Shanti Om – Portland Oregon

As I drove through the Oregon gray misty weather toward the airport, I kept repeating to myself Shanti Om, Shanti Om, Shanti Om! I’d just finished a Hatha yoga class at Shanti OM – a yoga studio in the St. James neighborhood of Northern Portland and I’m feeling the peaceful after affects of my practice.

It was hard to focus on the sights and sounds around me: beautiful bridges, slow moving trains and the Columbia River outside my window. All I could think about was the class I had just attended and how it had affected me. There is a lot that goes on during practice and it’s not all Asana. Being aware of our thoughts and how our bodies feel are important components of a yoga practice.

I flew into Portland 4 days prior weighed down by a wagon load of stress. My Grandmother had just died, the airplane tickets were expensive, I had to put my job on hold, I would be away from my guy for the duration and I was worried about family stresses. It was a lot. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through but hoped to make it to at least one yoga class over the course of the weekend.

Ashley Conger has been teaching on and off for about three years and usually teaches the prenatal classes at Shanti Om. It was fun to watch her demonstrate the poses with her baby bump proudly on display. This is Ashley’s second baby. It was during her first pregnancy that she discovered how compatible yoga is with the process of pregnancy and giving birth. After becoming certified to teach yoga she decided to also become a Doula so that she could assist other women make this life changing transition.


Ashley’s manner is very calm and comforting. As she stood in front of the Golden Ganesh painted on the studio wall and led us through the poses I wondered why I was having such a hard time relaxing. I should have been able to walk in and melt onto the floor. Yoga is usually my therapy, my meditation and my church. But I was distracted. I wanted to move faster, breathe faster, work harder and maybe even break a sweat.


When I am upset, angry, frustrated or emotional I clean or organize or walk or do something active. It keeps my mind from running in circles and worrying the problem to the bone. But my lesson today – the lesson about grief, mourning and the stress that accompanies a sad family get-together was that I needed to slow down, take time to breathe deeply, let go of the worry and remove the obstacles to Shanti OM – remove the obstacles to Peace.

I finally got there toward the end of class. I left feeling peace and grace and gratitude. Thank you Shanti Om and thank you Ashley. Grandma would have loved yoga! 🙂


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