May 26, 2010

England’s most adventurous yogi. ~ Jessica Wilder

Twenty two years ago I lived in London. I had left New York City with a bag of clothes, be it wild New York club clothes, to have a European adventure.

 My first job after high school was as a NYC bike messenger. It allowed me to save up enough money to buy some time to figure it out what I would do once I arrived. After six months in Paris, I decided London would be a better fit. I had eaten all the pain au chocolat that I could and not fitting into my clothes any longer I knew I needed to escape the patisseries.

Within a short time I found a job at a vegetarian restaurant called Manna. You can google it today as it is still there, with it’s claim that it the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe.

It is located in Primrose Hill, North London, in close proximity to many of the old and famous recording studios. Abbey Road and the like. So usually right before close, around midnight, the most renowned sages of rock would come over for some amazing vegetarian fare. I recall the Led Zeppelin boys, Robert and Jimmy, Chrissie Hynde, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tina Turner…etc. I remember the first night the ‘Zeppelin’s’ were there and I had on a plunging dress.  I thought to myself, ‘glad I have on this dress, boobs spilling out’ as they happened to sit down in my section. Upon closer inspection when I went to say hello and take their order, I realized, ‘wow these guys are old.’ I am now their age and I’m not old but to me, at age 19 they really were. I just could not conjure up any groupie energy. I don’ think Jessica Plant sounds that great.

There was a reason why Manna attracted a variety of people famous and not, it was because of the behind the scenes rock star of the kitchen. David Sye, now potent yogi coming to Boulder for a myriad of events in June, was the man creating the most wonderful vegetarian international food in England. I had been a vegetarian since childhood and had frequented many wonderful New York City restaurants, but had never had such evocative and sublime food as I experienced at Manna.

David had a wonderful girlfriend from India, they were an exotic couple and so much fun. Besides skill in the Kitchen, David and Anjali were musicians and as I was a photographer we soon connected over a photo shoot they asked me to do of them.

We had lot’s of fun over a couple of years, dancing at clubs, had amazing conversations on food, art and lot’s of philosophy. A depth of friendship and soulful discussion that I craved. Eventually sunshine called and a visit to Aspen one summer seduced me into a whole new life. We wrote for a while and I remember Anjali telling me they broke up. This was way before email, facebook, and social media we just had letter writing.

Communication faded and then altogether stopped. We were all gypsies and mail can only forward so far. Fast forward twenty years to 2009. I now live in Boulder with my four children, mortage, teenagers with angst, recession and depression, THANK GOODNESS FOR YOGA!

While sitting in a Core Power Studio waiting for class to begin, I picked up a yoga magazine sitting on the table next to me. Flipping pages of yoga mats for sale, cute ad’s for yoga clothes, auravedic recipes, David Sye bad boy of yoga…I know this man! The photo and article convinced me that this was my old friend.

I had that wonderful rush of aliveness when you come upon a long lost friend. I ran home, emailed the website info and waited for an answer. Reunited! David is now my old friend and new friend. As we caught up, the journey he has been on for many years made total sense to me. Yoga has in many ways saved his life.

He has an amazing story. David is well known through out Europe. He is a peacemaker, using yoga to bridge difference in people. David is internationally known for his work with Palestinians in the West Bank and was responsible for bringing together for the first time both sides of the conflict for a yoga class in 2006. He has brought yoga to millitants in Bosnia, during the war there and he works with youth at risk to help them find alternatives to destructive behaviors.

David’s premise is that humans naturally want to be high. We seek out activities that bring us to transcendent states because something in us knows it is possible and we remember this. Yoga has survived for thousands of years because it makes you feel good. It helps us transcend the mundane and the baseline ordinary that is just part of life. As some of us know a healing crisis can often bring us to our true work and passion in life. David had advanced ulcerative colitis. He tried Tibetan yoga and after ten sessions doctors could find no tumors. That was nearly 30 years ago and from then on yoga became his life focus. After some time David developed his Yogabeats twist on traditional asanas. Rather than using fixed postures Yogabeats uses micro-moves. These are continuous movements which do not lock off the muscles or disrupt the blood flow and increase flexibility. The micro-moves originated with David observing how children were unable to hold fixed static postures. The conundrum that became apparent was who in fact was the teacher.

 At this point David began to implement these shifting movements that now have gained acceptance throughout physiotherapists and bodyworkers. I have been immersing myself in all things David and Yogabeats to catch up on this dear friend before his arrival in Colorado. I have throughly enjoyed exploring his youtube videos, interviews, and website. I am excited to help introduce him to the lovely yoga and dance community in Boulder and feel compelled to share his peacemaking work and blissful approach to movement. Besides the yoga workshops he will be hosting in Boulder, Denver and the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen) I have been scrambling to pull of a benefit for our local Natural Highs teen movement

Catherine Douglas and Avani Dilger have created an important program for teens here in Boulder to help educate and remind our creative and vital local youth that there are alternatives to drugs and alcohol. They have created an amazing program that they bring to schools supporting our teens in making choices that feel good and are healthy to their bodies and minds. Yoga, yerba mate, acupuncture to relieve stress, dance, music and of course chocolate are all part of the Natural Highs program. David is excited to be a part of the benefit for Natural Highs at the Youth Yoga Bash that we have scheduled for Friday, June 4th. Please check the yogabeats.com  for the final details coming soon. When he arrives it will be  fun to introduce him to my family and to embark on our yoga road trip together.

Besides the benefit we have a powerful event planned at The Star House in Boulder on Sunday June 6th. A full day of yoga, lunch, and of course a chocolate meditation. All yoga teachers and yoga/movement lovers are encouraged to come. Pre register at [email protected]. Follow the rhythms and see you up Sunshine Canyon for this magical event.

I have lived in all the places you see on tee shirts, New York City (in a squat on the Lower East Side), London (with a high priced call girl for a roommate), Paris (with friends from high school squished into an apartment), Aspen (in a Tee Pee through a Winter) Mustique, West Indies (next door to Mick Jagger) and not last nor least Paonia, Colorado all by the time I was 22. All that gypsydom brought me to the certainty that what I wanted most in the world was to be a mother. So I am, to four super fab beings from the greatest mystery of all. I love the journey and the mystery and that I know that I do not know. I love to create dynamic mixes of people, places, and things. One of my favorite words is jambalaya. I am one of the few people I know in Colorado who does not care all that much for all the sunny days we have here, and I am not a fan of hiking. I am fanatically fascinated with all things Argentina although I have never been there. I have not owned a television since I was out of boarding school, there was one in the dorm, and have so far so good raised my children without one too. The eldest being eighteen. They’ve never even ask for one. Ditto video games. I think we can all have fabulous architecture and interiors without harming our precious resources. Have you ever seen hemp silk? (the silk worms are not killed) I have also been lucky in this life to have met my true match and mate. He is beyond the bomb. I am very bendy and can still do the splits. I value honesty and integrity and never thought I would lie except at my last birthday I did about my age. My favorite holidays are Beltane and Halloween for their original pagan meanings and I wish all the things that are bad for you weren’t. Too be totally honest I love yoga and have deep respect for it’s origins but I often get most motivated to get to class after I catch the sight my naked bottom in a mirror.
Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant Journal  |  Contribution: 1,510,385