Teaching yoga in Kauai is such a gift. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share my practice every day. Here’s why.
1) The love and support of my community
I’ve been teaching yoga in Kauai for fifteen years. In this time I’ve had the honor of sharing many life experiences with my students – birth, death, marriage, divorce, health and illness. Through it all, I’ve witnessed the power we gain through yoga. It helps us breathe, move, and face this journey we take part in individually and collectively. It is deeply touching and inspiring to be involved with so many amazing people on their path of growth. The connection we have created at the studio through the practice of yoga has carried me personally through challenging times. It has become my main source of inspiration. And I get to work with my beautiful mom, Astell!!
2) Watching my students transform with yoga
Yoga is incredible. It can be so gentle and subtle, yet powerfully dynamic. I love experiencing how yoga serves people at all stages of life. We have had classes with babies, teens, adults, seniors, disabled students, dogs, chickens, and more all in one room. I never know what to expect. I’m always blown away by how beautifully we can all practice together. Most importantly, I love witnessing how yoga helps us develop self-acceptance and Santosha (contentment) for whatever is unfolding in our lives.
3) Creating a sanctuary for us all
My intention in opening the studio was to provide a space that feels safe & nurturing for our students and visitors. We offer many styles of yoga – Flow, Vinyasa, Therapeutic, Restorative, Gentle, Teen & Kids Yoga. No matter what level of practice you are at, you can enjoy a class with the company of others. It is so special having a place where we can all let down our guard, open our hearts, laugh, cry and feel whatever we are going through in life and our bodies. It’s magic.
4) The motivation to learn and grow
With teaching and running the studio all week long, it is so important for me to stay in my center. I can only teach what I practice and experience, so I am obligated to continually take refuge in my yoga, meditation & pranayama practices daily. Because my job is to be there for others, I know I must devote time each day to be present with myself and my life. It’s what makes everything flow better and easier. I also have to keep expanding in my knowledge of the body, on how yoga can be used as therapy for injury, and how this path of yoga can serve us during all stages of life. My students are my greatest teachers!
5) My freedom as a teacher
Here’s the contradiction: owning your own business means you are never really free. The phone is always on and the doors are open every day of the week. That can be hard. The benefits, though, are immense. I have the luxury to create my life schedule and to teach in alignment with what I truly believe. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone or meet unrealistic standards. I get to do what I love every day because I love doing it. That’s pretty amazing.
6) Retail therapy in the boutique
Oh how I love yoga pants! Leggings, capris, fancy patterns or plain black, cotton, lycra, bamboo or made from plastic water bottles. I adore them all, much to my tiny closet’s dismay.
Buying for the boutique has been a new learning adventure for me. I was never much of a shopper, but thanks to my very gifted and retail-savvy husband we always find fun, comfortable and beautiful things. Our inventory flows in and out – we have apparel, jewelry, books, home & body products, yoga supplies and much more. The added perk for me is I get to buy the things I like and want to share with my community.
7) Supporting companies and projects I believe in
Because we vote with how we spend our money each day, I do my best to support companies that are making an effort to respect and give back to our environment. Local, organic, recycled, natural products are my first pick. I try to support businesses that plant trees, donate to animal wildlife rescue, give clothing to women’s shelters, reuse plastic water bottles, and do their best to create a product that is good for the planet as well as good for ourselves. Each time we purchase something, we fund a bigger picture. I take this responsibility very seriously.
I also regularly fundraise for animal welfare and natural disaster relief. Some of our causes we have supported are:
Bhaktapur Animal Welfare Society, Nepal: http://www.baws.org.np/
Chokgyur Lingpa Foundation, Nepal: http://www.cglf.org/
Baan Unrak Animal Sanctuary, Thailand: http://thaianimalsanctuary.com
Bali Animal Welfare Association: http://bawabali.com
Japan Earthquake Rescue and Support
Doctors Without Borders
and ongoing local events that support our Kauai community.
8) Sharing the philosophy of yoga
Physical yoga is just one branch of the larger tree of Yoga. I think it is important to share and explore the other facets, The Eight Limbs of Yoga. This is an ancient system of knowledge on how to carry ourselves in life. Western yoga tends to only focus on the physical postures, whereas the roots of yoga teach that the body is just the gateway to the more subtle layers of self.
The other Eight Limbs are: Yamas, moral codes; Niyamas, personal conduct; Asana, physical posture; Pranayama, breath; Pratyahara, turning inward; Dharana, focus; Dhyana, meditation; Samadhi, union with consciousness.
All of these fold beautifully into the wholeness of our practice. What we experience and explore on the mat stays with us as we venture into our daily lives.
9) Meditation & Pranayama
I was given the gift of meditation, Dhyana, from my mom when I was a child. I can honestly say it is the most valuable tool I have ever received. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sitting quietly at the beginning of my day transforms my entire world. Pranayama, breath control, is also incredibly powerful. It helps bring us back to our most vital function, back to the present moment, as well as recharge the mind/body connection and brain function. Dhyana and Pranayama top my list of practices for health and well-being. They can be utilized during all phases of life.
10) The challenge of running my own business
Owning a yoga studio is hard. Period. It requires a large space and often has little financial return, so from a business perspective making ends meet can be tough. There are also very colorful and diverse personalities involved in the field of yoga, so it takes strength and wisdom to make decisions that support the overall needs of our community. When you open your doors to the public, you never know what to expect!
Regardless of these challenges, at the end of the day I am always so grateful to be sharing my love of yoga with others. Owning this studio has made me stronger, more compassionate, grateful, and more fulfilled than I have ever been. I am so blessed to be surrounded and supported by such a beautiful community.