Back in May, I had the opportunity to work as the makeup artist on an amazing project. Joni Kabana, an award-winning visual artist and photojournalist, and the woman behind the camera on our Naturally Gorgeous model shoots, was going to be shooting a calendar for a local yoga studio, and needed makeup for the models. Being familiar with my work, and the way that Alima Pure photographs, Joni asked if I would come and help out. The project, she explained, was to spread the word about a series of classes at The Yoga Project, a studio in the Sellwood area of Portland, called “Yoga for The Larger Woman.”
Working with Joni is always such a great experience that I jumped at the chance. And my expectations of fun, laughter and connecting with fantastic people were surpassed several times over.
Over two and a half days, fourteen women sat in my makeup chair. Talking with these women was enlightening and heart-warming. They shared how their practice of yoga has changed their lives for the better. From reducing or discontinuing medications to increased mobility, flexibility and energy, their stories were inspiring and thought-provoking. Some of the women were also being interviewed for a video that was being shot at the same time, and were practicing their stories. Many began with something like, “I never thought I could do yoga,” or “I always thought yoga was for thin people.” As I did their makeup and watched them warm up for their turn in front of the camera, I was struck by their beauty and grace. I was honored to be helping them to feel just a little more special and confident by giving them safe and pure makeup to go in front of the camera. And they did seem a bit more confident after having their hair done (by a wonderful stylist, Mary) and makeup applied—a little more “ready for their close-up.” Here is a photo of Kelly, a high school teacher, before and after her Alima Pure make-over:
Yoga for the Larger Woman is the brainchild of Vilma Zaleskaite, co-director of The Yoga Project studio in Portland, OR. Vilma began giving classes for “larger women” in 2005, but credits a visit with her parents in Lithuania years before that as the real beginning. Her father asked her to teach a class for “old folks like me and your mom.” She taught her first yoga class for seniors in their living room. On returning home, Vilma set up two yoga classes at a nearby retirement center. She recalls that her students, “taught me how to respect the body’s abilities without asking too much. I encouraged them to challenge themselves in a pose; they taught me to laugh if the challenge part didn’t go so well. I asked them to breathe ‘properly;’ they reminded me that any breath is better than none at all. Their calm presence slowed me down, and through it all we laughed a lot. Plus, being presented with a variety of bodies and a wide range of capabilities encouraged creativity on my part. I very much wanted to offer yoga that was accessible and enjoyable to every one of them.”
The Yoga for the Larger Woman calendar is available for only $15 here. But if you're on the fence, go read the stories that the models shared about the ways that practicing yoga has changed their lives. If you need a little inspiration to keep you going on your personal yoga journey, or even a warm invitation to start the journey, these ladies will provide it for you!
(Note: Kelly is wearing Warm 3 Satin Matte Foundation, Carnation Satin Matte Blush, Lana Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow on her brow bone and Amethyst Pearluster Eyeshadow on her lids. Her eyes are lined with Black Satin Matte Eyeliner, her brows are filled in with Raven Satin Matte Eyeshadow and she is wearing Holly Berry Organic Nourishing Lipbalm on her lips.)