Teacher Feature with Kathryn Gonzales
What would you classify your yoga style as?
Kundalini yoga is a complete science of the Self. It invites you to explore and understand your full human potential and to directly experience a sense of wholeness and inner wellness.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
My husband would say it is corpse pose. I personally find that my favorite part of this practice is working with sound through mantras and the use of the gong.
How has yoga changed your life?
As an extrovert who always finds movement essential to my well-being, Kundalini yoga has taught me how to use movement more effectively to engage mindful awareness at every moment. I notice how every pose teaches me something about the way I move in the world. Above all, I have a tool to practice deep levels of self-awareness and self-care at every moment.
What do you look for in a yoga teacher/class?
I appreciate that every teacher and style of yoga offers me an opportunity to grow. With that in mind, I enter a class with open curiosity, interested in the experience more than my thoughts about the experience. When I enter that space with a sense of open curiosity I find I get more than I bargained for.
What is the most important lesson yoga has taught you?
In the practice of Kundalini yoga, one of the essential lessons I have gained is to understand how to use my body more effectively through the practice of “rooting”- that is to say, supporting every movement I make by connecting deeply to the floor/Earth to support the action I take, whether it is sitting, standing, lifting, or walking through my day. This action supports me physically by reducing unnecessary strain and tension in my body, and mentally by inviting greater clarity and awareness because of the direction connection between mind and body.
What do you want students to know before coming to your class?
Every class strengthens your nervous system to more effectively handle daily stress, and balances your glandular system to support personal well-being. It is also a practice that is accessible to everyone. It uses breath as a primary tool and everything is done with your eyes closed. This is your practice. You get to discover and explore your experience of movement, breath, rhythm, and sound to access greater inner awareness and to gain a sense of inner peace.
What do you hope your students gain from attending class?
An ability to navigate life more effectively, ease unnecessary stress and tension throughout the day, and develop a sense of peace and well-being.
What is the biggest myth about yoga?
The idea that yoga is about poses. Yoga is actually a set of principles that can inform how you live and walk throughout your day. It is a manual of self-care that also leads you to access your full potential. The second biggest myth is that it is a religion. Yoga is, in fact, a discipline that can deepen your spiritual pursuit by inviting you to cultivate and explore rather than simply believe. There is no dogma. Instead, there is the invitation to explore the teachings for yourself and put them into practice to see how they hold true for you, encouraging you to cultivate discernment and self-awareness along the way.
What do you appreciate about the historical and traditional aspect of yoga?
How is yoga different than other physical exercise? How is it similar?
Yoga is a mind/body practice that emphasizes conscious awareness. Its ultimate aim is to achieve a state of higher consciousness with the attention usually being internal. Exercise emphasizes physical fitness level and health. It can also emphasize competition. The attention is usually external.
Because of the emphasis on conscious movement and its connection with breath, yoga engages different results, including stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system (restorative), engaging relaxed movement, and is internal and process-oriented, engaging the practitioner to explore with conscious awareness. Exercise is actually the opposite, stimulating instead the sympathetic nervous system (tiring), rapid and forceful movements, and is externally driven through goals or competitiveness. These are just a few examples of their differences.
Yoga’s physical poses, like exercise, allow the practitioner to build strength, flexibility, balance, and functional movement skills. They are both effective ways to reduce stress and improve physical and mental health, though yoga has been scientifically shown to have far superior effects on this than regular exercise.
What is the one yoga book you think everyone should read?
Too many to widdle down to one. J
What do you do for fun (outside of yoga)?
Spend time outdoors in nature, and dancing.
How do you integrate yoga into your everyday life?
Through the use of breath, movement and inner awareness. I also use mantra to guide my thinking in a supportive manner when needed, especially when I get frustrated or find myself experiencing strong emotions that generate a lot of mental activity.
Comments are closed.