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.

Pose: Warrior II

Yoga instructor Katherine poses on Abby Road in London

Yoga instructor Katherine poses on Abby Road in London

 

Name of Pose: Warrior II; Virabhadrasana II in Sanskrit
Difficulty Level: Easy
Benefits: Stretches the hips and shoulders; lengthens the spine; stimulates digestion and circulation; and strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles.

How to Get into the Pose

1. Begin in Tadasana pose (feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your side). Step your feet wide apart, inhale, and extend your arms.

2. Turn your right leg out directly to the side. Turn your left foot in slightly and align your right heel with the arch of your left foot.

3. Exhale and bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Hold for several breaths. Pull your legs toward each other to engage the muscles, inhale, and rise up out of the pose. Repeat on the other side.

Pro Tip: “Get your foundation set BEFORE raising your arms,” said yoga instructor Katherine Okon. “You can even look down at your feet, feel them grounded firmly on the mat. Once you raise your arms, soften your shoulders. Coordinate your breath with each movement.”

 

Q&A: Linnea Kramer

 

How long have you been teaching yoga?  linnea

I have been teaching yoga for six months at Pulsation Yoga, after completing the training program with [Owner] Kathy.

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

When I started practicing yoga I fell absolutely in love with the community and the practice and I knew I wanted to be able to share that with others, and that’s why I became a yoga instructor. Kathy and Jim Simonik were and are a huge influence and inspiration for me; I would not have the practice I do today without them!

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

Yoga has helped me and is continuing to help me become the best version of myself that I can possibly be. And I think the biggest way it does that is by making me be present and aware not only of myself but of everyone else around me. It really changes the way you look at the world.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

My personal statement/goal as a yoga teacher is to promote self-love. I want every person who comes to my class to leave feeling better, confident, and happy.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

I think a genuine/authentic yoga teacher who is dedicated to his or her students is what makes an excellent yoga teacher. Every person has a unique style of teaching that they bring to a class, and I believe that as long as you are staying true to who you are, your authentic self, people will respond to that in a positive way.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

My most challenging teaching experience was when I taught my first solo class. I had started out co-teaching, and it felt safe having someone else in the room with me. And while “going solo” was my most challenging teaching experience, it was also my most rewarding. My students once again proved to me how supportive, accepting, and loving the yoga community is and why I am so grateful to be a part of it!

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

To the beginner student, I say relax and have fun. Don’t be hard on yourself and remember that everyone started in that same place. Everyone is nervous and hides in the back row when they start out (myself included). If you fall over, giggle and get back up. Love yourself. And to the seasoned student, I say keep a beginner’s mind.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I take my yoga with me everywhere I go! I have learned to love myself on the mat during my practice, accepting myself for where I am in each pose. I need to be aware and present as I move through each asana, just like I need to do off the mat in every day situations.

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

The pose I am most proud of getting into is forearm scorpion, or “Vrschikasana.” I worked so hard on gaining strength and flexibility and it was awesome seeing myself progress on the pose over the year it took to master it.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

I don’t actually have a favorite time of day to practice yoga. I love it whenever I can fit it in. Although I will say it feels great to do a few sun salutations first thing in the morning.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

The best place I have ever practiced yoga would probably be on the rooftop of my old high school. It was so empowering!

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

I don’t have one specific genre that I listen to during yoga. In my classes, I play anything from Bob Marley to alt-J to Lana Del Rey. I think it depends on what theme the class is centered around, or if I am practicing at home, it depends what mood I am in.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I want my students to know that they can always ask me anything. Whether it’s about their practice, an asana, or really anything, I always want to be approachable.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

I love teaching at Pulsation Yoga in particular because of the community they have created. I feel so lucky to be a part of it, and it is such a wonderful and supportive bunch of teachers and students.

 

Linnea Kramer teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Arlington Heights. Check out the class schedule to attend her classes.

Q&A: Inara Kim

 

How long have you been teaching yoga?  inara

I started teaching in 1991.

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

I’ve studied with many master teachers over the years, but my biggest influences are the students that i meet in class!

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

I hope that I am a more open, curious, and accepting person, but it’s hard to compare “before and after” yoga because I’ve been practicing a long time.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

Create spaciousness so students can explore, discover, and play.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

I think it’s finding the right match of instructor and student. What one student thinks is excellent, another student might think is poor. A popular instructor might or might not be an excellent instructor. A teacher I might not think is excellent might be the best for my practice in that moment. I’m learning over time not to judge.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

I had a bad case of laryngitis and had to do silent classes for a few days. I received the most amazing feedback–who knew???

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

For beginners: a five-minute practice counts as a practice! Don’t think that if you don’t do a full class it doesn’t count; 99.5% is getting to the mat. So practice, even for five minutes, on whatever days you can! If you don’t know what to practice, then each week take one new pose or technique you learned in class and practice that. At the end of the year, you’ll have a great repertoire of poses.

For continuing students: remember that yoga is powerful, and that if you are a regular practitioner your body and mind will change over time. This means what worked for you in the beginning might or might not be serving you now. Be open to new instructions, poses, techniques, and traditions. The more you practice, the more you change; make sure your yoga changes with you!

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I attempt to be as present as I can throughout the day, savoring each moment. It’s still a work in progress!

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

Headstand. It took me three years to get away from the wall, and now it is one of my favorite poses.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

My favorite time of day to practice is right before dinner, but if I don’t practice first thing in the morning my practice never happens, so early morning it is!

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

Next to the Seven Sacred Pools in Hana, Hawaii.

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

Depends what type of yoga I’m practicing. I have a special playlist when practicing Kripalu yoga, and silence for Ashtanga yoga. For other types of yoga, I tend to lean toward chants, my favorites by Jennifer Berezan. When I attend a class as a student, I’m up for anything.

What else do you want students to know about you?

Even though I stand up in front of others and teach yoga, I’m quite the introvert.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

Kathy and Jim have created a vibrant, loving, connected community. That doesn’t happen everywhere. I feel very fortunate to be a small part of Pulsation.

Inara Kim teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend her classes.

Q&A: Katherine Okon

 

How long have you been teaching yoga?  

Since May 2014.

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

Becoming a yoga teacher was a domino effect. I had been practicing yoga sporadically for three years at studios and at home. Then I found Pulsation Yoga, and after a while co-owner Kathy suggested that taking the Yoga Studies program would be beneficial, since I was always asking questions after class to deepen my yoga understanding. I decided to go all-in and take the Teacher Training, though not to teach—just to really immerse myself in the world of yoga. It wasn’t until after the training ended and I was a registered yoga teacher that I thought about actually teaching. A fellow Pulsation teacher asked me to sub her class, and I absolutely loved it. My family really encouraged me to take the leap and become a teacher, and the training I received from Kathy resonated so much with me.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

I am not sure if I am better, per say, but I feel different. I feel calmer, more grounded, more content, and happier. I feel more connected to life.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

I aspire to teach with a beginner’s mind. I guide each student safely and compassionately, and invite everyone to experience yoga as empowering, fun, and joyful.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

Heart, knowledge, and skill. I think it is especially important that when a teacher is speaking, they really connect with each student, whether they are talking about the theme at the start of class or making adjustments during practice.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

My first time teaching. I was nervous, yet excited. I was prepared, yet I overcompensated with copious notes. It was both challenging and enlightening. I really hope I have more days like that.

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

For the beginner student: Practice on the mat with a variety of teachers, and practice as often as feasible. I have learned so much from each instructor because they each have something different to give.
For the seasoned student: Take a beginner-level class once in a while and really listen to the instructor. Going back to the basics brings you closer to your authentic self.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

Every day, I find myself using the tools of yoga that I have been given: breathing, connecting, non-judgment, getting grounded, being present…so many things.

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

I am most proud of getting into Warrior 1. There is a lot going on in Warrior 1, and whenever I would attempt it, a lot of emotions rose up in me. It was a struggle to even stand firmly grounded. The first time I got into Warrior 1 where my body reacted with confidence and beauty, I knew I had found my heart in the pose. I knew my yoga was working.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

I do not have a favorite time of day. I have had amazing practices early morning to late evening. Every day, my body responds differently to the practice, so I mix it up and find that the class I chose to attend was exactly the one I was meant to do.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

I went to Europe for a month with family, and while I only practiced on the mat once, I took my yoga off the mat every single day. Navigating foreign lands proved to be a bit daunting at times and caused me to be somewhat hyper-vigilant. Remembering to breathe helped me to center and be more present and mindful, which allowed me to experience everything to the fullest and safely. However, I did keep up my asana practice in front of the Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Stonehenge, and over canals in Amsterdam and Venice!

photo (4)

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

I have a huge variety in my iTunes, and I play them during my classes. If I had to pick one genre, it would be classical. Though in my classes, you could very well hear Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Frank Sinatra, and the soundtrack to Royal Tenenbaums.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I am an avid reader and I love music, photography, and cooking. While I am a serious student of yoga, I have a playful side, and whether I am practicing on the mat or leading a class, both sides show through.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

Pulsation Yoga is an amazing studio, and guided by the passion of Kathy and Jim, it has taken on its own positive energy. Without fail, every class or workshop I have attended has helped me feel more and more a part of the Pulsation Yoga community. To have the opportunity to teach there, along with being a student, has only increased the benefits yoga has to offer.

Katherine Okon teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studios in Arlington Heights and Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend her classes at either location.

Q&A: Lois Barta

 

How long have you been teaching yoga?

Twelve years.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?lois-2

To help people heal themselves. The biggest influence has been my friend, Kathy Simonik. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know. Watching her interact with people is amazing. She always smiles, and always sees the good in things.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

It has helped me to be more compassionate and understanding of people.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

A teacher who can listen and watch, along with guiding the students to do poses they never thought they could do.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

I teach students to be non-competitive with others, to be the best they can be, to push themselves. I get frustrated when someone comes to class that has a BIG ego and decides to show off and distract others. I find that very challenging because on the one hand, you don’t want to bring down the energy of the room by saying something to the student in the middle of class, but that same student is bringing the energy down by showing off so it’s a tough call on what to do. If a student feels the need to show off, I would prefer they go to another class. What it actually does do is diminish the spirit of a struggling student who will get discouraged because they “will never do what that person is doing” due to their own physical /emotional limitations.

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

To the beginner: I want them to have patience. It truly is a journey and you have the rest of your life to do it. To the seasoned: Same thing; have patience, enjoy the journey.

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

Side crow! Because it looks cool and I am just now learning how to do arm balances.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

No favorite time, though I am not too fond of the morning. My muscles are too stiff.

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

U2, of course!

What else do you want students to know about you?

I can relate to them. I know what it’s like to be new; I know what it’s like to be humbled every time you come to the mat.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

The owners, Jim and Kathy!

Lois Barta teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend her 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.