It’s not often I feature an International yoga teacher here on The Yoga Lunchbox, so I’m please to introduce California-based Kaitlyn.
She’s coming down to New Zealand for a three month trip and is hoping to teach yoga around the country while she’s here. (See the bottom of the article for details on how to get in touch with her if you’d like to host her in your studio or town.)
Kaitlyn writes a yoga blog of her own, called Yoga KM, where she’ll be writing about her Kiwi trip.
Still a high school student when she first discovered yoga, Kaitlyn says she’s had the bug ever since those first classes during a Summer professional actors program in Kirkland, Washington.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I teach a range of classes from beginner to vigorous vinyasa flow classes; all of my classes are heavily influenced by my Astanga practice with a strong emphasis on the breath and safe alignment. I keep my classes lighthearted and fun, it is a time to explore what is possible and learn new things about our bodies and ourselves.
From November 2010 until about February 2011 I will be traveling around New Zealand and teaching wherever I can. I will be here on a working holiday visa from the USA (Los Angeles, CA) and am looking forward to practicing and teaching as much as I can while I travel.
2. How did you come to yoga?
I came to yoga in high school as a theater student. I was immediately drawn to how present and in the moment yoga allowed me to be. I began studying with a book at home in my room and eventually made my way to a yoga studio. I practiced Astanga for a few years and then went off to explore Iyengar, vinyasa flow, restorative and many other forms before returning to Astanga, which is my current practice.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
The yoga bug had me from the very beginning. My first experience with yoga was a life changing experience – I had never in my life felt so connected and I was immediately hooked to that feeling.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
My practice has taken me from a place of feeling separate from the world and the people around me to a place of feeling like I am part of the world and have something useful to offer.
My practice became a sort of microcosm to the world around me. If I could laugh at myself for falling out of a handstand, why couldn’t I laugh at myself when things didn’t go as planned elsewhere in my life? I began to realize (and am still learning all the time) that life doesn’t always go as planned but you get to choose how you react to what happens and that can make all the difference in the world.
5. What is your home practice like?
I practice the Astanga primary series five or six days a week and try to take one day of restoratives to allow my body to rest. I love the moving meditative quality that Astanga brings. Since it is the same poses every time my body knows where to go and my mind can become uncluttered and clear.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?” what do you say?
I always begin by telling that yoga translates to ‘yolk’ or ‘union’- so the practice of yoga is all about connecting. When we realize the connection between mind, body and spirit anything is possible.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
My classes vary quite a bit but there is always a strong emphasis on listening to the breath and keeping the breath steady. Most all of my classes have a bit of vinyasa flow in them but I like to focus on moving into and out of the poses safely and keeping proper alignment.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
Teaching gives me a chance to live in the moment and be present with my students and myself. I love planting the seeds of yoga and watching them grow. Most people have no idea how strong they are (physically and mentally) and helping people tap into that inner strength is one of the best feelings in the world.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
I wish everyone knew that it doesn’t matter if you feel like you’ll never touch your toes or balance in a handstand or put your foot behind your head! That is not the point of practicing yoga. Practicing poses is such a small part of the overall picture. The poses can be a wonderful tool but they are not the entire practice.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Yoga has always been a tool for self-transformation and I hope that never changes. As more and more people practice and become more aware of themselves and the world around them I hope that yoga can help play a role in decreasing fear and violence as we all begin to realize that we are walking through this world together.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
As I travel through New Zealand I will be teaching wherever I am!
If you have a studio with open space for an extra class or workshop please contact me through email (firstname.lastname@example.org), I will be posting where I am and where I will be teaching on my website. I am looking forward to the new adventures on and off the mat that beautiful New Zealand has to offer.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
Email is the best way to reach me, email@example.com. I can also be contacted through my website Yoga KM or through Facebook by searching Kaitlyn McConnell Yoga.