The Courage to Teach

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When I cannot find the words to say what I am feeling, I often can find that someone else has already said them. I found what I was looking for after several days of digging around in poetry books, newsletters, and yoga teacher training readings. In his book The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life Parker Palmer says,

“The courage to teach is the courage to keep one’s heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than its able, so that teacher and students and subjects can be woven into the fabric of community that learning and living, require.”

As any mother can attest, my experience with my first child has changed my perspective on many things. From how many hours of sleep a human needs to effectively function (less than you think).  How success is not determined by productivity (slow down). How leaning in to the littlest moments of life that bring the richest contentment (her first smile, the sound of her breath as she sleeps, her tiny hand clasped around my finger). My heart has never been so full. It feels like it can not possibly hold anymore. I know that this is exactly where I am meant to be: caring for and watching my daughter grow each and everyday. I will be honest, there were several times this winter I was not sure I wanted to return to teach, but I know that my heart is calling me to do more. 

The warm, sunny studio at Coconut Yoga will be my home base this year. You can catch me on Tuesdays at 9:30am for a Sunrise Flow starting March 19th. We will move through a full body practice that is centered on the seasonal, lunar, and daily shifts in the world around us. All levels welcome! The first class is near the Spring Equinox. It is perfect time to start new routines as it is a time of new growth and increasing light. We will be focusing on balance and equilibrium. Light and dark. Softening and strengthening. Holding on and letting go. Yin and yang. Chocolate and vanilla (Ok, maybe not the last one…). 

After living and experiencing the prenatal and postnatal body this past year, I think that this population of women need some extra love and care. I will be turning my attention to creating workshops, events, and courses that will focus specifically on journey into motherhood. It is a new passion of mine, as yoga has empowered me to feel embodied, balanced, and nourished during my pregnancy, birth, and postnatal journey.  I will also be available for perinatal individual sessions, as I can attest, this journey is very personal and each woman’s experience is unique. More on this, embodiment, and the art of paying attention in future blog posts (and baby yoga pictures).

Mark your calendars for my first prenatal workshop on April 27th at Coconut Yoga with the brilliant Rachelle Malik, The Food Therapist. We will focus on cultivating a balanced, healthy body and mind throughout pregnancy with yoga and nutrition. 

I am still on the sub list all over town, so keep an eye on my IG and FB for cameo appearances at other times and at other studios.

Love & light, 

Kristin 

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Meditation of Motherhood

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I woke

and crept

like a cat

 

on silent feet

about my own house–

to look

 

at you

while you were sleeping,

your hair

 

sprayed on the pillow,

your eyes

closed,

 

your body

safe and solitary,

and my doors

 

shut for your safety

and your comfort.

I did this

 

thinking I was intruding,

yet wanting to see

the most beautiful thing

 

that has ever been in my house.

 

~Mary Oliver, “I Woke” from Blue Horses


During a lecture, Lorin Roche described mediation as the “practice of paying loving attention to life” or “falling in love with life.” The meditation teacher and author then went on to describe how mothers are constantly meditating.  I thought it was a beautiful sentiment. I hoped I would one day experience this magical  practice. Until recently I have not truly known what this full-bodied, full-time mediation really entailed.

I am by no means as expert as I have just survived these past six weeks with one child. However, becoming a mother has given me a new perspective on meditation. I am now paying attention to each moment, facial expression, small coo, gurgle and cry with a constant, loving awareness. I did not know I could become so singular in mind and purpose before I met my daughter. Even when I am doing something totally unrelated–taking a shower, doing yoga, reading etc –there is an undercurrent in my mind that is still focused on her.

Every single person on this earth had a mother. Whether or not the relationship with the mother is one of nourishing and care, I believe that most mothers (adoptive mothers included) are part of this constant meditation. It is a tether that is forged in the most delicate moments with a new child but is unbreakable. A bond that starts in the womb but strengthen through the sleepless night and first smiles. A connection that will continue to deepen in a way I have still yet to experience as a child grows into an adult. I think of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and the whole lineage of women who came before me. All strong and capable but probably found themselves in the middle of the night exhausted, overwhelmed, and likely at the verge of tears because of  a tiny human being who will not settle down. They probably also found themselves staring at their child in more peaceful moments and wondering if there is anything in the world so perfect, so beautiful , and so overflowing with love.

Motherhood has proven to me that I know even less than thought, but with love I am capable of more than I ever imagined. Like meditation, motherhood is not easy but it is magical. It is not glamorous but it is filled with unimaginable joy. It really is falling in love with life.

My husband and I were delighted to invite Cora Marie into the world on November 18, 2018. I will be on maternity leave from teaching yoga for the remainder of the winter as I continue to fall in love with Cora. Stay tuned as spring emerges. Until then, I am looking forward to beginning 2019 with this new meditation of motherhood.

Love and Light,

Kristin (& Luna, Cora’s full-time protector)

Yoga & Pregnancy

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I finally announced on social media several weeks ago that we are expecting our first baby in late November. We are over the moon excited and impatiently counting down the days while slightly terrified in the way that all first time parents are when bombarded with horror stories of  labor and delivery, screaming banshee infants, and not sleeping for the rest of our lives.

Horror stories aside, I have to admit that I have been enjoying this pregnancy as a curious observer. Just as I encourage my students to simply observe their breathing or sensations during yoga without judgement or control, I have been trying to do the same with my ever changing pregnant body. I try to greet each day as a new adventure. In my experience, adventures are not always comfortable or easy. A year ago I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea and for a time did not even think I would be able to get pregnant naturally. After a long winter of learning how to eat, rest, and take back control of my long term health, we were blessed in the spring when this little bean started to grow in my womb. My emotions fluctuated between constantly worrying if I am gaining too much or not enough weight on a daily basis to being overjoyed when telling the good news to our families. My body has experienced wonder as the fluttering kick of baby has now turned into full fledged karate in my ribcage. My body has also experienced pain when my shifting bones caused an imbalance in my back and I could barely walk around the block for several weeks. I feel like this past year was a rollercoaster that I was tricked to getting on and now never want to get off.

To say the past 9 months pregnancy has been easy would be false. If the picture at the beginning of this blog is what you imagine my whole pregnancy to be, I apologize for misleading you.  Pregnancy is beautiful and magical while also physically challenging and mentally exhausting. I have had my fair share of discomfort, sleepless nights, trips to the physical therapist, long waits in the hospital to get tested and retested to confirm baby’s health, and many self-conscious moments in front of the mirror. Imagine: splayed across the floor, in my husband’s oversized shirt,  hair amok, exhausted and crying for no specific reason while Luna tries to lick my face which ultimately makes me cry more. That would be another accurate picture of pregnancy.

More often, I am lucky to say I have  moments of great joy and sheer amazement when I experience the changes my body is going through to accommodate this tiny human. I have learned to lean into the innate female wisdom of my body that was dormant during my early 20s when I got absorbed in the culture of “busy” and “never enough”. Now, I am learning to honor the needs of my body. It changes moment to moment and day to day, not unlike my yoga practice. Some days I like doing many sun salutations, warrior poses and moving with strength. Some days I embrace the earthiness of moon salutations, restorative poses and moving with sweetness. Other days I do not practice at all.  For a while I still ran, ever so slowly, but those days are becoming much fewer and far between. Instead, I take Luna for long walks absorbing the sun and changing seasons. I miss some poses, like cobra and sphinx but not others like deep twists or inversions. The most important thing I have learned in this pregnancy is to listen to my body and always keep moving, even if it is gentle. I know my body is up to something greater, something more important. All those deep, complicated poses and long distance races will still be there after baby is born.

All these little adjustments have added up to a great realignment in my body, mind and spirit as it journeys through pregnancy and ultimately to motherhood. David Whyte, in his poem “Santiago”, talks of the great El Camino pilgrimage across Spain but it also speaks to some of the pilgrimages of life.

“the sense of having walked from far inside yourself

out into the revelation, to have risked yourself

for something that seemed to stand both inside you

and far beyond you, that called you back

to the only road in the end you could follow, walking

as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice

that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,”

After the pilgrimage of  pregnancy, I will embark the adventure of motherhood but perhaps I have actually already begun. I do not know when or how or where I am exactly going. I pray, in my rags of love and compassion, that I will safely meet this little person when they are ready to arrive.

My schedule is updated here. I plan on teaching my weekly classes through November 16. I will then take some time off through the winter as I learn about things such as diaper blowouts, late night feedings, and how to put on those cool but complicated baby wearing wraps. That being said, things often do not go as planned especially during the final weeks of pregnancy. Stay tuned on my FB and IG, as I have some lovely yogis standing in the wings ready to cover my classes if something changes.

*Updated 11/13: As stated above, things change. I will be taking the rest of this week off as we await this little one’s arrival. I need to respect and honor my body during this homestretch, and am so grateful I was able to teach as long as I did!

Love and light,

Kristin (& Luna & Baby)

Advanced Yoga Teacher Training // Home

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Last week I completed the final module for my 300hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with Tracy and Mitchell Bleier to become a 500hr Registered Yoga Teacher. It was an endeavor I dove into, rather boldly yet blindly, a year ago when we moved to Chicago. I was craving more education. More motivation.

As I sit here on this grey October morning, I can confidently say that this training provided me with more tools to better understand the human body and inspire my mind. It encouraged me to teach what I already know, whether that be an asana and alignment heavy class filled with props and anatomy or a fluid and flowing class filled with imagery and connecting to the senses. There is still more I am craving to understand. More I want to learn. However, I think this is my path as a teacher: to always be a student. The phrase “the more you learn, the less you know” speaks truth in my heart.

I wanted to share with you a sample of my writing from our final module during our writing workshop day with Tracy. I began this training with a writing prompt so I think it would be fitting to end with sharing my final writing prompt.


Home 

Sitting on my sofa, the late afternoon light

is filtering through the green curtains 

that have followed me into every house

of my adulthood.

Not every house a home

but every place brimming with the potential of 

finally coming home. 

 

The many houses I have drifted among 

have been built with brick and concrete. 

I want my home built on something stronger.

Something I can fit into my pockets and take with me.

Like the flowers I used to collect outside

as a little girl to bring to my mother.

Crumpled upon arrival but always accepted, 

graciously, lovingly. 

 

What I mean is a home is not a place at all

rather it is a sensation beyond knowing.

A feeling in my bones 

this is exactly where I am meant to be. 

Cultivating gratitude as a farmer hoes the ground 

before planting seeds each spring. 

Tenderly caring for each budding plant 

so it can flourish, grow and belong. 

 

I can feel the warm fur of my dog curled up next to me

and the gentle rise and fall of her breathing. 

A position she can find almost anywhere

but today has chosen join me in the sunlight.

Then she rests her soft little head in my lap

looks up at me with her trusting brown eyes saying:

Thank you

and 

I love you.


 

Love and Light,

Kristin (& Luna)

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Pay Attention

img_5500.jpg“Attention is the door way to gratitude…to wonder…to reciprocity.” -Robin Wall Kimmerer

 

Pay Attention

 

Pay attention and feel. 

The touch of the earth, the solid ground beneath your feet. 

Slow down and smell. 

The scent late summer air heavy with rain,

hot asphalt and mildew. 

Stop and notice.

The sunlight and the shade playing shadows

across the buildings and the cracks in sidewalk

telling you the time, day and season.  

Quiet and listen.

Hear the cicadas singing the final, bittersweet melody of dusk

interrupted by a far off call of children playing ball in the last bit of daylight

and another plane passing overhead but then,

for a fleeting moment, silence. 

 

Attention is a doorway—enter 

through your senses and receive  

the world of gratitude and wonder. 

EMPOWERED // Poetry

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And like that, the dog days of summer are upon us. It is August! I had another module for my 500hr training a few weeks ago and delighted in all the beautiful words that were brought to share with us. I wanted to share some of the poetry with you and some of the words that have been inspiring me as I continue my attempt to navigate, head heart first through the tail end of this abundant season. OM Shanti!


Invocation 

by Jeanne Lohmann

Let us try what it is to be true to gravity,
to grace, to the given, faithful to our own voices,

to lines making the map of our furrowed tongue.
Turned toward the root of a single word, refusing

solemnity and slogans, let us honor what hides
and does not come easy to speech.  The pebbles

we hold in our mouths help us to practice song,
and we sing to the sea.  May the things of this world

be preserved to us, their beautiful secret
vocabularies.  We are dreaming it over and new,

the language of our tribe, music we hear
we can only acknowledge.  May the naming powers

be granted.  Our words are feathers that fly
on our breath.  Let them go in a holy direction.


 by Diane Ackerman

Science and art both seem to be throwing buckets of light not the dark corners of existence, and I was enthralled. It didn’t make sense that we would be separating science and art, or that we would be separating nature and human nature. It seemed like we should be taking the universe literally–as one verse.


The Bell and the Blackbird

by David Whyte

The sound of a bell

Still reverberating,

or a blackbird calling

from a corner of the field,

asking you to wake

into this life,

or inviting you deeper

into the one that waits.

 

Either way

takes courage,

either way wants you

to be nothing

but that self that

is no self at all,

wants you to walk

to the place

where you find

you already know

how to give

every last thing

away.

 

The approach

that is also

the meeting

itself,

without any

meeting

at all.

 

That radiance

you have always

carried with you

as you walk

both alone

and completely

accompanied

in friendship

by every corner

of the world

crying

Allelujah.


 

Peace, love and namaste,

Kristin

Summer Poem // Source

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Source

The forest and rivers call to you

like the sparrow laughing at the edge of the meadow,

or the wind whispering through the trees before a storm.

Beckoning you to return again to your roots, your headwaters. 

Pointing you back to the source of creativity and unconditional love. 

It is deeper, richer and more profound than any complicated words on a page. 

Rather, it is held in the simplest of moments. 

Watching gentle mist hanging over the water at dawn,

the first rays of sunlight trickling down the tree tops. 

Staring into the vast, unimaginably blue summer sky while

wondering how the wildflower grows on such a steep mountainside.

Glimpses of a doe and her fawn deep in the wood, and

without breaking the sacred silence they leap away. 

The beauty of life presents itself like a gracious gift,

so that you may live each day with freedom, purpose and grace. 


 

I have finally returned to civilization (and consistent WiFi) after traveling from the beautiful mountains of Colorado, across the endless plains of Kansas, to the river valleys of southern Indiana, the lush forests of Ohio and the peaceful lakeshore of northern Wisconsin. Being so connected to nature soothes my soul making it hard to leave the quiet solitude of the outdoors, although it is good to home. I am feeling inspired to be outside more, find gratitude in simple moments and find the beauty within this noisy city.

July class and workshop schedule updated on my Classes & Workshops Page. 

Love & Light,

Kristin (and Luna)