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, October 21, 2009

April is back at GODA Yoga!

Dear All,

I realize it's been a while since I've posted anything...I've been busy with my new babygirl, Ruby Josephine KirkHart, born August 1st, weighing 6lbs. 15oz. and measuring 20 inches long. She is strawberry blonde (what little hair she has!) and is absolutely amazing to me and her Daddy, Casey. Ruby Jo was born at home with the help of our midwife Sarah Sheeley from The Sanctuary. Her birth was everything we hoped it would be, and I may post more on that in a future blog. She has pretty much captivated all my attention for the past 3 months. And I absolutely love being her mom!

Thank you to all of my wonderful students who have sent well-wishes, cards, presents, and happy and healthy vibes for us. And thank you to all of the teachers who have stepped in to teach my classes and take care of my students while I was on maternity leave. I am eternally grateful!

I have many thoughts and funny stories about new motherhood/parenthood, and may post those in time. I find that I could use an extra hand, or four, and rarely get time to use both hands to type, so it may take some time.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you all know that I am going to start teaching a new schedule at GODA Yoga starting on November 2nd (see schedule below). If you were doing or are interested in private lessons, I'll have to work that out with each of you individually.

My new schedule:

Fridays, 10-11:30am Mommy and Me (bring your baby's favorite toy or two)
Saturdays, 11-12:30 Level One
Sundays, 11-12:30 Beginner
Mondays, 10-11:30am Prenatal Yoga (all trimesters welcome, and those preparing for pregnancy as well!)

I hope you are all well and look forward to seeing you soon!

April KirkHart

Friday, July 10, 2009

No baby yet, but acupuncture rocks...

Hello my yogis and yoginis, are you ready for a Looooong Blog?


So, no baby yet. I keep thinking she'll come early, but my midwives tell me not to get my hopes up! And yes, I said midwives.

"Whaaaaaatt??!!" you may ask. Or not.

Many people assume that because I am a yoga instructor I have a completely "alternative lifestyle" (whatever that means) or am against Western Medicine... Well, you learn something new every day, right? So, first I'll tell you how my husband and I decided to do a home birth, and then I will tell you why this needle-phobic gal now loves acupuncture...

Some of you know that my husband is actually a family medicine doctor, (he just finished residency, YAY!) I also grew up in a family with a doctor and nurse who also had good ethical centers and open minds. So, I've always been comfortable with western medicine, but have also been exposed to complementary and alternative medicine. I have approached both with healthy skepticism and curiosity. I ask questions, I read stuff. So sue me.

I've always seen western medicine doctors, and did so through the beginning of my pregnancy and planned to have a hospital birth like most people. However, for the first time, something seemed off. I kept feeling like I was being "treated" for an illness. The short 5-10 minute visits with my doctors felt rushed, I hardly ever felt comfortable asking questions if I even had time to remember that I had questions to begin with. Not to mention, the doctors and staff were a little more testy than I was used to. Our health care system sets it up to be like this; docs have to see a huge volume of patients, and OBGYNs get sued more often than other doctors, and have to spend a ton of money for liability insurance. On top of that, their patient-base, namely pregnant women, are more hormonal and emotional than say, the average patient. And they have a right to be, because after all, they ARE having a baby, not buying a pet fish. It's an emotional thing. That creates the potential for a really tense situation.

Granted, some OBGYNs are more mellow than others (as are some pregnant women.) And I know some really fabulous OBGYNs that are friends of mine as well, but weren't doctors I could see for my own pregnancy (insurance being the main issue). They are highly trained surgeons, really. They are trained for every possible worst-case scenario! And thank goodness they are because that's what makes them so good at dealing with higher risk pregnancies. We are lucky to live in a country with such skilled physicians and to have the options that we do with prenatal, delivery and postpartum care.

A quick disclaimer: I would NEVER judge ANY woman for the kind of care and/or delivery she chooses for herself. Some are more comfortable with a doctor in a hospital setting, some aren't. It is a highly personal and private decision, with many factors that contribute to the decision-making process. And I believe that all births are important, special and life-transforming experiences, and that women should just be open and supportive of each other regardless of how they experience all of this and to be supportive of the women who can't or choose not to go through pregnancy or child birth, period. In addition, I'm not trying to give OBGYNs a bad rap. There are some AMAZING docs out there, but they are hard to find when all you have to go on is a list on your insurance website. And unless you can pay more out of pocket, some of them are hard to get.

In any case, I tried a number of docs, and none were working out for me personally, especially with the constraints from my health insurance. Let me pause here and say our health care insurance industry sucks. It needs MAJOR reform. MAJOR. It sucks for patients and it sucks for doctors. However, had I found a better match for my personality and health philosophies, I probably would have stuck with one. But I didn't so here's what happened.

My husband and I did some research (it was actually his idea) and I interviewed a number of midwives and birth centers, etc. We found a group near us of Licensed Professional Midwives and Nurse Midwives that we really liked and trusted. The group of midwives is called Sacred Entrance and the full range of services they offer is called The Sanctuary.

I have LOVED my prenatal care there. So far, we plan on doing a home-birth, although that plan is a flexible one - if there are any complications, they have a back-up or collaborating doctor at Cedars Sinai and I would be transferred to the hospital. How would they know if there's a complication? Well, they aren't just a bunch of long-haired hippie women that come in with potions and pixie dust... the midwives, who are highly trained, have delivered hundreds of babies and follow a normal prenatal care schedule. They basically check all the stuff a doctor does, AND give nutrition an extra emphasis. To the birth, they bring a monitor for the baby's heart beat, they have oxygen, IV's if you need one, anti-hemorrhage medications, and they are all certified in neonatal resuscitation, suturing, etc. For low-risk pregnancies, it's really very safe - and they remind you that home birth really is for low-risk pregnancies. They are VERY clear that OBGYNs handle higher-risk pregnancies and are trained to do so, and they do not hesitate to refer you out if there's any indication you might have a complication. If you'd like more info, check out the website for our midwife group: http://www.sacredentrance.com/ go to: Birth Center - Enter site - Birth Center and then look at the resources under Additional Information (especially the FAQs document.)

In any case, we dig them. They are very skilled, professional, yet it all feels homey, and they take at LEAST a good hour for each appointment - they care about your diet and exercise which are HUGELY important for a healthy low-risk pregnancy. They refer any high-risk pregnancies to their collaborating Doctor at Cedars Sinai, as I mentioned before. Even if someone wants a hospital birth or needs to have one because they are higher risk or have complications, The Sanctuary/Sacred Entrance still offers a range of other services for prenatal care, massage, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, mommy groups, birthing classes, lactation specialists etc.

They are very supportive of women having options and making the right choices for them. In short... they are just the coolest. I am excited about my birth and fast approaching parental-hood, and the folks at The Sanctuary have helped me prepare to be open to whatever I need to happen during my labor.

So, this brings me to my next topic. Acupuncture.

I have always had a fairly intense fear of needles. As a kid who had strep-throat all the time, I had to have a lot of blood tests and was poked a lot with needles. It was traumatizing particularly because I have small veins which meant they generally had to stick me multiple times to get what they needed.

In any case, I've never really researched Eastern Medicine or Acupuncture and so I don't really understand how it works. However, at The Sanctuary, they have an acupuncturist and I found out I could get a few appointments as part of my birth package there and I thought, "hey, I'll try it and see what happens." I was having a lot of low-back and hip pain that even my long practice of yoga wasn't completely addressing. (Yes, even practiced Yoga instructors are not immune to some of the hardships of pregnancy. It's very humbling.) In any case, I was told that acupuncture might help me have less discomfort AND sleep better.

It sounded like magic. And it kind of is.

I met Emily Bartlett, LAc. I think that stands for Licensed Acupuncturist. She did a comprehensive interview with me about my aches and pains, my needle phobia, and then showed me the needles and how they worked so I wouldn't be so scared. Also, we had a funny conversation about organic vs. regular mattresses in which she alluded to the fact that our professions can be bombarded with some non-practical "hippie dippie" ideas that can alienate people with lower incomes. I thought she was hilarious for using that term "hippie dippie," and strongly appreciated her down-to-earthiness.

Anywho, she gave me this mini 20 minute massage first, that I swear, was like butter. It was so relaxing and amazing. Then she went ahead and put in some needles in all sorts of weird spots, like one in my forehead, and a few in my hands, near my knees, and a number at different points in my back. I could barely feel them, it didn't hurt, and then she told me to relax and breathe deeply for a while. She left me with a bell in case I started to freak out or needed to pee or anything. I completely fell asleep after about 10 minutes of deep breathing. She came back about 20-30 minutes later and took all the needles out (which again, I barely felt) and told me to drink lots of water and take it easy for the day.

I slept better than I had in months that night, I had no back or hip pain for a few days, and felt very mellow that night and the next day.

I have gone back every week for the last month or two, and have had a great experience every time. I still don't understand how it all works; something about each point connecting to certain physical, biological functions as well as mental and emotional ones and helping the energy flow between them better. All I know is that I feel much better after I leave her office.

Emily also offers Holistic pediatric care for kids and has a website: http://holistickid.com

She's a really balanced practitioner and a really down to earth person. If you were ever curious about or wanted to try acupuncture, I'd highly recommend her. You should definitely go to her website and see what she offers.

And don't worry, you'll all see pics once the baby comes.

I miss you all very much and I hope you are doing well, and are continuing your yoga practice! Take care and see you all soon!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Subs while I'm on Maternity leave, the list is IN!

Dear Students,

This coming weekend is my last weekend to teach, so I hope you will all be there if you can to help me celebrate a new phase in my life, and a new phase in your yoga practice: learning to be open to the new!

Yes, I AM teaching on Saturday morning, June 20th, and both my beginner classes on Sunday. Sorry about the confusion, I've had some scheduling conflicts with my childbirth class, but alas, I WILL be teaching all 3 classes this weekend.

Just so you know who will be teaching which class, here goes:

Tues - 5:30 beginner/prenatal - Jewel
Sat, 11am Level One - Jules
Sun, 11am Beginner - Nathalie
Sun, 12:45 Beginner - Calysta

All four of these women have excellent training, and are wonderful and caring individuals. I feel very confident knowing that my students will be in their capable hands, and know that you will all have fun getting to know each other. They all have their own unique teaching styles and amazing personalities, so please enjoy the benefits this lends to your practice!

Remember to talk to your new teachers BEFORE class if you have any injuries or other concerns, and try to remember they have a whole class full of students to accommodate, so it will take a little bit of time for everyone to adjust. It's important to be constructive with your comments and requests. And as always, feel free to talk to Cheryl - she cares very much about her students and the GODA community.

For my private clients, I will be slowing down in that area as well, next week will be my last week to teach privates. However, I do have names and numbers of other teachers who are willing to teach privates as well, so I will contact you individually about that.

I thank each of the teachers who have kindly stepped in to help while I am gone, and Cheryl for helping me get my classes covered and for being such a supportive and flexible boss (no pun intended)! You are all amazing.

Also, I just want to thank all of my students who have been truly wonderful and supportive to me in this time of transition. You are all such a joy to teach. Please stay tuned to my blog, as I will try to post little tidbits here and there while I'm on leave.

PLEASE continue your practice, take your classes, start or continue your home practice and feel free to touch base with me through posting comments on this blog.

April KirkHart

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Art of Change

Hello my dedicated Yogis!

I am committed to writing on my blog more frequently so you may start to see some things not only yoga related, but tidbits from my whole life or even little works of yogic fiction. Since I'm going on leave soon, I'll need something to occupy my mind while awaiting our new arrival.

Those of you that haven't seen me for a while, yes, I am pregnant, and am due to give birth the end of July, although I swear this little one is coming sooner. Or maybe that's wishful thinking?

So, to all my GODA Yogis and students elsewhere, yes, I will be taking some time off to bond with my new little person, and to get the hang of being a new mom. Cheryl has been an unbelievably supportive boss and has given me a lot of flexibility. As of now, I'm going to be gone for approximately 4 months. My last day of teaching at GODA is Sunday, June 21st.

I DO plan on coming back to GODA as soon as I can. And I will keep you posted about teaching anywhere else. As for my private lessons, I can't really take on any new clients right now, and will also take some leave for a few months. I will work that out individually with my clients.

What does this mean? This means that change is in the air! But that's ok! It doesn't have to be bad! Change can be an extraordinary and exhilarating experience for everyone! Yes, I will have subs taking over my classes. Stay posted to my blog, because soon, I will post who will be taking over each of my classes. Trust me, Cheryl will make sure you are in great hands.

"But how do I deal with having a sub when I'm so used to April," you might ask... Well, here's the deal. When I first started teaching you all, I had to get used to my students, the studio, and you all had to get used to me, right? Well, the subs will be paying attention to how the class goes, they will get used to your names and faces and injuries, etc. And you will maybe learn some new poses, or new ways of doing or thinking about the poses. And I encourage both my students and my subs to keep an open dialogue - if something didn't work for you, ask the teacher about it after class, if it felt too hard or too easy, TALK TO THE TEACHER. Also be aware that as teachers, we often get conflicting reports: one student thought the class was too hard, another LOVED being challenged. It takes a little bit of time to strike a balance.

Also, it's a good time to use your breathe to open your heart and mind to some new styles of yoga, new teachers, new voices. Let it be an opportunity to explore and have some fun!

And, as always, if you are truly having any problems with the classes or teachers or what have you, TALK TO CHERYL! Cheryl is always interested in constructive feedback from students. Leave her a voice-mail, send her an email, or better yet, stop by and talk to her in person (she's usually there Mon, Weds, Friday in the mornings).

And remember, this is change for Cheryl, for the new subs, for you guys, and I am going through quite a bit of change myself. So let's all be as supportive as we can. We are a little community at GODA, after all.

I will keep making posts about my classes, how things are coming along with baby KirkHart, and maybe some other quirky stuff as it bubbles up in my brain. Feel free to send me topics you would love to hear me write about too!

April KirkHart

Friday, March 27, 2009

We are all connected...

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little," FDR, year 1940-something.

Yes, I think that means the essentials, money, food, clothing, shelter. But it also means compassion, love, honesty, justice, spirit, hope, etc.

So there. Consider it my birthday quote gift to you all!

On another topic, please note I'm no longer teaching the Wednesday late night flow class at GODA. It's just to late for a pregnant yogi to be teaching hot sweaty flow! Also, I will be taking a week or two vacation between now and July (when the baby is due) but I am still teaching, and teaching private lessons as well. At least up until late June, early July.

Stay tuned to my blog for thoughts, quotes, stories and baby-yogi updates.

Much love to all,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finding balance, welcome to humble town!

Yes! I'm still alive!

At long last, my dear yogis and yoginis, I am back at the computer and writing a new blog. I know, I know, it's been a while. Sheesh, there's a lot going on!

First of all, it's spring. Can I get an "Amen!"???

As I write this blog, the scent of jasmine fills the air, and it is gorgeous outside. The evenness of the weather has made me realize just how up and down the world has been over the last few months.

We have a new President. Our country, and possibly world, is in financial crisis, the weather has changed, and it goes on and on.

Personally, I've experienced a number of other changes. Many of you know that I am pregnant, for those that didn't know, there you have it. I'm almost 21 weeks so far. So that's new. And every day is like a totally different world to me. My body feels different, my attitude is different, and it's not just automatic. I've worked at it.

I've slowed my own yoga practice down - not that you can't practice the same yoga you always have when you are pregnant, many women continue to practice challenging Flow-style yoga throughout all of their pregnancy- but inevitably, your practice changes somehow or in some way. Whether it's letting go of certain poses, realizing you can't do them the same way as before, or your pace may change, etc.

There are all kinds of surprises, some more welcomed than others. But even exploring the resistance I have felt, like letting go of a pose, for instance, or feeling frustrated in a pose that was normally not so challenging for me, are reminders that yoga is a wonderful reflection of Life in general.

Finding balance in my life is not easy. Balancing what I do for others with what I do for myself, balancing family with work, balancing needs with wants, etc. It's hard.

Some say that human suffering is caused by desire. Some say suffering is caused by attitude. I'd take a spin on those and say that a lot of suffering (maybe not all), at least for myself, is caused by creating preconceived expectations. In my own experience, that habit generally causes me to be less receptive to each moment, less receptive to what actually IS, as opposed to what I thought it ought to be, or want it to be.

Yoga and pregnancy are a lot alike in that sense. You can have as many expectations as you like, but whatever is happening, is what is happening, and you generally don't have ultimate control over it.

Does that mean that if something is happening that you don't like, you have to just take it? Not to me. I can still set my intention, I can still explore it, dig into it, or observe it more neutrally, and see what else comes up.

One day, while practicing at home, I realized that I can no longer do certain twists, even though I felt my spine begging for them. Then I realized, that certain inverted poses no longer feel safe or beneficial for me. Picture me trying to lay on my back, swing my feet over my head for halasana (plough pose) for shoulder stand, and realizing my belly was "in the way" and that I could no longer use my abdominal muscles the same way I had used to. I was so bummed that I had to slow down my pace, and then realized, that I wasn't listening to what my body was asking for, what it was TRULY asking for at that moment.

That has reminded me that while friends and family along with myself are struggling with the current economy and the many other changes that abound at this time, to check in with myself, check in with my breath, and FEEL what is most important to me in my life. To have as much patience and compassion as I can muster for myself and for others, and to be open to negotiating these changes with a sense of curiosity, openness and a humbled ego.

My center of balance is shifting, and I'm just gonna' go with it for now. Maybe the world's is too?

Any thoughts?