I hope you enjoy this inaugural post in my "Spotlight on Portland" series, featuring The Bhaktishop Yoga Center, which is located at 2500 SE 26th Ave. in Southeast Portland. Lisa Mae Osborn, the owner/founder of the studio, generously shared with us the following information about her studio, its history, what style of yoga they teach, and more!

As a Portland area real estate agent, I strive to add value to visitors of my website and social media pages by providing useful and helpful real estate information, market updates, tips and tricks for buyers and sellers, and more. 

Additionally, I believe in the idea of building community and relationships whenever possible. I am hoping use my platform to help connect people to the many wonderful small businesses in town. No matter where you live in Portland, there are many amazing people in your close proximity that are working tirelessly to provide something special for you, something that they believe in, something that they have expertise and passion in. 

Please do check out the studio in person, if you haven't already! I've been there and can vouch for how nice of a studio it is to practice in, the teaching is great, and they "walk the talk" and are doing amazing things for the community!

Read to the bottom of the article to learn how to win a free 2-week introductory package!

1. I know the depth and breadth of yoga is immense, but can you give us a brief introduction to yoga and what the benefits are to those who practice it regularly? 

Yoga is a spiritual, holistic practice originating from India that gives specific directions for actualizing our fullest nature in transcendence. It is the same root word as the English "yoke." Two basic meanings are implied by this, which are to unite with, as in  the individual with the whole, and to place ourselves under discipline or training. So the word and practice of yoga is a method of training one's mind and body and heart, designed to lead to integration or union with divinity.

2. When did you open your studio, what was the motivation behind it and what makes your studio unique? 

When I opened the studio, I saw a need for a community that wasn't there yet. There was not a lot of philosophical discussion about the roots of yoga in town, and I wanted to try and fill that need. It's been nearly 12 years and things have changed quite a lot, though that does remain one of the main tenets of The Bhaktishop - teachers with strong ties to their own practices and teachers and that maintain a respect for and dedication to the wisdom of these practices at their origin. I think we are unique in that we specialize in small-class culture and intimacy, and celebrate each student as they are and why they might be drawn to yoga. We are also unique in that our teachers are incredibly well-trained in many disciplines beyond yoga, all of which inform their teaching in deep, reflective ways.

3. Is there a style or styles of yoga that you specialize in?

What if I said "the slow, introspective kind?" Because honestly that is what we do here. There is time for quiet reflecting and self-inquiry in every class, and there is no loud music to disrupt your quiet space. We take our time here, and truly take the time to educate about the physical aspects of the practice including anatomy and current science-based movement theory as it applies to the asana practice, as well as the breathing practices and meditation, chanting. We really take our time here, so that the practices are accessible to anyone and so that each person can come away with the healing they need to take themselves into whatever they are raising their hand to do in this life with their whole, complete heart. Or you could just call it "Hatha" yoga. We don't really care what its called, all our classes are just labelled "yoga".

4. Your website states that you are "striving for equity and inclusion". Can you tell us how that looks for you as a studio owner and what the Bhaktishop is doing to contribute to those ideals?

We have recognized over the years the sad state of exclusiveness of the yoga practices, and several years ago began asking ourselves "who is not here, and why not?" and beyond just hanging up a sign that says everyone is welcome, we really wanted to challenge ourselves to ask those questions about whether our space truly was welcoming and safe for all people, and whether we had the depth of understanding to make sure that this was true. As a community we have created a structure and strategy to build capacity in this arena, from deeply challenging and educating our staff in this type of anti-racist work to committing to give revenue to organizations that support people of color of all kinds, to training teachers of color and other underrepresented groups to teach yoga and hiring teachers and staff of color, to offering equity pricing to anyone in need that is experiencing income inequity. We host anti-racist trainings and workshops for the community and for the yoga teaching community in particular, and are really attempting to walk this talk day after day. We have a long, long way to go to realize what we have set out to do, and we make tons of mistakes all the time. Accountability for those mistakes matters to us, and we are grateful to be able to welcome the learning and discomfort that anti-racist work brings. 

5. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the yoga world today in Portland and/or the United States?

I think we as a yoga community (speaking for the white, cis-gendered, able-bodied majority of western yoga, that is) are coming face to face with a colonialist/settler history and the pain of cultural appropriation and racism. I think that work is deeply uncomfortable for so many and the popular ideas of appropriated yoga have just said that we can meditate or wrap it in love and light and it will go away but the truth is that if we are to make any progress at all as humans, as spiritual beings, and people that are attempting to practice what yoga teaches, we are going to have to stand up. "There is no such thing as love and light without truth and justice", as Layla Saad eloquently said. You can't even take the first step without it. And honestly, yoga posits a path to realization by way of the path of service, of serving humanity and fighting for justice. So this is a baseline step for us if we want to get to the love and light places that yoga offers. It's a huge task and it's long long long and hard hard hard but the fighting is worth it. And so we try to come together to stabilize ourselves for the work of true justice, heal where we must so that we can be whole as we move forward into this life, and practice to grow not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all beings and the un-doing of suffering and injustice in this life.

6. If people are interested in starting a yoga practice, how can they get started? 

There are lots of avenues to begin a practice at The Bhaktishop for the able-bodied. The best way is to show up to a Foundations 1 class and just dive in, which we offer multiple times a week. If there are physical adaptations that are necessary, we have a very gentle chair-based class that offers so much freedom to modify and adapt for all types of bodies on Tu/Th at 2pm. If there are barriers to access financially, we offer Equity pricing. If folks want to enjoy the relaxation benefits of meditation, restorative yoga and sound healing, we also offer classes like that twice as week as well as workshops on Ayurvedic medicine and wisdom, Beginners series and many more ways to start. Just start!

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BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR PORTLAND HOMES & LIFESTYLE FACEBOOK PAGE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE 2 WEEK INTRODUCTORY YOGA PACKAGE!

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Andy Harris is a Portland area real estate agent, who first started in real estate in 2004. If you are looking for buying or selling residential real estate help, don't hesitate to drop him a line at 503-504-2369 or andy@hometeamportland.com.

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If you are a small business owner and would like to be featured on this series, please contact andy@hometeamportland.com.