(she/her) In 1990 I took my first hatha yoga class in the NYU gym in college and never looked back. I wandered onto the mat, then off the mat, but I never wandered far from the practice. I was a noisy, chaotic activist for women's rights and ecological justice, cooked in the fires of the early 1990's NYC activist scene, and I carry that justice streak deep in my bones to this day. Through yoga, the beginning seeds of the vine of bhakti yoga were planted in my life by some miracle, and I felt interest percolating for the first time in the yoga path of devotion and service and love, and it started to make sense of yoga as a larger whole to me.
I opened The Bhaktishop (now The Bhakti Yoga Movement Center) in 2007 to bring yoga and bhakti together as a place where people can come to learn more about transcendence and also, in order to make a home for other people that are longing for similar conversations and self-interrogation; a place for you to feel welcome and at ease in exploring the deeper questions of the inner life and heart, and to learn from skilled, devoted teachers about the ways in which the practical, illuminating wisdom of these practices can touch, soften and change your life, every single day. I am proud as hell of the staff and teachers here, and their fierce, ongoing commitment to excellence, compassion, inclusiveness, honesty and their own pursuit of the wisdom and source traditions of yoga and beyond. I opened a studio also because I wanted to redistribute some of the money that yoga was earning, so that I could redirect those funds back to the source of yoga by way of supporting ashrams, yoga teachers and centers in India, and teachers that are sharing yoga from its source. I also wanted to direct that funding into justice and equity work, and deep, systemic untangling toward accessibility and change at home that sometimes only monetary resources can bring. I also wanted to connect the community to the practice of yoga as an agent for social change, and the service to something larger than oneself, so that we might return yoga back to something it was always intended to be—a practice of devotion, liberation and service. I’m grateful to Tara and Zeyah, the new leaders of the BYMC, for continuing this effort and helping hold this container so the community can continue to grow, guided by love, more toward truth, justice and liberation.
My studentship with my guru and an abiding, dharmic respect for the roots of the source traditions are the driving forces of my life, and I am grateful every day for the practice and teachers that I have stumbled into. I'm indebted to the wisdom of all those named and unnamed, known and unknown indigenous Indian teachers (and those in the accompanying diaspora) that came before me on this long and winding and deeply colonized road, and credit them all with absolutely anything interesting, connected, or smart that I ever say or do in the classroom.
Guided firmly by inner-body intelligence and more than 25 years of experience in biomechanics, anatomy, Acupuncture, chanting, meditation and yoga philosophy, I seek honesty and clarity in yoga, wherein it is allowed to come alive as a living, dynamic practice. I have a personal and business commitment to equity, anti-oppression, and decolonization and am deeply committed to the study of unlearning patriarchial and supremacist models of communication and of relationship, and this informs every fold of my teaching and my life. I have been honored and grateful to share my vision of a more balanced, intentional, spirit-oriented life of service and love with you at The Bhakti Yoga Movement Center for all these years.
You can find me practicing Acupuncture, making ceramics and digging in the dirt at www.sassyneedles.com and on IG @lisamaeproject