When Everything Has Been Taken Away, You Can Finally See the Beauty Underneath, and How Simple It Is
It was about 3 years ago when I first stepped into Linda's aerial studio, Studio Air, during a Montclair Fashion Night Out community fashion photoshoot. She opened up her space to models from across the globe, local Montclair Fashion Designers and shops, Hair and Makeup artists as well as about a dozen photographers, privileged to be one of them myself. Her generous spirit and genuine love spilled over into the classroom. I started taking pole classes with her, that were just as empowering to my mind as they were elegant an art form. My ungraceful, non-athletic nature could not get enough.
"We do movement and it's very physical. The way we've focused on it is asking 'How can you move so that you can clear your head?' or 'How can you move so that you can be more in touch with your emotions and your fears and how you express that and push it out of your body?', 'How do you be at peace with your sensuality and sexuality so that when you are on the floor rolling around?' You're not thinking about that. And the way I always describe it, is Meditation in Motion. It goes beyond music and expression." explains Linda. "So since we don't have a studio now to use, the focus has been, 'How do you do that at home?' You don't need a floor. You don't need a pole. Because all this confidence, inner strength and motivation, self-discovery is actually all mental work: We were using the floor as an apparatus. So now because it's all been stripped away (and I'm so grateful for it), we are translating it to a much deeper look inside."
Since starting her practice in September of 2016, Linda sought to build an aerial studio that was focused on more than just movement, expression, and awareness. She aimed to also challenge the mind, body, and soul to create not just fitness, but a community of powerful, unique selves. And that she has! Though completely closed physically right now, Studio Air clients are bonded and continue to support each other outside the studio and in virtual classes.
Much of Linda's personal inner work during the crisis has been in acceptance of fear and darkness. We started talking about meditations and how they connect the Studio Air community. "Anything can be a meditation. The most mundane thing of walking down the stairs or doing the dishes can be a meditation just because you are fully aware and present in it. You are understanding the peace of it and why you're doing it. So the movement part is the fun aspect of using your body to connect. For a lot of people sitting and meditating for like 20 minutes is uncomfortable and weird. But if they get lost in the music, it just naturally takes over.
She has taken the opportunity to introduce more spiritual and mental work into her practice. "I actually started doing full moon meditations once a month at the studio. Everyone has been so open to it. So now I'm including a 5 day writing challenge, so everyday I'll prompt one thing on Instagram for them to write about and dig into in their own privacy, and we'll see what happens. I'm calling it Movement Within."
When I asked her about her thoughts on the pandemic and the future, Linda commented heart-fully on the connections we have to each other and to the environment. "I honestly believe that all of this is a crazy call to everyone on how overboard we were going. That life can truly be so much more simple and satisfying. I'm a firm believer that you do not need a new car each year. You use something until it breaks, whether it's a pair of jeans or socks. My parents instilled this in me and when I was younger I thought 'That's because we're poor and we don't have money." Now that I am older, I understand. It actually happened the moment I had my first child. When I saw the Christmas tree and the wrappings, I had such high anxiety. I could not breath, and I calculated our families were working about a month just to provide this experience. And how insane that we were spending our money on something like wrapping paper: You are buying wrapping paper, to put on in order for the kids to take off and get thrown out and recycled. It was such a warped idea to me.
"Since this whole thing happened, I've seen so much beauty, so much simplicity and wholeness. I think it's a call back to that. And we are flying over all of it right now. So shame on us for falling into that, and for believing that and for chasing that and not taking care of our planet, not taking care of our animals. The pollution has gone down, the animals are thriving, the water is cleaner. How can we not keep this up in some way, and I don't mean in as drastic as not being able to see our families or getting groceries, but in some ways, we all have to admit there are changes we needed to do and we ignored them until we were on lockdown."
We then spoke about the current global and national climate and pivoting for other essential issues: "The idea that we can't change, that we are are one person, or not able to change that fast. How fast did we change for this?! It was overnight, that we were bubbling in it, we were contemplating it, we were thinking about what's going to happen, then all of a sudden that mandate came down 8pm curfew, and everything changed. We did it! There's nothing that says we can't shift."
For more on Studio Air, check out www.studioair.rocks or connect on Instagram or Facebook @StudioAir.
If you are a business owner in Ridgewood or Montclair and would like to be part of our COVID Documentary Series, please visit www.villagestudiophotos.com for more information.