Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Kirsten Bokenkamp, RYT 200, teaches compassion-centered, playful, and classes well suited for all levels. She believes yoga can be incorporated into a holistic approach to overall spiritual, mental, and physical health.
Following is a Q&A designed to allow you to get to know a little more about Kirsten.
Q: How old were you when you started practicing yoga?
A: Yoga has been part of my life from a very young age. My mom became a certified yoga teacher in the 1990s, and I have lots of memories together with my siblings of trying handstands, wheel, crow and other postures that appeal to adventurous kids. We fell over laughing more than anything. It wasn’t until the 1990s and early 2000s that I started a more regular practice and learned more about the roots of yoga and its purpose beyond the asana, or physical poses.
Q: Why did you start practicing yoga?
A: I started practicing yoga because it was fun and it challenged me. I always felt so good after a class. It took a number of years for me to realize that by practicing yoga, I was also quieting all the chatter in my mind, reducing stress, and improving my mental health. I became a teacher because I wanted to share all of that — from the fun and challenge, to the mental health benefits — with others.
Q: What is your favorite yoga pose?
A: I can’t pick just one favorite! I love them all (well….besides chair!). Depending on my mood and energy level, my go-to poses are headstand (increases my energy and focus) and reclined twist (allows me to get a gentle stretch while letting go of tension). I also love a standing forward fold with bent knees and grabbing opposite elbows.
Q: What is your favorite breathing practice?
A: Throughout the years practicing yoga, one of the main challenges for me has been consistently connecting my movement to my breath and finding the power that the breath can provide, whether for strength or relaxation. So, now, I spend a lot of my energy making sure I am breathing slowly and consistently throughout my practice. I also practice alternate-nostril breath to welcome calmness into my body and quiet my mind, especially if I’m having trouble sleeping.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not practicing yoga?
A: I love hanging out with my husband and kids (5 and 10). In the winter, we snowboard a lot, and I love getting out on my cross country skis as well. I’m also trying to be a gardener these days, the jury is still out on that. I spend most of my days working against far-right extremism as Communications Director with the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism.
Q: What is your favorite song?
A: One of my favorite songs during yoga, and especially for savasana is “Saraswati” by Krishna Das. Another favorite, and on a number of my yoga playlists is “Sing to the Mountain” by Elephant Revival. At home, we very frequently have the one and only Saints and Liars on the record player.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Anything with tahini.
Q: Do you have a pet?
A: Not at the moment, though am getting some pressure from Felix, my 5 year old, for a dog.
Kirsten teaches Flow Yoga at 6pm on Tuesday evenings. Please join her for class!
© Heart of the Village Yoga