Photo: Joslyn Hamilton. Art Direction: The Magazine of Yoga
Joslyn Hamilton and Vanessa Fiola
The West Coast girl geeks cruise IM, DM and air quotes
Vanessa is, naturally, as funny as Joslyn. Her current “words I love”?
evidently I mostly love the way one of my former co-workers used to say this word. She was from North Carolina and said it like she was a lawyer. Whatever she followed it with always sounded so believable.
harangue I have effed this one up many times. Mostly I confuse it with cajoled.
We could go on. And on. Instead we strongly urge you to visit RecoveringYogi whenever your last yoga class felt like eating ice cream too fast.
Joslyn Hamilton What about you, how often do you practice yoga, so to speak, these days?
Vanessa Fiola I’ve been into barefoot running, and I’ll sometimes do [postures for] hips, hamstrings, and lower back after I run. Oh and I sit in swastikasana all day at work. Ha.
Joslyn Did you get anything positive out of your years spent in the yoga world?
Vanessa I’m actually really thankful for the billion or so teacher trainings and workshops I went to. I met so many incredible people, lots that I still keep up with.
And you know, I look back on assisting teacher trainings—despite the slave labor—with a lot of warmness. It’s where I learned the practice of awareness—that, shockingly, everything is not about me; and it’s where I learned so many of the principles that I still apply today. Plus I liked the free yoga gear.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Vanessa And you? How do you look back at your ten-plus years spent in the industry? Any regrets?
Joslyn Oh, plenty of regrets. For whatever regrets are worth. But I am not embarrassed to admit that yoga made a huge impact on my life, for the better.
The biggest thing I learned from my years spent as a professional yogi was self-confidence, and that was huge. Working in a somewhat high profile role in the yoga circuit allowed me to experiment with a lot of sides of myself.
I learned how to speak in front of large groups of people. I learned how to “fake it till I made it” which, as you know, is one of our ex-teacher’s favorite platitudes.
I learned how to get over myself. And the actual practice of yoga was a lifesaver for me, as it is for so many people.
To be able to ground myself in my body—that skill is priceless.
Joslyn And as for the cartoons, I’m trying to remember, how did that whole thing start? We’ve been having so much fun with it that I don’t recall the beginnings.
Vanessa You were having a total meltdown and you said to me, “I’m so sick of people telling me that if I’d just be positive it would be okay.” When we got off the phone I drew a cartoon of you with a speech bubble that said “Fuck Positivity,” and emailed it to you.
Joslyn You always know how to cheer me up.
Vanessa It’s a talent. Anyway, you put the drawing on Facebook, and then it became, every time any of us [you, me, and our friend and fellow collaborateur Leslie] had a problem, I’d make a drawing.
©Vanessa Fiola, RecoveringYogi
Vanessa They ended up getting a good response, so, naturally, we decided we should be getting rich off this. Altruistically, of course.
And then at one point, we were talking about how self-important the yoga world can be, and that’s how [the cartoon] “Your Third Eye Needs a Contact Lens” was born. That became a springboard for other ideas.
My domain ate my homework
Joslyn Did this evolve into Write Monkey, Write?
Vanessa Well, I started Write Monkey about a year ago just before I was about to do another reading [of my writing]. Leslie, being the consummate project manager that she is, basically forced me to come up with a name I could use for my writing. I bought the domain just to shut her up. So I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s now come in handy.
Joslyn Jesus, we both have a domain hoarding issue! Speaking of the Internet, would you agree that without the Internet, we’d still be waitressing?
Vanessa Joslyn. You hold that against me. I was sixteen when I waitressed. [Laughs.] But yeah, we’ve talked before about how awesome the Internet is for helping people to find their voice as artists. And, because it’s virtually free, there’s a low barrier to entry.
While that can have its downside, ultimately I think the nutjobs are overwhelmingly outnumbered by amazing people who have never thought of themselves as writers or artists.
What about you?
Joslyn I thank my stars every day that the Internet was invented in my lifetime. Besides the fact that I’m a born tech geek, the Internet is full of empowering opportunities to express yourself—blogs, social networking, web sites.
I don’t know what I would be doing for a living if there was no Internet. Probably still teaching yoga. Shudder.
The spit take
Joslyn So do you still consider yourself a yogi?
Vanessa Hmm… It’s not really something that I think about, anymore than I think of myself as a runner, or an artist, although I do all those things. I am much more comfortable dealing in verbs. For example: I write, I make things, I practice yoga, I meditate, etcetera.
Vanessa Do you see a distinction between being a yogi and an artist?
Joslyn At my core I consider myself an artist, experimenting with how to best express myself, what medium to do that through, whether it’s okay to be controversial, and most importantly, whether it’s okay to contradict myself.
NOTE: This interview was conducted almost entirely over Facetime, Skype, IM, Twitter DMs, and various other digital means, and it would have been no different had we been sitting right in front of each other.
A longtime collaborator of Ms. Hamilton’s, Melissa took on the technical and design duties of creating RecoveringYogi.com as a fun side project. We are utterly grateful and indebted to her for her inspired and always competent service.
We may publish any content, comments or ideas sent to us.
Name may be withheld by request.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.