Getting To Know Johanna Kirk
We are truly thrilled to welcome Johanna Kirk to Yoga Sol’s permanent staff with her Monday 9am Hatha Flow mixed level class – a truly beautiful class! Johanna brings a wealth of rich international education and teaching experience – from multiple dance disciplines, to anatomy, to yoga. I share our conversation…
Rozanne: I just love the joy and creativity that you bring to your yoga instruction. You incorporate your dance education and training into a graceful and elegant flow practice that blends skillful fundamentals with mixed level appropriate challenge. Can you share a little of your passion for this flow presentation?
Johanna: I have a deep appreciation for the brilliance and efficacy of the classical yoga vocabulary. No matter how many times I revisit the asanas, I consistently gain fresh appreciation for their ability to intrigue, challenge and satisfy the mind while integrating, empowering, and healing the body. I also like to playfully interact with them and thereby seek out new experiences of them. Being an artist and a choreographer, I trust my body intuition to help me organize the classical poses into sequences that feel poetic and elegant. I find it deeply satisfying to allow the poses to flow together into dances with rhythm and grace. Once I am “riding the flow,” I have a better appreciation of how my body instinctively yearns towards asanas and how these intelligent poses naturally build upon and balance each other. Finding creative transitions between asanas helps me to continuously discover new and intriguing dialogues between them, as they come together in fresh and sometimes surprising ways. I will always have profound respect for traditional yoga sequences like Sun Salutations A and B, and I often come “home” to these for their stability and constancy, but in my teaching, I very much enjoy the opportunity to let instincts and choreographic inclinations help me to offer a playful, open, and beautiful experience of yoga as well.
Rozanne: Circling back to your nearly decade of prestigious academic education in Dance, Movement, Anatomy and Yoga (Columbia NYC, University of Iowa, Columbia in Paris, Duke, Kripalu outside Boston), can you share a bit about your love of learning and how that has shaped your career?
Johanna: I am a continuous student of the body in its many facets, and whether I am in the classroom as the student or the teacher, I am always eager to learn more! While as a teacher I take great responsibility to educate myself in ways that will allow me to offer a safe, clear, and intentional class, I also hope to inspire attendees to be their own teachers. I hope they will become fascinated students of themselves and enthusiastically use their yoga practice as an opportunity to learn experientially about how their bodies and minds work. I hope they will come to class with their own questions and leave with some “answers” but even more questions so that the quest of expanding and deepening our understanding of ourselves is exciting and boundless. For me, this is a thrilling way to go through life and a constant invitation to my yoga mat.
Rozanne: We also know that you have eight years of varied Dance, Anatomy and Yoga teaching experience. Can you share a little about how these all tie together in your own distinctive style?
Johanna: I have taught about the body is different contexts and to very different populations. This has helped me to understand that everyone has a different interest in the body and will have a path into their physical study. I am grateful that my varied teaching background allows to me to provide many different options for how to start thinking and interacting with ourselves and actively engaging with our mental and physical patterns. There are so many ways to learn about ourselves through working with ourselves. The more points of entry that I can offer students, the better a teacher I am.
Rozanne: I am intrigued by your Experiential Anatomy teaching background. Can you tell us a little about that?
Johanna: In learning anatomy, students sometimes forget that they live inside the textbook! While it is a tried-and-true approach to study anatomy via texts, diagrams and models, there is also exciting possibility to KNOW it via felt experience. In my opinion, the wisdom and awareness that comes through developing understanding of what we are via somatic awareness is much deeper and more effective for embodied living than memorizing information, about the body via non-somatic routes.
Rozanne: With your world yoga perspective, do you see regional differences in styles, traditions and priorities?
Johanna: One thing that I really love about yoga is that everywhere that I have lived, yoga is relevant and the classical asanas are meaningful to the population. I trust the science of yoga. After thousands of years, these poses and breathing patterns continue to be important to our physical and physiological lives, evidenced by continued and expanding global interest in yoga. I have been so happy, that everywhere to which my personal journey has taken me, yoga has been a way to deeply connect with a community, even if we came from very different cultural backgrounds. While I do feel that the yoga scene of Southern California is very specific and unique, and while I have noticed considerable stylistic differences across counties and communities, I always feel at home in yoga studios, and I continue to feel immediate and beautiful community with yoga students who share my trust in the practice and dedicated physical curiosity.
Thanks so much for sharing and we most sincerely welcome you to our Yoga Sol family!
Experience a yoga class with Johanna for yourself!