What is your official title?
My official title is Co-owner and Director of Down Dog Yoga Center.
What’s an average day in the ‘Zoo look like for you?
Right now, prior to opening, it’s a lot of communication with construction and teachers, and setting up the yoga schedule. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the computer working on the website and planning for future programs.
When we open, I will be able to work out of the space, which is so great. I have an office there, so I will be able to work on our program development and administrative work, and I will be teaching six classes a week. I also teach a corporate class out at the company’s site once a week.
Can you tell us about your background?
I came to yoga later in life. I didn’t take any yoga classes before I had my children, and I’d never been exposed to it in my youth. I just had this feeling that I wanted to take a yoga class; I don’t know what it was, but I wanted to give it a try. I went to a class, and ended up loving it right away. It moved me – the connection to the breath, the chanting, the different aspects of what it was to me from both a physical and emotional standpoint – all of it was so beautiful to me.
It started to effect how I felt outside of class, too. I found that, for example, I was more patient with things that would’ve typically irritated me. I really wanted to expand that. I started off taking class once a week, and as my love for it grew, I started taking class as much as five times a week. I continued my practice, and studied for about two years before deciding to go through teacher training. When I decided to go through training, it was not for the intent to teach, but to further explore my practice.
There are many different formats and types of trainings you can go through that align with your future intent and I looked for an immersion training. There were a lot of programs where you could attend on the weekends and space out the training, but I was a stay-at-home mom at the time, and it would’ve been difficult to go to the training and then get out of that zone to come home and make dinner, and continue that back and forth. I chose to do a 30-day immersion program, and left my home and my family – no email, no phone, no contact, to the outside world. I had never been away from my children for more than four days; it was a very difficult decision, but I knew it was the best one to make.
I went away and experienced this amazing training. I lived in a clean state for a month and I learned so much. I came home thirty days later, and the result was beyond what I could have ever expected. Like I said, I hadn’t gone there with the intention of teaching, but after the training I had this feeling that I had to share this life changing experience. It was something that I believed in and that I was very passionate about, and as I started to share with my friends and family, I found that it continued to be transformational not only for myself, but for others. That was how I began teaching.
What kind of projects are you currently working on?
The opening of Down Dog Yoga Center is the main project. The mission of Down Dog Yoga Center is connecting people to healthy living and community through yoga – that was the vision for creating our space. Healthy living needs to be supported by community, and that community aspect is why we chose to be downtown.
The other thing is supporting the vision for the center. It isn’t just about how I teach; I have a dozen teachers who are trained in a variety of types of yoga, and we are figuring out interesting programming and creating a supportive community when you come in for a class. We want the classes to be unique so they meet the needs of different interests and people. There will also be massage therapists along with the diverse schedule to keep our class attendees happy and healthy!
What do you love most about Kalamazoo?
I love Kalamazoo; no, I REALLY love Kalamazoo. I grew up in a small Indiana farm town and the great thing about it was knowing people; I felt safe, and there was a community where I felt I fit in. I felt, though, that 5,000 people was a little too small; I was looking for diversity and more going on around me.
When my husband and I were first married, we lived in the Detroit suburbs. It was fine, but everything was a little too far away and inaccessible. When we moved to Kalamazoo, it felt like the right fit. We know people here, but not everyone. We can go see some great theater, and art is everywhere. We are midway between two major cities, and we can also get across town in about 15 minutes.
I love that we have culture, and the arts, and universities here. I love the Kalamazoo Promise. When we first moved here, we lived outside of the Kalamazoo Public Schools district. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t what we needed. We are now in Kalamazoo, and it’s wonderful – I love my neighborhood.
What has been one of your biggest learning moments?
The whole immersion experience was a huge learning moment for me. The time away from my children and my husband without communication was very difficult. There were times that I wanted out and wanted to see my kids, and I was physically exhausted from the experience, but I really found another part of myself during that time. I was stronger than I realized.
Another learning experience is building Down Dog Yoga Center. Moving into the space has taught me patience, and trying to coordinate and manage so many different things has been an exercise of faith and trust.
What have you been jammin’ to recently? What’s on the iPod?
I’m sort of a weird music person. I have teenagers, so I listen to Top 40, but I also grew up with musical theater; my mom loved traditional broadway musicals, but I really enjoy the newer stuff too, so I listen to a lot of musical soundtracks as well. I like jazz and blues. I just really love music in general. I love to sing, so any type of music I can sing to is great.
And then I have an entire arsenal of yoga music. It could be anything from sitar music, to MC Yogi – yes, a rapper yoga guy.
How do you take your coffee?…or do you?
I drink only decaffeinated coffee, unless I’m going to do something like run a marathon – then I drink caffeinated coffee. I gave up caffeine the months before going to my immersion training. The real bonus is now when I drink caffeine; it actually works! I don’t do it often, but when I’m required to be up way past when I should be, I’ll drink it. I drink my coffee black, and I also drink hot water.
What is your favorite app to use?
I’m required now with my business to get more involved with social media. I am on Facebook and Twitter for business purposes. I’m a little old school, I guess. I like notebooks. I like to see the words on the paper the way I’m writing it; there’s something really nice about that for me. I try to use technology wisely, but also try to give it space and not always feel like I have to be connected. I think it’s very important to remember to just be with people.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
It’s a hard question. I think I would tell myself that there’s a limitless potential within you and you have to just find the space where you’re a little uncomfortable, but not blindly moving ahead. We all take the wrong step sometimes, and it’s OK. I’d tell myself to really fully embrace who you are and to love who you are. Don’t be afraid – trust yourself, love yourself, and stay connected to yourself.
Kristin, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and sharing your thoughts! Keep up with Kristin and Down Dog Yoga Center on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to follow us on facebook and twitter for updates.