This husband-and-wife yoga team met in 1991 and married in 1997. After studying with K. Pattabhi Jois and receiving his blessing to teach Ashtanga Yoga, Modestini and Doane built a studio and attracted a following in Hawaii. Doane, 37, and Modestini, 54, who was a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, offer their own vinyasa-style “Maya Yoga” and live a laid-back island life with their two kids.
Eddie, you were previously a farmer?Eddie: I had an organic farm in Colorado—apples, oranges, cherries, and peaches. After five years, my back was in pain. Doctors wanted to do a double laminectomy—remove two disks and fuse the bones in between. I sold my farm and sought healing. My first yoga class in 1983 was the beginning.
How did you two meet?Nicki: In 1991, I took Eddie’s Iyengar Yoga class. I got this flash, like an electrical spark, and I knew I’d have a connection with him. I never dreamed it would go this far! Our paths crossed again when I went to Encinitas, California, to study with Tim Miller.
How did you end up in Maui? N: We traveled and taught yoga, then bought a piece of land in Hawaii in 1995. We built a small cabin and a big yoga studio. It was a case of “Build it, and they will come.” In Hawaii, you can focus on yourself. It feels good to inhale the clean air. You hear the waves, the birds. It lets people slow down.
What do you do when you aren’t doing yoga? E: I alloy my own gold, mix my own metals. It’s extremely yogic: You sit and focus on one thing continuously for an extended period of time. I stay inside a ring or necklace for hours, completely merging with the experience.
You’re environmentalists? E: We’re vegetarians; we run our cars on vegetable oil, use solar, try to live the most nonviolent way we can. Even changing a light bulb is important. Our choices have a political effect as well as an economic and environmental effect. Our teacher trainings provide organic food, and we ask students to learn what a carbon footprint is.
What’s your secret vice?E: We rock out! We work with a lot of musicians—the violinist from the String Cheese Incident, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti—and go on tour for a month at a time. We love practicing for the 45 minutes before they go onstage in front of 10,000 people—then we run out there and get in the first row!
Are your children yogis too? E: Matteo, five, practices with me a lot. Both are vegetarians. We used to have to hold Maya, eight, back in restaurants, because she would go up to people and say, “What’s that? That’s chicken! You can’t eat that!”
How is teaching together?N: If you look in the yogic texts, they say that two of the highest forms of yoga are being in a marriage and having children: It’s the ultimate mirror you hold up. Us being together, it’s constant yoga!
Janelle Brown is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.