“Back cleavage! Give me some back cleavage!”
I do a double take, wondering if I’ve somehow wandered onto the set of “New Age Full Metal Jacket.”
“Give me some cleavage! Don’t forget the cleavage!”
The woman talking is Amy Kraft, a 66-year-old yoga instructor. The woman she’s barking at is an 85-year-old client. The woman makes a slight shift in her torso and Kraft notices.
“Better, that’s better,” Kraft says, stalking her client, closely studying her posture, her alignment and her breathing.
“Are you breathing?” Kraft asks.
“Yes,” the woman says, but in talking she lets her guard down, her concentration, if just for a moment. She loses the posture. Kraft places a hand in the woman’s spine, a gentle reminder for the woman to bring her shoulders back, make the shoulder blades hang together like angel’s wings.
An hour later, Kraft and I are drinking water under the Arizona sun outside a Whole Foods Market. She tells me about the client.
“A month ago she could barely walk without assistance. You saw her feet?”
I nod that I did. When the session had begun the lady’s feet were swollen, painful to look at. After 45 minutes of yoga and some physical therapy from Kraft, I’d taken another look. All the swelling had gone down. She could straighten them. They’d grown decades younger before my eyes.
“Are you some kind of healer?” I ask.
She doesn’t say anything. She just smiles, that Arizona sun seeming to halo around her curly golden hair.
See our exclusive video: A day in the life of Amy Kraft
On the waterfront
Kraft’s story didn’t start with yoga or in Arizona. Like many baby boomers it started across the country. For Kraft that meant the beaches and boardwalks of the East Coast. She spent her days outdoors, building sandcastles and climbing trees.
“I was always drawn to the sun and the water,” she says, talking about her childhood.
She wanted to be a professional baseball player, too, and to this day doesn’t understand why they wouldn’t let girls play ball with the boys.
I can almost hear her repeating the famous line from “On the Waterfront,” “I coulda been somebody, I coulda been a contender…”
With baseball an afterthought, Kraft turned to acting. Her mother loved the stage and took her to summer stock where she would go back stage and meet luminaries like Helen Hayes.
She was bitten by the acting bug and had some success of her own.
“I was lucky to have some roles in the early days of TV,” she says, “but the stage was so special.” Her eyes seem to twinkle talking about those adventures in acting.
She shows me a headshot from those days, a photo taken in the ‘60s, the one she handed out when she made the cattle calls for acting parts. She’s in her early 20s and striking, her angular features resembling many of the leading ladies of that era.
As with the much of the boomer generation Kraft had a restless spirit, was looking for somewhere to land and focus her attention. She would find it on Wall Street.
“I’d been a hippie of the ‘60s,” she says, “but I got serious at a certain point, when I was around 35.”
She recalls the first memories of money and finance, when, as a child, her father and grandmother debated the worth of IBM stock in its nascent years. Her dad didn’t think it was worth the paper it was printed on but her grandmother saw the potential.
“We all know who won that argument.”
For the next 20 years, Kraft worked her magic in money, making it for her clients and for herself. With her blonde mane, they called her a “lioness” of Wall Street. She was, as Tom Wolfe coined, among those “masters of the universe.”
Kraft began the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 like most others, taking a quick look at her calendar. She had seven to eight clients to check in with over the course of the day. There was only one difference.
“For some reason, I didn’t go to my early morning yoga class. I don’t know why.”
Had she gone, her subway train would have taken her under the World Trade Center where she very well could have been trapped.
As it was, she arrived at work early and began making calls. She was on the 46th floor of a building across the street from the Twin Towers.