Erin and I have probably spent less than 5 hours in the same room together, but I feel like we are old pals. I get so energized and feel so hopeful for the future of women when I am with her. We met through mutual friends on Instagram, and when I saw that she'd started the hashtag #BIGHAIRBIGFEELINGS I knew that we were on the same page.
We both have big feelings about the current state of girls and women and their relationships with their bodies. Not just the emphasis on how they look, but also in taking ownership of them and knowing their value.
Erin is a yoga and meditation instructor. She has spent a good chunk of her life grappling with what she refers to as an “all-consuming eating disorder”, which she described as a way to "flatten her life." (I love that imagery btw.) She found yoga and meditation to be incredibly effective tools in her own healing, and now she's made it her mission to share what she's learned with others on their own paths to wellness.
Who are you?
I'm a yoga teacher, originally from Cape Cod and I've been living in San Francisco for the past 7 years. I tried to pursue the fashion world during college in Manhattan but that life did not fit right. So I bought a one way ticket to a coast I'd never been to and now I've basically come around full circle to making a living off of exactly what I was doing throughout my childhood. Waking up with the sun, wearing spandex outfits and forcing my friends to do choreographed dances with me. They'd come over all excited like, “Let's play barbies!" And I'm like, “Cool, so...we're dancing." That's what yoga class is sometimes like with me—booty shakin.
How do you like to use your bod and treat it right?
I walk around my city a lot. I'm shaking that ass whenever possible, and mostly I practice what I preach! I work hard in my personal yoga practice and I do it because I LOVE it. It is something that always makes me feel better. But no matter what, I'm moving my body in a way that's explorative and KIND. I have no time or patience for exercise as punishment.
What energizes you?
Teaching comes to mind first. That is so fun for me. It's a beautiful, energizing, all-consuming task. My body, mind and spirit are all there 100% working together with no underlying life noise, if that makes any sense. So anything that does that for you—gets you all involved—is invigorating and powerful. Also, being in class as a student is just as empowering and fun for me. These days, I see my body as my teammate and that's a game-changer. We show up to class together ready to see what's what in that moment under those specific conditions, without any expectation to perform or impress.
What are the benefits of yoga for you?
Sanity! Becoming a student and a teacher were pivotal parts of finally untangling a long battle with bulimia and anorexia. Yoga asks you to have discipline with compassion and that idea was very foreign to me. I was used to desperately attempting to control myself. Going to yoga allowed me brief moments of peace and that was addicting. Like, “Oh my god! Did you feel that calm!? I want more of THAT." Yoga is proven to increase your baseline for handling stress and just life in general. It helped bring me back toward evenness. I still have my moments! Of course, this little seedling has a lot of growing to do but, man! I am so happy about how far I've come and how much I genuinely care about my own well being.
Is this a solo activity, or part of a wider community?
Well, teaching is both. Part is solo—you're studying, learning new things to pass on, planning thoughtful classes and playlists that help the set the mood. But obviously I've got to have someone to teach to and there's my community. I LOVE the people I teach. I'm at one studio in the Marina [a neighborhood by the bay in SF] and a bunch of different tech companies in SoMa [an art/tech neighborhood in SF], so I see a lot of the same faces. Over the years I've watched them grow and that is so special to me. No matter what is going on in my life, those people show up ready and give it their all and I show up in kind. Practice can be both, too. I love my home practice, I love how weird and random it can become. And then on the other hand, getting a room with other like minded people and doing work, hearing the breath, seeing the effort—that's pretty special.
What advice about your body would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Loosen your grip. Be okay with the unknown. And stop using all your energy trying to make the whole world love you. The only one who needs to love you, is you. Believe that!