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Paige Bonner (Paigeb@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

In the process of trying to conquer the world.... yoga found me. It showed up in all of its generosity and put me in check. You see I had a stereotype and a label for yoga. I thought I would be learning the art of contouring my body into these unimaginable shapes and become super flexible.

WHAT I LEARNED:

What I learned instead was how to recognize emotion. We all need a little something to guide us in critical times. None of us are taught how to hold discomfort or communicate it. Yoga is teaching me how to sit in uncomfortable circumstances. In the meantime I'm stronger, more stable, focused. I've improved my balance and strengthened my immune system. Indeed I'm much more flexible. Most importantly I live a richer life.

WHY I TEACH:

I teach to inspire those who are curious about themselves and their capabilities. The thing I most love about yoga is its ability to change people. To teach love over fear. It's an ongoing journey with no endgame. That's the beauty and power of yoga. My intention is to articulate the practice as it comes. Whatever that may bring with it is welcome. My students are my teachers and have embraced my creativity and been the most loving part of this process. I'm forever thankful.


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Cate Brinnon (Catherine@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

I come from a family of very physically active people. Although I tried to be good at a sport, I was never really good ENOUGH. This did not mix well with my competitive personality.

Years later, I found my athletic self through lifting and teaching a number of fitness classes at our local Y. I had so many aches and pains from the stresses I was putting on my body and explored every avenue to heal short of surgery.

WHAT I LEARNED:

I giggle remembering my first real yoga class in college with a friend. The instructor told us to relax our pancreas. I could not stop laughing through what I now know was Savasana.

When I began to pursue a true physical yoga practice, the first thing I noticed was a reduction and eventual elimination of pain. The more I practiced and submitted myself to really learning about yoga (not just POWERING through), I noticed more subtle changes to my physical body and to my approach to life. Even my kids began to notice how their mom was less REACTIVE.

WHY I TEACH YOGA:

A common thread of my life is that of teaching, training and problem solving. I LOVE sharing knowledge. I feel yoga has given me so much and I LOVE sharing these gifts! Trained as an engineer, I am fascinated about how the anatomy, the mind and the spirit are so intricately interwoven! Yoga gives us all an infinite opportunity for self-discovery and for becoming our best selves. I simply want to encourage others as I have been encouraged


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Janine Campbell (Janinec@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

I went to my first ever yoga class in the early 2000’s when I was living in Lake Worth, Fla. After a day at the beach I saw a sign in front of a church offering free yoga. I’ve always had an interest in alternative health, and all things self-exploratory so I was curious. I went in with no mat, and no expectations and I fell in love right away. After that, I didn’t maintain a regular practice, but would randomly show up to classes in various locations over the next 10 years or so. When I was in my early 30’s I returned to yoga out of desperation. I was a mom of two, raising my kids alone, feeling isolated, and suffering silently from a hormonal imbalance and mild depression. I struggled with controlling my emotions and patience on most days, and majority of the time, my mood swings were directed at my two young children who undoubtedly deserved a mother who was mentally present, loving and nurturing instead of angry, negative and stressed.

WHAT I LEARNED:

When I committed to a regular practice I noticed changes very quickly. I was immediately welcomed at the studio and realized that the yoga community is full of love and support. During this time of personal isolation, yoga made me feel supported, wanted and welcomed. Physically I became healthier and my mood swings became much more tolerable and my stress was more manageable than it ever was. As my practice deepened, and I opened myself up to learning more about yoga, I became equipped with coping skills and tools that have helped immensely with stress management and stress relief. Through yoga I’ve learned that “bad days” are inevitable, but I have the power and personal responsibility to change my perspective.

WHY I TEACH:

I went to teacher training in 2014 to learn more about myself and deepen my own personal practice. I never had any intention of teaching originally but teaching yoga has become a natural progression of my own personal learning, and I gain a deeper understanding of yoga every time I teach a class. I feel a great deal of honor and gratitude that people allow me to lead them each week, and I love witnessing small victories occur on the mats of my students.


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Jessica Deese (jessicad@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

I dabbled a bit in yoga years ago. I felt a connection to it then, but I didn’t continue. Fast forward to 2014(ish), I had 2 new babies and was suffering greatly from C-PTSD. I was desperate for relief and despite trying all other avenues, such as medications, counseling etc., I couldn’t find it. I started doing some research and stumbled upon some evidence of yoga working in the treatment of PTSD, so I took that information and walked into the Ashtanga room at Kai. Little did I know what a transformational step I was taking.

WHAT I LEARNED:

I fell in love with the Ashtanga system of yoga. The focus and concentration, the linking of breath and movement, the routine and structure, and the meditative qualities of the practice drew me in. These are also the qualities that can change the pathways in the brain and regulate the nervous system response relating to trauma. Yoga has changed me from the inside out, calming the sensations and anxiety that I was suffering from, while providing me with the tools to do the inner work that needed to be done.  I found so much relief, that I decided to teach.

WHY I TEACH:

More than anything, I just want to help people. I want to give them the information, tools, and safe space that I wish I would’ve utilized 20 years ago to help calm and heal the body and mind. I have a special interest in using Ashtanga yoga as a tool for healing and working with trauma and addiction, and also working with kids and moms.


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Tammy Lake (tammyl@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

As I was about to turn 40 yrs old, I took a good hard look at my life and knew that I would never see 50 without major changes. So I chose to have the most drastic type of weight loss surgery and over the next 3yrs , I lost 350 lbs. I became a first time mom at 45. I had a while new life ahead of me. But carrying that much weight in my past literally affected my present and would continue to affect my future. I needed total knee replacements (still do) and other health issues mean I tire easily and am not able to build up much stamina. I just wanted to be a good mom and live long enough to see my daughter grown.

I took another hard look at my life. I convinced my best friend to try an “intro to yoga” course with me because I was too insecure to go alone. I struggled to even get on the floor but at least there would be a friendly supportive face there. To my surprise and delight all the faces were friendly and supportive. My limitations didn't matter.

WHAT I LEARNED:

Yoga has been life changing for me, physically and mentally. I'm not the strongest yogi in the room, my yoga poses are not Instagram pretty. They are most often modified because I am not able to reach the full posture. And all that is absolutely OK!! Yoga has taught me that the strength and beauty of your yoga practice is in the perseverance, effort, and value that you put in yourself, not in the perfection that you think it should be. No matter your age or your physical abilities, it is never too late to find your own yoga practice. You just have to be brave enough to show up on your mat.

WHY I TEACH:

Having my limitations in my practice and still finding the fulfillment, purpose and benefits in my yoga practice are why I chose to teach.  For everyone out there who thinks yoga is beyond their abilities, I want to help them find the value and strength in their own practice and in themselves.


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Katie Mlod (Katie@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

I stumbled upon yoga after blowing both knees training for the Air Force Half marathon. I was questioning whether I had any future with high impact exercise, which I hated. I never felt like I was “working out” when I practiced yoga, yet the guilt I always felt over not moving my body every day was gone. I grew up as a dancer, under constant scrutiny over my body size, with the assumption that everyone was always looking at me and I needed to perform accordingly.

WHAT I LEARNED: 

Yoga helped me to let the performance aspect go. My mat became a safe space for my body to fluctuate in size while feeling strong regardless. I started the deep internal work of examining my need to be in the spotlight when I started practicing Ashtanga yoga in 2014. The discipline and solitude of the practice has helped me to unpack a lot of my least likeable personality traits over the years. I’m not perfect, I still use a lot of sarcasm and judge situations unfairly, but now I know that that I’m doing it and can adjust my behavior accordingly. My first class, I had really no idea what yoga was. I took one class at a gym and thought the postures were easy, so I declared myself an intermediate level student when I started at Kai. I still laugh about that one, and it goes to show how much I needed a dose of humility in my life.

WHY I TEACH

As members of an increasingly divisive society, I believe we all have a lot of internal work to do to eradicate those feelings of insecurity, self-loathing, and judgement that we pass on to others. I enjoy teaching to encourage people to face those demons on the mat and to know that I’m in their corner cheering them on.

I had never considered becoming a yoga teacher until my teacher suggested it to me. Once that idea entered my head, I was hooked. The opportunity to provide the safe space for self-discovery for other people that she had provided for me was a great motivator. I love that the learning never stops. There’s always something to dig deeper into. I love that I can count on a lifetime of exploration and discovery. My Ashtanga practice continues to be a source of eternal education; anatomy of postures, the count, mysteries of breath and meditation. As an early childhood intervention specialist, I continue to explore teaching yoga for children and its effects in the classroom, particularly for children with special needs and sensory disorders. Within our Ashtanga community, I continue to practice alongside the students I teach on a regular basis. Knowing everyone’s daily lives, I’m always inspired when they show up on their mats and work it through despite times of struggle or joy.


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Wendy Willey (wendyw@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA:

Yoga found me quite by accident when I accepted an invitation to join a friend for a yoga class at Kai. She explained we would be supporting a friend of hers who had just opened a yoga studio nearby. The first class, a Yin Yoga class, was fun and very relaxing. By the second class I was sold. It was evident that my years of back pain was improving dramatically, and I really enjoyed the practice. I was feeling huge relief; relief I had not experienced with other more traditional methods no matter how much time and effort I applied. I wanted to learn more! I started taking different kinds of classes and then signed up for teacher training for even more. Now I am teaching and meeting amazing people, still learning, and probably always will be.

WHAT I LEARNED:

Yoga places no demands or expectations, only your intention abounds. It can be done by anyone! This ancient practice has strength and grace, and it is no wonder it has proved the test of time. There are many types of yoga and there are always new things or layers to learn. 

WHY I TEACH:

I teach Yin Yoga, a mindful slow-paced practice consisting of holding seated postures with the intention of placing a gentle tug on the connective tissues of the body. This very subtle practice provides lubrication of the joints for greater flexibility, range of motion, and balance to the physical body. We also utilize the time in postures practicing breathing techniques that develop a self awareness, mindfulness, and peaceful calm.

I also teach Ashtanga Yoga which is a more active, faster paced practice, synchronizing breath and movement. Ashtanga can also incorporate modifications to make the practice accessible to every body. Everyone’s practice, although same intentions, is as different as the individual is different. The postures are taught and performed in a progressive sequence aimed to calm the mind as well as tone and detoxify the body.

I love learning new things and seem to be always looking for new aspects of my chosen practices to share with our Kai Community. Teaching yoga allows me to share my yoga journey with others and encourage others to follow their own paths. Whether these paths run parallel or intersect, it is inspiring to see the changes that evolve. By far, my favorite aspect is to see my student’s confidence soar with the smallest of changes, whether in mind, body, or spirit! One thing for sure, you meet the most wonderful people.


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Mandy Woodworth (Mandyw@livekai.com)

BEFORE YOGA: I have never been the type of person that enjoys exercise. I like to work outside in the warmer months, but I was by no means a physically fit person. I was in my early 40’s, overweight, not happy with my job and in not too stable of mental health when I found yoga quite by accident. My best friend decided she wanted to try yoga and took me along for the ride. We signed up for a four-week yoga 101 workshop. I can’t express how much I didn’t want to go. I knew I would get the side eye for being fat. I didn’t have the right clothes. I wasn’t fit. The list of excuses was endless. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I gathered up my mat from Walmart and went to the studio for that first class

WHAT I LEARNED

Pretty quickly I realized nobody cared what I looked like. Nobody had time too. We were all just trying to stay upright. I learned that the struggle to be present on my mat and move mindfully gave me an hour and fifteen minutes of peace anytime I showed up to practice. For someone who’s brain is never quiet, that is a God send.

I also figured out I was way stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. This body that I belittled for so many years because I thought it wasn’t beautiful is strong and healthy now because of yoga. I can look at myself with love. I have moved on from believing I’m not beautiful because I have thick thighs. I am beautiful regardless.

WHY I TEACH:

I became teacher because I wanted to pass on some of the strength and peace I’ve gotten from yoga. I hope people will look at me and think to themselves “If she can do yoga, I know I can do yoga.” I love to see someone surpass their own expectations of what they can do. That, more than anything, makes me excited to keep teaching and practicing yoga.