Yoga Collective seeks to bring accessibility and empowerment to women and girls of all backgrounds

March 30, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Bringing together yoga, empowerment and accessibility, SHAKTIBARRE is aiming to be the women’s collective NYC is missing. ‘Yoga Dork’ pal Jenn Pesce checked in with co-founder Corinne Wainer on the new initiative and the importance of accessible, affordable, and sustainable options for women and girls of all backgrounds.

 

Jenn: Paying homage to our previous interview, in 140 characters, describe your vision of SHAKTIBARRE.

Corinne: SHAKTIBARRE is the first yoga-barre studio actively empowering women from every cultural and socioeconomic background.

 

One of the main goals of SHAKTIBARRE is to make yoga and barre accessible to more minority groups. With Brooklyn a smorgasbord of cultural flavors, who do you hope to reach out to with the studio?

First a little wordplay on “minority”—the “minority” are yogis who can actually attend the average studio (77% of yogis are white and about 44% of them make over $75,000 annually). SHAKTIBARRE is opening doors to the majority! Two main groups already embracing our studio are the 39% of us below poverty in South Williamsburg, and Hispanics representing wayyy more purple in this graph than one might assume given common hipster-stereotypes. We’re also receiving many warm welcomes from Hasidic women, practicing and growing right along with their Crown Heights sisters.

 

With sliding scale classes, what is the min and max per class?

SHAKTIBARRE classes range anywhere from $8 to $30 (to free for interns and youth). Even the higher price point is more manageable compared to the $33 boutique fitness classes we’ve seen in our area. We know, given positive community responses, that our mission is emphasized by the fact our YoGirls Program for at-risk girls. How can toning, lengthening, meditating, and closing the gender equality gap—and doing it affordably—on a Saturday morning not make your day? It feels incredible, and honestly like a no-brainer, bringing a proven accessibility model to more yoginis.

 

 

 

With a classroom full of students who can only afford the minimum, will you be able to keep the doors open?

YES! This answer is about to take things to a whole new chakra. So, rent does seem to be one of the main reasons holding studios back from being more affordable and we get that. Our commitment to sustainable wellness for women from every spectrum, combined with New York real estate prices, inspired us to create two additional rooms. One is an organic cafe and workspace. Our wellness education room is the other, and definitely dearest to my heart. Not only is it home to YoGirls from 3-5pm, we’re lining up events with (to name a few) Art of Attention, The Wellness Project NYC, and Munrratica.

 

Snack break…let’s talk food. Do you have any food and beverage partners to help fuel hungry students?

SHAKTIBARRE wants you to sit, nourish, and collaborate with other powerhouse females. We’ve witnessed one too many women injured from drive-by coconut water throwing while rushing out of savasana. We just officially partnered with WanderNosh, and are in initial talks with other local companies. Now is a good time to join our #soulfamily. We’re currently taking flavorful recommendations.

 

 

With the intention for SHAKTIBARRE to fully sponsor YoGirls, how many students are you planning to enroll?

 

 

Thank you for always asking the most important questions. We’re meeting with Democracy Prep Charter Schools and Harvest Collegiate High School to discuss potential enrollment of 1,400 students starting in September. In fact, I was just crunching numbers/dreaming bigger yesterday and we’ll impact 235,000 girls in the next 5 years if we expand. I’ll have to consult Shauny Lamba on that one however, since she keeps things in line around here (as the talented Co-Founder and Left Brain of SHAKTIBARRE). YoGirls also works with Dr. Joshua Aronson’s lab at NYU to keep our mindfulness research current, measurable, and proactive.

 

How can other yogis and supporters of the community help you make this vision a studio?

In the past 24 days we raised over $13,000 for our vision. Right now, the most helpful action to take is to donate to our indiegogo campaign. Elena Brower, Claudia Chan, Anna Sward, Carolyn Rodz, Daphne Cheng and many other esteemed friends of ours are on board, supporting us via contributions and/or social media posts. We’re excited to see those thousands of likes turn into donations! Why? Because monetarily giving means the wellness community together must flow from talking about change to creating change. Why else? Because we just acquired an angel investor for the rest once we reach $14,000.

Another option is to attend our benefit event at Exhibit C on March 31st. Linda Sparrowe is our keynote speaker—talk about absolute goddess!

 

Final thoughts?

All of us here at SHAKTIBARRE want to express our sincere gratitude to anyone taking time to read this. You are respected, appreciated, uplifted, and heard by us right back. We are together in this—an avant-sisterhood, if you will—inviting you to envision a space to enjoy our favorite yoga and barre classes, grab a healthful snack, stay for life-changing workshops, and empower our daughters on a tangible level—literally right next door! We need a new word for “studio.” A women’s collective! SHAKTIBARRE WOMEN’S COLLECTIVE.

 

 

This article was first published in Yoga Dork

 

 

 

 

Corinne Wainer

Corinne Wainer is an educational psychologist and registered yoga teacher in New York. As director of YoGirls Program and CEO of SHAKTIBARRE Women’s Collective, Corinne works actively and purposefully to empower women’s wellness education.

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