“There’s something about shaking off the Newtonian mechanical man-made time – minutes, seconds, days – that allows you to let go of tension and stress and the need to be perfect, or something other than who you already are.”
–Carson Efird, yoga program director and teacher at EVOLVE Movement
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Travis Long
“A student said to me once, ‘I feel like I just had a vacation in the middle of my week,’” says yoga teacher Carson Efird. The student had just finished a Wednesday evening class at EVOLVE Movement, which Carson typically teaches to the accompaniment of her drummer husband Joe Westerlund. She credits the class’s unique structure for the feeling. “When we align with our natural rhythms, whether it’s the rhythm of our heart or our breath – or the organic rhythm that a drum puts into space – we get back in touch with what I call our authentic groove.”
Efird and Westerlund know that same feeling. “We met for the first time at an improvisation for dancers and musicians class,” Efird says. “I was dancing and Joe was drumming, and that was really the foundation that our whole relationship was built on.” They eventually married, moved from Vermont to North Carolina for Westerlund’s music, and opened a yoga studio in Five Points. On Saturday mornings, the couple offered a flow class to the tune of improvised drums. “It became a way of us spending time together and having a creative practice together,” Efird says.
A decade later – after a stint in Los Angeles, and the evolution of Efird’s yoga studio into EVOLVE Movement near Cameron Village – the couple have reintroduced the yoga-and-live-music sessions. On Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, “both of our professions come together and the spark of what brought us together shines through,” Efird says.
This summer, they’re trekking to Westerlund’s native Eau Claire, Wis. to perform at a music festival. Along the way, they’ve scheduled yoga-and-drum class stops. The tour isn’t their first: They frequently travel nationally and internationally to teach, play, and study. Westerlund says the invitation for “everyone to follow their own tempo” appeals to yogis of every level. Whether you work up a sweat or enjoy long and leisurely stretches, all are welcome to breathe and listen. “It’s not like we’re counting off like in a dance class. We tap into a biological type of rhythm, a universal pulse.”