Originally from Sydney, Ann-Marie Everitt, is a New York-based yoga teacher and yoga educator. In this edition of Faces of AWNY, Ann-Marie talks about her journey guided by a higher power, social justice, and private yoga. Oh, and she would love (if you haven’t already) for you to give meditation a try.
When did you arrive in New York?
Back in my uni days, I was intending to travel to India on my semester break until a girlfriend invited me to come and stay with her in her aunt’s apartment near the Waldorf Hotel. This started my love affair with New York. Fast forward a couple of decades to 2007, I was back in the States for meditation training. The next leg of the trip was to be in Cuba until I realized it was hurricane season. My sublet had run out but I did not want to fly into a possible storm, and I also didn’t want to spend what may be my final weekend in NYC ever meeting strangers from Craigslist. So I did nothing (well I went for brunch), a great yogic principle of action within inaction (not realizing that’s what I was doing) and by Sunday Lady Liberty had delivered a rent-controlled apartment near Central Park, a job with my great friend and artist Paul Gerben, and news of the E3 visa! I’ve lived here ever since.
Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?
I live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It chose me. A good friend dragged me out here, (remember rent-controlled apartment near Central Park) and my life really began to bloom. Are we seeing a pattern of the Universe knows best? Our home is south facing, overlooking cherry trees and the soundtrack is Latino music and birds, lots of birds. It’s an oasis. In the summer we also have a great outdoor city pool and Sunset Park itself has the best view of the Statue of Liberty, the harbor, and the skyline.
What do you like or dislike about living in New York?
I love the flavor. Any ride in the subway, any walk down the street, you are going to see and hear people from all over the world, from a wide range of cultures. I like the grit and the generosity of real New Yorkers, the octogenarians that are still poets, artists, and scientists. I love my friends. I love the four seasons, the rivers, the blue skies. Spoken-word, poetry, and comedy. Free summer concerts in Prospect and Central Parks, Off-Broadway theatre, swanky restaurants. The yoga culture! There is a well of deep spirituality here, amazing for the capitalist center of the world, lots of great teachers and schools. My school, Integral Yoga Institute, I call the Mother-Ship. I find people are genuine, practicing and exploring paths that lead from confusion and anxiety to health and freedom, and not just for themselves. There’s a substantial cross over from the yoga communities to the social justice and environmental communities. It really fills my cup. New York is the love affair that keeps going.
I am however getting over walking on cement and climbing the subway stairs. Winter could be three months shorter. I hate that it is a very slow wake-up over plastic usage and even in a nice restaurant water could be delivered in a plastic glass. The US, in general, is still very much about the haves and the have-nots, we live in an age of mass incarceration, color blindness and segregation in schools. The medical system. Friends are far-flung these days across all the boroughs. After all the commuting of the week, people are under-motivated to travel for socializing. I am sure that’s an age thing too, but it would be so sweet if we could teleport to be together more.
What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment?
Catching the F train from midtown to the East Village. A musician was playing Stevie Wonder on a keyboard, we started dancing on the platform. The train came, and we all just piled into the carriage and kept the party going!
Any advice for people moving to NY?
Start thinking about how you can help others, rather than just what you want to get out of the city. Volunteer, adjust your business plan, anything. It will be so much juicier. New York can kick your butt, but being nice to her can make for real forward motion. You’re going to naturally embrace all the wonderful otherness of the city, which is great, learning Spanish, dancing salsa, whatever your thang is, you’re going to meet loads of great people but don’t forget your Aussie buddies are also here to help you succeed. I did in the excitement of the early days, which is a shame. Americans use their childhood, school and clan networks extensively to achieve their goals. It works, makes for easeful, peaceful living. We’re also here for a good laugh and our sense of humor. Not taking ourselves too seriously still rules!
Meditate! Meditate! Meditate!
You’re a yoga teacher, is that a real job?
Haha – excellent question! Maybe I should ask you, what’s really real? Yes, teaching yoga is a real job, it’s an amazing job. It’s a really important job. It’s an empowering job because in yoga we remember that we’re all actually ok people, in fact, we’re great. So much in life is about do better, be better, go hard or go home and yoga is about loving yourself, do your best and leave the rest. Once we have that down it’s easier to take risks, to endure both success and failure and, in general, enjoy this short ride we call life.
I am a trainer in a yoga teacher training program called Breathe For Change which takes yoga into schools via educators. There are multiple trainings throughout the year in 11 different US cities. If you are an educator who wants to know more about this program, please reach out to me.
I also teach one-on-one private programs with individuals and couples. Over the years I have worked with CEOs, doctors, lawyers, producers, psychotherapists, painters, writers, healers, and so many more wonderful clients. Some people are too busy, too shy, uninterested in yoga studios, or just not well enough to make it to a studio, but all want to experience the benefits. Being a private yoga teacher is challenging and wonderful at the same time.
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your work?
Our connection with the beach is easy to incorporate into a yoga class; the iconic laid back quality we have is a joy to share. Who doesn’t want to lie back and listen to the waves? My passion is to guide people back home to themselves, to connect with inner peace on a deep level. Relaxation is the gateway to this place of expanded awareness.
What are you leaning into here that maybe you wouldn’t at home?
The conversations around race come to mind. I’ve already mentioned that we live in the era of color blindness, which is to say we live in an era where people and institutions use race-neutral language, and don’t want to be racist and don’t even believe themselves to be racist but in actual fact are blind to their own unconscious bias, privilege and prejudice. By living here I am learning to unpack a lot of these conditionings and I am exposed to a lot more conversations around the topic. It comes up in my work, it’s covered by the New York Times, and it’s in popular culture. Sitcoms like Black-ish, Mixed-ish, Insecure, Atlanta and The Last OG do a great job of keeping the conversation going. You can subscribe to The New York Times Race/Related, which I really recommend. You can also subscribe to their Australian Letter, which is an excellent way to tune into good journalism about home.
Playing through the summer in Brooklyn Heights is Antigone in Ferguson. It’s a retelling of the ancient Greek play Antigone by a rotating gospel chorus and actors followed by a “round table” discussion that includes performers and audience. It’s inside the cathedral-like St Ann’s and that alone is well worth the experience, as are the gospel singers, and it’s FREE! Seeing this turned up the volume on my social justice impulses. Did you know that over the past quarter-century, there has been a profound change in the number of women and girls who are incarcerated? This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women. I now support the work of the Sentencing Project. The social justice warriors, the activists and lawyers doing the work to bring justice back to society are my heroes.
What’s your favorite New York spot?
I still love the East Village, Miss Lily’s restaurant in the old 7a is a go-to for that sexy Jamaican vibe, and also I just love Divya’s Kitchen. I always feel magical for a whole day after eating there. It’s Aruyvedic cuisine.
Anything you miss about Australia?
My friends and family (of course) and the beach lifestyle. The Aussie sensibility that is kind and smart and funny!
Who are some Aussie ladies doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?
What are your top tips for friends visiting NYC?
First, start with a walk along the promenade at Brooklyn Heights leading into walking the Brooklyn Bridge; I know Central Park is overrun with tourists but it’s awesome – the north end is quieter, then you’re close to Harlem for good food and drink!
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