Laughing Lotus, the studio that I have found myself an inhabitant at (the first thing most people say upon entering its colorful doors is “Welcome Home!”) is an expert at celebrations. For the past few years, they started a new tradition (as the studio is known to do practically on the daily): the Summit. The Lotus Shakti Summit is equal parts celebration and cultivation. It is a time where Lotus Flow teachers from New York and all over the world subway/bike/fly into 19th between 5th and 6th in the Flatiron of New York City to move, dance, sing, eat, reminisce, and catch up.
This was my first time at a Shakti Summit because it is the first year that I can say I am a Lotus Flow teacher, having completed 200 hours of advanced certification with them this year, with another 50-100 hours to go to this summer (!!!). I was unsure that I would even be able to attend the Summit (they sold out early), but I awoke on Friday morning to an email from Dana Trixie Flynn, the co-founder, referred to as DTF, saying, “Come on downtown!”
One hour later, late and soaked in the torrential downpour of rain going on outside Lotus’s windows, I tip-toed my way into Dana Flynn’s soaking-with-sweat Shakti class. Dana’s morning class was entitled “Shakti Worship: Harness your creative power,” but what we were really let into with that class was Dana’s immense creative power as we flowed in ways so magical that after the class, when I sat down with my notebook trying desperately to remember the sequence, I surrendered to the fact that her artistic sequencing shoved me so much into the present moment that remembering it as a past was a lost cause.
Dana followed that class with one of the aspects of the Summit that I was looking most forward to: a Business of Yoga Satsang. Laughing Lotus is an incredible business. My mom is a director at one of the world’s most well-known community centers so I did grow up knowing that the terms “community center” and “profitable business” were not mutually exclusive. Being the yoga geek that I am, I devoured the article on Laughing Lotus that Forbes published a few months back (Never thought you’d see the words “lotus” and “Forbes” in the same sentence? Well, neither did I). But on Friday, I wanted Dana’s perspective. I got that and what I learned is that Laughing Lotus is a business with heart. It reified a very important piece of my own personal philosophy, woven together via many yoga philosophies: nothing is inherently “bad” or “good,” moral or amoral, yogic or un-yogic. That is, after all, what Tantra and Shakti are all about: that fluidity that comes from seeing things as more than binaries, as spaces of in between, as bridges, as Chicana feminist Gloria Anzaldúa would put it. Laughing Lotus is a business with heart because it is all about expanding based on cOMmunity desires and growth. Through this satsang, we also celebrated service-oriented programs that members of the Lotus Flow cOMmunity are starting and participating in. One teacher is creating an organization that encourages students to do community service in exchange for yoga (BRILLIANT!). A few other students volunteer for the NYC organization YogaFoster, bringing yoga to public schools, and another alum started a fantastic yoga-service-meetup-type website called YogaGives. (Stay tuned for a roundup of a bunch of yoga service organizations!)
An unexpected gem of the Summit was the opportunity to chill out and be students with my new fellow teachers at Harlem Yoga Studio. I am so grateful to feel my professional and yoga sangha grow as I grow…but I guess that’s just how it all works. Anyways, we all broke for lunch and then returned for Jasmine! Oh, Jasmine! The San Francisco balance to New York City’s bustle! Our Sangha with her was on the Yoga Sutras, but in the most real, non-esoteric way. She talked not only to us, but with us. She essentially told us that it is our duty (our dharma!) as teachers to engage our students in a contemplative dialogue. She told us that “when it’s just the Kool-Aid, it’s fair neither to us [the teachers] nor the student.” I left her talk early to do my own dharma of sorts, to go teach in Harlem. My theme for the 6pm Harlem Shakes (come catch me – I’m teaching it for the next 3 weeks!)? MOVE LIKE YOURSELF.