Phew! I’m blogging again. It’s been quite a while and so much has changed! I’m writing because I feel drawn to share my story and path with you as I explore the world of yoga and wellness and how it relates to my life as an artist. Hopefully you can find, in my stories, some inspiration, some laughs, and some humanity from a wellness ‘professional’ and ‘artist’ who’s just trying to live up to both of those titles one day at a time- so here we go! A few years ago I had recently graduated college as a young adult – it had taken me a few more years than my peers and I had worked hard to pay my own way through it. I was proud of what I had achieved. Working the events job that I had held most of my college years, I had been honored with a promotion up to manager. I felt lucky to have a job with a good salary and benefits in a broken economy, had a staff like family (some of my best friends and greatest inspirations to this day were met working there and one fellow member of the management team was really family), and I worked with fancy celebrity and society types. I was living with my boyfriend of many years, had a supportive, loving relationship, and should have been happy. But I wasn’t. With any of it. Though I was proud of what I had created, my pride was based more on how my life looked and seemed than how it felt. I needed more from my life and I knew it though I didn’t know what that meant.
In comes Sacred Brooklyn, a Bed-Stuy based hot yoga studio at which a friend of mine taught. I went there for the first time to go to a Prison Yoga Project fundraiser – I had followed the work of the San Francisco based Prison Yoga Project for years and was glad they were coming to Brooklyn. I walked into Sacred and felt an instant vibration that I can only now tell was a signal from the universe that I needed to be exactly where I was when I was – I needed to practice yoga at Sacred Brooklyn. I fell in love with everyone there. I loved seeing many faces of color, many people of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and the owner having a beer at a party (signaled to me that these people were “normal.”) It was the first yoga studio I had walked into that I didn’t feel intimidated by. They had poles for pole dancing in their main studio!
I had practiced yoga for years since moving to NYC but hadn’t yet found a deep sense of community in any one studio. I had also never tried hot yoga. It didn’t interest me much but I was so drawn to the community at Sacred that I was willing to give it a try. My first class was with Chichi, a fact that I now know to be hilarious because Chichi is notorious for extremely difficult classes, and I hated it. It was hot and sweaty and gross and weird and I felt like the heat was really holding me back from being able to do most things. But Chichi gave me a pep talk about coming back, giving my body time to adjust to the heat, using my 2 weeks intro as much as possible, and he got me. This also happened to be the first day of their very first January 30-day Challenge. After recovering my breath in the lobby, I remember not knowing what the hell my hand was doing as I asked the front desk for a pen and basically stood back and watched from outside of myself as I signed my name on the poster on the wall and accepted the challenge. On my first day of trying it, I had just committed to 30 days of hot yoga in a row.
I excitedly and exhaustedly ran home and checked my schedule. Events hours are crazy so I needed to be really careful about making sure I made it to a class a day all month – this meant some 7am classes and some 8pm classes- whatever it took. I went back the next day and the next and the next and suddenly things started to happen for me. Emotionally, I opened up – so much so that I remember this one time my boss laughed at me and jokingly asked me to drop the challenge when I had been tasting a stolen wedding cupcake in the kitchen after a particularly difficult interaction with the mother of the bride (I could write an entire blog about dealing with the mother of the bride but anyway…) and it turned out to be a mint chocolate chip cupcake – my favorite of all flavors ever. I cried real tears of joy down my face, ruined my makes up as I exclaimed “Oh my God, the universe knows exactly what I need right now – it put this cupcake in my hand!”
Physically, I also went through it. I was sore all the time, discovering new muscles, constantly drinking water to work against dehydration, losing weight, getting more flexible, tired yet energetic, and sweatier in general. I only made it like 15 or something days through the challenge – I got really sick at one point and the doctor ordered me not to go that night. But even just attempting to do such a thing, and being a part of Sacred’s community started to change me. As I practiced on that mat every day in front of that mirror, I made some serious decisions. Faced with my own silence, movement, and reflection, I admitted to myself I wasn’t happy. I knew that happiness was in my own hands and that it wasn’t just general depression or unhappiness but it was based on real problems I had with my life. I wasn’t happy at work – I loved many things about it but ultimately it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t happy in my relationship – again, I loved many things about him and us but there were some serious things that I desired that were missing. I wasn’t sure how I felt about living in NYC anymore – I was craving something more peaceful. By the end of attempting that 30 day challenge, I had signed up for an additional month at Sacred, given my job notice, decided it was time to leave my home and boyfriend, and made arrangements to move out to Montauk for the summer.
To make an already long story somewhat shorter- that was the beginning of a huge shift for me.
This is a story that focuses around Sacred Brooklyn, yoga, wellness, heart opening, reconnecting to my desires to serve our community and create art, and getting back to the basics of my own happiness. It has been a ride – I moved to Montauk and came back homeless and jobless – I couch surfed and worked odd jobs until landing back at Sacred as their Managing Director (an irony that is never lost on me). I moved to a beautiful classic brownstone apartment in Bed-Stuy to be close to work. I now have a completely new sense of home, community, friendship, support, collaboration, and love that I had never experienced before in Brooklyn. I have since become a yoga teacher, teaching at Sacred and other places, I’ve become a teaching artist teaching 4 – 13 years olds singing and acting. I sing in a few bands, am working on an EP, directing a children’s play, writing, and I teach children’s yoga as well. I also teach yoga at Riker’s Island, inspired by the work of the Prison Yoga Project and others that I have worked with to go in and make a difference where it counts.
I live every day towards my life’s dreams and goals, have taken huge risks along the way, and feel the fruits of those risks ripening every day. I want to write and share this journey with all of you out there who feel creativity driving them at their core. This blog is also for those of your who feel a desire to be well and balanced in this city and lifetime, and a hope that there can be more out there than meets the eye. I employ many many tools to stay balanced, focused, joyful, in my flow, and well on this journey and I’d love to share some of those tools and resources with you! Yoga is more than just breath and movement, creativity is more than just sitting down to create – both are lifestyles; they involve flow, intimacy, risk and most of all, a desire to connect with yourself fully. As I learn to live a balanced, open, abundant, creative life, I hope that in sharing with you we can all move towards abundance of flow through creative wellness!