I’ve been practicing yoga for about ten years now, on and off, but mostly on. I can testify that practicing yoga with Celeste Williamson is something special. It is true that most instructors have their own vernacular and their own way of doing things that brings peace and enlightenment. That’s why I prefer to take classes than practice alone. But in all honesty, what they rarely bring are laughter, hilarity, rockin’ tunes, and friendship.
I initially took Celeste’s class so that I could better understand what we wanted to capture when we created her yoga photos, and I went back because the class felt RIGHT to me. I really felt welcomed and my odd sense of humor fit right in with the group. I’m older and wider and less fit than everyone else but I don’t feel ashamed (well maybe a little) and I don’t feel like I shouldn’t attend because of my body. I also don’t have to listen to lectures about how if I just stopped eating gluten I would be a better person. But this isn’t a class for the feint of heart either. This is a class attended by fitness addicts who take classes every day, maybe more than once a day. And somehow, Celeste manages to make it a class that can work for all of us at the same time.
We hear a lot about “community” these days, especially in the world of yoga, and yet that community doesn’t feel terribly inclusive or welcoming. We hear a lot about "authenticity" and then people just repeat what other people say,. Celeste’s women-only yoga class brings together women from all walks of life, all levels of fitness and health, all types of background and ages. There is sweating, swearing, talking, joking, dancing, giggling, jiggling, dirty jokes, massage dolphins, and discussion about orgasms. There is a group text message for the class “Yoga Goddesses” and my classmates text each other with jokes and wisecracks. And also support and love. It feels real and warm and not like a fake "community" where I never felt comfortable because I didn’t fit in. Being authentic here means being authentic, not saying words that make you more hip in the world of digitized analogue. The Yoga Goddesses are the people I want to hang out with on my birthday, or hear from when I’m sick.
One of the great values of doing a Day in the Life session for business is breaking the time into the story that we need to tell. In the case of Celeste, we needed to tell several aspects of her story. We need to demonstrate that she is a master yogi, that she’s also a massage therapist, and that she’s fun, and cool and great to work with. She is also a mom, a friend, a wife, a business owner, and a person who lives her yoga. We felt the best way to convey that story was with studio photos of her doing yoga and massage and documentary photos of her life. I’ll share with you her branded video-slideshow in Part Two of this blog.