Kick Asana Yoga Instructor #4: Molly Jean

This week my Kick Asana Yoga Instructor Interview Series is coming to a close, but the last is certainly not least.

Last year I was really stressed out and unhappy at my old job. I had been working there for a long time and felt smothered by my workload and the fact that I had no room for advancement. Also during that time I was looking into ballet classes for Betty and it was during that search that I discovered a hidden gem of a yoga class, located at one of our local dance studios. The class fit right into my lunch break and it became essential to my routine twice a week. Without that class I probably would have cracked. Instead I became more positive and willing to change my situation. I got a new job and while I was sad to leave a couple of coworkers behind, I was even more sad that I wouldn’t be able to visit my lunchtime yoga class anymore.

One of the teachers I had at that studio was Molly Jean. She was actually the teacher on the day where I had a huge emotional breakthrough in class. (The story of that is here.)  Although I only practiced with her for a short time, she had such a big impact on me during a stage in my life where I was feeling pretty beaten up. I’m so thankful for her kindness and I was so thrilled when she agreed to be a part of my blog.

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Welcome, Molly Jean Kirkup!

Salt: How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started?

Molly Jean: A consistent practice developed almost 4 years ago. After I graduated college I was searching a way to move, stretch and strengthen. I found a lot more than that!

Salt: What types of yoga do you teach?

Molly Jean: Vinyasa Yoga.

Salt: What do you enjoy most about this style?

Molly Jean: I love the connection of breath and movement and the flow, the transitions – the places in between the postures and how those spaces are just as valuable as the posture itself.

Salt: What do you love most about teaching?

Molly Jean: The amazing, inspirational people you meet. I’m not talking yoga celebs, I mean the people on the mat, the community you find.

Salt: What has yoga done for you as a person?

Molly Jean: What started as a way to keep my body healthy has done even more for my mental health. Yoga, especially the meditative aspects, have helped ease my anxiety. I find myself more mindful in my everyday life which helps create a sense of ease as I go about my day. The asana and flow of poses are the first step of an incredible inward journey. When my body gets to move I find it easier to slow down, quiet my thoughts and truly experience the moment. It’s not perfect, it is absolutely a practice but a really beautiful practice that I hope to enjoy my whole life.

Salt: In your opinion, what are the greatest health benefits of a regular yoga practice?

Molly Jean: There are no doubt many physical benefits including over-all strength and flexibility but the practice moves past that into a mindfulness present your daily life; what goes in your body, how you treat it off the mat etc. From a physical practice it transforms into a practice, where you feel strong and flexible mentally and emotionally as well.

Salt: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for someone who may have been contemplating trying out a class?

Molly Jean: I would suggest trying a few different styles and even a few different teachers before making up your mind about anything. There are quite a few styles of yoga and one may “click” more than another.

I feel really fortunate to have “clicked” with so many of my instructors and that I can count them as my friends! Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and leaving sweet comments during the Kick Asana series. It was such an enlightening experience for me to hear these responses and I hope that it opened your mind and inspired you as well. ❤

Has a particular fitness instructor or class ever helped you through a difficult time in your life?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday!

xo,

Salt

Also don’t forget to enter the Lily Trotters compression socks giveaway! Details can be found here!

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Kick Asana Yoga Instructor #3: Shino

PERFECT timing for this post because I just took class with Shino last night!

The first time was back in…2010 maybe?  I was practicing with her before I got pregnant with Betty and I can still remember my excitement when I was 8 weeks along and announcing to my yoga-friends (they are the coolest!) that I was going to be having a baby! A friend of mine had recommended her class to me and since then I think I must have recommended her classes to a hundred more people. She’s so inspirational and I’m so happy she agreed to let me interview her.

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Welcome to my blog, Shino Brown!

Salt: How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started?

Shino: I’ve been practicing yoga since 2000. I belonged to a gym where I regularly participated in step aerobics and kickboxing classes. My group fitness instructor told me she was getting certified in Yoga and recommended it to me. I had no idea what it was, but since I enjoyed this instructor, I decided to try a 6 week session. I didn’t care much for the practice at first; it didn’t meet my high-energy needs. But after a few weeks, I started realizing the benefits Yoga had on my body and mind. I was hooked by the end of the session.

Salt: What types of yoga do you teach?

Shino: I teach Vinyasa-style (breath with movement) and Hatha Yoga (a gentle, slower-paced format).

Salt: What do you enjoy most about these particular styles? 

ShinoWhat I enjoy most about teaching Vinyasa is the freedom of creativity I get to offer my students. I love challenging them with advanced flows, or keeping it slow if I have a lot of newcomers.

Salt: What do you love most about teaching?

ShinoKnowing that I’m changing bodies, minds, and levels of fitness is what I love most about teaching Yoga. My true reward comes when a student tells me how much the practice has changed his/her life, both mentally and physically. Either on a broad perspective over years of practice, or as trivial as accomplishing a pose they’ve been working on for months (it’s what I call that “Ah-Ha! Moment in Yoga”). Teaching Yoga was recently published as one of the top 10 Best Jobs in America (ref: CNN Money). That should tell you what an amazing and rewarding job it is!

Salt: What has yoga done for you as a person?

Shino: Yoga has done so much for me as a person. Over my 15 years of practicing, I have experienced less pain, a stronger body, and a calm mind. I used to suffer from back pain related to scoliosis; this has been alleviated thanks in part to Yoga. I used to have a short temper, which has also diminished due to a regular practice, frequent connections with students/other teachers, and the study of mindfulness through books such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Salt: In your opinion, what are the greatest health benefits of a regular yoga practice?

Shino: I believe the greatest health benefits of a regular yoga practice are flexibility, strength, balance, and better posture. All of which are components we tend to lose as we age (which is why I’ll continue to practice all of my days). Even less vigorous styles of yoga can provide strength and endurance benefits, so whatever style works best for you, go for it! These benefits won’t happen overnight, but most students will begin to notice positive changes within a couple months of a regular yoga practice.

Salt: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for someone who may have been contemplating trying out a class?

Shino: I’d suggest starting with a beginner class. Intermediate levels can be intimidating, which may cause you to shy away from attending another class. Yoga should be an enjoyable experience; not painful or overwhelming. I also recommend trying Yoga at least three times before deciding it’s not for you. Personally speaking, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t purchased that 6 week session.

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Fantastic advice and that is so cool that teaching yoga is one of the best jobs to have in the country! I totally believe it.

One of my favorite things about Shino’s teaching style is that she introduces a new sequence/theme at the beginning of each month and we spend 4 weeks working on it. I always feel myself growing stronger all month long as I become more familiar with the flow! Then the next month it will be something totally new…always challenging and always so much fun.

Have you taken a Vinyasa class? Have you ever taken class with a teacher who introduces a new sequence/theme every month? (The one we are working on this month is a nod to Shiva Rae and all about movement. It’s beautiful!)

xo,

Salt

Kick Asana Yoga Instructor #2: Becky

This week I’m so excited to introduce you guys to my friend Becky. She is a little different from the other teachers in my series because she is the only one that I knew prior to her teacher training. Listening to her describe her experiences only made me more excited to one day get there myself.

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Welcome to my blog, Becky Perlmutter!

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Salt: How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started?

Becky: I started practicing yoga in 2010 after physical therapy for a running injury. My PT told me that she thought yoga would really help my running. After a while I realized that yoga helped so much more than just running.

(Oh yes I forgot to mention…Becky is also a runner which is just another of the many awesome things about her!)

Salt: What types of yoga do you teach?

Becky: I teach vinyasa and astanga yoga.

Salt: What do you enjoy most about these particular styles? 

Becky: I love astanga because since it is the same sequence of poses so it becomes a really wonderful moving meditation. And I love the spontaneity of vinyasa.

Salt: What do you love most about teaching?

Becky: I love being able to share my practice with other people, and helping them find some benefit to their own practice. I love that everyone can find benefits in their own practice even if, or especially when what a student finds wonderful about yoga is very different from what I find wonderful.

Salt: What has yoga done for you as a person?

Becky: Yoga has helped me find balance in my life; it is a really great counterbalance to my other job which is very scientific. I think teaching yoga has helped me be a lot more understanding of other people’s struggles. I am very flexible, so learning how to teach stretching to some of my more inflexible students has really helped me become a more versatile and understanding person. At least I hope so!

Salt: In your opinion, what are the greatest health benefits of a regular yoga practice?

Becky: Physically, I am stronger and more stable, with stronger supporting muscles in the hips especially, so I am a better, less injured runner. Emotionally I am also stronger and more stable, more able to find grounding and breathing when the going gets tough.

Salt: Do you have any words of advice for someone who may have been contemplating going to a class?

Becky: Stick with it! not every teacher or every class is right for every student, so if the first try isn’t a good fit, try again. It’s worth the effort!

I personally have been talking about trying astanga for about 5 years now and haven’t yet, but I’m hopeful to be able to try out one of Becky’s classes soon. She’s laid back, kind, and an all-around great person; I have no doubt I would love it!

Have you ever taken a vinyasa or astanga class? What did you think? 

Soooo I’m (sadly) back from our amazing Disney vacation (I’m sure the people who follow my Instagram are probably breathing a sigh of relief, but sorrynotsorry my kid and those princesses are so cute together. The Color Run race entry giveaway is winding down and today is the last day to enter! So if you haven’t done that yet, go here. The winner will be picked tonight and announced tomorrow!

I hope everyone has had a great week!

xo,

Salt