"To be in the quiet and to extract from their life and their phones, and their computers, and as much as they can do that. It's a pretty quiet place." - Annie Pace on her shala in the small town of Crestone Colorado.
That was all in that era of like the 90's, I would go to Mysore and stay until I didn't have a Rupee in my pocket. While I was there, for these extended periods of time, of course, you meet people from all over the world. So it was a very informal thing where people invite me to come teach in the UK, or Europe, or Australia, all places in the world.
I'd have some gig lined up between there and Colorado. Then I charged a plane ticket home, go teach a workshop, make some money, get home... that went on for some time and there was hardly anybody doing that. Dena Kingsberg and myself were probably the only women during that era who were out there teaching international. That went on through the 90s, and things really changed when I moved to Crestone and actually had a homestead and home and a place and was tending the hearth. I didn't get out so much anymore. I didn't want to go anywhere. I found it. I found where I really wanted, to sink my roots.
It self-evolved that what happened, instead of me doing the traveling, people would come to me. Even on this property, that was pretty rough. people would come and they love being in Crestone. I do small group retreats, so it didn't change significantly what I was doing, but how I was doing it and I have a proper space now, a proper shala and very intentionally created retreat space. I don't accommodate people there, but people come, I find them a place to stay. Every single inch designed intentionally and built sustainably.
It about killed me to do this project. To build from nothing, from raw land, come up with the money, get stressed, make all the decisions. Have your head in this physical world. Making all these decisions about materials and how we were going to do this the most sustainable way that I can afford to do. I'm always "It's not about the physical, this is a spiritual practice. It's about your mind," but it forced me to be on a physical plane and make all these decisions.
It was a hard, long labor. Then Shakti Sharanam came about and got the space. Settling and putting my own roots was really important. I can only travel the globe, and do all that moving around for so long. At some point, like, settle down, have a space.
Another big draw for me there was the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram. It's a Herakhan Babaji community. Beautiful temple, beautiful space in Crestone. So, that was a big pull for me to the area and in retrospect and from what other people said to me even years later, "Geez Annie at that point in your life you could have done anything. You have nothing." Not a penny to my name, didn't have a lot of possessions, could have moved to any yoga community probably in the world, but it didn't even enter my mind because what I was doing, it's like I found it. It's like, "okay. Well, we just have to build another space." I didn't think about moving away out of Crestone. Didn't even occur to me. Honestly, I don't know if I could have pulled it off some place else because there's such a strong community when you're in a small town with no economy. People help each other, and they rally. I had a lot of help, and a lot of support in many levels from my student community and the Crestone community at large to kind of get through this and pull off some personal loans and this and that, and kind of work this jigsaw puzzle to get this place to happen.
Maybe somewhat selfishly being in a clean, pure environment that supports my own practice and my own values. So there's a lot of young homesteaders there, there's a lot of energy conscious people, there's 25 spiritual centers, in an entire community of 1400 people. So now, there's this responsibility of tending to that, doing the puja, doing my own personal sadhana, doing my personal practice. And then teaching a class happens, breakfast happens or something. In the middle part of the day is digging dirt, moving rocks, moving stones. Trying to get a garden to grow in high altitude desert. Like-minded people, a lot of these people have their own practices; whether it's an Ashtanga Yoga practice or what. There's a meditation practice or something that goes on, so that morning is sacred to a significant portion of our population. To be in the quiet and to extract from their life and their phones, and their computers, and as much as they can do that. It's a pretty quiet place.
With over 37 years of experience, Annie is one of the most adept practitioners of traditional Ashtanga Yoga. She received her Advanced B teaching certification from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1995, a rare honor, and she continues to study extensively in India. Visit Annie's Facebook page. Photo and bio from Annie Pace's website http://www.anniepace.com/