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For the people

  • Happy Birthday

    Thanks to our wonderful community and staff we just celebrated a birthday!  Eastown turned 4 years old, Holland turned 2, and Forest Hills turned 1.  A lot has changed over the years...4 years ago in Grand Rapids it was difficult to find a vinyasa class much less a hot yoga studio.  We have mementos around Eastown that remind us of the years gone by...a poster from our opening, a piece of the wall we tore down for our expansion, the cover of Revue Magazine in 2011 among other things.  Any birthday or anniversary always makes you look at years past but also at the future, and we ask ourselves "what am I building now?"  What will I look back and remember from this year, from this time, what am I creating now?

    In Grand Rapids at our Eastown or Forest Hills studio or in Holland, the answer for us is the same as its' always been, the highest quality yoga experience we can provide for our students.  We'll keep growing and evolving as a studio to offer the absolute best yoga in Grand Rapids and Holland and wherever else we find ourselves.  To another year...Happy Birthday Funky Buddha!

  • A Skyscraper Life

    It’s September 11. This day always makes me pause.

    Yesterday I saw the Facebook status of a friend that said, If you want to live a skyscraper life, you must have a foundation that goes way beneath the ground.

    That made me pause too. I looked at those words again and again. They pricked at me for reasons I couldn’t pinpoint.

    In 2002 I visited lower Manhattan with some friends. I thought the biggest impression would be made  by standing and looking out over what, in a matter of hours, became an unthinkable mass grave. Death is difficult to process in and of itself, and even more so within the confines of such a dense cityscape.

    The massiveness made its impression, yes, but what sideswiped me even more were the city block size holes left in the ground where the Twin Towers had stood.

    I remember standing there, trying to force the wheels in my brain to go around faster so I could understand. I’d only ever seen the twin structures on a television screen or from the outdoor deck of the Empire State Building.

    I’d never once considered what might be beneath them, deep under the surface of the city. If you want to live a skyscraper life, you must have a foundation that goes way beneath the ground.

    Today, in the pause, this idea has a prickly resonance. I see how when I am most easily toppled, it’s because I’ve not built a strong foundation.

    Society trains us to value the glitz and the glamour, the overt and the flashy, the shiny glass and the impenetrable steel. That seems like putting the skyscraper before the foundation.

    Today, something new is stirring in the pause. It’s a quiet certainty that while I am still alive, I serve humanity best by tending faithfully to my own personal foundations. I’m okay with setting aside my skyscraper motivations for the more important, beneath the surface work that must come first.

    I’ve found myself on my knees enough to know this is the better way. Time and experience are wise teachers, and from them I've learned I am most vulnerable in the places where I seek to be elevated, and therefor am furthest from what stably grounds me.

    In honor of the beautiful souls who never made it home thirteen years ago today, humbly, I commit to pay better attention to what's beneath my life's ground.


  • Best Yoga Studio in Grand Rapids

    Thanks to all of you, we have been voted 'Best Yoga Studio' in Grand Rapids by MLive and On-the-Town magazine.  You can find the link here!  This is the latest honor for us after being named a 'Best of Grand Rapids" by Grand Rapids Magazine this past January.  Our goal has always been to provide yoga in Grand Rapids, Holland and Forest Hills that is fun, accessible to all levels, with inspiring teachers and exceptional customer service.

    The awards are great, but our focus will stay the same and really they provide us an opportunity to thank our staff and you.  Without our staff in Grand Rapids and Holland we couldn't provide the level of service and yoga that you have come to expect.  We need to thank you, not only for your votes, but your feedback and for showing up with an open mind and the desire to grow.

    We brought hot yoga to Grand Rapids in 2010, Holland in 2012, and Forest Hills in 2013.  Here's to the future.  We promise to always give you our best...regardless of the awards.

  • Stoplight, or, Why I Write This Blog

    I was going to write about a tattoo but, this came to me instead.

    On Wednesday morning I was sitting in my car, waiting at a stoplight. I looked to my right and saw a younger guy shuffling past me on the sidewalk.

    He was in his twenties, maybe, his clothes too big and layered with dirt. He was having an animated conversation with himself, or so it seemed. I decided, without hesitation, he was a Street Person.

    My first thought about Street Person? “How profoundly sad.”

    Next was, “How could he choose this for himself?” I knew better, of course.

    Tsk, tsk. Shame, shame. The kind of side-to-side, solemn head shaking necessary to these kinds of circumstances. That is, until something else happened.

    I saw myself, what I was doing. The second I did my thinking took a one-eighty.

    “Try again Kerri, you don’t know.” Thank God for the still, small voice of reason.

    What followed is one hundred percent why I write this blog.

    I stopped thinking, and I saw him instead.

    Not Street Person, him.

    That’s it.

    A one-eighty, about-face of my thoughts toward no judgment, no naming, no categorizing. No self-righteous bull-shit either, or assuming I already knew the truth.

    I felt my body flood with absolute and total relief. My foot stopped pushing the brake pedal so damn hard. Then the stop light turned green.

    I wished us both happiness as I drove away and he walked on.

    Later that day, I found myself sitting at the same red light again, going the opposite way. I thought about him, smiled, and counted how long it took for the light to turn green.

    Thirty seconds. That’s it.

    That’s how long it had taken. In less than thirty seconds I had put myself and him in the prison of my certainty. But it had also taken less than thirty seconds for me to set us both free.

    Thirty seconds.

    Less than.

    One cycle of a stoplight.

    See, I write this blog because I don’t believe that human evolution - our growth - only ever happens via flashy, dressed-up, over-complicated, hyped-up religious ritual, or circumstance. Evolution happens in the common places too.

    It happens at stoplights.

    Second by second.

    Thought choice by thought choice.

    In the everyday, familiar places, where we’ve lulled ourselves asleep because we assume we already know.

    And, I don’t believe that our deepest desires for growth and happiness are a battle between ourselves and some imaginary, thought-up Other.

    Not me versus Street Person, or anyone else for that matter.

    The battle I’m in is a battle with myself, with how I choose to think.

    Why does this matter to me? Because what I think is exactly what I’ll end up seeing. My thoughts form my lenses. My lenses make my world.

    Another word for lenses might be goggles. And my practice is to always choose clearer goggles where I can. Perhaps even the kind God might wear.

    To help me see how I'm thinking.

    To help me see what I'm choosing.

    To help me get to the Truth. The kind that floods with absolute and total relief. The kind that sets myself, and everyone else free.

    To help me win the battle. Second by second. Thought choice by thought choice. One cycle of a stoplight at a time.


  • Before Kanye stole my goggles.

    The last time I posted to this blog, right after I logged off it was obvious I needed to make a serious commitment to myself. That commitment was to not publish again until I had stopped sounding like a cross between Kanye West and Fiona Apple.

    That was last February and, to be fair to myself, life and all its joys kinda got buried under six feet of unstoppable snow. Kanye himself would have split town. I think we can all agree he would have, at the very least, begged for Jesus’ help.

    That being said I know myself well, and when my view becomes all This World is Bullshit, I know it’s time to stop speaking wherever possible. Sometimes it’s just best to vow silence until the heavy layers of snow (and bull shit) melt for good.

    So I did.

    And I’m glad I did.

    There is a time for everything.

    Snow and This World is Bullshit can’t last forever.

    And now I trust it’s the exact right time to begin again. Thank you for understanding the silence, but I’m ready to write an entirely different kind of tune with you.

    Logically, I'd like to start with a tattoo I have on my right forearm, a form of Buddhist meditation I’m learning how to practice, some fucking frog leaps (worst form of yoga mat torture I know), and where I had hoped to go with this blog in the first place.

    Before Kanye stole my goggles.

    I also need to rewind my having said back in January that I’d blog every day.

    I knew as soon as I typed that I would have trouble sustaining that kind of pace. I’m a quality kind of girl, not a quantity freak. Sometimes I trounce all over myself by trying to bite off more than I can chew.

    That’s what happens when Dutch work ethic goes haywire. Funny, that's also when Fiona shows up and starts to sing (whine).

    Back to where I had hoped to go with this blog in the first place…please stay tuned.

    When I have the time I'll begin with the tattoo. I just need to log off for a minute, so I can Windex the bull shit off my goggles.


  • Beads.

    I have no words.

    Of late life has been only white, green, grey, and wordless.

    White is 110 inches of snowfall.

    During the summer I can look from my bedroom window and see two stone planters sitting in my front yard. Every May I stuff them with flowers, whatever’s brightest. Thereafter they stand colorful, and two feet tall.

    I can’t see them today. They have either been stolen, or they are buried in snow it seems will never end.

    Green is what’s leaving my nasal cavities when I hold Kleenex to my nose and blow.

    I've grown attached to an elaborate nighttime routine of Breath-Right strips, lemon Ricolas, Advil Cold and Sinus, a shrinking box of tissues, and the just-so positioning of my head on a pillow so I can get air to my lungs.

    Every two hours I begin my routine all over again, sometimes patiently. This is because I have awoken to a near drowning in my own viscous goo.

    Grey is the matter between my ears. It’s trying super hard to formulate a coherent thought and is failing miserably. I keep calling my kids by the wrong name, and yesterday I couldn’t find the car keys I’d put in my own jacket pocket…three times in the span of a half-hour.

    Basically, it won't stop snowing. I have a cold from hell, and I'm stuck like a prisoner in my own head.

    Basically, it seems like life really sucks right now.

    And when life sucks writing gets difficult. Whenever writing gets difficult I feel emotionally hamstrung. After that I enjoy feeling cornered, bitchy, and resentful. Then I watch all the words dry up.

    My grey matter works overtime trying to shovel something usable up from my heart. It hasn’t learned yet that my heart will never need it's help.

    Yesterday I received a gift. The best kind of gift there is. A small, beautiful book of poetry filled with Rumi, Hafiz, Meister Eckhart, and a bunch of other crazily named, and highly un-employable people whose greatest gifts were putting words together like perfect beads on a string.

    Oy-vay! Words! I can stop shoveling!

    I cracked it open like it was the best kind of dark chocolate. Here’s what I read on the first page. It’s by Rumi The Unemployable.

    If you have a spirit, loose it, loose it to return where with one word, we came from.

    Now, thousands of words, And we refuse to leave.

    I set it down and immediately got to feeling okay with having nothing to say. Sometimes words only serve to form a trap for the soul.

    So what if I’m empty, wordless, and mute. I see now how perfect that really is.

    Today I’ve stop analyzing and trying so hard to speak importantly. Most of what I know to be Truth is best left free from the imprisonment of words anyway. I can feel myself entering the territory of my heart, minus a shovel.

    I might stay here awhile too; at least as long as Life wants to be white, green, and grey. While my spirit is being loosed, someone else can perfectly string the beads.


  • Breakfast with Liz.

    A few years ago I had breakfast with Elizabeth Gilbert. She was on tour post her crazy Eat, Pray, Love book success.

    I didn’t get her all to myself. There were about twenty other women I shared her with over egg casserole and coffee. But I was okay with that. I was just happy to be in a room with someone I saw as a hero.

    The night before I had listened to her speak to a crowd of maybe a thousand people. She was poised and confident and real. I saw her as everything I was not.

    She talked about creativity, personal failure, and love. For some reason I was surprised at how often she made us laugh.

    I soaked up everything she said, and not because I wanted a divorce and the opportunity to travel the world. I soaked her up because I wanted to be brave enough to trust myself like she did. Also, I wanted to write books.

    I got five minutes with her after breakfast. She was warm, real, and signed her autograph with, Liz. She also said three words to me which still go off in my brain, way more times that I care to admit.

    Write your book.

    With great anticipation I asked her for the exact formula for making such a thing happen. She said there wasn’t one. I simply had to park my ass on a chair and put pen to paper.

    It took me a really long time to understand that her words were not meant to frustrate. When I look back at how The Funky Buddha came to be three locations, a staff of over fifty, and thousands of committed students, I understand her words a little better.

    All I did was put one foot in front of the other. All I did was park my ass on a chair and put pen to blank paper. I took tiny steps, one at a time. Doing so put Something way bigger than me into motion.

    Right away I found myself surrounded by people with the exact expertise I needed to open a hot yoga studio, and exactly when I needed them. Talented people, who also happened to want to help.

    One foot, then the other. Ass in a chair. Pen to paper. And I didn’t travel alone.

    When I talk to people who know I co-own the studio, sometimes I see this strange look in their eyes. It reads like, Wow, Kerri, you must really have The Life given all this success. I understand, but it’s misguided, and lacks the bigger picture.

    Yes, I am intensely grateful for the success of the studio. It’s awesome not having to sweat bullets over how I’ll pay the rent.

    But I don’t spend my time thinking about it. Monetary success and the popular vote weren’t what I was aiming for. What I wanted was to learn how to be brave enough to trust myself, how to be real and poised.

    Someone once told me The Funky Buddha was essentially the result of dumb luck. My small self imagined punching this person in the face. My true self knew better.

    The Funky Buddha is the result of a way cooler formula than luck, and that formula looks like this.

    Listen. Put one foot in front of the other. Listen. Put one foot in front of the other.

    Something happens when we trust intuition so much we decide to stand up and take blind, baby steps into the dark. Something massive shifts when we sit down and put pen to paper, even when it feels like there’s nothing left to say.

    That Something makes the formula not just a formula, but The Entire Effing Point.

    Put pen to paper and you might just end up with a book. Put one foot in front of the other and you might just end up owning a viable small business. I really can’t make any guarantees about where it will lead.

    What I can say though, and with absolute certainty, is you’ll end up learning to be brave enough to trust yourself. You’ll see you are everything you once thought you weren’t. And that is, without a doubt, the only kind of success there is.


  • Nuclear.

    I once read that the worst thing an entrepreneur can do is open a business built around something they love. In other words, if you heart yoga, don’t even think about opening a yoga business.

    To the core, I get this. Sometimes I wish like hell that I didn’t.

    I remember the first couple of days The Funky Buddha opened for business. Before teaching a class I’d set myself up in the reception area like Mother Hen and watch students come in. The place would go from sparkly, and colorful, and clean, to looking as if someone had detonated a nuclear bomb.

    Salt pellets all over the damn rugs, and sweaty underwear accidentally left behind. It was a major I Heart Yoga buzz kill. It was an even major-er buzz kill when I realized someone would have to clean all that nuclear shit up, and that someone was lucky-ass Me.

    Once I walked in to take a class and a very well-meaning student pulled me aside. With sparkly eyes she said, “It must be soooo nice for you to be able to come in here whenever you want to de-stress!” My next thought was, “That’s a really funny joke lady! This place IS my stress.”

    When I dreamt The Funky Buddha, many things were hyper-clear to me. I saw color, and kick-ass wallpaper, and heard the sounds of music and people chattering their way into becoming a happy community.

    What I couldn’t see was how owning the business of my dreams would kick my ass again and again. Or how many times I’d be tempted to turn my back on yoga, not to mention the entirety of the human race.

    My dreamy crystal ball never forecasted leaky ceilings, disagreements with teachers, parking issues, plugged toilets, theft, or having to ask unruly students to kindly find another studio to practice at…please.

    Maybe I took the wrong crystal ball home.

    The other day I was sitting on an airplane reading Journey Into Power, by Baron Baptiste. I haven’t read it cover to cover since before I opened the studio. It’s worn and full of underlines, colorful highlights, and scribbly margin notes.

    Reading it was like coming home to my dreams. Flipping through my own hand-scribbled notes showed me how intensely I’ve grown.

    I set the book down on my lap for a second, and looked out the window over Appalachia. I saw brown, rolling mountains and felt my heart start to open again.

    I could breathe deeper, and sensed my trusty rough edges going softer. It occurred to me I had just experienced the entire point of it all.

    For us to continue, we must open.

    For Life to continue, we must stay open.

    I’ve been chewing on this light-bulb moment ever since I got off the plane. I’ve watched myself open and close at least a thousand times a day. I’ve questioned my dream of opening a studio, and I’ve allowed myself to be angry at the parts of it I hate. But I keep coming back to the same thing.

    Life sends us our dreams so we can learn how to open.

    This kinda makes the underwear, and the disagreements, and the leaks, and the theft take on a whole new light. Do I like them? No. Are they opportunities for intense growth? Hell yes.

    Four years ago I picked up Journey Into Power and decided to open a hot yoga studio. I went in blind, dreamy, blissfully dumb, and armed with a broken crystal ball, but I knew what I wanted.

    I wanted to become an open person. So I followed a dream which happened to be gifted with a few million obstacles.

    All the best dreams have parts that are nuclear. It’s okay to hate them, so long as I remember those parts are just built-in practice; Life’s longing for me to be a vessel with a wide-open heart.

    This place IS my opening, and I’ve got a little more practice to do.


  • The Grand Canyon Years.

    When you don’t want to be a mom, but you go ahead and have twins anyway, you can expect the shit to fly. I know this well. Mine flew like crazy.

    I won’t forget the moment Abe and Jake were put next to me for the first time, one each in the crooks of my arms. Six-pound bundles of hospital blanket.

    I looked at both of their red, mashed up faces and thought, “Fuck, they’re out of my belly.” I hadn’t at all prepared for that part.

    The next years were a blur of sleep deprivation and lots of yelling. I acted as if I’d been hit by The Plague. I wished intensely for Abe and Jake’s real parents to show up on my doorstep and ask for them back.

    They never came though. No one knocked on the door.

    So I fell apart instead. I made everything their fault while I kicked and screamed.

    I quit on them.

    I quit on me.

    Looking back I have to be intensely kind to myself. I was doing my best. Sometimes your shit’s got to fly so you can learn to do it better next time.

    I've named them The Grand Canyon Years. Month after month of chaos, wind, and non-stop flooding rain. Darkness black as crude oil, and the shifting of rock and tectonic plates. The slowest ticking of time.

    Me falling apart.

    It’s only now that I can stand, toes up to the very edge, look back, and marvel at the unspeakable beauty.

    Yesterday we rode the museum carousel. I took the pony. Abe sat on the giraffe.

    Half way through our twirling Abe said, “Will you hold my hand, Mommy?” Without hesitation mine slipped around his like a glove.

    One minute it’s chaos and rock and wind. You find yourself unable to halt the falling apart. The next, Life asks with full sincerity if it can slip itself into your hand.

    One extreme makes way for the other.

    It's true, my shit still flies. Of course it does. Life is not done carving its canyon through me.

    But I have learned to do better. I’ve learned not to quit on myself or make it anyone else’s fault. I kick a little less. I scream quieter. I trust the movement of my own tectonic plates.

    Six years later I know enough to stand, toes up to the very edge, and marvel at the unspeakable beauty. Somehow I’ve got two little-boy hands to hold, and an intricately carved canyon in the making. It's full of trust for when the twirling stops, and the shit starts to fly.


  • Equal Parts Life and Death.

    It was 6:31 p.m. when I looked at the wall clock. My Grandpa had just taken his final breath. The hardest part was watching my Mom’s heart break.

    An hour later I drove by the Eastown studio. It was pitch black outside; inside I could see the bright red wall, and Ashley starting class. The clock in my car said 7:31 p.m.

    It took only a few seconds for the following thought to register as I continued to drive: “She’s telling them to take their first deep breaths.” I noticed chills run the length of my arms.

    Life rarely makes sense, but it’s intensely beautiful. One minute someone dies. Across town, at the exact next moment, someone decides to wake up and start living.

    Four years ago I went head-first through a personal crisis. It was the result of my having fallen asleep to the beauty.

    I was lucky. I had someone. That someone stood next to me one day and said, “I love you Kerri, but now you must wake the fuck up.” He was my teacher. He was asking me to take my first deep breaths.

    A year later that someone and I opened a space we’d created to be bright and real and full of beautiful life. A space where people could wake the fuck up or do anything else they needed to. A space where death was as welcome as life. That space was The Funky Buddha Eastown.

    In the three years since our opening I’ve watched thousands of people walk in and out of 1331 Lake Drive. I’ve invited many of them to take their first deep breaths.

    Sometimes my interactions with those students have made perfect sense. Other times they've hurt like hell, and I wanted to chuck the whole thing. But I’ve come to trust there is a cycle to it all. Life and death require each other. You cannot appreciate one without having known the other too.

    Four weeks ago I watched my Grandpa die, stood next to my mother while her heart broke, and celebrated a studio that has brought me such mixed emotion, all in the same hour.

    Four years ago I fell asleep, began the difficult work of waking the fuck up, became a yoga teacher, and opened a wildly popular yoga studio, all in the same year.

    We are all equal parts life and death. We are capable of experiencing bright and real and beautiful life one moment, only to be plunked right in the middle of pitch-black death in the next.

    Each drop of our experience here, whether it makes sense or hurts us like hell, is useful. We cannot fully appreciate a good deep breath until we know what it’s like to have had the life sucked from our lungs through disappointment or setback or failure.

    The bravest thing we can do is accept it all. Wake the fuck up. Keep our hearts open, even when they're breaking. Death is never the end. I bet right now, somewhere across town, someone is taking their first deep breath.


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