Located in a sumptuously restored historic Lawrenceville building, Jeffrey Smith Studio bears the motto, “Find Beauty Everywhere.” It’s a simple philosophy, yet one that resonates with Smith’s 21 years as a personal stylist, paying attention to his clients’ individual, unique needs, and his equally considerable study of yoga and meditation. For the last 12 years, he’s hosted weekly public meditation at his home —techniques learned while studying in India with his teacher Grumayi —and he started practicing hatha yoga in 1987.
In recent years, Smith drifted away from the practice, and realized it would take extra, more focused efforts to get him back in shape. A year ago, he found exactly what he needed through sessions with Lilith Bailey-Kroll, whose individualized, compassionate attention mirrors the type of experience he tries to create for his salon clients.
“When I stopped doing yoga, and I thought about rejoining, I was a little embarrassed about going into the system because I was out of shape and out of practice,” Smith says. “Lilith is very good at making you feel comfortable, understanding where you are in time and space,and sensitive to what your needs are. And I try to do that with my clients, especially new clients.”
“I thought one-on-one would be great to put me in a position where I could start back in a group class,” he says. “She pushed me to get back into yoga, and I needed that little edge.”
“My expectations were greater than my physical ability,” he adds wryly. “She brought me back to earth — age, weight, there’s certain factors” to consider, “but I could advance a little bit more.” The individual sessions help him focus on fundamentals, slowly building his stamina and strength, instead of scrambling to keep up with a group class. “It brings you back into the center of holding the positions for longer times, and feeling where your body should be,where your posture should be.”
Smith has long found yoga a powerful aid in his professional life:Working as a stylist means long hours on your feet, repetitive movements, and a posture that puts stress on the body. “In our profession, we’re leaning over a lot, so yoga does the opposite — it opens,” he says. “The occupational hazards that you have in this profession are back, lower back, leg, shoulder — yoga doesn’t eliminate them, but it helps the body adapt better.”
“There’s a subtlety to yoga that I don’t think we have a language to describe,” he concludes. “It works on so many levels, and on the highest, subtle level, it’s not hokey to say that it does change your life — because it really does, in ways you’re not capable of articulating. But there’s a subtle vibration to your everyday well-being that it does affect.”