You're so fine
You blow our minds
(sung to the tune of "Mickey")
A lot of people in the yoga community chant, but not everyone does it with pompoms. The Shamanic Cheerleaders—a San
Francisco performance group influenced by acrobatics, hip hop, jazz, spoken word, kirtan, and yoga asana—use pep
and humor to bring a message of consciousness to the masses. Clad in swingy pleated skirts, midriff-baring halter tops,
and combat boots, this high-energy dance group performs original cheers, like the kind you might see at a college
football game, except that these include affirmations and messages of social responsibility. While Sanskrit and high
kicks might seem an unlikely combination, the group has performed at a wide range of venues since its inception in 2006,
including the San Francisco Green Festival. The Shamanic Cheerleaders was the inspiration of squad captain, Rana Stewart
(also known as Satori). A dancer, stilt walker, and expressive arts therapist, Stewart wanted to bring levity to the
spiritual community. One year at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, she came up with the idea of becoming a cheerleader
of consciousness. She brought the vision back to her San Francisco expressive arts women's collective, where it evolved
into a full-fledged squad.
"To me, the thing that's exciting about spirituality is spirit," Stewart says. "There wasn't anything out there that was
sacred and rowdy at the same time. The Shamanic Cheerleaders are rowdy bliss makers."
There are, no doubt, those who would say that singing "Om namah shivaya" to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
is sacrilege, but the cheerleaders see what they do as a happier, more accessible way of expressing spirituality and
positivity. "People need to be cheered on and inspired," Stewart says. As one of the group's chants puts it, "If you want
to be enlightened, you've got to lighten up!"
In addition to Stewart, the squad has four other members: licensed naturopathic doctor and Shamanic Cheerleaders
co-creative director Cory Reddish (Afterchakra); yoga teacher Wendy Faith Levicoff (Crescendo); performance artist
Chandra Krown (Shakti-KAHN); and part-time member, circus per-former Megan Tennity (Megastar). They also have five
alumnae and a growing JV squad made up of past attendees of their workshops. The cheerleaders don't claim to be real
shamans, but Reddish points out that there are commonalities in the work they do. "We both use sound and movement to
raise energy, create vibration, and bring about healing."