About Lisa Mae

I took my first hatha yoga class on the wrestling mat in the NYU gym in 1990 and never looked back, knowing I had found a connection to something that had been nagging me and thus missing up until then in my life. At the ripe old age of 17, I wandered onto the mat, then off the mat, but never wandered very far from the practice. I traversed the (very few, in those years) yoga studios of New York City and then many parts of Asia, searching for what would eventually become the practice that I love. I knew it was out there! 

Early on I was practicing Ashtanga, and I really thought that yoga was this strict, rigid thing that was just what you DID everyday, not something that you LOVED everyday. Later in my life, as the medicine became food, I would realize both were in fact true.

Then by some grace, the beginning seeds of the vine of bhakti yoga were planted in my life, and I felt interest percolating for the first time the yoga of devotion and service and love. It started to make sense of yoga. I learned to sing kirtan, to express my heart and prayers on the mat, and to work with my own noisy mind, directing it slowly toward service and softness. It accidentally leaked into my regular life. I was nicer, calmer, and more capable of seeing the good in people. I was 23 years old and ready to take the leap into committing my life to yoga. As it turned out, that was more complicated than I thought, and it was a bumpy road. I was still a big, ego-driven jerk, and had a long, long road ahead of me. But I never stopped practicing.

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I know that a long list of “I have studied with” is very boring to read. So please allow me to offer my gratitude to those that ignited a fire in me, busted my chops over and over, disciplined my willful and selfish early-20’s spastic egoic-maniac, and in general, saved my life.

Many thanks to my first teachers, Sharon Gannon and David Life, for wringing me out upstairs at the old purple Jivamukti Yoga Center on 2nd Avenue in New York in the early 1990’s. I would have given up long ago without submitting myself and my practice to the discipline they started to awaken in me. In the mid-90’s I did my Ashtanga training with Beryl Bender Birch, who really brought me face to face with myself time and again, forcing me into more and more honesty in my practice. I am forever grateful for her stern, honest, but loving approach to yoga. Iyengar Yoga made its appearance for me in the late 90’s at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Greater New York with Carolyn Christie and many others, where a further context for and meaning of discipline was given, time and again. These practices healed my shredded body, and gave me the pause I needed to move forward in yoga. Dana Flynn of Laughing Lotus showed up for me sometime around 1999, and she literally turned me inside-out. I had never practiced with such freedom, ecstatic grace, and deep soulful connection before her classes. She first changed my practice with the idea of moving like yourself, and Jasmine Tarkeshi from the Laughing Lotus in San Francisco is my soul sister on so many levels, continuing to surprise and delight my hatha yoga life as well.

These past five years or so I have been really inspired by the study of Therapeutic Yoga and its applications in an open, public class with the amazingly skilled Doug Keller, as well as the deeply challenging, transformational asana work of Christina Sell.  I adore the myofascial work/study of Tom Myers, and the anatomy genius of Gil Hedley in an anatomical nerd-out kind of way. My studentship is a constant project, and I aspire to continue to be a dynamic, changing, growing asana teacher.

On yoga’s deeper, more philosophical side, around 2006 and by my great good fortune, I read one of Swami B.V. Tripurari’s translations of The Bhagavad Gita. I was lucky enough to meet him personally in 2007, and have been leaning in closely to study under his guidance ever since. His wisdom, guidance, and loving realization of Bhakti yoga continue to illuminate the path for me. I seek to serve the grace of this great teacher that has offered his generous help by extending his hand to me.

I have been teaching in some form since 1995, and living in Portland since 2002. I believe in our own innate wisdom to move in a natural and healthy way in hatha yoga, but I do believe we need good guidance and we all need to learn how to listen better. Guided firmly by intelligence in anatomy, somatics, myofascial patterns, and asana, and aided by a sense of adventure in the wild landscape of the heart, yoga comes alive for us as a living, dynamic practice. Sharing this deep and profound practice is what I was born to do, and every day that I get to wake up and share yoga, I am infinitely grateful, and I am changed. I am honored and blessed to share my vision of a place where the discipline of the asana and the depth of the philosophy of yoga can come together in a real way, at The Bhaktishop Yoga Center. Thank you all for making it a reality, as well as a daily pleasure.