Shakti Yoga provides stress-free environment for yogis

A new semester comes with a myriad of stressors for college students. It can be incredibly taxing trying to balance not only academics and social activities, but also budgeting time to take care of one’s own personal health and happiness. Fortunately for Geneseo students, Shakti Yoga studio offers a space to cultivate a positive sense of self. Located right near campus on 2 School St., Shakti Yoga studio was founded by co-owners and directors Angela Caplan ‘74 and adjunct lecturer in dance Jacki McCausland. Caplan said that during both of their times as undergraduates at Geneseo––she studied theater and McCausland studied dance––the two became close friends and sought to open a space to celebrate their shared love for dance.

After opening up the still-running Valley School of Dance at 63 Main St. in 1982, the pair expanded their offerings to include yoga in 1986 with the formation of Shakti Yoga. Caplan said that she first started practicing yoga in college when she assisted a professor in teaching it in a maximum security prison.

“I said, ‘Wow, this is really powerful stuff,’” she said.

Named after the Hindu word for divine feminine energy, Shakti Yoga remained at 63 Main St. until 2004 before permanently moving to its current location in December 2014. Caplan noted that her husband, Barry Caplan––founder of Sundance Books––actually owned the property of the 2 School St. location. When she attended Geneseo, the location was occupied by Gentlemen Jim’s Bar.

Caplan emphasized that the personal benefits gained from yoga are especially important in today’s culture.

“In this day and age, the pace of life is fast. And that’s great––there’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of good stuff going on,” she said. “But how do we pace ourselves in the midst of it all? … Yoga helps us to be centered and to stay calm and quiet within ourselves, and then we can make choices that are nurturing and supportive of what we really want in life.”

For beginning yoga students who feel intimidated by the extremely experienced and flexible “wet noodle” students, Caplan encouraged them to remember that yoga is about embracing one’s own personal physical and psychological journey.

“It’s about finding that the source of your happiness … is inside us. We can be on our mat –– even if it’s crowded and there’s 15-20 mats in here, you’re with yourself,” she said. “Get out of the mindset that you’re competing with anyone, even yourself. You’re just being with yourself––we learn to accept ourselves.”

This idea of self-acceptance and kindness is a crucial cornerstone of the teaching at Shakti Yoga. Caplan encourages her student teachers to teach from that perspective that “we’re a community and we’re here to support each other.”

Addressing the sometimes notoriously expensive nature of yoga classes, Caplan explained that the studio aims to be accommodating, especially to students. Geneseo students receive a 50 percent discount on singular classes, class cards for five or 10 classes or the option of an unlimited semester of classes for $100.

To further encourage students to take time for their personal physical and mental wellbeing, Shakti Yoga will also be offering a new combination yoga and dance class entitled “MOVE” class starting Sept. 16, featuring adjunct instructor of dance studies Deborah Scodese-French ‘85.

“There’s something for everyone,” Caplan said.