12 Years of SHY: Lessons from a Full Chinese Zodiac Cycle

Today marks a completion of one full cycle of the Chinese  Zodiac for SHY: 12 years. On this day, 12 years ago, I opened the doors to the first class. 4 people showed up. It was miraculous.

Every year of the Chinese Zodiac is assigned an animal with attributes to bring luck, good fortune, and prosperity to those who pay attention, and maybe also to teach a lesson and provide guidance in difficult times. 

Here are a few of my lessons from building the studio these past 12 years:

2007: We opened in the final months of the year of the Pig, whose overwhelming attribute is a kindness that can change the world. I don’t know that I set out to change the world, but I certainly needed to change my own world, and wanted to do so through the love and practice that is yoga. 

2008: Year of the Rat, whose attributes are creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. I certainly needed to channel the Rat in this first full year of business to keep the doors open!

2009: Year of the Ox with loyalty and friendship. I focused on building relationships this year, holding SHY’s first teacher training to build our staff. (Lori trained in this very first training and is still here sharing her wisdom with us!)

2010: Year of the Tiger with sensitivity and justice. I remember this being a difficult year both personally and professionally, feeling unsure of both the studio’s future and my own. 

2011: This Rabbit year, which embodies a friendly and personable nature, brought Yanni, also a rabbit, into my life. 

2012: Year of the Dragon, who knows how to dream big. We hosted our first international yoga retreat in Rhodes, Greece.

2013: Year of the Snake, who strives to give and receive unconditional love. We recommitted to our students and our mission when we re-opened in our current location in July of 2013.

2014: Year of the Horse, characterized by a strong work ethic and leadership. We restructured the studio’s offerings. We introduced the Barkan Method Vinyasa to the studio this year and made the shift away from 90 minute classes. 

2015: Year of the Goat, who is quiet but strong. We hosted our first Costa Rican Yoga Retreat in this year. (Our Spring 2020 Retreat marks our 4th Retreat to Costa Rica and our 6th Retreat overall!)

2016: Year of the Monkey, intelligent and playful. We kept moving onward, steady and strong.

2017: Year of the Rooster with progressive thinking. I published my book in this year to commemorate our 10 year anniversary. 

2018 Year of the Dog, a faithful protector of loved ones. I was challenged to trust in the years of building the studio and the continued faith of our students, looking ahead to see what we all needed to stay challenged and keep growing together.

2019 provided us a full year for the Pig with a kindness to change the world. We embraced two huge undertakings for the studio this year. The first was our Teacher Training collaboration with Jimmy Barkan last spring, and the second was our epic Know Thyself, Odyssey to Delphi, Greece Retreat in September. I hope these two experiences empowered all who participated to unlock and channel their own power to change the world, starting with their own.

I continue to learn from every one of you how to be a better person. 

You inspire me to be a better teacher and to do my best each day.

And as we now embark on our 13th year together, I really do believe that we have changed the world, or at least our own corner of it. I am blessed to know all of you. Let our best be yet to come.

Peace and blessings to all who have adventured through these doors and to all who will in the years to come. 



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Q & A with Jimmy Barkan: Hot Yoga Teacher Training

Lara and Jimmy met up recently on Facebook Live to answer a few questions about the upcoming 26 & 2 Hot Yoga Teacher Training. 

Jimmy and Lara YTT.JPG

Below are highlights. Some of the questions and answers have been shortened while staying true to the spirit and facts of the conversation. You can watch the whole video on our Facebook page HERE.

Intro: [Lara first studied with Jimmy Barkan in 2008 at his Fort Lauderdale Studio. In 2014, Lara led a group SHY to attend his Barkan Method Level 2/3 Teacher Training. Many of our students met him last fall during the workshops he taught here at SHY.]

LA: Besides knowing us at Steamtown Yoga, how do you know Scranton and what is your personal connection to this area? 

JB: I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to summer camp near Scranton, every summer from the age of 11 to 17. I attended a competitive sports camp [near Clarks Summit].

LA: 11 - 17 are the formative years! What sport did you play?

JB: It included every different kind of sport, like an Olympic sports training camp. 

LA: Lots of yoga is out there and it’s easy for someone to find a studio and a training and have a good experience with yoga and experience its life changing qualities. 

What makes our training special and how does it fit into the greater Hot Yoga world?  

Barkan  Yoga Teacher Training.JPG

JB: I began training Bikram Yoga teachers in the late 1980’s in Los Angeles at Bikram’s headquarters.  At that time, I was the only person (besides Bikram) allowed to certify Bikram teachers until 1994 when Bikram started his first condensed teacher training program. [Lara attended this training in 2003] I stayed in LA working with Bikram until 2002 when I relocated to FL and developed the Barkan Method of Hot Yoga. 

I never stopped teaching and focusing on the 26 and 2 postures of the Bikram series and they are at the core of the Barkan Method. Now with Bikram ostracized from the yoga community, there’s a demand here in the United States for qualified Hot Yoga teachers in our great lineage. 

I was Bikram’s most senior teacher for about 18 years. 

LA: At SHY, we believe in connecting to a yoga lineage and connecting to a source. I know we do a whole lesson in the history of yoga in the training, but can you tell us a little bit about the history of the Hot Yoga lineage? 

JB: Our connection dates back to Mahavatar Babaji who brought these ancient teachings from the dark ages into the light in the 1700’s. From this lineage is Paramhansa Yogananda, considered one of the greatest yogis of our time. Yagananda’s younger brother was Bishnu Gosh, who was Bikram’s teacher. 

LA: Who is this training for? I know some of our students are mulling it over and are a little worried that they may not even be able to get through the day. They’re concerned they are not advanced enough for the training. 

JB: We require at least 6 months of practice before entering the training, although we can be flexible on this. You don’t have to be an advanced practitioner: I’d say 70% of the teachers out there right now don’t have an advanced practice. You just need an understanding of where that advanced practice is. 

You don’t even need to want to teach. Some people just want to immerse themselves in the experience and find the personal growth. 

The teacher training is for anyone who wants to delve into the history of yoga, the subject of yoga, and explore it within their own practice and improve their own communication skills and find their own voice. 

One of the things I think I do best is help people find their own authentic voice. I help you find a pattern of speech that students can can listen to, and understand, and makes sense, and that helps you everywhere you’re public speaking.

LA: Yes, public speaking! I remember the comedian Jerry Seinfeld did a routine years ago on a poll that revealed people’s number one fear is public speaking and their number two fear is death. He said that means most people would prefer being in the casket to being the one giving the eulogy! 

JB: Funny you bring up Jerry Seinfeld because I taught Jerry Seinfeld yoga. He was a big Bikram  Yoga fan and when he came to Florida, he came into my studio looking for Bikram Yoga. 

LA: I like to think you helped Jerry Seinfeld find his authentic voice! Last question: tell us about your singing career! 

JB: I studied theatre at NYU. I first went to LA to pursue singing and then I met Bikram and my life turned upside down. Now I’ve come back to the singing and perform all over in all size venues. 

It’s really the same as teaching yoga:

It’s all about communication and connection. 

At Steamtown Yoga — Spring 2019

At Steamtown Yoga — Spring 2019

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