Meet Our New Teacher

Kim Parker came to the Richmond Beach Yoga teacher training program last year with a wealth of yoga experience, life experience, and a serious practice of her own. She is a walking treasure trove of smarts, heart, and passion– prerequisites for teaching at RBY! Read on to find out more about who’s teaching a fantastic Monday night Vinyasa class:

Kim first stumbled across a yoga videotape while in high school. She was surprised by the calming and centering effect the simple sun salutations had on both her mind and body. In college, yoga reminded her how to get out of her busy head and connect with her body and breath. While studying abroad in Trinidad & Tobago, Kim was reunited with her childhood love of hand-drumming. Moved by the radiance of the drumming, singing, and folk dancing, she was fascinated by how comfortable the Trinis were in their own skin and with their own voices; they moved throughout their days with a natural rhythm and expressive joyfulness that inspired her to accept the beauty of her own body’s movements and explore the expression of her own voice. She went on to study comparative religions and global development, while also playing with many music ensembles and traveling the world to share music on tour.

The 2008 recession led her to juggle two jobs while trying to pay off student loans. Yoga became a lifeline for balance and peace in the midst of working long hours in a demanding office environment. The stress took a visible toll, exacerbating chronic back issues and also disrupting sleep, digestion, and mental focus. After years of trying to change herself to fit the mold of that environment, a series of unexpected deaths in her family shook her foundation and served as a wake up call to take better care of herself. Yoga became a healing space for her to face the realization that the path she had been set on was not serving her well. This sparked a major overhaul in priorities – a desire to be more fully present, to cultivate joy, and to create a new path that encouraged authenticity, passion, empathy, and connection. Inspired by her own experience of healing through acupuncture, nutrition, massage, meditation, and yoga, Kim found herself drawn to deepen her yoga practice by pursuing teacher training.

Kim draws on her own experiences of struggle and growth to meet students where they are with empathy and encouragement. She believes her task as a teacher is to listen, hold space, and offer her knowledge and intuition to help others connect with the power of this practice as well as the ancient wisdom that is present within each of us. Every person and experience is a teacher holding up a mirror for us to learn something new about ourselves, so we might shed the skins that no longer serve us and reveal that beautiful essence of truth at our core, which is our connection to Source and all that is.

Welcome, Kim!

Pain Care Yoga in Portlandia

Two things were confirmed for me this weekend in Portland: 1) Yoga is a superior method for working with chronic pain, and 2) Portlanders really are DIY-ers. The first was learned in a 3-day intensive training with Neil Pearson, a physiotherapist from Canada who is an expert on chronic pain and a fantastic yoga teacher to boot.  The second was learned when one of my fellow trainees brought me chocolate that she had made herself. It was delicious.

All in all, it was a yoga geek’s dream weekend, but the fun really begins now that I’m home. Now I get to bring some of what I’ve learned into the studio. It’s time to share! The information and concepts I learned about the effectiveness of yoga in dealing with pain will be infused in group classes and will inform my 1:1 teaching in private sessions. Meanwhile, keep this in mind: when we have chronic pain, the most important thing is to never give up.

I came to yoga with chronic pain from a massive trauma to my spine that occurred in a treatment room. I know very well how chronic pain can take over everything in our life. It can make us cranky and depressed, and it can make us feel that we have lost control of our lives. As Neil said, taking care of chronic pain is a 24/7 job, but everyone needs a break! Yoga provides individualized, holistic, and empowering options for regaining body awareness and function. Let me know if you could use a 1:1 session. Just call or email, and we’ll set something up.

Oh, and I also learned this weekend that Portlanders really want to help you when you’re lost– just like in Portlandia. It’s real! I experienced it several times, driving around in the rainy dark. Patiently giving thorough directions seems to be a pastime in the City of Roses. It’s a beautiful expression of kindness and generosity.  Another fellow trainee said that when she was new to Portland, she went the wrong way down a one-way street. The man she almost hit apologized to her and asked her if she was lost! Namaste to you, Portland!

Boldly Go Nowhere in Headstand

The King of Poses cultivates balance, confidence, and poise. BKS Iyengar called it one of the most important poses, and “the basic posture.” The headstand we practice is actually Supported Headstand, thank goodness– Salamba Sirsasana, not Niralamba Sirsasana. In Niralamba Sirsasana, you are standing on your head with your arms reaching skyward alongside your body. This is too risky for my taste as a yoga teacher.  Our more modest but powerful Supported Headstand still qualifies as royal.

Why? Salamba Sirsasana turns us upside-down, bringing circulation to the brain, which encourages hormonal balance throughout the body. It also revitalizes sluggish organs and improves circulation and digestion. In short, it does wonders for your health.

Furthermore,  headstand calms and centers us. Once you get into the posture, where is there to go? What is there to do? Headstand is an antidote to the frenetic pace of modern life. If you feel the need to put your feet up, there is no better way to do it. You will come out of the pose refreshed and rejuvenated– quite literally, you might feel like a kid.

To practice the pose safely, we need to learn a thing or two, hence the Headstand Posture Clinic on Saturday, November 7th at 11:30 a.m. I went from terrified to tranquil in headstand, and you can, too.  With my history of head injuries and surgeries, and a too-long neck (that lacked any curvature until years of yoga practice created enough curvature for my neck to be considered stable), headstand used to be iffy at best. Now, thanks to a  teacher who took the time to look at my body’s specific needs (Theresa Elliott), I am happy in the pose. I even fell asleep in it once! (That was iffy.)

If you are planning to attend the Posture Clinic, Welcome! I’m really glad you’re going to join us. I suggest you practice Downward Facing Dog, Forearm Balance, and Dolphin poses in preparation, along with anything that safely stretches your hamstrings. If you have eye issues, high blood pressure, or are pregnant, please double-check with your healthcare practitioner that it’s o.k. for you to invert.

Lastly, let go of any fear you have. We will take it one step at a time, and you will only go as far as you are ready to go. You can practice parts of the pose, and when you’re ready to go up, you can do this with assistance in a corner of the room, with walls for support. Posture Clinics are about learning, while mastery comes with practice. See you on the 7th!


Teacher Profile: Alison

It’s hard to imagine that Alison Solam was ever new to yoga– or to teaching, for that matter. She has a seamless, elegant way of guiding her students that makes it look easy. She also has a masterful yoga practice of her own, which she says usually takes place at home with loud music playing! Here she tells a bit about how she caught the yoga bug, way-back-when:

I went to my first yoga class because my back hurt from a kickboxing class, and also because I had heard Madonna and Sting did it, so that was something. I got really lucky with my first teacher, and I practiced with her 5-6 days a week for a year…which led to an interest in teaching Yoga (and a waning interest in Madonna).

I taught my first class in 2001, and have continued learning and teaching ever since. I love the big picture of yoga as well as the details; at any point in time, where is the body in space, what is stretching, what is strengthening, and what technique do we use to make it all happen? I encourage students to do the same investigation, and then to notice the effects of paying attention in that way. You can also expect from my classes eclectic yet awesome music, readings by my favorite poets, a little Yoga philosophy, a lot of sweat…and maybe a giggle here and there.

I will be forever grateful to my first teachers Aadil Palkhivala and Kim King-Zamoff, as well as my teacher since 2013, Theresa Elliot.

“If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life
and the very last day
then you will have spent this day well.”
Brother David Steindl Rast


3 Questions for Dylan About His Yoga Philosophy Class

One of the little-known secrets about Richmond Beach Yoga is that we have a great Yoga Philosophy class every Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m., and it is included in your membership. Here is Dylan demystifying the class:

Angeline: What is the philosophy class like, and who is it for?

Dylan: The philosophy class is a pretty informal discussion about the roots of the postures- what are the ideas that preceded them? How do they relate to everyday life? It is big questions like what is our true nature and how do we find the path that leads to its discovery, and it’s little things like what does Patanjali say about road rage?

Angeline: Clearly it is for anyone who is interested, then! Why do you like teaching philosophy?

Dylan: I love teaching the philosophy class because the philosophy of yoga is what made me realize I could actually spend the rest of my life doing yoga. Also, knowing where this stuff comes from adds a depth to the physical practice because they both have the same end in mind. And I love the philosophy because I love to talk and I love to listen and I learn something every single time.

Angeline: What are the benefits of studying yoga philosophy?

Dylan: The benefits of studying the philosophy are as varied as the benefits of the physical practice. In general, expect to gain some insight on how we relate to ourselves and to other people. Also expect commonsense reminders of things we already know! These old yogis cultivated a really unique way to deal with living a civilized life. You don’t have to practice too long to see the benefits of your physical practice bleed into other aspects of your life. The same is true. Yes change takes time, but it can also happen in an instant. The problems we deal with have not seemed to change since civilization began. I think the problems will never go away, so how we deal with those problems, turning them from problems into opportunities, sounds cheesy, but every experience is an opportunity for enlightenment. As far as I’m concerned, the old yogis really understood the challenges we face as people and figured out how to figure out the best course of action for ourselves.

See you in class!

Hands-On Adjustments in Yoga Classes

How do we receive a hands-on adjustment?

First of all, just receive it; there is no need to say thank you.

Your teacher is happy to adjust you. It’s our job. Whether we are doing a deepening assist or actually helping you correct your pose, we are glad to be doing it. It’s one of many things that keep our job interesting and it adds another dimension to your practice and our instruction.

Many people are primarily kinesthetic learners. They learn by doing, and touch is very informative for them. Sometimes we can hear the same words over and over but they don’t sink in. Then a teacher moves us in the right direction with just a light touch, and suddenly we understand! I know I have had that experience many times.

If you do not like hands-on adjustments, let the teacher know. If there is a particular adjustment that was uncomfortable or confusing or awkward, you can let the teacher know very quietly or after class. If you are dealing with an injury or recent surgery it is very important to let the teacher know so she or he does not aggravate the situation unknowingly.

Do participate in the adjustment. Pay attention to what is happening and see if you can learn from it so in the future you can bring your body into the desired alignment on your own. I know I am not alone when I say that as a yoga teacher, I am interested in your learning the poses and developing the confidence you need to practice independently.


In Yoga, as in Music: The Best Teachers are Those Who Are Still Students

By Torrey Kaminski, the youngest talent at RBY:

I am so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful and inspiring group of teachers here at Richmond Beach Yoga! Many of you may already recognize me as a regular student at RBY. I completed the 200-hour teacher training certification at RBY this past summer and began teaching at the studio at the end of August.

The teacher training program was an amazing experience for me – one of personal growth, gaining knowledge, and deepening my own yoga practice. Yoga as a whole (not just the asana) has become such a passion of mine that I knew I wanted to teach in order to share what I have learned with others. I am also a professional, classically-trained flutist, and I perform and teach private flute lessons in the area. Whether leading flute lessons or yoga classes, I really enjoy teaching students of all ages and levels.

One thing I have learned from the music world that really relates to the yoga world (or really any field) is that the best teachers are those who are still students. I am constantly reading books on yoga and love taking classes of all levels and styles with a wide range of teachers. I have also learned the importance of svadhyaya – the art of deeply studying and learning about yourself. When there is a deep connection with the self there is a deeper connection with others around you. I strive to learn something from every situation I encounter, good or bad.

I am so thrilled to depart on this yoga journey and continue to find my voice as a yoga teacher. Every day I am grateful that I am able to do what I love and love what I do.