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Punk Rock Yoga

Since the early beginnings of the yoga initiation, people have been attracted to the yoga philosophy and practice for an improved state of health. Celebrities, NFL players, corporate leaders, artistic individuals as well as "soccer moms" have found yoga to be the missing link in balancing they're emotional and mental state with the improvement or maintenance of they're physical well being.
I've tried yoga a couple of times in the past and was turned off each time for different reasons. My first experience was just too boring as the teacher concentrated more on her regular students than new ones... and my last experience? Well, lets just say I can't help but question if the teacher took one too many puffs from the Peace Pipe.

On the other hand, everyone from Hollywood's $20 million-a-picture actor / actresses to the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor faithfully take their classes to go from distress to de-stress. So maybe I just haven't found the class for me. I believe the New Year has brought me a present.

Punk Rock Yoga»»- The name alone of this unconventional approach punkrockyogainspires me to give yoga anther try. It's a name that makes me want to scream it out when asked "so what are you doing next Tuesday?" Punk Rock Yoga!

Punk Rock Yoga classes are a fun blend of yoga in a nightclub setting with live music and a modern DIY (Do It Yourself) positive attitude towards yoga. According to Punk Rock Yoga's website, the small community service project has now progressed into a blossoming assemblage in the yoga community with new yoga teachers continually joining the venture. Punk Rock Yoga is a success by sharing the yoga philosophy with both experienced and knowledgeable yoga practitioners with the novice that could be turned off by the more traditional yoga methods.

Conversely, the name is a radical approach to the yoga philosophy and not literal to doing yoga to punk music. With this concept, Punk Rock Yoga explores the many unions possible in uniting yoga with dance, an assortment of live music of various musical styles and according to the Punk Rock Yoga website:

Using moves from martial arts, belly dance, African dance, and modern dance, we dance our way into and out of yoga poses in this playful lively class.

Everything I read about Punk Rock Yoga promotes an encouraging and entertaining workout that employs cardiovascular benefits with strength and flexibility that can be practiced by anyone. In addition, Punk Rock Yoga doesn't simply instruct, beginners will learn yogic principles with a combination of mental and physical strength and balance that will help an individual reach and or maintain a healthy living equilibrium. Active yoga members will find classes that are energetic, creative and challenging. Start a new career in health»»

An Interview with Kimberlee Stedl»» - Founder & owner of Punk Rock Yoga

Being a book and research worm, I thoroughly looked through your site. I read that you wanted to attract teenagers to yoga, was it difficult to attract teenagers to give it a try?

The biggest challenge with attracting teenagers was the time. We initially held class from 7:30 - 9 which is just too late for lots of teenagers, unless they have a car and/or are going to class with their mom. We had some mom & daughter + friend teams coming for a while which was very cool. Moving to an earlier time of 6:30 made it easier, but teenagers are at the mercy of their parents schedules and have lots of transportation barriers, so ideally a teenager-specific class would be held right after school. That, of course, does not work for us yoga teachers with day jobs. So I never saw more than maybe 30% of my class be comprised of teenagers at one time, but I did see a big cross-section of people come to class, and to me, that was even more rewarding. Of the teenagers who came, many really stuck with it and made wonderful progress.

What is cool is that there were several high schools, Garfield High in particular, that encouraged students to take yoga for their P.E.
requirement. What's not cool is that due to budget cuts many high schools they can no longer offer formal P.E. but require students to get some form of exercise outside of school. However, some enlightened teachers allowed them to substitute yoga instead of soccer practice, which was great. I have signed several forms certifying that high school students took my class.

How did you create the Punk Rock Yoga method?

Sheer trial and error. Okay, with some foundation. I based a lot of my teaching on my yoga teacher training and on my experiences in taking yoga. I received my 200-hour certification through Yoga Fit, an organization that does a great job teaching us inclusiveness, using active and inclusive language, and offering modifications for people in a very respectful way. I also have done lots of Iyengar and Bikram and so my teaching is based on a mixing of my experiences. It's also based on what I found I was personally missing from my experiences.

One of the things I have added into the PRY formula is a community-bonding aspect. We usually do at least one partner or group pose and do some work at the end to bring the class together as a group and connect to the people in the room. Yoga is traditionally a very solitary pursuit, and an inner focus, and while that is necessary, I think in our modern times, where we are so disconnected from other people physically, and have purely digital friendships, sharing a physical connection in a yoga class is critical - it helps us, for lack of a better phrase, re-humanize ourselves.

Some of the other elements of the method involve modifications and options in poses and dynamic flows. We also use mantra anarchy, whereby we will have a theme for the class, such as non-violence, and at the end we have everyone simultaneously chant the first word or phrase that embodies non-violence for them. It's delightfully cacophony, but it's very fun and a great way for people to express themselves and really focus on how they interpret and adopt the teachings of yoga.

What advice do you have for people who want to make yoga part of a weight-loss regimen?

I would start by trying to take a few different classes from a few different teachers, then find the style and teacher that you really click with and works for your schedule. There's lots of styles out there and I find I am drawn to certain ones during certain times of my life or even times of the year. There's lots of options out there and certain styles tend to appeal to certain types of people. There's some resources on the Yoga Journal site that break down the different styles so you can have a good understanding.

I would also try to fit in some poses into a daily routine, and maybe start small, such as trying to either fit in a few minutes of sun salutations in the morning or fit in some wind-down restorative poses, like child's pose, in the evening. If you make it an all-or-nothing, as in "I must practice for an hour otherwise forget it" you are doomed to fail, but if you just concentrate on going to a class (or using a DVD) for a 60-90 minute session once a week and just trying to add some yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation on a small scale regularly, eventually your mind and body will crave more and you'll find more time.

Oh yes, and I advocate getting some cardio vascular exercise too - I love yoga, but I find an integral plan that includes walking, bicycling, swimming, dancing, whatever, along with yoga to be the best combination for weight management.

Also, remembering that yoga is not just about poses, but a full lifestyle that includes meditation and introspection is important. In fact, the mental clarity yoga can bring is probably even more important than any particular exercise or diet for overall health management.

Could a beginner who has never taken one yoga class participate in Punk Rock Yoga»» classes?

Absolutely. We offer lots of modifications and teach to all different levels, even if the class is labeled intermediate, we will find something for just about everyone to do. I add the caveat just about, because there are specialties like chair yoga for people who are wheelchair-bound, and pre-natal for all the special needs of pregnant women, but beginners who have more or less full use of their limbs are definitely welcome.

For anyone with a life illness such as diabetes or asthma, could Punk Rock Yoga help improve they're day to day life?

I would so no more or no less than any other flow-style yoga class. There have been some studies on hatha yoga, which is the overall umbrella style from which styles like Iyengar, Bikram, and vinyasa (flow) styles branch off. I'm not an expert specializing in disease management, so I cannot speak definitively about diseases, but there is a growing movement of yoga therapists who are combining knowledge of particular diseases with yoga and developing some yoga practices specifically for certain illnesses. You can do a search on yoga diabetes and find lots of people who focus on that area, for example.

I know the general health benefits of deep breathing, muscle and bone strength, flexibility and stress management are important to managing just about every disease. So I know yoga is definitely helpful.


Punk Rock Yoga

Talking with Kimberle was without a doubt inspiring since I have Asthma and am on a never ending quest to better my health. Additionally, I have been making positive changes in my life and I'm ready for the next step. The turmoil I had experienced last year and at the beginning of 2006 was a sign that I was ready to release aspects of my life that no longer worked for me.

When I want to do something different, I throw myself into the subject with an abundance of research. Every article and personal experience I have found on yoga states positive changes with dozens of commentaries and articles on how yoga leads its adherents down roads unknown.
Despite the fear of change, each person conveys that every step taken on the life altering path have been well worth the expedition. I found each person's success story impressive with personal and unique characteristics that most never anticipated in the beginning.

Change is scary; it scared me horribly when I first started my own lifestyle transformations. I quietly asked myself several times "what on Earth am I doing?" I have wanted to quite more times than I care to admit here. However, now I look forward to whatever will come next and I have no idea what that is, but I'm looking forward to it.

Punk Rock Yoga is growing in popularity and reaching people like myself who understand the benefits of yoga but where traditional yoga just hasn't worked completely. I could go an on about yoga, but the truth is, you need to be part of yoga yourself to truly experience the changes. Punk Rock Yoga»» is actively reviewing applications for teachers in select cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco and hopefully very soon, my own city of Los Angeles. You can be sure that as soon as new classes are added, they will fill up quickly and I will be at the front of the line.

Start your own journey»»


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