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 .

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Accident...

So... as many of you may have noticed I've had a few subs lately... thought you might want to know why!

My husband, Casey, was in a rather serious accident recently involving his bike and another car. Both my husband and I have been cyclists since we did the California AIDS Ride 6 back in 1999 (we rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles and raised money for HIV and AIDS services) but my husband has kept up with his training over the years better than I!

Just over a month ago, Casey was on a ride, training for a bike/swim race, and was on his way home coming through Marina Del Rey. It was a light 25 mile ride for Casey, and he was on his way to meet me and our almost 1 year old daughter, Ruby Jo, at the park.

In any case, there he was, in the right lane, fully in accordance with all laws pertaining to vehicles in the state of California, riding along at about 10 mph when a car passed him on his left. The car then proceeded through an intersection and turned right suddenly without signaling or, apparently, without checking over her shoulder or mirrors and cut Casey off in a way that forced him to plow into the back of the car and then fall onto his left side. The impact was so strong that Casey shattered his left elbow and rammed his femur bone into his hip socket causing multiple fractures of the hip (acetabulum, to be exact).

So, I got a voicemail from Casey as he was being loaded into an ambulance telling me that he was alive, but in a pretty serious accident and he wasn't sure where they were taking him.

As I chased Ruby Jo through the park, i saw a light on my cell phone and listened to the message. You can imagine my reaction. No? Well, then let me paint the picture: Me, running at top speed in my flip flops, pushing my very concerned almost-toddler in her stroller and racing back to our house. I packed her diaper bag, had her in the car and headed to the general area of the accident in 2 minutes flat awaiting a report of which hospital I should actually head to.

After 2 serious surgeries involving many metal plates and screws and special surgical tables to help pull my husband apart so they could put him back together again, Casey spent 1.5 weeks in the hospital and came home only to sleep in a hospital bed in our living room for almost a month. He is, for the time being, limited to getting around in a wheel chair and, for very short trips, some special crutches for at least another few weeks.

He's been out of work and on medications, has had home and in-hospital physical and occupational therapy sessions, blood draws, and consultations. It took a month to get rid of the hospital bed, and for him to get back some of his independence. He has had an impressively positive attitude about his recovery and I love him for it.

Over the past month, I've had to ask for help from others to sub my classes for me, or babysit for me, or bring us food, etc. I have had some wonderful support from some very unexpected people, and have been surprised by people's reactions, both good and bad. Mostly, I have been grateful that my husband is alive (it could have been his head after all - and thank god for helmets!), and that although Ruby's sleep is not so great, she is thriving despite all of the unexpected and sudden changes. I have been grateful for my mother and my old friends and new that have come to our aid, and feel truly blessed for those important people in our lives.

I have also been angry and frustrated that we live in a world/culture that values multi-tasking over sustained focus, rushing over moving consciously through time and space, workaholism over balance, and things over people. It affects us all in some way, and we can't always protect ourselves or the ones we love from it. It is part of the reason I teach yoga. To put people back in touch with their bodies, to help people FEEL the connection between mind, body and spirit. To get anyone I can to move more consciously through their own life. To remind us that we are all connected somehow.

I have also missed my yoga practice. And my yoga teaching. And though I am tired, and am struggling to maintain a balance in my family's life, I am so thrilled to be alive, to have the people we have in our lives.

This experience, I believe, is asking me to take stock of my life, the things and people that are important to me, the things that don't just need to get done, but bring us true joy, and make them a bigger part of our lives. I intend to answer that call. I don't know how, or when, but I will answer.

In the meantime, I thank all of you for your patience, well-wishes, and beautiful spirits! I look forward to teaching and practicing with you all soon!

Peace, love and wear your helmets!
April KirkHart

Monday, June 28, 2010

subs, and what's up Saturday class???

Hello all my yogis,

I'm always worried about what to do if I'm going to be gone or on vacation... On the one hand, if I tell my students I'm not going to be there, many don't show up for the subs, and the studio loses money, making it less likely that they will keep me on staff in the long run... on the other, if I don't tell my students and they DO come and are bummed to have a sub, they often won't come back when I return... Conundrum.

But folks, the truth of the matter is: yoga teachers are human (gasp!), and they need vacations too. So, here's my compromise.

I usually don't announce it in class, but I will announce it on my blog. And here's how I feel about it.

I know what it's like to find a teacher you really jive with, and to show up expecting them, only to find this other totally new person you've never met before. It's jolting. Disorienting sometimes. However, I have often found that I learn something new from new teachers. They have a different way of explaining the poses or more of a focus on breathing or alignment. Not to mention, that when I practice at a studio, or teach at a studio, I consider it part of my community. It's not just a teacher that I'm supporting, it's the entire studio community. And I hope that my students get that feeling from my teaching... and I hope that they will think of it as their community too.

I encourage my students to come even when I'm out not only so that I'll have a job waiting for me when I come back, but also because I believe in the people I have subbing for me and think my students might actually learn something, heck, even enjoy their classes!

At the same time, I will never give my students a hard time if they can't or choose not to show up. There are a million reasons why folks may not show up (vacation, illness, something came up, they left the coffee pot on, etc,) and they are none of my business. However, if someone doesn't show up because they didn't enjoy a class of mine, or a class I had a sub teach, I, OF COURSE, want to know about it, so that I can do something to change it. But it's up to you if feel like telling me!

That being said... I'm going on vacation this week. Don't freak out. It's only a week...Here's my list of subs:

JULES HOGAN: Saturday July 3rd, Level One (11-12:30)
Sunday, July 4th, call the studio to find out if any classes are being held
CHERYL MOSS: Monday, July 5th Prenatal. (10-11:30am)

PULEEZE enjoy these women, these classes and something new for a change. And come back to me when I'm back, tell me all about it and what you learned! You won't regret it! I'll miss you tons and look forward to seeing you again soon.

And a shout out to my Saturday class students: WHERE ARE YOU?! I miss you all!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chasing Svasana...

For Lolita-

I'll never forget the first time I understood Svasana...

In a small studio in Queens, NY, Richmond Hill to be exact, I had my first experience of Dhyana, the 7th limb of yoga, and maybe a touch of the 8th. There are 8 limbs in yoga, according to Patanjali. The translations of the Sanskrit differ, depending on who you talk to, but a crass translation is the following:

1. Yama : Universal morality (this one takes some explaining...)
2. Niyama : Personal observances
3. Asanas : Body postures
4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine

Most people are only aware of #s 3 and 4, which are commonly practiced in US yoga studios. I consider Pranayama and Pratyahara to be inseparable, myself, which is also how I teach Pranayama - as the beginning of your meditative practice. The last 4 limbs are all forms of meditation. That being said, they are hard to define, and it is even harder to describe the experience of each.

But I will never forget the feeling, that still rests deep in my bones, and in my heart.

I went to a late night class. It was winter in New York. I sloshed through grey snow the few blocks from my house to the studio that magically opened up two days after I swore insanity was knocking at my door while I was starting graduate school. I felt a calling to Social Work, but was struggling with working in communities that dealt with extreme poverty, illness and violence and not being swallowed by despair. Working 70 hours a week didn't help either.

I shook off my puffy coat, and my badly fitting jeans, peeled off my thermals and unbunched my yoga pants from my, well, butt crack, to be perfectly honest. I felt disheveled, out of place, tired, heavy, and very very lonely.

I looked around the small studio, candles lit, warm light bouncing gently off the hardwood floor, the small statue of Ganesh in the corner wreathed in flowers. "Yes, Ganesh. Guide me through the sludge in my head, and the F train commute..." I thought.

I rolled out my mat, and laid down. The only light the entire class was by candle. I was happy to be in the dark warm glow of candles, to sweat, to listen to the soft lilt of my teacher's German accent.

At the end of class, Asana done, my breathing slow and steady, we sat in meditation for a moment in sukhasana (soft- cross legged pose). I heard through the chatter in my own head, "April, you are leaning forward. Sit back a little. Relax. Release your anxiety," my teacher whispered as the slightest touch of her forefinger drew my shoulders gently back over my hips.

I was amazed by how much I was leaning forward, as if sitting on the edge of a cliff, nervously peering over the side. I flipped some switch, and let go of any judgment of my spazzy posture, and just observed passively. I was leaning forward, anticipating my whole life. I realized, I did it all the time, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Never being fully present in the moment, but looking ahead to the next. It was exhausting. It is the work I will continue to address for quite some time.

As we stretched out for Svasana, I wondered if I could let go even more deeply. So I relaxed each muscle, stopped thinking, and just followed the sound of my inhale and exhale. After a few minutes, I let go of the sound of my breathe. I felt my mind turn inward - and felt my awareness sink more deeply into my body. I feel both heavy and light at the same time. I let go of directing my focus to my breathe or any one feeling, and suddenly was very aware of every part of myself, the room, the world outside, and it certainly felt like everything beyond it. It was as if time stopped, gravity ceased to exist, and I was floating, yet anchored to the core of the earth. I felt very at peace.

I have no idea how long I was in this state, nor did I care. After some while, I heard my teacher's voice, calling me (us) back and felt myself sitting up slowly. After class, as I packed my things and calmly dressed in my awkward layers of clothing, I thanked my teacher very quietly, not wanting to disturb my feeling of calm awareness. I walked home, kissed my soon-to-be husband, and went about my evening. I slept undisturbed the whole night through for the first time in many years.

I had experienced glimpses of it before, moments of sustained focus and concentration... of being "in the zone." But this, this was a deep and luxurious, lovely place in the space/time continuum I very much wanted to visit again.

The trick, I've found, is to welcome it when it comes, and not to chase it. Like looking for a star during twilight. If you try too hard to look directly at it, it disappears. I find that relaxing my gaze, breathing deeply and enjoying the transition to night allows the full spectrum of beauty to reach me. It's really the only way I can think to describe it. You don't find Svasana or Samadhi, it will find you.

April KirkHart

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Did I mention that I love Yoga?


I don't write on my Blog nearly enough. Mostly because I feel like I have to have something very important to say - like a really poignant story, a metaphor for life, or some schedule change that my students absolutely must know about...

But I've decided to try to log on, at least once a week, to put down whatever comes to my yogic mind... so there.

I love yoga. I wish I were able to do more of it, and I do try to sneak it in daily, even if in short 15 minute spurts. Motherhood is hard sometimes, literally on the body. My upper back constantly aches for the first time in my life - mostly from bending over and picking up the baby, and breastfeeding. But also from the lack of exercise I get nowadays. Even as a yoga instructor... I don't get as much as I feel I need. And I'm STILL waiting for my abdominal muscles to grow back together (don't worry ladies, this doesn't happen to most pregnant women... I just got lucky!)

When I have free time, I usually make the phone calls I can't make while my baby needs my attention, or online communications, or cleaning the house, occasionally taking a shower or making food for me or the baby, calling my mother back, grocery shopping, running errands, and sometimes going for a walk, or teaching a class.

My standards on the cleanliness of my house have dropped dramatically. Oh, it still bothers me, but I have less choice in the matter.

But I love yoga. I get to go to a class a few times a week, and I get to teach it, and it keeps me sane, makes me feel like I can breathe, makes me feel alive and interested in the world around me. I'm so lucky that yoga exists. And that I get to be a part of passing it on to others, including my amazing daughter, Ruby Jo!

So, them's my thoughts. Have a great day, and enjoy your yoga!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

April's on vacation!

Dearest of Yogis and Yoginis,

As always, I know that you will still come for your yoga class... but I will be away on a small but much needed vacation with my family. I have THE most awesome subs teaching for me, so PULEEZE get your yoga on with these amazing ladies - they really do rock!

Sat, April 17th Level One : Jules Hogan
Sun, April 18th Beginner: Jewel Greenberg
Mon, April 19th Prenatal: Jewel Greenberg

Sat, April 24th Level One: Jules Hogan
Sun, April 25th Beginner: Kate Duyn

And a HUMUNGOUS thank you to them for subbing for me. I love my students and I miss them dearly when I am gone, and I ONLY like to put them in very capable and responsible hands...

Have a fabulous time!
April KirkHart

Friday, April 2, 2010

Schedule changes: Easter & Mommy and Me

Dearest All,

Please note that I have changed my schedule: I am no longer teaching the Friday 10am Mommy and Me class at GODA. Fear not new mothers, Kate Duyn is taking the class over, and I have had nothing but amazing feedback from my students about her. I know the class is in good hands! So if you were worried you'd be banished to your homes with only nap schedules, teething issues, and diapers to occupy yourself, wipe the thought from your minds and get thee to yoga with your little ones!

On another note, this coming SUNDAY is Easter, and GODA is only having one class for the day. Rig is teaching at 9am. So if you are craving some movement, breathe and community, whether you celebrate Easter or not, throw off those covers, hide the chocolate eggs, and go have some fun with Rig and his clan at GODA! * I am still teaching my Saturday 11am Level One class...

Peace and Happy Spring everyone!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sub for Prenatal today!

Dear Prenatal Yogis,

My apologies for the last minute update, but my 10am Prenatal Yoga class today will be taught by special guest teacher Jules Hogan!

I do not have my usual babysitter/auntie around to watch Ruby Jo (Cheryl has a cold!) and thought it would be better to have Jules sub for me, than to bring Ruby in to teach with me - she gets a little cranky while I'm trying to start Svasana for you all, so I thought Jules might be more relaxing for you!

Please forgive the last minute change, but these things do happen when your little ones arrive. I will see you next week!

And a BIG thank you to Jules for stepping in for me!

April KirkHart

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Teaching PRIVATE LESSONS again!!!!

Dear WHY Yogis,

That's right, you heard it here first! I am teaching private lessons again! As you will notice on my home page at www.workofheartyoga.com, I have new rates, as it is a little trickier for me to sneak away from my baby girl, and I must pay someone to watch her. However, please notice that I DO have packages that allow you to get a great discount!

I am more than happy to come to your home if it is a reasonable distance from me, or we can potentially work something out with GODA if we can schedule it at a time when it won't interfere with regular class schedules. We can work on deepening your regular practice, breathing, particular posses you would like to improve, areas of the body you would like to work on, increasing strength or stamina, weight loss, and prenatal yoga! We will tailor your sessions to your needs.

Please feel free to contact me via email at workofheartyoga@gmail.com to discuss setting up private lessons or pass this on to anyone you think might be interested. Remember, private yoga packages make great presents for others too!

April KirkHart

Friday, February 26, 2010

Schedule updates!

My dearest Yogis,

I will have two wonderful subs teaching for me this weekend, Sat and Sun Feb 27 and 28th, as well as next weekend, March 5th and 6th. My subs are as follows:

Sat Feb 27th - Jewel Greenberg - Level One 11-12:30
Sun Feb 28th - Kate Duyn - Beginner 11-12:30

Kate will be subbing both classes on March 5th and 6th. I have received FABULOUS feedback from my students about both subs, so if you haven't had them yet, please come to class and try a new teaching style out. You will inevitably learn something new!

Also, Prenatal this Monday, March 1st, will be canceled as I have no one to watch my precious little one! Class will resume the following week!

Much love and peace to all my students!
-April KH

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Small World...

My world has shrunk considerably, and I'm pretty sure I'm becoming nearsighted. I find myself always staring down at this tiny but growing bundle in my arms. When I look up finally, I am often disoriented and feel slightly off-center. It is a beautiful thing, though, this new love. It is so vast, and ever-changing becoming deeper each day.

The first few months I felt slightly on edge, running on pure adrenaline - partially from only getting about 2 hours of sleep at a time and no more than maybe 4 every night, and partially from the knowledge that my husband and I were responsible for not only keeping this little tiny helpless human being alive, but also for her healthy growth and development. It's wonderful and terrifying at the same time.

But I think of Ruby Jo when I am not with her, I can stare at her and pictures of her for hours, days, I'm sure. The sound of her giggle or just her breathing in and out is like heaven to me, and she makes me feel full of life, and scared like hell of it all at the same time.

It is a good thing. To have my world be small right now. There is so much pain and suffering in the world. Having a child makes me realize even more profoundly how unnecessary it all is, and that we have the power to end that suffering. I am torn between the inspiration Ruby gives me to do just that, and my fear that she will have to grow up in this world where we haven't figured it out yet.

I do not pretend to be wise, only very deeply in love...