One in Two Thousand: Ariella Markowitz ’19

Photo courtesy of Ariella Markowitz.

I first met Ariella during Where Am I!? (WAI) Leader training and was immediately drawn to her laid back and friendly vibes—so much so that she became my co for WAI. This week, I got to sit down with Ariella and talk about her hometown, her interests and, most importantly, her journey to becoming a yoga instructor.

So to start, can you tell me a little about where you grew up?

I was born and raised on Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, just a little community of 3000 people. It’s kind of hard to explain to people because it really is a small town, but we also have LA right by us. I had access to the city, but it’s also kind of isolated. Oh man, we drove golf carts everywhere. The island’s only one square mile, so my mom just wanted us to walk everywhere. But yeah, no one had cars. I probably didn’t get off the island as much as I should have. I was a homebody and stayed on the island a lot. Whenever we’d get off I would just get overwhelmed;  I would go to a mall or something and have total sensory overload.

You said the island had only a few thousand people. How does it feel being at a school that also has 2000 people?

It feels very familiar. Williamstown and my hometown have a lot of parallels. Honestly, it’s the population; everyone complains about being isolated here, but I just have always dealt with making the most out of a limited place. Maybe it was easier for me to feel at home here because I’m not really looking for more activity – I’m just looking to plant my roots.

Did you do anything fun this Winter Study? Accomplish anything on your bucket list?

This Winter Study has been low-key a yoga retreat. I’ve been doing so much yoga every day. It’s the most purifying thing. I’ve been sick so I had to skip today, but if not, I would have went in at 1:00 p.m. and got out at 4:30 p.m., then I would have gone back in from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. I’m currently doing an independent project with Tasha Yoga on Spring Street. I’m getting in some 200 hours to become a certified yoga instructor, I’ve only finished half of them at this point. That’ll be an ongoing project through the rest of the semester.

That’s so cool! What struck your interest in yoga?

I feel like growing up, a lot of young girls, myself included, felt weird about coming into their bodies and claiming that for themselves. When I discovered yoga, I finally felt like I was doing something. I felt comfortable with my body for the first time in a way that was so carefree and joyful. I was just like, “Damn this is really important.” So, I’ve just been practicing on my own for a while, and I wanted to offer it back because it’s so good for stress reduction and feeling generally good about yourself. It’s something I want to offer back to Williams students or anybody in life because it’s really one of those things that makes day-to-day connections. My favorite pose is definitely the mermaid pose. It’s a backbend and a hip opener, and I just think it feels super glamorous.

Why do you think people don’t like yoga sometimes?

Because it’s really easy to not take it seriously. It’s like, “Look at these hippies talking about appropriating Indian culture and pretending to be all spiritually woke,” and I feel like that can be really annoying. But that’s why you actually have to engage with where it comes from and the foundations and all the history. Because it really is just a practice. It’s just all about getting out of day-to-day life and looking into the deeper implications of it. So yoga is easily misrepresented.

What are other things that you are currently passionate about?

I love playing music, writing music and just any form of creative expression with some writing. And I play jazz piano. I love listening to music too. I have a great new playlist called “New Year, Newer Me,” on Spotify. It’s a variation on the playlist “New Year, Old Me.” It’s 2018, so I’m moving forward. I also love the acai bowls at Nature’s Closet. I don’t know if they’re my favorite food, but I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. It’s been too long since I’ve last had one.

Does music relate to any dream job you might have in the future?

I would love to do something creative – independent and creative. I would love to be an independent radio producer. I have a radio show, although it’s not as much as I want it to be. It’s mostly a self-care thing honestly, to be able to go in once a week and just play music that I love and talk about it. Who knows, honestly. I would love to return to California. I love the East Coast. I love the Pacific Northwest. I can honestly see myself going anywhere, and I’m sure it’ll work itself out. At some point, I really want to do a journalism fellowship, and I would like to be able to do something with that. My summer’s not really set in stone yet. I don’t know, I wouldn’t mind being on campus. I kind of love Williamstown over the summer.

Tell me a bit about your freshman summer experience here at Williams. What do you like most about Williamstown over the summer?

I just think it’s like a fairy kingdom. It’s like a magical land – there’s all this beautiful nature and rivers, and you get to spend some dope time outside. I’m really satisfied with the simple life. I can literally go outside and not really think about anything else and be content with that.

How do you like working at Goodrich?

It’s amazing and such a good time. I’m running boba night this year, and it’s just a really good way to spend a Tuesday. I love going in, blasting music, making boba and getting to share that with people. Shout-out to everyone who works at Doddrich – it’s such a good community. I’m also trying to step up my latte art game. It’s difficult; for a while my lattes just looked really phallic. But I’m getting better because I can now make little leaves and hearts.  I still have very far to go.

Do you have a favorite boba flavor now?

Oh my god, the other day we made a combination of Thai and rose tea and it tasted so good. It was the most beautiful dusty orange rose color – it was gorgeous. I love all flavors honestly, especially lavender and all the flowery flavors. So that’s a plug: come to boba night next semester.

I heard you interned with a senator? What was that experience like?

Last Winter Study, I worked with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which was pretty crazy with the inauguration and everything. It was probably the most intense month of my life, with the realization of so much happening in the country we live in and the world climate. It was disillusioning in a lot of ways. I thought, “What is the good that any of this is doing?” I just don’t want to work in politics. I’m glad I learned that one early on.

Is there anything else that has been on your mind recently?

I guess I’ve been thinking about personal growth a lot. It ties in with the yoga stuff. This past summer I was actually just hanging out at home, working some odd jobs like playing piano and working in a restaurant. It was cool to see how it’s not really a waste of a time if I’m happy, able to do what I want to do and can spend time with my family. It’s being able to be happy in whatever situation you’re in and make the most of that.