That's yoga life in the city of Los Angeles - my adopted city. A place I resisted for so long, but now embrace as home. Resistance to "what is" was a part of my life, as it was with my early experiences with yoga. I flirted with it as a teenager, always enjoying it, but resisting yoga's subtle influence. Over time, I tried all kinds of fitness trends, but was drawn back to yoga. As my resistance dissolved I opened to trust what was being presented, and wonderful things happened - my life began to change.
After attending teacher training to deepen my practice, I was presented with an offer to teach. Then, another training to deepen my teaching was followed by more offers to teach. And now, I have the opportunity to grow a space in Los Feliz and continue to offer yoga to friends and friends-to-be.
Welcome to Yogavidala!
"Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour."
— Walt Whitman
Who is Patty Pierce?
Those of you reading this probably know by now that the studio, formerly Shakti Box, has been taken over by a new benefactor/yoga instructor name of one Patty Pierce. But who is this Patty Pierce?
After a great deal of lobbying, I managed to convince our naturally quite reserved Commander in Chief to let me ask her a few questions. So by way of an introduction, good people of Yogavidala, please meet Patty…
Me: Pierce is kinda one of those names like Strong or Bender that makes you think a person was predestined to teach yoga. Was that intentional?
Patty: One of my favorite teachers, Paul Cabanis, whenever he has me demonstrate says, "Let's all watch Patty for some PIERCing insights." Maybe I was predestined. I took the name about 10 years before I started doing yoga. It's my married name. Even weirder, my maiden name is Archer.
Me: What were you doing back then in the pre-yoga years?
Patty: I was always really active. I did everything—running, aerobics, jazzercise, Tae-Bo, boxing—crazy! My Grandmother used to say to me as a girl, "Sit down, you'll grow too much." She thought if I got too tall, no man would want me. Well, I'm 5'7'' and that was over 30 years ago that I met my husband, so I guess I disproved her theory.
Me: Then you started doing the yoga about 20 years back?
Patty: Well, I very first started when I was 17 at the YMCA. I took a couple classes, and they asked me if I wanted to teach! Obviously a different standard back then. I began practicing seriously in my late 30's. And I never looked back.
Me: And when did you actually start teaching?
Patty: About 10 years in. It took me a decade to work myself up to it. And I was still reticent. I was terrified to teach in the beginning—I was so shy! I can remember subbing my first class. There were 32 people in the room. My voice was shaking, and I wanted to cry a little. But I begged their indulgence. I told them their usual teacher was a butterfly, I was still a caterpillar, but I would get there some day. Everybody was great, very kind.
Me: And so you have. Incidentally, I was the caterpillar to your butterfly when I subbed my first class—your class, a full room, and me freaking out! But I think that class of yours that I subbed was the only one you've missed in 10 years of teaching, is that so?
Patty: Yes, and I wasn't really sick, I just wanted you to suffer as I did. Just kidding. I've had subs of course, but I do try very hard to maintain good attendance. Consistency is so important to this practice. I expect my students to show up, shouldn't I?
Me: How consistent is your personal practice?
Patty: I like to practice 6 times a week, sometimes at home and sometimes in a class. If I slide a little and only do one class a week, I feel like a fake when I stand up to teach.
Me: Exemplary. And in all of these countless hours of yoga-ing, what has been your most embarrassing moment?
Patty: Easy. My teacher Paul made me demonstrate Parsvakonasana. And in front of everyone, he said, "She's very good at imitating the pose." I was horrified, but I learned something about yoga! He wanted me to pull it together, integrate it, make it whole and own it. That was a lesson about the pose and about life. Yoga is not separate.
Me: Most challenging thing in all your experience?
Patty: For me, the most challenging thing is the fact that you can't please everyone. You try so hard, showing up and planning your class and making everything nice, but still not everyone will like you. It's not necessarily personal, it's just how it is. And I've finally come around to knowing that that's okay.
Me: Okay, your greatest success to date?
Patty: (Pause) That one's too hard.
Oh, this woman. This is Me, I'm going to have to interject and answer this one for Patty. As her long-time colleague, I would have to say her version of success is—and I can tell because she'll go on and on about it, almost to the point of being anti-social—when a student gets such-and-such pose consistently or so-and-so makes it up into handstand for the first time. She measures her success by her students' achievements on the mat and beyond.
**back to interview**
Patty: Hmm, well, I'm not really a splurger. Sometimes I'll have one drink. And that's okay—but the euphoria comes from the fact that you're poisoning yourself, and it's fleeting. Oh, hosting! That's it. I love having parties! And the yoga room is sometimes kind of a party, so….
Me: Most important question, what's your sign?
Me: And last question, how old are you really..?
Patty: I'm 57 years old.
Me: I suppose its yoga that's kept you looking this well and feeling this good?
Patty: Maybe. I can't separate the yoga from the whole of my life—it's my health, my job, my family, my friends, my comfort, my challenge! Everyone should be so lucky.
And there you go. Patty Pierce, ladies and gentlemen. Who else would you want running your yoga studio?