Gail Parker is a clinical psychotherapist, certified yoga therapist, meditation coach, and yoga teacher—and a true force. Go behind-the-scenes of our shoot for the May/June 2021 issue of Yoga Journal, and then read our cover story, The Golden Age of Dr. Gail
Gail Parker has been a Detroit resident for decades. She was visiting her son, Jason, in Palm Springs when COVID-19 lockdowns were implemented. Fortunately, she and her husband, Tom, a retired GM medical director, are semi-retired and not tied to any location. (And fortunately for our team, we didn’t have to brave Detroit’s frigid temperatures to make this shoot happen!)
Photographer Nolwen Cifuentes jumps in with both feet to get her shot. She’s a pro with a portfolio full of photos for fashion shoots, ad campaigns, and portraits of people like Vice President Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and organization-maven Marie Kondo.
Southern California sunshine can be friend or foe when it comes to photography. Nolwen Cifuentes’ equipment bags include light diffusers as big as sails to soften the light. The result: photos that perfectly captured Gail Parker’s natural glow.
Dr. Gail says “a sense of magic and astonishment” is what has kept her yoga practice vibrant over the years. “When I practice, I sense that anandamaya kosha—that bliss body that erupts for no reason,” she says. “When I’m practicing yoga, I experience that every single time.”
Her favorite pose: Sirsasana (Headstands). “They remind me of when I used to do them with my father. Every time I stand on my head, I’m 5 or 6 years old again.”
Ageism is real—and infuriating—for Parker, but she takes a wide-angle view of the gifts that come with healthy longevity. “As I reflect on my age, I realized that I’m also a role model for what aging can actually look like, feel, and be—and I don’t just mean physically,” she says. “I mean what it is to accept, embrace and cherish one’s maturity.”
“The thing about Gail is that she really cares about the yoga community,” says Jana Long, co-founder of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance. Parker is president of the BYTA board. “She’s a teacher who can reflect on a time before the commercialization and so much commodification of yoga. She’s passionate about making sure that people are grounded in a practice of yoga and not a practice of physical exercise.”
Choose kindness. That’s a wrap.