Jo Shakti’s journey
In traditional lineage hatha yoga practices, the body is cleansed and disciplined and energy drawn inwards and upwards in order to elevate to our higher centres and reconnect us to our truth, to achieve a state of yoga or oneness.
I embraced hatha yoga from my mid 20’s onwards, starting to control my anxiety and IBS. Through good times around the world and many floods of tears and self doubt, I asana-ed through my 20’s and 30’s following modern householder hatha yoga lineages. The benefits were enormous and I was taught by incredible Ashtanga Yoga teachers such as Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor. I felt the muscle memory and transformation at a cellular level, but I also connected strongly to my intuitive and spiritual body like never before. Yoga served me, healed me, restoring my own self-belief, cutting through drama of ancestry and personal history.
I became a yoga teacher after 10 years of a professional student and retreat go-er, as a natural progression of my work as a language teacher. I was fortunate to train first with intelligent movement pioneer Julie Martin who offered a diverse insight into yoga from kirtan to restorative practices. This diversity then reflected in my 10 year yoga ‘career’ in Dubai and I taught Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin and Kids Yoga in studios around the UAE for many years after I acquired all the appropriate trainings and certificates, sharing my knowledge authentically, with kindness and depth.
I found my calling in Yoga Teacher Training through my connection with Yogini Peewee Sanchez as her student. I joined Peewee’s 200 hour weekend training in desperation to escape Sharjah (a small Emirate in the UAE) and find some yoga enthusiasts. In 2013, I become an unlikely employee of a gym (Fitness First) supporting Peewee’s 200hr Yoga Alliance Teacher Trainings. Supporting Peewee in her break away from the gym, we graduated over 250 amazing and unique students on 15 x 200hr courses in the UAE from 2013-2017. From Peewee, a gifted yogini, connected deeply to source, I learnt more than any student on our courses, sharing with more and more clarity and diving deeper into the matrix of yoga.
After having my 2 babies (Caesar in 2013 and Ananda in 2015) I learnt first-hand the depths of sadhana in pregnancy and became passionate about supporting and empowering women during the transformational time of pregnancy and birth. This experience was the one that changed me forever as I dove deeply into the ‘siddhis’ of womanhood and immersed myself into motherhood, affectionately known as the 7th series of Ashtanga Yoga. My work as a yoga teacher training danced in a challenging parallel with motherhood, greatly informing my future.
I became a student of Uma Dinsmore-Tuli in 2016 after reading her book, Yoni Shakti. In the new era of ‘householder yoga’, women dominate yoga, but her voice and body often goes unrecognized and is swamped with the tradition of male lineage which do not meet her cyclical nature as power. Through Uma, I met the 10 Maha Vidyas or wisdom goddesses, cyclical wisdom and blood wisdom. I then was able to place pregnancy in her bigger picture and see womanhood as a whole in all her glory from menarche to menopause. This was revolutionary work and I was in!
My experience and study with Uma and the Maha Vidyas led me to the Shakti Peeths of India and to the Mystical experiences in the Womb Temple of Kamakhya. Through these experiences and my empowering and disarming experiences with feminine work leader and revolutionary Silfath Pinto, I was inspired to create new directions in my work including new courses and events and to move closer to the mother energy of Bali away from the cityscapes of the UAE.
Peewee and I recognized a need to bring a more woman-friendly approach to our 200 hour course and created a new 200 hour Bali based module called ‘Awakening Shakti’ which has now 30 graduates. The wisdom of Awakening Shakti is to honour our cyclical wisdom as women and the practical way this informs our yoga and spiritual practice. It also honours full spectrum femininity including life stage and age & opens up a diversity of practice to connect with the seasons of our lives.
2018 also saw the birth of my creatrix essence in Shakti Celebration, which is now in it’s 5th event globally bringing women together to celebrate their essence. She is a powerful event gathering temple keepers from diverse backgrounds to share the fruits of their work & serves as a taster experience for women to engage with the magic.
In 2020 and beyond, Vanessa Willow Woodthorpe-Wright of Womanspace and I will bring Women’s Spirituality Immersions to Bali and beyond with the intention of rooting to rise, honouring women’s blood wisdom and cyclical nature. My immersion into the work of a birth keeper (Doula) here in Bali with Ibu Robin Lim and Debra Pascali in 2020 will also continue to inform my love of supporting women in this sacred time. My work will continue to be refined, rooted in yoga and supported by co-creation, ritual and sisterhood, a Shakti Celebration, a Return to the Source, the true self.