Ask an instructor – Susan Kjesbo

Susan Kjesbo
Susan Kjesbo – certified yoga therapist

Susan Kjesbo

Susan is a yoga instructor and certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT). Her teaching expertise includes therapeutic yoga, restorative, yoga for seniors & Yoga Tune Up

ask an instructor – 10 questions 

the very first yoga class you attended? Laguna Beach recreation dept. My instructor used an Indian rug instead of a mat!

what is it about yoga that inspires you?  Yoga is transformative from the inside, outside, mind and body

what yoga item(s) could you not be without? If I could only pick one, my mat. It is an oasis to me.

your favorite post yoga class snack?  Hmm don’t really have one but maybe a “green drink”.

which book would you recommend to a brand new student of yoga? Depends on the interest. Autobiography of a Yogi (Paramahansa Yogananda),  Meditations from the Mat (Rolf Gates), Yoga for Osteoporosis (Dr Loren Fishman).  Some people are interested in the spiritual or physical aspects, others the historical or philosophical aspects. Starting with what interests you will keep you interested!

if you could teach a class anywhere in the world, where would it be? I am passionate about travel and could easily give you an exotic place however where the students are engaged and present is the most rewarding and exciting to me.

type of class you like to attend when you are not the instructor? My practice is changing. I like a class that is not hot fast yoga but one where I can connect to my body on that day.

favorite thing to do if not doing yoga? Hike, travel

if you weren’t a yoga instructor? I was an elementary art teacher prior to teaching yoga. I would go back to that.

and finally……

as a yoga instructor, what do you hope a new student takes away from your class?  A Connection to their body and the desire to try another class (of any kind of yoga).

learn more about Susan and her teaching schedule at  www.susankjesbo.com

to contact Susan yoga@susankjesbo.com

A Yoga Studio for the over 40’s

Yoga for the over 40's is a growing demographic
Yoga for the over 40’s is a growing demographic

Seniors are the largest growing segment of the US population with numbers growing year on year.  As yoga continues to gain popularity one yoga studio has embraced these changes to cater for a very specific demographic – the over 40 age group.


Yoga studios are aplenty in the US.  Plenty of choice, styles, facilities and instructors.  Some studios specialize based on class style, such as hot yoga or vinyasa yoga, or on a specific school of yoga study such as Iyengar or Bikram. This particular yoga studio specializes in yoga for the over 40’s age group.

Founded by David Webster in the Summer of 2013, Better Living Yoga in Aliso Viejo, California opened its studio doors in March 2014.

David recognized that ‘Yoga for seniors is a demographic that is not being served and it is the largest growing market’.  We are all living much longer and by 2030 older adults will account for roughly 20% of the U.S. population.

This particular studio is catering for a very specific demographic – the over 40’s.

As we age we can anticipate a whole range of conditions and ailments coming our way.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression and cancer to name but a few. Research carried out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) discovered that two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions

Not appealing, I know, however we can adapt and, in some cases, limit the effect and impact of these age related conditions using the tools we learn when practicing yoga and meditation.

‘Yoga for seniors is a demographic that is not being served and it is the largest growing market’

The primary focus for Better Living Yoga is to cater for an older community with a ‘non-competitive approach and attention to alignment & safety to help reverse and prevent chronic conditions’.  Although the target demographic is the over 40’s, all levels and ages are welcome and it’s a perfect studio to attend for students working with injuries or recovering from medical procedures and surgery.

Their schedule boasts an impressive line up of experienced yoga instructors and yoga therapists of varying yoga lineages all with extensive teaching experience.

Enjoy a healthier transition into older age by making a regular yoga practice part of your routine.

 

Restorative Yoga & Essential Oils

Essential Oil Bottles
Essential oils are a great complement to a restorative yoga practice

Look on any yoga schedule today and there is a good chance that nestled away somewhere between Hatha Level 1 and Vinyasa Flow is a Restorative yoga class.


If you haven’t experienced a restorative yoga class you can expect a very calming experience set at a relaxed pace with an opportunity to totally destress as your body surrenders into yoga props.  Sounds good, no?

‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds’ 

Restorative yoga is rapidly gaining popularity because of its ability to help manage the stress overload we experience in our day to day lives.  Combined with the use of essential oils, restorative yoga is a practice that will bring the body and mind into balance.

Props used in a restorative practice include folded and rolled blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks along with additional support from a wall or chair for some poses.  The use of multiple props arranged to suit the student’s specific physical needs enables them to hold a fully rested position for an extended period of time.

Susan Kjesbo, a certified Yoga Therapist, describes restorative yoga as ‘active relaxation where the body is supported with props to give the message to the body to let go’ and in a typical class you will be able to do just that.

A class or workshop will consist of just a handful of poses where the whole body is fully supported and each individual pose is held for several minutes.  These very relaxed physical positions initiate a response where the breath deepens and physical and mental stresses can release.

A restorative yoga practice offers great health benefits and in Susan’s experience ‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds when they walk out of class and are coming back for more’.

Susan is also passionate about the use of essential oils as a complement to a restorative yoga practice.  When oils make contact with the skin they are absorbed into the tissues affecting the body as a whole and, through our sense of smell, are linked to the part of our brains associated with emotion and memory which, in turn, can influence mood and mindset.

‘stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern life and the use of essential oils and a regular restorative yoga practice are great additions to our self care routines’,  Susan Kjesbo.

If you are just getting started with essential oils, she suggests using lavender for its calming properties.  ‘You can place a drop in your hands and breathe the scent from your hands or rub it in to the bottom of your feet’.  If you are keen to learn more about essential oils, she also recommends that students ‘find someone knowledgable to work with or use a good reference book such as Modern Essentials’ in order to get the greatest benefit.

As we try to keep up with ever more frantic and over scheduled lives so stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern living. A regular restorative yoga practice and the use of essential oils are perfect additions to our personal self care routines because, as Susan points out, ‘we all operate better from a place of centeredness rather than frenzy’.

To see Susan’s teaching schedule visit www.Susankjesbo.com

Susan’s go to brand for essential oils is doTerra.

Want more visual stuff? Take a peek at her Instagram page @therapyyogi

 

Yoga Styles – so much choice….

You have many choices

Choice is a great thing but, as you may have experienced when buying yoga pants or coffee, sometimes you can have too much choice.

Brand new students have so many yoga options that choosing can be overwhelming. As the popularity of yoga has grown so have the number of styles and schools of yoga.

Here are just a handful common to many studios…..

Hatha Yoga is the term, if you like, for the physical aspect of yoga, i.e. the poses or asanas.  Any yoga class with physical poses is a hatha yoga class.  Broadly speaking a class described as hatha yoga will be a gentler, slower paced class suitable for beginners.  However, sometimes a hatha yoga class will be described as having different levels so it’s worth a call to the studio to check.  what makes it unique?  It is taught by instructors from different backgrounds and schools of study so every teacher will have a different style and interpretation.

Vinyasa loosely translates as ‘flow’.  Flow or vinyasa yoga is a faster moving and warming sequence that transitions quickly through mixed sequences of poses.  what makes it unique?  It is a more challenging yoga class that is unique to individual instructors as poses are linked and presented in creative ways.

Ashtanga  A very popular style of yoga bought to the West by a yoga pioneer from India called Patthabi Jois.  It is an athletic form of yoga that is fast moving and flowing (vinyasa – see above) and a popular choice for those who enjoy a challenging yoga class.  what makes it unique?  It is a set sequence of poses which are always practiced in the same order, every time.

Brand new yoga students have so many options to choose from which can be totally overwhelming.

Iyengar yoga is another of the very popular schools of yoga brought to the West by yoga master, BKS Iyengar.  It is often credited as the style of yoga that influences many of today’s styles of yoga.  It is a slower paced class where poses are held for longer and lots of props (blankets, yoga blocks & yoga straps) are used for support.  Even though it is slower paced it can still be challenging.  what makes it unique?  Focused attention to alignment in the poses with lots of verbal instruction and adjustment.  Iyengar classes always use yoga props.  

Hot Yoga  This style of yoga has gained popularity in recent years.  One of the original hot yoga schools is Bikram yoga.  what makes it unique?  Pre heated rooms to start with creating very hot & sweaty environments.  Quite often, a fixed sequence of poses are practiced depending on the school of yoga.

Restorative Yoga  is becoming more and more popular in studios, restorative yoga is a much more quiet style of yoga that incorporates lots of props (blankets, bolsters & blocks) to support the body in active relaxation.  Poses are set up on the floor with the body fully supported to ensure complete release.  what makes it unique?  Total relaxation and surrender of the body without any physical effort as the body is supported to the individuals need with blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks.

As the popularity of yoga has grown so have the number of styles and schools of yoga.

Therapeutic Yoga  is building in popularity as we have all become more aware of our own health and interested in our own self care. what makes it unique?  Taught by very experienced instructors with in depth yoga therapy training it focuses more attention on specific issues such as injuries or physical conditions.

Yin Yoga  poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility whilst quietening the mind with longer pose holds.  what makes it unique? Similar to restorative yoga in that the poses are held for long periods but the intention is less relaxation and more of opening the body.

Ultimately, Yoga is a practice that is unique to you so choose the class that appeals and enjoy!

Popularity of Yoga

Yoga is gaining popularity
Yoga is gaining popularity

I Googled ‘benefits of yoga’ the other day and it came up with over 41 million results.  Yikes! But just for the sake of balance, I also googled ‘negatives of yoga’.  Up popped a few hundred thousand results.  Hardly scientific, I know, but it did strike me that there are a lot of people interested in the benefits and practice of yoga.

A recent research report called ‘2016 Yoga in America’ conducted by Yoga Journal (a popular yoga magazine) and the Yoga Alliance (a kind of umbrella administrative organisation for yoga) found that approximately 37million Americans are practicing yoga today in 2016.  37 million!

This is a phenomenal number and, get this, even more amazing – apparently this is an increase from 20 million in 2012.  An additional 17 million yogis in the space of only four years.

yoga truly is a practice for everyone and is not just the domain of the young, fit and strong

Clearly, yoga is becoming more and more popular year on year and we, as a nation, are more informed about the benefits of the practice.  According to findings in the same report almost a third of those practicing yoga are over 55 proving that yoga truly is a practice for everyone and is not just the domain of the young, fit and strong – the common misconception and stereotypical image we are fed through the media.

Yoga attracts a very broad demographic.  All ages from kids through to seniors with more and more guys picking up the mat too.

As yoga’s popularity grows, so do the opportunities for us to study yoga whether it is through a class, online video, phone app, DVD, book or magazine.  Never has there been this much choice to study yoga and long may it continue.

If you want to learn more about the report’s findings go take a peak at the Yoga Alliance website on yogaalliance.org.  It makes for interesting reading.