JAYA Academy for Graceful Warriors
Welcome to Shakti's newest addition and long-awaited youth branch.
Our mission is to nurture mind and body harmony starting at a young age.
This is reflected in the programs we offer, our teaching philosophy,
our language and the environment we create during training sessions.
We understand the privilege and responsibility we have as educators and role models in your children's lives. We are here to support parents and caregivers by offering programs that encourage the innate qualities of compassion and mindfulness
present within all children. May they guide actions and decisions as they grow
and step deeper into self-awareness.
It is our hope that through JAYA we create a community of individuals who realize that all the good they willingly choose to cultivate will enriches their lives, their immediate community and go way beyond - serving a greater purpose!
A Note from the Founder
I'm always curious to know how the things come about and if you're
the same way, then you might like to share the story behind JAYA .
It was motherhood that pushed me to make this official, however the
vision for this youth academy is close to 20-something years old. Around
the time I began working at the public schools in Minnesota. As a teaching
artist and site coordinator I worked with a few middle schools in the
Twin Cities and developed arts & wellness programs for
after school enrichment. Some of my favorite programs included
Youth Power, Girl Power, Arts & Social Justice, Kids Yoga, Cooking Club
and Youth in Business. Along with a close friend and creative collaborator
who also worked at the Youth Center, we found as many opportunities
as we could to give young students (many of whom identified as immigrant or refugee) exposure to inspiration. We brought in professionals with non-traditional careers whose work reinforced the notion of being true to who you are and being the change we strive to see. We had poets, musicians, rappers, writers, actors, to name a few, come through and lead special workshops - all essentially sharing the same message in a way, "hey, we know it isn't easy, but you can be exactly who you are and make a difference in the world."
As I reflect on my early days as a teacher, I see now that it's something I really needed to hear as a young person and perhaps it's why it felt like my mission to make sure the message was repeated for my kids. Even if they didn't know they needed to hear it at the time, it would be there when they did. It was around this same time that I decided to formally pursue my dream of of being a dancer. Alongside my work with youth, I sought and received continued training in Hatha Yoga; formal training in Bharata Natyam (classical Indian dance), Kalaripayattu (Indian Martial arts) and modern/contemporary dance. It was such a rewarding experience as movement, teaching and my own practice grew - they became intertwined in a way that felt nothing but natural.
I owe so much to all of my experiences, both personal and professional, to my students, my teachers, and my colleagues. I am especially grateful for the circumstances that have come my way to remind
me of what it is I/ we no longer need in our world.
This is the true catalyst for change.
As a parent of a young child it's easy to start listing what all is wrong in the world but rather than just sit here and accept it as the way things are - I decided to call those things "supercharged motivating factors".
It's a call to us as parents, educators and caregivers to use these motivating factors to step up and show our children and teens that opposite of all of those seemingly wrong things can also exist;
that other realities are possible.
I am quite certain that we can create the world we truly want if more of us come together to put our hearts & minds to it. I am also very clear that it begins with tending to ourselves first.
We must tend to our thoughts, our language, our intentions and our actions.
Hence, the official launching of JAYA
All the programs offered are iterations of what I have learned and gathered over the years as a teacher and practitioner. These ancient arts such as yoga , Kalaripayattu and classical Indian dance hold incredible value for self-development and growth at any age. It's my intention to keep teaching and sharing this knowledge in a way that honors the roots of the tradition while adapting them for our modern lives. They must feel accessible for our young students.
Now after reading all of this, you must be thinking that I have big goals, and yes, I agree with you. I also feel very much at peace knowing that we will begin where we are and slowly, slowly get to the place we all wish to be... and most importantly, I intend for all of us to enjoy the process. After all, it's the journey that matters the most.
Founder & Academy Director