The Coast News Group
A Brush with Art

Yoga as art, art as yoga

Coastal North County is a widely renowned mecca for yoga practitioners. 

For the past 14 years, artist and yoga instructor Tamara Lafferty has taught classes and workshops in yoga studios throughout the area.

Having first become serious about painting while earning her Bachelor of Arts at Arizona State University, Lafferty feels that her conjoined practices of art and yoga are one in the same. “My yoga practice is very much a part of my artwork. If I don’t practice yoga, my painting suffers and if I don’t paint, my yoga practice suffers. Yoga is my art, and art is my yoga.”

The native of Summit County, Colo., became an Encinitas resident in 1999, drawn to the small town character of Old Encinitas and its high concentration of yoga studios.

Lafferty’s Arts Alive banner, currently on display a few yards south of F Street on Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas, depicts the Hindu elephant-like god Ganesha. She explains, “His single tusk symbolizes that the world is one, and that each individual is an integral part of the world. We are not lost or alone in the search for meaning in this existence.”

Although Lafferty does not consider yoga necessarily a religious practice, she points out that in her experience, “It’s more self reflection of the mind and body.” Believing that religion should be left out when teaching yoga in public schools, she adds, “The physical practice of yoga is perfect for kids, especially teens. On a self-journey or self-awareness level, it is perfect.”

Having earned her master’s degree in psychology, after which she worked with at-risk teens for several years, her opinion is based on real-world experience.

She reflects, “Until yoga became part of my life in 1997, I really could only paint if there was something extreme happening in my life,” which included the death of her father on her 21st birthday. She adds, “Unfortunately, a lot of my paintings from the past were created when I was going through difficult times.”

Tamara Lafferty’s Arts Alive banner features Ganesha, symbolic patron of the arts, revealer of the true self, and the remover of obstacles. Image courtesy of Stephen Whalen Photography
Tamara Lafferty’s Arts Alive banner features Ganesha, symbolic patron of the arts, revealer of the true self, and the remover of obstacles. Image courtesy of Stephen Whalen Photography

Of her lengthy quest to discover her “true self,” Lafferty says, “I thought that if I painted more, if I did more yoga, or read more inspirational books, that my ‘true being’ would emerge … that maybe the answer would come to me like some sort of dharmic or karmic path or liberation of soul through my yoga practice and my painting. Little did I know that my ‘true self’ is just that: it’s my painting, my yoga, my life all compiled into one ever-evolving soul.”

Considering this discovery, it’s no wonder that she chose to feature Ganesha on her banner, which represents revelation of the true self, the removal of obstacles and patron of the arts.

Lafferty says, “I am no longer searching for my True Self. There is no searching necessary … She’s right here. I am this Flower, I am this Sadness, I am this Happiness, I am this Love for life, I am this Anger, I am this Peace … I am all of this.”

She reflects, “My art might not be the most perfected, but neither am I. We humans are ever evolving and dissolving, creating and obliterating, transforming and stagnating, inspiring and extinguishing, and ever-changing beings.”

Lafferty adds, “Now that yoga is such a huge part of my life, not only are my paintings more ‘inspirational,’ but I am also more motivated by the freedom in my heart.”

With her fiancé Andy Totman, she has recently introduced Vinyasa Arts, a creative approach to practicing yoga incorporating music, dance and martial arts using an “off the mat” artistic and dramatic technique.

Lafferty’s art can be seen at, where additional information can be found about Vinyasa Arts classes and workshops.

Her Art Alive banner will be included in the live auction in the Cardiff Town Center Courtyard May 26.

Kay Colvin is director of the L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, serves as an arts commissioner for the City of Encinitas, and specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists. Contact her at [email protected].

1 comment

Swami Param June 7, 2013 at 8:41 am

There is not true physical practice of yoga divorced from Hinduism. The very Sanskrit/Hindu word “yoga” means to yoke to one’s Atman (Soul) and Brahman (Soul Source). The various (real) Yogas are the means by which Hindus achieve this Soul/Self Realization. The Hatha Yoga asanas are deeply Hindu devotional postures. Those that want to simply teach stretching and relaxation, should be honest and simply call it that.

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