1. Tell us about you.
Shira Atkins, 2014
Poetry, yoga, Judaism, mystical texts, men
I learned how to booty clap sophomore year of high school.
2. How do you feel about feminism? Do you identify as a feminist?
I never identified with this word growing up, even though I have a progressive liberal family.
I grew up being a little bit self-hating. My mom always identified herself as post-feminist, and so I learned to interpret it is less of an empowering word and more of a self-effacing word. I thought post-feminist meant not caring about women. When I came to Brown, that all turned around. I really identify with all women – I care so much and feel so affected by all horrors that are afflicted towards women in the world. I feel incredibly lucky that I haven’t been personally affected by these forces, but I now know that I have support this movement and the history there, stand up for those who can’t and stand with so many who do.
Who is your feminist role model?
My mom. She’s my best friend – she is so unapologetically herself. She wears the craziest outfits; she’s never embarrassed. Her balls-out attitude and sweetness and energy has always been so inspiring to me. She takes up space.
3. Tell us about your work.
I started practicing yoga because I used to be a pre-professional ballerina and I was deep in that world. Once I stopped dancing, I needed to figure out a way to still move, but also a way to embrace myself for the wholeness of who I am. It was a way to transition out of dance (and all the pain there) while loving my body.
Yoga saved my life. It transported me to a place that I felt strong, where I appreciated every part of my body. It integrates voice, philosophy, body, sexuality, and movement.
When I got to Brown I felt this intense need to share that with other people.
Teaching has been so fulfilling – I’ve learned so much about myself and my own practice.
I’ve been able to help other men and women realize the beauty that they have inside them. There’s no judgment in yoga – people practice in a room together and they all want to feel beautiful and sweaty and equanimous and stress-free and joyful.
I’ve met so many amazing people through it – all the women who teach are incredible.
I’ve been privileged to have students come up to me and confide in me and ask me questions. To be able to actually serve as a teacher (even though I’m so humbled by it) it gives me so much, it’s empowering.
4. If you could go back in time and sit down with your freshman self, what are the three things you would tell her?
Be excited by your colleagues. I made great friends with a lot of seniors my freshman year and thought that kids in my own grade were “young,” but more and more I’m finding amazing people in in my own class and I wish I had been less arrogant freshman year—enough to meet all the cool wonderful people I’m meeting now.
ALSO: Be kind and open, definitely see the good in people, but I wish I had been a little more skeptical of people freshman year
5. If you could be any famous artist, who would it be and why? (painter, musician, performer)
There are two answers:
Claude Monet because his view of the universe through his blurry cataract eyes is just so magnificent.
And I would love to be Beyonce, because, I mean obviously.
She’s amazing! I love her so much.
6. What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever fallen asleep
On the main green during Kendrick Lamar!
7. Must read / view?
The World According to Garp
8. Favorite class at Brown?
Greek Tragedy with Jerri Debrohun
Tolstoy with Svetlana Evdokimova
9. From Jennie Glass – if you could be a yoga position, what would you be?
I would be Bird of Paradise. It’s a standing, balancing pose, but there’s a lot of room for for flourish and extension. It embodies the yogic idea of effort and surrender.
10. Add a question and tag the next person that you are inspired by!
Eddie Friedman – what’s your favorite poem?
Images courtesy of Google