In honor of the opening of Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies, this first blog is devoted to digging into the 4 key principles that define and support our vision: Satsang, Sadhana, Service, and Scholarship.
4 is the number of stability, grounding, and foundation. These are the ingredients from which we grow.
1) Satsang (Community):
From its inception, Root has been a community-defined and community-directed effort. We are dedicated to creating a sacred and safe space—a sanctuary—for this community to share, grow, and practice together.
Not a single thing at Root was brought to fruition alone. We had no investors, no certainty, and no fallback plan. This is 100% home grow, independent, local love in form.
From the loving support and encouragement of longtime teacher, mentor, and patron goddess Marie-Louise See, R.N. of Westside Yoga (the home of RootEd for the past 3 years) to even THINK about embarking on this journey, to the initial design ideas offered by Chris Vinley, to the hours and hours of labor Billy Holliday (and current RootEd student, Jenny Holliday) gave to redesign the space as a true and sustainable and unique refuge, to the oversight of that entire project by the unparalleled efforts and devotion of Elizabeth Griffin (RootEd ’14), to the painting of the space by students and friends to the generous and careful design of our gorgeous sign and business cards by the uber talented Alison Jones, to the help with design elements from Kathy Speas, to brainstorming class schedules and class pricing in alignment with the guiding ethos of Root by Megan Andreozzi-Harris, to the gorgeous cubby shelves crafted by Carl KirkPilger gifted by his wife Iris (RootEd ’13), to the design and innovation of things big and small (including our snazzy Root t-shirts and more props) by the luminous Kirsten Akens (RootEd ’13), to the endless hours of lovingly wrangling Jessica and the bookkeeping and misc. other essentials by task master extraordinaire Amy Seibert, to the daily operations and assistance managed with such love and embodying true bhakti by Camille Stellar (RootEd ’13), to the gift of Todd Riecks’ incredible intimate photography of the space, to the enthusiasm and passion of the Root teachers who have come together with such deliberate and conscious effort to make this happen, to the selfless service of those same teachers to hold space in the wee hours of the morning (Paige Pancratz and David Welker) or take out trash or run errands or grab me water or food, to the unwavering love and help of RootEd Assistants, precious friends, and inspiring souls Margie Byington (’12) and Amber Cote (’13), to the long-distance support and encouragement of Lisa Bergly, to the sublime, hand-made eye pillows offered by our dear friend Lynne Prouhet, to the cleaning of our space with such care by Nancy Skogerson, to the donations of everything from installing a new thermostat (Nat Bushman) to locks/keys, toilet paper, dish soap, candles, copies, curtains, light dimmers, and moral support. This is a community. Rooted in love, service, and devotion.
And although this list is just scratching the surface, a final stand-alone bow of infinite gratitude for the long-distance labor of building this incredible website by most beloved friend and artist, John Lund. His work—truly a labor of devotion to my vision—has brought everyone closer to Root: Center (and yes, I mean that in every way). Together with the calming genius of Karen To, we were able to launch this ship and provide the virtual home for Root that will serve as an extension of the space itself.
According to my teacher Sharon Gannon (co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga), the most powerful practice of the 21st century is satsang, which means divine and uplifting community. In other words, the people who are committed to seeing the light in one another and to calling that light forth. Satsang is to be bound to the truth—and in Yogic terms, the only real Truth is that everyone is already whole, complete, and divine. So, like all yoga practices, our job in satsang is to say, “remember who you are?” and hold space for all that we are: our struggles, our hopes, our joys, our heartbreaks, our losses, our dreams, our fears, and our real lives. At Root, we are committed to holding space for the HUMANNESS in each of us, knowing that is where our divinity shines through most clearly. So, come as you are and let’s remind one another that who and what and where we are—at this moment—is not just “enough”; it is exquisite and necessary to this world.
Our foundations are community, and that means that our business is also based on community. Our mission is to provide a sacred space for everyone to thrive and grow together, and most importantly to support the cultivation of a sustainable practice that nourishes each individual in their real lives. Accordingly, even the class pricing is meant to encourage a sense of membership—to be part of something, a fellowship, wherein you integration (vs. fragmentation) and remembrance (vs. dismembering). So, rather than encourage people to pick and choose individual classes like yet another commodity, we are hoping to create a new model that inspires a sense of ownership and shared vision.
Sadhana means “conscious, spiritual practice,” and all three terms are critical to our work at Root. We seek to be a place of Yoga, defined by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati as “the state where you are missing nothing.” That is, Yoga is when you are fully present to each moment (you don’t miss it). AND, it means you aren’t operating from a place of deficiency or brokenness. There is nothing missing. And you don’t miss a thing. Root is a place of sadhana as resource—Re-Source, reconnecting each individual to the Source that feeds us all.
Anything can be a practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s spiritual or conscious. A lot of what we “do” is unconscious, habitual, conditioned. Asana practice can be just another place to check out and just be a thing doing things—imposing on one’s body (and others’ bodies) ideas of what we “should” be. A Yoga practice is first and foremost something that shines light on what IS—without judgment or a need to change it. A practice that simply reinforces the societal and heavily marketed ideas and images of what we “should” or “could” be isn’t a conscious or spiritual practice. Yoga is ALL about being awake. When we are conscious, we are here, now, open to what is. Consequently, we are less likely to react (re-act, do the same things over and over) and more likely to respond creatively from the space of true understanding.
“Spiritual” may seem hackneyed or dubious a term, but in essence it suggests a state that connects you to something bigger than the “small self.” What does that mean? It means that a lot of us spend A LOT of our life adhering to the inner narratives of our fears, projections, expectations, etc. We act and don’t act according to ever-fluctuating thoughts and feelings arising from the part of us that has forgotten who and what we really are. That way of being, in general, keeps us thinking and behaving in ways that reduce and diminish us (and others). Yoga is largely a technology that reminds us of our union—it yokes us to one another and to the source of us all. Whatever you call it (Spirit, God, Source, Great Mystery, Universe, Nature), we suggest you just call often and regularly. Because when we are reminded of our larger Selves, we are more likely to think, speak, and act with courage, integrity, and kindness. A spiritual practice, therefore, is anything that reconnects you to that best, effulgent, most visionary aspect of yourself. When our practice is a spiritual one, it becomes nourishing and sacred. We don’t feel less than or acquisitive. We find rest and peace in the moment—as it is.
Finally, all of this is a practice. That is, you have to actually do it. With consistent and devoted practice, we re-vise and re-write the old inner stories and discover that the practice IS the goal. Having a diligent and regular practice, we first meet all the deeply entrenched stories within that tell us we are small, limited, or incapable. We keep practicing and that hold begins to shift. There is nothing to achieve or acquire or even master. We practice regularly as a way of establishing ourselves in our kindest, truest, limitless Selves more often and with less effort.
It is an important tenant that the student names the teacher. By virtue of naming someone “teacher,” you ask that they step forward and serve without regard for selfish gain. We teach at Root because we are called to serve. Our job is to provide a safe place for people to face and come into relationship with the obstacles to their own embodied sense of Yoga.
Root is not “just” a studio—we are a center, in every sense of the word. Our goal is to hold a space for every body to find sanctuary and in that service seek to remind individuals of their own true center. We are interested in the exploration of the world and ourselves by integrating and learning from the wisdom traditions that inspire us to find our way home in our lives. The root of practice is to be firmly established — rooted — in Self-study (study of the True self). Our job as teachers of Yoga is simply to remind each person who graces us that they are already whole, holy, and complete. As is. Then, our task is to support them in the cultivation and development of a sustainable, relevant, conscious spiritual practice that reminds them that the ultimate teacher is the one within. We meet students where they are, exactly as they are. We seek to support and celebrate the authentic and REAL expression of Yoga in every individual.
We are not just asana instructors who reduce Yoga down to one practice. Root Center offers Yoga as complete sadhana (asana, breathwork, meditation, bhakti, and restorative). Our classes integrate and pay homage to the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air in such a way as to support a complete practice that grounds, contemplates, inspires, and restores. We have foundational classes, restorative classes, meditation/breathwork classes, classes that will kick your butt (physically and spiritually) and classes that will soothe your tired bones. We work with all bodies, all ages, all experience levels, and all aspects of life. Jessica is a fully certified Yoga Therapist, while 4 of our other Root teachers are completing their certifications as such, and our goal is to provide more specialized offerings to support people in the circumstances that go beyond a basic class. We offer Yoga Therapy (individual and group work integrating the practices of yoga in a therapeutic manner to support addiction/recovery, cancer, grief, depression/anxiety, chronic pain conditions, and more); Nutrition Therapy, Pre-Natal and Post-Natal, and spiritual support/sadhana guidance. Drawing from many wisdom traditions, we foster a space for scholarship, devotion, transformation, and remembrance.
Finally, we seek to serve in the community at large and to be of service to our local friends and family. From seva classes to fundraising events to collaborations with other local business, Root is very much committed to our roots and those who tend them.
Our vision as a center for sacred study is to provide opportunities for inspired learning that awakens us to our highest selves so we can be yogis IN the world (not hidden in acrobatic shadows of a studio). While Root Center will always serve as the home for the 6-month intensive RootEd program, we are also branching out in ways to answer the call for more in-depth education that isn’t tied to the ubiquitous “teacher training” tide. We seek to support those who are hungry for more resources In the very near future we will be launching the Sadhaka Sessions (modules of specialized study to deepen and augment individual practice), which will include Developing a Personal Practice, Yoga of Relationship, Yoga of Nutrition, Sutra Study, and Yoga of Restoration (recovery, addiction, co-dependency, dysmorphia, disordered eating, co-dependency, and more). Root will be offering a formal teacher mentoring program to help current teachers dig deeper and find that unique spark all their own. In addition, we will host a Swadhyaya (Self Study) Book Club, Anatomy Clinic, and monthly movie night! Our local Root teachers and friends will be offering workshops and immersions from their own passionate hearts, and we will be a center for visiting teachers and luminaries including Jessica’s direct teachers, and elders from various traditions.
Welcome to Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies. Root down, dig in, cultivate, show up, and grow.