In the study of yoga, it is common to start in one place, only to end up somewhere completely unexpected. The possibilities for learning through yoga are as endless as the practice itself. Ultimately, this book is a story about one of those unexpected journeys. It is the work of two people with similar interests and completely different backgrounds coming together at exactly the right time to influence each other and create a new perspective on yoga therapy practices. My (Kristen’s) curiosity about yoga started in the year 2000.
As a lifelong lover of the arts, my first yoga classes fed my natural impulse to explore the varied aspects of consciousness and the human experience. I dove wholeheartedly into the study of yoga, and it changed my life for the better. In 2006, I took a leap of faith and quit my corporate job to participate in an intensive yoga teacher training program. That same year I met and married my husband Bob, who holds a PhD in yoga therapy. My personal immersion into the yoga lifestyle was complete. I began managing certain aspects of the YogaLife Institute, the yoga studio and education center in Pennsylvania that Bob started in 1996, along with editing Yoga Living magazine and teaching yoga classes full time.
My yoga journey toward becoming a teacher of teachers evolved at a rapid-fire pace over the next five years. I accumulated thousands of hours of in-class teaching experience and significantly expanded my yoga education, accumulating some 2,500 hours of yoga and anatomy training. Around my fifth year of teaching full time, I experienced a life-changing spinal injury, which took me to physical therapy. The initial work with my physical therapist required that I better understand my movement habits and compensation patterns, and I spent the year completely focused on uncovering old habits and exploring new movement patterns.
During that time, I took a break from practicing yoga poses and in doing so began to question some of what I had learned during my intensive training period. As I healed and began to reapproach my yoga practice, I knew that many of the ways that I had been engaging with the yoga poses would have to change. Inspired by the learning that happened in my physical therapy sessions, I began to clearly understand what worked and what didn’t, and for my personal learning I augmented my practice by exploring movement practices outside of the field of yoga. Pilates, Feldenkrais, Continuum, Yoga Tune Up Structural Integration, Craniosacral, and Somatic Movement therapies have all revolutionized, invigorated, or supported my personal yoga practice.
How to Best Engage With This Book
The purpose of this body of work is to guide you to more deeply understand yourself through applied yoga therapy practice: to identify, differentiate, and integrate the areas of your life that you want to realize more deeply. As you do so, be willing to explore your movement habits in new and creative ways. Open your mind to new experiences and get ready to have fun exploring what is possible in a yoga therapy practice. Once you have a sense of what we are laying out as the framework for your exploration, have fun expanding the framework and connecting the practices into other activities.
Whenever you come across a highlighted exploration in the book, do the practices and spend time reflecting on your experience. Understanding the structures that we lay out will be important, but taking the concepts into realized experience will help you make more meaningful and personal connections with what you are learning. This book is organized progressively in three parts.