Forget about wacky yoga studio owners, about how much money yoga teachers don’t make (my yoga money goes towards yoga, India trips, and more tattoos, not necessarily in that order), about yoga career changes, hell, even forget about the yamas and the niyamas…let’s talk skin art, baby!
We all know that tattoos are trendy and lots of yoga teachers have all types of tattoos. The “tramp stamp” — and don’t act shocked, y’all know that’s what a lower back tattoo is called in some milieus — is ubiquitous on the lower backs of yoga teachers whether it’s an OM or a lotus or a tribal thingy. My lower back tattoo is a large sun and moon combination (orange sun/blue moon with pretty eyes) with the Tibetan OM. Read all about how Indian women loved my tattoos.
My first ink was back in the late 1970s before there was AIDS, before tattoo artists starting using a fresh needle for every person. My first tattoo artist was a biker named Snake and he put a little flower on my shoulder (the small flower next to the butterfly in the top photo, the butterfly was added later.) I was so worried about the pain I took a few Tylenols with codeine, but the flower was so small it took less than 15 minutes. By the time the codeine kicked in I was already home. After that flower, I was hooked. Not on the codeine but on getting inked.
I’ve always loved tats and consider them true art. That is, good tattoos are art, not the bad, ugly, funky looking ones that look like no thought was put into them. Besides the half-sleeve and my lower back, I have a tattoo on each ankle (both Native American inspired) and one on my right wrist — flowers with a vine and a Sanskrit OM. That OM has been kissed in India. I’m going to add on to that tattoo in March, adding the OM MANI PEDME HUM mantra in Tibetan script swirling around and underneath to meet with a red lotus. The visual perspective will look down into the lotus showing the golden “jewel” — “the jewel is in the lotus.”
My tattoos are custom now and I go to Serena Lander when she comes to Chicago. She did my half-sleeve in four sittings and I think she did a beautiful job of connecting the new work with the old work to make it look like one piece. The half-sleeve was not even finished yet when I was in California last June and people literally stopped me on the street to admire it. I know you’re wondering about the eye — Kali’s eyes and third eye are peeking out from the vines.
Some of the old work (the red cardinal flowers, the tiger lilies, and the hummingbird) was done by one of the female artists on LA Ink. I won’t say who because once she told me she was leaving Chicago to be on LA Ink she never returned my calls or my emails about getting more ink and that certainly isn’t very professional. One of my yoga students was even going to pay for my flight to LA. Good for her that she is so successful now, but she went all Hollywood and obviously can’t be bothered by her old Chicago clients who knew her before she hit the big-time. No matter, I found someone whose work I like much better.