I thought I was impervious to it. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read magazines, I never shop at malls. I vacation in a Latin country where ‘thick’ is a compliment and a bodacious booty is revered. But, it found me in the most unexpected of places.
In a few weeks I’m teaching a Glow and Flow yoga class at Yoga Dicha Tulum. I was inspired by a Glow with the Flow class in my native PIttsburgh, PA where the students wore LED bracelets and wristbands during class.
My idea was this: what if I took those black light strips to this yoga studio-then found UV body paints to play with? My idea was to create a fun, playful experience where students played with body paints then did 75 minute of yoga under the black lights watching their art glow and shine as they moved through each yoga pose. But, I needed to give the studio a visual-something they could promote to fill the class.
Lucky for me, I have creative fun friends who are game to my wild ideas. I invited over two rising stars in the San Francisco yoga community: Mike RIchardson and Pat Bailey-both of whom have awesome svelte yoga bodies and who are bad-ass enough to play with me.
Both embody everything I believe about yoga-that you can be strong and edgy (and, yes, even a Burner) and still represent yoga. We toyed with the messages they’ve been given and created raw photos that show their personalities. As we ran around my apartment in our skivvies and set up several poses-I knew I picked the right two yogis. They fucking owned it!
But, after awhile, I realized I’d have to offer up my body to the camera. And, as we took photos of these 2 gorgeous and thin yoga bodies, I found myself in a PANIC. ‘Why didn’t I eat less today???’ I thought “Why haven’t I been running more, taking more spin classes, eating less chocolate and drinking less wine???’ So there it was-the same self conscious messaging I’d been trying to hide from. Not coming from TV or a magazine or a fucking Lululemon ad. My inner critic covered me like a cloak, all of the messages I wear everyday Thick, Fat, Clumsy-and NOT A YOGA BODY!!!!
Then, a new friend (who we met at a picnic and convinced to join us in this photo shoot) asked me ‘What is the purpose of these photos?‘
I found myself telling her my vision
–I want to acknowledge the negative messages the media tells us about our bodies.
-I want to empower everyone to break the bonds of conformity -especially around yoga.
-I want to demystify yoga as being an activity only meant for the white or the rich or the thin.
-I intend to use the medium of temporary art to reflect the impermanence that is our bodies which are decaying by the minute. Just like the paint is momentary, so is our current state of being in our bodies. You will never be as young again as you are right now. Nothing you do will change this.
-I believe yoga is healing practice and to treat it as mere sport is insulting.
-I recognize Ahimsa starts at home, everyday in the mirror we can practice non-violence on ourselves and be impeccable with the words we use to define us.
-Finally, my vision is to channel the healing energy of Tulum to let us take off the cloak of self deprecation we each wear every day.
It starts here and now-under the black lights-covered with the new message that I tell myself.
You gotta have faith………