I’m a stylist who works on commercial shoots and with private clients — it’s a lot of time spent with women and wardrobes. My job is to make them look good. When I do my job well, they look really, really good.
You may not think of this as a particularly yogic job and either did I until things started going wrong.
When the economy tanked after 9/11, my styling career slowed down leaving me with ample free time. I had been practicing for awhile, and was learning from some pretty phenomenal teachers. So my curiosity around the practice was piqued when the prospect of doing a teacher training came on my radar. I signed up thinking it could be a good way to deepen my own practice while giving me something purposeful to do with my days since styling wasn’t happening.
Eventually, the styling jobs came back. My weeks were spent working on shoots where I would dress models to help illustrate an art director’s vision. Or with private clients where I’d help them sort through their closets and determine what to wear.
With private clients, the sorting-through process could get grueling because of their clinging to stuff. It wouldn’t even matter if they liked the things they were holding onto. It was this habit of accumulation that they had succumb to. When I looked at this habit as grasping, the yama aparigraha - which I studied in my TT— came back into my brain.
By recalling the lessons of this yama, I could work with my client to let go more easily. She’d come to see that she didn’t need the cute cut-off shorts that looked amazing five years ago, but now only hike up too high and make her uncomfortable. She could let go of all that no longer served where she was in her present life.
On shoots, after a model tries on an outfit, they’d come out of the dressing room ready for feedback. Sometimes, when they came out - the clothes would look weird – even though the clothes were supposed to fit perfectly. Seams were off center, sleeves hung too long, and pants sagged. Finally, I started to notice it wasn’t always the clothing that was off, it was the person.
Body alignment was a big part of my TT, and I considered whether this was the actual problem. With a simple stance adjustment like dropping a tailbone, or drawing the shoulder blades in towards one another, the whole visual of an outfit would shift. Their clothes would slip into the right place making my model look great and comfortable.
Sometimes the pressure on set gets very intense. I’ll have ten racks of clothing that I haven’t yet gone through, and an art director standing by who wants to see completed outfits. I try not to let the stress get to me, but it’s hard when in the throes of it all (or ten racks deep). If I let my mind go crazy into panic mode, it’ll effect my creativity and decisions — I can’t make models look really, really good in that head space! When I caught on to the fact that my racing mind was getting in the way of my focus, I turned to one of the biggest takeaways from my TT —the yoga sutra yogachitta vritti nirodha, or yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
How could I create strong outfits when I wasn’t able to concentrate? I couldn’t. So I started a meditation practice to help train my mind to be more still. By slowing my reptilian brain reaction time, more space for creativity can flow which definitely helps in inspired outfit planning, making the job look really, really good.