Velo Devi \’vel-oh \ noun.
ve·lo 1. abbreviation for velocipede; of or pertaining to the bicycle.
de·vi 1. Sanskrit term for ‘goddess’
I’m named after a Hindu goddess who’s charged with the herculean task of balancing heaven and earth. In my own life that translates into being a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll (or more like a little bit classical and a lotta punk rock). I’m a recovering yoga teacher. Now I prefer to get my zen on by racing mountain bikes and climbing rocks. I’m a writer; I write for money, to pay the bills. I also write for love. I love to write. I also love bourbon, bikes, boys, beer, and books (not necessarily in that order) and that’s just the Bs. I can cuss, shoot and spit like a cowboy, but I’ve got the elegance and grace of a dancer and the soul of an artist; think Mae West on a singlespeed 29er. They call me The Ümabomber—a nod to my love of “bombing” downhill on my bike. In my past lives I’ve been a singer in a funk band, a bike messenger in New York, a stagehand on off-off-Broadway, and a gogo dancer. I’m currently accepting freelance writing assignments, while I continue work on my next book—a real-life survivor story about overcoming impossible odds—and being “saved by bike”.
My name is Üma. The umlaut is silent.
I am a creative professional by day. When I’m not writing, I’m working as a designer and when I’m not doing either of those things I’m usually riding my bike. Now and then I race bikes, too. A bike-meets-car accident a few years back created some lasting challenges for me, and significant limitations, but my heart powers my rides when my legs fail.
Also, my singlespeed makes me do it.
To my mind, meditation is yoga is rock climbing is mountain biking. The external appearances differ, but each offers very similar internal challenges and opportunities to transform suffering into grace and experience the indomitable human spirit and the very heart of joy.
I started blogging a few years ago as a way of explaining to my yoga students that “real yoga” (not the exercises, but the psychological state and applied philosophy of yoga) isn’t bound to sticky mats, ashrams and meditation pillows. Throwing down in the local criterium, masterful arm balances, rocky descents, gnarly powder and tough cruxes can all bring us to a state of heightened consciousness. In other words, flow is where you find it.
I’m taking a sabbatical from teaching yoga now to focus on writing full-time, but I still get my “yoga” on, personally. I find it on my mountain bike, while writing, reading poetry, sipping a fine wine, or countless other pursuits. I make no claims of being enlightened, but I have seen glimpses of something bigger. Something sublime. It is my hope to drop in and ride full-tilt boogie into the future, as long as I live. I have every intention of arriving in my grave thoroughly spent, happy as a clam, and sporting a huge grin.
I hope you do too. Make it a good ride!