Experience the true essence of yoga!
The very funny and smart Vanda Mikoloski will give two comedic performance at our Golden Heart Yoga studios in May. Vanda travels the country practicing yoga and bringing laughter and has become a frequent and welcome visitor at Golden Heart in Annapolis. We asked Vanda a few questions to introduce herself and her comedy.
Please tell us a bit about your history with yoga.
I fell in love with yoga 17 years ago and got trained to teach Bikram yoga 16 years ago. I liked the more athletic forms of yoga at first. I studied Ashtanga-based Power Yoga with Bryan Kest and fell in love with all yoga. I was hired to teach power yoga to the Dixie Chicks on their Fly tour in 2000-2001. I taught my own “Yin” style of yoga on Venice beach for 4 years and now, at age 52, I do any type and level of yoga that happens to be in the towns I find myself in, which is how I found the wonderful community Golden Heart Yoga.
Has your comedy always centered around spirituality? How did you find yourself doing spiritual comedy?
I didn’t quite know how to distinguish my comedy from the normal night-club fare that’s out there. I had spent many years interested in personal growth work and spirituality and I thought calling it “Metaphysical, philosophical, transformational, yogic, quantum, cosmic comedy that explores the human predicament” a tad too busy. A bunch of my friends made a movie called “What the Bleep do we Know” all about the nature of reality and quantum physics. I did some of their conferences at first. Then I started doing Mensa conferences. Then Yoga Journal conferences. My major love is having “aha” moments and also “haha” moments. My two favorite things. I still don’t know what to call my comedy. I think “Enlightened” comedy sounds pretentious because, if you notice, most enlightened people do not walk around broadcasting that they are enlightened. I think I’m actually moving toward just being more relevant to all people and being human and copping to being human. Can I call it “Human Comedy”?
Spiritual communities can sometimes take themselves very seriously. Has that affected how you’re received by your audiences? Do you encounter a lot of resistance to making light of yoga and spirituality?
Well, I do have some funny stories about that. Once, at a bookstore in Seattle, they told me I wasn’t welcome back because I had “lowered the vibration” in their shop. I have had to watch my mouth to be received better. I like to curse, but not gratuitously, when appropriate. To a New Yorker, that’s every other word, though. You would think if you can’t curse in front of a spiritual group then who can you curse in front of? THEY are supposed to be the non-judgemental ones! I love to take the piss out of people’s “significance”, my own included. I think we all know when we’re being sacrosanct or precious about our esoteric beliefs on some level. We know when we’re being right and making others wrong. Usually the people who come out to my shows are good sports and want to laugh at themselves. I endeavor to create a safe space by calling one on myself, on where I am egotistical. Humor is like a Trojan horse. You can say a lot and it doesn’t hurt when one is laughing.
Has humor changed your relationship with your own spiritual practice or your yoga practice? Or perhaps the other way around?
Good question and tough to answer. I don’t know, because humor and irreverence is the water I swim in. I’ve never NOT come from having these comedic sensibilities. Sometimes I think there is more truth and power and beauty in a good laugh than there is in spiritual pursuits. If you think about it, we trust comedians more than politicians, priests and newscasters. Did you ever think you’d be getting most of your news from comedians?
Once I was doing a 10-day Buddhist Vipasanna meditation, which is a sacred BUTTLOAD of sitting. The main sacred guy there did this sacred chanting toward the end of every sacred hour and it was so painful to simply sit still listening to this guy warble that after a day of this, I said under my breath, “OK, wrap it up, Frank Sinatra” loud enough for the people next to me to overhear. That was a more awesome moment than it would have been without my commentary, I am pretty sure. I think I added something special.
One of the core tenets of my spiritual beliefs is non-dualism, of no inherent right/wrong duality in the universe. This makes me behave because I take responsibility for my point of view as a point of view and endeavor to NOT see my point of view as truth or reality. So, when I tell my jokes, I endeavor to talk from a place of causality and personal responsibility. Many comics are a little more opinionated than I am. Well, actually, that’s not true. I am totally opinionated, yet I stay poised looking for where I may be being an asshole. THAT is spiritual, in my book.
Both yoga and comedy have common elements. Both are, at their best, introspective. One of my teachers once said “Whatever you can’t laugh at owns you.” Both yoga and comedy are freeing. And both foster union, connectedness. That’s why a yoga class in community is a whole different experience than one you do at home. And a comedy show at home just sucks, really.
Anything else you want to share?
Nope. Just that I love people. Oh, and I am honored to have my amazing mom, Dorothy “Dotty” Mikoloski at this show in Annapolis. She’ll be sitting in a chair toward the back of the room rolling her eyes and going, “Oh, Vanda.”
Vanda’s show has two dates in May. Ticket cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Please note that we have a limited number of chairs in the studios, so if a chair is essential for you, please bring your own.