Kris didn’t even like yoga when she first started going to class, yet she stuck with it and says now that yoga has completely changed her world.
She teaches using a step-by-step progression method, adjusting techniques for the body proportions and abilities of each student and says her teaching style emphasizes positive communication with constructive encouragement.
To me, she sounds like the kind of teacher you want to seek out if you’ve ever had a bad experience with yoga that put you off completely. Or if you know someone who had that bad experience… send them to Kris!
Something about her profile makes me think she could bring anyone round to the yoga way. Kris gets yoga. Just the way she describes what yoga is (see Question 6) tells me this. It makes me want to go practice with her right then, right there. I’ll have to wait until I’m next in Christchurch, but I can wait.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I am a certified Knoff Yoga Teacher. I teach and practice this style. After a combined total of 70+ years practicing and teaching yoga, Knoff Yoga evolved. Knoff Yoga is a dynamic style of yoga that incorporates five traditional elements: Meditation, pranayama, aligned and structurally balanced asanas, relaxation, and philosophy.
I teach in Christchurch at two yoga studios I have recently opened. One is in the central city and one is out towards the beaches in Ferrymead.
2. How did you come to yoga?
Via a circuitous route. There was a yoga studio on the same block I lived: Yoga Studio in Boulder, Colorado, USA. My partner was often stiff and sore. I thought yoga would be great for him so I bought him a gift certificate. He ended up not using it very much. I decided that if he wasn’t going to use it, I might as well try.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
For me, the yoga bug took a while to come out. At first I went to classes now and then. Then I bought a video and would follow along in my lounge – fast forwarding through the parts I didn’t like!! Then I started to travel quite a bit so I found an audio tape that I could follow anywhere I was.
The yoga process was slow and sporadic for me. At that time, my life was very fast-paced. I read and heard yoga was helpful for stress and relaxation, so I kept trying. Plus, I kept getting injuries in my other activities.
At first, I didn’t enjoy it. I found it boring and slow. In retrospect, I was unknowingly marinating.
It wasn’t until I quit my “career” job and moved to a new city that the bug hit.
I felt stripped of everything that was familiar and overwhelmed with all the changes in my life and future. When I went to a yoga class, I felt grounded. I used to leave class thinking it wasn’t safe for me to drive because I felt completely open and relaxed. Some of the evening classes were lit by only the street lamps outside. I LOVED these! I felt completely and absolutely at peace.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
In every way:
Yoga for me helps me cultivate compassion and one-ness. It reminds me that everything changes and not to cling, grasp, or hold on.
It is my constant practice of letting go. It gives me peace and space. It has also opened my creativity. Yoga simultaneously increases my confidence, and is also humbling.
The yoga mat does not lie and I believe it helps to keep me honest: Not to see things how I would like, but from a more balanced perspective.
Physiologically, yoga gives me an incredible release. If I miss multiple practices, I begin to feel “stuck”.
5. What is your home practice like?
Structured. I practice pranayama and meditation daily with longer pranayama sessions 3 times a week, and practice asanas 5 days a week. For me, following a system helps to keep my practice balanced. Instead of deciding what I feel like doing each day, I already know. Yoga practice is cumulative and this helps me stay consistent even on the days when I don’t feel like practicing at all.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
That yoga isn’t a separate entity or activity, yoga is within you. The practice of Yoga is a way in which to reconnect and fully inhabit and explore yourself. The asanas and pranayama are mediums in which to cultivate the connection or union that is “yoga” but just poses or breath work alone are not yoga.
Ultimately yoga is a spiritual discipline and there are paths or limbs in which to cultivate this, however yoga is also an incredibly practical tool in that it is an aid or method in which to enhance one’s life in whatever area that they may need.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
We always do some form of pranayama to begin. Focus and concentration are also key; therefore I encourage students to ask any questions they may have, but to please wait until after class. This way, the attention isn’t disrupted.
With the asanas we work to increase both strength and flexibility. I often see students who are incredibly flexible but do not have the strength to control or work their flexibility and also students who are quite strong but very stiff or rigid. So I try to work both equally. We may work more intensely on one of these, but we always work both.
I also try to bring a bit of lightness and fun into the class and finish with a reading that incorporates yoga philosophy into every day activities.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
The strong sense of connection it gives me and sharing what I have learned. I love seeing the transformations that occur on the mat through the various shapes, sizes, and attitudes. It truly is a privilege.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
That yoga literally is for everyone. Yoga is a discipline/method/tool to help improve one’s life and therefore one’s community. Yoga does not discriminate and is not gender specific. It doesn’t matter whether you are strong, weak, flexible, stiff, young, old, new or experienced.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
We live in a world of immediate gratification. The majority of our communication is via technology. Disconnection and separateness are so prevalent and “normal” we often don’t even notice it. This opens the door to destructiveness. It’s so easy to destroy, not care, ignore, or simply not notice something that one has not had contact with.
Yoga shows us the beauty, the humanness, the worldliness, the divinity of everything.
It shows us how everything is connected: That one action does affect another and that one person’s actions does affect another.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Yoga is an individual journey so try out as many teachers and styles as you can, especially if you are new to yoga.
Often people decide after 1 or 2 classes that yoga isn’t for them. I strongly believe that yoga is for everyone and it’s simply a matter of finding the style, place, and teacher that is right for you at that time.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
Through the website Yoga Centered.