The Yogi Next to You


Kaitlyn Hipple - The Yogi Next to YouWhat’s your yoga story? How did you find Mala?

I began yoga in college in 2006 as a dancer to improve my alignment. I am espcially grateful to my first teacher, Margaret (Max) Leeming, for introducing me to such a life changing path. She directed me to her teacher, Sondra Loring. Sondra’s joy for teaching is effusive and her classes are filled with bhakti.

Unaware I was seeking yoga, I found a practice that used the physical body to access a more elusive and intangible body. I was raised in the Presbyterian Church and always searched for a connection to a presence greater than myself but had difficulty finding it in that context. I treasure the approach of yoga for leading me to that connection.

When I graduated I moved to New York City in 2007. After participating in several work/study programs, I realized that my dharma was to expand from a devoted student into a devoted teacher. I practiced most regularly at Kula Yoga Project in Tribeca. The Kula community directed me to Alison West, one of New York’s notable alignment instructors, who I have studied with for the past five years. I completed her 200-hour teacher training in 2009 and have since continued my teacher training with her 300-hour program and by regularly assisting her classes and teacher trainings. I also completed a vinyasa teacher training with Schuyler Grant of Kula Yoga Project in 2009.

Recommended to Mala by a close friend and teacher, I found a lovely community of hard-working students who love to learn and understand their bodies and minds through the practice of yoga.

What pose do you want to do all day? What pose could you never do again?

All day I want to practice urdhva dhanurasana (wheel pose). I love backbending for its energizing and uplifting qualities. Urdhva dhanurasana is like caffeine without giving you the jitters or making your mind jump around like a grasshopper.

I don’t care for being on my hands and knees and twisting by threading my arm through and putting that shoulder and my head on the floor.

What are your biggest yoga obstacles and how do you overcome them?

The biggest obstacle for me, and I think for many people, is how to carry my practice off my mat and into my daily life. I often do specific practices (specifically pranayama or meditation) to help prepare for something I need to do shortly, like teaching. Pranayama helps to balance my central nervous system and meditation helps to steady my mind and release expectation. Mostly I find that the more I practice, the more its fruits pop up in unexpected places, so when in doubt I simply keep practicing anything that is new, that I struggle with, or need to improve on. You get good at what you practice.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

Alex Auder spoke in class a few weeks ago about worry. To summarize, she asked us to see the fluctuations of the mind as “worry” and to let them go. There was something about this equation and what I was thinking about at this time in my life that resonated and was very effective.

Where is your favorite place to get coffee, or a drink, post-yoga?

A good yoga class leaves me simply wanting to sit and meditate.

If you could practice yoga anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I practice wherever I am. I like to practice when I travel, but I don’t travel to practice.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

Absolutely. Practicing yoga has helped to rid needless clutter in my mind. It has helped me to discriminate between what is good for me and what is not. It has helped me to dedicate myself to teaching fully and truthfully.

We’re thrilled to bring you the stories of Mala yogis in their own words.  Maybe you know them, maybe you’ve never seen them before, maybe they look familiar, maybe you once knew their name, but forgot.  Whatever the case may be, here is the chance to learn a little more about the person practicing on the mat next to you.  Click here to read about other yogis.


About The Mala Yoga Blog

We are a Brooklyn-based studio that focuses on alignment, balance and community. Have a read, try one of our Practice Podcasts, or come in and say "hi" in person!
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