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Category Archives: yoga

trauma informed yoga | Fort Worth

One of the things I do is facilitate an organization called @whyFW whose mission is to bring more peace to the community through yoga, mindfulness education and public events. My social anxiety prevents me from wanting to teach public events, but I enjoy teaching women throughout Fort Worth whose only access to yoga is the weekly class we bring to them at schools, clinics, shelters throughout the city.


This morning when I arrive to one of the facilities, I glance at the sign-in sheet and began to match the names to the faces of the elders sitting before me.

I don’t ask for their mental health histories. I’m just here to teach them skills to help them self regulate. Trauma is physiological first. It happens first to the body. You can work on the mind all you want after the fact. It’s necessary and helpful. But, it’s not enough for complete healing. To resolve trauma, we must reconnect with our inner animal; we must learn to feel safe in the skin we’re in. This is my opinion and my experience, but it’s also documented through the growing field of trauma research.
There’s one name I don’t recognize; I mispronounce it, I’m sure. She’s new and in the restroom, another says. “Well, we’ll wait for her,” I say.
We always start late. Late is on time here. It’s kind of refreshing to me. Honestly. “Thank you for being late,” I sometimes say to friends I meet for coffee or lunch. Their tardiness allows me time to settle. And, in spite of all the yoga, I’m stirred up most of the time.
A few weeks ago, a woman arrived during savasana, the final resting pose. She struggled to get her wheel chair through the door. It was a total disruption – to me, and only me. None of the students moved a muscle. I was so confused about why she’d ride in during savasana. Was she just early for the next group? I tried hard to withhold my contempt, to meet her with unconditional positive regard, and I’m grateful I did because when I decided to awaken the group, she said, “I missed it?! It’s over. The bus was so late.” I felt so bad for her. She was so sad to wait another week. I encouraged her to sit and absorb the relaxation in the room.
We just never know what another person’s going through.
Today when my new student arrives, I see she’s wearing a dress – like me. I’m wearing a dress because I can’t be bothered with pants this time of year. It’s 102 degrees outside, which is normal here. Normal – whatever that means. I’ve lived through 35 Texas summers, and still, 100 degrees never feels normal. I’m also wearing a dress because there’s always one woman who says “I would participate in yoga, but I don’t have the right clothes.” I’m sneaky like that. But I’m also wearing a dress because it just puts me at a disadvantage with the postures and makes me uncomfortable. It feels downright weird. I’ve practiced yoga for so long that I forget how weird it is for beginners. Yoga is so weird.
Together, we begin the practice in chairs. Sometimes we stay there, but the group today is strong although they feel a bit low – as if some movement might help – so we do some accessible standing postures too. I pause and explain to them that I’m giving them time to settle…it’s not that I’ve forgotten what I’m doing or because I’m lost…I know I’m moving slower on the outside than they are on the inside. I’m titrating the amount of activation in their nervous systems.
I don’t want anyone bursting into tears or running out of the room or having a flashback of intrusive imagery. Inevitably, I might trigger someone, but I can present the practice in a way that does the least amount of harm. This is what many normal – whatever that means – yoga classes don’t understand: to live inside one’s body does not make us superior. For some, it’s overwhelming and downright dangerous.
My friend in the dress asks me questions every now and then throughout the practice. My answer to her is always some variation of “It depends.” Trauma-informed yoga is about dismantling the hierarchy of power between student and teacher; it’s about returning the freedom of choice to the student. She begins to understand that she’s in control – that I’ll make suggestions, but I’m not going to create her experience for her. At some point, I ask her if a restorative pose feels ok to her and she says, “This feels like what I’ve needed in my life for years.”
This is the only affirmation I need to keep coming back each week. If you feel inclined to support this work, you can donate here. At this time, your contribution is not tax-deductible because our 501c3 status is still in progress. One day soon I hope it will be. Additionally, if you are a yoga teacher, clinician, therapist, social worker, first responder, or someone interested in utilizing a trauma informed approach in your own life, I’m offering a 25-hour training April 26 – 28, 2019, at SoulSpace Yoga Community. This weekend is an elective for my upcoming 300-hour RYT program for teachers seeking a 500-hour Yoga Alliance approved training in the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area. The full 300-hour program begins in November of this year.

SoulSpace Yoga Community | Fort Worth Yoga

As both student and teacher, I’ve watched the yoga community in Fort Worth evolve over the past fifteen years. It seems each owner has created what s/he’d like to happen upon. For these two co-owners, Lauren Wessinger and Shannon Haddaway, creating a space which emphasized community and the conscious capitalism model was important. SoulSpace Yoga Community is the manifestation of their unique vision. For their photos, I wanted to capture the elegance of the studio, who each of them are as inspiring individuals, as well as the essence of their unique, collaborative partnership.

SoulSpace Yoga Community, located in the Cultural District on West 7th Street, offers a variety of yoga classes, meditation, as well as infrared sauna therapy and life coaching. Lauren manages the teaching team and teaches yoga, while Shannon manages operations and has a coaching practice. I knew Shannon was also trained as a yoga instructor and asked her why she didn’t teach, and what she said was brilliant. I don’t remember her exact words but it was something like, “I needed to become masterful at one thing.”

It blew my mind.

That sort of focus and vision is one of the many reasons I love this place. I teach a couple group classes here each week, as well as private yoga sessions. And I collaborate with Lauren in co-leading Fort Worth yoga teacher trainings. So, all of this to say, I’m biased.

And still, this is my soul’s space. It’s why I created the hashtag: #thisismysoulspace

I’ve never developed a niche as a photographer; I’m dynamic in that in this shoot, I shot medium format film and used strobes to create light in the ambient studio space. But, I like to think I’m good at telling a story with a camera – whichever one I choose to use.


a word on Truth speaking | fort worth yoga teacher


I watched Oprah speak at the Golden Globes about how speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all own. And, I agree. I was mad at Oprah when I watched that speech. Her Weight Watchers commercials have irritated me. Here are some things I’d like to hear Oprah speak about, other than becoming smaller in body:

  • How she overcame abuse and trauma to become the most successful woman of my lifetime
  • How white women can be better allies to women of color in the movement toward equality
  • What motivated her to start a school in Africa
  • How she’s maintained healthy long term relationships with people like Gayle and Stedman in spite of her busy, public career

Those are just a few that come to mind. When I saw her eating tacos, I thought, “Come on, Sister, really?” I realize so many probably thought nothing of this commercial. My eyes have only recently been opened to the way our society’s food and water is poisoned by the corporations who seek to keep women small in body and, ultimately, smaller in power.

Nobody’s perfect.

I forgive you, Oprah.

Indeed, watching her speech, I set aside my resentment and raised a fist in solidarity time and again. My blood began to quicken, as I know happens when Truth speaks.

Part of the reason I don’t write much here (about myself) any more is I don’t always know which truths are mine to own and share.

One of the wisest things the owner of Karmany Yoga (may he rest in peace) ever told me was that once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you can’t put it back in. He was referring specifically to writing and speaking truth. That line still comes to me sometimes before I hit send or publish.

So many of us whose truths have been swallowed or stifled or shut down – when we begin to speak again, what we say and how we say it is in need of some refining (to say the least); otherwise, it projectile vomits like victimized hate speech. I’ve written things I regret in the name of speaking truth. And, I’ve read things others have written about me that hurt and weren’t true. A Course in Miracles tells me that “In my defenselessness, my safety lies.” I have this written on an altar in my home. It reminds me that haters gonna hate, and I need not always shout louder than the haters.

The Yoga Sutra explains that often our truth is colored by the veil of our ignorance, or false understanding (avidya). Within the mind of each of us are habits of thinking (samskaras and vasana) so embedded in the mind that they shape our inner world and mold our personality, which, in turn, creates the lens through which we view reality.

It’s why I try not to write too in depth about what I’m experiencing currently. Through the lens of time and spiritual practice and reflection, truth unfolds infinitely. More will always be revealed.

I think that’s what my mentor meant with his toothpaste analogy. When it comes to speaking truth, I operate by a few questions: Who will it help? Who could it hurt? And, what can I live with?

Sometimes, with the truth it’s as Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Sometimes, with the truth it’s as Anne Lamott said, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

And sometimes, I still believe the details are better left unsaid. I might as well quote another woman I admire – Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

I strive to go high.

And, you know, that means operating by what my momma taught me as a young girl, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I mean, some would say that’s not a way to raise our females up, but on the other hand, I don’t want to add to the aggression in our world. And, knowing my mom, I think it was Texas speak for “In my defenselessness, my safety lies.”

Over the past few years, I’ve sought to refine what’s capital-T True. There’s an exercise I do where I write down all of my attack thoughts, and then I rewrite them using the prompt: “Another way I could choose to see this is…”

For example,

Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to the United States.

When I say this, I feel judgmental, disconnected and hopeless – disempowered.

[If you voted for Trump, I’m surprised to find you here but not too shocked because you were in good company. Feel free to substitute “Obama” or whichever political figure felt like doomsday to you.]

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is the end of the world as we know it.

Much the same effect. I never said this exercise was easy. Examining our beliefs never is. It’s like the adage: the truth will set you free, but first it’ll piss you off. It’s hard at first, which is why I always keep going until I can find something that feels true and hopeful…

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is exposing our country’s deeply rooted shadow of racism and greed.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump will be the impetus for widespread political, global, and economic change.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is inspiring Americans to become involved in the political processes we’ve long taken for granted.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump will give rise to the strongest, most powerful group of women and the Divine Feminine found in all of us.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is one man with tremendous power, and I am one woman with a daily opportunity and moral obligation to step into mine.

Now, I’m starting to feel inspired – or at the very least, Vital.

Before I taught yoga, I taught public school. Before that, I waited tables in nightclubs. Before that, I worked in a cubicle in insurance.

And you know where I’ve found the most pain: in spiritual communities. Herein, I’ve found some of the most judgmental, unethical, bullying, narcissistic folks I’ve ever met. Herein, I’ve also found some of the most generous, compassionate, empathetic, people I’ve ever met.
I mean, the yoga community is just a microcosm of our world, you know? That was news to me. I thought at first everyone was happy.

There’s a reason we were all led to this practice. Life wasn’t perfect…just sayin’ 😉

Saying this out loud, on the page, feels kinda icky. So much so, that I almost left. More than once. Because, as Pema Chodron says, “Nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” I had to learn from a few people, painfully a few times. Years of growth.

So, once upon a time, the truth was:

She took advantage of my kindness. She stole from me. She chose business over friendship. She grew envious and vengeful when I became the top producing teacher. She verbally abused me. She spoke lies about me.

These were a number of she’s. I may have had a slight problem with laying down and letting people walk all over me.

And, with boundaries and (sometimes) walls, therapy and reframing journaling exercises, and the gift of time, another way I can see this is:

These experiences have propelled me to remain even closer to my own spiritual practices (yoga, dhyana), motivating me to examine the ways in which I am allowing ego to obscure Truth. I thank these people who’ve masqueraded as the light for reflecting back to me who I am when all facades fall away. I thank you for encouraging me to do my part to include everyone and exclude nobody. Because of your influence, I understand that friendship, for me, is about wanting the best for a person and expecting nothing out of the person in return. I thank you for teaching me to love the people close to me without condition, giving generously without harming myself in any way. I thank you for pointing me away from greed and in the direction of faith (shraddha). I thank you for showing me what not to do so that I may operate my businesses in a way that aligns with my ethical principles (yamas). I thank you for showing me how to set healthy boundaries which protect my heart and my life’s work (niyamas). I do not seek to share this physical space with you – in asana or otherwise. And, in the same breath, I wish the best for you – the same happiness and success I wish for myself and my closest friends and family (mudita).

This Truth has set me free.

reflections on 2017 | what mattered most

Much of my adult life has been about learning to feel again because I spent much of my teens and twenties learning how to feel absolutely nothing. Numbness, as it turns out, hurts more. So, I put this on the page to remind me, when times are happy…when times are hard, I get to feel it all. A blessing. A curse. 2017 felt like a little or a lot of both. The good news and the bad news: temporary.

I’m fond of ending my yoga classes by saying, “Who you are and what you do – it matters…you make a difference in this world…simply by showing up.” Sometimes I’ll ask my colleague, Lauren Wessinger, in jest: “Do people really need to hear how great they are every class?” And we always nod. Yes. Yes, they do. This world is beautiful. This world is broken. You’re unique, but so is everyone else, so you’re really not special. As we bid this year adieu, let’s be confident; let’s be humble, too.

A few years ago, professor and marriage and family therapist, Frank Thomas, inspired me to reflect at the end of each year on what I did that mattered. Something I’ve only recently learned through my studies of both Buddhism and Christianity is that I can give in the spirit of generosity without any expectation about how my offerings are received. Therefore, certainly, I don’t always know if what I do that I think matters, actually does matter. But, here’s what I did this year that mattered, to me. I’ve always believed that what I give, comes back to me – tenfold. And, this year has been no exception.

In chronological order:
In Washington D.C. I marched with 500,000 people who were as heartbroken as I was.

With my wife, I bought a house – a quiet place drenched in natural light where we can live.

I watched some phenomenal sunsets with inspiring people. I taught a yoga retreat and planned 2 more retreats for this coming year. (https://thetravelyogi.com/teachers/amber-shumake/)

2017-12-30_0004.jpgI coordinated public yoga events to fundraise for my philanthropy. I volunteered more than I ever would have dreamed possible, sharing my talents in clinical settings to people who might not otherwise find yoga and meditation. Ebony Smith, founder of YOGA ‘N DA HOOD has been a great source of inspiration for me regarding how to bring yoga to people of color, in particular. As she says, “Wellness knows no race.”

I spent a tremendous amount of time with inspiring human and fellow yoga teacher, Lauren Wessinger, preparing for our 200-hour yoga teacher training, through which we certified several people of varying ages and backgrounds to offer yoga and meditation in their communities. I ended a relationship that therapist(s), mentors, and friends have encouraged me, for decades, to end. It hurts. There’s enough pain to go around. And still, it hurts less than continuing to subject myself to abuse and the insanity that comes with doing the same thing, over and over again expecting different results.
2017-12-30_0012.jpgI showed up for my family, even when I was hungry, angry, lonely, tired or it seemed inconvenient. The people closest to us seem to get the very best and worst of us. (It helped that I wasn’t hungry as often because this year, with few exceptions, I ate food, regularly…as in every few hours, every *single* day. And, I said “no thank you” and walked away when people asked me if I wanted to do a cleanse. I hope in the time and energy that I used to expend obsessing about what to eat and when to eat, I’ve been able to do things that matter more.

I showed up for myself, every morning, mostly before dawn, to my meditation cushion to sit. I struggled with chronic pain this year, which limited the freedom in my movement. And, as much as I hate that, the limitations always bring me closer to my meditation practice, which brings me closer to God and the ways in which God can work through me and you, too. I had a dream on the night of a full moon in May where Dana was holding a young boy. The timing wasn’t perfect; it never is for major life upheavals, but we filled out the paper work and took all the classes and became licensed to foster / adopt kid(s). We didn’t get the boy in my dream, and our hearts didn’t understand. We got another boy instead, and it wasn’t a fit; I grieved twice for boys I barely knew – boys I felt as if my soul knew well.


We went back to the drawing board. My prayer has been, “God, if we’re to be parents, you’ve gotta make it really obvious, because I’m really busy, you know?”

And then, we got this boy when he was one day old.


God, I love this boy. I love him, meaning I want the best for him and expect nothing in return. That’s the way I love for people to love me. I hope it’s God’s will that I get to love him up close for the rest of my life. I won’t answer questions about this part because the only honest answer is: I don’t know.

With just a day or so left in this calendar year, I’m tired. And, I’m more woke than ever. I ache. And, I’m ok. I feel the fear…and try to do the next right thing anyway.

This year I learned patience. I learned how to live one day at a time, all over again, which means that this year I learned to lean closer to my faith. Because if the highs and lows of this life have taught me anything…other than resilience…it’s that I’m never alone. Through trepid turns and smooth seas, thank you for continuing to navigate the full stream of life with me.

May 2018 be a year which brings peace and prosperity to all beings.

our journey to adoption

Back in May, I had a dream on the night of a full moon where my partner was holding a young boy. I see children in terms of how I would photograph them. He was 9 months or so – sitting up but not yet walking. I woke to the memory and thought, “That’s sweet. I wonder if that’ll ever happen for me.” I went to meditate as I do most mornings before sunrise.

When she came home from work the same day talking of a child who needed a home, the hairs on my neck stood end over end. I hadn’t – until then – told her of my dream, and I started to cry because I really don’t always believe in these energetic gifts that I have. Some have called me clairvoyant; I don’t really think I am. I grew up in a home where in order to keep the peace, it was necessary for me to attune to others’ emotions. I’m connected. I have guides who accompany me through this life; we all do. I spent the majority of my teens and twenties trying to tune out, and through yoga and sobriety, I’ve come to feel again. And, honestly, it’s a blessing and a curse to feel so deeply. Part of the reason I could be in relationship with people I allowed to manipulate and abuse me was because I was numb. And, now, I just can’t.

I’ve learned about boundaries this year. And sometimes, when people don’t respect boundaries, I’ve learned about walls. And, this doesn’t sound very yogic, I know. But, my heart is worth protecting. I learned at a young age that people who loved you would hurt you, and I don’t know that’s the sort of love I want to keep attracting. Perhaps, as I enter this journey of motherhood, I’m wanting to create a new generational pattern.

Love used to mean I’ll buy you things and take you places (to make up for being absent / abusive, etc. and so you’ll do what I want you to do so that I can be ok). And now, I think love means I want the best for you and I expect nothing in return. I’m not really responsible for making anyone else in this world ok.

I’m ok.

I’m ok regardless of what’s happening around me. I’m ok even if people don’t approve of me.

I’m ok.

This is progress. Painful progress.

So when I had the dream, the timing was not perfect; it never is. I was in the middle of yoga teacher training and planning upcoming yoga retreats; we’d just bought a house and were rebuilding our savings. You know, first world pains? We filled out the paperwork anyway. We took all the classes and read all the information and completed all of the interviews. We locked up our medications and put plastic child proof things on our electrical outlets and posted a list of family rules on our wall and we waited. And, we kept asking about him – this boy in my dream who matched the boy who needed a home.

This year, I learned patience. I learned to live one day at a time all over again. And, in my powerlessness, I learned to walk by faith. God doesn’t work on our time.

We didn’t get him; we got another boy. He didn’t meet the description, and I knew it would be hard and not end well, but something inside me when I read about him said, yes…we have to give him a chance. If we don’t, who will? And because of my background in trauma and the energetic gifts I like to deny I have, I thought if anyone could help him, maybe we could.


There are so many children, y’all. So many children waiting for someone to love them. When you’re privy to read the case studies, you just die a little bit inside each time.

I went to Target and bought all the things and fell in love with him instantly.

And, then, as quickly as he came, he was gone. The vision I had of what helping him would look like didn’t match the reality of what happened. Not at all.


The end. Or was it the beginning? The middle – who knows? The Hindus believe we’re always in one of these three phases.

Because I’d not shared this part of my life with hardly anyone, I grieved mostly alone. And, it sounds silly to grieve a soul you barely know. I still pray for him and think of him and hope he’s happy. The human spirit is resilient. Sometimes we don’t get as much time as we’d like with people. But, I know that nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. And, more is always revealed…on God’s time, not mine.


yoga retreat in Iceland

I’ve always wanted to see Aurora Borealis, or what’s commonly called “The Northern Lights.” When The Travel Yogi asked me where I’d like to host a yoga retreat, there was no question: Iceland. I’ve had this trip in the works for a while now. It’s about half full. People often ask how many people travel with me on retreats. I feel as if 12 is a magical number. This enables me to offer everyone enough attention in the group classes. Beyond that number, I see bodies. With 12 people, I see souls.

As the trip nears, I’m planning what to wear (naturally). Suggestions for clothing from my friends above the Mason Dixon line is welcome. And, I’m becoming more and more and more excited about the classes I have planned and the sights we will see.

What I love about hosting a retreat through The Travel Yogi is that they create impeccable itineraries. When I host retreats on my own to places I’ve never visited, when it’s over, I often think, “Next time, I would’ve done this instead…” Because they have been to Iceland numerous times, they’ve fleshed out all the details for me. So, I can teach. Teaching is my favorite. This is the reason I don’t own a yoga studio or manage someone else’s. I long for one thing: to teach. This is my path, my dharma.


(photos: guidetoiceland.is)

I am excited to walk along tectonic plates. This scientific phenomenon has always fascinated me. In Iceland, you can have one foot in North America and the other in Eurasia.

(photos: Antti Pietikianen)

I’ve been researching and contemplating how to best photograph these lights. With my packing, how many cameras can I carry? Decisions, decisions…

(photos: bluelagoon.com)

The Blue Lagoon – um, I cannot believe this is going to be my life for a week. If you want one of the 5 remaining rooms, find all of the details here:


I’m about to book my flight. I’m hopeful to go to NYC for a day and then to Iceland. On the way home, I’d like to go through London (never been). I’ve gotta talk this over with the people in my life who matter most, of course 😉

Atlanta and Seattle are also great places to fly from. You’d be surprised how reasonable airfare to Iceland is. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate. Send me a note: amber@ambershumake.com.

Life Vessel Fort Worth at the Center for Healing Arts

I’ve been going to this magnificent place for around ten years – since I was trying to quit smoking if that gives you any indication. I’ve long loved acupuncture and all the healing modalities that Kim Perrone offers at the Center for Healing Arts. One year it was my new years resolution to receive acupuncture every 6 weeks. Sometimes the date would come and I would think, “I don’t need it,” but I’d go anyway and always feel better.

2017-07-28_0001.jpgFort Worth is now privileged to have the Life Vessel relaxation therapy here. I tried it – four times as is suggested – and fell in love. As a teenager, I loved tanning beds, and the life vessel kind of reminds me of a tanning bed in size (a bit larger) without the heat. You recline in comfortable clothing on a memoryfoamish mattress. Infrared lights shine above you. Sound waves vibrate beneath you. I had some interesting experiences in the vessel. I can’t really put words to many of them. You know how you feel after a good massage or gong bath or savasana? Well, it was much like all of those combined.


I like intensity, you know? And, when I find something good, I want everyone to know. On my fourth day, I asked if I could come back the next day, and the sweet lady in charge explained that this isn’t one of those “more is better” things. I was sad to give up my one hour of relaxation in the vessel. I’ll be first in line to return in three weeks for some maintenance.

Here are some of the benefits I’ve received:

  • central nervous system reset (i.e., I can rest well. I can digest my food efficiently.)
  • improved circulation (i.e., the tension in my forearms, wrists, and hands has disappeared)
  • less tension (i.e., I am not grinding my jaw at night).
  • better sleep (i.e., I wake just before dawn often without an alarm).
  • less obsession with sugar (i.e., I don’t know that this is related to the life vessel, but I know that when I sit down to eat, I no longer feel I’m in a competitive contest 😉

Read more about the life vessel here: lifevesselfw.com

I think when I do it in a few weeks, I’ll hire a driver.

Gaia Collective Moon Box | DFW Product Photographer

A few months ago, I wrote an intention in a notebook for some steady monthly photography work. I didn’t really know what this would look like. I just know that if I want to continue teaching yoga sustainably for the rest of my hopefully long life, I cannot teach as frequently as I do and have over the past six years. And, I have this new house…that I love. Every morning, I say to myself or any human or animal in earshot, “I love this house. This is the best house.” Yet, because I work at the pace of a greyhound on espresso, I spend only minimal time in my home.

Not long after I wrote that intention, my friend, Paula, came to take a yoga class at SoulSpace Yoga Community. I met her several years ago when I was young in my teaching journey and she was still in college. She moved away. And then, a few years ago, we reconnected at a training called Yoga and Psychology at Esalen. Three months prior, a colleague said, “If you ever have the chance to go to Esalen, you should go.” I had not heard of Esalen; when I read about it, I saw the training. That was in January. I went in April. Greyhounds on espresso don’t do waiting, sitting, staying too well – you know? By the way, if YOU ever get the chance to go to Esalen, you should go. It’s amazing.

At that time, around four years ago, Paula was starting a business called Gaia Creative which would send out a monthly moon box for the full moon. I thought the idea was brilliant. I remember at that time, I was managing Karmany Yoga and really sensing I wanted something new.

Paula gave me a piece of citrine and told me to keep it in my left pocket until I knew. Citrine is the stone of abundance. And not long after that, SoulSpace Yoga Community was born.

Today, @gaiacollective has around 33k instagram followers now and sends thousands of moonboxes each month across the globe.


When Paula took my class one Monday, she asked me if I’d be interested in doing the photography for Gaia Collective.

I knew it was exactly what I’d been seeking.

I get to play with rocks and crystals, loose leaf tea, essential oils, and handmade jewelry.

There’s so much soul in these pieces.

And, I get to photograph them all in the comfort of my own home. What a gift during the Texas summers!!! When we put our desires down on paper, we invite the Universe to collaborate with us. I’m grateful for this new partnership.

Each moonbox features products from other small business owners who are pouring their heart and soul into their work. What a beautiful offering. And there’s a box for every budget.

It’s so much fun to receive these gifts in the mail. Check out these rings from Alva Parla in NYC.2017-07-22_0004.jpg
And the tea from Fruits to the Roots.

Learn more here: https://gaia-collective.myshopify.com/pages/subscribe

If you’re interested in personal branding or product photography, find more info here:http://ambershumake.com/photos-for-digital-marketing/

this is what democracy looks like | women’s march on Washington

I went to Washington D.C. I had no idea what to expect. I arrived on the day of the inauguration. I’d never seen so much red, white, and blue. People so proud of the President. Proud to be “deplorable.” And standing in the street, so many others: angry. I receive comments from time to time from people who say, “Amber, how can you practice so much meditation and yoga and still be so angry?”

To which I say: How can you *not* be?


Anger is part of the stream of emotion. My meditation practice has taught me to *be* with all of it. My anger has morphed to compassion, mostly.


I feel deeply in the marrow of my bones that women from all economic demographics should have access to screenings for cervical and breast cancer, that a quality free public education is important, that abortion should be an option, that Muslims – and all immigrants – are welcome in this country, that my wife deserves all of the rights that a husband would have, that clean water is important, that science is real.


I have struggled to understand: how can you *not* believe in these fundamental rights for all beings?

And, I have realized that perhaps you feel just as righteously right in your beliefs as I do in mine: you’re as proud to be “deplorable” as I am to be “nasty.”

I think I’m starting to understand: you fear big government and/or high taxes and believe a businessman can turn our country around; you lost jobs to globalization or technology or both, and you’re angry because the American Dream you were promised has changed; you fear Islamic extremists and people who enter our country illegally; you are God fearing and do not believe babies should be aborted; somehow (though I still don’t quite understand how) you don’t believe in climate change; you can’t fathom why your health insurance premiums are so high and why you should subsidize healthcare for everyone else especially those who do not care for themselves; you served in the military where you were taught to serve and protect using semi-automatic weapons, and now the thought of some politician taking your right to arms away terrifies you; you believe marriage is between a man and a woman; you fear people who defy binary gender norms in bathrooms.


Please write to me if I’m speaking out of turn. I can almost empathize, I think. I think I know how you feel.

And, while I can understand, I don’t agree.

I know, I know…you want us to give Trump a chance.

I’ll speak for a couple million people who marched on Saturday: we can’t. We can’t be quiet when equality and human rights are at stake. And, what we’d really like is for you to understand why your insistence that we stop talking about politics is part of the problem.


Because, if you can afford to look the other way, your privilege is showing. And it’s hard for us to see our own privilege. (At least, I know it is for me.) When you choose to say nothing in the face of injustice, you feed it and condone it…you normalize hatred and inequality. And, it’s not normal. It’s not ok. So maybe instead of covering our ears and closing our eyes and defriending, unfollowing, and creating walls, we can build bridges with our dialogue.

It won’t be easy, I know. So much of what’s beautiful in my life today is the result of hard work, pain and suffering. This personal history as well as our nation’s history gives me hope. We are a resilient people. And progress is a slow march.

One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed was these women who formed a barricade around the women who were protesting abortion. Their voices were heard. Peacefully. Nonviolently. I hope I can hold this image in my heart for the next four years and eternally.


One of my dear friend’s mantra this year is: the whole world is my church. May we cease to dress fear and hatred up in religous clothing. May we remember that we belong to each other.

To purchase one of these images, click here. 25% of proceeds benefit a local refugee who was in a car accident and is trying to feed her children.

when you pursue the Path, the Path pursues you.

Most of the time, when I tell people what I do, they find it intriguing. Sometimes these same people have succumbed to a job with a stable income while their dream career haunts them as they lay sleepless on expensive mattresses and high thread count sheets at night. And they say, “that inspires me,” or “I’m trying to figure out how I can do what I love.”

Often, it seems, I have these conversations in the studio bathroom. Typically as I’m changing clothes from a yoga class to a sunset shoot. Perhaps the bathroom is safe sacred space to ask the yoga teacher / artist how she manifested her dreams. Or, at the very least, as I wash my hands and inspect my teeth, I’m a captive audience for someone who’s inevitably changing from their work to yoga clothes.

Occasionally, when I tell people what I do, however, they look at me with pity. it’s not compassion – there’s a difference. the “oh you poor thing” look. I assume – though I don’t know – it’s: “oh you poor thing, you have to teach yoga / take photographs / write / sell essential oils just to make ends meet.”

And that’s ok. Maybe I’m emitting a frequency of poverty. The first year or so, it certainly was touch and go.

Indeed, I occasionally have to pull back the reigns when my boundaries get lax and remember that I am one person with the same 40 hour work week as everyone else. I used to pride myself on working 60-80 hours per week. But, why? Is busyness in business what I seek to teach?


Busyness distracts me from my Path.

But, I will say this for my friends in the bathroom who are looking for a way to pursue their passions: multiple revenue streams are helpful, if not absolutely necessary, to loving what you do in times of both busy and slow, in sickness and in health, for as long as you shall seek to work happily.

When I have felt that I *must* pick up another class / take a job I don’t want / undersell myself / forego vacation in order to make ends meet, this work – as much as I love it – ceases to be my passion. So, my point is this: seek your Path – your dharma. Your dharma might be to teach yoga. Your dharma might be to create art. But, if you’re a single parent or the primary breadwinner or would like to retire in this lifetime, your dharma might be to have a well-paying job that requires minimal brain power so you can spend the remaining waking hours pursuing whatever lights you up inside.

With my upcoming yoga teacher training, prospective students want to know, “Will I see a return on my investment?”

I’m the same way. I own $50,000 in photography equipment and would wager to guess I have spent at least that in yoga trainings over the past 5 years. and, I invested in a graduate counseling degree that I’m going to pay for monthly, for at least 5 more years. And with each course and camera, website upgrade and training trip, I’ve wanted to know “will I see a return on my investment?”

“You have a degree you don’t use,” my now wife who once helped me start my business, said to me when I was working my magic on our budget a while back. She’s kinda right and kinda wrong. If not for that decision to finish that degree, I’d not have pursued yoga teaching as a part time, temporary thing. I wouldn’t have met the friends I did – one soul brother who married us nearly a year ago. I don’t think I’d draw the private clients I do. I don’t think I’d know how to get the people I photograph to open up to me and my lens.

This I know: when you pursue your Path, your Path pursues you. So I’ve stopped asking, “Will I see a return on my investment” and I’ve started asking myself, “Will this propel me on my Path?” And then I get quiet and listen for the wisdom within. In August that wisdom led me to turn down job after job after job in favor of a foray in film where I took photos mostly of the ground and the sky and when I could catch them off guard – my Dana and Cash Diehl. And this time allowed me the space and dedication to get outside help for an eating disorder that’s plagued me off and on – mostly on – for years. I can’t pursue my Path if I’m starving myself. And, I can’t write much about this part of my journey just yet.

Seeking the Wisdom within has yet to steer me wrong. Yoga helps me tap into it. May you – all of you…those who meet me with curiosity and pity alike – have the courage to follow the Path which lights you up inside. With or without a financial return, your soul will be fuller for it. And all we take with us when we leave here is the light we garner in this life.

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