about sahaja spirit
Sahaja Spirit crystalized in March 2015 on retreat in Big Sur, California with my teacher, Shiva Rea. One day, Shiva encouraged us to journey into the wild and find a sacred object in nature. I ventured to the beach in hopes of finding a treasure. On the walk back feeling discouraged that I had not yet found an amazing shell or feather, a brownish-yellow piece of seaweed stopped me in my tracks. While it was not shiny or majestic, its delicate, circuitous intricacy caught my eye and spoke to my heart. I heard my inner teacher say, "see, nature moves in circular pathways." This strand of seaweed blessed my whole meandering life path as moving the way nature moves - adventuring out and returning home. Even the pods on the seaweed were meaningful as potent life changing events along the way. The lesson inherently inside of this dried up piece of seaweed is the essence of Sahaja Spirit - trust the currents that shape you and your journey, they will bring you to the shore on which you will find your Self.
Carson Efird, MFA, E-RYT 500, RPYT, YACEP, is a dancing yogini living in Durham, North Carolina. An enthusiastic student and teacher of Prana Vinyasa® Flow yoga, the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® Method and Emergent Improvisation, Carson is inspired by nature, evolutionary Vinyasa, circular pathways, modern dance, somatics, Tantra, Ayurveda, Bhakti, her teachers, Shiva Rea, Juliu Horvath and Susan Sgorbati, and the Sahaja Spirit - the spontaneous flow of consciousness.
Since completing her Prana Vinyasa® certification in 2009, she joyfully serves as an assistant and affiliate teacher trainer for Shiva Rea’s Samudra Global School for Living Yoga. Carson directed affiliate Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Trainings for EVOLVE Movement in Raleigh, NC and UCLA Summer Institutes in Los Angeles, CA from 2012-16; she served as Yoga Program Director for EVOLVE from 2014-16; and, taught yoga for UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance from 2011-13. She teaches locally throughout the Triangle and travels nationally as a guest teacher and artist in studios, teacher trainings, colleges, universities and festivals.
In 2013, Carson earned her MFA in Dance from UCLAʼs Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance researching points of intersection between dance and theater. As a collaborative choreographer, Carson’s interdisciplinary inquiry cultivates impulse driven interactive movement that integrates the holistic practice of yoga as a rehearsal ritual for performers. Carson received her BA in dance and theater in 2005 from Bennington College, Bennington, VT, where she served as Recent Graduate Trustee on the Board of Trustees from 2005-07. It was at Bennington where Carson met and studied Emergent Improvisation with Susan Sgorbati and toured nationally with the Emergent Improvisation Project post-graduation. It was also at Bennington where Carson met Joe Westerlund, her collaborator in life, and movement and sound.
Most recently, Carson completed her GYROTONIC® Level 1 Foundation Training after apprenticing for a year and teaching private clients and small group sessions at EVOLVE. She looks forward to expanding her Gyrotonic practice by studying with founder, Juliu Horvath in the near future.
Joe Westerlund is a percussionist, composer and improviser who has most notably worked with Megafaun, Califone, William Tyler, Arnold Dreyblatt and Justin Vernon, among a diverse list of creators of sound and song.
While studying with avant-garde jazz luminary Milford Graves, Joe began collaborating with choreographers, and has since composed music for modern dance and film. He has worked closely with dance faculty at Bennington College, UCLA, NCSU and Meredith College; and, regularly accompanies Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga classes with his wife, Carson Efird. For movement-based collaborations, Joe employs a minimal improvisatory approach and a solo vocabulary that draws from characteristics of non-western indigenous musics, as well as western art music and popular forms.
In 2014, Joe released his first recording as a solo artist under the alias Grandma Sparrow, in collaboration with Spacebomb Productions. After relocating from Los Angeles in 2015, he released Mojave Interlude, a piece built largely from electronically manipulated percussion, on Northern Spy Records. Joe now continues his work as a session/touring musician out of Durham, NC. Learn more at joewesterlund.com.
Conni Sithes is a student and teacher of Prana Flow. an energetic, creative, full-spectrum approach to embodying the flow of yoga cultivated by Shiva Rea. In her playful, dynamic practice that is invigorating and grounding, Conni awakens a deeper awareness of core strength both physically and energetically. In 2007, she completed her 200 hour teacher training at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. In 2011, she completed her 300 hour teacher training with Shiva Rea.
The culmination of a lifetime of fitness and embodying the energy of nature has merged with the playful practice of Prana Flow. The opportunity to assist Maria Garre and Carson Efird in their teacher training programs has allowed Conni to dive deeper into the embodiment of Prana Flow. Always searching for the opportunity to open student’s perspectives, Conni has created a sanctuary that encompasses all aspects that mother nature has to offer with hiking, kayaking sunrise meditation and yoga. Learn more at: yogablyss.com.
Katie Johnson, E-RYT has been student of Prana Vinyasa yoga since 2007. In 2010 she completed Evolve's Vinyasa Flow Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training with Carson Efird, and in 2014 received certification in Prana Vinyasa with Carson at Evolve Movement in Raleigh, NC. Katie serves as a faculty member of the Prana Vinyasa Affiliate Teacher Training program with Carson and interns with Shiva Rea's Samudra School of Living Yoga. She enjoys offering the practice in group, private, and retreat settings across the country - especially in her thriving small-town community of Pittsboro, NC. Always humbly grateful to Shiva Rea, the creative fire keeper of Prana Vinyasa, and the global tribe of teachers, mentors, and peers, Katie continues to grow and expand her knowledge of creative movement and living in sync with nature. Learn more at wildflowersoulyoga.com.
Stacey L. Kirby
Stacey L. Kirby, Prana Flow Certified RYT-200, is an interdisciplinary artist who combines her creativity, love of community and yoga practice on + off the mat and throughout the world. Her love affair with yoga began at YogAsana South in Raleigh with Carson Efird. She has had the wonderful opportunity to study with Shiva Rea (the seed center of Prana Vinyasa Flow), Maria Garre and Coral Brown and many other fabulous yoga teachers in the NC. Her art and yoga practices have continued to blossom and intertwine throughout the past 11 years guiding her to finally dive into her 200-hr Prana Flow certification in 2014. Her exploration of her passion for yoga and art revealed a yearning to offer classes that integrate both loves into one experience! Stacey has an immense gratitude for the support that her community has offered her. She looks forward to sharing her passion through classes combining art-making and yoga! Stacey offers an insight into her artwork at her website: www.stacey-kirby.com.
Kirby will be an artist-in-residence at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC in Sept/Oct of 2017. She is a recipient of ArtPrize’s Juried Grand Prize (2016), the NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship for Visual Artists (2014-15) and an Indies Arts Award from the Independent Weekly (Durham, NC) for her participation in the BAIN Project (2009). Kirby has also been awarded artist residencies throughout the U.S. including the Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA), the Atlantic Center for the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, FL) and Artspace (Raleigh, NC). She is also a recipient of grants from the Durham Arts Council and the United Arts Council of Wake County.
Shannon, RYT 200, began practicing yoga in 2006, and it has been an essential part of her life ever since. She felt an instant connection to the peacefulness that came along with her first class, and she soon found that a regular practice made a difference off the mat as well, influencing the way she perceived and interacted with the world. She knew yoga was something that she wanted to live, practice and understand on a deeper level. And so the lifetime journey began!
Shannon completed the 200-hour Prana Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training under the guidance of Carson Efird and developed by master teacher Shiva Rea, and she is a member of Yoga Alliance. She is currently pursuing her 500-hour certification, traveling to California several times a year to study directly with Shiva in her global school of living yoga. Shannon has taken additional trainings in Kids Yoga, Supported Yoga and Yoga for Seniors.
Shannon splits her time teaching in her hometown of Raleigh, NC and her adopted town of San Pedro, Belize, where she spends several months a year. While in Belize, she plans yoga retreats that combine her two passions, yoga and travel, and she is developing both US and international retreats. Learn more at belizetravelandyoga.com.
Jordan Maxwell is a lover of life and seeks out yoga as a practice that deepens that love in every way possible. She discovered her practice very young and began her formal studies as a yoga instructor when she was just seventeen. Her teachings are deeply inspired by her beloved teachers Carson Efird and Shiva Rea with whom she studied Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and her current teacher of ayurveda and yoga therapy, Maria Garre. She received her Bachelors of Health Science degree in nutrition dietetics from Appalachian State University and gained an understanding of how to integrate her eastern studies in the western world. As humans are a part of nature, she sees it only logical to live in balance with nature and learn how to better understand it to improve our state of health so that love and joy may see no obstacles and shine from the soul.
Julee Snyder, E-RYT 500, LMBT # 5044, is a licensed massage therapist, a master EmbodiYoga® teacher, certified pilates instructor, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner and a certified practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. With 25 years of dance experience, 23 years of yoga practice, and more than 3,000 hours of therapeutic study, Julee brings to her work an embodied exploration of anatomy, a clear articulation of alignment and movement principles, a playful curiosity, and a deep love and compassion for the journey.
Julee has been teaching anatomy in teacher trainings since 2004. Her embodied approach invites a deepening of one’s relationship with our personal structure — which both deepens one’s personal practice and allows the budding teacher to better see and find appropriate cues and assists. Julee is honored to join the Sahaja Spirit Prana Vinyasa YTT faculty. Learn more at juleesnyderbodywork.com.