Today we’d like to introduce you to Wolf Terry.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Wolf. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
If I could walk you through all of the pivotal moments of my life in a clear, concise way, believe me, I would. But, as we are all well aware, living through the human experience is anything but linear.
I grew up in the backwoods of Maine down a 20-mile dirt logging road at my parents sporting camp. We didn’t have neighbors. We didn’t have electricity, save for the generator which we ran twice a day for a three-hour span. It was isolating and I was isolated. All that I longed for was a “normal” life. A life in connection to the moving and breathing world around me. I fell in love with nature, with music, with books, with poetry, and with anyone who would listen to me talk for hours on end or anyone who would tell me stories about their own life. I never wore shoes. I was lonely and I didn’t understand why my life had to be so different from everyone else’s.
I was mostly homeschooled until I received full financial aid to a boarding school in Western Maine. That’s where I started practicing yoga. I remember lying in savasana for the first time ever and thinking about how whole I felt in my body at that moment. I was a theatre kid, and yoga became a part of our daily rehearsal warm-up. At that point, I didn’t understand that it was a practice that could and did exist all on its own–it didn’t have to supplement or be supplemented by anything else.
I moved out to Colorado my second year of college. I entered into a BFA program for Theatre Performance, and I was so excited to combine my love for Music, Dance, and Theatre into a career for myself that I was unable to see what it would eventually make of my life.
I moved by myself because I needed to get away from a lot of really hard things from my childhood (abuse, having to grow up too fast, the inevitable and necessary estrangement from my father) and I was completely alone when I learned that I had cervical cancer. It quickly spread to Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer. I didn’t tell many people and I fought it on my own. Obviously, I beat it, but at the cost of my memory of those two years and a pretty severe addiction to Valium along with an intensely abusive relationship with my first real boyfriend. Thankfully, I had yoga to fall back on. It didn’t save my life, but it did keep my body moving and introduce a multitude of coping mechanisms. I still did not understand what yoga was actually doing in my life, my body, or my mind. I just thought it was a way to keep myself flexible and my breath even.
About two months after remission was declared, I met the man who is now my husband. Philip. We graduated together and moved to Chicago on a whim, without jobs, and with a waterproof duffle bag full of clothing strapped to the roof of his 1990 Subaru Legacy. I was convinced that I would be writing, directing, and performing in my own shows in no time. Philip scored an incredible position with an engineering consulting firm as an electrical engineer, and I found myself piecing together small jobs and auditioning for weird BlackBox theatre that wouldn’t pay for my lunch, let alone my student loan payments. After two years I got into TV and commercial casting. I started out as an intern and then began freelancing for a reputable firm. I sat and listened to executives from companies like Payless or McDonalds criticize the way my friends looked, spoke, and dressed after giving a beautiful audition and I knew that I could not stay in the industry for long without killing myself. I couldn’t bear the constant let-downs and backhanded critiques and the desperation of my oh-so-talented peers to hold a roll of toilet paper in the background of a Charmin ad. I went back to yoga, and this time, I stayed.
I stayed because I was mature enough to understand what a difference yoga was making in my life and that it was in fact saving my life. All of a sudden, I was thriving and striving toward positivity–even if it was only on my mat in a small yoga space in a very large climbing gym. I could see all of the negative mental patterns, all of the ways I was perpetuating my own suffering, and I decided to end that way of living and take a leap of faith into the unknown.
I decided I wanted to become a yoga teacher. I quit my job. Philip and I moved back to Colorado, got married and I had begun my 200hr YTT all within the span of four weeks. I wanted to teach yoga because I wanted to reach people the same way my teachers reached me. Right through the very center of all of the fear and sadness, all of the pain and suffering. I wanted to give others another chance for themselves, a new perspective. I started teaching the day after I received my certificate. Slowly, my adored mentors became my peers and even some of my closest friends.
I began playing the Harmonium–my seventh instrument–and singing to my students in savasana after about two months of teaching. I stumbled onto the path of Bhakti yoga without a shred of regret or fear. Today, I end all of my classes with chanting.
This year has been the hardest of my life. My son was born, and then, sixteen weeks later my little brother Tucker–the only person who remembers my childhood as I do–died by suicide. My classes and my students at Yoga Pod Denver West have shown up for me in every possible way. They are the community I have always longed for, and that I am so grateful to have. Truly, yoga (and the people I connect with through it) has held my life and my family together this year.
I’m a mom to a one-year-old boy, a wife to the kindest person on the face of this earth, and I teach people how to love themselves through Bhakti yoga–I teach myself how to love myself through Bhakti yoga. None of it happened on purpose. It was all a beautiful mistake. That’s how I ended up where I am now.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nope. Not smooth at all. Amidst everything else, I struggled with anxiety, depression, constant failure and the crippling need to be good enough at all of the things. I still do. As I said before, life isn’t linear. If anything, it’s cyclical.
Being a woman is hard. Especially being a young woman. We are fed the idea that if we follow the status quo if we put up with enough shit if we look/dress/behave a certain way then we will be successful.
If you are a young woman reading this: You are already successful for surviving through life as a woman. Own your power and keep moving through with compassion and a deep love for yourself.
Find your community and love them hard. Support other women by breaking this belief that the “other girl” is your competition. Understand that there is enough for everyone. Understand that you are enough. Do the thing(s) that make(s) your heart sing.
But most importantly, do the things that scare the absolute shit out of you. I am not talking about jumping off a cliff or diving deep into the ocean–though you can do those things and maybe you should if they are calling to you. No, what I am talking about here is doing the things and accomplishing the goals that are practically dragging themselves out of your very skin. The big, scary, life-changing things that will connect you to other people, empower you, and ultimately set you free in so many ways. Move to the place. Apply for the job. Quit the job. Start over. Speak up about what you want. Write the book. Have the baby. Drop down on one knee and ask the love of your life to marry you. It’s worth it. How do I know? I have done/am doing all of them.
Be real about who you are and about who you want to be in this world and take action.
That is the only way. No one else is going to do it for you. I believe in you and I am rooting for you.
Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
The most basic answer I could give you is that I teach yoga and I write about my life on Instagram. That makes me sound like an “Influencer,” but I swear to you that I am not, or maybe I am my own weird brand of yoga influencer and I just need to get over myself and admit it already. But really, here is what I do:
I teach yoga like a moving prayer. I teach a full mandala sequence every single class–from Pre&Postnatal yoga to Level 2 Vinyasa Flow–and once I get my students settled in savasana I sing my own original western-Sanskrit mash-up over their bodies and quite often I make them cry. After that, I implore them to sit up slowly and chant a mantra together in a song until we are all high on our own vibrations.
I talk about real stuff in my classes. I theme my classes, heavily. Everything from my opening dharma talks to the postures I hold students in throughout the sequence to the song that I sing and the mantras that we chant all relay the same message. It is all meaningful; it all serves a purpose. I speak the Sanskrit names of all of the postures, and I envelop people in Sanskrit mantra until their eyes well with tears because they feel it so hard. I let people move. I hold them accountable, I hold up a mirror, I tell them that I love them and I mean it, and I say “Fuck,” a lot and I mean that too (which is very taboo and which I very much don’t care about whatsoever). It’s therapeutic and honest and it is why I have more returning students than new students and also why I am very glad I am a trained performer, otherwise I cannot imagine what it would be like to stand up in front of a large number of people on a regular basis and share my heart, my breath, and my movement. I create a space and I hold space for people to know that they are not alone, that this life thing is hard, and that we are in it together. I am devoted to doing that. That is what Bhakti yoga is: the path of devotion.
I also write. I’ve always been a writer (I wrote plays for three years as an actual job), but for some weird reason, it started pouring out of me and onto Instagram a few years ago. That community is sacred to me, too. It’s all about connecting with people and supporting people–even if they are strangers (and so what if they are? That’s the beauty of Instagram). It’s about allowing yourself to be seen and heard. If it weren’t for @wolfgini, I don’t think I would have continued my writing, and I definitely would have no clue how to network via social media as I straight up do not have a Facebook account. I think that’s what sets me apart from others: I don’t have Facebook. That’s always what shocks people the most. That and the fact that I sing like the classically trained musician that I am at the end of every yoga class. And that I curse a lot.
I’ll be leading a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training alongside two of my favorite people (Ashlyn Bugbee and Alex Sandoval) this fall at Yoga Pod Denver West. That’s one of the big things on deck.
Ultimately, I am proud of everything that I do today because I know that I am doing it with my whole heart and soul. If I can create a space where people can allow themselves to cry in savasana or after reading my words in a tiny, insignificant Instagram post, then I am doing what I was meant to do: I am connecting, truly and deeply, with others. I am letting those people know that they are not alone or isolated. That’s what I set out on this path to do.
It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
So many. Yikes.
In terms of podcasts, I listen to Dear Sugar with Cheryl Strayed and From the Heart with Rachel Brathen (Yoga Girl).
Books are a different story. I am always reading at least three different books at once, and I am ALWAYS listening to or reading Harry Potter with my family. I am currently in the middle of “On Being Human,” by Jen Pastiloff, “Daring Greatly,” by Brene Brown, “City of Girls,” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by JK Rowling (for probably the 2000th time). They are all amazing reads.
Other than Harry Potter, the book that I find myself referring to the most is “Women Who Run With The Wolves,” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Maybe it’s because it has to do with women being like wolves or maybe because it uncovers so much of the collective feminine psyche, but it’s at the top of my list of books that I would recommend. Well, close to the top, under all of the Harry Potters.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @wolfgini
Philip Terry, Olivia Martinez, Julie Kruger