Q&A: Rob Murray

Yoga Instructor Rob teaches at the Lake Zurich studio

Yoga Instructor Rob teaches at the Lake Zurich studio

How long have you been teaching yoga?  

I have been teaching yoga for about one year, since completing the teacher training with Kathy and receiving my RYT-200 registration.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?

I decided to register for the teacher training with the objective of establishing a solid foundation in the principles of yoga and to deepen my practice. I had been practicing for 10 years but was interested in better understanding alignment, practicing safely, and extending yoga beyond the mat. I had been a youth hockey coach for 10 years and really missed teaching, sharing, and learning alongside my players. When I finished the training program, Kathy really inspired me to take the next step and teach.

Who and/or what are your biggest influences?

As it relates to yoga, I have two: BKS Iyengar – I have practiced different forms of holistic health for over 20 years and one day picked up BKS Iyengar’s book “Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health.” I was absolutely amazed at the breadth of what yoga could provide in terms of healing and wellness. In addition, my dad has practiced and taught meditation for more than 40 years, and hearing the stories of how meditation influenced people’s lives has really touched me.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

First of all, I learned that yoga is much more than asana. We studied the Yamas and Niyamas in teacher training and they have become a guide for what I strive for: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, non-possessiveness, purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender. One of the practical ways I try to apply these principles on a daily basis is focusing on how I can be of service instead of what I can receive. And when I fall short of these ideals, I realize that our beauty is in our imperfection and strive to better.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

To spread joy, happiness, and peace through the community practice of yoga.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

Authenticity – being yourself, teaching what you know, being prepared yet flexible, and most importantly being kind.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

The most challenging experience is still in front of me. I was asked to do a workshop at a studio I visited last summer on Long Island, Hamptons Healing Arts. I’m working on a theme, content, and music and feel a little intimidated as the guest teacher.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

Be open to the experience and try not to have any expectations. And to the seasoned student: Share your gifts!

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I try to be kind and giving. It’s one thing to be all Zen when inside the studio, but the real reflection of progress is how you treat others.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

Astavakrasana, or Eight Angle Pose. I first saw this pose in one of the many yoga books I have and thought it was completely beyond my physical abilities. When I stopped trying to muscle my way into the pose and used my breath and just relaxed, one day it just came.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

All times of day! In the morning I enjoy the peacefulness of yoga; in the afternoon, it’s a time restart and re-energize; and practicing in the evening provides an opportunity to leave the chaos of the day behind. I also love to do mini yoga’s throughout the day. Whether it’s a brief pranayama or a quick forward fold, taking a few seconds or minutes is so refreshing.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

On the beach in Westhampton Beach, Long Island.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I curate different playlists for all my classes and try to match the music to the theme of the class. My playlists include classic rock, reggae, classical, kirtan, jam bands, and live Grateful Dead shows.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I enjoy teas from around the world (come to one of my Saturday classes – I brew tea for each class), all kinds of sports (hockey, golf, skiing, tennis, etc.), and love being at the beach. I have a passion for live music (nothing like Ravinia on a summer evening) and have attended well over 100 Grateful Dead Shows.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

Jim and Kathy have built Pulsation into a real community. It is a safe and non-intimidating environment that is grounded in the principles of yoga. Many of the students and teachers I practice with have become true friends. A really cool example of the essence of Pulsation is one recent Saturday morning, when a student brought in fresh herbs and flowers from her garden and shared them with everyone at the studio (thanks Susie!).

Rob Murray teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend his classes.

From Trainee to RYT: Why I Chose Pulsation Yoga’s Teacher Training School

The Teacher Training program at Pulsation Yoga has helped many students transform into Registered Yoga Teachers. Below, five Pulsation Yoga instructors share their experiences with the program, including why they chose Pulsation Yoga and how it helped prepare them to lead their own classes. 

Kathleen Livingstonkathleenl

Registering for the Pulsation Yoga Teacher Training program was a no-brainer for me. I have practiced Anusara yoga for 14 years now and really enjoy that style of yoga. Kathy Simonik is an Anusara-certified teacher. I know the Anusara teacher training is much more intense and thorough than other styles. Kathy Simonik has extensive knowledge in all aspects of yoga, and I wanted to learn from her.

Learning the philosophy was one of my favorite aspects of this training. It really put a lot of things together for me, as I had heard little bits of information here and there along the way. The Teacher Training was a great safe environment to learn in, and all of us students really bonded with each other. We all learned and grew together.

We also had so much fun! I will never forget training one day in the Arlington Heights Historical Society building, which we nicknamed “The Fun House.” I was crying and my sides hurt so much after laughing so hard that day!

The Teacher Training program helped prepare me to teach my own class. We would put classes together for Kathy to review, and we sat in on many teachers’ classes at Pulsation Yoga. We also paired up with another student and co-taught classes for a bit at Pulsation Yoga. This all really helped with my confidence level.

Kathleen Livingston currently teaches at the Arlington Heights studio on Sundays at 6:15 p.m. and Tuesdays at noon; and at the Lake Zurich studio on Tuesdays at 7:45 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. She is also an instructor for the Yoga 101 series. To learn more about Kathleen, check out her Q&A.

Katherine Okonkatherine okon

I was practicing at Pulsation Yoga when the sign-up for the Teacher Training school came about. I already knew Kathy, and the Anusara yoga style taught at the studio was the type of yoga I wanted to deepen my knowledge about.

My favorite part about the Teacher Training program was getting to know all the other trainees, many of whom I still see today. When you experience new things with other people, you form a special bond. I have a lot of great memories from the months we spent together.

The training prepared me to teach in so many ways, including finding my voice, creating a class, and learning the proper skills to connect with students during practice. By the time I took the final, I had a solid grasp of the tools needed to confidently teach a class. I even had the opportunity to “student-teach” along with my peers.

Katherine currently teaches at the Arlington Heights studio on Fridays at 8:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 10:45 a.m. She is also an instructor for the Yoga 101 series.

Lois Bartalois-2

I picked Pulsation Yoga as my Teacher Training school after doing a lot of research. I already had a 200-hour RYT from the Temple of Kriya Yoga, but I felt I needed more. I picked the program because I loved how I felt after taking one of Kathy’s classes. Not just physically, but mentally. I also wanted to be a bigger part of the yoga community and keep educating myself.

My favorite part of teacher training was getting to know the other teachers and working with them. The relationships I built were and are still life-changing. I grew as a person. I became more compassionate and more patient with my students and myself.

I had already been teaching for 10 years prior to taking the training. Pulsation Yoga’s Teacher Training program helped me to be more confident and knowledgeable. During the program, we practiced teaching over and over until everyone was confident. I loved it!

Lois currently teaches at the Lake Zurich studio on Sundays at 4:15 p.m., Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m., and Saturdays at 7:45 a.m.

Jadi Engelsjadi

Prior to training with Pulsation Yoga, I had been a student of yoga for a couple of years, and it had radically shifted my life. I was eager to share with others the positive vibes and healing energy of yoga, but was new to the Chicago area, and hadn’t found a studio I strongly connected with. A now good friend and fellow teacher of mine knew about my love of yoga, and asked me to be a guest participant during one day of her teacher training experience at Pulsation. I immediately connected with the positive energy and enthusiasm that Kathy emanates, and the trainees were very welcoming as well! It felt like home. I continued my practice at the studio until the 2014 Teacher Training was offered and jumped in!

I honestly enjoyed every piece of the training, from meeting fellow heart-centered yogis, to diving deep into the history and philosophy of yoga, to the awesome and well-rounded guest speakers, to applied practice that boosted confidence! I didn’t want it to end, and every time Pulsation hosts a workshop that many trainees attend, it feels like a class reunion (in a good way!!).

I began teaching at the beginning of this year, and just like anything new, I was nervous! However, toward the end of our training, we focused almost exclusively on hours of applied practice. We’d go around the room, each trainee instructing the next pose or series of poses, in a safe and fun environment. Outside of training, we were required to observe and assist instructors, and that really helped me get out of my head, and learn teaching techniques from others sharing the practice.

I still get a little nervous before teaching a class, but mostly excited. The students at Pulsation are wonderful; I am honored to share yoga in the Pulsation studios and to be a student of Jim and Kathy, and I hope to continue to absorb the immense wisdom they both hold. Namaste!

Jadi currently teaches at the Arlington Heights studio on Sundays at 10:20 a.m.; and at the Lake Zurich studio on Tuesdays at 9:20 a.m. To learn more about Jadi, check out her Q&A.

Christine Chodilchristine

When I walked into Pulsation Yoga for the first time a year and a half ago, I was on the fence about taking any sort of teacher training. I had been practicing since 1998, but really never found a studio to call home. I took a Wednesday morning class with Kathy and knew halfway through the class that I had found what I didn’t even know I had been looking for. The skillful and heartfelt way she led the class inspired me, and I wanted to learn how to teach like that, too. It was also important to me that Pulsation Yoga is a registered school with the Yoga Alliance and that the training days were easy to fit into my schedule.

My favorite part of the training was the community we formed, the support trainees gave each other, and the guidance and advice from Kathy, Jim, and other teachers at the studio.

I think it’s a big misconception that being skillful in your asana translates to being able to teach a class. The skill of teaching is something entirely separate! It’s not enough to build a great sequence; I really learned in the training how to step off of my own mat and teach to what I see happening in front of me with my students. Teaching to my fellow classmates during training, as well as having the opportunity to teach in the “teachers in training” class, helped immensely.

Christine currently teaches at the Lake Zurich studio on Mondays at noon, Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m., and Fridays at 9:15 a.m. To learn more about Christine, check out her Q&A.