A Shakti Grows In Harlem

A Shakti Grows In Harlem

by Jim Catapano

The Yoga Studio of inclusivity and empowerment needs your help to extend its branches.

Williamsburg’s ShaktiBarre is holding an online fundraiser to open a second space in Harlem, continuing their mission to bring holistic development to all, removing the prefix from underserved.

Besides being the only yoga-barre studio to date, ShaktiBarre’s mission is to “bring large numbers of women together to close gender gaps with accessible, sustainable wellness education.” Theirs is a community of inclusivity, abetted by sliding scale pricing and a focus on empowerment and shattering cultural ceilings.

The studio’s founders, Corinne Wainer and Shauny Lambda, raised over $22,000 from over 113 individuals to open the first ShaktiBarre in August 2016, and are aiming for $35,000 to open the Harlem location. At press time, they are 43% of the way with under 3 weeks to go.

“Last year we fundraised because a) we don’t come from money and b) we knew we had a powerful idea,” says Wainer. “A lot of prominent articles were saying that the yoga/wellness industry was very elite, but none of the articles were talking about what’s being done about it. In our minds, ShaktiBarre is one way of doing something about it.”

The duo knew that if they were to combat this elitism, they could not accept the assistance of the establishment that created that very divide. “It doesn’t make sense to say that we’re doing something about elitism, and then have really huge million-dollar investors be the way that we break into the industry. We’re very careful about that…we’re not taking donations from people we don’t feel are really aligned with us.”

Enter IndieGogo: “(For the first studio) we raised $22,659 from friends, family, and from people who were really interested in our story.”

This time around, the budget is higher due to the Manhattan locale; it is also required to qualify for a NYBDC Small Business Loan to really get things rolling. “We decided this will be the last fundraiser,” notes Wainer. “We think that two times is the charm!”

The sliding scale model that Shakti features ensures a community space for all. It can occasionally be found in yoga studios, but is largely unheard of in barre. “You don’t hear anything like this,” notes Wainer. “If you look at any barre [studio’s] website you’re going to mostly see advertising testimonials saying, ‘I feel toned,’ ‘never had a harder workout,’ and you go to the price list and it’s like $37 a class! No one else is doing this—though I hope they will!”

In addition to hosting 116 cultural events over its first year, ShaktiBarre is also the “big sister” to YoGirls, the Yoga and Mindful Literacy Initiative for Girls, a nonprofit which receives 10 percent of ShaktiBarre’s net profits. YoGirls is an afterschool program that combines yoga, meditation and journaling with a Harvard-designed mindful literacy curriculum. YoGirls will expand its reach along with its sponsor studio.

As Wainer attests, “Every single day is an opportunity to open up access for people to be educated.”

To donate, visit their Indiegogo fundraising page.


Jim Catapano has written over 300 articles about all things yoga, and hopes his love for the practice and community shows through all of them. He is also an actor, drummer with the Opposition band, creator of “The Dave Dimension” online comic,and professional social media snarker (for balance!). 

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