Q&A: Rob Murray

Yoga Instructor Rob teaches at the Lake Zurich studio

Yoga Instructor Rob teaches at the Lake Zurich studio

How long have you been teaching yoga?  

I have been teaching yoga for about one year, since completing the teacher training with Kathy and receiving my RYT-200 registration.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?

I decided to register for the teacher training with the objective of establishing a solid foundation in the principles of yoga and to deepen my practice. I had been practicing for 10 years but was interested in better understanding alignment, practicing safely, and extending yoga beyond the mat. I had been a youth hockey coach for 10 years and really missed teaching, sharing, and learning alongside my players. When I finished the training program, Kathy really inspired me to take the next step and teach.

Who and/or what are your biggest influences?

As it relates to yoga, I have two: BKS Iyengar – I have practiced different forms of holistic health for over 20 years and one day picked up BKS Iyengar’s book “Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health.” I was absolutely amazed at the breadth of what yoga could provide in terms of healing and wellness. In addition, my dad has practiced and taught meditation for more than 40 years, and hearing the stories of how meditation influenced people’s lives has really touched me.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

First of all, I learned that yoga is much more than asana. We studied the Yamas and Niyamas in teacher training and they have become a guide for what I strive for: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, non-possessiveness, purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender. One of the practical ways I try to apply these principles on a daily basis is focusing on how I can be of service instead of what I can receive. And when I fall short of these ideals, I realize that our beauty is in our imperfection and strive to better.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

To spread joy, happiness, and peace through the community practice of yoga.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

Authenticity – being yourself, teaching what you know, being prepared yet flexible, and most importantly being kind.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

The most challenging experience is still in front of me. I was asked to do a workshop at a studio I visited last summer on Long Island, Hamptons Healing Arts. I’m working on a theme, content, and music and feel a little intimidated as the guest teacher.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

Be open to the experience and try not to have any expectations. And to the seasoned student: Share your gifts!

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I try to be kind and giving. It’s one thing to be all Zen when inside the studio, but the real reflection of progress is how you treat others.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

Astavakrasana, or Eight Angle Pose. I first saw this pose in one of the many yoga books I have and thought it was completely beyond my physical abilities. When I stopped trying to muscle my way into the pose and used my breath and just relaxed, one day it just came.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

All times of day! In the morning I enjoy the peacefulness of yoga; in the afternoon, it’s a time restart and re-energize; and practicing in the evening provides an opportunity to leave the chaos of the day behind. I also love to do mini yoga’s throughout the day. Whether it’s a brief pranayama or a quick forward fold, taking a few seconds or minutes is so refreshing.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

On the beach in Westhampton Beach, Long Island.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I curate different playlists for all my classes and try to match the music to the theme of the class. My playlists include classic rock, reggae, classical, kirtan, jam bands, and live Grateful Dead shows.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I enjoy teas from around the world (come to one of my Saturday classes – I brew tea for each class), all kinds of sports (hockey, golf, skiing, tennis, etc.), and love being at the beach. I have a passion for live music (nothing like Ravinia on a summer evening) and have attended well over 100 Grateful Dead Shows.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

Jim and Kathy have built Pulsation into a real community. It is a safe and non-intimidating environment that is grounded in the principles of yoga. Many of the students and teachers I practice with have become true friends. A really cool example of the essence of Pulsation is one recent Saturday morning, when a student brought in fresh herbs and flowers from her garden and shared them with everyone at the studio (thanks Susie!).

Rob Murray teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend his classes.

Lake Zurich Studio Grand Opening

 

Pulsation Yoga celebrated the grand opening of the Lake Zurich studio on Feb. 7 with a free yoga class, ribbon cutting, and party co-sponsored by Lululemon. The evening was a great success, and thank you to all who came out!

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Photo Credit: Katherine Okon

Our Weekend with Desiree Rumbaugh

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Desiree Rumbaugh recently spent a weekend at Pulsation Yoga, leading four workshops on hip openers, backbends, arm balances, and therapeutic poses for the neck and shoulders. Desiree is an internationally recognized yoga instructor, and it was wonderful to have her share her extensive knowledge and to help students strengthen their yoga practice. Check out some pictures from our weekend!

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Photo credit: Katherine Okon

Learn Acupressure with Dr. Shaofen Ai

shaofenDr. Shaofen Ai is a chiropractor and licensed acupuncturist. On Jan. 17 from 1-3 p.m., she is leading a workshop at the Arlington Heights studio, where participants will learn the basics and techniques of acupressure, a self-healing method that applies finger pressure to specific areas on the body. The cost is $35; please call 847-989-7792 to register. Below is an exclusive interview with Dr. Ai. 

What is acupressure?

Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing method. You apply manual pressure, usually with a finger, to specific points or areas of the body. Acupressure does not use needles (that is called acupuncture) to relieve the discomfort, to balance the energy flow in the body, and to enhance and maintain the well-being.

What are the benefits of acupressure?

It is easy to learn, effective, no side-effects, and cost-free.

How did you become interested in Acupressure?

I grew up in a traditional Chinese medicine family in China. I became a doctor in my native land. Later, I came to the U.S. and received a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. I combine Eastern and Western healing methods in helping others to heal. My journey of personal growth has deepened my understanding and appreciation to the profound truth and the beauty of simplicity that we all inherited with the innate gift of self-healing.

Can people perform acupressure on themselves?

Yes. It is a self-healing method, and can be performed on yourself or on others.

What can people expect during the workshop?

In this workshop, people will learn about the bio clock, or the body meridian clock, and how to utilize the body meridian clock to help and enhance your health and well-being. We also will review the acupuncture meridian system, which is the energy system that acupressure or acupuncture is based on.

This is a hands-on workshop. We will have demonstrations and practice time to locate and find the acupressure points on the body, and to correctly apply pressure on the points. There will be time for Q&A in workshop; It will come naturally with the energy flow.

Please wear comfortable clothes. Come to the workshop with the openness to expand your perception and perspective, to learn, and to experience the wonder of our innate gift of self-healing.

Q&A: Katherine Okon

 

How long have you been teaching yoga?  

Since May 2014.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?katherine okon

Becoming a yoga teacher was a domino effect. I had been practicing yoga sporadically for three years at studios and at home. Then I found Pulsation Yoga, and after a while co-owner Kathy suggested that taking the Yoga Studies program would be beneficial, since I was always asking questions after class to deepen my yoga understanding. I decided to go all-in and take the Teacher Training, though not to teach—just to really immerse myself in the world of yoga. It wasn’t until after the training ended and I was a registered yoga teacher that I thought about actually teaching. A fellow Pulsation teacher asked me to sub her class, and I absolutely loved it. My family really encouraged me to take the leap and become a teacher, and the training I received from Kathy resonated so much with me.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

I am not sure if I am better, per say, but I feel different. I feel calmer, more grounded, more content, and happier. I feel more connected to life.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

I aspire to teach with a beginner’s mind. I guide each student safely and compassionately, and invite everyone to experience yoga as empowering, fun, and joyful.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

Heart, knowledge, and skill. I think it is especially important that when a teacher is speaking, they really connect with each student, whether they are talking about the theme at the start of class or making adjustments during practice.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

My first time teaching. I was nervous, yet excited. I was prepared, yet I overcompensated with copious notes. It was both challenging and enlightening. I really hope I have more days like that.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

For the beginner student: Practice on the mat with a variety of teachers, and practice as often as feasible. I have learned so much from each instructor because they each have something different to give.
For the seasoned student: Take a beginner-level class once in a while and really listen to the instructor. Going back to the basics brings you closer to your authentic self.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

Every day, I find myself using the tools of yoga that I have been given: breathing, connecting, non-judgment, getting grounded, being present…so many things.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

I am most proud of getting into Warrior 1. There is a lot going on in Warrior 1, and whenever I would attempt it, a lot of emotions rose up in me. It was a struggle to even stand firmly grounded. The first time I got into Warrior 1 where my body reacted with confidence and beauty, I knew I had found my heart in the pose. I knew my yoga was working.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

I do not have a favorite time of day. I have had amazing practices early morning to late evening. Every day, my body responds differently to the practice, so I mix it up and find that the class I chose to attend was exactly the one I was meant to do.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

I went to Europe for a month with family, and while I only practiced on the mat once, I took my yoga off the mat every single day. Navigating foreign lands proved to be a bit daunting at times and caused me to be somewhat hyper-vigilant. Remembering to breathe helped me to center and be more present and mindful, which allowed me to experience everything to the fullest and safely. However, I did keep up my asana practice in front of the Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Stonehenge, and over canals in Amsterdam and Venice!

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What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I have a huge variety in my iTunes, and I play them during my classes. If I had to pick one genre, it would be classical. Though in my classes, you could very well hear Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Frank Sinatra, and the soundtrack to Royal Tenenbaums.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I am an avid reader and I love music, photography, and cooking. While I am a serious student of yoga, I have a playful side, and whether I am practicing on the mat or leading a class, both sides show through.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

Pulsation Yoga is an amazing studio, and guided by the passion of Kathy and Jim, it has taken on its own positive energy. Without fail, every class or workshop I have attended has helped me feel more and more a part of the Pulsation Yoga community. To have the opportunity to teach there, along with being a student, has only increased the benefits yoga has to offer.

Katherine Okon teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studios in Arlington Heights and Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend her classes at either location.

Got Stress?? Get Restorative!

 

With the final days of 2014 before us, many people spend their time battling holiday crowds at the mall, entertaining guests, and traveling. And let us not forget the daily stressors that go with running countless errands, commuting to work, and dealing with household chores.

Stress can cause the most important things in our life our own health and happiness-to fall through the cracks, and that can have a ripple effect. Enter a room in a disheveled and harried state, and the stressful vibration is felt by others. On the other hand, when you are relaxed and in the present moment, you send out a grounding, calming vibration that can inspire others to take a deep breath and relax as well.

To survive the holiday chaos, it is essential to take time out to recharge and de-stress-it not only keeps you sane, but it can keep your immune system strong. We have three special restorative classes that focus on helping students at any level of practice put themselves first so the big stressors in life begin to melt away. Classes are held throughout the week in the serenity of our studio.

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Therapeutic Classes

WHEN: Tuesdays from 5:15-6:15 p.m. in Lake Zurich; Wednesdays from 5:15-6:15 p.m. in Arlington Heights.

The class, taught by studio owner Kathy, focuses on two things: Using therapeutic yoga to relieve chronic pain and stress, and restoring the body back to optimal health with relaxing poses. There is a heavy use of props, very few standing poses, and a main focus on seated and supine poses. Therapeutics will help you to get grounded and eliminate stress, and is a great way to bring the body back to balance after work or air travel. The class is beneficial for beginner to advanced students.

Gentle Class

WHEN: Thursdays from 5:15-6:15 p.m. in Arlington Heights.

Whether you have chronic pain, limited flexibility, or need to decompress, our Gentle Yoga class is for you. We include basic breathing exercises and a variety of foundational standing, seated, and floor postures. This class is beneficial for all levels.

Yin Classes

WHEN: Sundays from 6:15-7:15 p.m. in Arlington Heights; Sundays from 4:15-5:30 p.m. in Lake Zurich and Thursdays from 5:10-6:20 p.m. in Lake Zurich.

Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures or asanas that are held for comparatively long periods of time, typically three minutes or longer per pose. Yin Yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues-the tendons, fascia, and ligaments-with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. Yin Yoga poses are also designed to improve the flow of qi, the subtle energy said in Chinese medicine to run through the meridian pathways of the body.

Q&A: Desiree Rumbaugh

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Desiree Rumbaugh is leading four workshops at Pulsation Yoga from Jan. 23-25. Each workshop focuses on a different aspect of yoga practice, and includes hip openers, backbends, therapeutic poses for the neck and shoulders, and arm balances. Check out all the details here, and call 847-989-7792 to register for one or all four sessions before space fills up. 

How long have you been teaching yoga?

I have been practicing and teaching yoga since 1987. I owned a yoga studio in Scottsdale called Arizona Yoga from 1992 until 2007 when I sold it to my business partner so I could continue traveling and teaching workshops worldwide full-time.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? 

The moment I began practicing yoga, I fell in love with it and since I was already a dance teacher, it was a natural shift for me to begin teaching yoga. I was in my late twenties and was performing in a small dance company at the time. Though I loved dancing, the strain of rehearsing and performing was causing me to have occasional pain or injury while yoga was always healing my body and making me feel better. Even though dancing is fun, I knew I would ultimately be able to help many more people in my lifetime through teaching yoga than through teaching dance.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

The study of yoga was just one of the modalities I have used to get to know and understand myself better. Combined with reading, one-on-one therapy, and many personal development courses, yoga has been a great place to tie it all together on a regular basis. I feel that I have learned to confront my fears and to embrace my shadow side as well as celebrate my power. This self-understanding has also helped me to understand others, which is a large part of my becoming a better person.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

I teach the message “Love is Stronger than Fear” because it is what I am always learning. I aim to inspire others to integrate self-love and self-care into their daily lives no matter what challenges they are facing, and to learn to identify behaviors that are coming from a place of fear before they cause suffering. Once we identify these fear based thoughts, we can choose to think and act differently. That is freedom. That is power.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

An excellent yoga instructor is one who is also a perpetual student. One who is always open to learning and growing and knowing more because the ocean of awareness is vast and we can never know it all.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

I have similar advice for all students. Stay open, try a variety of teachers and styles so you are well-informed about possibilities and learn to discern. Listen to your own body, ask a lot of questions, and be true to yourself. Follow your own intuition.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I take my practice off the mat by being aware and paying attention as much as I can every day, every moment. Life is very short and I don’t want to miss anything. The funny thing about learning and practicing non-attachment is that it becomes complicated to make decisions. No longer being under the spell of materialism or consumerism can lead me to feel a bit wishy-washy or apathetic when confronted with choices, but in the end it is not such a bad thing. And one of the best perks of my yoga practice is any time I realize that I succeeded at not taking rude or critical comment personally. When I can learn from feedback rather than get my feelings hurt, I know I am doing yoga.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

I was extraordinarily proud of my first handstand balanced in the middle of the room at age 40. I had been working on that for twelve years and it frightened me not to have the support of a wall. That was a courageous step.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

I love practicing at any time of day: In the morning, to get a more energized workout with strength challenges, and in the evening, to soothe and calm my body and mind.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

I did Natarajasana (Standing dancer pose) in a red one-piece bathing suit on top of Macchu Picchu in 2004 and we got a photo of it right before the guards told me to put my clothes back on.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I like all types of music, but especially soulful instrumental background music; it encourages my creativity. Sometimes I play music from the seventies because it makes me feel like I am back in college and then I think I can do anything.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I want people to know that it is safe to come to a workshop with me. I know what fear and intimidation feel like because I have been there, done that. I have felt afraid in my body and I have felt weak. Because of that, I can see and feel the fear and self-doubt in others, and I have developed a teaching style that puts those fears to rest.
I have also learned not to take myself too seriously, so I encourage others to do the same. In my 56 years, I have seen and experienced many of life’s big lessons, including deep tragedy and exhilarating joy. I love working with all levels and shapes and sizes of students and after all these years of practice and teaching, I now realize that I am just beginning to understand the way that asana fits into the larger scheme of things.

What is the best part of traveling to different studios and leading workshops?

Meeting all kinds of people, experiencing different cultures, and making new friends! Traveling all over the world has made my life incredibly interesting and I am forever grateful.