About Me

Yoga changed my Life and it's just too good a thing to keep to myself! I have been practicing yoga since 1995 and am a certified yoga instructor. I teach a combination of classical Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow. My teaching style is safe, compassionate and challenging at the same time. I teach at a number of studios, and also offer private and group lessons!

In addition to my schedule, I post other writings here, about yoga and Life in general. For private or group lessons, contact me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You can take classes from me ONLINE!!!

A while back, I video taped a few yoga classes to go online, and the company I worked with has now posted them.

There are 4 different classes: 3 are prenatal yoga classes, one for each trimester, and the fourth class is yoga for Senior Citizens or folks who are limited in mobility due to illness, or injury.

A word of caution; the company did not post the snippets in order, so each pose is demonstrated as a stand-alone. But they are still fun. Also, they didn't include my profile picture, but trust me, it's me! Just go ahead and click on the link, and feel free to email it to your friends, family, whomever you think might be interested!

Some Thank Yous are in order:

First, Denise Mazan from Your Neighborhood Studio graciously allowed me to use her studio (where I also teach on Sunday mornings!) for a 7-hour shoot. Thank you so much Denise! They were supposed to include her website address and I'm still trying to get a hold of the company to add it (it's: www.yourneighborhoodstudio.com).

Second, GODA Yoga allowed me to borrow some of the yoga props. Thank you to Cheryl Moss who allowed me to steal the props for a couple of days!

Third, Thank You a million time over to my lovely assistant, Katie Fernando, for being my prenatal model, and her lovely daughter who is now in the outside world happy and healthy and quite adorable. Katie, you really came through for me in a pinch. I hope you are enjoying the fruits of your labor (Ha!)

Finally, to all of my students: Thank you so much for all that I learn from each one of you, for reading my blog, for taking my classes and for being dedicated to your own yoga practice. You are truly inspiring!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the link to my videos - please feel free to rate the videos, make comments (keep it clean) and whatever other fun stuff you can do on the website. As always, please share this link with your own peeps: http://www.expertvillage.com/expert/103901.htm

Coming soon: News of my holiday schedule!

Peace and have a wonderful week!
April KirkHart

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Frittata Yumminess...

Ok, I know I lag, it's been a while. It was a looooong summer, I must say, and I am only now willing to admit it is fall. Well, with the summer gone and behind me :-( I figure it is time for another recipe to get me all warmed back up to the blog. "But why THIS recipe, April," you might be asking yourself? Well for one thing, it's got some seasonal veggies in it, and for another, it's down-right comforting, and packed with protein, things we seem to crave as the days get shorter and the nights longer. Yes...even in LA. That's right, the sun don't shine even here forever.

My husband and I made this one in 20 minutes the other night. It was quite the work of art. And you could serve at least 5 people with this recipe or have it leftover for breakfast with some fruit. Add a side salad of hearty greens with a good balsamic vinaigrette and some crusty bread and you are golden for a dinner party. You know... because I have so many dinner parties.

Here's what you'll need:
*Vegans can substitute tofu-based cheeses and fats as well as egg substitutes - but I can't vouch for cook time or flavor there!

One head of broccoli crowns, chopped to 1/2 in pieces
1/2 large yellow onion sliced very thinly
1 leftover baked potato with the white scraped out
1/2 cup parmesean cheese*
1/2 cup swiss cheese*
2 Tbsp shredded fresh basil
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter (if you dare)*
12 Large Eggs (leave out a few yolks for a lower fat version - ew- or use egg substitute if you are vegan*.)
salt (Kosher please - it's the yummiest, and Yes, I AM an expert...)
fresh ground black pepper
cayenne pepper 1/4 to 1 Tsp depending on taste
One Med to large oven-safe cast iron skillet

Here's what you do:

Pre-heat the broiler. Heat the skillet on the stove top to Medium. Once heated, add 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp butter. Toss in the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, saute for 3 minutes. Add broccoli and saute another 5-7 minutes. Scoop out and put into a bowl, mix in the potato insides, and then let the whole mixture cool completely (COMPLETELY).

While the veggie mix is cooling, crack eggs into a separate bowl and beat GENTLY (think "Ahimsa," do no harm) with a pinch of salt and pepper and the cayenne pepper. Once the veggies are cool add them to the eggs, add the cheeses (leaving a little to sprinkle on top at the end.) Heat the skillet again on the stove top to medium. Let it get hot. Then add the remaining Olive Oil and Butter. Let them get hot and THEN add the egg/veggie mixture.

Let the egg/veggie mix sit, undisturbed for at least a minute so the bottom can settle. Then turn the heat to medium- low and cook for approximately 10 minutes. You can run a plastic spatula around the edges to make sure it's not sticking too much once every minute. If it does stick, don't panic. Breathe. It will be ok. Just wiggle the spatula gently and It'll unstick.

Last, sprinkle the last of the cheese over top and take the whole skillet and put it under the broiler for 30 sec to 1 minute. When it is done, take it out and let it rest for a few minutes. Then get that spatula in there to loosen it and gently slide it onto a big plate/platter to serve. Stare at the beauty and behold your creation...

Slice it like a pie, and then plate it with some fruit salad and OJ for breakfast, or your mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, some nice bread and a crisp white wine for dinner.

Hey, I'm allowed a few vices...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

1/3 off Private Lessons and Deals!

Dear Work of Heart Yogis,

I wanted to let you all know that I have lowered my private lesson rates by 1/3. Everyone is feeling the squeeze right now, and I figured that now is a good time to give folks a break anyway that I can.

That being said, my private lesson rate has dropped from $90/hour to $60/hour. Remember, these make great presents for people too!

Here are some other deals:

~5 lesson package for 1 person - $250
~5 lesson package for 2 people - $480
~Refer someone who takes a lesson, get 1/2 off your next single private lesson.
~Rates for groups over 2 people are negotiable.
*Rates may vary depending on location.

How do private lessons work? Glad you asked!

I can either come to your house or I can try to find space and a time at one of the studios I work for to do the lesson (that may cost a little extra). We will discuss with you what you would like to achieve before the first lesson and we can create a yoga routine that will suit your needs, whether you have injuries, want to deepen your practice, or work on a particular pose or area of the body. We can work on breathing practices, relaxation and meditation as well. Again, it's your practice you are creating, and my job is to help you do that!

Feel free to call me at (310) 559-2570 or email me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com to set up a private lesson or to ask any other questions you might have!

Thanks and have a beautiful day!

April KirkHart

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A play about women in the military this Sat in Culver City!

Dear Yogis and Yoginis,

My friend, April Fitzsimmons, is starring in a one-woman play called The Need to Know, which has received fabulous reviews. This Saturday, August 2nd, The Need to Know will be playing at the Kirk Douglas Theater in downtown Culver City, and the tickets are only $5! This play is supposed to be fantastic, showing the lives of women in different parts of the U.S. Military, from Basic Training to the National Security Agency.

I will be at the performance this Saturday and if any of you are interested, please check out April's website at: www.aprilfitzsimmons.com where you can get more info on the play. You can also call to reserve tickets at (310) 880-0911.

I can't wait to see April in this performance. She's an amazing woman, so it's sure to be an amazing show!

April KirkHart

Monday, July 28, 2008

Leaving the Y, and new schedule changes...

Thanks to all of you who have been so patient while I've been out the last few weeks, and thank you to all of my Yoga sisters and brothers who have subbed for me (Cheryl, Samara, Jay, Rennie, Fawntice, and anyone else who stepped up for me!) I'm back and up and running.

There are a few changes to my schedule, so please check my calendar above. I am no longer teaching the Monday and Friday morning classes at YNS, but fear not... I have handed them over to Rennie, and she is fabulous. It just works out better for both of our schedules. HOWEVER- I am STILL TEACHING THE SUNDAY morning class at YNS... As for my Weds night class at the Y, please read on below.

Also note that I am still teaching in lots of places, and lots of times, and as always, I am available for private lessons. Feel free to call me at (310) 559-2570 to set up an appointment.

To My YMCA Yoga Students:

Some of you know that I have been out the last few weeks tending to my family. I just wanted you to know that I am doing fine and have appreciated all of your thoughts and prayers. However, I have had time to think about where I need to focus my attention and have made some tough decisions. At this time, I need to focus on some of my other work in yoga, and on my family. This means that I will no longer be teaching my Wednesday night class at the YMCA. You can check with the staff at the Y to see if the class will be taken over by another teacher or moved to a different slot. My sincere thanks to Fawntice for subbing for me over the last few weeks!

I have so greatly enjoyed volunteering to teach at the YMCA, and it has been a real privilege to work with all of my students there. I have learned so much from you all, and wanted you to know that you have all touched my life in a very real and meaningful way. Some of you have been with me for over 2 years, and I will not forget your spirit, or your dedication to your practice.

I appreciate all of your understanding and thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me be your teacher. You can always see what I am up to on my yoga blog at: www.workofheartyoga.com .

I hope that you will continue your practice, and as always...remember to breathe, drink lots of water, eat good food, and be in good company, because Life is too short!

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti... Peace, Peace, Peace.

April KirkHart

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Schedule Additions and Happy 4th of July!

Well hellooooo to all my little yogis and yoginis!

As you will notice, I've added a neat little feature to my blog: my actual Gmail calendar of yoga classes, complete with times, studio info, class descriptions and so on. If you get emails of my blog posts, don't forget to visit the actual blogsite at: www.workofheartyoga.com to see this new feature. This should make figuring out where and when I'm teaching a whole lot easier. I'll add sub dates to the calendar too! You'll see that I have a plethora of both morning, evening and weekend classes for you to choose from...

Please note a few special additions to my schedule:

Tues - GODA - 5:30-6:55pm - Beginner/Prenatal Yoga
Weds - GODA - 8:15-9:45pm - Flow Yoga
Sat - GODA - 11:00-12:30 - Level One Yoga
Sun - GODA - 11:00-12:30 - Beginner Yoga

As for this upcoming holiday weekend, I know I'm normally around for those lovely 3-day weekends, however, this July 4th Your Neighborhood Studio is closed. So take the day off, do some yoga at your picnic or BBQ with friends and family!

April KirkHart

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gazpacho Soup Recipe for Summer!

The first time I fell in love with cold soup was in Barcelona on my honeymoon. I had overdosed on paella the night before, and it was so frickin' hot outside, I could feel my skin cells dying one by one under the sun's rays, which I was pretty sure were aimed directly at me. My husband, also of the fair skinned variety, and I joked that we should have bought stock in a sunscreen company before we left.

It was almost 2pm and siesta was about to begin, so we were scrambling to get a meal and quick. But, the idea of digging into a steaming pile of rice and seafood felt daunting and downright undesirable. That's when our waiter, totally bored and unamused by my difficulty acclimating, suggested gazpacho rather cavalierly.

When the waiter brought it to our table, I thought, "Crap. Now I have to eat tomato soup?! What didn't he understand about me wanting something that wasn't hot? Is my Spanish that bad?"

Our waiter was, unfortunately within ear-shot, and retorted, "es picante, no caliente..."

"It's hot, but it's not hot?! Great, now a riddle." I was becoming seriously unhappy with the service and felt like I was Alice in Wonderland, desperate to find that damn rabbit hole again. More likely, it was the Sangria I drank on an empty stomach.

"No, April. He means 'spicy,' 'picante' means spicy." My husband translated. I was horrified that I was forgetting my Spanish, but as I brought my spoon to my lips, all the earth dropped away from me, and I was twirling in the air, floating on the vibrant flavor of crisp tomatoes and cucumbers and shocked back to life by the sassy jalapeño and red pepper. That soup literally kicked my ass, but in a good way.

I had it every day in the middle of the day for the rest of our trip.

Gazpacho has had an important influence on my life; it reminds me to shake things up a little bit, especially when it gets hot. It's so easy to make, but has such a complex flavor. And it's just so darn good for you. I dare you to make something this low fat that isn't water...

Considering summer is here, and it's heating up out there, I thought I would share it with you. Also, a few friends, Rachel, Jennifer and Joel, recently gave this recipe a thumbs-up. And I'll dedicate this one to my husband, who always inspires me and adventures with me to try new things.


One 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 jalapeño pepper chopped coarsely
1 small or medium yellow onion, chopped coarsely
1 large cucumber, peeled, cut in half and scrape out seeds with spoon, chop coarsely.
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with knife
2 Tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste

Take out your blender. Dump the whole can of tomatoes in (you can strain it first for seeds, etc, but I figure why bother?). Toss in the jalapeño, onion, cucumber, garlic and white vinegar. Put the lid on and blend away, shaking the blender every once in a while. Then, with the blender on, remove the lid, and start to slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste. Then add salt, pepper and Tabasco to your taste, blending each time you add any. Chill in the fridge for an hour - or be really smart, and get all the veggies really cold before you chop them up!

To get fancy - chop finely a bit of extra onions and jalapeño, maybe some parsley, and garnish the soup with a little in the middle of each bowl on top. You can also toss in croutons, or do my favorite, and serve the soup with warm crusty bread and a little bit of Brie cheese.

Enjoy! And come do yoga...you can eat Gazpacho after...

April KirkHart

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Inversion workshop at GODA Sat, May 24th, and Yoga Memorial Day Weekend

I forgot to mention in my last blog that THIS Saturday is an awesome workshop with one of my favorite-ist instructors, Cheryl Moss, at GODA Yoga. If you want to work on your handstand, headstand, arm balances, etc, check it out:

Saturday, May 24 :: 2:00 - 4:00p

Learn how to practice inversions SAFELY! Something for everybody, from the beginner to the advanced student. A wonderful way to begin an inversion practice or advance an already existing one.

$35 Registration Recommended!

For more information and to register, call: 310.287.1255

ALSO: Remember that I am teaching my regular classes all this weekend and Memorial Day - See my blog post below for my full schedule this upcoming weekend and week!

April KirkHart

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Yoga Memorial Day Weekend!

What better way to celebrate the beautiful weather, and long weekend than with Yoga?

For those of you looking to get some good yoga in, whether it's to perfect the poses in my beginner class at GODA, or whether it's to get your sweat on in my Flow classes at YNS...

Yoga is ON for this Memorial Day weekend! Check it out, I'm even subbing some extra classes:

Tues, May 20th:
7-8:30pm Flow at GODA

Weds, May 21st:
6-7:30 pm Level 2/3 Flow at YMCA

Thur, May 22nd:
5:30-6:55 pm Beginner Class at GODA

Fri, May 23rd:
9-10:25 am Flow at YNS

Sun, May 25th:
9-10:25 am Flow at YNS
12:45-2:15pm Beginner at GODA

Mon, MEMORIAL DAY, May 26th:
9-10:25 am Flow at YNS

Tues, May 27th:
5:30-6:55 pm Beginner at GODA
7 - 8:30 pm Flow at GODA

Watch my blog for updates on my schedule, as I will be subbing a lot of classes at both studios in June, and may be adding some other permanent classes to my schedule.

Always feel free to email me any questions you have about yoga, or my schedule at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com ! Until then, take care and remember to breathe!

April KirkHart

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kids Yoga Teacher Training Memorial Day weekend!

Jules Hogan of UPDOGdowndogYoga is a yoga teacher I met at GODA Yoga. She's not only a great yogini, she's spunky, has a great sense of humor, and loves kids. She teaches kids yoga classes at GODA that are great for your little ones to burn off some of their energy, get comfortable moving their bodies and to have some fun and learn the art of mellowing out. She also does private lessons and kids parties and lots of other great, creative stuff. So check her out.

Also, she's now conducting her first ever Kids Yoga Teacher Training.If you love yoga, and you love kids, you should check it out! Feel free to pass this notice on to anyone you think would be interested. Here's the details:

Kids Yoga Teacher Training with Jules Hogan
Memorial Day, Monday, May 26th
8:00am - 3:00pm
Location - TBD
$100.00 suggested donation

Contact Jules with interests and suggestions at:
jules@updogdowndogyoga.com or
(310) 714-3617

Hope you are all having a great weekend, and maybe I'll see you on the mat!

April KirkHart

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

April's Yoga Playlist, and private yoga lessons...

Dearest Yogis and Yoginis,

By popular demand, I am including one of my yoga playlists for you below. I have to be honest, I'm not a wiz at making playlists. It took me about 7 hours to put it together. I had no idea how popular it would be, but why keep a good thing secret? Speaking of...

I am now available for private yoga lessons for individuals or for groups.

No, they are not just for Madonna and Sting. They are for beginners who want a little more one-on-one instruction in particular poses, they are for those recovering from injuries that want specific instruction on safety, they are for more experienced yogis wanting to deepen their practice, as well as for those that want a more private, and "on their own schedule" lesson that will give them an excellent work out. In other words, they are for you. And they also make great presents for others. I'm just sayin'...

If you or anyone you know is interested, please feel free to email me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com or call me at (310) 559-2570.

Now, as for that playlist...

Country Poem - Pat Metheny
Sueno con Mexico - Pat Metheny
Sunny Came Home - Shawn Colvin
So Damn Lucky - Dave Matthews
Stay or Leave - Dave Matthews
I'm Bound to Pack it up - The White Stripes
Trouble - Dave Matthews
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson
Flake - Jack Johnson
Better Together - Jack Johnson
Inaudible Melodies - Jack Johnson
Trouble - Coldplay
Oh - Dave Matthews
If Not Now - Tracy Chapman
For You - Cold Play
Aqueous Transmission - Incubus
Alone in Kyoto - Air

Friday, May 2, 2008

A friend's class I'd like to promote!

There's a new yoga class at Your Neighborhood Studio!

And better yet, it's taught by my friend Rennie Yabiku! Some of you already know Rennie because she's subbed for some of my classes! Rennie's Yoga Flow class is on Saturdays from 5:00-6:30pm. It's the perfect workout before your hot date for Saturday night, so go check out her class if you get a chance.

You can find Rennie's info on the YNS website at: www.yourneigbhorhoodstudio.com.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

April KirkHart

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April goes on a subbing spree!

Hi all, I'm teaching a bazillion classes between now and Tuesday, so I thought I'd let you know, in case one works better for your schedule - Addresses and phone numbers for each studio are on my home page at www.workofheartyoga.com:

7-8:30 am Mixed Level at Goda Yoga
9-10:30 am Yoga Flow at Your Neighborhood Studio
1-2 pm Lunch Mixed Level at Goda Yoga

9-10:30 am Yoga Flow at Your Neighborhood Studio
11-12:30 Beginner Hatha at Goda Yoga
12:45 - 2:15pm Beginner Hatha at Goda Yoga

7-8:30 am Mixed Level at Goda Yoga
9-10:30 am Yoga Flow at Your Neighborhood Studio
1-2 pm Lunch Mixed Level at Goda Yoga

Keep your eyes posted for the next blog about a car that runs off pure veggie oil!

April KirkHart

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Out sick tonight for YMCA class Weds!

To my YMCA students:

I am SOOOO sorry, but I am getting a pretty mean sore throat and feel a serious fever coming on. I will not be teaching my class tonight. Kristy is trying to find a sub at the moment, so call in ahead of time to see if someone is teaching.

My apologies, I hate to do this last minute...I thought I'd feel better by now, but I don't want to spread the germs! I'll be in isolation until at least Friday.

Thank you for your understanding, and remember to breathe!

April KirkHart

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What is that thing April does at the end of class anyway?


I've been asked a number of times about the chant that I sing at the end of class sometimes. And some of my YMCA "regulars" even got a print out one special class of that little prayer. But I thought I would make the transliteration/translation available on my blog since some people seem to really like it.

Let me start by saying that when I first got into yoga, I didn't want to get into the whole "chanting" thing because it felt weird, a little goofy, and close to religious, which is something I have struggled with. However, when I started to read about the translations of some of these chants, I found them to be spiritually purposeful for me, and fairly universal in nature - meaning the opposite of exclusionary. That's why I sing some of them before or after my class, because it reminds me of my own intention, and to be honest, I like the way they sound and feel when I sing them. They fill me up like a glass of water does a thirsty person in the desert. Or at least that's the feeling I get.

However, I understand people's curiosity or hesitation about them. More to the point, I have no interest in being signed up for a particular religious belief or pushing one on anyone else. I'm the first to want to know what prayers are being made in my presence and to make sure if I sing along, or say them, that I'm not signing myself or anyone else up for a contract of which they are not a willing participant. Therefore, without further ado...

Closing class prayer:
Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha
Sarve Santu Niraamayaah
Sarve Bhadraani Pashyantu
Maa Kaschid Dukha Bhaag Bhavet
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

May happiness be unto all,
Perfect health be unto all,
May all see good in everyone (or all things auspicious)
May all be free from suffering.
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
I bow to you (or I bow to the god in you.)

**I took this translation from a little booklet of Kirtan from Swami Satchidananda's Yogaville, copyright 1987. However, if you enter "closing slokas" in a google search, you'll find different variations of the transliteration and the actual English translation - but they all come pretty close to this one.

*A little known fact is that the salutation, "Namaste" is an acknowledgment or sign of deep respect.

So with that...

April KirkHart

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm back! And Thanks to Rennie for subbing!

Dearest Yoga Blog Readers,

I am back from my pre-birthday trip and am going to try my hand at including a picture or two in this blog. We'll see how that works out...

But before I do, I just wanted to send out a heartfelt thank you to Rennie for subbing for me at the Y and at YNS. It feels good to know that my students are in capable hands if I am out sick or on vacation. Some of you will be happy to know that Rennie will be teaching at YNS regularly on Saturday evenings, so check the schedule online!

As for a quick picture from my trip to Northern CA... This is my pre-birthday flan at the Mexican restaurant I went to with friends and Casey in San Rafael. And yes, that is a margarita.

I am glad to be back and can't wait to see you all on the mat!


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Family time for April's birthday!

Just a quick note to let you all know that I will be out of town, just for the week for a little vacation, but I am leaving you in good hands!

My friend and colleague, Rennie, will be subbing for me this week, and she is a wonderful kindred spirit, so please bring your fabulous energy to class and share it with her. I promise to do a little meditation for each of my classes while I'm gone.

However, some of my classes are not happening because they fall on Easter Sunday. So the schedule is as follows:

Weds - March 19th - YMC - 6-7:25pm Rennie is subbing
Friday - March 21st Your Neighborhood Studio 9-10:30am - Rennie is subbing

Your Neighborhood Studio is closed, therefore, no Yoga Flow 9-10:30am

GODA Yoga - Rig's class in the AM is still on, and Cheryl will teach her beginner class from 11:00-12:30 am, but my class will not be happening. So if you normally come to my class, come to the 11:00 class and celebrate Easter with Cheryl!

Have a wonderful happy holiday(s) and I will see you after the 23rd!

April KirkHart

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How often should I do yoga?

I’ve been asked this question more times in the last week and a half than I can count. My quick answer is: every day! “WHAAAAT,” you ask, “but, how?!” My more detailed answer…

Your yoga practice is very personal. Each person is working with his/her own mind, body, finances and schedules. People practice for different reasons too: some practice to lose weight, some to calm their mind, while others want to build greater strength or flexibility. The wonderful thing about yoga is that you can do it anywhere, with just yourself!

The tricky part is getting yourself to do it, to do it safely, and in a way that allows you to feel some sense of progress.

I think it’s important to attend classes when you can, so an instructor can do adjustments with you, to build your awareness of how you move, how to practice safely, and how to use your breathe in a pose. These are things you can work on at home too.

However, its’ hard for people to make time each day or to feel motivated practicing on their own, which is why many choose to come to class. On the flip-side, it can feel frustrating to come to a class once a week, and feel sore after each class, or like you aren’t progressing in a pose. So, we’re back to the dilemma that not everyone can come to class more than once or twice a week, right?! ARRRRGGGGGH!!!

Fear not, I have some ideas:

1. Come to class when you can - Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t:
* Beating yourself up will make you associate attending class with a chore. Not good. But give yourself kudos when you can come to class!
* Think about creative ways to make it happen – work it out with your employer to come into work earlier, so you can leave a little earlier (and catch a class you love – most likely mine.) One of my students gave up the latte she bought every work day at almost $20/week so she could spend it on yoga classes. Some studios also have work-study opportunities… just some ideas.
* Rushing to a class does not help you enjoy the class - if you do, take a moment outside the studio door to take 3 deep breathes before entering.

2. Private lessons – Know thyself:
* You can schedule them when it’s convenient for you and do them in your own home. Invite a few friends or include family, and you can lower the cost of a one-on-one private lesson.
* You get instruction that is tailored to suit your physical/meditative needs, and goals if you choose to set some.
* For beginners, who are often shy about taking a class, you get to learn the basics, you may feel freer to ask questions, AND the instructor can really focus on you and any difficulty you have with a pose.

3. Some is better than none – Home/work practice:
* Don’t feel like you have to do the full hour/hour and a half! Ten minutes after you wake up can make a world of difference. Do 3 sun salutations, or pick 5 of your favorite poses and do them. You won’t regret it.
* At work in the middle of your day, stand up, place your hands on the desktop, step your feet back and do a variation of down-dog. Close your door and do Warrior II if you need some courage, or tree pose if you feel off-balance. Breathe!
* Keep a yoga mat in your car trunk. Keep a yoga mat or blanket rolled out at home. Some people create a little space for doing yoga in the house – for others, they go outside to the beach, a patch of grass, their patio etc.

Of COURSE I’d love it if you attended 3 (of my) classes per week – I’m trying to make a living doing this! But that’s just not practical for everyone. My overall advice about doing it every day, at home, at work…it’s possible! Doing a little bit of yoga each day will get it “in” your body. Your body will start to crave it, and you’ll find that you are turning 10 minutes into 20, 5 poses into 10, and you’ll notice the difference in your poses when you do come to class, but also in your body and your mind...that’s for sure.

So, feel free to post comments on ways YOU have been able to incorporate more yoga into your life. It just might give someone else a great idea!

Peace out,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

April and the magic beads

Last week was a particularly strange one for me. One day was completely wonderful, and the next I felt just awful. It was a roller coaster of nervous energy and self-doubt, and no matter how I tried to breathe through it all, it was hard to hang on for the ride. I realized, however, that the turbulence came from the difference between my expectations and my actual experiences. And here’s what I mean:

I had been looking forward to attending a particular yoga class. I’ve been courting the idea of taking another teacher training, and have been taking classes with teachers I think I would like to learn more from. So not only was I looking forward to taking a class, I was hoping to find some sign that this instructor could really be “my teacher.”

Instead, when I got to class, I found that it was her birthday, and she was splitting the class into three half-hours of different activities that involved body movement.

It was different, it was new, and I was thrown.

I had expected a yoga class. I tried to calm myself thinking, “Come on, April. Calm down, and just be open to something new. Maybe this is what you need – to learn to be flexible and playful and in the moment.” So on the class went.

We twirled toys, danced wildly, and made noises not commonly heard in a yoga class. I found myself jiggling and hopping around, and did feel a little bit like a kid. We ended with a series of salutations in a circle spreading out like a wheel that felt very unifying. But then as we began our Savasana, the instructor mentioned she had brought a prayer bead on a necklace for everyone and that as we were lulled by the musicians singing kirtan, she would go around and hand them out.

I could feel my heart beating faster, and felt my jaw unable to relax. I was suddenly anxious.

The school child in me kept praying, “Pick me! Pick me!” And I became overwhelmingly desirous of the special bead, from this special instructor, who I hoped would be “my teacher.” As I realized how much I wanted the bead, I felt very sad. Savasana seemed to last FOREVER, and I could feel its weight on my chest. I actually began to cry silently, hoping my tears would blend with the beads of sweat running down my face. I was embarrassed by my emotion.

Time ticked itself away in the rhythms of the kirtan, and vibrated through my skull. I lay there, beadless.

I felt motion around me. Then I realized everyone was getting up and the class was over. I looked around, watching people hug and tie their necklaces around themselves. I think I was one of a few people that did not get one, although the instructor still had some in her hand as she said goodbye to those students familiar to her.

I don’t think I didn’t get a bead because she did not know me, or for any particular reason. Who knows, maybe she didn’t want to disturb my meditation.

All I do know is that I did not feel comfortable asking her for a bead. So I went to my car and cried like a baby, feeling absolutely juvenile. It occurred to me, “maybe she is not ‘my teacher.’”

I’m not sure if I was so saddened because I wanted her to be my teacher, or because I did not feel comfortable asking for what I wanted. And what was it that I wanted, specifically? To find my teacher? To be chosen? To feel special?

Well, that day ended. And the next began.

I took a wonderful yoga class from another teacher, whom I adore and feel very much mentored by, and actually had a wonderful conversation with her about my “bead” experience. Talking to her about it made me feel absolutely lighter. I revealed that she might be my teacher, even if she’s not so sure herself…

I then left to teach my class at the YMCA which was packed, and just filled with people that had such great, positive, and electrifying energy. I had so much fun teaching, and felt just full of happiness as I left.

When I made it to dinner with my husband and my Abba (one of my fathers-in-law) I was so excited to tell them about it. But before I could begin, my Abba pulled out a small, plain box, and said he found something at a store that he thought I would like and seemed to suit me. “How sweet! An unexpected little gift,” I blabbed.

I opened the box to find an entire necklace of Mala beads.

I kid you not, the full Hindu rosary of 108 prayer beads was staring up at me from its humble little package. He had no idea just how special this gift was to me…

I guess what I took from this is that although we think we want certain things, the things we need often come at a time or place or from a person we least expect.

So, my question to you, my faithful readers, is this: What lesson do you think the universe was trying to send me? Post your comments if you feel so moved...

Peace, and I wish you all wonderful things in unexpected moments!
-April KirkHart

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Web site Launch for GODA Yoga!

I thank the powers that be every day for the opportunity to teach yoga. And the studios that I have the privilege to teach at are such special places to me, and of course to my students, that I do love to boast about them when I can, and as often as I can.

This is why I am so excited to let you all know that if you haven't already checked out the websites of the studios I teach at, now would be a good time! GODA Yoga has just remodeled it's website and it is just beautiful. Take a gander at the workshops page, the instructor's page, where you will find moi, and everything else it has to offer. I am so proud to be a part of this lovely studio/community!

You can visit their website at: www.godayoga.com

Stay tuned for more posts to come. In the meantime, my weekly schedule is as follows:

Sundays 12:45 - 2:15pm - Beginner level class

Your Neighborhood Studio

Mon, Fri, Sundays 9:00 - 10:30 - Yoga Flow (more vigorous)

YMCA Santa Monica
Wednesdays 6:00 - 7:25pm - Level 2/3 Flow class

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

TWO Sunday classes, and a shout to my YMCA students...

To all of my readers who've lamented the fact that I was teaching during the week and inconveniently during your work hours... I am now teaching 2 classes on Sundays at 2 different studios! So many options, I know, your heads might explode. No really. Check it out:

Sunday Schedule:
Sunday 9:00 - 10:30 am - Your Neighborhood Studio - Yoga Flow
Sunday 12:45 - 2:15 pm - GODA Yoga - Beginner Hatha Mix

*For those of you without your yoga decoder ring - Yoga Flow is a more aerobically focused practice of yoga in the "ashtanga" or "power yoga" tradition. All levels are welcome that are prepared to sweat some. "Hatha Mix" generally has a bit of a slower pace, longer holds, so strength building and deep stretches, and you'll be surprised that sometimes holding a pose can create heat as much as moving into another pose... But this is a more beginner focused class, so those of you trying to ease back into it for the new year, this class may be for you!

Intro to Yoga Workshop: Also note, that I am teaching this workshop at GODA Yoga this Sunday, Feb. 2nd from 2:30-4:30pm. I'll be going over a brief history of yoga, talk a bit about the philosophy, and what to expect in a yoga class. Then I will lead us through a very beginner level class. If you've never done yoga before, or know someone who wants to try it, PLEASE check this class out. You get another class with this registration.

For my YMCA students:
I forgot to tell you last week that although I will be at the YMCA tomorrow during my class time, I won't be teaching your yoga class. I am required each year to take a Safety training by the Y, and a separate CPR certification class. You will have a sub tomorrow, Weds January 30th, whom I thank dearly for covering my class. I promise to see you the following week!

Keep your eyes peeled for new posts to come!

April KirkHart
(310) 559-2570

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's not dance around it...the Yoga Fart.

There, I said it.

What would possess me to write about such a topic on my wonderfully designed website/blog? Aren't I afraid of scaring off the more easily offended and reserved subscribers that may be tuning in?

The answer my dears, is No. I fear not offending ye, and shall tell ye why.

It's real. It is not a myth. The Yoga Fart. It's out there, like school yard humiliation waiting for the perfect moment to pounce, unexpectedly, rumbling up from the depths of who knows where, in the middle of a perfectly zen-like yoga class.

Picture it: there you are, in your yoga clothes, be they snug or be they loose, with your own special 6 ft by 2.5 ft sticky mat claim of space. You are deeply into your breathing, mastering the focus of the mind, hands pressing into the floor, hips lifted for downward facing dog, and as you exhale and tilt your tailbone up, the alarms sound...an escapee. "Brrrrrrrrup!" There was nothing you could do, no warning, no little cramp of gas to alert you, that one was about to let fly.

Or picture THIS: you are having a terrific class, you feel like you are in the yoga meditative zone, you even popped up into headstand without putting a hole in the studio wall for the first time. As you drop down and come into child's pose, the instructor comes over and he/she presses on your low back to help your hips drop. As you inhale deeply, as instructed, the belly balloons with air, an right then and there with the instructor hovering only a foot or two over you, *POW!*

Here's the deal.

Exercising in general tends to stir things up. Anyone who has ever exercised can attest to this. Whether it's swimming (much harder to hide the bubbles), running, sit-ups at the gym or in gym class in school, lifting weights, aerobics, dance, martial arts, or yoga.

The interesting thing is that asana practice - the physical practice of yoga - includes poses, such as pavanamuktasana or virasana, and movements, such as cat-cow stretch, that are actually designed to aid digestion, to help align sphincters and "massage" internal organs to work toxins out of the body's system. So, next time you eek one out, just think of it this way: it's a sign that the yoga is working! It's doin' its thing! And it's a sign that maybe some of the other things people say yoga can do for you might also be true (*mumbles and whispers ripple through the crowd, heads nodding...)

"But, April! That's EMBARRASSING in a class full of people!" Ok, ok. Before you get all red in the face... This should A) NOT deter you from doing yoga, especially my classes, and B) there are things you can do to deal with it.

If the escapee comes from your own temple/body:

1. Ignore it, and keep the mind focused. It's a natural thing, everyone's passed gas before. There may be one or two people in the class that are developmentally stuck at the age of 13 who won't be able to let it go, but most folks can sympathize and will forget it by the next pose.

2. Giggle and then sigh it out. Sighing is the ultimate sign of letting go, and if you feel the need to acknowledge it was you, go for the giggle. The sigh let's others know you have moved on and so should they.

3. Cough. It's the age-old trick, which fools no one, but is the socially-acceptable cover-up. Others will respect that you did the right thing by attempting to sweep it under the carpet/mat, if-you-will.

4. Say "excuse me." But that goes beyond all bravery. That's out and out claiming it. Choose this one wisely, however, because the social apology may actually draw others' attention to it when they'd already moved on, and it may disrupt others who are using their asana practice as a moving meditation.

If the escapee comes from a neighboring temple/body:

1. Ignore it. See number 1 above, unless you are actually 13, then move on to number 2.

2. Don't look around to see who turns red. Your focus should be on you, but granted, we are all human, and considering most Americans are raised on bathroom humor, it's human to giggle a little. But it's also human to try to be compassionate by not embarrassing or shaming someone else.

3. Say "excuse me," and take the fall for a fellow yogi! It's what you've been practicing Warrior II for anyways, right? You would go down in the books as a yoga hero, and create a little nook of good karma for yourself!

If you are a teacher and let one fly or one of your students lets one fly:
1. Talk over it. Works every time. It helps to calm the class giggles, and refocus their attention on the movements, the breathe, etc.

2. Take the fall. Saying "excuse me," will draw the attention back to you, even if folks know you didn't do it. And, taking the fall gives you the opportunity to explain that it happens sometimes, probably means the yoga is doing what it's supposed to do, that it's natural and to move on. An added benefit is that your students may see you are willing to go the extra mile for them. Being a teacher is often about creating a safe space for people to practice their yoga.

***The ONLY caveat here, is if this is not a little escapee, but an earth-rumbling, window-shattering, tyrant of a fart. In this case, a few things come to mind.

Sometimes, uncontrollable laughter strikes as unexpectedly as does gas. Sometimes you just gotta' roll with it, whether you are the farter or the witness to the fart. Try not to laugh maliciously, and try not to feel humiliated if others burst into giggles - they, too, are human.

Although I will reiterate, it is natural and happens sometimes, there are also some ways to avoid or decrease the arise of the Yoga Fart:
1. Try not eating or drinking for about 2 hours before doing yoga. This also lessens the chances of feeling a little heart-burn, and burping. If you have low-blood sugar, you can try some fruit juice or light fare (usually not protein) an hour or so before class.

2. Identify foods that give you more gas, and try not to eat those the day of your yoga class.

3. Make a trip to the bathroom before taking a class. Emptying out sometimes helps the mind be clear and ready to focus and can improve your yoga experience altogether.

*A note about your health: If you are constantly passing gas - you may want to look at your diet, particularly if you are experiencing physical discomfort. I am not versed on how much gas is normal to pass, but if it is causing you pain, or embarrassment, you might want to talk it over with your health care provider to see if anything is going on with your digestive tract.

Now, I pose it to you, my yoga readers: Do you think that Yoga is more "farty" than other physical practices? Do you have any particular stories you would like to offer up about one of your own "escapees" or how folks can deal with it should the issue arise? I welcome all comments, stories, anecdotes, research, etc. I would love to hear them. You can comment here on the blog, or email them to me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com.

Now go, be free of your fears of the Yoga Fart. It won't destroy you. I promise. Not in my classes.


April KirkHart
(310) 559-2570

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunday Jan 20th - Free Open House!

Two major things are happening THIS Sunday, January 20th - and private and group lessons:

1. Free Open House at Your Neighborhood Studio - all classes that day are FREE, but reservations are required. I am teaching a FREE hour-long yoga class from 10:00-11:00am that day, so all of you who can't make my weekday classes, now's your chance! Call (310)876-3498 to reserve a spot. If you are interested in the other dance or fitness classes and want a free sampler, check out the Open House Schedule at: http://www.yourneighborhoodstudio.com/Events.html - and don't miss this opportunity to check out some classes for FREE!!! Did I mention the whole day is FREE?! I may try the Booiaka class...

2. I start my Sunday afternoon class at GODA Yoga, 12:45-2:15pm starting THIS Sunday, January 20th! From now on, every Sunday afternoon, I will be teaching a beginner class from 12:45pm - 2:15pm in one of the sweetest Yoga studios around - GODA Yoga. Even intermediate yogis will find ways to challenge themselves in this class. And if you haven't done yoga before, or you haven't done yoga for a while, and are committed to a New Year's resolution to get back into it, this is the class for you! So come try Sunday afternoon yoga and go out to lunch after!

3. Private and Group lessons. WHOA, April! A third thing? Well, this is a reminder that if you have trouble making it to any of my studio scheduled classes, I am also available to teach small group classes or private lessons. I can teach at your home or a location you arrange. So, if my studio schedule doesn't work for you, grab a few yogi friends and I'll tailor a class for your group at a time that works for you! Call me at (310) 559-2570 or email me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com to set it up!

Cheers and hope to see you on the mat!
-April KirkHart

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A New Year brings New Classes!

Welcome to 2008! Before I get into the New Year's resolutions... some class announcements:

January class Schedule:
I know, I sort of fell off the blog wagon while the holidays were in effect...but I had parents to host, ricotta cookies to bake, and pasta sauce to worry over - can you blame me? The good news is that my dad took every single yoga class of mine while he was here and actually said it helped his low back! The even better news is that with the New Year comes new classes, which might enable my Mon-Fri 9-5 working friends the chance to come yoga with me - so check out my schedule for the month of January:

**THIS SUNDAY, January 6th - 1:30 - 3:30 pm Special Intro to Yoga, GODA Yoga, Culver City - $35 Registration recommended, includes one free class, covers basic poses, simplified yoga philosophy and breathing and meditation techniques.

Monday - 9-10:25am Your Neighborhood Studio (all levels), Culver City
Tuesdays - 5:30-6:55pm GODA Yoga (beginner and prenatal), Culver City
Wednesdays - 6:00- 7:15pm YMCA (level 2-3 class), Santa Monica
Thursdays - 5:30-6:55pm GODA Yoga (beginner), Culver City
Fridays *2 CLASSES!!!!
9-10:25 am Your Neighborhood Studio (all levels), Culver City
4:30-6pm GODA (beginner/prenatal), Culver City

**STARTING Sunday, January 20th:
Sundays - 12:45pm - 2:15pm GODA Yoga
Now, on to the New Year's resolutions:
It's that time of year when many have celebrated or reflected on the past, and then look to the future. Many go so far as to make New Year's resolutions. However, those resolutions can quickly turn into a list of "have to's" or at least it feels that way on January 2nd as you run full speed on the treadmill, wondering if you're going as fast as the guy next to you, getting flogged by your new ipod cord, as punishment for holiday eating or for the last 6 months of falling off the gym wagon...

And although Yoga is not so much in the form of competitiveness, many yogis still compete with themselves come the New Year. While I never want to dissuade anyone from setting goals for themselves, I think it's important to look at resolutions and come at them in a compassionate way. And I think I have a few tips that might help:

110% vs. 90% vs. 50% - They all have their place.

If you've told yourself that you want yoga to be a bigger part of your life, by all means, taking a class is a great motivator. However, just like that first time back at the gym, lifting weights or going for a run - you may be tempted to "go all out," which generally ends up making you feel so sore you can't bare to go back for another week. So before you hurl your body into full Kapotasana, play with finding the difference between going 110% and going 90%. Or, if you're getting over colds or the flu or just the influx of relatives and holiday rush, know when you need to practice more restoratively - going 45%, using props to help you open in a pose for instance.

Home Practice: give yourself 10 minutes and patience.
For various reasons, time, money, work, family, etc., it is often hard for people to get to more than one or two studio classes per week. However, building a home practice is challenging. As a result, many people only squeeze in that one session every week. This doesn't meant that they won't get anything from it, but it can lead to frustration for students who want to "progress" in certain poses, meaning they want to build greater strength or flexibility, or try some advanced poses. It's the same as if you only lifted weights once a week at the gym and went 100%, you'd be sore after each session and probably wouldn't move up to lifting heavier weights for a long time if ever. No, that doesn't mean you should forget it, that it's not worth it. It means that a home practice is important AND it should be something fun.

The beauty of yoga is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, and classes are meant to help give you the tools to build your home practice!

PULEEEEEZE don't start beating yourself up if you don't launch into a full 1.5 hour yoga session at home 4 days a week. This is a LIFESTYLE change and takes patience, compassion and above all, some chutzpah. Unless you are an extremely disciplined person, finding 1.5 hours 5 days a week can be really hard. If you can, more power to you. If you can't, don't berate yourself, or force yourself into a session - associating yoga with that kind of negativity is likely to become a big ugly snowball of dirty snow. I know from experience. It took me 4 years of taking one class a week (if I was lucky) and being frustrated a lot before I started a home practice, and it is still one of the things that challenges me most in yoga. There, I've said it.

Instead of getting worked into a tizzy - try setting aside an extra ten minutes somewhere in your day that you roll out your mat. Maybe you set your alarm 10 minutes earlier, or maybe you shut your door at work for 10 minutes, or maybe you take ten minutes after you run outside, or when you get home to find a quiet spot, and roll out your mat or a towel. And then it's up to you - your mat is your oyster... ok that sounds weird, but you get the idea.

Pick 2-5 poses you want to do. Don't worry about their names, your body remembers them. Don't worry about their order. Or maybe even just sit on your mat. Be proud that you've thought to roll it out. Over time, you'll find that 10 minutes may lead to 20, which may lead to 40. You'll find that throughout your day, your body will crave a stretch or two... so stretch! And even if you NEVER find a full 1.5 hours to do yoga, who cares? It's your Yoga. Do whatever poses you want for however long you want!

If you want an example sequence to get you started on a home practice try this:

Roll out mat, shut door, turn off cell phone
Sit in sukhasana and breathe
Then bring hands forward on the floor, uncross feet behind you into table top
Curl toes under, press back to adho mukha svanasana (down dog)
Lower slowly to plank
Lower until your belly is on the floor and try a lower bujangasana (cobra)
Press back to balasana (child's pose)

Then you can go backwards through the poses or start over. Hold each pose as feels right for you in that moment. Repeat only as many times as you want or you feel time allows. And for cryin' in the night - have some fun!

In the meantime, I hope your New Year is off to a good start, and I wish you all health and happiness for 2008. Hope to see you on the mat!