At one point in her life, Kathryn Anne Flynn of intelligent edge yoga jokes that she believed yoga was only for middle-aged ladies with emotional baggage. But after she tried private yoga for the first time in response to a running injury, her perspective started to change.
As she tried more yoga, eventually she found herself in Kingston between a Master’s and a PhD with a summer to kill. She had been trying a lot of power yoga and hot yoga, and thought a teacher training might be a good way to spend her time.
The universe was kind and delivered what Kathryn needed, not what she thought she wanted. The training wasn’t power yoga related, and Kathryn’s teacher, Mona Warner of Janati Yoga, was an unpredicted blessing. Kathryn was extremely grateful for this experience and eventually went on to do more yoga trainings and learn more about Ayurveda.
Teaching for 8 years now, Kathryn started Intelligent Edge Yoga as a way to continue her inquiry into these newfound subjects. She’s been teaching diverse classes, workshops and trainings ever since. She makes a point to say she’s not trying to start a new lineage, but instead create a new way for people to explore their practice.
“I was never going to be the hot-shot asana yoga teacher.. I can do lots of fancy yoga poses, but I don’t think that’s why people connect with me.”
Kathryn says she thinks students are drawn to her for her studentship – she cites her teacher, Mona, and her other teachers and influences frequently, giving credit and noting their support.
“There are many teachers out there who are content to offer a sequence. If people are excluded in that asana sequence – [the teachers] can be okay with that.”
In Kathryn’s community, she noticed plenty of Hatha-appreciating teachers powering through flows. She noted though, how some people can feel disparaged if they can’t keep up. Kathryn’s aim is to avoid disheartening experiences of asana, and still provide a thorough, efficient experience of yoga.. She feels that her diverse student base has made her a more creative and compassionate teacher, and strives to be as inclusive as possible with her teaching.
“I just started to realize the community I was in was not best served by a practice with what they already knew. There were better ways for me to offer actually healing yoga and more diverse yoga. I teach in a community that often people say you have to teach in this ONE way to be popular, I’m evidence that this is not true.”
Kathryn boils down her approach to a fairly simple phrase, “teach less yoga, so you can teach more yoga.”
Kathryn spent time taking mobility training, which showed her you don’t necessarily need what’s considered asana-based sequences, but diversity in movement to offer people a strengthening and accessible experience. Through observation, she realized this approach to caring for the body leaves people more open to the spiritual and philosophical sides of yoga because they feel satisfied and pacified.
Kathryn does see the value in a more active practice. She believes the body is the container for the spirit: the more resilient your container, the easier it is to connect with spirit. However, she notes the importance of blending the physical and spiritual and how the two can work together to create a more powerful experience on the mat.
“So long as I give people a really efficient movement in their body, they’re more inclined to do the less active practices of yoga…For a yoga teacher, if you give them an efficient and empowering experience of their body they will often be more open to an experience of their spirit.”
One thing you’ll also notice in Kathryn’s class, is that she usually doesn’t demonstrate poses. Most of her instructions are carried out verbally.
“At the expense that yoga is, and some of the diversity of experiences going on in the room, people are best served when you are focused on them rather than allowing them to focus on you.”
Kathryn also points out that in poses like Warrior II, demonstration isn’t particularly helpful. What assists people in finding a more individualized experience is understanding what they should be feeling rather than what they look like. In a lot of ways, carrying out instructions verbally helps people achieve this.
Kathryn’s workshops this year are designed to help people access new ways of teaching they may have not considered. Kathryn is offering a six-hour workshop to help people incorporate Ayurvedic practices with their yoga practices to create deeply individualized experiences.
“Help them understand why their practice evolved throughout their lifetime. Why their practice needs to change throughout the year, and asses what kind of practices will help them find balance… Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. Ayurveda is a more holisitic tool kit to help us achieve ease in our bodies and minds.”
She’s also offering workshops to help you move from the mat in teaching with more verbal cues and instructing.
“If you’re a more effective communicator you’re a more effective teacher. Period.”
So are you ready to shake things up? You can register for one of Kathryn’s three workshops at the Toronto Yoga Conference from March 30 to April 2 and you can also catch her on the show floor in the Yoga Garden at 3:00 PM on Saturday, free passes are available here.