A Goodbye to the Swan River Shala

Swan River Yoga opened its first studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans in 2008, one year before I first came to NOLA and two years before I began wintering here. Founder Michele Baker and co-owner Keith Porteous poured their hearts into creating a sacred space for the community to practice yoga, attend events, and grow spiritually.

Since those auspicious roots, the community at Swan River has blossomed. Swan River expanded into three additional locations, began teacher trainings, and has become one of the best known and most loved studios in the city. Last year Swan River opened in Mid-City, at a location know known as the Mandir, which has three floors filled with various rooms and opportunities. As the Mandir's popularity increased it became apparent that it was time to leave the Shala.

Last night Keith Porteous taught the final class at the Shala, and the room was full of appreciative yogis. Aaron Lind, Mary Glackmeyer, Joseph Stein and myself all showed up to give loving adjustments. Keith's dharma talk used the metaphor of a spaceship that uses tremendous energy to leave the stratosphere and then is able to coast in space. Swan River is now coasting along without the Shala booster, with all of us yogi astronauts floating beyond gravity. Keith carried the metaphor throughout the class, at times talking about getting searched at the spaceport and eating dehydrated astronaut food.

In this year that promises to be a year of transformations, it was a class full of sweet memories and letting go. It was so wonderful to see all the people that showed up, to assist along side some of my favorite teachers and holy beings, and to work in a little bit of photography amidst a room full of arms and legs that I had to jump over and duck under.