Over the last decade, I’ve taught yoga in a variety of places. In most, teachers were treated as easily replaceable, and that sentiment eroded morale and spirits.
From the first time I walked through the door of Nashville’s Shakti Yoga, to practice, I felt at home. Soon after, I started teaching there. The sister-owners, Kelly Carter and Lauren Farina, cultivate community and real connection. Their generosity and consistent acknowledgment of teachers and students inspires these qualities. Both teachers and devoted students, Kelly and Lauren are committed to daily practices—of asana, ritual, study, and meditation—that demonstrate the discipline required to be a free spirit.
Regularly, they ask about our goals, and how to support us. They recognize our worth; offer constructive, refined feedback; and invest in our growth. Recently they hosted a guest teacher not for our students but us, the teachers. I can’t overstate the enormity of this kind of investment in our community and in my own practice.
In an email last fall, Lauren asked teachers, “What makes you feel strong? What’s happening in your life/at Shakti that you want, and what’s happening that you do not want?” Steeped in gratitude and compassion, the responses of my sisters and brothers articulate their dreams with exquisite care and openness.
I am thankful for this kula. I’m thankful for our authenticity, lightness, and capacity to come clean. In this environment, we’re not trying to survive our everyday lives, but to thrive. Our value cannot be diminished, and our good work is supported. Feeling this, we take risks to create intimacy. As a teacher and student, I’m empowered to let go of trying to be impressive in the moment in order to make it about the moment itself. We’re a strong tribe who stand for one another. When my fellow teachers lift me up, when they lift up every man or woman brave enough to show up with a dream and practice moving towards it. We are all elevated by this.
Here we are called to show up fully and, as Toni Morrison said, to “remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
I recognize the honor and privilege to teach in a place where each one of us is seen and lovingly, constantly, called to evolve.