Taryn Toomey: The Class, The Body, The Legacy
Whether you actively acknowledge it or not, you are on a spiritual journey. You are. You are by waking up everyday and seeking interactions, experiences, and feelings that have answers to the questions you can’t yet articulate. You are by making the decision to nourish your body with whole, energetically-rich foods, coming to the S-Life Mag, and trying to figure out how to digest and assimilate it all. The Sakara community is built of a sexy entourage of seekers. We’re looking to feel good in our bodies, we’re looking to connect deeper internally and higher externally, we’re looking for more. And a lot of times, as much as this requires an internal exploration of quiet, notice, reflect, it also requires a whole lot of release, which is something we don’t easily have the opportunity to do. We can find a meditative yoga class on every other corner of the city, but how easy is it to find a safe, open space to scream, shake, and throw your body in all sorts of directions?
There is no one who knows this delicate dance between seeking, noticing, and releasing better than Taryn Toomey, creator of The Class, mother, light-maker, dear, dear friend, and seeker herself.
ON SEEKING ~
“I’ve always been a little bit of seeker in thinking, ‘What is this thing that I’m experiencing?’ And I think we’ve all experienced that kind of seeking. It’s that, ‘Why do I feel this way?’ You don’t know what the name is and you don’t know where it came from, but you’re exhausted by it and know that it’s no longer working for you. You figure out a way to do whatever you can to get rid of it.”
Taryn gets it, and although she can’t put her finger on it yet, she can put it into words and into practice. Her hungry pursuit to find these questions, let alone answers, led her to Peru where she studied with several shamans, did sacred ceremonial work, and learned different plant medicines. This deep, raw, nowhere-to-hide experience was the first time she ever felt the real purging of emotional baggage — emotional baggage she didn’t even know she had — and the closest she had ever felt to coming face-to-face with her answers. When she came back to NYC, she started teaching Yoga, playing with her voice as a form of movement for the first time. But the questions were still bubbling under the surface, nudging her gently, reminding her they were there. There was still a need to purge. There was more.
“After teaching yoga for a while, I realized that with all that drawing in and drawing in, I wanted to fucking scream. I wanted to draw it in and draw it in, but then I wanted to move it out. What I was doing was drawing in and noticing things, but I wasn’t relieving them. I wanted to notice, feel, and then eject.”
So slowly, over time, The Class began to take form, taking aspects of Yoga, meditation, and ancient practices, and marrying them with this animalistic, somewhat visceral, and definitely therapeutic purge the body needs.
ON RELEASE ~
“The first 75% of class is getting shit out — getting the voices out; getting the sludge of the body out. It’s about crushing the ego and just nailing it and nailing it until you’re like, ‘I’m not going to fight this anymore. I’m going to drop into the flow of letting go.’ Because once we get the ego and judgment out of the way, we’re able to get into the emotional body.”
When you’re deep in The Class and the people around you (including yourself) are screaming, and crying, and shaking, it’s easy to look around and think, ‘Wow, look at all these bad emotions people are purging!’ But, according to Taryn, none of these emotions are bad. There are no good emotions and no bad emotions.
“It's about this ability to allow an emotion to process in its free flowing form, not compressing it, not binding it and not deciding that you have to manipulate it.”
Like an advanced yoga practice, the magic of The Class is taking what you learn in the class — the very real, practical, physical experiences and reactions — and applying that to your real life. So rather than holding in and judging emotions, you learn to release them. You learn that they aren’t so bad once they are in their natural, flowing state. You learn how to face intensity. So when things get HARD and you’re on the third straight minute of burpees or your ass cheek is on so much fire you start to deliriously convince yourself that it has fallen off entirely, how do you react? For most of us, feelings of inadequacy, fear, uncertainty, and failure rise to the surface, and our natural reaction is absolutely to compress it, bind it, and manipulate it just like Taryn identifies. We want to run away, we want to get out, we need it to change. But she forces you to do the exact opposite.
”If you can actually get into the beat — not just in class but in actual life — of what’s occurring right now and talk to it, then you will change your perspective. But that process is intense because it’s change, and change is intense. When you’re going through change, do you say, ‘Oh this pain is so tough, it’s not for me. Get me out. I’ve had enough. I’m scared.’ Or, do you go, ‘Whoa, I’m right here in the middle of this change, so how can I use my voice to allow strength to come through?’”
When we choose to stay in the moment, be in the pain, and even let out a gut-wrenching scream, so that our emotions can flow, we access this inner strength that doesn’t go away when we head back into the streets after class, fresh, and renewed with a somewhat naïvely optimistic newborn baby glow in our eyes.
ON THE BODY ~
Taryn’s path to the class didn’t feel direct and never felt obvious. There was no obvious aha moment, and there may never be for her. But the raw physicality of her class, the power of the body to hold and release so much and the undeniable affect this has on our lives is inarguably at the center of her work. The body is the star of the show. She’s not the type of gal who looks in the mirror every morning and says I love you. She’s the girl going on the treadmill in the empty gym, jacking it up to 10 MPH, and screaming at the top of her lungs until she’s reached the physical catharsis she knows she needs. But, like many women in today’s world, she struggles with her own relationship to her body.
”It's not actual fat on the body, its fat on the brain or fat in the heart. It’s something else entirely.”
She admits being easily affected by societal standards and the unrealistic expectations women see everywhere they look. We see it with our clients at Sakara, she sees it in her class, and she also sees it in the mirror. As the class moves there is an interesting thing that happens for me, the feedback from the mirror shifts .... and as it starts to change the mirrors start to fog and you have nothing to look at but your internal self. For someone who has created such a sacred space for hundreds and hundreds of people to heal themselves in ways they never would have been able to, Taryn is drenched in humility. To a fault even. Whether through her relationship with her body or inability to recognize what she’s built, Taryn admits she tends to keep herself in a state of struggle in order to create. It’s her personal journey. It’s her own stuff she’s working on, the stuff she brings to The Class with her, gives it a name, puts it on the fire and moves it out.
ON LEGACY ~
But as devout lovers of everything Taryn has created and all the ways she has touched our own lives, we couldn’t wrap our session without forcing her to push aside any lingering feelings of doubt and allowing what she has created to shine as brightly in her eyes as it does in ours. We wanted to know what her legacy is, what mark she wished to leave on the world, what it’s all about for her?
“I’d like to be somebody that creates a new access point for people to have a release from their heartaches, from their disappointments, from the wounds that happen in life, and from the things that they think are just a part of the fabric of life that will never shift. I want to help people create space for the release of those things.”
Although it can be easily glanced over, Taryn is as human as any of us, with some wounds freshly created and some older wounds constantly reopened. Maybe it’s the inevitable existence of wounds that forces us all to seek, ask questions, and be determined to find answers. But the beauty that comes from Taryn as a being, is that she has given us space and tools to face these wounds head on, experience them deeply, and let them the fuck go. And maybe, just maybe, this practice will help us seekers get that much closer to those answers we need. I, for one, am pretty certain it already has.