At an art class at the Corcoran in 2005, Carolee Jakes knew that her life’s direction was about to change. Before then, she had been a career nurse, a stay-at-home mom, and “a person who did a lot of PTA activities,” she explained. At that class, the first of many, she felt like she belonged. She quickly enrolled in art school and then she discovered yoga. The two pursuits would soon become linked. “For me, yoga is connected to everything because it is a way to coordinate the mind and the body,” she said. “Yoga is calming and a way to stay calm, internally, even while being challenged.” Now with the challenges of being a professional artist, Carolee wakes early everyday. Two of those days she arrives at SyteraYoga teacher Marci Love Thomas’ 6:00 am class where she watches the sun rise. Then she goes home to sit outside in her garden with breakfast before practicing Tai Chi and then entering her home art studio. When Carolee started yoga with Marci, she had problems with balance, she couldn’t reach below her knees, and she had tight shoulders and bone-density issues. In Marci’s class, she’s found a place that wasn’t “so frantic.” She enjoyed the guided instruction, which made the practice easier to internalize. She likes listening to Marci’s instruction and seeing yoga poses done in a way that makes it very easy to “get into the rhythm of it without knowing very much.” Now Carolee can reach over and put her palms down on the floor, her balance is much better, and her bone density is at a much higher level. Carolee’s advice to others who are beginning a yoga practice is to “not be afraid to try something new.” Pick small, achievable goals, she says, like finding a class that fits one’s schedule and then stick to it. Carolee’s works are on display at the National Gallery of Art’s Corcoran Collection as well as other venues. She is a member of Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle, and she also teaches high schoolers at the Waldorf School in Bethesda. In her art, Carolee explains, she is striving to find “the place where representation meets abstraction.” She is particularly passionate about finding a way to use her art to connect with other people to express the universal beauty that is part of everyday life. One of her works on the Studio Gallery website entitled “Dreaming of Skopelos” features a celestial body submerged into what may be the ocean or the horizon. Playing with wonder, it is deeply peaceful. Peaceful like an early morning yoga class. Meghan Mullan is a freelance writer and a SyteraYoga student.
Wow— beautiful art and an amazing story!