As a toddler she learned yoga. By her early teens, Lisa Bennet Matkin already had a fast-paced, successful modeling career that ultimately spiraled into self-destruction.
Upon “hitting rock bottom,” at the ripe age of 18, Bennett Matkin re-discovered yoga, which “saved her life.” Practicing and teaching yoga led her to meet her partner in life and business for over 16 years – a relationship that has recently dissolved. Stefani Jackenthal chatted with Lisa to explore her rollercoaster journey and plans for her new life.
Stefani Jackenthal:When did you first practice yoga?
Lisa Bennet Matkin: My mom introduced me to yoga when I was three. She taught me breathing technique. When I was a kid nobody was really doing yoga and I got into gymnastics to be with my friends.
SJ:Prior to teaching yoga, what was your career?
LBM: I modeled intensely for about 10 years for print, TV and fitness. But that put too much focus on my body image, which led to my addiction of drugs and alcohol - and long struggle with anorexia and bulimia. I was a mess and hit rock bottom.
SJ:Was that when you re-discovered yoga?
LBM: Yoga saved my life. When I was about 18, I started to back off modeling – doing it on and off - and got into yoga. It was a place of healing. Yet, years later it was modeling that truly led to my “yoga-rehab.”
SJ:Tell me more!
LBM: When I was in my mid-20s, I was modeling for Bumble & Bumble (hair salon) – and dating the owner Michael Gordon, who I ultimately moved in with. At the time, he was living on Alan Finger’s property, so I got to practice daily with Alan. It was sort of a private mentoring program and my path to healing through practice and meditation. I started teaching and was also part of the team that put together a formal teacher-training program for Yoga Zone. [Now closed]
LBM: I met Charles while taking a private Jivamukti class in NYC about five years after a mutual break up with Michael. Charles was the spotter and after class I thought, “I’m going to marry this guy.” We worked together for about six months, dated for a couple of years and married in 1999. We worked on some wonderful projects together and after September 11th, we moved out of city to a remote area of Garrison, New York. We set up a wonderful studio downstairs with an Iyengar wall and ran workshops, teacher training and one or two weekly classes. The house backs up to the AT (Appalachian Trail), so it somewhat of a nature Ashram.
SJ:Last June, you and Charles separated and closed your studio. What’s will second year of separation bring for your?
LBM: Where there is death, there is rebirth. I’ve been hibernating and reinventing myself. I’m currently building my website and teaching regularly at Yoga Works and Upper West Side Yoga. What’s most exciting is I’ve been working with The Tracking Project in New Mexico. It focuses on observation and the elements of nature, which I weave into my yoga teaching. I feel like I have prepared for this my entire life.
SJ: What’s your motto?
LBM: Turn your suffering into art.
To practice with Lisa, check out the schedule: Yogaworks and Upper West Side Yoga. Lisa’s new website (currently under construction): lisabennettmatkin.com.
-- Stefani Jackenthal, to read more of Stefani's work, click here.