June 7, 2012

King Kong Does Yoga.

I am a yoga teacher, a writer, and a yoga and writing seminar creator. I love red meat. I drink my coffee black. I’m usually wearing some form of animal print somewhere, and my first published piece of writing rode-in on the coat tails of a couple cocktails and a semi-anxious 4 a.m. brainstorming session, mid-mattress. So now, I am also a published writer, and the elusive veil of what it takes for a savasana addicted writerly ingénue to make her name in ink, has been cast off.

Yoga and writing has become my brainchild, my beloved baby Frankenstein, and my mainstay in my daily practice of deeply knowing myself on my mat in order to deeply know my writing. Earlier this week I published a piece for an audience of lay writers describing how this alchemical process of body and mind synergy has deepened, transformed, and re-awakened the fire breathing dragon within that is my self expression, my chutzpah, my life blood, and my own creative written voice. Alas, I have now exorcised those traditional linear and academic demons, the ones who ever doubted the use of the physically creative to access both one’s mind, and one’s muse.

Just over a year ago, I was fired from a mega spandex clad tycoon who had me tied up in the typical metal handcuffed throes of the mid-level manager––elbow deep in plastic deposit bags and penny-counting nights, overly-caffeinated semi-conscious mornings, paychecks that always seemed like they were missing zeros, and eating, sleeping, and breathing skinny plastic legged mannequins. Daily. All the while surrounded by customers clamoring around in tight, black, flared luon.

None of this, despite the athletic decoy, was anything new to my deep and rich history of the x-rated truth of retail. X for what became my xenophobia, and subsequent dislike of anyone who resembled anything close to a phony in yogic disguise.

I never spent my down-time during those days writing, and the only thing I ever really had time to do outside of work was, well, yoga.

Though I had dreams of potentially owning my own boho chic boutique one day, the romantic lure of vintage denim and breeze-blown white blouses keeping me in the game as long as it did, retail was burning me out and stifling every inch of my creative soul. So much so, that though outraged when I was fired for some cheap, lame, and nebulously bullshit reasoning, only ever legal in the world of retail, the sting lasted only temporarily. Even one confusingly inflicted by a disguised costume of free-loving organic cotton.

Being left to hustle became my jump-start lesson in surrendering to what is, learning how to get comfortable with discomfort, fast, and my baseline understanding of the true beauty that results from the universe making your decisions for you.

Getting fired became an opportunity to thrive within the nakedness of vulnerability. And my yoga mat became my blue rectangular shelter within the storm.

And so, from here, I did what any self-respecting 30-year-old single white female would do. I filed for unemployment, enrolled in state subsidized healthcare, and signed up for mind/body/spirit boot camp, aka Yoga Teacher Training. Embracing my dharmic path never felt like such reckless and irresponsible abandon. My reawakened renegade self loved every inch of it.

Lest you think this journey was all rainbows and butterflies, those training days were long, demanding, and raw. I rode the T and bus every morning to a studio of strangers, nursing myself through a resurgence of panic attacks in a sea of unsmiling faces and unknown commuters. Ujjayi breath work and pelvic floor Bandha engagement were the tools I had in those moments to ground back into my physical body, while my hand somewhat numbly held the cold metal bar overhead.

Feelings of suffocation rose endlessly on the tide of those packed subway cars, smothering me like unannounced vicious assassins. At night, I came home exhausted to an empty fridge and a lonely apartment, feeling bruised and broken. It was here that I started to understand what I needed outside of those training hours to feel nurtured, sustained, and taken care of.

Journaling and an at home restorative yoga session became my evening Rx, and even when I had to then go out and roam the city streets for food, I could do it with a bit more of a self-compassionate and observational eye—one that had a glimmer of survivalist hope reflected back to it through these acts of self-sustaining love.

Fast-forward to May 19, 2012, 7:46 p.m. I now sit here writing as a yoga teacher, a spiritual diva, a now published writer, and a yoga and writing seminar creator. Able to reflect on the way that a yoga teacher training has given me back my life blood, my writing, myself, and allowed me to tap the vein of my creative flow and nurture my career all at the same time. Through the poison of being forced to enter the dark night of my own soul and look my own demons in the un-quivering eye, a beautiful and unavoidable consequence of any spiritual transformation, I have been reborn. Better able to work toward loving both these demons, and these angels more deeply.

The road map guide to my own visceral memories, both the traumatic and the true, has become more familiar and easier to embrace, and I have become better able to accept the many parts of “self” with loose loving arms. The physical flexibility and strength that has become the by-product of deepening my yoga practice on the mat, has also allowed me to become a more emotionally flexible version of myself off of it.

I write again. In the midst of poignant and evocative memory and its ever-present Siamese twin, emotion. Every day I continue to work on accepting whatever comes up in my writing, and seeing myself for all of the many light and shadow parts that make me uniquely who I am. The same parts that make me just like everyone else; profoundly human.

You’re King F*ckin’ Kong, kid. That’s who you are. Tearin’ up the city.” That’s what my little brother said to me recently when I told him all I was up to these days.

A Chuck Taylor black hi-top wearing, Rastafarian loving, carnivorous protein devouring, 245 lb Cross-Fit junkie and 27-year-old dude who is also, a spiritual gangster himself.

Though I weigh in at a slight 5’ 8” and 125 pounds, I have to say, I think he sees me just right.

Editor: Lindsay Friedman

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