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Whole Heart Yoga Fort Worth | WHY FW

 

Pema Chodron writes, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” We awaken gradually. And thank Goodness we do not awaken to everything all at once because it would be too overwhelming. If you’d told me twelve years ago of all the changes yoga would accompany me through, I might have thought twice about stepping on a mat.

When I began practicing yoga, I was in an abusive marriage that was not working. Meanwhile, I was working as a cocktail waitress at a bar. I drank sauvignon blanc regularly for breakfast and vodka for dinner. I smoked a cigarette before class and another one immediately after. I was a senior in college, taking 21 hours to complete my degree in education. Panic attacks brought me to my knees most days.

These were the muddled circumstances under which yoga slowly and quickly transformed me and my life. That was 2004. I left that marriage in 2008. I went to yoga teacher training in 2011. I got sober – for what I hope is the final time – in 2013.

I had access to yoga through the campus recreation center and the two yoga studios on my side of town. I had health insurance (it was the psychiatrist who recommended yoga to me). I had enough cash in my pocket for the $20 drop-in.

But, what if I hadn’t had access?

I shudder to think.

What might have happened?

Where would I be?

Yoga threw me a life vest when I was content to sink. I was hooked instantly. I knew the first time I rolled up a borrowed mat that I couldn’t wait to do that again. I felt alive. Each class armed me with more strength and hope. I kept coming back until I wanted to live, even when I wasn’t on my mat.

As a teacher, I strive to pay forward the gifts that yoga’s given me. Through giving, we receive. And, in addition to the physical strength, emotional healing, and spiritual experiences that yoga has given me, yoga has also afforded me a career and life beyond my wildest dreams.

Last year I attended Off the Mat, Into the World Leadership Training, and an ethically charged debate arose about yoga pants. One woman who was there on scholarship began to cry and then vehemently explained, “I don’t care what pants you wear…they’re cute and all, but I’m just trying to put food on the table to feed my kids.”

I’ll never forget her face. Her solitary pain. Our collective shame.

I’ve been in conflict since that defining moment. I believe that a yogi is a person who uses everything that’s happened to him or her. No experience – no matter how challenging – is cast out. Yoga brings unity to it all.

But, over the past year, I’ve not been able to integrate these experiences:

I wave at the folks leaving the men’s shelter down the street and drive 3 miles to a beautiful studio and see people who look mostly like me.

I see a man digging through my dumpster ten minutes before someone at work asks me if I’m doing the latest diet or cleanse.

A battered woman in withdrawals from my same disease asks me for spare change to feed her kid breakfast, and I throw down $100 for a farm to table meal I wasn’t so hungry for to begin with.

My spouse tells me about a kid who came to school dirty again and I keep encouraging our cleaning lady to eliminate the toxic chemicals in our household.

I can’t come to yoga until I get the right clothes, she says. What brand of yoga pants are those? another asks me.

I see a person of color killed by a police officer. I see a police officer killed by a person who served our country in the military.

These polarized dichotomies left me feeling confused and powerless. I’ve felt compelled to do more. I believe in the power of love and light, I do. I believe prayer is healing. But, I also believe in action. I’ve been inspired to see the work that various individuals are doing throughout the community and thought that together we could do more. I reached out to 2-3 yoga teachers from each studio in Fort Worth and a couple surrounding cities. Through these texts, emails, and Facebook messages, I discovered there were others who felt as I did. We are never alone, you know? Through these conversations, Whole Heart Yoga Fort Worth, or WHY FW, was formed. It is best described as a collaboration among local yoga teachers and students, who’ve formed to promote peace to our greater Fort Worth community through education around mindfulness, yoga fundraising events, and widespread outreach.

Our kickoff event is a FREE pop up yoga and meditation practice for peace at Burnett Park on Friday, August 5th at 7:30 pm. And we have a partnership in the works with The Leg Up Program, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness by providing caring support, education, employment and innovative programs designed to empower individuals to achieve self-sufficiency. We’ll have a special class at their building on September 17th where the proceeds will benefit their clients in living independently.

To stay informed about all upcoming events, follow on social media.

www.facebook.com/whyfw

Instagram : @whyfw

I’ve practiced yoga long enough now that I no longer believe it could singlehandedly save the world. But, I am living proof of the impact yoga can have on a single life. Through organizing this effort, I no longer feel powerless. When I lay my head down at night, I want to know that I’m doing all that I can each day to help others. This, I believe, is why we are here. This is the yoga.

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Leslie Prince | Fort Worth Yoga + Smart Barre Camp Bowie

I was thinking last night about how I don’t always know when I’m being humble. When someone says to me, “You’re so humble,” I think, “Wow, ok, I must be doing something right.” I’m kinda leery of people who describe themselves as humble. How is it humble to say you’re humble? Always, I look to people’s actions. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in this life is that people show you who they are. And, I know that people who exude humility – people who *act* humbly – are always people whose company I enjoy. And in the hour I spent with Leslie Prince, a Fort Worth area yoga teacher and Smart Barre teacher, I was touched by her humble spirit. You can tell that her light is as bright as a Texas sunset. And she doesn’t have to say a word for it to shine through.

She wanted to know if she could bring Cuddles, her “semi-well-behaved” pup for a couple of shots. I’ve got one of those “semi-well-behaved” dogs, too. Um, how cute is he?! What he lacks in discipline, he makes up for in cuteness.

“Where did you get him?” I asked.

“Craigslist…how could someone give him away?”

Find her sharing her love of yoga at the Fairmount  Library Tuesday evenings this summer for the human friendly price of $5 donation. More info here.

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Isabella Breedlove | Fort Worth Musician

Isn’t she a beautiful human? At 15, she’s paving her own path – and an artsy one at that. She sings and plays guitar. The music kept her moving throughout the shoot. To help others co-create their dreams – this is what I love.

You can hear her voice here: https://soundcloud.com/bellabreedlove/heart-like-yours-willamette-stone

I get the feeling that one day I’ll say, “I remember when we did that shoot with the vintage cars.”

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Note: the two men who brought the cars over on an overcast day were so sweet. They chauffeur people. They take the cars to hospice for people with cancer to take a ride. My heart melted when he told me that. So, of course, during wardrobe change, I said, “I’m sure you have a bunch of photos of the cars, but do you want one?” And they both said that they’d never been photographed with their cars. Would I text them the images so they could send to their kids and grandkids? Certainly.

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light up your life retreat 2.0

prana del mar 2017 announcement

I can remember sitting in my room awaiting the shuttle to the airport and fully knowing that I would be back the next year. And then I got home. And life happened.

Illness. Bills. Work.

Don’t get me wrong, beautiful things happened, too. Even in the trenches of life, there is beauty to behold.

For a brief moment, I thought, Maybe I’ll wait a few years to book another retreat.

In all honesty though, the experience on this retreat, in many ways, prepared me for what were some of the most challenging days I’ve had in this life. I can see how one experience prepares us for another.

See the magic that occurred a few months ago here.

Packages are available for $2195 – 2995. If you sign up prior to August 1st, you receive $100 off. Email me for all the details. amber@ambershumake.com

love matters | fort worth family session at Shady Oaks Country Club

last week I woke to the news of the Orlando  shooting – as we all did. and I felt out of sorts and shaken – as we all did. I wanted to cancel this shoot to hide under the blankets of my bed and cry – as many of my sensitive friends said they also did. I’m for showing up for commitments, and I’m for canceling to care for yourself. but, something inside me knew that, in this instance, to cancel was to let fear win. and so I put on my Sunday’s best and drove to the country club where I gave this guy a bottle at brunch. cnn played above my head – the violence at once so near and far. and afterward we went out in the grass where he felt, for perhaps the first time, the unbridled delight of fresh grass between his hands and feet. and for 20 minutes, as I zoomed in on his eyes and eyelashes, hair and hands, all was right in the world again.

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finally, he’s yours…forever | a fort worth adoption finalization

I’ve learned much about the adoption process as I’ve photographed this family over the past 6 months. And, I’d not attended an adoption finalization ceremony. It was short and oh so sweet. Finally, according to the courts, he’s forever their son. And people came from near and far to celebrate the moment. Oh my goodness, you could feel the love!

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winery wedding | Walla Walla, Washington destination wedding

I’d not heard of Walla Walla, Washington until this couple asked me to travel to photograph their wedding. It’s a region close to their wine loving hearts. Just a few hours east of Portland, the drive along the Columbia River was absolutely stunning. Maybe someday I’ll blog the photos from that journey. And the town has as much charm as Napa. A must see for wine lovers. This couple has been together for nearly nine years. They waited for their kids to grow up to marry. What fun! And their kids are super sweet and supportive. They’ll celebrate their nuptials in their hometown in less than a couple weeks.

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Joe T. Garcia’s | Best Fort Worth Patio for Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

What an honor to capture the beauty of this Fort Worth landmark. The entire family takes deep pride in this one-of-a-kind magical place. There’s beauty to be held in each and every corner. When I visit my dad in San Diego, I always say, “Is there a Joe T’s ish place here we can go for dinner?” I’ve yet to find another place on this planet that compares in ambiance and jalepeno relish. I’m up in the Pacific Northwest this week photographing a destination wedding, so celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style for me.
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