Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2019 issue.
Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies in Colorado Springs was born of community, and it’s palpable.
Lingering hugs and energetic conversations fill the space before and after classes. There’s a buzz, a vibe, a shared enthusiasm — especially when Jessica Patterson, owner and director, is teaching.
Yet, while Patterson is the heart of the center — “center,” a word she consciously chooses over “studio,” for its meaning as a place to ground oneself — it’s the community that serves as the pulse, the energy that makes it hum. It’s why Root exists.
“The community has always led my work,” Patterson says. “I taught for over a decade in the area before I opened Root. It was an opening of a space in response to cultivation of a community.”
Patterson opened Root in 2015. That came five years after students started asking her to provide her own teacher training, even though she already was guest teaching parts of training programs for three studios in the area at the time.
“Had I gone with my egoic, fragile personality, I would have said ‘No.’ I would have said, ‘Who am I to do this?’” Patterson says. “Over time it became, ‘Who am I not to respond ‘Yes’ when I’m being asked?’”
Patterson has offered her immersive seven-month-long RootEd Apprenticeship & Teacher Training annually for nine years now, with class sizes limited. From that organic beginning, Root took hold and continues to grow.
“[Root offers] a safe space for anyone to come to and explore yoga from so many different perspectives,” Patterson says, “and not just be delivered one method, but to get this idea that anybody can step in there.”
“I try not to be in the position of selling yoga, but creating a space where people can come and experience their yoga,” she adds.
With that inclusivity and experience in mind, Root offers a schedule of classes and workshops taught by teachers of varying approaches, seven days a week. Each teacher is empowered with autonomy to craft her or his own teachings.
Many teachers at Root incorporate elements of the broader spiritual practice of yoga, including mudras, mantras, pranayama and/or meditation practices along with asana.
There are classes in vinyasa, Iyengar and restorative yoga, among other methods. Some classes are taught by RootElders, those who have apprenticed through RootEd, and many by teachers who bring a range of training and experience from elsewhere.
“One way I’ve thought about it is, instead of running Root like a business, I run Root more like higher education,” Patterson says. “In higher education, you come in with a particular discipline, and within that discipline your job, ostensibly, is to publish your own unique body of work. Then the job of the one that runs the university, or whatever, is to support that, to encourage that.
“I’m not treating [teachers] like they’re employees, like they are there to do things exactly the way I think they should be done. I’m there to encourage teachers to develop their unique contributions to the ongoing conversations of yoga.”
Root Center for Yoga and Sacred Studies is located at 617 N. 17th St., Ste. 200 in Colorado Springs. More information is available at www.rootdownandgrow.com.
Photo by Christian Murdock.