By Tali Minor
Forever a self-proclaimed fashion girl, Shayne Cohen—who ran Oxygene boutique (founded by her husband in 1983) for more than a decade—returns to the Shops with a weekly Vinyasa class. Here, we chat with Cohen about the power of our breath, harnessing our vital energy and how to add a little more flow into our daily lives.
Your Yoga series at Bal Harbour Shops brings things full circle, having run a very successful boutique, Oxygene, there for years. Can you tell us how you shifted your attention from fashion to Yoga?
For the last 30 years I have followed a very disciplined path of yoga. It has not always been my career, but rather an intrinsic part of my lifestyle. The same week we closed Oxygene, I left for India with one of my teachers and it was there that I saw clearly that I wanted to share my practice with others. Now, every time I begin my class inside Bal Harbour Shops, I get goose bumps. It is a place I hold so close to my heart. I cannot believe I am gathering our community and spreading my love for yoga and wellness in the same place that I called home for so many years. BHS has an enormously graceful energy that is certainly felt during our morning practice.
What can one expect from your class at Bal Harbour Shops?
What I am currently teaching at the Shops is a Power Vinyasa Yoga. I tend to attract students that crave a challenging practice, but I always offer modifications so that the class becomes accessible and enjoyable to all levels of practitioners. My primary goal is gathering in community, moving the body to release tension, synchronizing our breath to our movement and having a great time! Expect to sweat and move to the beat of some really good music, I must say, my playlists are very popular.
We always begin our practice with a few long OM’s and at times a sweet mantra to get grounded and acknowledge yoga as a sacred practice. After a vibrant set of sequences, class always ends with a sitting meditation of about 8 minutes. The practice is designed to stimulate the organs, glands, nervous system and move freshly oxygenated blood to the entire body as you release tension and simultaneously develop faith and intuition.
Can you share any of your favorite brands for movement, or athleisure, if you’d like?
I will forever be a fashion girl; I just cannot resist. Stella McCartney’s yoga gear is my all-time favorite.
You hold immersive retreats where one can take their practice to new depths. Can you share a little bit about what one can expect by joining Anahata.
My partner Adriana Vergara and I co-created Anahata Eco Yoga Retreats two years ago. We curate nature and wellness immersive experiences set in exotic destinations around the world, while creating environmental and ecological awareness. “Anahata” is the Heart Chakra where love, compassion and kindness are empowered. The Anahata Experience will open up your heart through the connection with nature, yoga, breath work, meditation, sound bath healing, chanting, kirtan, nature excursions, and wellness treatments that lead us to spiritual grounding through these holistic healing methods.
Due to the pandemic, we had to shift from abroad to a localized practice, which now includes monthly workshops on various holistic practices — including and our now famous “Breath & Ice Club” based on the Wim Hof method. Our Anahata Day Retreats have become very popular as well, and we plan on continuing these throughout the year. Our next event is the Sacred Drum Making Workshop on January 9th, which will be held at the beautiful Plant The Future in Miami. We will come together in ceremony to create our own drum, which is a beautiful and powerful process that works in connection with our heart. And I’m pleased to share that we have an upcoming international retreat planned for March in Barahona in the Dominican Republic.
What do you feel is the most beneficial part of a dedicated yoga practice?
The primary purpose of yoga is to move energy through the body. When our emotional arteries are blocked, when our heart is jammed up, our whole life lacks vitality. Feelings and emotions are physical manifestations of energy, and when they become suppressed that energy becomes toxic. Without release, it surfaces in lumps, tumors, migraines and other symptoms. It is the body’s job to keep the energy moving and the channels clear. When energy is moving, we feel spacious, expansive and free.
If there are one or two asanas we can do daily, what do you recommend?
A few Sun Salutations are guaranteed to help you find spaciousness in your physical and spiritual body. It stretches every muscle and connects each movement to your breath, as you move your body as a form of prayer to salute our primary source of light, the sun.
I cannot express enough the importance of inversions, meaning any asana in which the head is below the heart, (headstand, handstand, forearm stand). Inversions improve the circulation and provide the brain with more oxygen and blood. Getting the body upside down allows the lymphatic system to drain, which strengthens your immune system. I also love seeing how an inversion gives my students a sudden feeling of confidence, especially those who come to my class never imagining I can guide them to safely get themselves upside down. That being said, inversions are not recommended to those with particular conditions or injuries.
How important is breathwork to you and your practice? Could you elaborate a bit as to its benefits – especially in a time like this one?
Breathing will be the most important and challenging part of my practice. We all have experienced being challenged in life and the quality of our breath determines the difference between responding in a calm or agitated way. It is our role to master the nervous system and we do so through our breath. We must seek to master our energy, so we do not fall into the traps of unconscious reactions and triggers. The age of a proud Yogi is determined by the capacity of their lungs.