Meet Kayla! She's one of your wonderful Runa Yoga teachers cultivating community and empowerment in her classes. Join Kayla in class, https://www.runayoga.com/class-schedule.
Q: How did you get started with Runa Yoga?
A: In the Spring of 2020 I joined Runa’s Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) thanks to a referral from a good friend who was also signed up. Then the pandemic hit right in the middle of it and we didn’t know if we would be able to graduate. Thankfully, we were able to graduate in May and I started teaching at Runa in July. YTT was weird to navigate at first with COVID, but it did help to slow things down and I felt more secure and a little less intimidated teaching behind a screen to start. It helped to gradually get me out of my very introverted box and be more comfortable teaching in-person. Despite my fear of public speaking, I think it’s so important to share yoga with others. It has really changed my view of myself and the world around me.
Q: When did you discover Yoga?
A: I attended a Beer + Yoga with a friend’s nursing work crew. When I was finally brave enough to attended a class by myself for the first time, I was really excited – it just stuck. Soon after, I lost someone really close to me. Yoga helped me calm down and breath through it. Even if it was just for one hour a day, it helped. I stuck with it for the mind-body connection. Unlike other exercise routines that I’ve started, Yoga was easy to stick with because it’s so much more unexpected than a weight lifting routine. It’s fun and beautiful and you just magically get a workout in the process. After practicing regularly for just a couple months I was able to do 10 push-ups from my toes - something I had never been able to do. I was leaner everywhere and it quickly made me feel really powerful and in control of my body. Lastly, I have scoliosis in my upper and lower spine and it hardly ever bothers me anymore. Yoga was the only thing that helped it. I can tell when I skip my own practice for a week or two because the regular, gentle movement and the core strength I’ve gained from yoga really is the only good medicine for my back.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting their yoga journey?
A: Take the leap. I would never have gotten into yoga if it weren’t for friends inviting me to Beer + Yoga. It’s addicting and now I can’t believe I ever had a life without yoga. I do understand that the first step can be intimidating - it was for me - but it was so worth it. Yoga’s a mind thing - it’s not about how far you can bend but instead about listening to your body and it’s a better workout than people tend to assume. It’s also just the most welcoming and supportive community.
Q: What’s your favorite yoga pose?
A: I really love arm balances because they make me feel powerful and my mind can’t wander when I’m so focused on keeping my balance. I also love when you get into a pose like cat/cow and you’re instructed to move organically. Freedom in class to loosen up and get out of your head is really important and a big part of the experience for me.
Q: What teachings or messages do you hope yogis’ get from your classes?
A: I hope they take with them a clearer mind and feel empowered. That’s the biggest thing I got out of it: empowerment, belief in myself, and an ability to step back in any situation and find space when I need it.
Q: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from yoga?
A: Yoga isn’t about flexibility. Sometimes being really flexible can actually hurt you if you don’t have the strength to support yourself. You can cause more harm by dumping into your flexibility. I know this because I’m double-jointed and very flexible and I realized I was doing poses totally wrong. I would dump into my joints and my shoulders would often go numb because of it. Alignment and joint safety is more important than diving deep into a pose. I always remind yogis in my classes to not lock their knees and don’t dump into your shoulders or elbows because those were the main things I was doing at first and causing a lot of harm. Many people don’t like the idea of using a prop or backing out of a pose to find better alignment but you’ll actually get to where you want to be faster by setting yourself up correctly from the beginning.
Q: Do you have any interesting yoga stories?
A: During YTT we were focusing on hip openers one day. Hip openers tend to bring up a lot of emotions. Sometimes you don’t even realize an emotion is there and it surfaces while your sinking into a pose. Some of us were brought to tears that day. It’s so interesting how much of an emotional release your body can bring on and we all experienced it. Sometimes while teaching, students will have strong emotions come up - that’s a totally normal thing with hip openers and heart openers. Sometimes you say exactly what someone needed to hear that day and sometimes the poses helped release something deep. It’s a really beautiful, very real thing.
Q: How can people connect with you more?
A: Find me on Instagram @well.with.kayla or namakayladay on Spotify.
Photos courtesy of Kayla.