I completely gave up in July of 03’, ready to end my life on this planet, because in my naivete I had created a reality of no love, no hope, no light, just surrounded by darkness and alone. I had $10 in my pocket and had given myself 3 options: get a sandwhich, put gas in the truck, try a yoga class.
Any way I spun it that money was going to the wind, so thanks to working at a restaurant and getting food there I skipped the sandwich. My truck was pretty reliable on fumes, and I wanted to just give life one last shot before I totally threw in the towel. At least I could say I tried.
I walked up the studio stairs, angry and apprehensive but somehow forcing myself to break past this wall. I felt awkward and had no idea the names of anything, couldn’t do half the poses. But when we got to the end-the laying down part – I experienced a freedom in my body and a release in my soul that brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe what was happening. This was what my body and heart and mind needed the most. A safe release. I was hooked. Every spare dime I had went to taking yoga classes, I practised 3, 4, 5 times a day trying to “find” that freedom feeling over and over again. I never wanted to leave that feeling.
Things started to change. A friend at work let me rent a room out of her house, and in that space I was held, nurtured and loved on a level I had never known before. Because I was not very good at articulating my feelings, I still spoke through my art and my paintings. I created some of the best oil pieces I have done in my life in that sweet loving little room upstairs. I had an art show at the restaurant, got a huge newspaper article and made some sales. Things started to change. The yoga was working beyond a level I could comprehend at that time.
My body started changing. I was not as angry. I was not as stressed out. I now knew what to do when I got upset: Find a quiet place and breathe. I became so connected to my heart that I found this delicious gorgeousness in loving other people, strangers even. I started to find appreciation in the delicate quirks of other people, as well as my own.
All of a sudden, things had changed. No one was out to “get me” anymore. In fact, everyone was a potential person who could help me somehow and whom I could help somehow.
Being in the restaurant business, I came to the perspective that it wasn’t about me being an indentured servant to awful people, it became a game of how much could I love my clients, how great of a time I could give to them, how I could create a positive experience for them, and help them feel nurtured.
My relationships with my coworkers and managers became precious as I learned how to love them and appreciate them even more, and they were watching me evolve and raising me and doing what they could to keep me safe, buy art from me, help me. Now … if you’ve ever been in that business, it’s not humanly possible to maintain that state of mind 100% of the time. Everyone has their breaking point, and I hadn’t reached sainthood yet, but I had a foot in the door and was making some headway.
I got a bartending gig at really high-end restaurant. One of my favourite Thursday night clients asked me if I could come and share yoga with some of her students at an alternative rehabilitation school in Hawthorne, NY, just outside of NYC. I agreed.
It was this moment that the biggest change ever started to happen. I showed up to teach these six girls in their early teens who could have and used to kick peoples asses like mine inside and out. I had to have a guard in the room, it was crazy. They loved it. They hugged me, and called me Miss Yoga. I went from teaching them one class twice a week to extending my services to the other schools on the campus and teaching 5 classes a day twice a week. It was amazing the transformation in the students as well as my own . I wasn’t a yoga teacher, I was just this girl that did yoga.
Well that changed too . I got my yoga teaching certification from Kripalu Center for Yoga and health up in Lenox, Mass. That place was like being on a spaceship. I called it Hogwarts school of yoga because the magic and the healing and epiphanies that went down on a minutely basis was mind-blowing. It was the culmination of learning and being certified in everything I had ever believed in, in my heart and mind, but had never had the words or outlet to say and show and share.
We were doing yoga for 9 hours a day, anatomy, lectures, energy work, it was incredible. The most powerful experience was having to look 60 people in the eyes without looking away and saying to myself and them “this person has felt pain, this person has felt fear, this person has cried, this person has had their heart broken, this person needs love …” it went on and on.
Looking into someone else’ eyes is actually like looking into a mirror. ou are reflected back to you what you feel inside. You can also see what the other person is feeling inside without having to say a word. When you see your own pain reflected back to you, it is impossible to not connect to our fellow humans with compassion.
We learned how to be human at Kripalu, and how to love people. We were taught that as yoga teachers, we were teachers of love, love of the body, of the spirit, of the mind, of each other. We were the pioneers in a revolution of compassion, and as such we had an arduous task ahead of us. Ego was not allowed. There was no competition. There was only love, acceptance, non-judgment and nurturing of all aspects of the human condition.
Needless to say, going back into the “other world” as they called it was interesting. Even driving a car was weird. So the bartending came to an end, the restaurant had closed, I got some work doing illustrations and was picking up jobs teaching at yoga studios as well as the school in NY.
I have taught yoga ever since, and life has never been better. As I like to say: Waking up 6ft above ground every morning? Priceless.