by Kiki Lovelace
My teacher Ana Forrest is 59 and has the most incredible yoga practice. She floats up into handstand with the most grace and ease I’ve ever seen, and she gravity surfs from said Handstand into an Arm Balance like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Every time she does a yoga demo for her students, she comes out of it like a peacock ruffling her colorful, sparkly feathers. She does this funny thing where she sort of shimmies and gets a mischievous look in her eyes and says “Now, your turn.” I laugh every time, because she makes it look so enticing, and it’s so absurd. She’s an incredible yoga master – and she’s a ham. So I asked her about it last time I saw her, in March, while I was Apprenticing with her in the Forrest Yoga Advanced Teacher Training.
As we spoke about it, I realized something.
When I was a kid I was a natural entertainer. I was always like “Look at me! I’m hopping around! Now I’m doing a cartwheel! Let’s put on a play! Let’s make up a dance!” I loved to play dress-up with gowns and sparkly things, and to play and dance and pretend, just like my 2.5 year old daughter does today. But, as I grew up, I learned that I was “too much”; I learned to tamp things down to make other people more comfortable. I learned that my desire for attention was shameful, even dangerous. Slowly but surely, I made small choices that put me in a thick shame story and eroded my connection to my Spirit.
In my darkest days, when I was engulfed in an emotionally abusive relationship, a binge eating disorder, low libido and depression, I had all but stamped Her out. I wore baggy clothes and work boots. I isolated myself from my family and my girlfriends. I lost touch with my femininity, my sparkle, my natural zest for life.
Fast-forward a few years later, and I was coming out of the dark. I was devoted to my yoga practice and my teaching career, and I was going to therapy regularly. I had started dating again after a long hiatus. One day a friend told me about a 1960’s go go dance troupe holding auditions in the Mission in San Francisco. On a whim, I decided to do it. I threw together a little costume and found an old-timey piece of music, and I got up on stage and danced. Three days later, I was a Devil-Ette.
I loved the glittery devil horns we all wore, the colorful fringe and sequined costumes. I loved the false eyelashes and big hair (I am from New Jersey after all). I loved the garage rock bands we often opened up for. Most of all, I loved these new women in my life. They were an oddball mix of doctors, clerical workers, Pilates Instructors and Tiki drink-lovers, and they were FUN.
At my first show, my mom happened to be in town visiting from the East Coast. She seemed both horrified and tickled. She said to me “I can’t believe you’ve found fourteen other ones like you.” I knew in that moment I had found my tribe. And in finding my tribe, I found a new in-road to reconnecting with my sparkling, shimmering Spirit.
Now I’ve been a Devil-Ette for over a decade. But when I was talking to Ana this past March, I realized she was calling me to bring yet another layer of that showgirl sparkle and drama and flair to my yoga teaching. Since I moved and cried out a deep layer of that old shame story a few months ago, I’ve been teaching with my whole body. I’ve always felt my hands-on assists were a sort of dance, but now I shimmy my way through my verbal cues, too. And when I do I demo, I come out of it in a whole new way, lapping up the deliciousness of the pose like a cat. It’s fun! And I can feel it tugging at my students’ heartstrings – which is key to inspiring them to break free of their “I can’t” stories and helping them move into breakthrough territory.
This weekend, I feel so pleased to bring my Spirit Sister in Sparkle, Kellita, to Innerstellar, for her “Showgirl Awakening 101” workshop. She embodies this marriage of radiant performance skills (she’s an incredible Burlesque Dancer and Carnaval Queen) with a deep understanding of how movement and self-expression can help re-unite a woman with her feminine mystique, her power and her Spirit. She knows how to create a safe space for women to take down their shields and feel what it’s like to be free of self-consciousness and self-criticism, no matter their size, shape, age or movement abilities. Plus she’s ridiculously fun. Join her this Saturday 1-5pm, for a journey into the power of the shimmy combined with heartfelt intent. And learn how to live your life with that sparkle of a Showgirl, even if you never plan on setting foot onstage.
Love & Shimmies 4-Ever,
Kiki aka The Cherry Bomb