Taialofa and Kevin Petrini
On the South Pacific island of Savai’i, Samoa, in the year 2000, Kevin Petrini and Taialofa Russell met beside the sea. Kevin was working as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, and Taialofa was visiting the island where she was born. Upon their meeting, they both knew they would have an important place in each other’s life. They each had a dream of making the world a more peaceful place. They were married in Walpole, New Hampshire, in 2002.
The Raw Shakti vision occurred to Taialofa in 2002 during an evening meditation. She describes her mind as being clear as a lake and the vision of her dharma as unfolding before her. At this time Taialofa was teaching yoga full-time and had traveled to over 20 countries. She was also raised in a yoga lifestyle, which was full of outdoor adventures. Upon reflection, it may seem natural that she would have a vision of a yoga center and international adventure travel company. She saw Raw Shakti being created for the sake of helping people to see how they could live more peacefully and with more health amidst today’s busy world of excess and stress. Her vision was complimented by the practical and peaceful nature of her husband, Kevin. To begin making this vision a reality, Kevin encouraged the creation of the Raw Shakti Logo and Business Plan and started they discussions of what it would take, step by step, to create a Yoga Adventure Company and to serve many.
In 2003 they traveled to India for Kevin’s Yoga Teacher Training Course at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. Upon his completion of the course, they went on to study yoga and to meet with Amma, a great lady saint of India who serves millions. Taialofa and Kevin also taught yoga classes in India and much to their surprise their classes were full. They lead their first Yoga Adventure Retreat through Kerala, thereby laying the groundwork for Raw Shakti Yoga Adventure tours of India, the birthplace of yoga.
In 2004, Taialofa and Kevin arrived in Samoa on a boat with only two backpacks, a surfboard and their first computer. It happened to be a full moon and Taialofa’s 29th birthday. This was the first time Taialofa had been in Samoa on her birthday since she was born. By their second week in Samoa, Taialofa was asked to teach her first yoga class. As Kevin was taking the class, he saw a rainbow through the window directly over her head. They felt this to be an auspicious sign that yoga would work in Samoa, and so the hard work began. Taking local buses to teach classes they made their way slowly but surely, as they held fast to their dream of teaching yoga in Samoa and worldwide. Throughout the first year, guests from overseas came to stay with them for yoga lifestyle makeovers and retreats. This encouraged the vision to include a retreat center. One of their guests was Taialofa’s brother, Bryan Russell, who came to Samoa to assist her on a yoga retreat and helped create the first Raw Shakti Yoga e-newsletter in December of 2004.
Throughout 2004, Kevin spent many hours practicing yoga and learning from the Yoga Vasistha, Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, Upanishads and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. He laid the groundwork in local Samoan villages, thanks to his knowledge of the language and cultural protocol, for their Yoga Adventure Tours of Samoa. Taialofa’s classes continued to grow and she dove deeply into her personal sadhana (yoga practice).
In 2005, the groundwork was completed for the Yoga Adventure Travel aspect of their vision. They are now leading people on extraordinary yoga retreats that include positive interaction with the people and local culture of Samoa. The vision now is to have a yoga center in Samoa and 27 Yoga Adventure Tours around the world yearly, lead by Raw Shakti Instructors.
Taialofa and Kevin’s practice develops daily. This includes practicing yoga together and supporting each other in living an ashram-style life as householders. They are dedicated to making Raw Shakti the best Yoga Adventure Travel Company it can be. Raw Shakti was voted one of the top 5 adventure companies in the world in 2007, thanks to their eco friendly and culturally sensitive practices that go so beautifully with yoga.
In June 2009, Taialofa gave birth to twin boys in Samoa. The adventure of being becoming a parent they took to be the greatest blessing of their lives and the little boys now share in their yoga life and go along happily for the ride. In 2010 on 10 gorgeous acres of land that include sacred banyans trees and views of the ocean, they are building their first home and yoga guest house. In 2011 construction will begin for the Yoga Center, all with health and peace for the planet in mind.
The sense of community that one gets from being involved in Raw Shakti is contagious. Taialofa and Kevin, the founders of Raw Shakti, are uniquely positive and uplifting people to be around. They have been gathering a community of people who align with their mission of health and peace on earth, one person at a time. Thank you kindly for reading about what we offer and we will be honored to have you on one of our transformational yoga adventures or teacher trainings. Namaste.
For your best Health,
Taialofa and Kevin