Kryia yoga: yoga of transformation + Next Yoga Series Starts Monday, Feb. 19

February 15, 2018

Recently I’ve been marveling with some of you about how many of us showed for “yoga” thinking we’d stretch or maybe feel better physically. And then we looked up from our practice a couple years later to notice ourselves being kinder, or more patient, or mentally more flexible, or more able to stand up for what we believe in. One student told me about noticing that she is now less reactive with a difficult boss – and therefore navigating the relationship more effectively. Another student talked about noticing more quickly when she is emotionally or energetically drained, and knowing how to draw on her yoga practice for support, maybe to re-energize, or maybe to be at peace with the temporary state of exhaustion.

And of course, I’m a yoga teacher because I too can see ways that I’ve been transformed by my own practice. Yoga hasn’t made me “perfect” (as close friends and family can certainly attest!) I react; I over-react; I am too hard on myself and others; I am sometimes silent when I should speak up, and I speak when I should listen more. But I am also softening and growing on all of those fronts, and I am sure that my yoga practice is an important ingredient in my growth. In the mindfulness teacher training I took recently, a teacher called this path a journey toward not overcoming our inner “mess,” but becoming a mindful or even a compassionate “mess.”

So how does yoga do that? A partial answer is in the system of kriya yoga, the yoga of transformation, of replacing old patterns with new ones. We will be exploring the kriya yoga system, beginning with tapas, next week! Please read down the the bottom of this letter for more about tapas. But first, here is the information about our upcoming yoga series, starting Monday!

Tapas: The Yoga of Disciplined Practice
Feb. 19 – March 26
Community Yoga, 6 – 7:15 pm

Glass blowing process

In this series, we will be exploring what a dedicated practice looks like – where we find our edge of growth physically or mentally or emotionally. Tapas (sometimes translated as “heat”) is the first of three steps in a practice meant to help us transform or replace harmful patters (called samskaras in the yoga texts) with more positive ones.

​This series is especially good for anyone who would like support in developing a home practice. Home practice might mean getting out a yoga mat at home. Or a meditation cushion. Or working mindfulness into daily life with a few deliberate deep breaths before stepping out the door in the morning. Come ready to practice together Monday nights, and also receive support in exploring a daily practice.

​Community Yoga is an all-levels yoga practice, where I attempt to offer as many options and variations as there are people in the room. If you have questions or requests about adaptations for your body, please feel free to contact me. The Community Club is a wheelchair accessible building. The third Monday of the month we do a gentle and restorative practice.

Community Yoga classes are at the Mt. Baker Community Club, 2811 Mt Rainier Dr S, Seattle, WA 98144. Classes run 6-7:15pm. $60 for the six class series, $12-15 suggested for drop-ins, all welcome regardless of ability to pay. Feel free to drop-in to any of the classes if you can’t come to all of them.

To register for the series, you can send $60 to me via paypal.me/kristaleehanson, or bring cash or a check to the first day of class.

Modern neuroscience now can show how our brains rewire, and that weeks of consistent practice can help us break an old pattern or build a new one. But Patanjali – author or compiler of the yoga Sutras – outlined this same principal over 2000 years ago. The kriya yoga system for creating positive change involves dedicated effort (tapas), self-study (svadhyaya), and surrender (isvara pranidhana)

I am excited to explore kriya yoga with you over the rest of the winter and spring. I’m especially interested (with some trepidation!) about exploring tapas, starting next week. Translated as variously as heat, purification, transformation, clarity, austerity, enduring hardship and building endurance… tapas is about hard work! It is about dedicating ourselves to practice, whatever practice we need, and sticking with it. In our culture, where we often take things to extremes, these concepts can be taken to their harmful ends – “purification” can become food denial and support eating disorders; “endurance” can be about taking our bodies to physical extremes that cause injury. However, the other extreme – not trying, daily emotionally eating while binging on bad TV – is also not the foundation for making positive change in my life. My trepidation comes here, with hoping that together – despite the cultural water we swim in than encourages self-loathing and taking things to extremes – that we can find the middle path of tapas together.

(It feels important to say: I hold no judgment of myself or you for the days that, for example, emotional eating and binge watching TV are the best we can do for ourselves! In fact, I hold in my heart that this might be the kindest thing we can do for ourselves on some days. But I also am interested in finding our power to make changes that we are interested in making – replacing negative patterns with better ones. I’m interested in exploring paths to support ourselves in making change.)

So starting next week we’ll grow from our base of self-compassion and non-harming and move into the kriya yoga study. First we’ll focus on discipline. Then in April and the first part of May we’ll focus on self-study, and in May-June we’ll shift the focus to surrender. If you come to Mt Baker Community Yoga, the series will run as follows. If you come to Lotus Gentle class, we’ll continue these rich conversations roughly along this timeline as well.

Feb. 19 – March 26 – Tapas/Discipline Series
April 2 – May 7 – Self-Study Series
May 14 – June 18 – Surrender Series

Finally, as I teach, I invite you into conversation – questions, concerns, or even challenging me on the validity of any claims I’m making! I am personally interested in how inner transformation is related to the more “outer” work I am passionate about: teaching and parenting and building movements for racial and social justice. How does my inner path support my work? And I’m deeply interested in your path and your questions, too! I do my best to teach what I’ve studied and experienced, but I’m also a student on this path with you. I treasure your questions, your insights and your experiences that you bring to class and into this conversation.

Resilience and Movement:
Yoga and Social Justice Retreat
Sept. 21-23, 2018

I am so excited that RW Alves and I will be offering another yoga and social justice retreat this fall! Mark Sept. 21-23 on your calendar if you would like to join us on Whidbey Island. It will be another weekend of deep connection, nourishment, rest and building our reserves for the work of social change.

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January 1 Join me for Community Yoga… and Happy New Year!

December 29, 2017

Dear Yoga community,

Happy final days of 2017!  I hope you’ve had time amidst the end-of-year and holiday commitments to also pause and enjoy some moments of quiet.

I am writing with a brief update on my New Year teaching schedule.  First and foremost, I wanted to make sure you heard that I will not be teaching a New Year’s morning yoga class like I have in past years.  The good news is, I will be teaching at my regular Monday evening time, including January 1st – see below for details.  And if you were hoping for New Year’s morning yoga, fear not!  Sheri Cohen, a fabulous yoga teacher in our neighborhood, will be leading the New Year’s Morning class at Lotus Yoga, 10am-noon.

Over the first few months of 2018 I will be using the yoga philosophy of Kriya Yoga  – practice in action – to guide our practice.  Kriya Yoga gives yoga students interested on working toward positive change a set of steps to follow – tapas (practice/discipline toward positive change), svadyaya (self-study) and isvara pranidhana (humility or letting go).  But before we dive into working on transformation, I want to return to the foundational principal of yoga and so many contemplative practices – compassion.  The first principal of practice in the Yoga Sutras is ahimsa, translated as non-harming, compassion, or kindness.  So for our first series of 2018 we will return to the foundation, practicing movement and meditation with compassion toward ourselves and others.  After those six weeks, we will continue into studying the kriya yoga practices.

This New Year I am committing to deepening my practice so that I can show up for the work I am passionate about – parenting, teaching, and justice work – in a way that is grounded, steady, fierce, soft, and full of love.  I look forward to hearing your commitments and desires for the New Year and to sharing practice with you.


Yoga of Compassion/Ahimsa
January 1 – February 5
Community Yoga, 6 – 7:15 pm
Welcome the New Year with a commitment – or re-commitment – to basing your practice on love and compassion.  In this series we will be looking at the yoga sutras (philosophy) as well as mindfulness practices for lovingkindness and compassion for ourselves and others.  We will bring levity, joy and curiosity into our physical practice, and quiet cultivation of heart centering in meditation.

Community Yoga is an all-levels yoga practice, where I attempt to offer as many options and variations as there are people in the room.  If you have questions or requests about adaptations for your body, please feel free to contact me.  The Community Club is a wheelchair accessible building.  The third Monday of the month we do a gentle and restorative practice.

Community Yoga classes are at the Mt. Baker Community Club, 2811 Mt Rainier Dr S, Seattle, WA 98144.  Classes run 6-7:15pm.  $60 for the six class series, $12-15 suggested for drop-ins, all welcome regardless of ability to pay. Feel free to drop-in to any of the classes if you can’t come to all of them.

To register for the series, you can send $60 to me via paypal.me/kristaleehanson, or bring cash or a check to the first day of class.

Gentle Yoga Thursday Mornings
at Lotus Yoga, 9:30-10:45 am

Join me every Thursday morning at Lotus Yoga in the heart of Columbia City for more stretching, strength building, awakening, softening, meditation and community building!

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November, December and New Years Day Yoga!

October 26, 2016

Dear yoga community,

Happy full-on Fall!  One of my students answered “how are you feeling?” recently with “confused by the darkness!”  And indeed, lots of us feel the darkness coming quickly this time of year.  I used to dread this feeling – of the cold and wet and dark season hurdling upon us – but over the past few years I’ve been working to more purposefully embrace the darkness.   So this season, we’ll again in class be looking at the opportunities that come with the season asking us to slow down and go inward.

I am so grateful to all of my students – those who have become part of my every week and come without fail, and those of you who just drop in when you can.  If you haven’t joined us recently, please feel free to contact me if you have requests or need ideas on how to make class work for you.

Finally, bringing a second kid into our family has turned out to be a non-linear equation – although parents’ memories are notoriously bad, I am sure that the daily joy and work of parenting has way more than doubled in my life.  All this is to say, I don’t put up posters any more to invite people to yoga classes!  So if you have a chance to forward this on, or tell friends and neighbors about our classes, I’d love your help.

Here is the information about upcoming classes.  Please take note that there is no class next Monday… Happy Halloween!

– Krista

img-2681Community Yoga Late Fall Series
Nov. 7 – Dec. 12

At the Mount Baker Community Club, Mondays, 6 – 7:15pm

Both the Yoga Sutras and Buddhism teach that we create much of our own suffering by clinging to pleasure and avoiding pain.  In this six-week series we will look at how yoga practice might help us notice our patterns of grasping so that we can find freedom from our self-created suffering.

In this late fall series we will also continue making a little more space for meditation, as well as finding the joy of synching our breath and movement.  As always, all bodies and experience levels welcome!

All are welcome in this class regardless of ability to pay.  My suggested price is $60 for all six classes – you can pre-register here – or $12-15 for a drop-in.  To pay for the full series, you can either pay online through paypal or bring cash/check on the first day of class.  Class is every Monday night at the Mt. Baker Community Club.

Information, prices and registration for Monday night yoga here.

Gentle Yoga Thursday Mornings

My class at Lotus has been growing steadily, and I look forward to seeing many of you at 9:30 Thursday mornings!  In the gentle classes we’ll be examining some of the same themes as Monday nights.  If you haven’t checked out Lotus, its on Rainier right across from the Columbia City Bakery.

New Years Day Yoga 2017!

It is now officially a tradition!  Join me in this body-positive New Years Day celebration of who you already are.  Resolutions are welcome if they serve you, but come to this class also ready to celebrate being alive in your already beautiful body, perfect in your imperfections, with your strengths and shortcomings, brilliance and pettiness, solidity and fragility, sorrow and joy.  The two-hour New Years morning class will include yoga asana, optional partner practices, restorative relaxation and meditation.  Bring a journal, cozy socks, and a friend!  Details to come – mark your calendar!

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Grief and Joy and Summer Yoga

July 18, 2016

I sit down to write this while holding the fullness of both/and awareness.  I am grief stricken by the most recent rounds of violence in our country and abroad.  I am joyful as I share the fun of summer berry picking with my kids, even triumphantly getting a wheelchair out and into blueberry bushes.  I am hopeful as I see children understand justice and empathy with such ease, like it is a deep part of their DNA.  I feel blessed to be part of community that cares about caring for each other and the planet.

I am sitting with the question of what yoga has to do with dismantling racism and other forms of marginalization and violence – some days I think I know, and other days I try to be patient with not knowing.  I am so grateful to my yoga practice and community for reminding me that I can hold all of this – including time to grieve, time to take care and time to act.

My previous life and training as an organizer and educator sometimes trickle into my yoga teaching.  I especially love popular education, a practice based on the belief that each and every person has important wisdom, so an instructor’s role is to create a space where everyone can learn together and from each other.  In my classes I want to facilitate students not just connecting to themselves, but also sharing what they find inside with each other.  I often ask students to speak at the beginning of class – even if it is just to share names and a tiny bit about their day.  Recently I’ve asked more – in one class I invited students to shape class in deeper ways by teaching along with me.  And teaching me. I have been grateful to all of you who moved toward the challenge, who allowed yourselves to move into vulnerability by sharing some of your own wisdom.

So as we move further into summer I look forward to seeing you in yoga class.  We will keep practicing grounding, deep listening, and joyous movement.  And we will look for the places where we can take risks, allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and move toward a yoga practice that seeks inner and outer freedom for ourselves and all people.

Below is the schedule for the rest of the summer  As always, I welcome your questions, reflections, or feedback.

Community Yoga Late Summer Series

July 25 – August 30

At the Mount Baker Community Club
Mondays, 6 – 7:15pm

The current session runs through this Monday, July 18.  In the late summer session, beginning July 25, we will come back to a focus on sitting – wonderful seated twists and folds, as well as sitting in stillness for meditation.

Information, prices and registration here.

Thursday morning Gentle Yoga at Lotus Yoga has grown, and I love seeing so many regular faces.  Gentle class brings together a great mix of experiences: people looking for a quieter, more reflective practice; people healing from injuries; people adjusting their practices to the new needs of their aging bodies; people looking to compliment athletics or more vigorous yoga practice other days of the week; and people who simply have Thursday mornings free!  I am especially open to requests in this slower-paced class.  Join us every Thursday, 9:30-10:45am

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March 2016 update: Next Yoga Series Starts Monday, and more!!

March 2, 2016
These past couple months I’ve felt especially lucky to teach yoga because of everything I learn from my students.  Thank you for bringing your creativity, your questions, your willingness to look deep inside, to try new things, and to share your path with me.  It’s such an honor to teach and study with you all.

For those of you who come to Mt. Baker Community Yoga, here is the information about the next series:
Next series begins this coming Monday.
March 7 to April 19, six-week series with no class on April 12.
We will be focusing on twists and feeling into the energy of spring.
Please pre-register here ($60/six classes).  And you can always drop-in ($12-15/class suggested, or pay what you can).
Classes are 6-7:15pm at the Mt Baker Community Club.

I continue to teach Gentle Yoga at Lotus Yoga Thursday mornings, 9:30-10:45 am, focusing often on a similar theme to Monday class.

Also, I am excited to be getting back to leading another workshop for parents of kids with disabilities and special needs on April 3rd at the Seattle Children’s Playgarden.  Please share the information with anyone you know who might be interested.  There is a flier below and more information here.

Finally, I am excited about the many ways the yoga world is currently grappling with our role in healing and working toward racial justice.  Laura Humpf is leading a series called Heart Conversations, every second Wednesday of the month, at Rainier Beach Yoga.  She says, ” Come explore the practice of deepening our awareness of ourselves in order to be better allies in the world.  These facilitated discussions will focus on yoga philosophy as a tool for our internal process and awareness as we look at the isms (racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc.) that affect ourselves, our relationships, and our world.”  I hope to join these evenings, and would love to see you there.  More information is on RBY’s web site, here.

I wish you all well, and may you enjoy all the emerging buds and beings of early spring!

yoga caregivers

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Tomorrow We Start a New Series @Community Yoga

October 26, 2015

This coming Monday, Oct. 26, we begin a new 6-week community yoga series at the Mt. Baker Community Club.  Our physical focus will be on stability and flexibility in our hips.  And we’ll also explore the second of the Yoga Sutra’s ethical principles: Satya, truthfulness.  What does it look like to be honest with ourselves about our strengths and limitations and needs while we practice?  And how does this practice give us the strength to see and speak our truth in the rest of our lives?

The short version for the Monday Night series is:
Oct. 26-Nov. 30 – Hips and Satya!
$60 for six classes
Pre-registration HERE is helpful if you plan to take the series (pay online or first day of class)
Drop-ins always welcome, $12-15 suggested price
Mt Baker Community Club

Also!  I am back teaching Thursday morning Gentle Yoga at Lotus Yoga in Columbia City, 9:30-10:45 am. If you haven’t been to Lotus, it is a beautiful studio and a welcoming community of students.  I often have a similar focus to my classes each week, so if you happen to have Monday evenings and Thursday mornings free, the classes often compliment each other.

I feel especially called to think about truth and voice as I’ve witnessed the events unfold around People of Color (POC) Yoga in Seattle – first the virulent attacks, and now a lot of community support and conversation about how to heal.  I wrote about it, and others have written great reflections as well.  (Links to those articles are below.)  People are planning community discussions about diversity and safe spaces in yoga, as well as thinking bigger about how yoga could be part of the healing (rather than perpetuation of the status quo) around racism in our country.   I’ll update my facebook page and announce in class when those events are happening.  And there is a petition circulating in support of POC yoga that is included below as well.

When People of Color Say They Need Their Own Yoga, White People Should Listen, by Krista Hanson

Why We Need Safe Spaces in Yoga, by Susanna Barkataki

Petition: Solidarity With Seattle for POC Yoga

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