the evolution of yoga in the roaring fork valley: with shayne and river morgan
What was once passed from teacher to student is now accessible to the masses in many different shapes and forms.
Following yoga's path to and around the west is like looking at a very complicated family tree. One route starts with Krishnamacharya, The Father of Modern Yoga.
Traditionally, yoga was only taught to and practiced by men. Krishnamacharya reluctantly accepted a Russian Woman by the name of Indra Devi, as his first female student, alongside the great masters we know today, K. Pattabi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar.
Indra Devi moved to the U.S. and opened a yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. Once an actress herself, Indra's students included the likes of Gloria Swanson, Yehudi Menuhin, Pandit Nehru, Ben Gurion, Roman Navarro, Jennifer Jones, Greta Garbo and Robert Ryan.
Another defining moment for Yoga in the West occurred at the famous 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, when Sri Swami Satchidananda opened the festival with chanting and asana, addressing a crowd of approximately 500,000 people. View his address here.
Over the past 70+ years, yoga has not only become prevalent across the west, it is now an entire industry complete with festivals, yoga studios, clothing lines and celebrity yoga teachers.
Shayne and River Morgan have been actively participating in the evolution of yoga in the Roaring Fork Valley since the early 1980s, and they’ve experienced the shape shifting of a growing physical and spiritual practice first hand.
Shayne brought River to Aspen in 1980, the same year she started practicing yoga with Joann Connington, Iyengar-based, in a friend's home.
“I didn't start teaching until I had practiced with the same teacher for over 10 years (Joann Connington).” - Shayne Morgan
Born and raised in San Diego, Shayne was introduced to Yoga and Meditation in high school, when her Mother ventured up the coast to Paramahansa Yogananda's Hermitage and brought his book "Autobiography of a Yogi" and other texts home. When River was young, Shayne took her to Yogananda's Lake Shrine where children were taught meditation. Now River's children practice Yoga and Mindfulness: 4 Generations!
Shayne fell into teaching by default. One day she showed up for class and the teacher was absent. “Shayne, why don’t you teach us?” was the class consensus. Today, over 30 years later, Shayne is still teaching.
"Our first teachers taught from books and videos before there were certifications. Those teachers would take classes from the Master teachers whenever they were in the country. At the time, there was only one full-time teacher here, Joann Connington, and later Deborah Koehn and Anne Byard. As River and I both observed, we are as much students as teachers. It is an on-going process. After trainings, much is self-study and practice of asana, meditation techniques, anatomy and Yoga Sutras. Also after trainings, going to workshops with master teachers and conferences enhances one's teachings.” - Shayne Morgan
Shayne’s mother introduced her to the practice of yoga, and Shayne introduced River. Growing up in a yogi’s home, River naturally took to the practice and started teaching in 1991 at The Studio Aspen and The Grand Champions Club (now The Maroon Creek Club).
“Classes were simpler back then. Teachers were not inventing styles, they were simply teaching age old practices. It is amazing to see how yoga has grown and transformed over the years. It is beautiful to see how many teachers and studios and styles there are now.” - River Morgan
Their original teachers included the likes of Sarah Powers, Paul Grilley, Richard Freeman, Tvk Desikachar and Kausthub Desikachar, Nancy Gilgoff, in addition to those consistent in the valley.
"I love the simplicity of connecting to age-old lineages and being able to go right to the source. We were so fortunate to be around while Indra Devi, BKS Iyengar, TVK Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois were alive, not to mention Satchitananda, Ida Rolf, Moisha Feldenkrais. Among others.” - River Morgan
Today, River enjoys weaving Buddhist psychology and philosophy into her classes, teaching Insight Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga and Prenatal Yoga. She teaches mostly private sessions and occasionally for True Nature Healing Arts, Shakti Shala and River Valley Ranch.
The Roaring Fork Valley has seen a wide array of studios and teachers over the past few decades, Shayne and River are amongst the few links that tie the past with the present.
Today, AYS is continuously ignited and inspired by our ever growing community of yogis. Our ambassadors teach all throughout the valley and our partners provide space for practice and evolution. As we (the yoga community at large) continue to move forward in the practices and teachings, yoga's place in our lives also continues to expand and evolve. While it might be difficult to understand where it is going, a quote by K. Pattabhi Jois comes to mind:
"Practice, and all is coming."
Here's to our teachers, and our teacher's teachers. For with out one, we could not have the other.