SHAUNY CORINNE JANE
You know what yoga and yoga-barre group classes typically are? Many things, but top on that list are affluent and very white. So Corinne Wainer and Shauny Lamba, cofounders of SHAKTIBARRE in Williamsburg, are working to change that. Through an array of holistic health classes (in-studio and in an actual classrooms, like with books, tables, and chairs), sliding scale prices, a café with an Ayurvedic menu, and upcoming programs for local public school youth, SHAKTIBARRE teaches yoga-barre classes with a focus on inclusivity and acceptance, and on empowering and reclaiming the feminine—important now more than ever—in all of us.
SHAUNY LAMBA

Since opening SHAKTIBARRE together last summer, your goal with your space was not just to provide yoga-barre fitness, but so much more: a welcoming environment where everyone belongs. How do you feel that mission has been going? Have you been pleased with the level of diverse engagement and interest?
I am humbled and honored everyday by the beautiful, supportive, and truly integrated community we are creating here at SHAKTIBARRE. Our mission to bring a sense of unity among people from all different backgrounds is ongoing. I love the openness to possibility people come to our space with. It is that energy that allows us to continue to strive to be better and continue to make health and wellness accessible to everyone.
On a fundamental and personal level, why do you feel yoga or yoga-barre fitness is not only a popular, but healthy approach to fitness? What does it offer and—with your classes in particular—what do you offer that is different than, say, a jog outside, or a session of weightlifting at the gym?
Yoga & Yoga-Barre is a mindful approach to fitness. It involves connecting your breath to movement, music, and each other in an uplifting and empowering way. It is less focused on competition and more focused on being the healthiest version of yourself by loving every part yourself. Our classes create a sense of community and connection to others by teaching students facing each other and by high five-ing each other after a set of push ups.
Because yoga’s message is so simple—being centered, breathing deep, connecting with ourselves and our chakras—why do you think it has been an uphill battle for the yoga community to make its practice a less-white space than it typically is?
I actually wouldn’t even say that the practice is in a “white space” or that it has been an uphill battle. There is still diversity in yoga, it’s just less accessible to people who have a lower income or live in lower income neighborhoods.  I believe it’s a socio-economic obstacle related more to the locations of studios and the cost of taking a class.
What has been your biggest challenge in starting SHAKTIBARRE?
Our challenges are always ongoing and ever changing but I would say one of the bigger ones is knowing and accepting that not everyone is ready to take on our approach to fitness. We have become so used to only engaging and connecting with people on social media, or restricting it to our group of friends, that our approach can seem different or “weird” to some.
What do you feel has been your biggest success?
Our biggest success is the community that has come together in our space, and who are now such important leaders in our mission. The events and workshops hosted by leaders in the wellness industry, our healers, teachers, and our culinary team are what make us a success!

Tell us about your personal favorite class or classroom experience at SHAKTIBARRE (the actual classroom, not the yoga studio).
One of our workshop leaders and our resident Reiki Master, Olivia Panella, was leading a workshop on intuitive self healing. As she was providing us with an opportunity to create powerful intentions for ourselves, I looked around the room and felt so honored to be able to be a part of a space that brings together such powerful, diverse, and creative women.

What is your favorite item on your current menu?
Definitely the lavender honey steamer! This has also become a favorite by many who regularly order from our cafe. It’s a unique and delicious blend of herbal and sweet flavors that is warm and nourishing. I love that we have so many caffeine free alternatives that are supportive to our health.
What does the future of SHAKTIBARRE hold?
SHAKTIBARRE is growing and building its community every day. We are focused on building our local partnerships and community in Brooklyn now but definitely have plans to eventually expand!
Who would you nominate for this list?
Our Reiki Master Olivia Panella has created a really strong presence and influence with her company Uma Gaia. She operates a part of her business out of our space but she has created her own community!
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CORINNE WAINER
Since opening SHAKTIBARRE last summer, your goal with your space was not just to provide yoga-barre fitness, but so much more: a welcoming environment where everyone belongs. Have you been pleased with the level of diverse engagement and interest?
Since launching in August, we have absolutely seen a range of amazing individuals co-create our SHAKTIBARRE community. Opening weekend we hosted Vibrational Medicine and Hey Fran Hey and a group of over 30 women from Harlem as well as Connection Coalition—the nonprofit based out of Miami that brings yoga to marginalized youth across the country. Just a few weeks later we hosted a special yoga classe with Moishe House and then a Jewish holiday event with Base BKLYN.
From these efforts, we see people from starkly different races and religions taking our Wednesday and Friday Kundalini classes, students who come to our barre classes later asking us to help them throw fundraisers for Planned Parenthood and Fit 4 All, and post-class talks and gatherings addressing diversely opinionated topics such as the election, abortion, and transgender rights. The encouragement towards our inclusivity mission really starts in class, where we thoughtfully choose our language and focus around, “meeting people where they are, and going from there—together.” At just 6 months old, we are far from hardcore subverting exclusive wellness industry statistics to the high-vision level we desire, but we are well on our way and currently coming up with a measuring system to track our progress!
On a fundamental and personal level, why do you feel yoga or yoga-barre fitness is not only a popular, but healthy approach to fitness? What does it offer and—with your classes in particular—what do you offer that is different than, say, a jog outside, or a session of weightlifting at the gym?
Our signature SHAKTIBARRE classes tone, lengthen, and awaken your body and mind in our unique yoga-barre workout combining isometric ballet movements with vinyasa flow, chakra activation, and empowering meditation. Combining yoga and barre is an idea stemming from a few goals. One goal is to increase oxygen uptake and decrease the secretion of stress hormones that can happen in a lot of mega-intense fitness workouts. By pairing barre moves with yogic breathing, our students balance their bodies internally and externally. Vinyasa also stretches the muscles that contract vigorously during a barre workout, so our students leave feeling stronger as well as opening the body to softly heal and recover. In addition, with boutique workouts becoming increasingly trendy, exclusive, and overpopulated, we feel a responsibility to re-create connection to self and others during said classes—which the yoga enables us to do seamlessly and gorgeously. SHAKTIBARRE classes are a work-in and workout. They are a movement within movement. They are an embodiment of your body. They celebrate your being while doing.
Because yoga’s message is so simple—being centered, breathing deep, connecting with ourselves and our chakras—why do you think it has been an uphill battle for the yoga community to make its practice a less-white space than it typically is?
I’m still observing this but I believe the answer has something to do with intentionality. To become the mega-business it is, yoga has been re-appropriated in thousands of ways. While I am not opposed to putting a modern spin on ancient teachings, I advocate that spin be one from a place of authenticity. For example, if we just wanted to make money we could have our SHAKTIBARRE classes all over the place, but we feel it wouldn’t be right to put them anywhere that did not function as a home to deeper community and learning. We want trend and grassroots to become the new normal. We want coexist to be the most used hashtag. In short, the industry as a whole has lost the service-based element of yoga—typical of ashrams and traditional student-teacher relationships—in favor of treating yoga like a hot commodity useful only for fame and profitable branding.
What has been your biggest challenge in starting SHAKTIBARRE?
Thus far, SHAKTIBARRE’s biggest challenge has been getting the word out! With the activism element, you can imagine our team is largely on-site with our sleeves rolled up in something impactful and often time-sensitive. It is a tough balance between just posting on Instagram, which has our night classes filling up past capacity so we have had to add more, and saving the posts and such for another day while having meaningful conversations with the students from NYU who came in search of a safe and productive outlet after the election. That being said, we are both incredibly excited and humbled by the thought of having a marketing team one day. All we want to do is share this special gift with everyone! As we look to build more locations, my biggest wish is that we never lose sight of that intimate, original goal of helping each neighborhood we grow with.
What do you feel has been your biggest success?
Our biggest success has been the way this space inspires others to transform their lives for the better. They thank us all the time, and we consciously remind them that it is not us, it is them! They are the ones showing up for class and healthy lattes and empowerment events. They are the ones taking ownership of their greatest fears and most vibrant wishes. We also have an increasingly popular joke at SHAKTIBARRE, where we have seen a handful of individuals quit their day jobs to pursue a dream closer to their hearts—often entrepreneurial and world-changing in nature!
Tell us about your current endeavor with YoGirls (which you founded!)—what is its aim and have you been able to enroll and sponsor young girls from area schools at SHAKTIBARRE?
YoGirls has been running for years in small pockets of schools all over the world, actually, but the goal is to re-scale starting from our own location: SHAKTIBARRE! With all the responsibilities of opening a studio, we decided to wait until Fall 2017 to support our first official class here. We are currently presenting to 10 local schools, with the vision being that 7-11th graders from each of these places of learning will experience YoGirls via our NYU interns. The 12th graders will receive a free program here at SHAKTIBARRE! We have no doubt that once we fundraise for YoGirls 2017, we will have the same success enrolling our new cohort of girls—and we are even more confident in the impact of our sister non-profit now that she has a home-base!
Tell us about your personal favorite class or classroom experience at SHAKTIBARRE (the actual classroom, not the yoga studio).
Oh there are too many to choose from! I really can’t choose just one but I can tell you this: my favorite moments are when people cry. Of course I don’t want people feeling sad all the time so don’t get me wrong, but I do want people to feel safe to be themselves. That is the number one thing we hear from all our students, that they feel safe, loved, and motivated. And there are many breakthroughs and accompanying tears along the way. I cry at least twice a day for sure.
What does the future of SHAKTIBARRE hold?
The future of SHAKTIBARRE looks like more of them! Our Brooklyn spot will always be the Mothership if you will, and future studios will be slightly smaller so that rent will stay affordable enough for us to offer sliding scale prices to those who qualify. We are currently accepting suggestions for where to build next!
Who would you nominate for this list?
For this list, I nominate Lisette Cheresson, a woman who has relentlessly gone out of her way to teach with integrity, support other local women-owned businesses, and is a powerhouse all her own at Wanderlust!

Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.

Photo by Jane Bruce