BREAKING OUT OF PRISON

I’ve always had a burning passion to support people who want to make positive changes in their lives. Body Art Motion was born sometime in late 1998 to early 1999 when I made the leap from a secure, full-time, union protected government job toward a brand new self-employment venture. I left behind 5 years of Criminology, Law Enforcement and Correctional Rehabilitation to become a Personal Trainer. While working in the prison system, I took up a side gig and was certified as a ‘Weight Management & Lifestyle Consultant’. I also began my own personal transformation that felt so empowering, I became inspired to share with others. I began to discover firsthand and witness through others that dedication toward improving one’s health and fitness affected more than just the body. Lives were changed as well. Relationships improved, confidence increased and potential was being pursued.

I did not intend nor train to be a self-employed artist or to run a small business, but after 2 decades I’m starting to think that it’s probably my destiny. The work that I’m passionate about doesn’t seem to fit into any pre-existing system – not that I’ve found yet anyway, and believe me I’ve tried!

HEALTH & FITNESS

Body Art Motion hasn’t always been consistent in its offerings. I’ve learned that one of the aims in good business is to have a clear label or box so that people can easily understand what you offer. In the beginning, the work fit nice and neat into the “Health and Fitness” box – and it took off like wildfire! In our small Alberta city, Body Art Strategies became famous for the 3 month body transformation. Hundreds of people were changing their lives and telling all their friends about it – a community was forming around the work. In the background I was winning bodybuilding awards, doing photoshoots with big names, published The Body Art Cookbook, and started building my own team of personal trainers. We partnered with the local WHL team and the Canadian Mixed Martial Arts Centre and started training all of their athletes, some of whom made it all the way to the UFC and NHL. The success and joy from this work was invigorating, but about 3 years in I started to feel like there was more to explore. I was starting to crack; I was burning out and I didn’t know how to rest. I ended up with clinically diagnosed depression. This was about the time that Yoga really grabbed a hold of me.

YOGA & PILATES

One of my clients had introduced me to Power Yoga. I was a bit of a skeptic (Yoga wasn’t super popular at the time), but I gave it a shot. I found out that I really needed to stretch more! Despite my radical inflexibility, the teacher was able to give me enough modifications that I was able to relax and experience something deeper – something soulful. Something about the practice felt powerfully sacred and seemed to expose areas that I wasn’t aware needed healing. Prior to this, I had already been teaching Pilates, so it was a natural transition to begin fusing it with yoga postures. Then I began blending little bits of everything that I had learned in a way that felt intuitive. I believe this is when the work officially became really challenging to describe in one “tagline”. Today it’s not uncommon to get calls from past clients saying, “Everyone is now doing those breathing techniques that you were showing me back in the day!” At the time it was a tough sell to convince a cage fighter that breathing into his chakras was going to win him a fight 🙂

Over the next few years, I found myself spending more time on my yoga mat and less time in the gym so I dove right in and certified as a Power Yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner. People were responding to it – the group yoga classes felt magical and connected. As people moved and breathed and worked through their “stuff” together, a kinship developed and we knew we’re a part of something really special – a community was born. I ended up moving away from the gym to open my own yoga studio in a beautiful downtown building. We named the studio “True Nature”. We now had the environment we needed to really dive into some of the more subtle and spiritual aspects of the practice and host pioneering senior teachers to train our instructors.

THE DEEPER YOGA QUEST:

HUMILITY, MEDITATION, DANCE & ASTROLOGY

Around 2004 another significant shift happened. It was another dark one, but in hindsight I can appreciate how much I learned from it. It was my first professional engagement with gatekeeping and slander. As a fusion practitioner, it can be tricky territory to blend multiple disciplines, especially if you are borrowing from spiritual discipline or vernacular culture. This experience happened as I was turning 30 – a time known in astrology as the “Saturn Return”- a time in one’s life that can deliver a swift kick to your ass delivering some strong messages. It was time to really immerse myself into the spiritual side of Yoga – to dedicate to the practice in a whole new way, not just physically. So I took to the road for a 3 year educational and devotional quest. At the time I felt like I was abandoning everyone and I think I still carry some guilt around that. The bright side is that by closing the studio it opened a door for a few of my most dedicated students to open their own fusion studios and start exploring their own work. It brings me so much joy to watch them living their dreams and supporting people to better their lives. In the last 20 years I have had the privilege of having some really powerful and passionate humans invest themselves into some of the adventures here at BAM. Some of which have dedicated their own work to making positive differences in people’s lives. This is rewarding beyond words. It’s the full-circle gift that has been so crucial at times when I’ve needed to rekindle my inspiration to continue.

Three years of hard knocks vanlife can really change a person! Laptops were just becoming popular, so I tried to coach people from a distance using email, but it was not super successful and cell phones were not reliable at the time. The first few months I travelled with a fire dance teacher who got us a gig working for a Polynesian entertainment company out of Los Angeles, then I moved on to study with one of my main Yoga influences from Santa Monica. I spent most of my time attending classes and diving deep into spiritual studies, breathwork, meditation and hanging out on the Venice Boardwalk meeting all sorts of characters. There I met an artist and OG burning man and Rainbow family elder who introduced me to deeper astrological studies of natal chart reading and timing with planetary cycles. That summer I ended up following him across the desert to meet his astrology teacher in North Carolina. I ended up staying there for the next 2 years to study Astrology, fusion Belly Dance, and radical wellness theories. I ended up finishing my professional certification in Modern Astrology, helped my teacher refine some of his teaching products, and toured with him when he lectured at Astrology conferences.

INTEGRATION:

POWER ALIGN & FOXY FINISH

In late 2007, it was time to come back to Canada so I hired a ruthless business coach to get me ready to start integrating all of the work. I only took a few very serious clients: a UFC fighter, a professional fitness model, a chiropractic clinic and a jet-setting CEO. The new integrations were a success – it was a very exciting time! While in North Carolina I also wrote my second book entitled “The 5 Alignment Secrets” which I transferred into a mind-body program that we called Power Align. It was heavily rooted in Yoga exercises and breathing techniques, but also used a periodization system that broke free from linear thinking to train in circular or spiral patterns – similar to a moon cycle.

We adapted this program for the UFC fighter and built him a custom gym out of a garage where we played with all sorts of alternative equipment to find the cutting edge. His training improved so much that in a news interview he called me his “secret weapon”. Shortly afterwards I got promoted to Head Coach overseeing all of his trainers. The fitness model client was a powerhouse, former Olympic athlete and fitness entrepreneur with her own gym who wanted to try out the world of fitness model competition for the first time without using the extreme dieting that usually accompanies that industry. She already knew how to workout, so I customized a program that integrated balanced nutrition and a specific competition training cycle, but we also included a formula for energetic stage presence tricks and aura projection that we could probably call “magic”. She was a beast! She came out of the gates, won the whole damn show and was booking with magazine photographers. Afterwards, my business coach saw an opportunity to expand this program into something more. He was a UCLA film grad and had studied with some of California’s top Tantricas. Together, we created a 12 week program called Foxy Finish which combined the new fitness model program with photography and videography. It was designed using performance archetypes to channel and empower the divine feminine in control of her body and sensual nature. This program turned into the most intense work that I had done to the point that I brought on a clinical Psychiatrist to help work through the ancestral wounds that were surfacing.

The work with the Chiropractic clinic felt like home. I believe that all of this work is healing work, but what we did at the clinic felt particularly soothing and nurturing. It was quiet work with no stage, competition, mirrors or music. It was about balance and deep internal healing work. It felt like the yin to the yang of the fitness train and allowed me to use skills acquired from countless hours of isolated silent meditation. I started working privately with the owners of the clinic; a Chiropractor and a Massage Therapist. They were so impressed with the results, that they opened up office space for me to see some of their clients. Much of the time was spent simply sitting and watching people breathe and then applying the astrology, yoga and alignment concepts to adjust the breath in order to shift the body by “shaping the energy” from the inside out. It was powerful. As for the billionaire CEO, he paid me upfront for 24 sessions and only made it to one – to this date, it’s the most amount of money I’ve made in a 60 minute private session.

YOGA TEACHER TRAINING, C.A.T THERAPY & SIGIL ITS DANCE

One of our Foxy Finish clients was the head trainer at Gold’s Gym who saw the need for a Yoga certification program that focused specifically for teaching Yoga to gym clientele. She thought that my background and method of teaching yoga would be a perfect fit. I said yes and from this birthed a labor of love – a Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program. It ran annually for the next 7 years and evolved into an approach where instructors were provided the opportunity to deconstruct and reconstruct the material to create their own customized work with specific clients. In these years, I got to witness the incredible healing potential of Yoga as some really amazing humans dug in and dedicated themselves to the work to heal some intense injuries. It warms my heart to see how many of these movement professionals have applied the practice to their own work and continue to use it today.

Needless to say, this segment of the journey renewed my passion to continue searching and expanding my Yoga studies. I did some research and tracked down a local senior teacher that I jived with, which bloomed into a beautiful friendship. She introduced me to Critical Alignment Therapy (C.A.T), which blew my mind and blended so well with my work that I immersed myself into it and went on to study with her teacher to become a certified instructor. In the background I was still a very passionate student of fusion belly dance (transnational fusion dance) and was performing from time to time, but I was missing my dance teacher who taught a very distinct style called Sigil ITS. So I invited her to teach a weekend intensive here in Calgary in the Spring of 2014. Well, something caught fire and it turned into a wildfire! In only a few short years, I looked around to find that the majority of my work was centered around teaching dance, producing shows and training a team of professional dancers for large event performances. I was still running a few Lunar Lifestyle empowerment programs in the background (aka Girl on Fire and Witchy Woman), but for the most part dance had taken over the controls and I was just trying to keep the train on the tracks!

The community that was building around this work was so very engaging, supportive and inspiring. This method of group improvisational dance cultivated Teamwork, spontaneous connection, and empowered confidence. I was inspired through a renewed hope that we can actually create big change and big awareness through nourishing the magic found in Teamwork. This was all happening at a time in my life astrologers call “The Uranus Opposition” aka mid-life crisis. I have a lot of Aquarian energy (Uranus is the modern ruler) so I was having the time of my life, but don’t get me wrong… everything has a shadow side 😉 I learned some really hard lessons – but I dug in, kept my eyes on the road, and my heart rooted in love.

2020 PANDEMIC CRASH, MOON MUSINGS & EMERGE 21

It was February 2020 and it felt like we were on our way to somewhere magical! We had just finished hosting the creator of Sigil ITS in what was an epic community bonding weekend. The train was full steam ahead and picking up speed when the Covid-19 Pandemic spread across the globe. The reality of this situation meant that the first businesses to be banned and the last to be fully reinstated were group dance/fitness classes and large events. BAM! It could be years before we were back up to capacity. Today, I can see the silverlings, but I didn’t at the time. I felt like I was engineering a speed train that suddenly, out of nowhere, crashed into a mountain. I witnessed our vibrant community start to suffer from loss of in-person connection. Our magic happened when we could dance together – and this was no longer an option. I’m not going to lie, I blacked out and went into a very unhealthy place for close to a year. I had to dig deep into my personal well and use everything I knew to design a program to emerge and keep moving forward. I went to war with some super dark internal demons, but the strength and spiritual trust gained was incomparable to anything I had previously experienced. There is no light without dark.

A big part of being able to move through that time (beyond having an incredibly supportive partner) was reconnecting with the spiritual correspondences found in ancient astrology. I am very excited about sharing some of those practices in this next leg of the journey. In September 2020 Zephyrm Music invited me to embark on a collaboration designed to help support and connect with our communities while in lock-down. We vowed to dedicate the next year to producing the Moon Muse Mix Series that we would make available to everyone. Every 2 weeks we were to create a new audio journey for each New and Full Moon in each of the 12 Zodiac signs. By September 2021 we would release 24 mixes. My part in the creation was to set the tone of the mix with an opening and closing meditation that immerses in the energy signature of that particular Moon. The moniker Amaris was born. You can find our mixes on Soundcloud and you can read along with the meditations in my Blog here.

About halfway (6 months) into the Moon Muse Mix project, the EMERGE 21 Challenge was born. It was a New Moon in Aries and Spring was knocking at our Canadian door. It was time to pull up my socks and take Body Art Motion into the next phase. What started with a 21 day challenge to rise up through the Aries archetype turned into a 12 month challenge to “Emerge” through 12 moon cycles. Since then I have been reporting through a regular Vlog in our private Patreon space and creating a mini dance-art video each month to help tell the story of the journey. I’m very excited to be able to look back on this time and immerse myself in reflection through the music mixes, dance videos, and video journal entries.

THE FUTURE. THE VISION. THE MISSION.

At this point in the journey I’m 46 years old and 22 years into the BAM journey. I know that I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve worked very hard to learn from them. I also know that I’ve made a positive and considerable impact in the lives of many people. I’d like to believe that I’ve made more friends than enemies, that I’ve helped more people than I have harmed, that there is still so much more to learn and explore – and that everyone that crosses our path is a potential teacher on the journey.

I’ve also come to realize that no matter what twist in the road, rough or smooth, I’ve had angels visit me in human form. I hope I remember every single one of them as well as I remember the ones who were there to force me into the painful lessons.

To everyone who has joined me on this journey somewhere along the way, who are returning for a moment, or who are embarking on this wild adventure for the first time – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you this work would not exist. I thank you for your time dedicated to practice and actually doing the work. Without you, this work would just be theory.

We are all experiencing an incredible time of global change. The world just got a lot smaller, all while our awareness of systemic problems has expanded exponentially. I’m not sure where this next journey will lead, but I would like to start using this work and this community in a way that will contribute to solutions that help to leave this planet and the human condition in a better place for future generations. Instead of being a Mother in the traditional sense, I made the choice to dedicate my life to this work and to share my life and process. So in a way, I see Body Art Motion as a family to nurture and as something I can provide that feels like a Mothers love.

Sincerely, Tanya Lee
May 2021

"Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move."

OSHO
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LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Our community is based in the city of Calgary known as Moh’kinsstis. We honour and acknowledge the traditional Treaty 7 territory of Southern Alberta and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations, Indigenous and non, who live, work and play, as well as help steward this land, honour and celebrate this territory.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Our community is based in the city of Calgary known as Moh’kinsstis. We honour and acknowledge the traditional Treaty 7 territory of Southern Alberta and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations, Indigenous and non, who live, work and play, as well as help steward this land, honour and celebrate this territory.