The Daily Grind Video

I have been working for Russell for decades and over the course of the last one I have painstakingly made sure that at the end of each day he has time for his yoga practice.  Yoga is as synonymous with Russell nowadays as rap and he never misses it.  I have been invited to join him many times but always declined thinking that yoga just isn’t my thing. To be honest, I know that quieting the mind and being still is part of the journey, and I’m of the school, the less you have to hear your own thoughts the better.  I’m big on distractions- books, television, ipods, etc. The thought of being alone with my thoughts is a bit daunting to me -not to mention the idea of being forced to stand on my head in a hot room filled with sweaty New Yorkers (being the neurotic, germ -phobe, claustrophobic chick that I am). However, after a very stressful day at the office yesterday, Russell was insistentthat I and his other assistant, Christina, join him and finally take a yoga class with him.  I was too spent by the days activities to fight him so off to Yoga I went.  Immediately upon entering the space, I saw ‘For Adoption’ posters of homeless animals and a café offering up vegan fare.  As a long time animal rights activist and ethical vegan I truly appreciate finding people who share the same beliefs as I do and clearly this was a place that does.  Russell generously paid for an in house private instructor named Nahdi to stand beside me, who offered both instruction on proper form as well as massage to help with the different poses.  It felt quite decadent to be so well taken care of for two hours that were just about me.

From the moment the first chant filled the room, it was obvious that there was an inner connectedness among those who make yoga a part of their daily routine. These busy New Yorkers honor their bodies by giving it the practice of strenuous movement, deep stretching and meditation. It was obvious by the looks on their faces that they had found their bliss. Looking over at Russell, I don’t think I have ever seen him more at peace, even when holding a pose that clearly couldn’t have been easy or comfortable.

The entire time I was in class, even with Nahdi’s ever present hand on my body, pushing me toward each downward dog and each accompanying pose, I felt like I was just trying to keep up.  Then I would hear Russell say, ‘Simone, if you aren’t smiling and breathing then you aren’t doing it right’. Damn, contorting my body into a pretzel AND having to remember to smile too?!? That’s a lot for me….but I tried.  After sweating out the last of my flu, after the last ‘Ohm’ was chanted, I definitely felt some of that high I have heard many yogis speak about.  I felt accomplished and famished.  I felt like I had done something good for myself and that made me feel proud.  I don’t often take care of myself, I take care of animals. That is why I was put here on this Earth and I am forever conscious of that role- as exhausting spiritually and physically as it is.

There were moments during the class that looking back seemed a bit surreal-a wave across the room from Sharon Gannon, the studio’s founder who I have known mostly through emails and animal rights circles.  Then, a glance over at Ashley Dupre who I had only seen plastered on the cover of countless newspapers in the Governor’s scandal.  I remember thinking how nice it was
to see her looking relaxed and taking care of herself after a storm that couldn’t have been fun to weather. I don’t know if the practice of yoga has saved her, as I have seen it save others, but it clearly is giving her something