Susan Taylor on Being Yourself and California Culture

SusanFeaturedSusan Taylor is one of my yoga teachers at the Ashtanga Yoga Center. She creates a fun improv sequence and incorporates Pilates and circus tricks. One of my favorite things about her is that you can say anything (in or out of class) without shocking her. And she gives hugs freely, thanks students for coming and is genuinely touched that people attend her classes.

You grew up in SoCal and you’re still here. What keeps you here?

Tim Miller and my parents. I found Tim’s student when I was 20. So I started taking classes on and off with Tim when I was 21. That was in 1995. I like other methods of yoga but I knew then that Ashtanga’s the one.

How is it that your marriage is successful when the divorce rate is so high?

I met Micah on my brother’s 30th birthday. They were friends. I knew from the second I met him that that’s who I want to spend my life with. And we have our separate lives but we still enjoy dinner together every night and movies. And we always travel together- I can’t travel without him. And he loves animals. If he wasn’t vegan and didn’t love animals, I wouldn’t be with him.

Does religion matter in your choosing him? Or just veganism?

No. I care more about animals than anything on the planet. When I met him, he wasn’t vegan. I changed him into one. It took about 5 months. My influence was pretty intense. I’m not like that with my friends. If they’re not vegan, it doesn’t bother me.

It seems like you’re always going to San Francisco.

I go there twice a year because Micah works for Ed Hardy twice a year. That’s where I would rather live. I like the culture better. If my parents and Tim would live there, that’s where I’d be. My parents can’t move there because they’re second generation San Diegans and they like this weather. That’s why they’re here. I’m here because of them. I prefer San Francisco’s weather. I would probably go up to the Marin area. But it’s really expensive. And really nice. And there’s culture and food and people who understand. It’s not that I don’t like it here but I’m not a beach goer, I’m not tanned. I know what’s in that water. I’ve been here a long time. I can’t agree with the Hummers and the other things that go on here. It doesn’t work for me. It’s hard for me to be here. Honestly. It was hard for me growing up here as who I am. The other girls were rude or having to be better or have better things. It’s intense to live here. Everyone is blonde or tanned or has money. And I was the horseback rider. We didn’t have money.

Doesn’t it take money to ride horses?

Well yeah, that’s where all our money went. To doing things. To having animals and fun. I went to a performing arts school. We spent our money doing things, not wearing Guess jeans or driving BMWs.

SusanYogaPoseWhat other careers did you consider besides yoga/Pilates teacher?

I’ve done massage. But that’s just not for me. It was too intimate. I like things to stay funny and fun. And not get too intimate. Is that bad? I shouldn’t be saying all this. Is this gonna be anonymous? (laughs)

What instruments do you play besides bass?pancha

I was classically trained to play the flute as a young person. I was with the school band for 4 years. I can still read music and I can probably still play something, but I would need to practice a lot. I used to play rock n roll in a band but now I just play with Tim [Miller at kirtans].

What are a few items from your bucket list?

I’m doing one next month for my 40th birthday. I’m gonna go see the manatees in the wild in Florida. And then at some point I will go to Costa Rica and help out at the sloth orphanage. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. Those are my 2 favorite animals. They’re so peaceful and amazing and so kind to everybody else on the planet. To a fault.

Also I want to go to Paris to see the catacombs. The total polar opposite- to see what people do. And Mazatlan to see the ruins. I’ve gotta do all this travel before my parents kick the bucket because they watch my dogs.

What is your favorite material possession?

I really love my house. It’s a cute little farmhouse. Not too big, not too small. It’s on half an acre and it’s only 1500 square feet. So it’s not big but it fits all my Pilates equipment and it fits our band equipment and it can house my car and Micah’s shop for his tattoo equipment.

OMG maybe edit out the part about not liking the Southern California way. (laughs)

No, dude. It’s fine. I’m gonna interview a girl tomorrow who got a nose job and a boob job.

That’s the hardest part for me. I worked in Irvine teaching Pilates and it was hard for me to deal with this stuff- I had to weigh a certain amount, wear certain clothes. And that was the rule of the studio. At that point I had no tattoos. I got tired of working in that scene and I completely lost it and left. That’s when I started getting tattoos. I was probably 30. I wouldn’t get hired there now. I can barely get hired anywhere around here either. That’s the difference with San Francisco. The diversity up there- people with no arms would get hired to do things. I love it here because I have my half acre and my farm house. But I belong more in Hillcrest or North Park. The areas where people can look like this. Because this is not normal for Encinitas. I’m not tanned or blonde. But I’m grateful and I love who I am.

And good for her for getting her nose job or her boob job, if she needed that to feel better. But then I want everyone to understand why I did this to myself. I did this to myself for the same reason she did those things. I never felt comfortable before. I never looked down at myself and said, “My arms are beautiful.” I never said that before.

Interesting point. I’ve never thought of tattooing in the same realm as plastic surgery- as the changing of one’s aesthetic.

But it is. Oh yeah! I feel completely different now than I used to. As soon as I got my sleeve I felt like a different person. I tell that to everyone who gets a big piece on their arm. I say, “You’re different now.” And they reply, “My god, people stare at me.” Yeah, but they might be looking at the art. Or you’ll get stopped and they’ll tell you that God is gonna punish you. Either way, you’re different after you get that sleeve.

The boob job/noseSusansDog job is more secretive. No one really knows they had that done. It’s almost like they were born perfect. But with you, everyone knows that you had something done.

(Laughs.) Yeah, everyone knows I did this. I wasn’t born like this.

What annoys you?

Lack of acceptance. People being close-minded about other people. Not realizing that we’re all the same. Not accepting the difference.

And littering. I will pick up what you dropped and chase you down! I have done it!

Actually, cross out what I just said. Any mistreatment of animals is my major pet peeve. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the biggest one. Otherwise, who cares? Do whatever you want. Cut me off or don’t use your turn signal. I don’t care. I mean, I might give you the finger. But be kind to animals.

Wanna see Susan in real life? She teaches 5 times a week here: www.ashtangayogacenter.com

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5 comments

  1. YES, that’s my teacher, lol! Thanks for sharing and interviewing this fun and unique Instructor from the ashtanga community :)!!!

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  2. Susan’s guidance and down to earth spirit has improved my practice and my outlook on yoga and life in general. I too have a hard time with the superficiality we find in So Cal so I am very blessed to have Susan in my life! Please stay! We need you here 🙂

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  3. Omg. I love these articles! It’s funny how long it takes to get to know someone through short conversations outside the Mysore room, even when you’ve known them for years. These interviews are soooo fun to read!
    I LOVE Miss Susan. She smiles at me every day, even when she’s not feeling her best. When I smile back hers gets 10 times bigger. Never fails. We can have a whole conversation via facial expressions from across the room while we’re supposed to be quiet. I get the feeling her tattoos are part of that kind of conversation. She has so much to say, and words don’t always serve her. So she lets the art do the talking.

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    1. Amanda! So glad you got a chance to read the interviews! xo

      Like

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