By: Danielle Wilson
If we’ve yet to meet, or maybe we have, but you haven’t connected the voice behind these posts with the little pixie sized woman fluttering around the studio, my name is Danielle and I’m a (not so new, anymore) instructor at Bare Feet! I’ve mentioned my history with BFPY here and there in past posts, but I’ll give you a little synopsis to refresh your memory:
I began practicing at Bare Feet in 2016, about a year after I moved to West Loop. I was dancing professionally at the time and utilizing my off and on yoga practice as cross training alongside my hefty dance schedule. It was a time in my life when I felt I didn’t quite fit in anywhere, insecurities piling up like the mismatched socks we swear we’ll sort through some day. On top of that, I had serious trust issues with, well, literally everyone; needless to say, socializing with anyone at the studio was out of the question. I’d walk in, lie on my mat, close my eyes, and cut out the people, the conversations, and the all-around energy within the room. The walls I built around myself restricted my practice to a mere physical expression, but honestly, I had no idea it could be anything more than that. I was unaware of the many connections and blessings I was willingly missing out on, the depth of love and support I refused to tap into, for so long…until now.
About a year ago, I applied for the BFPY mentorship program, and was fortunate enough to work with the incredible Ali Brashler as my mentor for two months. I vividly remember how awkward and uncomfortable I felt sitting in my first meeting with Ali—it had nothing to do with her, she was her usual friendly and fabulous self, but it was that exact nature which triggered discomfort and insecurity inside me. I hoped, so highly, to be just as cool, funny, and wise as her, and mostly to be as accepted within the community as she was. Really, all this says is I wanted so badly to be embraced by this community I held at arm’s length for so long, but I was terrified and had no idea how to make that happen. If you’ve ever taken Ali’s class, maybe you’ll understand when I say she has an energy about her that puts you in a “just do it, stop thinking so hard, walk into the fire and trust that you’ll figure it out” mindset. Looking back, I’m so grateful for this go-getter attitude in her because it motivated me to rip off the Band-Aid and stare my insecurities directly in the eye in order to work through and overcome the things that made me uncomfortable.
The mentorship program served as a stepping stone, not only in my teaching career, but in my attempt to connect and communicate with the amazing people at Bare Feet. A little conversation here, a smile and some eye contact there—every moment carved into the discomfort I felt just a little further than before, until, for the most part, it dissipated all together.
Fast forward to present day, I’ve been teaching weekly classes of my own for over six months now, and my experience when I walk through the studio doors has transcended into something so beautiful and radiant with love—I’m smiling ear to ear just thinking about it. Bare Feet feels like home. The blue, orange, and yellow have become familiar and welcoming colors, as have the smell of incense and sight of genuinely happy people. I’m getting to know the community by name, learning to understand what makes you all tick, speaking to your deepest questions and desires while you’re on your mat, and laughing alongside you more times than I can count. It’s better than any narrative I ever could have conjured up in my head back in the spout of my suffocating insecurities.
Recently, I’ve had it a little rough. Life’s been overwhelmingly busy, and keeping a level head, steady heart, and grounded spirit have proved quite challenging. Amongst it all, though, BFPY has become my safe haven. It’s not that I’m escaping my worries and woes when I cross that yogi threshold, but more so I feel safe within those experiences, held in my mental and emotional states, and reminded that it’s all going to be okay. Every face that walks through the door sheds just a little more light and love on my life, and for that I am wholeheartedly grateful.
Thank you for being a beacon of hope. Thank you for remaining consistent and patient during the many years I proved resistant towards you. Thank you for embracing me no matter the day, the energy, the flow, or the woe. I may be stepping up as your guide when I stand at the front of that room, but man, you, BFPY, YOU are the real MVPS, the super heroes of my daily struggles and the nurturers of my soul. I just couldn’t imagine embarking on this journey any other way. I see you, I honor you and I love your divine, ever-evolving spirits—thank you.