthia Lair, author of Feeding the Whole Family 



Two Dog Yoga is a compassionate, supportive and nonjudgmental community of teachers and students which has benefitted me in ways I did not expect. I have been able to apply these experiences when I am off the mat to enhance my life as well as help me cope with everything from day-to-day stresses to more difficult times of loss and grief.
—Jodi McClain, Educational Audiologist
sign up for our newsletter
follow us on Facebook